Drew’s Movie Reviews Turns 3! Anniversary Week 3 Conclusion: My Fave Five New Movies I Watched in Year 3

Hey there, dear readers!

Welcome to my blog’s third birthday! That’s right, 36 months ago to the day I posted my first posts.  And in that time it has blossomed into the cute little place you see today.  In what has become customary here, I reviewed two trilogies throughout the week.  This year, I looked at two series that I haven’t seen before: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. If you missed any of my reviews for them, here are the links:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

One of the biggest changes I made this blogging year was changing my scoring system.  From the start up through December 2015, I used a number rating from 0.5 to 5. Beginning with my review of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, I transitioned into a more loose rating of BAD, OK, GOOD, GREAT.  This wasn’t exactly a huge change but it allowed me to feel less confined in my scorings. A more vague approach allowed me to make my reviews more in line with how I would speak about the film to you as if we were face-to-face, which is more the goal of this blog.  You guys seemed to handle the change pretty well and were very supportive of it.

Many great bloggers nominated me for awards this year but I dropped the ball on them.  I like doing write-ups for award nominations, it is a great way to interact with my fellow bloggers, but I never got around to many this year.  Much of my time and focus went into my reviews, features, playing Splatoon (seriously, I’m addicted to that game), or many of the other things I do outside of blogging.  So I would just like to take this time and thank those of you who gave me an award that I never responded to.  I didn’t forget about you (well I did but I also didn’t) and I appreciate the nominations.  Thank you.

Every blogiversary, I like to look back at all the movies I have watched in the last twelve months and give the top ones I have watched that were new to me, whether I watched them on home video or in the theater. Last year, my list was comprised of entirely movies seen in theaters but this year it is mixed, which is exciting. So here are my fave five films I watched during my third year of blogging.

Rocky Balboa movie poster5) Rocky Balboa

Late in 2015, I went through the Rocky series for the first time.  Out of all six, Rocky Balboa was my favorite.  Rocky V was a very disappointing end to the series, so I’m really glad that a sixth Rocky was released because it gave the character an ending he deservedThe entire series is composed of feel-good moments but Rocky Balboa was the most emotional of them all.  Most of the time is spent outside the boxing ring, and with a Rocky coming to terms with his old age, it offers one of the best character studies of the series.  I know many people consider Rocky the best of the series but I think that honor belongs to Rocky Balboa.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King movie poster4) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

After the slow start in The Fellowship of the Ring and large set-up in The Two Towers, The Return of the King brings all of the plot threads together.  The run time is absurdly long but it packs a lot in.  The action is top-notch and all the characters get satisfying endings to their stories.  The use of practical effects most of the time and using CGI only when necessary adds so much to the film that got lost in the Hobbit series, something that plagues many films today.  I know I got around to watch this series late, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Zootopia movie poster3) Zootopia

Every Disney movie tries to have some sort of lesson.  Zootopia has the standard “don’t give up on your dreams” that is common in many Disney movies.  But on top of that, it tries to handle the sensitive topic of racism and stereotypes.  Although the topic is brought up often, it doesn’t feel heavy handed.  It comes across strongly but never overwhelming.  What really solidified this as a favorite for me was the buddy cop aspect.  Nick Wilde (Jasaon Bateman) and Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) try to solve a mystery of savage residents in Zootopia.  Like the best buddy cop movies, they are very different and become reluctant partners.  Disney has had a resurgence lately and Zootopia is keeping that train going strong.

Some Like it Hot movie poster2) Some Like It Hot

I’ve seen Some Like It Hot on several “best of” comedy movie lists.  Comedy is one of my favorite genres so the “Try it, you’ll like it” blogathon hosted by Movies Silently and Sister celluloid gave me the perfect chance to check it out.  Whenever I look at “definitive” or “best of” lists like that, I always read them with some hesitation because I have been let down before.  However, Some Like It Hot every bit deserves to be on those lists.  Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are absolutely hilarious together.  Every scene is side splitting.  If you have never seen this, you owe it to yourself to check it out. You won’t be disappointed. As they say, they don’t make them like this anymore.

Deadpool movie poster1) Deadpool

It was tough to decide which movie got the top spot on this list but Deadpool inched out over Some Like It Hot.  Deadpool had been in development hell for years and audiences were not sure if it was even going to happen.  After a disappointing appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fox had to nail the character of Deadpool this time or completely lose the support of fans.  Luckily, they completely nailed him.  Ryan Reynolds was perfect in his first outing as Wade Wilson and is even better the second time.  It is easy to tell he and the entire cast was having a great time.  As a huge fan of the character myself, I could not ask for a better movie version of the character.

And with that, I close out year three and move into year four!  From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of you for reading this blog.  I know people say this all the time but it does not make it any less true: I wouldn’t be here without any of you (heh, I rhymed). Your constant likes and comments tell me all the time spent writing reviews, finding quotes, gathering trailers and collaborating with many of you is all worth while.  Thank you everyone for all your support!

I’m excited to see what the next twelve months have in store and hope you will stick around to help me see it, too. 🙂

Until next time. Cheers!

Rocky Balboa Review

Rocky Balboa movie posterSynopsis
Years after retiring from professional boxing, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is challenged by the reigning heavyweight champion, Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon (Antonio Tarver), when a virtual fight predicts Rocky would win in a match between the two.

Rocky V had a good premise and some good ideas but it didn’t quite work in portraying a retiring Rocky Balboa. For a while, it seemed like this disappointing entry is how the Rocky series would end. Then sixteen years later, Rocky Balboa comes along and gives the series the conclusion it deserves.

One of the things I felt Rocky V did well was build the relationship between Rocky and his son. Rocky Balboa builds on this and explores what it was like for Rocky, Jr., who goes by “Robert,” to grow up with a famous father and to be in Rocky’s shadow. I like Robert’s arc from how he acts towards Rocky in the beginning of the film to where they end the film. It can be called cliched but it works. If it’s not broke and all that.

The movie begins with Rocky visiting many places that were important to him and Adrian. This leads to a stroll down memory lane for not only Rocky but fans of the series as well. There are good explanations as to why each place is important for those who may not have seen the first movie. However, for those who have been with the characters since the first movie, it’s an emotional journey and a fantastic way to kick off the film. As the film continues, there are many other homages and references to previous films, particularly Rocky. They never feel forced or shoe-horned into the story. This film is a perfect example of how to give fan service while still being able to appeal to new viewers.

From the beginning, I could already tell Rocky Balboa was going to be stronger than the later Rocky movies because the first ten minutes had more emotion than Rocky V had in the entire film. The feels train never stopped after that. There were times I got teary-eyed, there were times I laughed, there were even times I cheered. It truly is impressive how many emotions I experienced while watching this movie. Part of the emotions came from nostalgia but most of it came from fantastic writing. After being involved with these characters for thirty years, Sylvester Stallone knows them well and injects each of them with a lot of character and heart.

Maybe I’ve just missed it in the previous five movies, but Rocky has some pretty fun banter. Whether he is talking to Paulie, his son, or any of his many restaurant customers, he seemed to make me smile or chuckle with his stories or bad jokes or sound life advice.

If you have read my reviews for the other Rocky movies, I always talked about the boxing matches and how I wish there were more. Over the course of watching the entire series, I have come to appreciate the films as a character study rather than a sports movie. Where I thought the previous films needed a better balance between Rocky inside and outside the ring, Rocky Balboa knows what is right. Even though it has the least amount of actual boxing in the whole series, it still feels like it’s the right amount.

These films are all about Rocky and his huge heart and Rocky Balboa knows that. Its blend of complex characters and huge emotional beats creates a brilliant and worthy end to the Rocky series. Rarely does a film have such a vast array of emotions the way Rocky Balboa does. Although there are many reasons to love this film, that reason alone is why this is my favorite in the series.


Favorite Quote
Marie: You know, tomorrow you’re going to prove the last thing to age on somebody is their heart.

You can also read my reviews for the rest of the Rocky series: Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, and Rocky V.


Cast & Crew
Sylvester Stallone – Director / Writer
Bill Conti – Composer

Sylvester Stallone – Rocky Balboa
Burt Young – Paulie
Antonio Tarver – Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon
Geraldine Hughes – Marie
Milo Ventimiglia – Robert Balboa, Jr.
Tony Burton – Duke
James Francis Kelly III – Steps
AJ Benza – LC