Superheroes at Christmastime: Christmas in July Blogathon 2019

Hello, friends!

Winding down day two of the sixth annual Christmas in July Blogathon is the MCU and Star Wars mega fan known as Ashley from Box Office Buzz, If you are unfamiliar with her site, I highly recommend you go over and give it a look. She reviews all kinds of movies and writes a variety of other posts. As I said, she is a big MCU fan, and superhero film fan in general, and she brings that passion to this blogathon as she looks at two superhero Christmas films.

Superheroes at Christmastime: Taking a closer look at two of my favorite (unofficial) holiday films

Did you know that both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe have technically included Christmas films in their respective franchises?

When people put together lists of favorite Christmas movies, “Iron Man 3” and “Shazam” probably aren’t the films that first come to mind. Strictly speaking, these movies are merely set during Christmastime, instead of actually being about Christmas, but it’s an interesting creative choice nonetheless.

Since these movies came out in theaters during the spring and summer, why use a holiday setting? Well, I think it actually makes sense thematically, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper. Here’s more on why I love these two superhero movies, and why I think their Christmas setting was a cool choice:

Reflection and renewal in ‘Iron Man 3’

Iron Man 3 movie posterChristmas is a popular time to give and receive gifts; unfortunately, not all MCU fans thought of “Iron Man 3” as a gift (or at least a gift they wanted to receive). It remains one of the MCU’s most polarizing films, but personally, I love it.

Pop culture films that become polarizing often do so because they take bold narrative risks. Not everybody agreed with this film’s portrayal of classic Iron Man villain the Mandarin, but to me that’s not the most important part of this film.

“Iron Man 3” is, at its core, about Tony’s continuing journey to make peace with who he is, both inside and outside of the Iron Man suit. He experiences Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following the events of “The Avengers,” and he struggles with his ongoing fear that he won’t be able to protect the people he cares about.

Maybe it’s just coincidence that “Iron Man 3” takes place at Christmas, but to me it fits because Christmas is meant to be a season of peace and renewal. One year is ending, and another is about to begin. It’s a time of reflection, reconnection, and celebration.

Tony realizes that while the Iron Man suit is a valuable tool, he doesn’t need it to be a hero. And while he continues to make mistakes after “Iron Man 3,” this film is a key turning point for his character, and he experiences growth in terms of maturity and self-acceptance.

***Spoiler alert for “Endgame”*** As we now know, Tony’s character arc has a bittersweet ending in “Avengers: Endgame” — he sacrifices himself to save literally the entire universe, the greatest gift he could have possibly given to his friends and his daughter. He dies at peace, as the hero I always knew he could be.

Found families in ‘Shazam’

Shazam! movie posterI was really surprised that “Shazam” wasn’t a bigger hit at the box office earlier this year, because it’s a really fun (and funny) little superhero film. While there are some entertaining superhero fight scenes (particularly the one at the very end), the movie has a lot to say about family, and — in particular — the concept of “found families.”

The film’s lead character, Billy Batson, has been shuffled from foster home to foster home before finally being placed with the Vazquez family. At first, he doesn’t want to be there, and he keeps himself closed off emotionally.

But after a strange series of events that start with being summoned by an ancient wizard and end with him acquiring superpowers whenever he shouts the word “Shazam!” (it’s a long story), he comes to appreciate his new siblings and find belonging with the Vazquez family.

I love the concept of “found families” in fiction (the Guardians of the Galaxy films in the MCU are another great example). Even though Billy isn’t related to the Vazquez family by blood, they are bound together by their love and compassion for each other.

For many, Christmas is a time to focus on family, but that can be a painful experience for those who don’t have good memories from growing up. The holidays aren’t always a happy time in every household, and it’s important to acknowledge that.

Everyone deserves to have a group of people where they feel like they truly belong, and it doesn’t matter whether those people are officially related or not. Christmas — and “Shazam” — are all about celebrating the feeling of being “home,” wherever that may be.

My holiday party

Finally, one of my favorite parts of Drew’s “Christmas in July” blogathon is seeing which celebrities everybody would pick to attend their fictional holiday party.

I’m going to cheat and pick two, because I can’t decide! First, I’d like to pick John Boyega, who plays Finn in the new Star Wars movies. He just seems like such a charming, fun guy.

I’d also like to pick Robert Downey Jr., because Iron Man is my favorite superhero, and I think he’d make my holiday party super entertaining with all his quips.

Two guests?! How scandalous, Ashley. Bending the rules a little bit but I’ll allow it because they are two pretty solid invites. 😛 Thanks for joining in!

That’s if for day two of the Christmas in July 2019 blogathon. Tomorrow, we begin the day by moving from the big screen to the small screen.

Until next time, cheers!

Four Christmases: Christmas in July Blogathon 2019

Hello, friends!

Welcome to day two of the 2019 Christmas in July Blogathon. Kicking off today is Rob from MovieRob. Rob is a blogathon regular, participating in as many blogathon as he can. Not just here at DMR but throughout the blogasphere. He has reviewed literally thousands of movies on his blog, so there is a very good chance he has reviewed something you’re interested in. Go check his site out. Now, here is his review of Four Christmases.

“My childhood was like the Shawshank Redemption, except I didn’t have some old, warm, black man to share my story with!” – Brad

Number of Times Seen – Twice (31 Oct 2009 and 9 Jul 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A couple planning to spend the Christmas holiday alone must spend it with the four different houses of their divorced parents

My Take on it – This is a film that I saw years ago not long after it came out and didn’t recall anything about it at all.

When Drew invited me to this blogathon, I scoured the net looking for something fresh and new for me that deals with Christmas and this caught my eye.

It’s actually an interesting idea that works mostly due to the superb cast.

The plot itself gets a bit silly, but Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon help make this work even better.

The two of them have great chemistry together and their back and forth with one another makes this movie so much more fun to watch.

The supporting cast is also superb especially since most of them feel like expanded cameo roles.

Robert Duvall, Mary Stenburgen, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight are all hilarious as the four parents and give us so much to ponder about the meaning of the holiday.

Each of these four houses celebrate the holidays in different ways and that allows us to see the diverse fashion that people can spend their holiday, yet this movie makes it a bit more impactful since we get to see how this couple deals with their very eccentric families during this time of year.

As a rom-com, this film works on numerous levels, but it’s best part is the way that we can see how much one can learn by getting know and visiting the extended family because we can learn so much more about a person.

Bottom Line – Interesting idea that works largely due to the pairing of Witherspoon and Vaughn. They have amazing chemistry here that helps make this film more watchable. The rest of the cast is also superb, even if most seem like cameo roles. Duvall, Steenburgen, Spacek and Voight are all hilarious as the parents. The way that all four of these houses celebrate the holidays differently says so much about the diverse ways that people spend their holidays yet here it is a bit more impactful because it allows us to see how these two people deal with their very eccentric and very different families. As a rom-com, it’s a lot of fun especially since it shows how much people can learn about one another when you get to finally meet the rest of the family.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – According to Director Seth Gordon, the film’s subject is the difficulty all people have of reconciling who they are, and the person they’re supposed to be, which is why it’s so hard to spend Christmas with one’s family, and why it can engender uneasiness. Naturally, he also felt Christmas was an amazing playground for comedy. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (6/10)


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

Thanks for joining in the festivities, Rob!

Stop by later today for the second entry of the second day of the blogathon from a particular superhero fan.

Until next time, cheers!

Trailer Round-Up – 7/22/19

The King’s Man teaser trailer

The Kitchen final trailer

Don’t Let Go

The Red Sea Diving Resort


Playing with Fire

Good Boys red band trailer #2

Ad Astra trailer #2

IT: Chapter 2 final trailer

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot red band trailer

Top Gun: Maverick


21 Bridges trailer #2

Which of these films are you excited to see?

Allie’s Top 5 Non-Christmassy Christmas Movies: Christmas in July Blogathon 2019

Hello, friends!

Let’s get this blogathon started! This is the sixth year I’ve hosted this blogathon so many of you should be familiar with it. If you aren’t familiar with it, firstly, where have you been! And secondly, I hope you enjoy Christmas because you will be getting a lot of it between now and July 25th. There are some cool and unique entries this year (as always!) so I hope you find something you like and maybe even some new blogs worth following by the time this is all finished. To get us started is none other than the veteran Christmas in July Blogathon-er, Allie from Often Off Topic. Allie reviews a variety of films on her site, gives updates on her life as a mom of a little daughter, shares lists, and is a frequent participant in the Thursday Movie Picks. Make sure to go check her site out if you aren’t familiar with it. In the mean time, to kick off the blogathon, here are Allie’s Top 5 non-Christmassy Christmas movies.

You try saying that title after a few cups of eggnog! Does anyone actually drink eggnog? I’ve heard it in Christmas songs I’ve seen it in Christmas movies…but I’ve never actually had any! I guess there’s a first time for everything. Speaking of which, this is certainly not the first time I’ve taken part in Drew’s Christmas in July Blogathon, but it IS the first time I’ve sent my post to him on time! For…any actual Blogathon he’s hosted, actually. I’m so sorry Drew!

It’s getting tougher each year to pick a topic for my post, but after last year when I defended Die Hard’s status as a Christmas movie my theme for this year has picked itself out. I’m going to list my Top 5 Non-Christmassy Christmas movies! You know, those movies you find yourself watching in October or November when the festive vibes are kicking in, but it’s not socially acceptable to be in the festive spirit yet!

#5 Die Hard (1988)
Defending Die Hard’s Christmasy status is difficult enough, but last year Bruce Willis himself declared that it wasn’t a Christmas movie. C’mon, man! When the winter months are filled with sickly sweet family movies, sometimes you need to see Bruce Willis kick some ass whilst still feeling festive.

#4 Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
I love a good rom com, and Bridget Jones’s Diary is up there with the best of the very best. Bridget is just so relatable, and the scene with her and Mark Darcy with his ugly Christmas jumper is brilliant!

#3 The Harry Potter Series (2001 – 2011)
Christmas features very sporadically in all of the Harry Potter movies but for years now, the main UK TV channels feature them heavily in December, and so for that reason, it’s sort of become a tradition to watch them annually at that time of year.

#2 Shazam! (2019)
This year has actually brought a new movie to my annual Christmas watch list! (I’m going to have to START in July at this rate). Shazam! has it all, it’s a cool and funny superhero movie, it has some touching family moments…and it takes place at Christmas! Winner winner, turkey dinner.

#1 Just Friends (2005)
I’m a huuuge Ryan Reynolds fan, and Just Friends features Ryan Reynolds at what I consider one of the best moments in his career. Embarrassingly, I could probably recite the entire movie to you, I’ve watched it that often!

Now, as part of Drew’s blogathon, he hosts a huge celebrity party (ever the hostess with the most-ess) and we’re allowed to bring any guest we choose. I seem to have worked my way through the entire male Star Wars cast…but I don’t think you need more than one guess as to who I’m bringing this year…

Keanu, we are going to have a most excellent time!

Great list, Allie. After your post from last year, I’m definitely not surprised to see Die Hard on your list. I approve of your invite. If any trouble goes down, I know Baba Yaga himself will protect us.

Come back tomorrow for more Christmassy fun with a review from the longest active participant in the Christmas in July Blogathon.

Until next time, cheers!

Spider-Man: Far From Home Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home movie posterSynopsis
While on a vacation to Europe, Peter (Tom Holland) is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help combat “elementals” alongside the mysterious new hero Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).

This review contains spoilers for the end of Avenger: Endgame.

Spider-Man: Far From Home closes out the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU’s) Infinity Saga, the large, overarching narrative Marvel Studios has been telling since Iron Man. In a way, Spider-Man was the perfect character to close out Phase 3. For years, he was (and probably still is) Marvel comic’s flagship character, much like Iron Man was for the MCU. Spider-Man is also now the only character beside Iron Man to have two solo movies in the same phase. But most importantly, Peter Parker became an adoptive son to Tony Stark. No other character is more suited to reflect on what it means to not have Tony around than Peter.

I thought Spider-Man: Homecoming did a good job of integrating Tony Stark into the story; he was present but didn’t take over the story. However, his presence could still be felt in the peripheral, just out of sight. Even in his own movie, Peter still felt like he was in Tony’s shadow. Peter didn’t make his suit or all of the gadgets it contained, Tony did. Even when Peter messed up on the ferry, endangering civilian lives, Tony was there to fix it. Now with Tony gone, Peter has the opportunity to step out on his own. Tony’s presence is still felt in this film but a different way than in Spider-Man: Homecoming: Peter is shadowed by Tony’s legacy.

This movie focuses on Spider-Man’s interference with Peter’s personal life more than Spider-Man: Homecoming did. Peter trying to find this balance between the two was one of the strength’s of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and has been lacking in the Spider-Man films since. Constantly throughout the film, Peter is put in situations that forces him to choose between pursuing a relationship with MJ (Zendaya) or his responsibility as Spider-Man. These moments along with his reflections of living up to Tony’s legacy grow Peter’s character in leaps and bounds, creating some of the best emotional character moments since Spider-Man 2. For the sequel Spider-Man: Back Home (100% guess on that title), Peter can finally step into his own role instead of working under Tony’s shadow.

I’ve said in other reviews and in podcasts that in a market saturated with superhero films, superhero films cannot be traditional superhero films. They have to do something different or be something different and Spider-Man: Far From Home does just that. Given that Peter is still in high school, this movie is a superhero film wrapped in a teen drama, which is perfect. Peter is a teenager trying to find his way through courting MJ. He’s awkward, not perfect, and trying to find his place in the world. You know, typical teen stuff. Peter just happens to be a superhero. This is the kind of film the superhero genre needs to stay fresh.

One of the best things about Spider-Man: Homecoming was the cast. Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya, and Michael Keaton were all wonderful in their parts. We can add another well-cast member to that list: Jake Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio was everything I could have hoped for from the character. His Quentin Beck was much more charismatic than his comic book counterpart but just as petty and resourceful. Gyllenhaal also had fantastic chemistry with Tom Holland, making their scenes together entertaining.

I thought Spider-Man: Far From Home was GREAT 😀 Peter has taken the steps to get out of Tony’s shadow and is set up for a Spider-Man movie properly about Spider-Man in the inevitable sequel. This series continues its outstanding casting choices adding Jake Gyllenhaal to the list. I am extremely excited for the future of my favorite wall-crawler.


Cast & Crew
Jon Watts – Director
Chris McKenna – Writer
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Tom Holland – Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Zendaya – MJ
Jacob Batalon – Ned Leeds
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Cobie Smulders – Maria Hill
Marisa Tomei – May Parker
Jon Favreau – Happy Hogan
Jake Gyllenhaal – Quentin Beck / Mysterio
Tony Revolori – Flash Thompson
Angourie Rice – Betty Brant
Remy Hii – Brad Davis
Martin Starr – Mr. Harrington
JB Smoove – Mr. Dell
Numan Acar – Dimitri
Dawn Michelle King – EDITH (voice)

There’s still time to join this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon! Entries are due at the end of this week. To find out more, check out the post here.