Posts Tagged ‘movie reviews’

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2021 Year in Review – Movies

January 1, 2022

My TOP TEN Movies of 2021

  1. Dune
  2. Shiva Baby (HBO Max)
  3. Little Fish (Hulu)
  4. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  5. CODA (Apple TV+)
  6. Titane
  7. Pig (Hulu)
  8. Judas and the Black Messiah (HBO Max)
  9. The Last Duel
  10. A Quiet Place Part II

The rest of my top 25: https://boxd.it/b3zMq

Notable 2021 films I haven’t seen yet: Licorice Pizza, C’mon C’mon, Belfast, The Worst Person in the World, Mass, West Side Story, Red Rocket, The Lost Daughter, The Card Counter, Spencer, The French Dispatch, King Richard, In The Heights, Nightmare Alley, No Time to Die, Swan Song

My TOP FIVE Documentaries/Docu-Series of 2021

  1. The Alpinist (Netflix)
  2. Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry (Apple TV+)
  3. Summer of Soul (Hulu)
  4. Val (Amazon Prime)
  5. Allen v. Farrow (HBO Max)

Notable 2021 Documentaries I haven’t seen: The Beatles: Get Back, Flee, The Rescue, Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street, Tina, Tiger, The History of the Atlanta Falcons, The Velvet Underground, The Sparks Brothers

2021 Movie Stats

Films watched: 244 (including shorts and eligible T.V. series (i.e. Loki, Mare of Easttown, etc.)

Average per month: 20.3

Average per week: 4.7

Most movies watched in one week: 13

Movies I watched twice: Halloween Kills, Minari, The Father, Shiva Baby, Promising Young Woman, Dick Johnson is Dead

Most watched genres: Drama (101 films), Horror (61), Thriller (61), Comedy (46), Action (34)

2021 releases: 29.5% Older: 70.5%

First-time watches: 74.6% Re-watches: 25.4%

10/10 Ratings: Halloween, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Jurassic Park, 12 Years a Slave

2021 – Most Watched Actors:

6 films: Corey Feldman (Friday the 13th franchise), Samuel L. Jackson (random)

5 films: Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween franchise), Benedict Cumberbatch (random), Jesse Plemons (random), Carrie-Anne Moss (Matrix franchise), Bill Camp (random)

4 films: Robert De Niro (Scorsese), Keanu Reeves (Matrix), David Dastmalchian (random), Nick Castle (Halloween), Virginia Madsen (random), Benedict Wong (Marvel), Melora Walters (Paul Thomas Anderson), Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th), P.J. Soles (Halloween), Charles Scorsese (Scorsese), Darrell Britt-Gibson (Fear Street), Fred Hechinger (Fear Street), Olivia Scott Welch (Fear Street)

2021 – Most Watched Directors:

4 films: Martin Scorsese, Lana Wachowski

3 films: Paul Thomas Anderson, Leigh Janiak, Destin Daniel Cretton, Wes Anderson, Ridley Scott

2 films: Steve Miner, Sergio Leone, David Gordon Green, Garrett Bradley, Spike Lee, James Cameron, Chloe Zhao, Adam Wingard, Rob Zombie, Steve McQueen, David Lynch, Chris Palmer

All-Time – Most Watched Actors:

  1. Samuel L. Jackson (44 films) [previously ranked 1]
  2. Brad Pitt (36) [2]
  3. Robert De Niro (35) [2]
  4. Tom Hanks (33) [5]
  5. Matt Damon (32) [6]
  6. Morgan Freeman (31) [8]
  7. John Goodman (31) [4]
  8. Bruce Willis (29) [6]
  9. Johnny Depp (28) [9]
  10. Tom Cruise (27) [13]
  11. Robert Downey Jr. (27) [13]
  12. Woody Harrelson (27) [10]
  13. Jonah Hill (27) [12]
  14. Jack Black (27) [9]
  15. J.K. Simmons (27) [13]
  16. Arnold Schwarzenegger (26) [13]
  17. Ben Affleck (26) [13]
  18. Willem Dafoe (26) [unranked]
  19. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (25) [unranked]
  20. Bill Murray (25) [13]

Dropped out: Laurence Fishburne, Jon Favreau

All-Time – Most Watched Directors:

  1. Steve Spielberg (21 films) [previously ranked 1]
  2. Martin Scorsese (20) [2]
  3. Ridley Scott (16) [4]
  4. Tim Burton (14) [3]
  5. Sam Raimi (12) [5]
  6. Ron Howard (12) [5]
  7. Quentin Tarantino (12) [5]
  8. Ivan Reitman (11) [8]
  9. David Fincher (11) [8]
  10. Christopher Nolan (11) [8]
  11. Joel Coen (11) [8]
  12. Michael Bay (10) [12]
  13. Robert Rodriguez (10) [12]
  14. Steven Soderbergh (10) [12]
  15. Jon Turteltaub (9) [15]
  16. Stephen Herek (9) [15]
  17. Wes Craven (9) [15]
  18. Joel Schumacher (9) [unranked]
  19. Peter Farrelly (9) [15]
  20. Jay Roach (9) [15]
  21. James Mangold (9) [15]
  22. Robert Zemeckis (9) [15]
  23. Richard Donner (9) [15]

Notes: Basically no movement here. I have multiple directors I’m focusing on right now, but Scorsese is the only one I watched more than three films from and only one of those wasn’t a re-watch. Ridley Scott is the only director in my all-time top 20 that I saw more than one new film from last year.

Every Movie I watched in November & December

Notes: This is the time of year I really start digging into the 2021 movies with Oscar chances, but this past month was kind of weird because of snow. I ended up cancelling multiple movie theater trips because we only have one 4WD vehicle and Dina was using it to go to work. Also, the vast majority of my film-watching is a solo adventure, but over the last ten days of 2021 Dina and I watched 14 movies together! She let me pick out two of them. Needless to say, my focused watchlist is now overflowing with 2021 movies I still need to see. The good news is I will have almost three full months to catch up on everything before the Oscars air on March 27th. Plenty of time!

Masterpieces – 10

Amazing – 9

  • The Matrix (1999, re-watch, HBO Max)
  • Boogie Nights (1997, re-watch, Showtime)

Great/Must Sees – 8

  • Titane (2021, iTunes rental)
  • The Last Duel (2021, Vudu)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021, theater)
  • The Alpinist (2021, Netflix)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2021, re-watch, Disney+)
  • Black Swan (2010, re-watch, Hulu)
  • Goodfellas (1990, re-watch, HBO Max)

Highly Enjoyable – 7

  • Last Night in Soho (2021, theater)
  • The Master (2012, Netflix)
  • The Matrix Reloaded (2003, re-watch, HBO Max)
  • Best in Show (2000, re-watch, HBO Max)
  • Bottle Rocket (1996, iTunes rental)
  • Hard Eight (1996, Amazon Prime)
  • Home Alone (1990, re-watch, personal collection)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989, re-watch, personal collection)
  • The Color of Money (1986, re-watch, iTunes rental)
  • Tampopo (1985, HBO Max)

Light Recommendations – 6

Decent – 5

  • Censor (2021, Hulu)
  • Eternals (2021, theater)
  • tick, tick… BOOM! (2021, Netflix)
  • The Matrix Resurrections (2021, HBO Max)
  • I, Robot (2004, re-watch, HBO Max)

Forgettable – 4

  • The Matrix Revolutions (2003, re-watch, HBO Max)

Bad – 3

Horrible – 2

2021 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2021 through December 2021
2020 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2020 through December 2021
2021 Best Documentaries/Docu-Series: My top documentary style films of the year
Focused Watchlist: A list of 30+ movies that are at the top of my watchlist with a breakdown of how I formulate my picks
January 2022 – New to Theaters and Streaming: Ranking new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming or theaters this month

I also went crazy and made a best films of the year list for every year from 2020 to 1982, the year I was born. I ranked 25 films for 2000 and later and 10 films for 1999 to 1982. I started fizzling out on my lists in the early 90s as I just haven’t seen most of the important films from those early years when I was a kid. I have all the lists on my blog here. Enjoy!

T.V. Shows (Ratings out of 5)

Finished:

  • Succession season 3 (2021, HBO) – 4/5
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm season 11 (2021, HBO) – 3.5/5
  • Better Call Saul season 5 (2020, FX) – 3.5/5
  • The Sex Lives of College Girls season 1 (2021, HBO) – 4/5

Actively watching:

  • Dexter: New Blood season 1 (2021, Showtime)
  • The Sopranos season 2 (2000, HBO, re-watch)

Started but on indefinite pause:

  • Chucky season 1 (2021, USA/SyFy)
  • What We Do in the Shadows season 3 (2021, Hulu)
  • Big Shots season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Loki season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Rick & Morty season 5 (2021, Adult Swim)
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Fall 2021 – Every Movie I Watched

October 31, 2021

Below is a list of every movie I’ve watched over the last two months. I haven’t reviewed a movie since I’ve been in Vegas, but any film with a blue link is to a review I wrote for it.

Masterpieces – 10

  • Halloween (1978, re-watch, personal collection)

Amazing – 9

  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – (1966, re-watch, HBO Max)
  • Dune (2021, IMAX)
  • Raging Bull (1980, re-watch, iTunes rental)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989, Netflix)

Great/Must Sees – 8

  • The King of Comedy (1982, Pluto TV)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, re-watch, personal collection)
  • The Hustler (1961, re-watch, iTunes rental)
  • Rushmore (1998, re-watch, personal collection)
  • Little Fish (2021, Hulu)
  • Short Term 12 (2013, Peacock)

Highly Enjoyable – 7

  • A Fistful of Dollars (1964, HBO Max)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021, theaters)
  • Halloween (2018, re-watch, personal collection)
  • The Goonies (1985, re-watch, HBO Max)
  • Eden Lake (2008, Tubi TV)
  • The Return of the Living Dead (1985, HBO Max)
  • Big Time Adolescence (2019, Hulu)
  • Malignant (2021, HBO Max)
  • Val (2021, Amazon Prime)

Light Recommendations – 6

  • Primal Fear (1996, re-watch, HBO Max?)
  • Disturbia (2007, re-watch, HBO Max)
  • The Many Saints of Newark (2021, theaters)
  • Saint Maud (2020, Hulu)

Decent – 5

  • Dream Horse (2020, Hulu) – 5.5/10
  • Halloween Kills (2021, twice, theaters & Peacock)
  • Jason X (2001, re-watch, HBO Max)
  • Freddy vs. Jason (2003, re-watch, HBO Max)
  • The Voyeurs (2021, Amazon Prime)
  • Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2006, YouTube)

Forgettable – 4

  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003, HBO Max)

Bad – 3

  • Dune (1984, HBO Max)

2021 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2021 through October
2020 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2020 through October 2021
2021 Best Documentaries/Docu-Series: My top documentary style films of the year
Focused Watchlist: A list of 30+ movies that are at the top of my watchlist with a breakdown of how I formulate my picks
September 2021 – New to Theaters and Streaming: Ranking new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming or theaters this month

I also went crazy and made a best films of the year list for every year from 2020 to 1982, the year I was born. I ranked 25 films for 2000 and later and 10 films for 1999 to 1982. I started fizzling out on my lists in the early 90s as I just haven’t seen most of the important films from those early years when I was a kid. I have all the lists on my blog here. Enjoy!

T.V. Shows (Ratings out of 5)

Finished:

  • The Sopranos season 1 (1999, HBO, re-watch) – 4.5/5
  • Ted Lasso season 2 (2021, Apple) – 3.5/5
  • Nine Perfect Strangers mini-series (2021, Hulu) – 3/5

Actively watching:

  • Chucky season 1 (2021, USA/SyFy)
  • Better Call Saul season 5 (2020, FX)
  • What We Do in the Shadows season 3 (2021, Hulu)
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm season 11 (2021, HBO)
  • Succession season 3 (2021, HBO)

Started but on indefinite pause:

  • The Sopranos season 2 (2000, HBO, re-watch)
  • What If…? season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Big Shots season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Loki season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Rick & Morty season 5 (2021, Adult Swim)

Music

I have listened to almost no new music the whole time I’ve been in Vegas.

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August 2021 – Every Movie I Watched

September 5, 2021

Movies – Reviews or ratings for every movie I watched in the month of August.

Movies I watched, but didn’t review:

  • Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two (2021) – 7/10
  • CODA (2021, Apple TV) – 8/10
  • Jungle Cruise (2021) – 4/10
  • The Green Knight (2021) – 7/10
  • The Suicide Squad (2021, HBO Max) – 6/10
  • Together, Together (2021, Hulu) – 6/10
  • The Father (2020, re-watch) – 8/10
  • Icarus (2017, Netflix) – 8/10
  • Apocalypto (2006, Prime) – 8/10
  • Croupier (1998, Netflix) – 6/10
  • The Fugitive (1993, HBO Max, re-watch) – 6/10
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991, Netflix) – 10/10
  • Police Story (1985, HBO Max) – 7/10

2021 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2021 through August
2020 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2020 through August 2021
2021 Best Documentaries/Docu-Series: My top documentary style films of the year
Focused Watchlist: A list of 30+ movies that are at the top of my watchlist with a breakdown of how I formulate my picks
September 2021 – New to Theaters and Streaming: Ranking new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming or theaters this month

I also went crazy and made a best films of the year list for every year from 2020 to 1982, the year I was born. I ranked 25 films for 2000 and later and 10 films for 1999 to 1982. I started fizzling out on my lists in the early 90s as I just haven’t seen most of the important films from those early years when I was a kid. I have all the lists on my blog here. Enjoy!

T.V. Shows (Ratings out of 5)

  • Dave season 2 (2021, Hulu/FX) – 3.5/5
  • Dr. Death (2021, Peacock)
  • The Outsider (2020, HBO Max) – 3/5

Currently watching:

  • Better Call Saul season 5 (2020, FX)
  • Big Shots season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Loki season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Rick & Morty season 5 (2021, Adult Swim)
  • The Sopranos season 1 (1999, HBO Max, re-watch)
  • Ted Lasso season 2 (2021, Apple TV+)

Music

None

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May – July 2021: Every Review I Wrote

August 3, 2021

Movies – As I said in my last movie post, writing has become one of my bottom priorities and here we are three months since I last made a movie post. Oh well, here are the reviews and/or ratings for every movie I’ve seen over that time. I’ve been going to the theaters at least once a week and Dina has even jumped back on the movie theater going experience as we’ve started taking our niece and nephew to a movie every other weekend. This has been a pleasant surprise as I’ve been seeing movies in theaters mostly by myself for years now. I still seem to be reviewing only about 33% of the movies I watch. The best movie I watched that I’ve never seen was Captain Fantastic. It was just a complete joy to watch. I think it is still streaming on Netflix and if you happened to miss it like I did, it’s time to make up for that mistake. Also, I think horror fans should check out the Fear Street trilogy on Netflix. It’s based on the kids book series by R.L. Stine (which I never read — I was a “Goosebumps” kid though), but it’s actually a pretty hard-R experience. I admittedly did not like the first movie, but I always had my eyes on the second one anyway because it looked like an homage to 1980s campsite slasher flicks and that horror sub-genre will always have a special place in my heart. Of course, I enjoyed that one, but I was surprised to also like the third movie and I think the last entry makes the whole trilogy substantially more enjoyable as a whole. It almost made me want to re-watch the first one.

Movies I watched, but didn’t review:

  • Allen v. Farrow (2021, HBO Max) – 7/10
  • Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One (2021, Prime Rental) – 6/10
  • Black Widow (2021, Theaters) – 6/10
  • Fear Street: 1978 (2021, Netflix) – 6/10
  • Fear Street: 1666 (2021, Netflix) – 6/10
  • Luca (2021, Disney+) – 7/10
  • Mitchells vs. The Machines, The (2021, Netflix) – 7/10
  • Palmer (2021, Apple TV+) – 7/10
  • Pig (2021, Theaters) – 8/10
  • Quiet Place Part II (2021, Theaters) – 8/10
  • Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021, Hulu) – 7/10
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021, HBO Max) – 6/10
  • Zola (2021, Theaters) – 7/10
  • The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020, Netflix) – 6/10
  • Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017, Netflix) – 7/10
  • Captain Fantastic (2019, Netflix) – 9/10
  • Matchstick Men (2003, HBO Max) – 8/10
  • Hero (2002, HBO Max, re-watch) – 7/10
  • Audition (1999, tubi) – 7/10
  • The Fly (1986, re-watch) – 8/10
  • Stand by Me (1986, Hulu, re-watch) – 8/10

2021 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2021 through July
2020 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2020 through July 2021
2021 Best Documentaries/Docu-Series: My top documentary style films of the year
Focused Watchlist: A list of 30+ movies that are at the top of my watchlist with a breakdown of how I formulate my picks
August 2021 – New to Theaters and Streaming: Ranking new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming or theaters this month

I also went crazy and made a best films of the year list for every year from 2020 to 1982, the year I was born. I ranked 25 films for 2000 and later and 10 films for 1999 to 1982. I started fizzling out on my lists in the early 90s as I just haven’t seen most of the important films from those early years when I was a kid. I have all the lists on my blog here. Enjoy!

T.V. Shows (Ratings out of 5)

  • Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitt’s Creek Farewell (2021, Netflix) – 3.5
  • Bo Burnham: Inside (2021, Netflix) – 3.5
  • Friends: The Reunion (2021, HBO Max) – 3.5
  • Invincible season 1 (2020, Amazon Prime) – 3.5
  • Mare of Easttown (2021, HBO Max) – 4.5
  • Mighty Ducks: Game Changers season 1 (2021, Disney+) – 3
  • Schitt’s Creek season 6 (2020, Netflix) – 4

Currently watching:

  • Better Call Saul season 5 (2020, FX)
  • Big Shots season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Dave season 2 (2021, Hulu/FX)
  • Loki season 1 (2021, Disney+)
  • Rick & Morty season 5 (2021, Adult Swim)
  • The Sopranos season 1 (1999, HBO Max, re-watch)
  • Ted Lasso season 2 (2021, Apple TV+)

Music

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Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

December 26, 2020

Director: Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster)

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal

Anticipation Level: Very High

How Was It?

Ugh.  I was really excited for this and it was such a slog.  How are you going to make a Wonder Woman sequel and have Gal Gadot in costume for maybe five minutes in the first hour and 45 minutes?  The narrative moves at a crawl and that’s not how I want my action flicks, especially if the exposition and character development isn’t particularly riveting.  Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah was fine (well, until the final act), but I did not enjoy Pedro Pascal at all.  He’s great in The Mandalorian but his performance as Max Lord here was just hard to watch… and not in a good way.  There were some charming and funny moments (mostly between Gadot and Chris Pine) and the conclusion of the movie was dangerously close to being touching, but I’m struggling to find the positives.  This movie was way too long and bored me for most of its run time.  I’m super disappointed.  I honestly can’t imagine watching this again.  My score below is probably generous.

Replay Value: Very little

Sequel Potential: They had a winning formula going here and I can’t imagine they’d replace Gal Gadot, but this movie was a huge step back. I assume they will keep moving forward with Gadot as Wonder Woman, but DC has plans to shake everything up in the near future.

Oscar Potential: None.

4/10 (Subpar)

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Sound of Metal (2020)

December 18, 2020

Director: Darius Marder (Loot)

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

Anticipation Level: Moderate

How Was It?

This one had my anxiety levels rising from the jump. Imagine suddenly losing your hearing one day. Imagine suddenly losing your hearing when music is your passion and only source of income – not to mention the strongest bond you have with your significant other. It’s difficult and disturbing to watch Riz Ahmed’s character go through all the various stages of grief in dealing with his hearing loss, but we get an immersive glimpse at what that might be like if it happened to us. Ahmed gives the best performance of his career and will be a strong contender for a Best Actor nomination. Sound of Metal is possibly the best movie I’ve seen this year and it’s really sticking with me. I wouldn’t mind re-watching it again relatively soon. It’s heartbreaking and the most powerful movie I’ve seen that was released this year. After sitting on it for a few days, I’ve decided Sound of Metal is the first must see film of 2020. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime now so check it out ASAP.

Replay Value: I didn’t think so at first, but the more I’ve thought about this movie the last few days, the more interested I am in watching it again sooner rather than later.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Riz Ahmed should be in the Best Actor mix and I expect this to be one of the ten or so movies that get a Best Picture nomination. I suppose a Best Pic nom means it’s also a fringe contender for screenplay and directing. The use of sound in this movie was pretty interesting, so maybe there’s a nomination in there, but I’m not sure if it would be for mixing or editing.

8/10 (Must See)

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Tenet (2020)

September 4, 2020

Director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, Inception, Memento)

Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It?

Christopher Nolan is smarter than the rest of us and he wants everyone to know it. Sure, he’s done plenty of high concept films before (Memento, The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar), but in all of those movies the plots are relatively easy to follow and you know who the characters are and why they are doing what they are doing. Tenet? I’ll be damned if anyone can honestly say they know what the hell is going on in this movie the first time they watch it. Things are complex enough as it is, but Nolan has made a habit of drowning out the dialogue with extraneous noise in his last couple of films (see also: Dunkirk) and when that dialogue is needed to explain critical plot points, it makes Tenet pretty much impossible to follow. This film would benefit a lot from having subtitles even though it is almost entirely in English.

At some point, I just turned my brain off and tried to enjoy the spectacle. Tenet definitely has some A+ action sequences and plenty of amazing visuals so it scores really high in those departments. This movie will have no issue racking up award nominations in all the technical apsects, although the sound editing and/or mixing is more of a problem than an asset here. The concept of inverting time makes for some really cool moments and some brilliant-looking shots.

I can’t say I cared about any of the characters in this movie so there was no emotional weight to the story during my first watch. It’s hard to say whether that’s a result of things being undeveloped or because I just didn’t get it, but either way, I didn’t feel any type of way about what was happening. I think the acting in this movie is pretty good and that’s not surprising as John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki all have good performances on their resumes already. This movie is light on comedy, but Washington still finds a couple of moments to say something funny.

I feel like it’s unfair to give this movie a rating after one viewing considering I didn’t really understand it. I think even if the dialogue wasn’t so hard to hear a lot of the time and I had a better idea of what was going on, I’d still need to do extra research online to really get to the bottom of everything. I’ll eventually do that, but I’m guessing the average moviegoer isn’t too interested in all that. As a result, I expect most people not to like this movie and they will probably dismiss it after one viewing. I’m sure everyone is going to see it anyway (when they feel safe to do so), but I don’t recommend it unless you are okay with being clueless while watching it and spending extra time reading about it later. Tenet is quite easily my least favorite Chris Nolan film after one viewing and with a 150 minute run time, I can’t say I’m super excited to get back in the theater again and figure things out.

Replay Value: Required, but I don’t know how enjoyable it will be.

Sequel Potential: I don’t expect Nolan to make sequels to his original movies.

Oscar Potential: Cinematography, Visual Effects, Production Design, Film Editing, Original Score noms all seem likely. Dunkirk won Oscars for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing but I couldn’t hear the dialogue in that movie either so… I wouldn’t be shocked to see this get Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay noms because it’s a Chris Nolan movie, but not because it actually deserves them.

???/10 (???)

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

August 21, 2020

Director: Chuck Russell (The Mask, The Blob, Eraser)

Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It?

This review may contain spoilers.

The last good Freddy movie before a long stretch of total crap. I still haven’t revisited Part 2, but I’ve never liked that movie and I don’t expect that to change, even after watching the Mark Patton documentary. I felt fine skipping Freddy’s Revenge because this movie ignores that sequel anyway (Note: I do plan to watch it again soon [Note: and I did obviously]).

Dream Warriors holds up really well and has some of the most iconic moments (the Freddy worm, the whole puppet sequence, the T.V. death scene) of the whole series, but it is also probably responsible for making Freddy a punchline factory. I love the whole “welcome to prime time, bitch” scene, but let’s be real, that’s the moment that started the transition from a relatively scary Freddy to the cornball jokester he’d become over the next three movies.

This movie seems to answer the questions about the ending of Nightmare 1. Nancy’s friends and mom really died, the grey streak in her hair is back, and I guess whatever happened after she turned her back on Freddy and made him disappear was a dream?

The concept of the Dream Warriors is pretty cool. There’s a girl that can pull other people into her dreams and when she does so that person can come in with a superpower (i.e. super strength, wizardry, etc.) and that makes these kids quite a bit more formidable than the standard issue group of horror movie victims.

I think the acting in this movie is mostly fine. You don’t realize how good Patricia Arquette is until you watch someone else play the same role in Nightmare 4 and, well, it’s a night and day difference in quality. Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy Thompson and while her presence gives the kids hope and credibility, I can’t say Langenkamp is a strong actress by any means. Somehow, it seems she has gotten worse at her craft in the three years between the original Nightmare and this one. Robert Englund has a lot more scenery to chew in this movie compared to the original. He’s wonderful. While Freddy was already a thriving entity, I’m pretty sure this is the movie mostly responsible for making him the pop culture icon he still is today.

Dream Warriors is a strong entry in the Elm Street series and one of my favorite flicks out of all the slasher movies featuring horror’s biggest icons. This movie builds really well on the original – thanks in large part to Wes Craven returning as a screenwriter – and provides some of the best kills and special effects of the whole series. A proper horror sequel and a must see for genre fans.

Replay Value: One of two Freddy Krueger movies I could probably watch over and over again as an adult.

Sequel Potential: We’re not even halfway yet.

Oscar Potential: None.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

August 18, 2020

Director: Jack Sholder (The Hidden, Alone in the Dark, Supernova)

Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Robert Rusler

Anticipation Level: Low

How Was It?

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s kind of odd that Scream, Queen! inspired me to start re-watching the Nightmare series, but didn’t make me particularly want to revisit the movie the documentary is about. That’s because I’ve always hated it and have long thought of it as my least favorite in the franchise. I guess that makes sense. I fell in love with these movies when I was a kid and not only does Freddy’s Revenge feel completely out of place in the context of the whole series, but it’s not surprising that the wise-cracking pop culture icon of the later installments is what appealed to me as a child. This Freddy is still pretty dark and scary (I mean, he claws his way out of Jessie’s body) and what is now largely recognized as a running homsexual subtext weirded me out when I was younger. I just have never enjoyed this movie and it’s probably the film in the series I’ve seen the least.

Having watched it again though… it’s not terrible. Like… it’s certainly better than Nightmare 4. Freddy is still pretty dark and menacing in this installment. His first scene has him mostly in the shadows as he drags his glove blades along the seats of the bus walking towards Jessie. Later, he pulls back his scalp to show Jessie his brain. Plus, when he does talk, Englund’s voice and cadence is still scary sounding. He’s not a cartoon character in this movie.

But this movie is pretty damn silly in a lot of parts. I’m sure I don’t need to mention Jessie’s dancing scene as he’s putting things away in his room. The scene with the bird? I have no clue what that was. Is Freddy a dream demon or can he possess things in the house when everyone’s awake? Or how about when Jessie goes to the gay bar in the middle of the night and runs into his gym teacher? That’s strange enough, but then the teacher makes him run laps at the school and take a shower afterwards? This whole thing feels like it should be a dream sequence, but it doesn’t seem to be.

Imagine being the police and finding a high school kid wandering around a highway butt naked in the middle of the night and then discovering his gym teacher dead at the school the next day. I’m not saying that kid is obviously the killer, but you MIGHT want to have a chat with him.

This movie has some good visual effects. The scene when Jessie is at Grady’s house and Freddy steps out of Jessie’s body is pretty spectacular. It’s gnarly and I love when you can see Freddy’s eye looking around at the back of Jessie’s throat. This movie is pretty light on death scenes though because when Grady dies, we are about an hour into the movie and he’s only the second death. I also like the melting effects in Freddy’s death scene.

On the other hand, the Freddy makeup looks atrocious in some of the shots in this movie. It looks fine overall, but there’s a couple of takes where it’s obvious they got really lazy with it.

The pool scene used to be the saving grace of this movie for me, but it’s not as cool as I remember it. I thought he slashed up a whole party full of teenagers, but there’s only a few deaths directly caused by Freddy. I’ve always envisioned a lot more carnage in my head. There’s a great shot of Freddy with the fire blazing behind him as he stands tall with his arms up in the air and says, “you are all my children now.”

This movie has another shitty ending. Freddy is basically defeated by “I love you”s and a kiss. That’s about as lame as turning your back on him to end a movie, but at least we get the cool melting visual effects here. I mean… is Jessie even into this chick? I’m not sure how this even works. The big controversy of this movie is all the homosexual subtext and the writer of the movie is now on record as admitting that he wrote that all in there on purpose… so what is this? Jessie’s character appears to be at war with his sexuality, so it’s just strange that a woman saying “I love you” is what gets rid of the Freddy demon inside him.

My only comment on the acting is that it’s mostly fine. Mark Patton (who is gay himself) is on record saying that his performance was based on how the script was written, so it’s pretty sad that the backlash from this movie drove him out of Hollywood and out of America. He was just doing his job and the writer painted him as a scapegoat for all the criticism. Nothing cool about that.

Overall, this movie is better than I remembered. Definitely not the worst in the series. It’s also not a good movie. As of now, I think this is probably better than Nightmares 4, 5, and 6, but at least those movies were bad and didn’t take themselves seriously. Freddy’s Revenge is definitely still trying to be scary and serious, so the fact that it’s not good is less forgivable.

Replay Value: Historically, this movie has had the least replay value in the series for me, but I think that is subject to change. Still, it’s not a Nightmare movie I’m excited to watch.

Sequel Potential: Evil never dies.

Oscar Potential: None.

4/10 (Lackluster)

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Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)

August 16, 2020

Director: Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen

Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Robert Rustler, Heather Langenkamp, Jack Sholder, David Chaskin

Anticipation Level: Medium-High

How Was It?

I’m not going to lie, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge has always been my least favorite entry in the ANOES series – and one of my least favorite in any of the biggest and long-running horror franchises. It just didn’t do anything for me. I’ve seen it multiple times and only a few scenes have stuck with me all these years: Freddy emerging from the lead character’s body and Freddy getting loose in the real world and terrorizing a pool party. Cool stuff. The rest of the movie? Not so much.

This documentary is about Mark Patton, lead actor in the movie and how the backlash from it ran him out of Hollywood and into self-isolation for the next several decades. This doc examines the homosexual “subtext” in the film – something that has come to light in a positive way in the last half decade or so – and how Patton, a closeted gay man in the 80s, was blamed for how the film was perceived after its released, with the writer even denying that any subtext existed and implying that it was the actor’s fault it came across that way.

I’m pretty interested in anything related to the major horror franchises (I’m also reading Taking Shape, a book about the Halloween movies, and a Wes Craven biography right now), so I was immediately intrigued when I saw this documentary pop up. I can’t act like I was never homophobic. I graduated from high school in 2000 and no one my age dared come out of the closet back then because questioning someone’s masculinity or sexuality was the ultimate insult. I can’t change the past, but I’ve definitely grown over the last 20 years – and I think a good portion of society has as well. Mark Patton starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 in 1985, over a decade before my high school years, back when being homosexual was seen as a certainty to get and spread HIV and AIDS. This documentary examines all of that and shows how brutal it was to be a gay man in the mid-80s, but also highlights how things have changed and how Nightmare 2 has become a very important movie to a lot of people.

This is definitely an interesting watch. If you’re any sort of fan of the Nightmare series, I’d recommend it, but you should definitely watch Nightmare 2 again first (which I did not). However, since watching this, I have re-watched every Nightmare movie except Freddy vs Jason (that’s next) and the shitty remake (which I actually re-watched earlier this year), so this doc made me revisit the entire series again for the first time in maybe 15+ years for most of the entries.

Replay Value: Not much, but if I ever decide to revisit the series again (as I’m doing right now), I’d probably watch it again.

Sequel Potential: N/A

Oscar Potential: No Best Doc nod for this one.

6/10 (Recommended)