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 😀 :

Palm Springs
Soul

Here are the films released this year I saw and thought were GOOD 🙂 :

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 of 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!

Trailer Round-Up – 8/24/20

The Secrets We Keep

Blackbird

Death of Me

Tenet final trailer

On the Rocks

Let Him Go

Death on the Nile

Wonder Woman 1984

Zack Snyder’s Justice League teaser trailer

Black Adam teaser trailer

The Batman teaser trailer


Which of these films are you excited to see?

Christmas in July Blogathon 2020 Wrap-Up

Hello, friends!

Thank you for checking out the seventh annual Christmas in July Blogathon. Here is the list of entries if you missed any of them:

Badly Drawn Christmas Movie Posters (Allie)
Take 3: Little House: Bless All the Dear Children Review (Sally)
Edward Scissorhands Review (SG)
Double Feature: 3615 Code Pere Noel (1989) & The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) (Kim)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) Review (Rob)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

And for what you’ve all been waiting for, here’s the complete guest list for this year’s holiday party:

That’s the wrap! Thank you once again to all the participants this year. I enjoy seeing everyone’s excitement for this blogathon. And another thank you goes out to anyone who commented, liked, or read any of the entries.

As my regular readers know, even though the Christmas in July Blogathon may be over, that is not the end of the festivities. July 30th is my blogiversary so I will be celebrating during the days leading up to it. For this year’s blogiversary celebration, I will be reviewing the rest of the franchise that I reviewed for this blogathon. I can’t wait for you to see them. Look for those reviews to drop soon.

Until next time, cheers!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000): Christmas in July 2020

Hello and welcome to the penultimate day and final guest post of the seventh annual Christmas in July Blogathon. The last guest of the blogathon is the blogger who has participated in every year of the Christmas in July Blogathon so far, Rob from MovieRob. Rob has thousands of reviews on his blog and participates in blogathons across the blogosphere, as well as hosting a monthly Genre Grandeur feature, where a specific film genre is selected by a blogger and that genre is highlighted by other bloggers. No matter your taste in film, chances are Rob has reviews for you. Today, he reviews the Jim Carrey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) movie poster“The nerve of those Whos. Inviting me down there – on such short notice! Even if I wanted to go my schedule wouldn’t allow it. 4:00, wallow in self pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me – I can’t cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing… I’m booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness. But what would I wear? ” – The Grinch

Number of Times Seen – 1 (14 Jul 2020)

Brief Synopsis – An outcast from Whoville who lives in a cave away from town tries to make the town miss Christmas by stealing all of the presents and decorations.

My Take on it – When Drew announced that he would once again be doing a Christmas in July Blogathon, I immediately signed up since it always gives me an excuse to try and find a Christmas film to watch that I had never seen before.

This year I chose this film because, I have been putting off watching this movie for two decades and I figured that it was about time to check it out.

As a kid, I read the book by Dr. Seuss numerous times and even saw the animated version that would be shown on TV every year.

This unfortunately is quite an ineffective adaptation of the story and doesn’t work at all.

They try far too hard to try and give this movie a more emotional meaning to the events that take place, yet in the end it doesn’t allow the story to flow at all.

This, in part, is due to the excessive amount of exposition added here that wasn’t part of the original version and makes the story unbearable to watch.

Jim Carrey is truly the best part of this film and it is easy to see that he was born to play this character.

When he is in his make-up, he is transformed into the character.

There is no question in my mind that they were quite deserving of winning an Oscar for Make-up for the work done here because it is so genuine and realistic looking.

The story has a great message about Christmas and about family time, but it all seems bogged down by the attempt to create a strange new world for the character to inhabit.

Ultimately tho, the world they envisioned feels far too creepy for its own good.

I suggest that if one wants to see this story done right, read the book or watch the animated special from the 60’s.

Bottom Line – Pretty ineffective adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss book. This film tries too hard to give a more emotional meaning to everything that transpires but in the end it takes away from the flow of the story because there is far too much exposition than is needed to make this story work.  The best part of this film is Carrey who seems truly born to play this character. The makeup he uses helps transform him into this notable Christmas grouch. They definitely deserved their Oscar for Makeup because it looks so much more genuine than one might expect. The story’s message about Christmas is somewhat lost in the overbearing attempt to create a strange new world for these characters to inhabit.  Stick to the original book or the TV special from the 60’s.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The scene where the Grinch is directing his dog, Max (Kelley), before stealing Christmas, is Jim Carrey making fun of producer and director Ron Howard, imitating his style of directing. Howard found the scene hilarious, and decided to include it in this movie. (From IMDB)

Rating – Razzie Worthy (4/10)

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Check out my *updated* movie stats here

To see my reviews of Oscar Winning Performances check out this link

To see my reviews of all Oscar Best Picture Winners click here (now complete)

Here is a link to my movie index A-Z


Rob’s guest to the party is the 90s rom-com queen herself, Meg Ryan.

Thank you Rob for joining in the blogathon once again!

Tomorrow is the final day of the blogathon, which will be closed out by yours truly.

Until next time, cheers!

Double Feature: 3615 Code Pere Noel (1989) & The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018): Christmas in July Blogathon 2020

Welcome to the second half of the Christmas in July Blogathon 2020! Today I am exciting to bring in my co-host for my other annual blogathon, the Ultimate Decades Blogathon, who is none other than Kim from Tranquil Dreams. Kim’s blog is filled with a variety of content from movie reviews to food content to book reviews to lifestyle posts to much much more. She likes to focus on Asian cinema and television but as you can see below, she reviews a little of everything. Go check out her site because she absolutely has something for you. As for this blogathon, Kim always like to bring various types of entries to the Christmas in July Blogathons. This year, she is returning to a more traditional post and providing us with a Double Feature feature (a regular on her blog). Here are her reviews of Dial Code Santa Claus and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.


A year sure does fly by as I join into this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon. The past few years have been lists of all kinds (and a lot of rushing in the process) but this year is going back to my own review structure: Double Feature. As with the past while, I’ve chosen a Christmas-themed movie from Shudder and Netflix and did a little review for both. Here’s my review of French horror thriller 3615 Pere Noel and Disney’s retelling of the Nutcracker story, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

3615 Code Pere Noel (Dial Code Santa Claus, 1989)

Dial Code Santa Claus movie poster

Director (and writer): Rene Manzor

Cast: Alain Lalanne, Brigitte Fossey, Louis Ducreux, Patrick Floershiem, Francois-Eric Gendron

“On Christmas Eve, a resourceful young boy has to defend himself and his grandfather from a killer dressed as Santa Claus. – IMDB

3615 Code Pere Noel, also called Dial Code Santa Claus on IMDB or Deadly Games on Shudder, is the 1989 horror thriller version of Home Alone, which was released in 1990. It takes place in a mansion and starts off with a young boy Thomas who takes inspiration from Sylvester Stallone action roles most prominently Rambo’s disguise and paired with a warped version of what sounds like Eye of the Tiger in the  background to show the booby traps and the high tech elements of this mansion as he reenacts a scene with his dog as the villain. Sure, we’re talking about the late 80s at this point and everything is really dated but it is these little gadgets and Thomas’s quick ideas that all comes into play as the home invasion portion starts up after a slower beginning to set up the villain and his motive to break into the house. Although, the movie itself is only 87 minutes so it’s paced fairly quickly already with the majority of it set in the process of home invasion.

The best part of the film is for young boy Thomas played by Alain Lalanne and the Santa Claus, played by Patrick Floersheim. On one hand, Thomas might not be a seasoned young actor and there are moments where it’s really over the top but the character design is very good. It gives Thomas knowledgeable and resourceful but not forgetting that faced with the violence of an intruder, he still has a child’s fear and despair as he tries to protect his grandfather and himself. On the other hand, the Santa Claus is a very subtle type of character with very little dialogue. While the beginning does pad out a little, it does give context to this character as the everyday person that is neglected in society and yet as he progresses, has this unstable of what the purpose of this invasion is especially when he triggers a hide and seek game with Thomas after he catches him. There’s a lot of mystery behind this character and some part of it left for interpretation.

3615 Code Pere Noel is an alternate Christmas movie well worth a watch and one of those hidden gems that deserve a lot more people to check out, especially seeing that it’s now on Shudder.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms movie poster

Director: Lasse Hallstrom, Joe Johnston

Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Macfadyen

“A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice. – IMDB

Disney picks up a lot of these live action children fantasy adventure movies at this point. It’s usually some harmless and visually appealing affair. That’s the best way to describe The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Set on Christmas Eve where Clara goes to a Christmas party and seeks out her godfather to the key to a puzzle that her mother had left her before she passed away takes her to an adventure in another realm through a passage from the mansion. It’s quite a fun way to incorporate the elements of Christmas in the beginning and take the elements of a classic story like The Nutcracker and be able to reinterpret some of the characters especially the Mouse King the way that it did. The visuals paired with the score as well as the costumes are definitely the highlight of the film. The story itself is fairly predictable and even the villain which should be a twist is fairly easy to figure out. In the end, this is supposed to be a children’s movie for the most part so it’s not supposed to be complicated for an adult to watch this.

If you look at the cast, it’s quite a packed one with supporting roles from Morgan Freeman and Matthew Macfadyen. How many times has Matthew Macfadyen been in the same movie with Keira Knightley at this point, right? Keira Knightley takes on a much bigger role as the Sugar Plum Fairy with a high pitched voice and a rather entertaining role. To be honest, the younger roles here who play the lead like Mackenzie Foy as Clara or the Nutcracker Philip, played by Jayden Fowora-Knight are fairly okay. They are still young and have room for improvement for sure especially in some reactions and such but overall, it’s still decent.

There’s a lot of the expected and predictable elements here. For people who enjoy this type of movie, they will still find the joy in it. If you’ve never quite enjoyed these movies from Disney, then its probably not one to catch. It sounds like I didn’t say anything with that comment but this is along the lines of movies like A Wrinkle in Time or Alice in Wonderland where it has a certain level of entertainment and visuals but also a fair share of elements like plot that might feel more formulaic.


For our holiday part, Kim is inviting one of her favorite actors: Nicholas Tse.

Nicholas Tse

Thanks for joining the blogathon again this year, Kim!

Tomorrow is the final guest post of the blogathon from the blogger who has thousands of films reviewed on his site.

Until next time, cheers!

Edward Scissorhands: Christmas in July Blogathon 2020

Welcome to day 3 of the Christmas in July Blogathon 2020! Today we are joined by the cinephile and poet SG from Rhyme and Reason. SG uniquely combines his love of movies with his love of poetry, as you’ll see below. Definitely go check his blog out for a unique movie review format. Today, SG reviews the non-traditional Christmas film Edward Scissorhands.



Scissors for hands – what a curious trait!
What a sad and bizarre and improbable fate!
For scissors for hands, with their razor-sharp edges,
Would terrify all, and especially hedges.
How lonely ‘twould be to be born with such digits,
Endangering life with the slightest of fidgets!

For who could love someone so strange and pathetic,
With hands so unsightly, unsafe, and synthetic?
Somebody could, though you might call it schmaltz,
For love can look past all exterior faults.
Some mock and some fear, but if one understands,
That one can love past even scissors for hands.
_________________________

MPA rating: PG-13

Thanks to Drew for letting me take part again in his annual blogathon. When it comes to Christmas in July, I tend to gravitate to films that aren’t full-on Christmas movies but still fulfill the mid-year need for some holiday spirit. This year, I decided to check out a film I hadn’t sought out before, due to my family’s general dislike of Tim Burton’s macabreness, but that I had heard fit into the unorthodox Christmas mold. Now that I’ve seen Edward Scissorhands, it’s hard to say it fits into any mold at all, but I can see why it brought attention to this first team-up of Burton and star Johnny Depp.

Even before the credits rolled, Edward Scissorhands struck me as a modern Grimm’s fairy tale, charming, weird, dark, and sad, yet still somehow beloved by many. Dianne Wiest plays Peg Boggs, a mother and Avon saleswoman, who enters the deserted medieval castle looming over her suburban neighborhood (not weird at all, right?) and discovers the lonely and timid Edward (Depp). He is an artificial man, created by the inventor who once lived there (Vincent Price in one of his last roles) but sadly unfinished and left with giant scissors in place of hands. Peg quickly decides to bring the orphaned Edward home with her, and he is taken wide-eyed into the friendships and vanities of suburban America, soon falling in love with Peg’s daughter Kim (Winona Ryder).

Tim Burton has called Edward Scissorhands his favorite and most personal film, and I can see why since it epitomizes his offbeat stylistic flourishes, of course heightened by a haunting Danny Elfman score. Both when Peg explores the Gothic castle and when the metal-bodied Edward explores her home, there’s a distinct visual contrast between the characters and the setting. Likewise, as Edward spreads his gift for topiaries, the presence of uniquely shaped hedges throughout the cookie-cutter pastel houses lends a special peculiarity to the environment, traces of the visiting stranger who doesn’t seem to belong.

Yet there’s also a clear lesson about books and their covers. Despite the clear ribbing of small-town sensibilities and gossip, most of the neighbors are surprisingly accepting of Edward, and despite his imposing hand blades, he proves to be a gentle soul, tenderly cutting the hair of people and pets and only ever cutting himself by accident. It is this very kindness that wins over Kim, despite his eccentricities. It isn’t until cruelty imposes on Edward, mainly in the form of Kim’s jealous boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall), that he is viewed as dangerous, leading to rumors and a scenario straight out of Frankenstein.

So how is this at all Christmas-y? Well, mostly it’s not; the Christmas elements don’t come in until the climax, which takes place on the eve of a Christmas party in the Boggs home. Plus, actual hands were to be a Christmas present for Edward, and his use of his blades for ice sculpting creates the appearance of falling snow, becoming heartbreaking and poetic by the end. It’s not heavy on the holiday trappings, but there’s enough to warrant inclusion on a typical list of unconventional Christmas fare. It also kicked off Burton’s affinity for injecting Christmas into his dark films, as he did in Batman Returns and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Considering how reminiscent certain elements and themes are to Frankenstein and Beauty and the Beast, it’s surprising how original Edward Scissorhands feels, a genuine representation of Tim Burton’s surreal whimsy before it became clouded by lesser CGI-heavy adaptations of others’ stories. Personally, I thought Depp was a little too awkwardly blank-faced most of the time, but I could still see the subtle emotions at play. I thought Wiest with her selfless concern for Edward was the real star and heart of the film, and I was also glad to see Winona Ryder. If I hadn’t been a child in the ‘90s, I would have had a huge crush on her. I’m still not sure I’ve developed a taste for Tim Burton, especially since I was more depressed than wistful by the end, but Edward Scissorhands is one of the stronger entries in the director’s quirky oeuvre.

Best line:
(audience member, when Edward is on a talk show) “But if you had regular hands, you’d be like everyone else.”
(Edward) “Yes, I know.”
(host) “I think he’d like that.”
(audience member) “Then no one would think you’re special. You wouldn’t be on TV or anything.”
(Peg) “No matter what, Edward will always be special.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2020 S.G. Liput

P.S. Thanks again to Drew for having me once more and hosting this blogathon! As for my plus-one for the Christmas party, I think I’d like to bring Lily James, along with some mistletoe. 😊


You’re welcome, SG! Thank you for joining in again.

Tomorrow my Ultimate Decades enters the Christmas in July Blogathon.

Until next time, cheers!