Anniversary Celebration 5: My Fave Five New Movies I Watched in Year 5

Hello, friends!

Welcome to the final item of my annual blogiversary celebration: my five favorite new films I have watched this year. But first, if you missed any of the reviews from this week, here is what you might have missed:

The Game, recommended by Ashley
King of Thorn, recommended by SG
United 93, recommended by Rob
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, recommended by Curt
The Wind That Shakes the Barley, recommended by Kira
The Raid: Redemption, recommended by Kim

Before I go into this list, I want to give a HUGE thank you to my blogger friends who gave me recommendations for this momentous event. These last few years have been fun and all of you have contributed to that, so I appreciate you helping me out in making this anniversary celebration stand out from the last four. Finally, to close out this celebration, here are my five favorite films I watched during my fifth year of blogging:

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle movie poster5) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Robin William’s Jumanji is one of my favorite movies from the 90s.  When I first heard they were doing a sequel, I was unsure what to think. On the one hand, Hollywood has been making sequels to ride on nostalgia factor, mostly to mediocre or worse success. But I didn’t want to judge before I saw it, especially after seeing the cast. I’m glad I didn’t write Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle off as a simple cash-grab because this was one fantastic film. All four cast members brought different kinds of humor that made for all kinds of laughs. Jack Black acting as a teenage girl was especially fantastic and something I didn’t know I needed in my life. I was in stitches throughout the entire film.

Black Panther movie poster4) Black Panther

There is no doubt that Marvel Studios is a powerhouse. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an unprecedented cinematic accomplishment. At 18 movies in, they finally made a movie that many are pushing to be nominated for best picture at the academy awards. Whether or not Black Panther will receive that honor still remains to be seen. However, what is already clear is that this movie is amazing. T’Challa is a well developed character with an equally developed and compelling villain in Erik ‘Killmonger.’ Killmonger finally seemed to have broken Marvel’s shallow villain problem and that alone is note worthy.

Game Night movie poster3) Game Night

One of my favorite movie genres, if not my favorite, is comedy. And when it comes to comedy, I have a pretty low bar; if I laugh, chances are I’ll like the movie, whether it’s slapstick like Airplane! or more subtle humor like Cannonball Run. These days, comedies tend to go more lowbrow humor so a comedy that is clever is bound to get noticed. That’s where Game Night comes in. Game Night takes a simple premise, like a friend’s regular get together, and turns the crazy up to eleven. Best yet, it does so without becoming juvenile or distasteful. Every couple has their own dynamic, creating all sorts of laughs. Weird neighbor Gary, played flawlessly by Jesse Plemons, almost single-handedly steals the show. Comedies are great but one like Game Night that manages to be unique in the saturated genre is sure to be remembered.

Ready Player One movie poster2) Ready Player One

Ready Player One combines two of my favorite things: Steven Spielberg movies and video games. For as long I can remember I’ve had a controller in my hand. There’s something special about where games can take you. This movie understands what it truly means to be a gamer and playing for enjoyment and to bond with others. That spoke to me on a personal level. Outside of that, the animation from inside the Oasis was amazing and the story was interesting, especially when it highlighted the point above. Spielberg has a fantastic eye for fantasy and science-fiction and there could not have been a better director. All-in-all, Ready Player One simply had all the right pieces.

Avengers: Infinity War movie poster1) Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War is to the entire MCU up to this point what The Avengers was to Phase One. It was a culmination of all the movie that had come before. The Avengers only had five movies worth of characters to worry about but Infinity War had the monumental task of capping 18 movies! And like the first Avengers movie, this year’s was up to the task. It balanced all the characters well and balanced the serious moments with the signature Marvel humor better than most MCU movies before it. Thanos, this movie’s villain, quickly became Marvel’s best villain to date, even greater than Killmonger mentioned before. Even though it is titled “Avengers,” an argument can be made that this is Thanos’ movie and the Avengers are the antagonists. It’s a wonderful flip of hero/villain dichotomy but was a brilliant move by Marvel Studios. Once again, they demonstrated why they are the king of the box office.

Turns out I didn’t watch nearly as many new films over the course of the last blogging year as I thought I did. In any case, I want to thank you all again for you patience as I went on a review hiatus and took an extra three months to get this celebration together. You all are simply the best. Another thank you for following, reading, liking, and commenting. It’s always great to see you stop by and I can never get enough of it. 😀 Onward to year 6!

Until next time, cheers!

The Raid: Redemption Review

This movie was recommend by Kim from Tranquil Dreams as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

The Raid: RedemptionSynopsis
Rookie SWAT member Rama (Iko Uwais) is on his first mission. The team’s task is to capture crime lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy) from his apartment building. When Tama and his thugs become aware of the police’s presence, Rama and his team must fight their way to the top floor.

The action genre is one of my favorite film genres, so when a movie is touted to be the best action movie of the decade, my ears perk up. There is something raw about the action in The Raid: Redemption. Each fight feels brutal and bone-crushing and every punch’s impact is felt through the screen. Huge props to the action choreographer because the fights were mesmerizing to watch. Not only that, the camera was really tight, keeping everything smooth and in frame. I am not a huge fan of shaky cam so I was excited to see that there was hardly any used here. It was reminiscent of the classic action movies of the 80s, where fight scenes are shot using wide angles, despite the cramped setting. The best way to describe this movie is as a cross between Dredd and Netflix’s Daredevil’s signature hallway scenes. However, like Dredd, there isn’t in much in terms of character development. There is a nice little twist for main character Rama but for the most part, this film’s focus is delivering memorable and top-notch action. Not every film needs to be deep with deep characters. Sometimes, simple characters with great style can be enough. Sometimes, less is more.

I thought The Raid: Redemption was GREAT 😀 Calling this the best action movie of the past decade might be a bit of a stretch but it’s definitely close. What I can say for sure is that we need this style of action movie more frequently. Its crisp choreography and tendency to keep the action steady and in frame make this one to remember.

The Martial Art used in this movie is Pencak Silat, which is the indigenous fighting style of Indonesia. (via IMDb)


Cast & Crew
Gareth Evans – Director / Writer
Aria Prayogi – Composer
Fajar Yuskemal – Composer

Iko Uwais – Rama
Joe Taslim – Jaka
Ray Sahetapy – Tama
Yayan Ruhian – Mad Dog
Donny Alamsyah – Andi
Iang Darmawan – Gofar
Pierre Gruno – Wahyu
Tegar Satrya – Bowo
Eka Rahmadia – Dagu
Alfridus Godfred – Machete Gang leader

The Wind That Shakes the Barley review

This movie was recommend by Kira from Film and TV 101 as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley movie posterSynopsis
During the Irish War of Independence, the O’Donovan brothers, Damien (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy (Padraic Delaney), join the fight for Irish Independence from the United Kingdom.

I think I can honestly say this is the first Irish independent film I have ever watched in my life (at least that I can recall). And I’ll be honest, I don’t know how I feel about The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Going in knowing nothing about this other than it was a war film, it wasn’t the war film I expected it to be. Most of the time when I think of a war film, it is covered in violence and regular action pieces. Maybe that’s a mistake on my part for setting that expectation in my head but that is not what this was. There were action scenes intermittently throughout the film but the main focus was on the O’Donovan brothers, played by Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney.

The drama between the two brothers drives the film, the war is simply the backdrop for their story. Murphy and Delaney expertly navigate the audience through their turmoil. Murphy is an actor that has mostly flown under my radar. I’ve seen many of his films but he isn’t necessarily one to be the reason I watch a film. That might’ve changed after watching this movie. His performance as Damien O’Donovan might be his best performance I’ve seen. While this is Delaney’s first film I’ve seen, consider me a fan. These two together made a great pair.

I thought The Wind That Shakes the Barley was GOOD 🙂 I said at the beginning that I didn’t know how I felt about this film but now I know. While the story might not be my normal cup of tea, the performances from Murphy and Delaney and the emotion they each brought to the film made it enjoyable and worthwhile.


Cast & Crew
Ken Loach – Director
Paul Laverty – Writer
George Fenton – Composer

Cillian Murphy – Damien O’Donovan
Padraic Delaney – Teddy O’Donovan
Liam Cunningham – Dan
Orla Fitzgerald – Sinead
Laurence Barry – Michael
Mary Murphy – Bernadette
Mary O’Riordan – Peggy
Myles Horgan – Rory
Martin Lucey – Congo
Roger Allam – Sir John Hamilton
John Crean – Chris
Damien Kearney – Finbar
Frank Bourke – Leo
Shane Casey – Kevin
Mairtin de Cogain – Sean
William Ruane – Johnny
Fiona Lawton – Lily
Sean McGinley – Father Denis
Kevin O’Brien – Tim

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

This movie was recommend by Curt from The Hypersonic55’s Realm of Reviews and Other Stuff as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie posterSynopsis
The introverted Charlie (Logan Lerman) chronicles his freshman year of high school.

Many high school films follow a similar formula or character arc for the protagonist. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is no different. Main character Charlie (Logan Lerman) is not one of the popular kids and keeps to himself, he finds friends, has good times with those friends, has bad times with those friends, and has clear character growth and learns life lessons by the end of the film. While this may sounds like every coming-of-age movie, the cast and script make it stand out from the crowd. I’m a huge fan of Emma Watson so I’m always excited to see her in a film. Lerman perfectly captures the essence of what it is to be a high schooler and feeling like an outcast. I have only been recently been introduced to Ezra Miller, starring in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Justice League but he is my favorite performance of the film; His chemistry with both Watson and Lerman is fantastic. He is quickly becoming an actor to look out for. Director and writer Stephen Chbosky was also the author of the 1999 novel of the same name that this film is adapting. While I can’t say how it compares to the source material, I can say that it is clear a lot of love and dedication went into translating the book onto the big screen.

I thought The Perks of Being a Wallflower was GOOD 🙂 While on paper in may sound generic, the script and cast make this film a memorable one, particularly Ezra Miller. This has found itself onto my list of quintessential teen movies.


Cast & Crew
Stephen Chbosky – Director / Writer
Michael Brook – Composer

Logan Lerman – Charlie
Emma Watson – Sam
Ezra Miller – Patrick
Mae Whitman – Mary Elizabeth
Erin Wilhelmi – Alice
Paul Rudd – Mr. Anderson
Kate Walsh – Mrs. Kelmeckis
Dylan McDermott – Mr. Kelmeckis
Nina Dobrev – Alice
Zane Holtz – Chris
Nicholas Braun – Ponytail Derek
Melanie Lynskey – Aunt Helen
Johnny Simmons – Brad
Joan Cusack – Dr. Burton

United 93 Review

This movie was recommend by Rob from MovieRob as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

United 93 movie posterSynopsis
During the 9/11 hijackings, the passengers of Flight United 93 stood up to the hijackers to prevent them from reaching their target.

The September 11th terrorist attacks is one of those events that if you remember it, you remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news. It was an emotional time and for many it still is. Five years later, in 2006, United 93 was the first movie to attempt to tap into the emotions of that day. Throughout the entire film, the movie is reflective. It looks at the events sincerely. What’s more, it paints the terrorists as the villains but doesn’t demonize them. Director Paul Greengrass is able to do this because the bombers are not the focus of his film, the men and women on the plane are. Greengrass does a fantastic job of portraying the passengers of flight United 93 as heroes and the sacrifice they made that day for their families and their country.

I don’t watch many biopics because more often than not, they don’t keep my attention. There are exceptions but unfortunately this is not one of them. For me, most of the emotion didn’t come from the film, but rather remembering that day and bringing back the emotions I felt that day. The material wasn’t there to make this a two-hour long movie. For the majority of the film, it felt like it was dragging on. This would have been more impactful as short film or an hour-long television special.

I thought United 93 was OK 😐 While it did a good job evoking emotions from the day of the attacks, the amount of material doesn’t justify the run time. However, for the first film based around the September 11th attacks, it offers a reflective and sincere look at what happened that day.


Cast & Crew
Paul Greengrass – Director / Writer
John Powell – Composer

Christian Clemenson – Tom Burnett
Cheyenne Jackson – Mark Bingham
David Alan Basche – Todd Beamer
Peter Hermann – Jeremy Glick
Daniel Sauli – Richard Guadagno
Trish Gates – Sandra Bradshaw
Corey Johnson – Louis J. Nacke, II
Richard Bekins – William Joseph Cashman
Michael J. Reynolds – Patrick Joseph Driscoll
Khalid Abdalla – Ziad Jarrah
Lewis Alsamari – Saeed al-Ghamdi
Jamie Harding – Ahmed al-Nami
Omar Berdouni – Ahmed al-Haznawi
Opal Alladin – CeeCee Lyles
Nancy McDoniel – Lorraine G. Bay
Peter Marinker – Andrew Garcia
David Rasche – Donald Freeman Greene
J. J. Johnson – Captain Jason Dahl
Gary Commock – First Officer LeRoy Homer Jr.
Polly Adams – Deborah Welsh
Chip Zien – Mark Rothenberg
Erich Redman – Christian Adams
Kate Jennings Grant – Lauren Grandcolas
Starla Benford – Wanda Anita Green
Simon Poland – Alan Anthony Beaven
Trieste Kelly Dunn – Deora Frances Bodley
Jodie Lynne McClintock – Marion R. Britton
Marceline Hugot – Georgine Rose Corrigan
Rebecca Schull – Patricia Cushing
Ray Charleson – Joseph DeLuca
Tom O’Rourke – Donald Peterson
Becky London – Jean Headley Peterson
John Rothman – Edward P. Felt
Libby Morris – Hilda Marcin
Denny Dillon – Colleen Fraser
Susan Blommaert – Jane Folger
Tara Hugo – Kristin White Gould
Lorna Dallas – Linda Gronlund
Masato Kamo – Toshiya Kuge
Liza Colón-Zayas – Waleska Martinez
Olivia Thirlby – Nicole Carol Miller
Leigh Zimmerman – Christine Snyder
Joe Jamrog – John Talignani
Chloe Sirene – Honor Elizabeth Wainio
Patrick St. Esprit – Major Kevin Nasypany
Ben Sliney – Himself
Tobin Meller – Himself
Rich Sullivan – Himself
Tony Smith – Himself
Col. James Fox – Himself
Staff Sgt. Shawna Fox – Herself
1st Lt. Jeremy Powell – Himself
Curt Applegate – Himself
Greg Callahan – Himself
Rick Tepper – Himself

King of Thorn Review

This movie was recommend by SG from Ryme and Reason as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

King of Thorn movie posterSynopsis
When the Medusa Virus, a mysterious and incurable virus, threatens Earth’s population, a select group of people are chosen to enter cryostasis. When the group wakes up, they find the facility has been overrun by large, thorny vines and dangerous creatures.

Have you ever watched a movie where it wasn’t perfect but you were still thinking it was alright and you could at least still get into it. Then, all of a sudden, at the end it turns into crazy town? That’s how I felt about King of Thorn. First off, the 2D animation looked good. However, during the action scenes, the style switched to a 3D, cell-shaded style of animation that did not look good, nor did it match the 2D style well. Switching between the two styles was jarring and often distracting. Throughout most of the movie, the mystery about what happened to the world around the main characters was intriguing. Most of the characters had some sort of depth to them; They weren’t developed a lot but enough to at least be interesting. Then the ending came and I didn’t know what to think. It reminded me of the final couple episodes of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion where the reveal and payoff for the mystery built and developed until that point feels really bizarre. When the movie ended, I was just sitting there, thinking ‘What just happened?’

I thought King of Thorn was OK 😐 Awkward animation styles switching aside, the film brings you into the story with characters that are decently developed, or at least developed enough that you want to see where their story goes. However, the final reveal does not feel like a good payoff for that development and the movie’s story.


Cast & Crew
Kazuyoshi Katayama – Director / Screenplay
Hiroshi Yamaguchi – Screenplay
Akiko Yajima – Writer
Toshihiko Sahashi – Composer

Kana Hanazawa / Brina Palencia – Kasumi Ishiki (voice)
Toshiyuiki Morikawa / Patrick Seitz – Marco (voice)
Sayaka Ohara / Stephanie Young – Katherine Turner (voice)
Shin’ichiro Miki / Christopher Bevins – Peter (voice)
Akiko Yajima / Luci Christian – Tim (voice)
Kosei Hirota / R. Bruce Elliott – Alexandro Pecchino (voice)
Kenji Nomura / Bob Carter – Ron Portman (voice)
Misaki Kuno / Monica Rial – Alice Roznovski (voice)
Eri Sendai / Alexis Tipton – Shizuku Ishiki (voice)
Yoshinori Fujita / Todd Haberkorn – Walter (voice)
Tsutomu Isobe / John Swasey – Ivan Coral Vega (voice)