Monday, July 16, 2018

Bruce Willis Shoves the 30 Year Christmas Debate Off a Tower

Die Hard just turned 30. The majority of movie fans can agree it is one of the all-time classic action movies. Where there is a bit more debate is if you can consider it a Christmas movie. I am sure the longstanding argument that it is a Christmas movie first came from a group of people just wanting to be contrarian and subversive by choosing a violent action that is set during Christmas time as a holiday movie rather than any real belief it should sit alongside Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooge, or It's a Wonderful Life. 

If someone wants to make it a Christmas Eve tradition to watch Die Hard every year, then that is one cool family to me. I actually do think that Die Hard has enough themes and story elements to be considered a holiday movie. After all, it is about a man who is sacrificing everything to be with his family, which is something quite common in many classic Christmas movies. It at least has as many Christmas elements as Home Alone.

But this week, the 'Die Hard is a Christmas movie' was dealt a solid blow. During the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis, he spoke a few words after the onslaught of mocking for Hudson Hawk, having the reputation of being ass, and doing the same movie over and over. Some of the words he chose where exactly, "Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. It is a god damn Bruce Willis movie." Not sure why it can't be both, but obviously it hasn't just been grandmas and store Santas that get annoyed when fans try to pass the classic off as a Christmas movie. Clearly, he needed his voice to be heard, and as the star of the movie, I'd say it is a pretty strong vote for it not being considered a Christmas movie. If that wasn't enough, he solidified it with a harmonica solos, because nothing says truth like the music from a harmonica.

Somewhere right now, a quick-witted hipster is crying into his bird nest-like beard. 

The Breakdown of 'Skyscraper', 'Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation', 'The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter' and Remembering Tab Hunter

We are already halfway through July and the kids are getting deep into their holidays now. The Movie Breakdown has reviews for three big summer movies. We've got the latest grand Dwayne Johnson action picture in the very heavily Die Hard inspired, Skyscraper. We also have the latest animated adventure in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. As always we discuss a Netflix original, this time it is the Josh Brolin and Danny McBride starring father and son dramedy, The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter. As well, we discuss the news of two different production companies greenlighting a movie about the Thai cave rescue and debate if it is ethical or insensitive to push through making a movie before the events are even fully over. We also look at the career of Tab Hunter and discuss the history of how Hollywood handled the personal lives of their star. As always, we had a great time recording this show and we really hope you love it. If you did, then please help us out by telling others about it.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

We apologize but there won't be any outline for The Movie Breakdowndue to the crazy mystery that the media player runs different times and so the timestamps have no value. If you know how to solve this problem then it would be greatly appreciated.

Question of the Week: What is your favourite childhood memory of going to the theatre?

Send us your answers via email (, on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Star Ratings: 

Skyscraper *** (CS)
The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter ** (CS & SM)
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation ** (CS)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

 Solo: A Star Wars Story $84 420 489
2. Incredibles 2 $182 687 905
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout 
4. Ocean’s 8 $41 607 378
5. Equalizer 2 
6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again 
7. Crazy Rich Asians
8. The Meg
9.  The Spy Who Dumped Me 
10. Teen Titans Go to the Movies 
Total: $308 715 772

Scott's Picks:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $148 024 610
2. Deadpool 2 $125 507 153
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp $75 812 205
4. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation $44 076 225
5. Skyscraper $24 905 015
6. First Purge $17 374 280
7. Disney’s Christopher Robin 
8. Uncle Drew $15 242 781
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party  $17 886 075
Total: $469 092 666 

Monday, July 09, 2018


I'm always fascinated by the evolution of major companies and the different ways they try to reshape or rebrand themselves. It is interesting watching successful companies try to branch out by offering different products outside of what made them successful, as well as the different forms of marketing they try to use to capture a consumer's imagination over their new offerings. One of the reasons McDonald's has been a global powerhouse in the fast food industry (and essentially, the company that invented the industry), is that they are always trying out new food items and attempting ways to break into different markets.

A lot of risks have paid off as they've become the champion of breakfast with their coffee and Egg McMuffin sandwiches (I'm positive when this was introduced that there were many analysts betting against them), made an iconic burger like the Big Mac, won over children with the Happy Meal, and offered more than burgers with a huge hit like Chicken McNuggets.

All those major victories have brought along a fair amount of big financial losers as well. The part that I find really fascinating as shown in the Watch Mojo video below is that many of the flops were not all caused by the food tasting awful but actually were decent (for fast food) dishes that misfired for other reasons. It was over stuff like creating a menu item that was much better and more established elsewhere (Mighty Wings could never replace Buffalo Wings) or food that contradicted the reason people went to McDonald's (pizza isn't a great item for a place that promises food ready in minutes). I love digging into the history of a company that took various gambles and I am also amused by some of the obvious wacky "how did they think this would sell?" attempts.

While watching this video, I was surprised by how many I did not remember or ever hear about (the chopped beefsteak sandwich looks to be before my time but surprise its legend alluded me until now) but others were a fresh air of nostalgia as I remember the big marketing blitzes. I had a friend that swore by the McPizza and said it was better than any other pizza. I remember trying it and deciding it wasn't worth the wait. I also remember a marketing campaign where McDonald's was going to start delivering their pizza but not sure if that ever made it here to Brantford (my dad stuck to the dinosaurs like Domino's or Pizza Pizza). Considering my deep love for wings, I feel like Mighty Wings must never had made it here either because I never tried it. I do remember the Arch Deluxe, but can't remember if I ever sank my teeth in one. I also remember as even a highly impressionable to hype and marketing kid that the McDLT sounded like a really stupid and more work than it was worth idea.

This was a fun nostalgia trip and a great ride for pop culture history nerds like me.

The Breakdown of 'Ant-Man and the Wasp', 'Sicario: Day of Soldado', 'The First Purge', 'Brain on Fire' and 'Tau'

The Movie Breakdown is a huge episode this week with five big movie reviews, but exciting things can also happen in small packages too. We have a review of the smallest superheroes in a big movie event with Ant-Man and the Wasp. Sequels are a big thing this week with a follow-up that I had never expected in the dark war against drug cartels thriller, Sicario: Day of Soldado. Then we also have the fourth movie in a horror-action series in The First Purge. But what about the Netflix offerings, you say? We've got movies with some big rising stars in Chloe Grace Moretz starring in the based on a true story drama, Brain on Fire. We also review a 'girl stuck in a robotic house with a psycho' thriller starring the great Maika Monroe in Tau. As an added bonus, this episode doesn't sound like garbage! We always have a great time doing this show, and we are always thankful you listen to us each week. If you enjoy the show then please help us out by spreading the word or giving us a five-star review on iTunes.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

We apologize but there won't be any outline for The Movie Breakdowndue to the crazy mystery that the media player runs different times and so the timestamps have no value. If you know how to solve this problem then it would be greatly appreciated.

Question of the Week: Past or present, who is your all-time favourite action star?

Send us your answers via email (, on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Star Ratings: 

Brain on Fire ** (CS) & *½ (SM)
Ant-Man and the Wasp ***½ (CS)
Tau ** (CS & SM)
Sicario: Day of Soldado **½ (CS)
The First Purge **½ (CS)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

 Solo: A Star Wars Story $84 420 489
2. Incredibles 2 $182 687 905
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout 
4. Ocean’s 8 $41 607 378
5. Equalizer 2 
6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again 
7. Crazy Rich Asians
8. The Meg
9.  The Spy Who Dumped Me 
10. Teen Titans Go to the Movies 
Total: $308 715 772

Scott's Picks:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $148 024 610
2. Deadpool 2 $125 507 153
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp $75 812 205
4. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
5. Skyscraper
6. First Purge $17 374 280
7. Disney’s Christopher Robin 
8. Uncle Drew $15 242 781
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $400 111 426 

Friday, July 06, 2018

Apologies for the Latest 'The Movies Breakdown' Episode and My Guess on What Went Wrong

Last summer, was The Movie Breakdown's big 200th episode, and to celebrate it, we lost at least 30 minutes of the recording. Now to commemorate that moment, one of our biggest episodes' of this year, The Breakdown of the Best of 2018 So Far (posted this past Monday) ended up riddled with serious sound issues and is a bit of a mess to listen through. Part of it is that my audio drops many times throughout the show, but also because our Skype call was a disaster on both ends, neither us were really playing off each other. I think the actual content still turned out pretty decent, but the sound quality is sub-par and can make it a bit of a challenge to get through to the end (get a cookie from your cupboard if you made it through).

We wouldn't normally even try posting something like this, except this was already our second attempt at recording and had spent about four hours both days trying to get this episode listenable for you. At this point, we just wanted something to show for our efforts and crossed our fingers that it turned out listenable. Depending your definition of 'listenable' it did.

I still want to apologize for the sound quality. Our hope is that this was a rare occurrence, just like how we lost a half hour plus of recording last summer. It seems like technical issues ramp up with the heat. Our show has definitely suffered through some more glitches and issues ever since we had to stop recording in person and started to do the show with us in separate locations (for a few months my voice was loud and echoey, we had way too many dropped calls causing choppy episodes, delays in conversation, other stressful things).

Shortly after we finally got this recent episode recorded, my cable started freezing and suffering awful glitches. Then to add to the fun, the internet completely conked out for the rest of the day. It turns out my area was having some major issues for anyone who was a Rogers subscriber. Then the next morning, I got a text saying all was well in my area again except it wasn't and the cable still was a mess and the internet wasn't working. That afternoon, I saw an ominous Rogers' truck drive by and half hour later, I haven't had any issues since.

My hope is that little annoyance was connected with the awful recording, and that everything now is a giant two thumbs up. I have to confess to some anxiety about this weekend's recording and I am afraid in discovering it was something besides my ISP having technical issues. We have a few strategies in place in case there are issues this weekend, and if there are serious issues, we will then start implementing a new way of recording to make sure there aren't any major sound issues again. It will mean more work on our end, but sound quality is a major part of a podcast working. We want to at least trick you into thinking we are professional.

Thanks for still checking out this week's show (it is one of our highest listened to episodes of the year) and again, we apologize for the less than stellar sound quality.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

You Can't Win Them All But You Should Admit Your Defeats

A writer that I have often championed on here, Nathan Rabin, wrote a piece about how he is okay that he isn't right about everything he predicts in his articles that really resonated with me. I find one of the most toxic things that has seeped out of social media and political entertainment shows/podcast/Youtubers is this need to be conveyed as a paragon of truth and an infallible purveyor of truths. It also comes from this misguided idea that you are either conservative or liberal, right or wrong, a gamer or non-gamer, 'true' Star Wars fan or Rian Johnson defender or numerous other ridiculous us vs. them faction creations.

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time, knows that I revel in the shades of grey and feel the idea of absolutes is often pretty ridiculous. I hate how you can defend something on the left but then someone of a conservative persuasion blasts you for something that has nothing to do with that issues because they decided you wallow in all things liberal. This idea that my beliefs are the true and sacred one is what has made social media into a cesspool. It has led to toxic things like when the goons posing as Star Wars fans ran Kelly Marie Tran off Instagram because she is a women and Asian who dared to play a significant part in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi (which I want to reaffirm is one of the best Star Wars movies).

I'm all for a podcast saying something with authority or a political pundit trying to infuse passion that draws an audience, but sometimes (read all the time) it is important to remember there is more than just two sides to an issue and often the "right" answer is a bit of a combination of everything. Of course, when it comes to art there is no right answer but just your own very passionate subjective view -- this means there is never a reason to be angry with the opposing view to how you viewed or read or listened to something.

I think I could swallow any political expert, if just once they actually admitted they were not a god and that some of their bold predictions were way off target. Just a little nimble of humble pie would add back some credibility to many of these writers or podcasters or personalities that seem to mistakenly believe their brand will be tarnished if they confess to many of the clear errors they've made and can easily be found out by simple fact checking.

If you write about real events and do some prognosticating, then there is a 100% chance you've got some things wrong. Getting things wrong is not a detriment to your writing or show or brand, because you shouldn't be selling yourself as a fortune teller. You have an audience because you have interesting insight and ideas, and that stuff doesn't lose value when things don't turn out the way you believed. If anything, it opens up for more interesting discussions when you admit your failings and try to explore why things are not the way you had once believed.

Scott and I have on numerous occasions on our podcast admitted we were wrong about Blumhouse when we railed against them 5 years ago and now happily champion their movies. It isn't a big deal, but I think it helps our credibility when we admit that we were wrong but are now open to see things differently. I could happily write a book about all the things that I've got wrong and how I've steered my opinions in a new direction over the years. I'm sure in 10 years, I will have some very different views and cringe at some of the stuff that I've rattled on about now.

I commend writers like Nathan Rabin who are not afraid of being wrong. I think that type of courage allows for more honest, insightful, raw and interesting writing. It is the type of bravery that I need to have more often on this blog. A need to write about the things that I am passionate about and not be afraid to be challenged by my readers or end up having a piece that gets completely torn apart for missing the mark. The greatest writers and creators are those that are not afraid to fail but also admit when they have failed and learn how to grow and improve from that.

I hope my writing is one that continues to be an example of a writer who may often fail but from that improves, grows, and shines.

RIP Harlan Ellison

If you read at any significant volume, especially in the science fiction genre, it is hard to not at least be vaguely aware of the name, Harlan Ellison. He was a science fiction heavyweight up there with the great Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. He was a prolific writer who wrote more than 1,700 short stories and articles, more than 100 books and more than a dozen movie screenplays and TV scripts. He deemed writing the 'holy chore' and crafted some of the most popular and influential works in genre fiction like A Boy and His Dog and I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. 

Ellison was a professional writer for 60 years, but he may be best remembered for his personality. If Bradbury is best known as a popular writer who never lost his inner-child then Ellison was always harnessing his inner-grumpy old man chasing those pesky kids off his lawn. He was a curmudgeon and volatile individual, but also was always passionate and entertaining. His hostility towards almost everything around him is what also likely drove his incredible creative and energetic works. Bradbury was one of my favourite science fiction writers that I wish that I got to meet then Ellison is one of my favourite writers that I enjoyed being entertained from a distance. Despite that, there are great writers like John Scalzi who did know him personally and described him with great affection (thought does not deny his rough personality).

I have great respect for Ellison, because writers are notoriously mistreated and often we do it to ourselves by being so willing to accept the abuse. Ellison would challenge one to the death before allowing himself being taken advantage of by a publisher or a studio. This is a man who didn't back down from major players like Disney (fired on his first day of work after joking about making a porno with Mickey and Minnie), Frank Sinatra (let the legend have it over insulting his boots), James Cameron (filed a lawsuit with the belief the director plagiarized his Outer Limits script "Soldier" for Terminator - won so he got acknowledgement in the credits), Gene Rodenberry (held a decades long grudge over rewriting his script to an episode for the original series) and his rampage against big names can fill an entire book (and would be very entertaining).

There are a lot great things that I can say about Ellison, including he was one of the most imaginative, smart and entertaining writers that I've ever read. He also was without a doubt his own person and was not afraid to go against the norm. His film review book Harlan Ellison's Watching (a compilation of 25 years' worth of movie reviews and editorials) is not only very insightful, but is very memorable because he goes against the critical consensus by liberally panning accepted classics like Star Wars, Back to the Future, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but then praising less beloved movies like Dune and Return to Oz. As I write my own movie reviews, I always try to remember to follow my gut and instincts when I watch the film and not be guided by other's praise or disdain. Ellison was always a champion for the underdog, be it movies or even more importantly, those who were mistreated in life.

The thing that I will remember most is his mantra "pay the writer." He was a huge advocate that writers should be paid for everything that they do and get paid well for it. This is also why he so often had lawsuits over potential copyright infringement of his work, as he often felt they were trying to adapt his stories without paying him a dime. His vitriol and passion over how a writer must fight for their rights and make sure they are properly compensated is something that I will always remember about him. 

There will never be another Harlan Ellison. But he has many amazing prose and stories that will make sure he lives on.

RIP Harlan Ellison May 27 1934 - June 27 2018

Monday, July 02, 2018

The Breakdown of the Best of 2018 So Far

We did it! We have hit the halfway point of 2018, while in the news and politics things are still a disaster, it has been a great year for movies. The big studios have actually offered up a pretty good slate and there has been some really fantastic genre fare. We want to celebrate the best of 2018 cinema, and as we've done most years on our mid-year show, we'll be handing out some awards like 'Best Scene', 'Most Delightful Surprise' and 'Best Underrated Movie.' From there, we will then reveal our Top 5 Movie of the Year So Far, and then we will look ahead with our 3 Most Anticipated Movies. We really love this annual episode and think it is important, because often by the end of the year many great movies from the first half get forgotten, so this is their chance to be acknowledged and praised one more time. Doing this show really reminded me what a great time it has been going to the movie theatres. We do want to apologize that we had some serious technical issues and hopefully, the sound quality isn't too irritating. But as always, we hope you love the show and please help us out by spreading the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

We apologize but there won't be any outline for The Movie Breakdowndue to the crazy mystery that the media player runs different times and so the timestamps have no value. If you know how to solve this problem then it would be greatly appreciated.

Question of the Week: What comic or cartoon would you love to see adapted into a movie that has never happened?

Send us your answers via email (, on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

The Movie Breakdown Awards:

Favourite Scene: 
Paddington 2 (Paddington starting his morning) (CS)
Deep Blue Sea 2 (Eavesdropping shark) (SM)

Best Performance: 
Hereditary (Toni Collette)/Deadpool 2 (Ryan Reynolds) (CS)
The Death of Stalin (Jason Isaacs) (SM)

Delightful Surprise:
Game Night (CS)
Set It Up/ Steel Rain (SM)

Most Underrated Movie:
Red Sparrow (CS)
Early Man (SM)

Best Underseen Movie:
Sunday's Illness (CS)
The Endless (SM)

Worst Movie:
The Outsider (CS)
Game Over, Man (SM)

Top 5 Movies of 2018 So Far:

5. Black Panther
4. Love, Simon
3. Incredibles 2
2. Hereditary
1. A Quiet Place

5. The Death of Stalin
4. Love, Simon
3. Revenge
2. Black Panther
1. Paddington 2

Most Anticipated for Second Half of 2018:
3. The Girl in the Spider's Web
2. First Man
1. Widows

3. Halloween/Suspiria
2. Aguaman
1. The Predator

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

 Solo: A Star Wars Story $84 420 489
2. Incredibles 2 $182 687 905
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout 
4. Ocean’s 8 $41 607 378
5. Equalizer 2 
6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again 
7. Crazy Rich Asians
8. The Meg
9.  The Spy Who Dumped Me 
10. Teen Titans Go to the Movies 
Total: $308 715 772

Scott's Picks:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $148 024 610
2. Deadpool 2 $125 507 153
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp 
4. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
5. Skyscraper
6. First Purge 
7. Disney’s Christopher Robin 
8. Uncle Drew $15 242 781
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $306 924 991

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Movie Breakdown Delayed This Week

We tried our usual Sunday morning recording of The Movie Breakdown, but technology laughed in our face and kicked our pets. Then after that bruising, Canada Day snuck up on us and declared no more recording attempts today. We won't be recording the show until tomorrow morning and that means the show won't be up until sometime Monday afternoon or early evening. Sorry about the delay.

The Positive Preview of July 2018 Major Theatrical Movie Releases

We are plunging deep into the summer movie season, and even though all the really huge summer movie events have been released (Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), there are still some hotly anticipated movies coming our way. Not all the movies coming out in July can be winners, but I can at least try to be optimistic before they're released. Here is my strictly positive preview of all the major releases scheduled for July As always, avoiding negativity is a lot easier for some movies than others.

July 4

The First Purge (Universal): We've all been there, we're having a nice, refined dinner party and then some oaf bellows out, "But how did the Purge even become an annual event?" Well, you now have this movie to distract him.

July 6

Ant-Man and the Wasp (Disney/Marvel Studio): The original was a really fun surprise that made great use of Paul Rudd's charm, and had enough humour and an intimate story to make it stand-out from the other movies in the Marvel Universe. The early reviews are promising this one will be more light and breezy fun, plus we thankfully get way more Evangeline Lilly.

Sorry to Bother You (Annapurna Pictures): A comedy that is trying something new with a black telemarketer that starts becoming more successful and rising up the company after discovering his "white man" voice (or more specifically, the voice of David Cross). If that isn't enough to garner intrigue, then it stars the always entertaining Lakeith Stanfield and has a supporting role from the just as incredible, Tessa Thompson.

Whitney (Roadside Attractions): Whitney Houston is one of the most iconic and popular musicians of all time, and early reviews seem to hint that this is an in-depth documentary that all her fans will want to see.

July 13

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Sony/Columbia): By this point your kids have been home for two weeks, so this can at least afford you almost two hours of peace.

Skyscraper (Universal): It gives off the vibe of an old-school 1980s one-man army type action picture, but also may even give a little shine to the wife as Neve Campbell gets a few action moments in the trailer. Plus who doesn't want to see bionic Rock battle bad guys, fire, and gravity? I sure do.

Don't Worry He Won't Get Far on Foot (Amazon Studios): Gus Van Sant is always a filmmaker worth getting excited about, and when he is at his best then we get movies like Milk and Good Will Hunting. He has an amazing cast in Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill and Jack Black that all seem to have meaty and nuanced characters to really take advantage of their talents. Plus I am always a sucker for stories about how creativity helps one overcome extreme challenges, and this seems to have enough sharp wit and edge to balance out the sentimental elements.

July 20

The Equalizer 2 (Sony/Columbia): This is Denzel Washington's first ever sequel, since he has been clearly picky about that sort of thing, there should be confidence that there was a story worth him coming back. He also has a pretty solid history with Antoine Fuqua with the great picture Training Day.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! (Universal); The original movie came out 10 years ago, which means Pierce Brosnan has had ample time to practice singing in the shower.

Unfriended: Dark Web (BH Tilt): Sometimes you need horror movies like this to remind us how great we've had it with horror movies like Get Out and A Quiet Place.

Blindspotting (Lionsgate/Summit): The best way to tackle modern social issues in a movie is to have an entertaining and complex story. This tale about a former convicted criminal witnessing a police shooting an unarmed black man is obviously relevant but also looks to have humour, strong performances, nuanced characters, and even some intriguing thriller elements. It has an obvious message but it is wrapped in an ambitious movie.

July 27

Mission Impossible - Fallout (Paramount): It is the movie that caused Superman to have a CGIed upper lip, because you just can't shave the stache. If that isn't enough to stir up excitement, then this has been a franchise that consistently delivers the most exciting and thrilling stunt-filled spectacle movies of the last several years. The stories have always had some great twists and interesting characters, and this one feels like a big culmination that they've been building towards, even if Jeremy Renner is absent due to being too busy playing Tag.

Teen Titan Go! To the Movies (Warner Bros.): If you ask Everett, this is the biggest movie of the summer.

Hot Summer Nights (A24): You need a coming of age story in the summer and this one takes an interesting dark take about a boy who starts selling weed and getting mixed up with some shady characters. The lead is owned by current 'it boy' Timothy Chalamat and he has a great romantic lead in Maika Monroe, plus any movie is worth seeing when we have a William Fichtner in it as well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

UPDATED 2018 Catch-Up: One Sentence Reviews and Star Ratings of Every 2018 Release I've Reviewed This Year

The title is straight-forward so there is your article description. I am not ranking these movies but will order them by their release date.

Insidious: The Last Key **½: It is awesome seeing 74 year old Lin Shaye as the kick-ass lead, but the story suffers from feeling a little well-worn.

Open House ½*: If misplacing your cereal bowl is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you then this is the horror you've been waiting to see.

Paddington 2 ***½: A joyful, kind-hearted and energetic family movie about acceptance and friendship that has one of the most adorable and likable leads in years.

The Commuter **½: A ridiculous but fun thriller that wears out its welcome by hitting some absurd but predictable beats in the finale.

The Polka King **: Jack Black and Jenny Slate craft unique performance in a very generic and dull biopic masquerading as a comedy.

12 Strong ***: A well-made standard brothers in arms picture elevated by well-choreographed action sequences and a commanding lead performance by Chris Hemsworth.

Step Sisters **½: Great dance sequences with some charming moments stuffed into a formulaic comedy about relationships.

Blockbuster **: Much like myself in high school, movie mistakes "complete idiots" for "charming."

Maze Runner: The Death Cure **½: No mazes were run through during this movie.

Den of Thieves **½: The Heat but way more Gerard Butler and far less people using showers.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture **: Good job movie, you made Will Forte unlikable.

On Body and Soul ***: A sweet and touching romance about broken people who connect through their dreams.

Seeing Allred **½: Gloria Allred is a fascinating figure, but the documentary suffers from a lack of focus, but the subject is enough to keep it interesting.

Winchester *½: Helen Mirren is in a horror movie as an eccentric woman in a creepy house then does nothing interesting and is given a role any older actress could play.

The Cloverfield Paradox *: The insane plot twists like the magically appearing women in the wall and the sentient hand are not enough to overcome the horribly predictable and generic sci-fi thriller.

The 15:17 to Paris *: The guys who stopped the terrorist attack on the train to Paris are definite heroes but they also are definitely not actors.

When We First Met **: This movie bravely ignores the rule that your leads in a romantic comedy should be the least bit likable. 

Irreplaceable You *: It is Love Story except the entire story is designed to make you hate the lead who has terminal cancer rather than feeling sympathy for a witty and kind woman with terminal cancer.

Love Per Square Foot **½: The movie is colourful and full of energy but is undone by a meandering plot and eye-rolling plot turns. 

Black Panther ***½: Ryan Coogler proves to be one of the most exciting directors around and does a big movie event that has one of the best Marvel villains, has incredible emotional moments, thrilling big action sequences, and war rhinos!

Early Man ***: The most cheerful and delightful cavemen playing soccer movie ever.

The Ritual **: This is the movie for the person who always wished The Blair Witch Project had mid-life crisis men as the lead characters and a duller story.

Annihilation ***: Alex Garland proves again that he is a master of thoughtful and chilling sci-fi that questions things like what makes us human and our role in nature and this time we also get a captivating performance from Natalie Portman; I need to re-watch this as I think it will get an uptick in the star rating.

Game Night ***½: It is wondrous to see Rachel McAdams back in a comedy and she has a terrific chemistry with Jason Bateman in a really fun, action comedy that earns its heart and has several memorable gags, plus a stand-out supporting roles from Jesse Plemons.

Mute *½: The terrific Duncan Jones has unfortunately delivered his second straight great looking jumbled mess.

Fullmetal Alchemist **: This movie was made for someone who was not me.

Forgotten **½: A decent, atmospheric, moody thriller that unravels with a way too convoluted twist ending.

Steel Rain ***: An old school race against time to stop the nuclear threat movie that would have been considered a big event movie in the 1970s and 1980s, another proof that Korea has some fine filmmakers.

Red Sparrow ***½: Jennifer Lawrence nails it in her most challenging and gruelling performance as a former ballet star turned Russian spy in a movie that is tough to watch and very dark, but delivers adult storytelling that is rare in modern mainstream movies.

A Wrinkle in Time ***: Ava DuVernay proves she is capable of doing imaginative, big budget spectacle with this sweet, ambitious, creative movie that may be disjointed and messy at times but is always sincere and audacious.

Gringo **: The biggest noteworthy thing about this movie is Sharlto Copley's performances is almost something you'd call normal and fine.

The Strangers: Prey at Night *: Has everything you remember from a 1980s slasher with an 80s soundtrack, awful dialogue, stupid characters and bloody kills, but doing a decent purposeful recreation of bad movies doesn't make the movie any better.

The Outsider *½: The movie thinks it is about a Yakuza turf war but is actually about how Jared Leto rises in power because he is white.

Tomb Raider **: Alicia Vikander sure is great at running and hanging over CGI pits.

Love, Simon ***½: A coming of age and coming out high school comedy that would make John Hughes proud.

Game Over, Man! *: I can't believe there was a time that I wanted to see Adam DeVine in movies.

Benji **½: The dog is adorable, and who doesn't love dogs?

Roxanne, Roxanne ***: A well-made biopic about an interesting rap pioneer that has a great lead performance and some great musical sequences.

Pacific Rim Uprising **: The good news is the sequel trades for John Boyega as the new lead but unfortunately, we lose director Guillermo del Toro for filmmaking that is far more pedestrian big budget action.

Take Your Pills **: Another documentary with interesting subject matter but suffers from a lack of focus and never really sticking to a decipherable message.

Ready Player One ***½: It is a gorgeous and action-packed homage to 1980s pop culture and proof that Steven Spielberg still has the magic to make enthralling big movie events.

Happy Anniversary **: A fluffy, forgettable sitcom pilot stretched out to be a feature.

First Match ***½: A heartbreaking character-driven story about a teen using wrestling to earn the affection of her estranged father that is a break-out movie for the lead and filmmaker.

The Titan *: A reminder why I never get excited about a Sam Worthington starring movie.

A Quite Place ****: A great horror movie has always been about way more than the scares or the monster, but rather about the bond of family, how we move past grief, and provide window into some of the fears of modern society, and this movie is even so much more than all of those things.

Blockers ***½: A progressive movie because it simply allows female teenager to go on a virginity ending journey like the boys have done in sex comedies for 40 years, but also some great comedic performance from Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz, but also must mention a star in the making performance by Geraldine Viswanathan.

6 Balloons **½: There has been a lot of great dramas about drug addiction, and while Dave Franco and Abbi Jacobson are fantastic as siblings, the movie sticks a little too strong with formula and never fully fleshes out motivations.

The 4th Company **½: Another movie that has great atmosphere and interesting ideas, but has a tendency of reminding one of much better movies.

Orbiter 9 **: Watch Moon instead.

Amateur **: The drama about a 14 year basketball prodigy has a fascinating first hour, but then message starts to clunk and the final 30 minutes is a slap in the face for daring to invest time in this movie.

Truth or Dare *: As much as we are in a mainstream horror renaissance, there is always going to be lazy and unscary apparent horrors trying to appeal to the teenage crowd.

Come Sunday **½: Chiwetel Ejiofor is fantastic as a preacher who starts questioning parts of his faith, but unfortunately, the script isn't quite up to his level.

I Feel Party **½: Amy Schumer is hilarious and charming and elevates a movie that has a sledgehammer message and very messy plotting.

Kodachrome **½: Fantastic performances from Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ed Harris help out what is a very predictable and formulaic estranged family members go on a road trip picture.

Avengers: Infinity War ***½: The Russo brothers pulled off the big grand epic adventure we were salivating to see and created one of the most intriguing villains in the Marvel universe in Thanos.

The Week Of *½: Rich, successful Adam Sandler does his take on a working class dad trying to figure out ways to afford his daughter's upcoming wedding while Chris Rock acts like he'd rather be in any other movie including Pootie Tang.

Candy Jar **: The movie about two high school rivals needing to team up for a debate competition is a peppy and energetic reminder of much better past high school movies.

The Rachel Divide **½: A well-crafted documentary with some powerful emotional moments from supporting players, but the subject proves to lack complexity or self-awareness making for a disjointed movie.

Sometimes **½: At its best, it feels like the waiting room version of 12 Angry Men, but it misses the mark by having too many characters that are not developed and lack motivation, plus a really overt and hamfisted ending.

Forgive Us Our Debts ***: A well-paced and terrifically acted drama that makes the life of a debt collector into an intriguing character study.

Life of the Party **½: Melissa McCarthy is hilarious and heartfelt and proves once again she is one of the most talented comedians in movies, and even though the film avoids some typical clich├ęs, it lacks focus and suffers from several undercooked subplots.

Anon ***: Director Andrew Niccol proves his skills at smart and slow-building sci-fi aimed at adults with the noirish and layered thriller-mystery that also delivers on top notch leading performances by Clive Owens and Amanda Seyfried.

Manhunt **: The action sequences are top notch John Woo but the story lacks focus and the characters lack any interesting motivations.

The Kissing Booth *½: It makes me question why I was excited about Joey King and wonder why I like high school set movies.

Catching Feelings **½: A very funny and witty film that suffers from inauthentic characters that do frustrating things to drive a rather routine plot.

Deadpool 2 ***½: Delivered on the irreverence, bloody action, and fourth wall-breaking humour that made the original stand out but justified the sequel with a meatier plot, exciting new characters (Domino!) and ample amount of sincerity,

Book Club **½: It is great spending time with talented icons like Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen, but unfortunately, they are stuck in a very sitcomy plot, though at least it does respect older women.

Cargo ***: A chilling and dramatic take on the zombie genre that delves into the various human responses to apocalypse that is anchored by a great Martin Freeman performance.

Solo: A Star Wars Story ***: It is not up to the standard and complexity of the previous Disney Star Wars, but it still works as a breezy and fun space adventure along with a stellar Donald Glover take on Lando.

Adrift **½: Shailene Woodley is incredible as she transforms into a women fighting for survival on her damage boat, but the flashbacks drag the movie down and leave some dangling plot points.

Ibiza **: Gillian Jacobs and Vanessa Bayer are great but unfortunately, the meandering and formulaic story is not.

Sara's Notebook ***: A gorgeously shot adult dramatic thriller about a woman going deep into the Congo to find her sister that offers some tense moments along with some thought-provoking drama.

Alex Strangelove **: An important story about a teen trying to figure out his sexual identity that is hampered by clunky broad comedy and too many undercooked subplots.

Ali's Wedding **: The leads are charming enough that you want them together at the end, which is key to a romantic comedy, but the story of a Muslim would-be couple isn't charming enough to make up for the generic sitcomy gags and plot points.

Ocean's Eight **½: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and the rest of the cast are really fun, but it suffers by not being as creative or interesting as past heist movies.

Hereditary ****: A slow-building but incredibly chilling supernatural thriller that has audible "gasp" worthy twists and an award worthy performance from the amazing Toni Collette.

Hotel Artemis **½: An incredibly stacked cast in a fun idea about an exclusive members-only hospital for criminals, except the world reminds one of John Wick but doesn't have the energy or innovation to match that comparison, plus there are several storylines and characters that are inexplicably dropped or left undercooked.

Set It Up ***: A charming romantic comedy that feels like comfort food that you've been craving for a decade that is elevated by the spirited and delightful lead performances by Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell.

Maktub ***: A fun comedy about two toughs that are now trying to do good in the world by answering prayers, but the comedy comes from their awkwardness and habit of reverting to their old life

Lust Stories ***: An Indian anthology drama that is powerful in how it depicts women and their sexuality in a country that rarely explores such things.

Sunday's Illness ***½: A family drama about a daughter spending ten days with the mother that abandoned her 40 years ago that is at times haunting and other times uplifting but always riveting/

Incredibles 2 ***½: A heroic follow-up to a classic that has some of the best action sequences in any big budget movie and some memorable moments including Jack-Jack's hilarious showdown with a raccoon.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom **: The dinosaurs look amazing and there are some well-directed moments, but the characters are silly, the plot is muddled, and the movie feels like a soulless commercial product.

Revised: May 7 after originally posted May 1

Revised the Revision on June 11

Revised a third time on June 20

Revised once again on June 27