Blog Archives

What I Watched In… August 2017

ducktalesrebootposter-1-600x900

Favorite of the Month: DuckTales: Woo-oo! (2017)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

  1. The Land Unknown (1957), C-
  2. The Dark Tower (2017), B
  3. Calling Dr. Death (1943), C
  4. Curse of the Undead (1959), C+
  5. Shin Godzilla (2016), B+
  6. The Thin Man (1934), B
  7. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), B+
  8. Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge (1979), D
  9. The Big Sleep (1946), A-
  10. Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam (1986), D+
  11. It Ain’t Hay (1943), C+
  12. DuckTales: Woo-oo! (2017), A
  13. Zootopia (2016), A
  14. Brave (2012), B
  15. Finding Dory (2016), A-
  16. Frozen (2013), A+
  17. The Monster Squad (1987), B+Initiation (2016), B-
  18. Megaforce (1982), D; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  19. Commando (1985), C+
  20. Meet the Robinsons (2007), B
  21. The Punisher (1989), D
  22. The Silence of the Lambs (1991), A
  23. RiffTrax Live: Doctor Who-The Five Doctors (2017), A-
  24. Death Note (2017), C
  25. Crawlspace (2012), B-
  26. Murder in the Rue Morgue (1932), C+
  27. Adaptation. (2002), B+
  28. Power Rangers (2017), B-
  29. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977), D
  30. Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the Second Dimension (2011), A
Advertisements

Remakes, reboots, resolve

Spider-Man HomecomingTom Holland was great, right? We can all agree on that. He was perfect as young Peter Parker, and we can’t wait to see what else he’s going to do for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s a good thing. He is the Peter Parker for our time.

With his amazing turn in Spider-Man: Homecoming, though, have come the inevitable thinkpieces, blogs and professional sites alike trying to rank not only the different Spider-Man movies, but the different Spider-Men themselves. How does Holland stack up against Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield? If you want to get ultra-nerdy, how does he stack up against Nicholas Hammond?

And I get it. I’m a nerd too. There’s something about being a lover of movies or comics or TV that makes you want to rate and debate and rank and “prove” to everybody that your personal favorite version of something was the best, and that debate is one of the driving forces of fandom. I’ve done it myself.

I’m here to tell you today, though, friends… I don’t think it needs to be.

War For the Planet of the ApesThis kind of goes hand-in-hand with my attempts to mentally reconcile the world of remakes. They’re not stopping, they’re not going anywhere, and it’s true that a lot of them suck. But it’s also true that not all of them do. The second Maltese Falcon is the one everybody remembers. Hitchcock himself remade his own The Man Who Knew Too Much into a tighter, more engaging adventure. And re”boots”? Well, that’s what gave us The Dark Knight. And the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies. And if there’s only one tentpole movie left this summer I absolutely HAVE to see, it’s War For the Planet of the Apes.

Here’s another analogy I like to use: they didn’t stop producing Hamlet after Shakespeare died, did they? And not just theatrically, but cinematically. There have been dozens — no, hundreds of films produced over the years based on his works, and a lot of them have been really good. Were it not for people reimagining older stories, we wouldn’t have Bela Lugosi as Dracula or Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, either. And when you ask somebody who their favorite Ebenezer Scrooge is, you can quite literally spend hours debating the merits of Alastair Sim versus George C. Scott versus Michael Caine versus Patrick Stewart versus Albert Finney versus Scrooge McDuck.

Day of the DoctorI’ve started to put superhero movies in the same category as these works. The same as James Bond. The same as Doctor Who. These are stories and characters, that, every so often, will go through a facelift and become something different. And I’m okay with that. We all should be. The real question — the important question — is therefore NOT “is the new guy better than the last guy,” but rather simply, “is the new guy good?”

This isn’t to say that every character should be recast. I’ve yet to see any evidence that someone other than Robert Englund should be allowed to play Freddy Krueger, for instance. And while I’m open to having new characters join the Ghostbusters (I’m not debating the merits of the 2016 movie, I just mean in general), I don’t ever want to see somebody besides Harold Ramis play Egon Spengler.

But times change and iconic characters can and should be refreshed for new generations.

That said, this means we also have to accept the fact that someday, people other than Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey Jr. will play Wolverine and Iron Man. I know, that’s hard to hear. But it’s true. And when it happens, just remember what I’m saying here, and try to judge the new guy for who they are rather than who they aren’t.

What I Watched in… January 2014

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

1. Muppets From Space (1999), B
2. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007), A
3. Bill Cosby: Far From Finished (2013), B+
4. Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966), D; RiffTrax Riff, B
5.  The Wizard of Oz (1939), A; RiffTrax Riff, B+ 
6. Rocketship X-M (1950), D; MST3K Riff, B
7. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010), B
8. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013), B
9. Cinderella (1950), A
10. The Pod People (1983), F; MST3K Riff, B+
11. JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (2014), B+
12. Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956), B
13. Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster (1966), C; MST3K Riff, B
14. American Hustle (2013), B+
15. Stranded in Space (1973), D-; MST3K Riff, B-
16. Revenge of the Creature (1955), C; MST3K Riff, B-
17. Where the Toys Come From (1984), C-
18. Lincoln (2012), A-
19. 21 & Over (2013), C
20. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), C
21. Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (2012), B-
22. Jedi Junkies (2010), B
23. Lovelace (2013), C-
24. Big Trouble in Little China (1986), A-
25. King Kong (1933), A
26. King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962), B

Reel to Reel ranks 2013 in movies

And once again, we reach the end of another year. And as usual, I didn’t get to see as many movies as I wanted to. I saw most of the ones I was really excited about, all but one in fact (which wound up not being made at all, sadly). For the record, the ones I didn’t see yet that are still on my to-see list are American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street and Her, all of which will be readily available after the holidays, what with being award bait and all.

So here, for the second year (here’s last year’s list if you’re interested), the list of movies I saw this year roughly in order of how much I liked them, along with brief comments on a few films. This list includes made-for-TV, direct-to-video, and streaming films, as long as they were feature length. The rankings are based purely on how much I enjoyed watching the movie, and no other criteria. I caution you, though, that my opinions on rankings and such change frequently, so if you ask me to make this same list tomorrow, it may well be slightly different:

1. Saving Mr. Banks. Simply a beautiful movie that hits me hard as a writer. I get where both the characters of P.L. Travers and Walt Disney were coming from, I sympathize with them both, and I found the movie deeply moving. I know that a lot of it was conjured up for the sake of cinema, but I’m kind of afraid to look up how much for fear it would ruin the film for me.
2. Frozen. Disney’s best animated movie in years. I particularly like that the film was undeniably a love story, but at the same time, broke every major rule in the usual “princess” formula.
3. Man of Steel. A controversial choice to be this high, I know, but I don’t care. As someone who’s loved Superman since childhood, I thought this film was a worthy jumpstart for both the character and for DC’s effort at a cinematic universe.
4. Pacific Rim. The most underrated movie of the year, in my opinion. Visually exciting and a hell of a lot of fun.
5. Monsters University.
6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
7. Ender’s Game.
8. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
9. An Adventure in Space and Time. TV film about the original star of Doctor Who, William Hartnell, made in conjunction with the series’ 50th anniversary. I really liked it.
10. Evil Dead.
11. The World’s End
12. Oz, The Great and Powerful.
13. Star Trek Into Darkness.
14. Thor: The Dark World.
15. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
16. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part II.
17. The Rubber Room. Intriguing documentary about the New York public school system, specifically the practice that leaves teachers accused of assorted mistakes stranded without work for months or years without the opportunity to defend themselves.
18. Crystal Lake Memories:The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Good and terribly thorough documentary about the horror movie series. Make sure you’ve got the time to watch it, though – it’s SEVEN HOURS LONG.
19. Iron Man 3.
20. LEGO Batman The Movie: DC Superheroes Unite.
21. The Wolverine.
22. The Sound of Music. Live TV production of the classic musical.
23. Necessary Evil: The Villains of DC Comics.
24. Europa Report.
25. Superman Unbound.
26. Kick-Ass 2.
27. Warm Bodies.
28. Upstream Color. I really liked the director’s last movie, Primer, so I had high hopes for this one. I felt somewhat let down, though. The movie thought it was smarter than it really was.
29. Escape From Planet Earth.
30. Side Effects.
31. A Good Day to Die Hard.
32. World War Z.
33. Mister Scrooge to See You.
34. Jack the Giant Slayer.
35. Iron Man: Rise of Technovore.
36. The Purge. Intriguing idea – a world where all crime is legal for 12 hours a year – but the film is handled poorly, set up on a soapbox, has a horribly predictable ending and is so heavy-handed it’s impossible to enjoy as a thriller.
37. The Host. The only thing I have to say about this Stephanie Meyer adaptation is that I initially mistyped it as The Hose, and I couldn’t help but think that would have been a more interesting movie.
38. Riddick.
39. Oblivion. I challenge anybody to explain the backstory and plot of this film in a way that does not invite a six-year-old child to point out how outrageously stupid the aliens are. I DARE YOU.
40. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
41. Sharknado. I know that this TV production was supposed to be bad, but I disagree with those who think it was both bad and fun. I just didn’t enjoy it.

What I Watched In… November 2013

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

(Sharp-witted readers may notice the vast majority of these came in the last week, when school was out for Thanksgiving. The first few weeks of November were busy as hell for me. I’ve been trying to make up for lost time.)

1. Ender’s Game (2013), B+
2. Supersonic Man (1979), F; RiffTrax Riff, B+
3. Doctor Who (1996), B-
4. Thor: The Dark World (2013), B+
5. An Adventure in Space and Time (2013), A-
6. Necessary Evil: The Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013), B
7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), B+
8. The Wizard of Oz (1939), A
9. Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), C-
10. Side Effects (2013), B-
11. Europa Report (2013), B
12. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973), B+
13. The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), F; RiffTrax Riff, B+
14. Garfield’s Thanksgiving  (1989), A-
15. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1948), B; RiffTrax Riff, B+
16. Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977), B; RiffTrax Riff, B
17. Get a Horse! (2013), A
18. Frozen (2013), A
19. Scrooge (1935), C+
20. The Polar Bears (2013), B-
21. A Christmas Carol (1954), B-
22. A Christmas Carol (1951), A-
23. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962), B+
24. Rise of the Guardians (2012), B

All New Showcase Reviews Thor: The Dark World

Thor-The Dark WorldAnother bit of audio goodness for you guys, as I got together with my podcast crew last night and talked about Thor: The Dark World.

And what’s cool this week? Jason is enjoying season two of Revolution, while a jury duty-bound Blake hasn’t had time for anything but the six-minute short “The Night of the Doctor,” the prequel to next week’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary special.

All New Showcase at the Movies Episode 38: Thor-The Dark World

What I Watched In… May 2013

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

1. Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), B
2. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984), B+
3. Iron Man 3 (2013), B-
4. The Producers (1968), A
5. City Slickers (1991), A
6. Space Jam (1996), C+
7. Mars Attacks! (1996), B
8. Psycho II (1983), D+; Rifftrax Riff, A-
9. Tangled (2010), B+
10. The Grey (2011), B+
11. The Great Gatsby (1974), A-
12. Sound of My Voice (2011), C
13. The Wizard (1989), C-
14. Future Force (1989), F; RiffTrax Riff, B+
15. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), A-
16. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), A-
17. Up (2009), A+
18. LEGO Batman: The Movie-DC Superheroes Unite (2013), B
19. Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), D
20. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), A-
21. Defending Your Life (1991), B+
22. Doctor Who and the Daleks (1965), D; RiffTrax Riff, A
23. The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire (2002), C
24. Sherlock Holmes (2009), A-
25. A Matter of Life and Death (1946), A+
26. The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975), B-
27. The Great Mouse Detective (1986), B+
28. S&Man (2006), C
29. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983), C+

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 286: A Weekend at the Movies

showcase logo full black2I don’t always post my pop culture podcast here at Reel to Reel, but when I do, you can bet it’s because there’s a lot of movie talk. In this week’s episode, my fiance Erin gives her opinion of the new 3D re-release of Jurassic Park, then I talk about the remake of Evil Dead and the DVD release of the horror/comedy John Dies at the End. If you enjoy my movie punditry, give it a listen!

And if you, like me, have a lot of overlapping fandoms in your personal geek wheelhouse, the rest of the episode concerns such subjects as the newest episode of Doctor Who, the upcoming Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, and the passing of comic book greats Carmine Infantino and George Gladir.
2 in 1 Showcase Episode 286: A Weekend at the Movies