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Back in Time: 2019

As I noted in the previous Back in Time article, it seems kind of silly that we put out a “best of the year” list at the end of each year and then just walk away, as if we never watch another movie from that time period again. I watch older movies all the time. Just a few days ago I watched a movie from 1929 that makes me totally re-evaluate that list (as there are now two films on it). So why don’t we ever step back, look at a year again, and amend our best of the year lists? That’s what I’m doing here, going back a year at a time. In this second installment, I’ll talk about my favorite films of 2019, pointing out as I go which ones wouldn’t have made my list at the end of that year because I hadn’t seen them yet.

12. Point Blank. Joe Lynch’s remake of this French thriller was really strong – energetic, exciting, with strong characters and just the right amount of comic relief. It’s a blast to watch.

11. Zombieland: Double Tap (watched in February 2020). While not quite as strong as the original, the second Zombieland film extends the universe in a logical way (at least from a character standpoint – there’s some handwaving going on about how the universe functions from a technical standpoint, but that’s acceptable in a comedy of this type). It’s funny, and it’s fun to watch.

10. Yesterday (watched in February 2020). Richard Curtis has gone in an interesting direction with these sorts of magic realism romcoms. A movie about a man in a world that has somehow forgotten the Beatles is really high concept, but the likable characters and good direction by Danny Boyle carry this forward and make it a winner for me.

9. Klaus. There are a lot of Santa Claus movies out there, including a lot of origin stories, but I never knew that what I really needed was the one that linked old St. Nick to the postal service. This animated film is one of the most charming Santa movies I’ve ever seen.

8. Tread (watched in May 2020). Paul Solet’s bizarre little film is half documentary, half reenactment, and all totally bonkers. The true story of a man who got fed up with his small town and decided to build a tank to flatten it is totally gripping and utterly engrossing.

7. It Chapter Two (watched in March 2020). I know that a lot of people didn’t think the conclusion of this two-film saga was as good as the first part, but I was pulled in and moved by the whole thing. It is my favorite Stephen King novel, and I really felt like this film did it justice.

6. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (watched in June 2021). I never thought that Quentin Tarantino would make a fairy tale, but that’s kind of what this is. As he did with Inglorious Basterds, he created some amazing and moving characters, dropped them into real historical events, and then let things go completely off the rails in a highly satisfying way. In fact, this is now my second favorite Tarantino film, after the aforementioned Basterds.

5. Spider-Man: Far From Home. It almost feels quaint writing about this movie, having seen No Way Home, but this remains one of my favorite Marvel movies. Tom Holland is my favorite Spider-Man, and I thought this film was a fine epilogue to the Infinity Saga that ended in Avengers: Endgame.

4. Joker (watched in Jan. 2020). Batman villain by way of gritty crime drama, Joaquin Phoenix absolutely nails his performance in this movie about a man whose own weakness and the crushing weight of his life ultimately leads to an explosive self-destruction. If they never make a sequel to the film, I think it stands just fine on its own. 

3. Shazam! Outside of Superman, the original Captain Marvel is my favorite DC hero, and I had high hopes that this film would be a lighthearted adventure worthy of the premise of a boy who transforms into the world’s mightiest mortal. What I did not anticipate was a film with a profound message about the power of a found family, and a finale that left me giddy, as it introduced beloved characters that I never would have guessed I would see in a feature film.

2. Knives Out (watched in February 2021). Of all the films on this list, this is the one I’m most angry with myself for sleeping on. The trailers looked like it would deliver a quirky little murder mystery. I was unprepared for how layered, complicated, and altogether satisfying the movie would be – to say nothing of how much fun it was to watch this phenomenal cast tear up the scenery. I couldn’t be happier that there are more Benoit Blanc mysteries in the works.

1. Avengers: Endgame. This topped my list the moment I saw it, and I sincerely doubt there is anything that can possibly topple it. The grand finale of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe up until that point was epic, moving, heartbreaking, triumphant, and contains perhaps the single greatest moment in any superhero movie ever made. Yeah, you know what moment I’m talking about. That one. Magnificent. 

Blake M. Petit is a writer, teacher, and dad from Ama, Louisiana. His current writing project is the superhero adventure series Other People’s Heroes: Little Stars, a new episode of which is available every Wednesday on Amazon’s Kindle Vella platform. In 2019, he thought that the last couple of years had been lousy, but they were bound to get better, right? 

Spider-Man: No Way Home – A review

At this point, movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have sort of a unique task. They not only have to work as standalone movies, or installments in their individual franchise, but they also need to feel as though they contribute to the greater narrative of the MCU. They’ve struggled with that a bit this year. Black Widow wasn’t a bad movie, but it felt like an extended deleted scene with backstory they forgot to include to set up what’s coming next. Shang-Chi was a great standalone adventure film, but the elements that connected it to the larger MCU felt somewhat forced. Eternals… well, I haven’t actually seen Eternals yet. 

But then there was Spider-Man: No Way Home, a film that had the unenviable task of advancing the MCU, closing off the first Tom Holland Spider-Man trilogy, and providing a sense of closure for the entire Spider-Man movie franchise to date. It sounds almost impossible. But it succeeded almost flawlessly. 

First, the MCU stuff, since that’s quickest. Since WandaVision, Loki and What If? worked to solidify the concept of the Multiverse, and since we know that’s where the next MCU movie (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) is going, this film feels like a crucial element. It shows us the consequences of messing around with this stuff, shows us how dangerous it can be, and that’s necessary for what we know is coming, especially since the show that previously drove this point home the most (What If?) is probably the one that was viewed by the fewest people, as some snobs would dismiss it as “just a cartoon.” 

I’ve been a fan of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man from his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. He’s got a youthful energy that perfectly fits the character in his early days, and after the way the previous two iterations of the character both fizzled out, I was ready for a new take. And we got it – this was a novice Spider-Man in a world of seasoned superheroes, something we hadn’t seen before. We got Tony Stark to serve as a mentor, which made a logical sense, but also positioned Spider-man in a place unlike any other version of the character. And we got new versions of characters we’ve known for years that fit this new version. I was really glad, back then, that they did not see the need to start with yet another origin story. (We all know how it happens, people. There are three things I never need to see again: Krypton exploding, Thomas and Martha Wayne getting gunned down, and Peter Parker getting bitten by a spider.) With this installment though, I realize that we have gotten an origin story. Everything we’ve seen from this character so far has been about shaping and assembling the Spider-Man of the MCU into the person he truly must be. 

Homecoming was about learning to be a hero. Peter had to accept who he was and learn that tools and powers are secondary to the person inside, that it’s the person who must be the hero and not the suit. Far From Home was about learning to be your own kind of hero. With Tony Stark dead, Peter struggled with this urge the universe seemed to have to use him as a replacement, before ultimately rejecting it and realizing he needed to be his own man.

No Way Home is about the cost of being a hero.

Spoilers begin here.If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want it to be spoiled, stop reading secure in the knowledge that I thought this movie kicked ass. 

After the events of Far From Home, Peter’s identity has been revealed to the world. In an effort to get that genie back into the bottle, he turns to Dr. Strange for help. Strange attempts to cast a spell to wipe the knowledge of Peter’s double identity from the world, but when Peter starts trying to pick and choose who gets to remember him, the spell is mangled and disrupted, allowing incursions from the multiverse of other people who knew Peter Parker is Spider-Man. It starts with villains who faced other versions of the hero in the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield films, and it’s here that the film really starts to shine.

I won’t get super detailed here, since if you kept reading past the spoiler warning I’m going to assume you already saw this movie and know what I’m talking about. The best thing with the villains was Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octopus. Back in Spider-Man 2, he was painted as a tragic villain, a good person corrupted by technology gone wrong. In this film, Peter not only repairs the damage, but allows the good man that was Otto Octavius to return and redeem himself. Jamie Foxx’s Electro similarly gets an arc – not exactly one of redemption, but of realization that he sorely needed. Sandman and Lizard don’t get as much development, but each is at least afforded an opportunity to go home as normal humans and potentially live normal lives.

Willem DaFoe’s Green Goblin remains the nastiest, bloodthirstiest villain in any Spider-Man movie, and is responsible for the most sincerely shocking moment of the film: the death of May Parker. While presumably this universe still had a Ben Parker (there are moments in the previous films that allude to a tragedy that we have to assume was his death), it is May who grounds Peter and gives him that famous lesson that Stan Lee first wrote back in 1962. (You know which one, I’m not gonna repeat it here… but it’s worth pointing out that this is the first time that they actually got the wording right). It’s May’s heart and compassion that fuels Peter Parker. And it is May’s death at the hands of the Goblin that sets up the magnificent ending of this film and this trilogy.

We’ll come back to Tom Holland, but let’s not forget our other two heroes: Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Maguire’s series ended relatively peacefully: he and Mary Jane were together and the villains were defeated. This film blessedly chooses not to hit the reset button on this: although things haven’t always been easy, Tobey/Peter tells us that they’ve managed to make it work. His moment of redemption comes when he saves his younger counterpart, Tom/Peter, from killing Norman Osborn. Tobey/Peter has failed twice to save someone from dying on the point of that damned Goblin Glider, and in preventing Norman’s death this time, he gets the closure he needs.

Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man, however, ended at a point of anguish, trying to get back in the saddle after the death of Gwen Stacy, a death he blames himself for. Since his last film he’s grown darker, he tells us he “stopped pulling punches” and doesn’t have time for “Peter Parker stuff” anymore. In the scenes where the three Peters interact (which, by the way, are some of the most wonderfully comedic, heartfelt, and sincere scenes in the entire film) it’s Andrew/Peter who is the most self-deprecating, but in a way that feels like he’s truly torturing himself instead of just cracking wise like he did in his own films. 

But he, too, is saved by this movie. When the MCU MJ topples from the Statue of Liberty and the Goblin stops Tom/Peter from saving her, it’s almost exactly the same thing that killed Gwen, it’s the death he caused, it was all his fault… but where before Andrew/Peter suffered the most tragic moment of his life, this time he saves the day. The look on his face when he lands holding a living, breathing MJ instead of a dangling corpse says everything – the pain, the anguish, the self-hatred is finally being released. It’s magnificent, it’s a moment where you break down with joy because finally, finally, he can forgive himself.

Then there’s Tom Holland. His Peter Parker started all this because he was trying to have everything, trying to make his life perfect, and that’s not possible. After suffering the most tragic loss of his life, he accepts his mistake and makes the greatest sacrifice – wiping the knowledge of Peter Parker from everybody. MJ, Ned, Happy Hogan, Nick Fury, the Avengers, even Dr. Strange who is casting the spell now has no memory of Peter Parker. He is utterly, completely alone, There is literally “no way home.” And he knows this before he makes the call, because it’s the only way to save everyone.

“Because that’s what we do.”

This movie hits almost every beat. The performances are great, the dialogue is witty, the themes are strong and the construction is magnificent. And somehow, despite the tragedy, it ends on a point of hope, with Peter making his own suit – not one whipped up by Stark Tech or upgraded by Otto Octavius – but a simple suit that takes cues from his “brothers” and, consequently, is the single most comic book-accurate Spider-Man costume ever used in a live action film, finally showing us who he is. No more apprenticeship, no more Stark tech, no more relying on other people. He may be all alone now, but his adventure is just beginning.

And my goodness, we can’t wait to see where it goes. 

Blake M. Petit is a writer, teacher, and dad from Ama, Louisiana. His current writing project is the superhero adventure series Other People’s Heroes: Little Stars, a new episode of which is available every Wednesday on Amazon’s Kindle Vella platform. He is not, strictly speaking, capable of doing “whatever a spider can,” but he DID learn how to reheat french fries in his air fryer.

What I Watched In… May 2018

Armstrong

Favorite of the Month: Armstrong (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. Rear Window (1998), D
  2. Count Dracula’s Great Love (1973), D-
  3. THX 1138 (1971), C+
  4. Have Rocket — Will Travel (1959), C-
  5. X-Men (2000), B-
  6. Megamind (2010), B+
  7. The Mask (1994), B-
  8. Spider-Man 2 (2004), B+
  9. Wall-E (2008), A
  10. Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter (1972), D+
  11. Superman II (1980), A-
  12. X2: X-Men United (2003), B+
  13. Peelers (2016), D+
  14. Spider-Man 3 (2007), C-
  15. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010), D+
  16. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006), A
  17. Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel (2013), B+
  18. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), D
  19. Armstrong (2016), B+
  20. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), B-
  21. Superman III (1983), C+

What I Watched In… April 2018

Avengers-Infinity War

Favorite of the Month: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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. Sing (2016), B+
  2. Star Kid (1997), B-
  3. The Phantom (1996), C+
  4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), A+
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), A-
  6. Gen 13 (2000), C-
  7. JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (2014), B-
  8. Superman: the Last Son of Krypton (1996), B+
  9. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), B+
  10. Ant-Man (2015), B+
  11. Captain America: Civil War (2016), A+
  12. The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005), D-
  13. Ready Player One (2018), A
  14. Doctor Strange (2016), B+
  15. Dinosaurus! (1960), C-
  16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), A-
  17. Some Like it Hot (1959), A-
  18. Forbidden Planet (1956), B+
  19. The Spirit (2008), F
  20. The Pumaman (1980), D; MST3K Riff, A-
  21. Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953), B
  22. Superman (1978), A+
  23. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), A-
  24. Comic Book Super Heroes Unmasked (2003), B
  25. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), A
  26. Short Circuit (1986), B
  27. Compliance (2012), B+
  28. Superargo and the Faceless Giants (1968), D; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  29. Avengers: Infinity War (2018), A
  30. Phantom Boy 92015), B+
  31. The Mark of Zorro (1940), B+

What I Watched In… March 2018

Thor-Ragnarok

Favorite of the Month: Thor: Ragnarok (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. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), C
  2. Mute (2018), C-
  3. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010), F; RiffTrax Riff, A
  4. The Incredible Hulk (2008), B-
  5. The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), B
  6. Godzilla’s Revenge (1969), F
  7. Spookers (2017), C
  8. Iron Man 2 (2010), B+
  9. Turok: Son of Stone (2008), C
  10. Thor (2011), B+
  11. Escape From L.A. (1996), C-
  12. Guardians of Oz (2015), C+
  13. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), A
  14. The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953) B
  15. Thor: Ragnarok (2017), B+
  16. A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018), B
  17. Animal House (1978), B+
  18. The Avengers (2012), A
  19. Constantine (2005), D
  20. Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash (2018), B
  21. The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), D; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  22. Lean on Me (1989), B+
  23. Iron Man 3 (2013), B+
  24. Terror Out of the Sky (1978), D-
  25. The Mad Magician (1954), C
  26. The Ritual (2018), B
  27. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), B+
  28. Thor: The Dark World (2013), C+
  29. Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), B-
  30. The Prince of Egypt (1998), A-
  31. Spider-Man (2002), B
  32. Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971), B-

 

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

What I Watched In… July 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!

July’s favorite of the month is a rare tie. Dunkirk was an excellent war movie. The Big Sick was a romantic comedy that struck me on a remarkably personal level. The two films are so different from one another that I simply couldn’t rank one above the other.

  1. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), C
  2. Invasion of Astro-Monster aka Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero (1965), B+
  3. Mothra Vs. Godzilla aka Godzilla Vs. the Thing (1964), B+
  4. Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), B-
  5. Godzilla’s Revenge aka All Monsters Attack (1969), F
  6. Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995), B-
  7. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003), B
  8. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), B+
  9. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), B+
  10. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), B
  11. Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth aka Godzilla Vs. Mothra (1992), B+
  12. Despicable Me 2 (2013), B
  13. Minions (2015), B
  14. The Secret Life of Pets (2016), B+
  15. Rodan (1956), B+
  16. Airplane! (1980), A
  17. The Lego Batman Movie (2017), A
  18. Dr. No (1962), B
  19. Harvey (1950), B+
  20. From Russia With Love (1963), B
  21. Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s the Fantastic Four (2015), B+
  22. The Time of Their Lives (1946), B+
  23. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), A-
  24. Goldfinger (1964), B+
  25. The Amazing Spider-Man (1977), C
  26. Sing (2016), B+
  27. The Car (1977), D
  28. Thunderball (1965), C
  29. Return of the Fly (1959), C
  30. Godzilla 2000 (1999), C
  31. Father of the Bride (1950), A
  32. Jaws (1975), A+
  33. Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), C-
  34. Bratz (2007), D
  35. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), A-
  36. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), A
  37. Spider-Man Strikes Back (1978), C-
  38. You Only Live Twice (1967), B
  39. T.J. Miller: Meticulously Ridiculous (2017), C-
  40. Gymkata (1985), F
  41. War For the Planet of the Apes (2017), B+
  42. The Big Sick (2017), A+
  43. Galaxy Quest (1999), A
  44. Summer Magic (1963), B+
  45. Spaceballs (1987), B+
  46. Lifeboat (1944), A-
  47. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), A
  48. Kong: Skull Island (2017), B
  49. Dunkirk (2017), A
  50. Ducktales: Treasure of the Golden Suns (1987), B+
  51. Ducktales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990), B+
  52. Daffy Duck’s Movie: Fantastic Island (1983), B-
  53. The Man Called Flintstone (1966), B
  54. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), B-
  55. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), A-

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… June 2017

Wonder Woman Movie Poster

Favorite of the Month: Wonder Woman (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. Batman & Bill (2017), A
  2. Them! (1954), B-
  3. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (Extended Edition, 2016), B
  4. Wonder Woman (2017), A
  5. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985), D-; MST3K Riff, B
  6. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989), D+; MST3K Riff, B+
  7. The Wasp Woman (1959), C+
  8. The Mummy (1932), B
  9. The Mummy’s Hand (1940), B+
  10. The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), C+
  11. The Mummy’s Ghost (1944), C
  12. The Mummy’s Curse (1944), C+
  13. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), B-
  14. The Mummy (1999), B+
  15. The Mummy Returns (2001), B
  16. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), C-
  17. The Giant Behemoth (aka Behemoth, the Sea Monster, 1959), B-
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), A
  19. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016), B
  20. Carnival Magic (1981), F; MST3K Riff, B
  21. The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966), C-; MST3K Riff, B
  22. At the Earth’s Core (1976), C; MST3K Riff, B+
  23. Cell (2016), C-
  24. Chillerama (2011), C+
  25. Night of the Creeps (1986), B+
  26. Escape From New York (1981), A-
  27. Critters (1986), C
  28. Christine (1983), B
  29. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), B-
  30. Central Intelligence (2016), B+
  31. Contagion (2011), B
  32. The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973), D
  33. RiffTrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party (2017), B+
  34. Resident Evil (2002), D
  35. Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed (2014), B+
  36. Superman Vs. the Elite (2012), A
  37. Superargo and the Faceless Giants (1968), F; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  38. This Island Earth (1955), B
  39. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), A-
  40. Get Out (2017), A-
  41. Predator (1987), B+
  42. Predator 2 (1990), B+
  43. This is America, Charlie Brown (1988), B
  44. Pollyanna (1960), A-
  45. The Most Dangerous Game (1932), B
  46. Predators (2010), B

Looking ahead to 2017…

We’ve got 12 months of movies ahead of us. Now that we’ve looked back at 2016, let’s see what’s coming out this year that’s got me excited…

  • The LEGO Batman Movie (Feb. 10). The first LEGO Movie was one of the most unexpected gems of the last few years. The trailers for this first spinoff look to be unfettered fun.
  • John Wick Chapter 2 (Feb. 10). Another unexpected hit was the first John Wick movie. I can’t wait for the sequel.
  • Logan (March 3). Hugh Jackman’s final turn as Wolverine looks like it’s going to be a much darker, more intense take on the character than we’ve seen before.
  • Kong: Skull Island (March 10). With Legendary planning an MCU-style connection between this and their Godzilla franchise, I’m really looking forward to the new take on King Kong.
  • Beauty and the Beast (March 17). Disney’s rash of live-action remakes of their classic animated films has been hit or miss for me, but Emma Watson as Belle is perfect casting. I’ve got high hopes for this one.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5). After a thrilling, joyful first film, I’m hoping director James Gunn can do the same with this one.
  • Wonder Woman (June 2). It’s almost a crime that it’s taken this long for there to be a live-action Wonder Woman movie. Gal Gadot stole every scene of Batman V Superman, and I can’t wait to see this one.
  • The Mummy (June 9). Universal is hoping to revive its classic monster franchise with (again) an MCU-style shared universe. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7). Marvel and Sony coming to an agreement for Spider-Man is the best thing that could have happened for the character. Tom Holland rocked in Captain America: Civil War, and I’m hoping for more of that in this film.
  • War For the Planet of the Apes (July 14). The first two films in the new Apes franchise were phenomenal — deep, thoughtful films with mesmerizing performances. I feel very good about this next one.
  • Dunkirk (July 21). Christopher Nolan doing a World War I epic. How can you not be excited?
  • The Dark Tower (July 28). Stephen King’s self-proclaimed “Magnum Opus” is a work that has a need personal meaning for me. I want this movie to be great. The casting is spot-on, although the information that’s come out so far leaves me wondering exactly what angle they’re intending to take on the material.
  • It (Sept. 8). Another Stephen King adaptation. Although not as personal to me, it’s still a great book that had an okay TV adaptation. Can any film truly capture the novel?
  • Thor: Ragnarok (Nov. 3). Although the Thor movies gave the MCU its most charismatic villain, they aren’t quite as memorable as the rest of the franchise. This time out, having Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange along for the ride may finally give us a great Thor movie.
  • Justice League (Nov. 17). I’ve been waiting for this movie since I was a kid, and the promotional materials have looked fantastic. I can’t wait.
  • Star Wars Episode VIII (Dec. 15). Little independent movie. You probably haven’t heard of it.