Drew’s Movie Reviews Turns 8! My Fave Five New Movies I Watched in Year 8

Hello, friends!

Today is a very special day of the year because today is Drew’s Movie Reviews blogiversary! That’s right, today this little site turns 8. I’ll be honest, the last year hasn’t been exactly what I expected for this blog. My activity isn’t as high as past years and I haven’t posted many non-review posts, which are some of my favorite posts to write. However, I’ve posted when I can and have kept up with my weekly Trailer Round-Up series. At the beginning of 2021, I set a goal for myself of watching at least one Alfred Hitchcock film a month and so far I’ve kept that goal. It’s also proved to be a fantastic endeavor in regards to this list as you’ll see. But before I get into the list, as part of my blogiversary celebration, I watched and reviewed the first three live-action Transformers films. If you missed any of those reviews, here are the links to all of them:

Transformers
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

And with that out of the way, there are my five favorite films I saw during my eighth year of blogging:

Rope movie posterHonorable Mention) Rope

I know that this is a “Fave Five” list but I wanted to throw an honorable mention towards the third Alfred Hitchcock in my top three Hitchcock films (so far). The first of many collaborations between James Stewart and Hitchcock, Rope was one the first film ever to accomplish the “one continuous shot” approach to the story and Hitchcock pulls it off spectacularly. This film is based on a stage play of the same name so that approach fits. Also, the leading trio of John Dall, Farley Granger, and James Stewart play off each other well and help elevate the tension. Although I have watched several Hitchcock film since watching this one, Rope remains one of the most suspenseful Hitchcock films I’ve seen so far.

Bridesmaids movie poster5) Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids is one of those films that I heard great things about but never really got around to watching. This year’s Ultimate Decades Blogathon proved to be the perfect time for me to finally sit down and watch it, showing me what I’ve been missing the last decade since its release. Every scene is filled to the brim with laughs and Kristen Wiig has amazing chemistry with every co-star around her. The script is raunchy, something unexpected from female-led comedies at the time, and shows off the talent of all of its stars. Paul Feig knew he had something great on his hands and proved it to the rest of us.

Rear Window movie poster4) Rear Window

At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect when going into a film that takes place solely in a man’s apartment but Hitchcock proved that even that can be suspenseful. A lot of the suspense inΒ Rear Window comes from the fact that the audience isΒ only in Stewart’s character’s apartment, not knowing exactly what is happening in the other apartments around him, which are characters all their own. James Stewart is great as an “every man” character and this film puts his talents to good use. And of course, Grace Kelly, one of the most beautiful actresses of the era, is always pleasant to watch in any movie. With Rear Window, Hitchcock proved you don’t need a lot to accomplish so much.

Soul movie poster3) Soul

I am amazed at the leaps and bounds modern film animation continues to make. Soul offers up a very simple story and yet is one of the most beautiful animated movies I have ever seen. Don’t let the film’s beauty distract you, Soul is one of Pixar’s more mature films in their library. I can see younger audiences not being as drawn to this movie like they could be to other Pixar films but there are some valuable lessons to be learned for any viewer, regardless of their age. Led by the talentedΒ Jamie Foxx, Soul takes you on a journey that will change you once you’re on the other side.

Palm Springs movie poster2) Palm Springs

I almost forgot about this film because I watched it right in the beginning of my eighth year and never wrote a review for it. The concept of characters being stuck in a time loop has been done many times throughout cinematic history but Palm Springs manages to take a tired formula and make it unique. The comedy duo of Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are a perfect match, whose senses of humor complement each other. Add in the always great JK Simmons and you have one hell of a cast. With it being released exclusively on Hulu, I’m not sure how popular it was but if you haven’t seen Palm Springs and have access to Hulu, I definitely recommend you give this one a watch.

Shadow of a Doubt movie poster1) Shadow of a Doubt

Shadow of a Doubt was the second film in my journey through Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography and it remains my favorite six months later. The idea of a potential murderer coming to a small town and sowing seeds of uncertainty among his family seems simple but Hitchcock keeps you on the edge of your seat. Joseph Cotton adds the perfect amount of affection and menace to his character that you’re never exactly sure what to make of him. As the film progresses, there is a change in several characters that only adds to the tension. I didn’t expect to find a clear favorite so early in my journey and I’m afraid that Shadow of a Doubt is going to be hard to beat as I continue to progress through my collection of Hitchcock’s films.


And that’s Year 8 in the books! Thank you so much for everyone who has been sticking with me, even as my activity has fluctuated. Your support means so much to me. Your continued views, likes, and comments have kept me going. I’m excited to see what in store for the next 365 days and I couldn’t ask for any better support than you by my side. πŸ™‚

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay positive. Stay weird.

Until next time, cheers!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

Transformers: Dark of the Moon ReviewSynopsis
When the Transformers learn that an ancient Cybertonian ship is on the moon, the Autobots must race to discover its secrets before the Decepticons do.

Review
After the disappointment of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I went into the third live-action Transformers film with caution. Thankfully, Transformers: Dark of the Moon seems to have learned after Revenge of the Fallen and treats the audience with more respect. The humor isn’t as immature as before. In fact, there is not as much humor as there was previous films in the franchise. Whereas the last two films had jokes coming from multiple sources, this movie primarily relies on Shia LeBeouf to carry that aspect of it. Instead, it takes itself much more seriously, which ends up helping overall because the story is much bigger and epic than before. Like Revenge of the Fallen, it goes bigger than the films before in a true sequel fashion. This focus on the story and characters rather than the childish humor creates a much more engaging and exciting experience.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the definition of a β€œblockbuster” movie. It’s big, it’s loud, and it takes you on an adventure. It isn’t as glob-spanning as Revenge of the Fallen but that’s okay. While the world trotting grandeur isn’t there, the action is much bigger, which is saying something considering the last film. The best part is that this movie does a much better job of framing the action scenes around the robots than the previous films. There are still multiple close-ups during the fights making it tricky to see everything but for the most part, the camera stays further back, giving a better view of the fight, especially against the backdrop of Chicago during the final act.

I thought Transformers: Dark of the Moon was GOOD πŸ™‚ Just like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen went bigger than Transformers, Dark of the Moon goes bigger than Revenge of the Fallen. Even though the film is longer, the story is much more focused and the humor is much better, being toned back severely and being more serious in general. Overall, it is a vast improvement on all counts than the let down of its immediate predecessor in the franchise.

Trivia
According to ILM, the company employed its entire rendering machinery to use on the film. This added up to using more than 200,000 rendering hours per day, the equivalent of 22.8 years of render time in 24 hours. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Ehren Kruger – Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer

Shia LeBeouf – Sam Witwicky
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – Carly
Josh Duhamel – Lennox
John Turturro – Simmons
Alan Tudyk – Dutch
Tyrese Gibson – Epps
Patrick Dempsey – Dylan
Frances McDormand – Mearing
Kevin Dunn – Ron Witwicky
Julie White – Judy Witwicky
John Malkovich – Bruce Brazos
Ken Jeong – Jerry Wang
Glenn Marshower – General Marshower
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
Jess Harnell – Iron Hide (voice)
Robert Foxworth – Ratchet (voice)
James Remar – Sideswipe (voice)
Francesco Quinn – Dino (voice)
George Coe – Wheeljack (voice)
Tom Kenny – Que / Wheelie (voice)
Reno Wilson – Brains (voice)
Leonard Nimoy – Sentinel Prime (voice)
Hugo Weaving – Megatron (voice)
Charlie Adler – Starscream (voice)
Frank Welker – Soundwave / Shockwave (voice)
Keith Szarabajka – Laserbeak (voice)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie posterSynopsis
As Sam (Shia LeBouf) heads off to college, he is once again pulled into the Transformers’ war when an ancient being known as β€œThe Fallen” (Tony Todd) makes his return to Earth.

Review
After greatly enjoying Transformers, I was excited to see Optimus and the rest of the Autobots return in another live-action outing. With Michael Bay returning and his pension to go big, I was expecting much of the same but more of it in the sequel. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen definitely takes a sequel’s β€œgo bigger” approach to heart but the rest is left wanting.

As I said in my review of Transformers, the Transformers have had multiple cartoon series over the years since Generation 1 came out in the 1980s. Transformers pulled primarily from the original incarnation but something I really liked about this sequel is that is also pulls much from the later series as well. Things like Energon being a fuel for Transformers, Optimus Prime and Jetfire combining, the first Primes and The Fallen, and a transformer having multiple vehicle modes are all pulled from later Transformers cartoons. There is a rich history in the multiple series over the years and the film pulled from many of them that a fan of any Transformers series is sure to recognize something.

Taking place a couple years after the first film, many new Transformers have made their way to Earth and are introduced in this film. With the expanded robotic cast, not many of them are expanded on. Much like the original series, the movie only focuses on a handful of characters while the rest are there to look cool and show off the latest car models at the time. However, since the human characters are the most important in this story and most of the time is focused around them, I’m not too worried about learning everything about every Autobot and Decepticon that is in the film.

Like the first film, Revenge of the Fallen has a pretty lengthy run time. This time, however, the pacing feels more smooth. There are still plenty of explosions and much exposition but the transitions between the two wasn’t as jarring as the film before. However, it’s a catch-22 because more time is spent making sure the transitions feel better but with that comes a feeling that there is too much packed into this film.

I am not one to be turn away from a film because of toilet humor or if it goes for the easy joke. However, this film was very juvenile, even for me. I understand that this is based around a children’s show (something I have brought up before) but that’s no excuse to treat the audience like children.

I thought Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was OK 😐 After enjoying the first live-action Transformers film so much, I was disappointed in its sequel. While I liked aspects of this movie, there was so much excess of everything that it squandered what I did enjoy. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I wasn’t expecting such a let down either.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Ehren Kruger – Writer
Roberto Orci – Writer
Alex Kurtzman – Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer

Shia LaBeouf – Sam Witwicky
Megan Fox – Mikaela Banes
Josh Duhamel – Major Lennox
Tyrese Gibson – USAF Chief Master Sergeant Epps
John Turturro – Simmons
Ramon Rodriguez – Leo Spitz
Kevin Dunn – Ron Witwicky
Julie White – Judy Witwicky
Isabel Lucas – Alice
John Benjamin Hickey – Galloway
Glen Morshower – General Morshower
Rain Wilson – Professor Colan
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
Jess Harnell – Ironhide (voice)
Robert Foxworth – Ratchet (voice)
Andre Sogluizzo – Sideswipe (voice)
Reno Wilson – Mudflap (voice)
Tom Kenny – Skids / Wheelie (voice)
Mark Ryan – Jetfire (voice)
Hugo Weaving – Megatron (voice)
Charlie Adler – Starscream (voice)
Frank Welker – Soundwave / Devastator / Reedman (voice)
Tony Todd – Fallen (voice)

Transformers Review

Transformers movie posterSynopsis
When Earth becomes a battleground between two factions of a warring alien race, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) must help Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and his team of Autobots defeat the evil Megatron (Hugo Weaving) and his Decepticon forces.

Review
The original 1980s Transformers cartoon (often referred to as Generation 1 or G1) was a cornerstone of many childhoods for those who grew up at that time. Over the years, many iterations of characters such as Optimus Prime, Megatron, and the rest of the Autobots and Decepticons have made their way to the hearts of many other generations of children, including myself. I remember being extremely excited when a live-action Transformers film was announced. I enjoyed Transformers back in 2007 and still enjoy it today.

Before I get started, I want to say that yes, Transformers is far from perfect. But remember, this is based on a children’s show, which itself was driven by the Transformers toy line. The Generation 1 series in particular was wild and all over the place in terms of characters and story. Could the story have been created in a way that honored the original 1980s series but still felt updated? Absolutely. But with Michael Bay at the helm, that most likely wasn’t going to happen. There is also plenty of corny dialogue that would make anyone who considers themselves highbrow would scoff at. However, taking it for what it is, this is an enjoyable film for a laid back afternoon.

With Bay directing, you can expect lot of explosions and big action pieces. Given this movie stars giant talking battling robots, β€œbig action” is an understatement. As the characters trek across different landscapes throughout the world, each action scene presents its own unique action piece. My biggest gripe against many of the action sequences is it can be hard to always see everything happening in the fight. Often, the camera will zoom close to the characters while they are brawling. Since many of them look similar up close it can be hard to discern what exactly is going on. These robotic beings are stories tall so it would be cool to see the scale of their battles compared to the buildings around them.

There is plenty of humor throughout the film. Something I have found after multiple viewings (I’ve lost track how many times I’ve seen this film) is that it doesn’t necessarily hold up. Some jokes still make me chuckle but most barely get a reaction out of me now. The movie is nowhere near as funny to me as it used to be. Thankfully this is an action movie, not a comedy, so the humor not holding up isn’t as big of a concern of mine.

While the cast is fairly large, there were a few stand outs. Firstly, is Kevin Dunn and Julie White as Ron and Judy Witwicky respectively. Whether together or individually, Dunn and White brought so many laughs and bring a bit of groundedness to a movie filled with building-size fighting robots. The other stand out performance was from the always humorous John Turturro. His over-the-top performance fits right in with the goofy nature of the film.

Peter Cullen is the voice of Optimus Prime in the Generation 1 Transformers television series. His return to the role in the live-action version of the character is a huge and rewarding bit of fan service. Hearing Cullen’s booming voice on the big screen feels right. Hugo Weaving voices Megatron and is a perfect fit for the character. It would have been great to see Frank Welker, the voice of Generation 1 Megatron, reprise his role but if he had kept the same voice as the cartoon counterpart, it would not have worked for this version of the character. Luckily, Weaving did a fantastic job bringing Megatron’s malice to the live-action iteration of the character.

Since this was assumed to be the start of a franchise, Transformers actually did a good job of keeping the story small and contained, building the world of Transformers. There were times where the exposition felt heavy but it also balanced well with the action and the rest of the film. Although that leads into my biggest complaint of the film: its length. At almost two and a half hours (including the end credits), it just feels like there is too much of everything; too much exposition and too much time spent in the action scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of action pieces in an action movie. Here, however, the scenes overstay their welcome.

I thought Transformers was GREAT πŸ˜€ This isn’t a deep piece of cinema but it does exactly what it set out to do: introduce the Transformers and their universe to the big screen. As long as you take this film for what it is supposed to be, popcorn entertainment based on a children’s show with very little plot, then you will find a lot to enjoy and maybe even having a good time.

Trivia
The military provided their vehicles as the alternate modes of the Decepticons Starscream and Bonecrusher. They also allowed their F-22 and CV-22 aircraft to be filmed[.] Soldiers served as extras, and authentic uniforms were provided for the actors. In return for the favor, the filmmakers provided an advance screening of the film to the soldiers, free of charge. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Robert Orci – Screenplay / Story
Alex Kurtzman – Screenplay / Story
John Rogers – Story
Steve Jablonsky – Composer

Shia LaBeouf – Sam Witwicky
Megan Fox – Mikaela Banes
Josh Duhmel – Captain Lennox
Tyrese Gibson – USAF Tech Sergeant Epps
Rachael Taylor – Maggie Madsen
Anthony Anderson – Glen Whitmann
Jon Voight – Defense Secretary John Keller
John Turturro – Agent Simmons
Michael O’Neill – Tom Banacheck
Kevin Dunn – Ron Witwicky
Julie White – Judy Witwicky
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
Darius McCrary – Jazz (voice)
Robert Foxworth – Ratchet (voice)
Jess Harnell – Ironhide / Barricade (voice)
Hugo Weaving – Megatron (voice)
Charlie Adler – Starscream (voice)
Jim Wood – Bonecrusher (voice)
Reno Wilson – Frenzy (voice)

Christmas in July Blogathon 2021 Wrap-Up

Hello, friends!

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

Take 3: Holly and Ivy ReviewΒ (Sally)
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (SG)
Arthur Christmas (Allie)
It Happened on Fifth Avenue (Rob)
6 Memorable Christmas Foods in Movies (Kim)
Jingle All the Way

And of course, what you are most interested in. Here is the full guest list to our holiday party:

That’s the wrap! I’d like to give a big thank you to all the participants this year, as well as another thank you to anyone who commented, liked, or read any of the entries.

The blogathon might be over but that is not the end of the festivities! In a few days, I will be celebrating my blogiversary. For the blogathon, I reviewed one of my Christmas guilty pleasures and for my blogiversary celebration, I will be reviewing three films from a guilty pleasure franchise of mine. Check back tomorrow to see which it is!

Until next time, cheers!