Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Geek Out Time


Is it Thursday yet?

No.

Okay, I was just making sure.

I write and podcast about movies all year and this year I have so far seen 140 movies from 2017, which is not counting all the movies that I've seen that were released from previous years. I don't just watch this movies, but I analyze and dig deep into them. I've been writing and podcasting about movies since 2012, so it is safe to say I have not only seen a lot of movies, but I've learned to appreciate what works and doesn't work in movies. My expectations for movies has risen over the years and I would say I have a pretty high standard. I am not just easily wowed by the latest big special effects extravaganza and not lured in by the hype.

Yet here am I once again a giddy fan in December in great anticipation for the latest Star Wars movie. For the last three years, a Star Wars movies has skyrocketed to the top of my most anticipated for that given year. I have also loved the two most recent Star Wars movies, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens landed number one on my best of 2015 list.

I declared in the past that my all-time favourite movie forever and ever has to be the original Star Wars. It is what spawned my love for movies and it is the story that inspired me to write fiction. It was my childhood. I write about movies today because of my deep love for Star Wars. I openly admit that I loved The Force Awakens so much because it allowed me to plunge into my nostalgia and the moment the open crawl came on, I became that enthusiastic little boy again. It brought me on the adventure once again.

I love movies and this has been a great year for them but if I could only ever see one movie each year, it would always be the latest Star Wars. Every time the new movie approaches and it is about time to return to the galaxy that is far, far away, I become that overjoyed and unrestrained child again. I am filled with optimism, hope, joy and dreams. Star Wars is that intoxicating and spiritual movie going experience.

Watching so many movies has made me very critical. I go into most movies ready to analyze and dissect. I am there to watch and enjoy, but I also have my reviewer hat on. But with Star Wars, I may also be reviewing it, but it is the one time in the year I am a total fan who soaks up the adventure.

Star Wars is why I keep on loving movies. And I'm ready for another great thrill ride. It is the one movie that I review that I admit to full bias and going in ready to love it all once again.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Feedback Time: Is 'The Movie Breakdown' Podcast Too Long?


For the first few years of The Movie Breakdown podcast, I would say the average length of the show ran about an hour with some approaching 90 minutes or more and a few hovering around 50 minutes. I think that is a pretty respectable podcast length that doesn't fill up an entire afternoon but also is long enough to deliver a good amount of reviews and movie discussion. 

Then in 2015 we tried for about 9 months a different format where we had a less structured approach where we discussed a variety of topics and didn't even always review movies on certain episodes. Those shows approached closer to 90 minutes and sometimes were much longer. Scott and I both decided we preferred the format where we review four or five movies a week and had pre-planned movie discussion topics. 

The shows went back to being around an hour, but then we decided to incorporate two new segment on top of the original five, one being where Scott looked at the box office of that weekend and another that changed from me looking at Rotten Tomatoes score that weekend to the big movie news of the week to reviews of trailers.

Over this past summer the show started going over two hours on a consistent basis. Scott and I decided that it was time to retire the box office and trailers segment to avoid the excessive run time (we didn't want to be the Michael Bay of movie review podcasts). But then a weird thing happened, this fall we noticed are shows were still creeping near almost two hours even with those two segment removed. 

We have discussed this and listened to past shows, we haven't really been able to solve why the shows have suddenly become so long. For whatever reason, we seem to be taking longer on the reviews and having longer discussions on our topics. The odd thing, is that for the theatrical movies, I am the only reviewing them so you'd think those segment wouldn't get too long. Yet here we are.

So my question for our listeners, have the shows become too long? Does it feel like we are dragging out segments or repeating ourselves too often? What do you think has made the length increase so much? Or are we worrying about nothing, and you think the lengths are just fine and the episodes have remained entertaining.

Please give us honest feedback so we know what we need to do and if we have to start working on strategies to tighten up the show.

Thank you so much for your help, and more importantly, thank you so much for listening to the show each week because it really means a lot to us. We look forward to making The Movie Breakdown even better in 2018.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Breakdown of Modern Film Criticism


This week's episode is being called The Breakdown of Modern Film Criticism, where we look and analyze how critics and reviewing movies has changed over the years. This includes looking at how Rotten Tomatoes has drastically effected how people see movie reviewing but also how there has been a new crop of film reviewers like popular YouTube film critic, Chris Stuckmann (pictured above).We also analyze if people perceive film criticism properly and also look at the backlash it gets from filmmakers. It is an in-depth look at the very thing we do every week on this podcast, so we hope you find it informative and entertaining. If you do enjoy the show then please spread 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.

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Tale of Two Tentpole Trailers: 'Avengers: Infinity War' and 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'


We are in the era that the first trailer is almost as hotly anticipated as the actual movie. It is also a very annoying era when people expect and demand major plot points revealed and storylines advanced in commercials. I've always been a fan of trailers and I remember as a kid being really excited to see what little sneak peeks I'll get at the theatre before the feature is screened. But I've always believed a trailer's job is to intrigue and leave us wanting more and have us asking lots of questions that would then be answered when we see the actual movie. In other words, they should not be the second Terminator: Genisys trailer.

The new standard bearer for great trailers has to be Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The trailer shows exciting sequences, there is tons of big set pieces revealed, but it leaves us with lots of big questions and speculations, but most of all, I feel like almost none of the actual plot has been revealed. I feel like I am going in as fresh as I can for someone who has seen the two big trailers.

This past week there have been two major trailers dropped for what probably is going to be the two biggest movies after The Last Jedi, and are the tentpoles and major summer box office hopefuls for their respective studios. Both franchises have had an instalment in the past five years that made over two hundred million domestic their opening weekend, and I am sure there are studio executives that are hoping for that same. My guess is that only one has a real shot at hitting the two hundred million mark this time (and may surpass by fifteen million), but at least the other one has a lot of cool looking dinosaurs.

Avengers: Infinity War (May 4, 2018)

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B65hW9YYY5A" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

This is the grand mega event that Marvel Studios has been building up to for several years now (even Avengers: Age of Ultron felt less like a major event and more as a build to this one). Thanos has mainly just been making cameos or popping up in stingers expressing his love for pretty, colourful, glowing stones but trying to convince other people to do all the heave lifting. Now, Thanos is ready to rumble, and only the uniting of every single Marvel character that has appeared in a movie can stop him.

We get an appearance of Thanos without his helmet, and I have to say, hopefully, he keeps on headgear for most of the movie. We also see our heroes pretty dirty and somber, so you know they are taking a beating. The biggest selling point is that this movie will be crammed full of everyone, and the trailer shows almost everyone as advertised. Just seeing them all together isn't really enough to get me super excited, but rather the promise of them actually doing some interesting things together.

It definitely feels like a grand and epic event. The little hints of the action look really good, and we have teases of some interesting relationships like Scarlet Witch and Vision now being a thing and Iron Man being brand new buds with Dr. Strange. I have to say that even though everyone knew Captain America was coming back that I got a chill down my spine when Black Panthers says to get this man as a shield then the Captain comes from out of the shadows. It will be really interesting to see how Iron Man and Captain America interact with each other, as that has to be a thing but the scenes are probably best saved for the movie.

We know that someone from the team has to die, and maybe a few will be passing on. Kevin Feige has pretty much promised it, to the point of saying the title of the next Avengers has to be kept secret as it will spoil a death in this movie. As far as major hero-like characters, I can only think of two who have died in previous movies and even then, one was a villain for one of his movies and the other is a stretch calling him major.  It is the bold move that Marvel needs to make by allowing Thanos and his cretins kill off a hero and cause repercussions for movies going forward.

The trailer is obviously hinting at it being Vision, and Scarlet Witch does have bad luck with her loved ones staying alive. Vision is not an important enough character where him dying would warrant the title of the next movie. I even had to check IMDb to remind myself who Paul Bettany plays. My guess is that Marvel is smart enough to not drop any kind of hint as to who it is that actually dies and rather use the marketing to misdirect. My guess is that it will be someone really major, like a person who had his own movie back in 2012 or 2013.

Loki looks like he betrays Thor and the Avengers again, but that isn't really a spoiler. The big question is does Loki redeem himself and maybe even, does he sacrifice himself for the greater good? I feel like Loki has done about as much as he can do at this point in the story, and I would like it if he got a grand send-off.

I definitely didn't get the same amount of excitement or big questions like I did with The Last Jedi trailer. It was just seeing a visual representation of most of the stuff that was in synopsis or already being assumed from hype. Yep, all the characters are going to be in it. Yep, Thanos is going to be mean. Yep, there will be explosions. But it was well-made with a grand scale and Marvel's strong reputation is enough to keep this near the top of one of my most anticipated of 2018.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22. 2018)

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vn9mMeWcgoM" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I recommended and enjoyed Jurassic World, but I haven't seen it since then and in my mind, it doesn't sit as well as other movies I've liked. It leaned heavy on the nostalgia and reminding us about the all the great things about the original. I also thought Chris Pratt played really well as the lead and offered something very different than previous protagonists in this series. I wish Bryce Dallas Howard had more worthwhile things to do, but she was great with what she was given (which was not very much). This trailer makes it looks like Howard will be more sucked into the action and become a bigger part of the story. Pratt is still the clear lead though, and that means he has got a pretty big summer ahead of him.

If Jurassic World called upon memories of Jurassic Park, then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a story that calls back some memories of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Both movies were about characters from the previous movie returning to the island that houses the now abandoned park, then try to protect the dinosaurs, and also avoid a group with some devious plans. They also both have Jeff Goldblum, though my guess is that his role in the new one is more on the cameo side.

While I am all for more Goldblum in movies, I am not really wanting to be reminded of The Lost World, also known as the first movie I feel asleep while watching at the theatre. I have never returned to that movie since sleeping during it in 1997 and maybe I need to make the plunge now, but if I made a worst of the year list back in 1997, it would have a prominent spot. I also wasn't a huge fan of the book that it was loosely adapted. So, I'm all for the new movie doing what it needs to do in order to not conjure up any more memories of the 1997 disaster. Hopefully, the tyrannosaurus rex stays out of people's backyards this time.

The story doesn't really seem anything new or exciting, and there is only so many fresh ways you can have people run away from dinosaurs. But in the positive, the special effects do look amazing, and some of the action sequences looks like they can provide some solid chills and thrills.

I am not crazy about this movie, but I also love me some big monster flicks. I hope this provides some jumps and maybe it is holding off on a cool dinosaur appearance for the big screen. I'll definitely be reviewing this, but the trailer didn't really lift me out of the zone of mild interest.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

I Miss My Dog More Than Friends and Family: A Thing You Are Not Supposed to Admit Out Loud


My beloved dog, Summit, passed away in the middle of November, and as we now dig into December, I'm still suffering from a giant paw shaped hole in my heart. I really miss Summit and the house still feels very empty. I have learned how much my days revolved around Summit, where the day feels incomplete without our daily morning and evening walks or taking him out through the day for his business or having him come over for pets while I'm trying to get work done. Every day since his passing, I feel like a dark cloud of sadness is constantly raining upon me and the depression that threatens to haunt me throughout my life has barged down the door. 

This isn't the first time that I've had to deal with death as I've lost grandparents, aunts and uncles, a brother (stillborn), a father-in-law, and friends, but this is the only one that beats me down with daily sadness and brings me to tears. This is one where the hurt doesn't go away easy. I feel like a different person ever since he died.

The above statement will probably trigger three type of responses from people. One will have people offended and annoyed that I would put the death of the dog above the passing of wonderful family and friends (who they may still miss dearly). A second will have those who secretly agree with me but would not dare to vocalize it. Then there will be the third, a small group that will openly agree and be able to relate to their own tough experience of losing a family pet.

I love my grandma and I had a decent relationship with my father-in-law. Both of their deaths did hit me hard and caused the tears to flow. I really wish my kids were able to meet both, but they passed away before my kids were born. After the funeral and being able to have closure, I never had another moment where energy sapping sadness struck my heart and soul. I had my moment and have been able to not allow the sad event affect my days.

In my younger years, I remember visiting my grandma often and even spending a week every summer at her house. I have fond memories of those times. As I entered my teen years, I mowed my grandma's lawn each week and still saw her at family gatherings. As I moved away from Brantford and then eventually returned, family gatherings during Christmas and few other sporadic times was all I saw of my grandma. I often kept feeling guilty that I should visit her more, but the reality was, I'd go months not seeing her or thinking about her too much.

I would say my relationship with my father-in-law was as good as I could hope for a man who was very introverted. I do have some fond memories of him and I respect the devotion he showed to his family. While I saw him a decent amount when I went to visit Emily while we were dating, once I married Emily then the interactions with her dad probably cut down to about once a month at the most. The point is that for both my father-in-law and my grandmother, I did not see them daily nor were they a major part of my routine. I love them and I miss them, but not in the same way that I feel about my dog. Yes, my very non-human dog, Summit.

I work from home, and I have for most of my marriage, which means that every single day I spent many, many, many hours with Summit by my side. I was his designated dog walker and the person that most often fed him. I was there for his most important experiences. If I was spending a day at home then it was a day spent with Summit.


I've mentioned many times that I struggle with both anxiety and depression. It is hard having those feelings when I know that I shouldn't, especially when I have a loving wife and amazing children. There are times that those emotions can be a bummer to my family. But Summit always accepted me, no matter if I was happy or in the gutter. He sat beside me or snuggled up against me no matter how I felt. It can be hard talking about my emotions, especially if I feel like I am just repeating what I've felt for several weeks straight. On those walks with Summit, I could say all the things that I had been feeling for months, and he did not care. He just listened, looked up at me, and was clearly enjoying time with me. In my darkest moments, I remember Summit coming up to me and letting me hug him and cry into him. He was a dog, but he was my greatest encouragement and support.

As these last few weeks have made me really sad and made me miss that always loving dog, it is tough not having him to hug or cheer me up. It is tough not having those nightly walks with someone who would listen and lean against if I seemed down. For those reason, I miss him more than I've ever missed any other person who I've loved.

I've felt kind of guilty over missing a dog so much more than other people in my life. But I have realized that it doesn't mean that I value him more or feel like the other loved ones were less significant to my life. It is just the true and raw emotions and feelings that I have, and are things that I can't control. He had been a major party of my days these past 8 years, and I probably have been with him almost as much as I have been with Emily during our marriage (during the dark days that I hide away from people, probably with him far more).

As we approach the end of the year, I have now accepted that I will be missing and feeling sad about Summit well into 2018. There may be a part of me that always will think about him. But what I am trying to do is keep the memories positive and cherish my time with him rather than to continue to mourn. He was 95 pounds of furry joy, and so, emotions of happiness are what I should cling on to each day

It also is a reminder how important it is for me to remain open and close to Emily. Even during this time where my energy is vanquished and I hate myself, I need to embrace, love, and revel in my family. I need to treasure each moment with my children, and throw myself into their excitement and joy. There is a lot of wonder and magic left in my life, and most of that comes from my children and wife. I need to keep on loving them, just like Summit did every day of his life.


Monday, December 04, 2017

The Breakdown of the State of Woman in Movies 2


Three years ago we did a Breakdown of the State of Women in Movies where we felt there was a shift in roles for women and they were going to start getting bigger opportunities. It is now three years later, to be honest things didn't really improve the way that we hoped and in some way it got worse. But 2017 had some very significant events, such as the huge success of Wonder Woman and Beauty and the Beast and director Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird becoming the best reviews movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes. There was also some real bad stuff like the revelation that several directors and key Hollywood figures have been involved in serious sexual harassment and assaults, but even that could lead to good as Hollywood tries to clean up and become a safe place for women. There is a lot to talk about regarding women in the movies, so we do exactly that in The Breakdown of the State of Women in Movie Part 2. We really hope you enjoy the show, and if you do, please pass the word to other movie lovers.

Remember 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.




Monday, November 27, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Coco', 'Mudbound', 'A Christmas Prince' and 'Bomb Scared'


Only one movie made it to the theatre in Brantford this week, but it was a doozy, as it was the latest big Pixar animated adventure in Coco. The Movie Breakdown serves up a review on that movie along with three Netflix Originals. We discuss the streamer's big Oscar hopeful in the 1940s time period piece about racial tension and recovering from the war in Mudbound. It is Christmas time so we've got a review of the holiday romantic comedy, A Christmas Prince. Our final review is on the foreign comedy, Bomb Scared. As well, after the disappointing domestic box office of Justice League, we discuss if the Marvel formula is unrepeatable or if other studios have just failed at recapturing it. As always we really appreciate you supporting the show and if you love it, then please spread the word to other movie fans/

Remember 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.



The Movie Breakdown Outline:

02:55 Mundbound review
23:16 Coco review
46:08 A Christmas Prince review
56:12 Bomb Scared review
1:08:43 Is the Marvel formula unrepeatable or are other studios just failing?
1:30:46 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Mudbound ***½ (CS) & **** (SM)
Coco ***½ (CS)
A Christmas Prince ½* (CS & SM)
Bomb Scared *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)