Trailer Round-Up – 1/11/21

One Night in Miami… trailer #2

Supernova

Locked Down

Outside the Wire

The Night is Short, Walk On Girl

Cherry teaser trailer

Malcolm & Marie

Finding ‘Ohana

Savage State

Cowboys


Which of these films are you excited to see?

Drew’s Movie Reviews 2020 In Review

Hello, friends!

What a year 2020 has been, huh? If there’s one thing you can’t say 2020 wasn’t, it’s uneventful. As you know, theaters have mostly been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic for most of the year, causing many of the blockbusters we expected to see on the big screen this year to either be released on streaming platforms or to be pushed back into 2021. 2020 has definitely seen a shift in how big films are delivered to audiences. But before we get into all of that, let’s look at some stats for Drew’s Movie Reviews in 2020:

Here are the films released this year I saw and thought were GREAT πŸ˜€ :

Palm Springs
Soul

Here are the films released this year I saw and thought were GOOD πŸ™‚ :

Weathering With You
The Gentlemen
Birds of Prey
Sonic the Hedgehog
The High Note
Onward
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
The Old Guard
The One and Only Ivan
Tenet
Secret Society of Second Born Royals
Ashens and the Polybius Heist
The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2
Godmothered
Greenland

Here are the films released this year I saw and thought were OK 😐 :

Artemis Fowl
Mulan
Wonder Woman 1984

Here are the films released this year I saw and thought were BAD 😦 :

You Should Have Left

Here are the films released prior to 2020 I reviewed:

Uncut Gems (2019)
Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011
Eighth Grade (2018)
Inception (2010)
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Vegas Vacation (1997)
Vacation (2015)
Career Opportunities (1991)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Firstly, wow! What a jump in views! Up nearly 60% from last year is crazy to think about. Although, last year saw a decrease in views so this year is more or less getting back on track with the natural increase in yearly views. Although it is a bit surprising that the views have increasing as much as they have considering the number of yearly likes and comments have been steadily decreasing. It’s an interesting trend. But it’s equally surprising that the views have jumped so much considering the amount of posts I had this year. I didn’t even get 100 posts when normally I do well into the 100s. The final post count is not surprising given the lack of reviews I posted this year (not to mention an unplanned hiatus towards the beginning of the pandemic).

There’s nothing too surprising from the top viewed posts. The yearly Ultimate Decades Blogathon announcement post is usually pretty high on the list every year. I am surprised my review ofΒ Career Opportunities has been viewed so many times. I wouldn’t have thought the film to be that popular to garner that many views. Shout out to Allie for her submission for the Christmas in July blogathon this year for making it into the top 5 viewed posts. As for the most commented and most liked posts this year, I don’t have much to say. However, I do want to give a shout out to Ashley for cracking the top 5 in both categories with her review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon.

The top countries from this year is identical to last years with the exception of the United Kingdom and Australia swapping in the number 2 and number 3 spots.

My longest posting streak of 12 days is due to the Christmas in July Blogathon and my Anniversary Celebration happening back to back. Still 12 days of posts is pretty impressive for me.

As you can see, I didn’t see many new releases that I thought were that spectacular. On the plus side, not too many terrible films either, with most of the films I saw this year falling into the GOOD rating. I am disappointed that I haven’t wrote a review for Palm Springs because that is my favorite film released this year. Shameless plug: If you want to see my full ranking of this year’s releases, go check out my list on Letterboxd. Eighth Grade is probably my favorite of the films not released in 2020 that I watched this year. If you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend you do so. It immediately shot to the top of my favorite coming-of-age films.

I don’t have much else to say about this past year other than I’m glad it’s finally over. It’s been one hell of a roller coaster and I am going into 2021 with a positive attitude. Because 2021 can’t be any worse, right? Right…? As for plans for this blog for the upcoming year, I hope to be more on top of reviews. The amount of reviews I posted this year was way below what I usually aim for. At the very least, I want to get back to the cadence I was before. I have several ideas for long-form posts that I have yet to write still. Hopefully I will write more of those. They take longer for me to put together but they are fun and they tend to create more conversations than my reviews usually do.

And that’s it for 2020! Stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive. I’ll see you on the other side.

Until next time, cheers!

Soul Review

Soul movie posterSynopsis
Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a middle school band teacher and an aspiring musician looking for his big break. When he gets the opportunity he has been waiting for, he has an accident and finds his soul heading towards the Great Beyond. Not ready to move on, he escapes to the Great Before, where he meets the young soul 22 (Tina Fey) and together they try to return Joe’s soul to his body.

Review
Over the years, Pixar has told a variety of stories that have all been unique in their own way. Keeping with that trend, Soul is unlike any film Pixar has made before; the studio continues to find new and original stories to tell. This movie manages to stand out among Pixar’s other films as a masterful study of one’s perception of their purpose in life. It might not be the most kid-accessible plot but it is approached in a way that is meaningful to all ages.

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a musician who never quite got his big break. In between going to various auditions, Joe became a middle school band teacher. He enjoys being a teacher but nonetheless feels unfulfilled and still chases his aspirations of becoming a musician. When a former student, Curley (Questlove), calls Joe and invites him to audition for his quartet, Joe feels could finally be the break he has been looking for. At the audition, Joe gets lost in the music and makes a good impression on the quartets leader, Dorothea (Angela Bassett), who asks him to return later that night for the show.

The strength of these first few scenes is they expertly set up several characters and threads that will be important throughout the rest of the film. Just before going to the audition, we see the dynamic between Joe and his mother, Libba (Phylicia Rashad), who wants her son to find a stable job and not a career with the uncertainty that comes with being a full-time musician. It is clear that they have a strained relationship. It is also clear that Joe has respect for his mother and wants to make her happy but at the same time, wants to be allowed to follow his dreams and do what makes him happy. We see Joe’s passion for music as well when he zones out while playing the piano during his audition. His passion is seen, not just heard. We, as the audience, are pulled into his love of music and can feel how much Joe enjoys playing piano; we understand how important this opportunity is to Joe.

Excited to be offered the job he has been waiting for, Joe hurries home but in his rush, he becomes distracted and falls into an open manhole. He wakes up as a soul going towards a giant light in the Great Beyond. Not ready to pass on before getting his big break, he tries to escape from the Great Beyond and finds himself in the Great Before, the place where young souls reside before going to Earth. As Joe travels between the Great Beyond and the Great Before, we get the first glimpse at how varied the animation of this film his. The sequence of Joe falling was very Kubrick-esque to me, being both entrancing and intriguing at the same time. Once in the Great Before, the style of animation is much more fluid and abstract that the realism seen in the New York City sequences. It’s very similar to Inside Out, where there are no clear edges and the environment is very flamboyant and runs together. The appearance of Terry and the multiple Jerry’s is probably the most unique character design in all of Pixar, which is saying something.

In the Great Before, Joe meets Counselor Jerry (Alice Braga), who informs him that souls in the Great Before can reach Earth using the Earth portal. However, every time he goes through the portal, Joe is returned to the Great Before. Thinking Joe is a lost soul mentor, Terry takes him to the other mentors, who assist young souls in finding their β€œspark” to complete their personalities, displayed as a badge on the soul, before being allowed to Earth. Seeing a completed Earth Pass as his ticket through the portal back to Earth, he impersonates another soul mentor. In the mentoring program, he meets soul 22 (Tina Fey), a soul who refuses to go to Earth. The pair agree to complete 22’s Earth Pass so Joe can use it to return to Earth and 22 can stay in the Great Before forever.

Unable to find 22’s spark in the Hall of Everything, Joe and 22 go see Moonwind (Graham Norton) and the Mystics without Borders, a group who help β€œthe lost souls of Earth find their way.” When the mystics locate Joe’s body on Earth, Joe rushes to get back. In his haste, Joe accidentally brings 22 with him. When Joe wakes up, he realizes that he is in the body of a therapy cat and 22 is inside his body. Together, 22 and Joe set out to find Moonwind on Earth to help them return to their proper selves.

What follows is a extraordinarily crafted story of friendship and passion. Joe and 22’s journey throughout the course of the film sees the two discovering that there is more to life than either expected. The themes are geared more towards an older audience who might have more appreciation for the movie’s message, but I feel they are also laid out in a way that a younger viewer can understand as well. It might not be as exciting or adventurous as some of Pixar’s other films, but the characters and their journeys make the experience well worth your while.

I mentioned it previously but I can’t review an animated film and not talk about the animation. New York City is a city full of movement and excitement. Soul captures that with such realism that if the characters themselves were not caricatures, it would be hard to tell this is animation. The opening scenes provide a look at the beautiful animation to come in the film but when Joe and 22 set off in New York City together is when the animation of the bustling city becomes truly breathtaking. The sights, the sounds, the colors, the energy, everything is authentic and gorgeously rendered. Pixar continues pushing the boundaries of what is possible in animation.

I thought Soul was GREAT πŸ˜€ The story provides a fantastic and emotional study of inspiration and purpose. As we get older, we forget that there is beauty in life around us. Soul serves as a reminder that no matter how mundane things become, never lose sight of what makes life truly beautiful and worthwhile.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Pete Doctor – Director / Writer
Kemp Powers – Co-Director / Writer
Mike Jones – Writer
Jonathan Batiste – Jazz Compositions and Arrangements
Trent Reznor – Composer
Atticus Ross – Composer

Jamie Foxx – Joe (voice)
Tina Fey – 22 (voice)
Graham Norton – Moonwind (voice)
Rachel House – Terry (voice)
Alice Braga – Counselor Jerry A (voice)
Richard Ayoade – Counselor Jerry B (voice)
Phylicia Rashad – Libba (voice)
Questlove – Curley (voice)
Angela Bassett – Dorothea (voice)
Cora Champommier – Connie (voice)
Donnell Rawlings – Dez (voice)
Margo Hall – Melba (voice)
Rhodessa Jones – Lulu (voice)
Daveed Diggs – Paul (voice)

Greenland Review

Greenland movie posterSynopsis
When comet fragments begin crashing down to Earth, John Garrity (Gerard Butler) sets off on a journey with his family from their home in Georgia to bunkers in Greenland before the biggest of the fragments strikes the planet.

Review
For as much of a catastrophe that 2020 was, it’s quite appropriate that one of the final films released this year is a disaster movie. You would be forgiven if you go into Greenland expecting a cheesy adventure often seen within the genre. And while this film does contain some of the tropes expected from this sort of film, it does manage to find an authenticity not often found in disaster movies. This all stems from Gerard Butler and his every-man portrayal of John Garrity, who is merely a structural engineer trying to protect his family. He is not indestructible, nor does he become this insanely good fighter like is often seen. Rather, he simply uses his wits to protect his family. Greenland is surprisingly down to Earth, focusing on the family dynamic between John, his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). While similar films have attempted this approach, Greenland manages to do it more successfully. Of course, it helps that Butler, Baccarin and Floyd all have great chemistry together. As the trio journey to from the southern United States to Greenland, they meet many different characters along the way. The movie uses this structure to display the different ways people would react and behave during such a calamity. It’s a powerful and effective way to examine human nature.

I thought Greenland was GOOD πŸ™‚ Choosing to focus on humanity and family rather than the impending disaster, it manages to strike a surprising emotional cord for this type of film. This smaller focus does prevent some of the genre’s more obnoxious flaws from surfacing, however it doesn’t avoid them completely. Nonetheless, Greenland is one of the better disaster films out there and feels like a fitting end to the disaster that is 2020.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Ric Roman Waugh – Director
Chris Sparling – Writer
David Buckley – Composer

Gerard Butler – John Garrity
Morena Baccarin – Allison Garrity
Roger Dale Floyd – Nathan Garrity
Scott Glenn – Dale