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

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Breakdown of 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom', 'Set It Up', 'Maktub', 'Sunday's Illness', and 'Lust Stories'


It is a mammoth episode of 'The Movie Breakdown' with five movie reviews including the hotly anticipated big summer creature feature, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Oh yes, the dinosaurs will roam. Speaking of things once thought extinct, is that a romantic comedy that I see? Yes, it is. We review the Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, and Taye Diggs starring Set It Up. We also do some globetrotting with three international films in Israal's Maktub, India's Lust Stories, and Spain's Sunday's Illness. It is another show discussing a variety of different movies. As always if you enjoyed the show, 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: What is your favourite 2018 movie so far?

Send us your answers via email (themoviebreakdown@gmail.com), on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Movie Ratings:

Set It Up *** (CS & SM)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ** (CS)
Sunday's Illness ***½ (CS & SM)
Maktub *** (CS & SM)
Lust Stories *** (CS & SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1.
 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 
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $291 417 838

Friday, June 22, 2018

'A Star Wars Story' Failure is a New Hope for Future 'Star Wars' Movies and Other Big Movie Event Franchises


Edit: The entire basis of this article looks to have been debunked with Collider jumping the gun on their reporting. My thoughts on studios' franchise strategies remain the same.
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The movie website Collider has reported that Disney/Lucasfilm is putting all the A Star Wars Story anthology movies on hold. The Obi-Wan standalone had already been in production, so that is now halted and this means they've stopped moving forward with the Boba Fett standalone movie. For those that want to know the movie definition of "on hold", there is another cinematic universe that is currently "on hold" called The Dark Universe, and my guess is those series of planned films have actually been permanently scrapped. I think it is safe to say A Star Wars Story series of movies are now jettisoned to a galaxy far, far away after only two movies, Rogue One and Solo.

Disney has proven to be pretty risk averse and notoriously trigger happy when it comes to dropping stuff that doesn't look to be gobbling up hundreds of millions. Even with Solo disappointing, I was shocked they have abandoned their once labelled "anthology" Star Wars series so quickly. As someone who enjoyed both Rogue One and Solo, but has never really been that excited about continued one-off origin stories, I like that now they are putting their full energy into wrapping up the main trilogy and then shaping the new one that is being written by Rian Johnson. It also has the perk of something I did not think would happen for a long time that we actually get a year break between Star Wars movies for now and that will allow for some anticipation to actually build.

There is a reason that Incredibles 2 was a massive hit this past weekend and why Jurassic World made over two million dollars its opening weekend back in 2015 or why Force Awakens at the time became the highest grossing domestic movie of all time. In each of those cases, there had been over a decade wait since the previous movie. Studios' current strategy has been to announce sequels to a movie that has not even finished filming and try to get the series of films out as quickly as possible. They assumed fans would remain rabid for a hot franchise and demand a constant flow of movies. What has been shown is that there is diminishing returns, especially if there is very little wait between films. I think, one of the reasons the Fast and Furious franchise has remained a hit is that they haven't released a movie a year and there is at least a little bit of wait between each instalment.

Of course, studios looked at Marvel Studios, which last year released three films and will do that again this year. Marvel has also done a very good job of not making their movies feel like sequels but rather separate stories that at times are even different genres. Last year we had a space opera in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, John Hughes-ish coming of age story in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and a 70s rock infused B-movie comedic sci-fi adventure in Thor: Ragnarok. Though almost every Marvel movie has similar beats and a formula, the flavoring and style is often very different and is selling a different world and characters. The Star Wars spin-off movies did not have enough time to really establish a difference between them and the main trilogy that was distinct enough to sustain yearly excitement.

My hope is that major studios will figure out that their coveted franchises will have a longer life if they slow down the output and focus on telling compelling and unique stories. I think, it is beneficial for the Star Wars franchise to now be focused on the main trilogy series. My guess is that if someone comes up with a golden idea for a standalone movie that Disney/Lucasfilm will be open to returning to the spin-off idea, but that is how it always should have been, produce a movie when an exciting idea has been discovered rather than have a release date that you hope can be filled with a successful movie.

It looks like most studios are slowing down on their cinematic universe concept and realizing that Marvel Studios created something that is almost impossible to repeat. The Dark Universe has been shuttled off to the abyss. A Star War Story has met its end. Transformers writing room has closed down and Bumblebee may end up being the lone spin-off movie. Studios seems to have realized that names like King Arthur may be recognizable but you can't craft an entire cinematic universe around them. DC Comics has admitted slotting out several dates for movies was foolish and they are slowing down their planned output to concentrate on making currently in production movies of the highest quality. I may be being foolishly optimistic here, but most studios seems to be realizing that for the health of their big movie events that quality is more important than quantity. They are starting to take their time in making sure they can make one good movie that captures the imaginations of the movie goer rather than heavily hyping 13 movies over the next decade.

My ideal world would be the Star Wars movies go to a movie every three or four years. That way they could really focus on the stories and really build up excitement (and I wouldn't get burned out on a world that I dearly love). I realize there is no way that is happening unless one of the main Star Wars movies turns out to be a critical and box office disaster. I'm well aware that even if studios are slowing down their output that they still want their movies to come out rapid enough that the franchise remains in the conversation. It is also very likely that after a few years that Disney/Lucasfilm will try to return to a movie a year again.

Maybe now those empty A Star Wars Story slots can be replaced by those hotly anticipated Snorks and Rubik's Cube movies.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

'Creed 2' Trailer: Missing Ryan Coogler but This May Still Have Some Punch


It is hard not to shake the fears that Creed 2 is a gimmick and sliding past the complex character study of the original into the more action fantasy of the later Rocky sequels when the plot this time is Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) out to avenge his father's death by fighting Ivan Drago's son, Viktor (Florian Munteneau). I think, I would be less nervous if they had held off until Ryan Coogler was done with Black Panther and let him tell the story he started. To be fair, this is a really slick trailer that looks to have some really well-choreographed fight scenes, Sylvester Stallone is delivering another nuance performance of a broken down man, and the heart of the family drama is still prevalent. Tessa Thompson is back, which was crucial as she was a driving force in the original. It looks like we are setting this several years later as Creed may be married to Bianca (Thompson) and it looks like they have a kid together. I really loved the original Creed, and I hope director Steven Caple Jr is able to keep the things that made the original special while offering his own unique take on this story. We do not need Rocky IV redone, though I assume Rocky doesn't don the trunks to take a crack at Drago first.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

'Welcome to Marwen' Trailer Review: Zemeckis is Going to Zemeckis


Robert Zemeckis is one of the biggest name directors of the past 40 years, and he has earned it with classics like Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. While he does have a diverse slate, he tend to have two types of films that he gravitates before when directing (with a few exceptions like his break-out comedy Used Cars and his romantic adventure film -- and another classic by my estimation -- Romancing the Stone) which are either movies that make use of computer special effect innovations or tug-at-the-heartstrings human interest tales that are either biopic or feel like them. He will often combine them for movies like Forrest Gump, The Walk or Flight. He also had that several year stint where he did exclusively CGI movies like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and Christmas Carol. 

The last few years he has made his return to live-action movies (though each has critical scenes relying on grand special effects), but after Allied wasn't the critical (don't look at me, I loved it) or box office hit that he had hoped, he seems to be leaning heavily back into CGI innovation territory while dragging along his live-action human interest story beats too.

My sense from Zemeckis' last few movie and this one being release at the end of November, is that he is hungry for an Oscar nomination. This one stars Steve Carell who has also been hunting down a golden statuette, and a heartfelt, emotional, overcoming adversity biopic with some meaty dramatic scenes is at least what you used to need to have a strong chance for a nomination. I think, Carell's day will come real soon, but this trailer is hard for me to predict on Zemeckis' chances. Though, the eye-popping special effects that seem to seamlessly merge the fantasy world into the real world puts him at least with an outside chance at a Best Director nod if this movie does well with critics.

The American Thanksgiving release date also means Universal has hopes this is a crowd pleaser and box office draw. Though it has some big challenges with this being one of the more packed November long weekend slates with other big movies in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph, Robin Hood, and Creed 2.

It does have an interesting story that is loosely based on real event about a guy who is almost killed in a brutal attack and as a form of therapy, creates a World War 2 era village in his yard. It is an obvious inspirational, feel-good, tearjerker about overcoming hardship that is sort of like last year's big end-of-the-year box office hit Wonder. The success of Wonder was that it was a movie that drew in families, and I am not sure how well this movie will do with families considering it has Neo-Nazis and some brutal violence (or at least, insinuated if not actually depicted). On top of that, it is hard to guess if audiences will take to the blend of real-life drama with the fantasy world of the dolls acting out adventures. Plus it may seem minor, but the name Welcome to Marwen is kind of awkward and sounds a little art housey rather than mainstream entertainment.

It is a unique idea, which makes it really appealing to me, since we have enough of the standard end-of-the-year formula award pictures. Also the pairing of Carell and Leslie Mann is extremely appealing, and the little bits in the trailer seem to show a believable chemistry. They are both recognizable faces, which I think still matters for movies like this. The biggest issue for me is if Zemeckis allows the sentimental moments to drown out the character-driven drama, but if he can balance that while balancing a tone with the crazy action figure scenes, this could be a fresh and uplifting good time at the theatres.

I was a fan of Zemickis' Flight and a very big fan of Allied, so the director is on a roll for me. At the very least, it should stand out as something different from all the other Oscar contenders.



Remembering Vader


One area where I have constantly been kicking myself for allowing my emotional state to drive me to neglect this site, is the lack of writing tributes to figures who have at some point been a prominent pop culture figure in my life. I keep telling myself that I need to play catch-up and at least write some short tributes to major figures like Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Gordon Downie, and Margot Kidder. Those days will hopefully come soon, but I mind as well get back on the blog writing horse with a very timely tribute.

It has been announced today that Leon White, better known to wrestling fans as Vader, passed away this past Monday from complications with his heart. Many wrestling fans will agree that Vader was one of the all-time best super-heavyweight wrestlers. The super-heavyweight wrestlers usually succeeded by their massive stature and intimidating look rather than anything they could do in the ring. Simply put, many big heavyweights made their way up to the main event because they looked like monsters but then stunk it up in the ring and were largely left to flounder for years with vague memories of when they had a chance on top. Vader looked the part of a fearsome monster, but then backed it up by being entertaining and skilled in the ring. He was the first 400 hundred pound plus behemoth that I saw do a top rope moonsault and it is still one of the most amazing wrestling moves to witness.

In 2017, Vader was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (the prestigious place that celebrates such legends like Koko B Ware, The Bushwhackers, and a limo driver), but if you only ever watched WWE/WWF then you probably do not realize how deserving he is of wrestling legend status. He got a few PPV main events and WWF World title shots during his 1996 to 1998 run, but he never won a title and most of his time was not very memorable. The WWF ended up really being the only place where he was not a world champion and the top guy of the promotion after he took on Vader persona (he was a lower card guy as Baby Bull in 1980s AWA when he was first starting out).

Vader had numerous titles and big time main event matches in Japan, before I first saw him in WCW. WCW was smart in constantly letting us know he was an international star and a multiple time champion (maybe the one time they were smart enough to use other promotions to help make a star for them). While WCW had a lot of issues and probably mismanaged more wrestler then they made into stars, Vader was one where they easily outdid the then WWF. From mid-1992 to 1995, Vader was the monster that ruled WCW and had several world title reigns. Not only did he play the part of the unbeatable evil beast to perfection (think a classic Rocky villain that the hero must dig deeper than ever before to finally best), but he delivered some of the most intense and thrilling main events of the era. WCW was a mess back then, but if Vader was defending the title, you almost were always promised a thrilling main event.

One of my all-time favourite main events was the big Halloween Havoc 1993 Last Man Standing main event between Vader and Cactus Jack. The ruthless Vader had injured Jack earlier in the year after powerbombing him on the concrete floor and had left Jack injured for several months (some would say he also got amnesia and became a philosopher for the homeless but this storyline is all your imagination -- or, WCW had some awful storylines at least once were smart enough to abandon midway through). It was an intense and brutal match where Jack was out for revenge, and even though both guys were professionals, it looked like they were brutally pounding each other for real. It was a well-worked match that while there were some great stunts, everything meant something and told a story. The match also was great at making Cactus Jack into a sympathetic hero and it was this match that cemented him as one of my all-time favourite wrestlers. Vader apparently had a reputation as a bit of a bully, but from what I saw, he knew how to be generous in the ring and make the other guys look like a hero. Jack lost that night, but Vader made him into a legit main eventer, and Jack would have been that in WCW if the people running it had a clue. I just wish we got the big rematch when both were in WWF (it was hinted and set-up, but never happened to my recollection).

Two months later at WCW's biggest yearly show Starrcade, Vader defended his WCW World title against Ric Flair, who promised he would retire if he could not defeat the seemingly unstoppable monster. It was a great old-school story, and the match was another instant classic. It was another match where Vader seemed to brutalize Flair and the stiff moves added to the intense drama where Flair tried to win the title in his adopted hometown of Charlotte. It was another match where it was about two guys building a story and doing moves that heightened the drama rather than just trying to 'wow' a crowd, It is still one of my all-time favourite matches and one of the moments where wrestling had true emotion. It ends with a great feel-good moment as the legend sneaked in a win over the monster.

Vader also had an insane chemistry with Sting, and they had several great main event matches. If those two were going against each other, it was almost guarantee to be one of the year's best. I think, their final match together was Slamboree '94, where Sting finally got a pinfall victory against Vader in a PPV main event.

Though I watched WCW, I was always a WWF guy since that was the promotion that was most prominent in my area. I watch it loyally since I became a fan in late 1987. Vader was always the guy that I wanted to eventually make his way to WWF. My belief was since WWF put guys like King Kong Bundy, Earthquake, and Yokozuna into the top heel spot because they were huge that Vader was destined to be a mega star as he was big plus could put on incredible matches with almost anyone. I was thrilled along with my wrestling watching friends when in 1996 it was announced Vader would be debuting in the WWF as a participant in the Royal Rumble.

Vader did not end up doing anything too big in the 1996 Royal Rumble, but I still remember the next night. He had easily dispatched of Caribbean Legend Savio Vega in his Raw debut and decided he needed a bit more of a work-out so he continued to splash Vega. Well, WWF officials could not allow that, so they tried to convince him to leave the ring. He said 'no' in the form of beating up every referee that entered the ring. Finally, wrestling legend and then WWF President Gorilla Monsoon entered to ring to get Vader to leave. Vader refused, and so Gorilla suspended him. Vader was not such a huge fan of this decision, so in something that was a shocker at the time, he attacked and Vader Bombed (it was a form of a slingshot splash) the 60 year old retired wrestler. It was a really hot way to get Vader over as a ruthless bully and unstoppable monster, but sadly, that may have ended up being the height of his WWF career.

Vader still was able to produce some great matches while in WWF including his Summerslam '96 main even and world title match against Shawn Michaels and he also had some decent throwdowns with the Undertaker. When he debuted, I had imagined that he would win several world titles and be a long term main eventer, but he still delivered a few great WWF matches. I am still glad he had a stint there and without it, he probably would not be in the WWE Hall of Fame where at least new fans have a chance to learn about him.

Vader was one of my favourite wrestlers in the early 1990s. He may have been the main reason I stuck with WCW during that dreadful time. He was a definite wrestling legend.

For today, I ask what time is it? It's Vader Time!

RIP Vader May 14, 1955 - June 18, 2018

How Does He Do It?


There is a movie blog that for the last several years, I've checked out every few months then I immediately plunge into great shame for wasting my time in such a horrid way. The writer has been a journalist for at least 40 years now and has some very deep connections in the industry. He has written for some high-profile pop culture magazines and websites, but as far as I can tell, he has been writing exclusively for his blog/website since about the mid-2000s.

He usually churns out about seven to nine pieces a day, some being only a hundred words and others well-over a thousand, and usually does a few movie reviews a week. He is a decent writer but there is at times pretension that wafts out of his prose and a forced attempts at being poetic or philosophical. It isn't the wording that causes the deep regret that I feel for wandering on to his space of the internet. This is the guy who a few years ago got some mainstream attention for a quick piece reviewing the first trailer for Trainwreck by bemoaning the fact that someone of Amy Schumer's figure was not only given the lead in a romantic comedy but we were to believe several men would actually dare to sleep with her. This also was not a one-time thing, it is kind of his gimmick to spend words upon words about the looks of stars and getting furious that not everyone on the big screen is drop dead gorgeous. He also often likes to give advice to older actors about getting some cosmetic work done, because obviously, he is a ravishing Adonis that earns the right to criticize such important movie skills as looks.

He doesn't just rip on the looks of movie stars. He also often will criticize the general movie going public for being Neanderthals because they dare to enjoy dreck like comic book movies or laugh at family movies. If that isn't enough, then he bashes fellow critics for daring to like stuff that he despises. If you think that the internet needs more toxicity, he has some general tossing of contempt towards anyone that isn't just like him. He doesn't just write about movies, because it is really a blog, he also occasionally posts some stories from his personal life, which is almost always him complaining about people he had to interact with that day or making himself seem like a victim when someone is upset over him being an asshole

So, why do I subject myself to this nasty filth?

A small part of it is that during an era of political talk radio where political parties are portrayed as sports teams and conservatives will jump through hoops to praise all things from the right and liberals will defend anything from the left, it is intriguing to see a guy who identifies as a liberal and a Democrat that constantly writes things that infuriates people from that end. He is his own unique little creature that doesn't mindlessly follow one side of the spectrum.

The main reason I keep checking in is that I am just captivated by his success. He is able to afford to go to several film festivals a year including the big ones in Sundance, Cannes, Telluride, and TIFF. From the best I can see, he is making a living entirely from writing for his blog, and doesn't need to do any other freelance work. He has deep connections with those in the movie industry and is able to get big news from the movie studios. His only source of income that I see is the banner ads that he has on his site, which are always for upcoming releases (which I believe he arranges directly from a studio).

I just keep coming back, because I am amazed by how he does it. I try to figure out how he actually makes a living from his blog. If it is just the few banner ads, then that must mean he lands millions of readers on a monthly basis and has a huge following to make the few ads very lucrative. Though his Twitter account shows a very admirable following, but not one that would make me think just a few ads is enough.

Maybe he made smart investments a few years ago? Maybe he won a rather lucrative lawsuit? Maybe a small indy studio is paying him to rip on all the big studio movies? Maybe just maybe he does make enough movie from those ads, because he gets a huge amount of readers every month. He also is the lone writer, so he is only needing to pay himself and his webmaster. This still means that his negative and toxic words draw in an army of people.

It shocks me, because he isn't the only movie writing freelancer that has a name or following. Nathan Rabin is a former head writer for AV Club and The Dissolve (RIP) but now is running his own personal pop culture site, but in order to make a living he needed to set up a Patreon site and even then, still has to do freelance work for several other sites. Drew McWeeny is another distinguished film critic who now is freelancing and his main source of income is selling e-books on his website and having a Patreon for his 80s All Over podcast. Eric D Snider is another really talented and positive human being, who has his own website but yet again needs a Patreon to fund it (as well as a Patreon for his Movie BS podcast), but still needs to do editorial work on the Crooked Marquee website to make a living.

My point is that these are really talented pop culture (film) writers that I want you to follow and support if you can, but I am also just baffled they haven't found the same ease of success as Captain Grumpy Pants.

Maybe it is that the above worth supporting writers admit that they would rather write the things they are passionate about. They want to do film reviews or delve deep into analysis of movies. The cranky body shamer plays the game of Oscar predictions, trailer reviews, analyzing press releases, talks politics, while also doing movie reviews, so he writes about the stuff all the big mainstream websites do as well (but with his unique slant of insults and negativity). Part of me likes to think the other writers could have made money off just banner ads if they were willing to play that game while also doing the writing they loved. A part of me fears that it is the cynicism and the controversial writing that is driving the one writer's business.

I refuse to promote the other writer and reveal who he is, because I dropped enough hints to make him really easy to find. Besides, I help him out by going against my best instincts and checking him out a few times a year anyway, I just have to accept he has found success and applaud him for that. As for my own dear readers, please check out the other writers that I mentioned because they are quite tremendous.


Monday, June 18, 2018

The Breakdown of 'Incredibles 2', 'Hereditary', 'Hotel Artemis', 'Alex Strangelove', and 'Ali's Wedding'


I hope dads everywhere had a great Father's Day and were able to spend some time with their families. Speaking of families, several of the movies we review this week have a major focus on familial bonds. We kick it off with a super heroic family in one of most hotly anticipated animated sequels in Incredibles 2. We also have something much darker, in a supernatural horror where Toni Collette plays a mother trying to protect her family while also uncovering some dark secrets in Hereditary. Then we have two bank robbing brothers who after a robbery goes bad end up in a hospital for criminals called Hotel Artemis. Love is in the air as well with two romantic comedies from Netflix in Alex Strangelove and Ali's Wedding. We had a great time recording this show and hope it is just as fun for you. And if it is, then please spread the word to other big movie fans, so we can help grow this show.

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 2018 movie so far?

Send us your answers via email (themoviebreakdown@gmail.com), on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Movie Ratings:

Incredibles 2 ***½ (CS)
Alex Strangelove ** (CS) & **½ (SM)
Hereditary **** (CS)
Ali's Wedding ** (CS) & *** (SM)
Hotel Artemis **½ (CS)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1.
 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
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 
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $143 393 228

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Breakdown of 'Ocean's Eight', 'Adrift', 'Ibiza', and 'Sara's Notebook'


This week The Movie Breakdown has reviews of four new 2018 movies that all happen to star women in the lead roles. The biggest of the bunch is the comedy heist film with a huge and talented female cast headlined by Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett in Ocean's Eight. We also have the very talented Shailene Woodley in the battle with nature mixed with a love story in Adrift. As well, there is Gillian Jacobs in a romantic comedy called Ibiza. Finally, we have a Spanish film about a women who goes to the Congo to find her missing sister who was last seen with a group of violent warlords and child soldiers in Sara's Notebook. After the movie reviews, we once again explore the toxic side of movie fandom and why some fans feel they need to harass actresses and what can studios and filmmakers do to prevent this awfulness. As always, if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie lovers.

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 movie from at least 14 years ago that never had a sequel, would you love to see have one?

Send us your answers via email (themoviebreakdown@gmail.com), on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Movie Ratings:

Ibiza ** (CS & SM)
Ocean's Eight **½ (CS)
Sara's Notebook *** (CS) & ** (SM)
Adrift **½ (CS)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1.
 Solo: A Star Wars Story $84 420 489
2. Incredibles 2
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: $126 027 867

Scott's Picks:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
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 
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $143 393 228

Thursday, June 07, 2018

10 Years


There are many things that I have learned during my first decade of being a married man. There is such thing as too much paper towel for a spill. A cook must always taste test when making dinner and that not all spices are meant for all dishes. If you think you are an awesome parent because your first child was "easy" then your second will be an ego buster. If you do not groom yourself, prepare to be tweezered when in compromising positions. But the most important thing that I've learned from my 10 years of being married is that I can always be better and I should strive to be the best.

The status quo is the comfortable but is also where the passion gets sucked out and a person can find themselves trapped. After 10 years of marriage with Emily, we've had our ups and downs. When we decided to toss in kids at the end of 2011, there were times that we've been roommates who are pretty good at raising kids. Over the last few years, I've have had my own personal emotional battles where my days are trying to get work done and look after Everett and Danika (who dares for me to spend 5 minutes not watching her) while toxic emotions and anxiety whittle me away until 8pm hits with my body drained and my brain foggy, In the evening if I am not catching up on work then I spend more time on a pillow than with my wife. Then I wake up at five in the morning to try to get more work done before the family wakes, so the cycle of spending little time together continues.

If I wanted to be pessimistic, I could say that those stagnate times or moments the passion is absent means our marriage is imploding. But my ten years has proven that there are time our marriage is full of love and magical moments but are sometimes followed by those harder and more challenging days or weeks or months. A relationship flows and bounces and bumps and soars and crashes, and I think some relationships that enter the graveyard are examples of people not realizing that. Things change and change can be good and bad, but one must adapt and aim for better no matter the situation.

Marriage is a lot like most things in life such as careers or hobbies or projects or other relationships. All these things present challenges or have their rough patches, but it doesn't mean they will always be bad or stagnant. Or it also means that things won't always be amazing and wonderful. You have to accept the dark and the light. One also has to realize the need to do their part to try to make it better and closer to their goals and desires.

In all these cases, I've learned the most dangerous idea is thinking relationships are static or that the status quo is good. Marriage has taught me that like almost everything in life, I should always strive to be better. It has taught me that I can always be better and you never truly reach your best. The best is the unattainable goal but on that journey, we improve, learn, teach, cry, love, grow, tumble, climb and celebrate. My goal is to be the best husband, father, son, friend, writer and human that I can possibly be. There are a lot of times where I end up failing, but in that failure, I learn where I can be better.

On this journey to be the best. I have realized that I do not have to stay on the path in front of me but can always redirect the route by getting that machete and chopping down the vines that cover the path to my real goals. If what you've been doing for the last few years has got you farther away from the golden city then check the compass and map, and recognize there are multiple paths and routes. It is easy to blame those around you for making the journey hard, but it is more rewarding to learn that it is time to alter the direction yourself and figure out how you can be a better traveller. The more I am in the relationship with someone else, the more I have learned to take self-ownership for the state that I am in.

Hitting ten years of marriage reminds me of a story that my mom told me. She loves and adores my dad, but for the first ten years of their marriage, he wasn't able to comprehend that his dirty clothes should go in the hamper. Over those ten years, she would delicately tell him it would be nice if he picked up his clothes and made use of the hamper. She even once wrote him a note detailing the wonders of that basket in the corner of the room (likely a letter far less sarcastic than the one I would write, obviously). The first ten years, my dad was an amazing husband in many ways but he failed at getting those dirty clothes into the laundry hamper. Until one day, he figured it out. After a while of the clothes landing in the hamper every single day, my mom asked him what changed. My dad's response was that he decided it was time that she stopped picking up after him. It is a minor thing, but it shows a good marriage is one where a person is willing to change and adapt to make it work (just may take a decade to get there, but that also means my mom has had 30 years of clothes free floors).

I've always said my parents are my role models of a loving and working marriage. I know they both are still smitten with each other even after 40 years. My dad has been a shining example of having a willingness to change and adapt for his marriage (even if it was a slow and methodical change). When I was young, if my mom was out for the evening that meant my dad was ordering pizza, which meant a tower of boxes awaiting my mom when she came home after being away for a few days. In my teenage years, I remember my dad cooking dinner every Sunday because my mom had piano lessons that afternoon and so there was always food waiting for her that did not come courtesy of Domino's. The older that I got, the more I saw my dad contributing to things like doing laundry or vacuuming if my mom was away for a weekend. Emily has always known my dad as someone who is very affectionate and quick to help my mom. She can't fathom that when we were kids at theme parks that my Type A and tunnel vision dad would abandon my mom with all the kids (and strollers) while forging ahead into the crowded sea of people to his destination. This would never happen today, and has been my example of how I should always recognize my weaknesses and turn them into growth points and eventual strengths.

I want to be the best husband that I can possibly be for my wonderful wife, Emily. I know part of achieving that is realizing that I can always be better and our marriage can always be improved. That type of outlook is important for all things in my life including being a dad, writer, cook, photographer, and interpretive dancer (some of these things may have a lot less or none of my focus). I recently started doing workshops for writing and looking at various writing courses, because even though I've been doing this professionally for several years now and I am confident in my skills, I am well aware that my writing can always be refined and there is still lots to learn. It is why I need to humble myself to listen to other's advice on writing or parenting or dodgeball. It is why reading and experiencing and observing and just being open to all around me is vital daily activities. Life is organic and evolving, and everything contained in it is as well.

My hope is as several more decades go on that I continue to become a proactive, compassionate, receptive and loving partner and husband for Emily. I don't care about actually being the world's greatest husband, because I don't even know what that would be. My goal is that as the years go on that Emily will know without any doubt that she is deeply and truly loved by me, and I am the best husband for her.

Monday, June 04, 2018

The Breakdown of the Forgotbusters: 'Anaconda', 'Problem Child', 'Salt', and 'Wild Hogs'


A pop culture writer who I am a huge fan of his work, Nathan Rabin, had a column called 'Forgotbusters' on the now defunct movie site The Dissolve (I could write a week's worth of articles on the heartbreak and impact of losing that incredible place). Rabin described Forgotbusters as movies that were one of the top 25 grossing pictures of their respective year but have since receded culturally. This could either mean that the film is no longer talked about in anyway or that the feelings are now much more negative rather than nostalgic. It is a pretty subjective distinction and Rabin was taken to task for some of his picks like Space Jam or Avatar. I find it to be such an intriguing idea looking at films that were once pop culture landmarks but have not endured and sometimes not endured as well as movies that made far less in the box office that same year.

This week we are doing the Breakdown of the Forgotbusters and will be reviewing four movies that were once hot but have since chilled. We've got a giant creature feature that also was one of Jennifer Lopez's first big starring roles in 1997's Anaconda. Then we go to 1990 where movies about precocious kids were all the rage, as we discuss the John Ritter starring Problem Child. Remember when every studio wanted their own Bourne Identity? One of those years would be 2010 and, how about one starring Angelina Jolie in the action thriller, Salt. Finally, it isn't Forgotbusters without a John Travolta flick and he brings along some friends in Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy in Wild Hogs.

After the movie reviews, we look at the box office disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars Story and look at why this was the first Star Wars movie to flop at the box office. Then we discuss if this failure means that Disney needs to change their plans for Star Wars. As always, if you love the show then please pass on 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 two stars who have never headlined in a movie together, would you love to see team up?

Send us your answers via email (themoviebreakdown@gmail.com), on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Movie Ratings:

Anaconda ** (CS) & *** (SM)
Problem Child * (CS) & ½* (SM)
Salt ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)
Wild Hogs * (CS) & *½ (SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1.
 Solo: A Star Wars Story $84 420 489
2. Incredibles 2
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout 
4. Ocean’s 8 
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: $84 420 489

Scott's Picks:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
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 
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $143 393 228