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What I Watched In… February 2017

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Favorite of the Month: The Lego Batman Movie

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. Keanu (2016), B
  2. Stardust (2007), A-
  3. The Guy From Harlem (1977), F; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  4. Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956), A-
  5. Being From Another World aka Time Walker (1983), D-; MST3K Riff, B
  6. The Day of the Triffids (1962), B
  7. Kung Fu Elliot (2014), B
  8. Maniac (2012), B-
  9. Crimson Peak (2015), C+
  10. The Lego Batman Movie (2017), A-
  11. Godzilla (1998), D
  12. The Pixar Story (2007), A
  13. Midnight Special (2016), B+
  14. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), A
  15. Godzilla Raids Again (1955), B
  16. ARQ (2016), B-
  17. Justice League Dark (2017), B
  18. First Blood (1982), A
  19. Blair Witch (2016), B
  20. The Good Dinosaur (2015), B
  21. Danger!! Death Ray (1967), C-; MST3K Riff, B
  22. King Kong (1976), B-
  23. Good Burger (1997), B
  24. Miami Connection (1987), D-; RiffTrax Riff, A
  25. The Wonderful Land of Oz (1969), C; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  26. Girlfriend’s Day (2017), B
  27. Beware the Slenderman (2016), A-
  28. Beverly Hills Cop (1984), B+
  29. Arrival (2016), A
  30. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017), B
  31. Zindy, the Swamp-Boy (1973), D; RiffTrax Riff, B
  32. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016), C+

What I watched in… July 2016

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Favorite of the Month: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

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. Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995), B
  2. Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002), B+
  3. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), B
  4. Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus (2000), B
  5. Godzilla Vs. Space Godzilla (1994), C+
  6. Godzilla (2014), A
  7. Red Dawn (1984), B; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  8. Bone Tomahawk (2015), A-
  9. The Neverending Story (1984), A-
  10. Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (1985), F; MST3K Riff, A
  11. Ring of Terror (1962), F; MST3K Riff, B
  12. Monster A-Go Go (1965), F; MST3K Riff, B-
  13. The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), A-
  14. Star Trek (2009), A
  15. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), B
  16. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), B
  17. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), A+
  18. Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984), B+
  19. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), B+
  20. Ghostbusters (2016), C-
  21. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), C-
  22. Star Trek Beyond (2016), A
  23. Batman: The Killing Joke (2016) B+
  24. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), A-
  25. Star Trek: Generations (1994), C+
  26. Star Trek: First Contact (1996), A-
  27. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), C+
  28. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), B-
  29. LEGO DC Comics Superheroes: Justice League-Gotham City Breakout (2016), B
  30. Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015), B
  31. Back to the Beach (1987), B
  32. Summer Rental (1985), B-
  33. Scooby-Doo (2002), C+

What I Watched In… July 2015

Hector and the Search For Happiness

Favorite of the Month: Hector and the Search For Happiness

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. Man on Wire (2008) B-
2. Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), C+
3. Destroy All Monsters (1968), B+
4. Psycho II (1983), D; RiffTrax Riff, B+
5. Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979), F; MST3K Riff, B+
6. Orca: The Killer Whale (1977), D
7. Captain America (1990), D
8. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) A
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), A+
10. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), B
11. Advantageous (2015), B+
12. Changing Lanes (2002), B
13. WarGames (1983) B+
14. Lost in La Mancha (2002), B+
15. The Projected Man (1966), F; MST3K Riff, B+
16. John Wick (2014) A-
17. Night of the Lepus (1972), F; RiffTrax Riff, B
18. Little Shop of Horrors (1960), D; RiffTrax Riff, A-
19. Comic Store Heroes (2012), D
20. X-Men: First Class (2014), A
21. Back to the Future (1985), A
22. Back to the Future Part II (1989), B+
23. Back to the Future Part III (1990), B
24. Conan the Barbarian (1982), B-
25. In Search of General Tso (2014), B
26. Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), C-
27. Pacific Rim (2013), A
28. The Queen of Versailles (2012), B+
29. Hector and the Search For Happiness (2014), A
30. Ant-Man (2015), B+
31. Creep (2014), B-
32. Timeline (2003), C+
33. Hatchet II (2010), B+
34. Hatchet III (2013), B-
35. This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006), A
36. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), A
37. Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014), B
38. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), D
39. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), A+
40. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006), B+
41. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No (2015), C-
42. Mission: Impossible (1996), B-
43. The Warriors (1979), B+
44. Mission: Impossible II (2000), B
45. The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? (2015), B-
46. Wet Hot American Summer (2001), B-
47. Driving Miss Daisy (1989), A
48. Teacher of the Year (2015), A-
49. The Houses October Built (2014), B-
50. These Final Hours (2013), B
51. The 39 Steps (1935), A

2014: The Year in Film

Favorite of the Year: Captain America-The Winter Soldier

Favorite of the Year: Captain America-The Winter Soldier

It’s been quite a year. I got married. My wife and I put together a little home together. I directed one play, I’m currently in rehearsals for another. I wrote a new book that — God willing — will be available relatively early in 2015. And in the meantime, I managed to see a few movies.

Not all the movies, mind you. There are still several 2014 releases I haven’t seen yet, often because the aforementioned activities got in the way of my movie time. I still haven’t seen Boyhood, for instance, and I’m dying to. I’m delinquent in keeping up with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, and despite all my efforts to the contrary, I’ve yet to get around to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

So consider this list highly incomplete. These are all the films from 2014 that I have seen, in order of my favorite to my least favorite. This includes direct-to-video and made-for-TV movies. I’ll leave comments for the ones where I have comments to leave.

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel has had a good year — a good couple of years, actually — but this to me was the movie that really elevated their universe beyond simple superhero action into something with greater depth and meaning.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Similar to Captain America, this film took what Rise of the Planet of the Apes began and ran with it, creating a larger world and a highly intelligent, powerful science fiction film.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy. This was just pure fun.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past. Easily the best X-Men film to date, and so good that it actually erases some of the sins of the previous films.
  • The LEGO Movie. Again, pure fun, but with a surprising amount of heart to it.
  • Gone Girl. Incredibly tense and engaging.
  • Interstellar. One of the most engaging, entertaining pure sci-fi films in years
  • Godzilla. Fantastic reboot of the franchise.
  • Edge of Tomorrow. Great movie hurt by atrocious marketing.
  • Big Hero 6.
  • Stripped. Fine documentary about the comic strip form.
  • I Am Santa Claus.
  • St. Vincent.
  • Doc of the Dead. Interesting documentary about zombie fiction.
  • Stage Fright. Little seen but actually entertaining musical horror comedy about a slasher killer attacking a theater camp. It’s on Netflix streaming right now. Meatloaf is in it.
  • A Merry Friggin’ Christmas. One of Robin Williams’s final performances, alongside Community‘s Joel McHale.
  • Son of Batman.
  • Justice League: War.
  • Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
  • Big Driver.
  • Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear. Okay anthology, but the premise holding the segments together is paper-thin.
  • JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time.
  • Maleficent. Could have been a great remake from the villain’s perspective, but a horribly invasive voice over and some poor performances really hurt.
  • Print the Legend.
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The original remains one of my favorites. This film seems like further proof that Frank Miller has lost his mind.
  • Robocop. Unnecessary, lifeless remake.
  • Lucky Duck. Treacle-filled animated kiddie film I watched with my niece. Just because a movie is targeted for children is no excuse for making it bad.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After a first movie that I thought was just as good as — maybe better than — the Toby Maguire films, I couldn’t believe how utterly this one fell apart.
  • I, Frankenstein.
  • Happy Christmas. “Hey, you know all those dull, unscripted movies about obnoxious people who can’t get their lives together? Let’s make one at Christmas. And put Lena Dunham in it.”
  • Sharknado 2: The Second One. In fairness, they weren’t trying to make a good movie. They succeeded.
  • Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. All I can say is that the title was accurate.

What I Watched in… August 2014

Favorite of the Month: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Favorite of the Month: Guardians of the Galaxy (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. 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. Dick Tracy (1990), B+
2. The Great Martian War 1913-1917 (2013), B+
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), A
4. Cabin in the Woods (2012), A
5. Planet Terror (2007), B
6. Doc of the Dead (2014), B+
7. Starship Troopers (1997), C-
8. Six By Sondheim (2013), B
9. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941), C
10. Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), D
11. Sin City (2005), A
12. Robocop (1987), B
13. Robocop (2014), C-
14. Happy Feet Two (2011), C
15. Gravity (2013), A
16. Evil Dead (2013), B
17.  Hollywood After Dark (1968), F; Film Crew Riff, B
18. Stripped (2014), A
19. Godzilla (1998), D; RiffTrax Riff, B+
20. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014), C+
21. Reading Writing and Romance (2013), C-
22. The Simpsons Movie (2007), B+
23. The Makeover (2013), C+
24. The Wish List (2010), D

What I watched in… May 2014

Favorite of the month:  X-Men: Days of Future Past

Favorite of the month:
X-Men: Days of Future Past

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. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), A+
2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), C
3. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), A
4. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010), B+
5. The Grapes of Wrath (1940), A
6. The Great Gatsby (1974), A
7. Time Piece (1965), A-
8. The Rescuers (1977), B
9. Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (2011), B
10. Son of Batman (2014), B
11. +1 (2013), C+
12. Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986), C-
13. Zeta One (1969), D
14. The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), D; MST3K Riff, B
15. A Trip to the Moon (1902), B; RiffTrax Riff, B+
16. Godzilla Vs. the Sea Monster (1966), C; MST3K Riff, B
17. Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991), C+
18. Maximum Overdrive (1986), D
19. The Frankenstein Theory (2013), B-
20. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), B
21. Godzilla (2014), B+
22. Dragon Wars: D-War (2007), D; RiffTrax Riff, B
23. Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension (2011), A
24. Dear Mr. Watterson (2014), B+
25. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), B
26. Super Mario Bros. (1993), D; RiffTrax Riff, B+
27. The Way, Way Back (2013), A
28. Don Jon (2013), B-
29. The Croods (2013), B+
30. X-Men: First Class (2011), A
31. Sisters of Death (1977), F; RiffTrax Riff, A-
32. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), A+
33. The Bermuda Triangle (1978), D; RiffTrax Riff, B+
34. Goon (2011), D
35. Stalled (2013), C
36. Godzilla Raids Again (1955), B-
37. Escape From Tomorrow (2013), C
38. Gabriel Iglesias: I’m Not Fat… I’m Fluffy (2009), B-

Showcase at the Movies: Godzilla

Godzilla Poster 2The summers biggest star hits the screen this week, but can a Godzilla for the 21st century live up to the butt-kicking kaiju of the past? Blake gives his spoiler-free impressions inside.

At the Movies Episode 42: Godzilla

The Summer Movie Preview

Hey, folks — as always, the All New Showcase podcast is kicking off the summer movie season with our special preview episode. This week, my fiance Erin and I talk about all the upcoming releases, which ones we’re psyched for, which ones we think are gonna suck, and so forth. Check it out!

Episode 304:The 2014 Summer Movie Preview

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

Who are the Long Runners?

Bond BluRayLast month, during the Christmas spending frenzy, I alerted my sister to a prospective birthday present for her husband. My brother-in-law (Happy Birthday, Will!), is a James Bond fan, and during one of their Christmas blowout sales, Amazon was offering a Blu-Ray box set of the entire Bond franchise for a great price. This was almost exactly the same set (including the packaging) that was released last year except this time it included the most recent Bond film, Skyfall. Amusingly, the previous set was also still available, but was not on sale, which meant on that day you would have paid an additional $75 to not have the most recent film in the series. You’ve gotta REALLY hate Skyfall to do that.

This did get me to thinking, though. Bond has appeared in 23 canonical films, plus two other non-official movies (including the original version of Casino Royale which I’ve never seen but which, according to my mother, was bad enough to convince her not to watch another Bond film for over two decades). That’s a pretty long run. But is it the longest run? I’m going to try to answer that question – what is the longest-running (in terms of the number of installments) franchise in movie history?

Now I’m not going to count things like the endless remakes of A Christmas Carol or The Wizard of Oz, none of which have anything to do with each other. No, a true franchise has to have some sort of official nature to it – the same copyright holder, the same producer, the same continuity, or some scrambled combination thereof. So who are the true long runners?

Man-of-Steel-Flight-Poster-550x801Action movies are the obvious place to start. Die Hard is at five and Rocky made it to six movies, but that’s amateur hour compared to Bond. Not counting old serials or direct-to-DVD animated films, we’ve had six Superman movies (four with Christopher Reeve, one Brandon Routh and one Henry Cavill so far) and eight Batman (one Adam West, two Michael Keaton, one each for Kilmer and Clooney and the Dark Knight Trilogy featuring Christian Bale). However, I think one could convincingly argue that these are different continuities, and therefor different franchises. In fact, Man of Steel is supposed to be the launch point for a DC Cinematic Universe, which will hopefully be a franchise of its own.

Avengers PosterSince we’re talking about the cinematic universes, though, let’s look at Marvel. They’ve had seven movies so far (Iron Man, Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World), and with the intention of adding two more a year (including scheduled 2014 releases Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy), they could theoretically pass Bond by 2021 or so, depending on how many more Bond movies are made in the interim. Of the other Marvel franchises, those not part of the MCU, the only one close is the X-Men, with six films so far (X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine) and a seventh (X-Men: Days of Future Past) coming out this year.

Star Trek 2009Again, none of this is getting close to Bond territory. Let’s move on to the world of science fiction. Star Wars has had seven theatrical releases (people often forget, perhaps deliberately, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie that preceded the cartoon show), plus two made-for-TV Ewok movies and the staggeringly bad Star Wars Holiday Special. I think we can agree not to count those. Depending on how we want to count the two big 20th Century Fox sci-fi franchises, we may have a winner. Four Alien movies, plus two Alien Vs. Predator movies, plus the Prometheus prequel equals seven. We could theoretically add the three Predator movies as well, though, if we want to count them all as the same continuity. That’s ten. But not so fast! Star Trek moves into the second-highest spot compared to Bond with 12 movies – six featuring the original cast, four with the Next Generation crew and two from the most recent reboot. Still, twelve compared to 23? We can do better than that.

friday01How about horror? Horror franchises go a long way, and now that we’ve reached a point of remaking the originals and making sequels to the remakes, it could go even further. Freddy Krueger starred in six solo films, a film in which he battled Jason Voorhees, and a weak-sauce remake. Not good enough. Jason? He had ten solo movies, the versus film and an adequate remake – twelve. Tied with Star Trek. How about Halloween? Without debating the relative merits of any of those movies, and even if we include the Michael Meyer-less Halloween III and the remake and its sequel, we’re still only at ten. Can nobody approach Bond? Nobody?

Wait a minute, though… we’re forgetting somebody. We’re forgetting somebody big. We’re forgetting somebody really big.

We’re forgetting Godzilla.

Godzilla-King of the MonstersThe King of the Monsters has appeared in three different series of Japanese films, all of which technically have different continuities, but can easily be considered part of the same franchise. The original Godzilla movie was released in 1954, and for the next 21 years the films followed a continuity in which he slowly evolved from an enormous monster to a sort of giant superhero that protected Japan from other enormous monsters. This era, the “Shōwa” period, included fifteen movies all on its own. It’s already taken the number-two spot from Star Trek.

Godzilla returned in 1984 with The Return of Godzilla, which ignored all of the movies after the original and was more sci-fi oriented, digging into the genetic nature of the creature and even giving him an origin. This franchise, known as the Heisei series, lasted for six more films bringing us up to 22, just one short of Bond.

Godzilla 2000But we’re not done yet. Beginning in 1999 we got a series of six movies, collectively known as the “Millennium Series,” which were mostly-self contained. There was little actual continuity between the films, and even Godzilla’s height tended to vary wildly from movie to movie. Still, the films went on until 2004, ending with 28 movies in the “official” Godzilla franchise.

And this is not counting any of the American Godzilla films, which include the 1956 Godzilla: King of the Monsters (made largely from cutting scenes from the original Japanese film with scenes of Raymond Burr reporting on the attacks), the incredibly bad 1998 Roland Emmerich remake (which was actually mocked in one of the installments of the Millennium series), or the upcoming Godzilla film directed by Gareth Edwards, scheduled for release this May, which I’m actually really excited about.

So depending on how you want to count it, Godzilla has racked up either 28 or 31 movies, and even more if you start counting his enemies and allies who went on to star in spin-off films of their own. So there you have it, my friends. Godzilla is not only king of the monsters, but the king of the movie franchise as well.

Snow White and the Seven DwarfsFrozenHmm? The official Disney Animated Canon, which is up to 53 films so far, and which tends to add a new movie every year? Including this year’s Big Hero 6, which is also coincidentally based on a Marvel comic, but is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The franchise which gave us the Disney princesses, Winnie-the-Pooh, Wreck-It-Ralph, and the unforgettable drama of Home on the Range? And even though most of them are not, technically, in continuity with one another, they are considered a single collection by fans and cinemaphiles alike?

Geez, could Godzilla really be toppled by a mouse?

Aw, I’ll let you guys fight it out.