Monday, August 21, 2017

The Breakdown of Genre Filmmakers


One of our favourite episodes of The Breakdown is where we spotlight some incredible talents that may not be as well-known among the casual movie fan. This week it is The Breakdown of Genre Filmmakers, where we look at eight talented directors that specialize in low to mid budget fare that is usually in the genres of horror, thriller or sci-fi. It is a great variety from the very well-known in James Wan, to the absolutely legendary in Wes Craven, to the becoming red hot in Jaume Collett-Serra, to indy director on the rise in Karyn Kusama (pictured), to a South Korean genre-master in Joon-Ho Bong. It will be a great show to give you several movies to put on your "must watch list" and spotlight what is a pretty shining future for some of our favourite genres. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


Breakdown Outline:

Don't judge a movie by its trailer 1:30 
Watch and read everything 10:13 
Don't sell an actor or filmmaker short 19:52 
Truth about star ratings 23:45
Focus on storytelling over universe building 30:44
Trust your views and opinions 32:49
Admit when you're wrong 40:54
Be flexible 47:06

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks: WINNER

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation $35 040 000
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard $21 600 000
Total: $403 358 198

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Breakdown of What We Learned After 200 Episodes


It is the 200th episode of The Breakdown. That is a long time to be doing a podcast, and we have our great listeners to thank for its existence. We have learned a lot doing 200 episodes of a movie review podcast, and how we analyze and discuss movies has changed since our first episode. This week we wanted to give some insights and perspectives that we have garnered over our time doing this show. We will provide some advice on what it takes to make a movie review podcast, but also what we have gotten out of the experience. It is a different type of show for us, and we would really appreciate feedback on how it worked. As always if you enjoyed the show then please spread the word to other movie fans. We both want to thank you for listening to us and being the greatest listeners for 200 episodes.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

NOTE: We were having major Skype issues and it somehow led to losing out on over 30 minutes of the show. We lost the segments "seek out the unknown", "champion over crush", and lost half of "don't sell an actor or filmmaker short", "focus on storytelling over universe building" and "trust your views and opinions" (misses the start of my Lone Ranger epiphany).




Breakdown Outline:

Don't judge a movie by its trailer 1:30 
Watch and read everything 10:13 
Don't sell an actor or filmmaker short 19:52 
Truth about star ratings 23:45
Focus on storytelling over universe building 30:44
Trust your views and opinions 32:49
Admit when you're wrong 40:54
Be flexible 47:06

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation $35 040 000
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $381 758 198

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Trailer Review Rodeo: 'Death Wish', 'Wonder', 'Suburbicon' and More


Apparently, just because I have irregular internet access and in a new location every three days, the studios do not stop popping out movie trailers. Here are my thoughts on a few of the ones that have arrived the past few weeks.

1. Duck Duck Goose (Spring 2018):



Last year I stated that animated movies were having a huge quality renaissance and many of them rivaled live-action pictures for thought-provoking and creative stories. My claim extended to the belief that this spark for compelling original stories was coming from more than just Disney, Pixar, and Laika and that stuff deemed for kids had lots to offer for adults too. Apparently, it is those other studios' agenda to prove me wrong.

2. The Limehouse Golem (September 1):



The murder mystery thriller is one of those subgenres that I often get excited about despite the finished product often being a bit disappointing. Yet knowing this, here I am ready to dig in for this latest period piece mystery thriller. I love the visual sense that has a gothic feel mixed with a Victorian setting with a color palette that gives it a bit of a dream-like feel. I also love Bill Nighy, and Olivia Cooke seems set to be a huge star. I am always a sucker for blending fictional characters with real-life figures (interested to see how Karl Marx fits in), and the story of a serial killer before Jack the Ripper is an interesting one. This looks like it could be a smart and twisty mystery for adults, and a great start to the fall movie season. Of course, I assume I won't have a chance to see this until it comes to Netflix in a year or so.

3. Wonder (November 17):



Wonder is geared for a big Oscar run, but it seems a little more thoughtful, too focused on authentic characters, and have some real human performances to be labelled Oscar bait. I know this one will make me cry, and sure it may be manipulative, but I sense a lot of the emotions will be earned here. I really like the bits here between the kids, and obviously, Jacob Tremblay is in the hunt for a Best Actor statuette. I think he has a strong chance of at least getting a nomination for a Golden Globe if not an Oscar. Feel-good stories are great when they feel grounded and have a worthwhile story to tell, and everyone here seems ready to give something memorable. My guess is it will be a pretty solid box office performer with the average movie goer, which will be a huge help for it Oscar run. I am looking forward to seeing this one, which is not something I expected before seeing the first two trailers.

4. mother! (September 15):



I'll admit that I don't entirely know what is going on here, except that Jennifer Lawrence's character has a bunch of unwanted strangers in her home and her husband Javier Bardem may not be who she believed. Even if this trailer did not have some great creepy visual, interesting incorporations of some dark fantasy elements, and a top notch cast playing some eerie character, Darren Aronofsky is a director that commands anticipation no matter what movie he is crafting. It his big return to horror that has the same surreal and dark imagery of his terrific Black Swan that makes this one of the can't miss movies of the fall. I just beg my Brantford Cineplex to pick this one up, please.

5. Same Kind of Different as Me (October 20):



So, does Greg Kinnear just do big studio Christian heart tuggers, now? Probably not, I bet he will do small studios ones too.

6. Keep Watching (Fall 2017?):



For a few years, I've heard about The Strangers reboot/sequel, but it now feels like that plan has just been renamed Keep Watching. It has almost the same premise of a group of creepy masked individuals terrorizing a family that has to fight back to survive. Of course, that is also the premise of almost every home invasions movie ever, and with a few exceptions, like the terrific Hush, the movies are indistinguishable. This one also feels like The Strangers because it has a similar eerie answer when the tormentors are asked why they are terrorizing this family, "Because it is fun." Kind of hard to not to see the similarity to "Because you were home." Either way, this feels like something I've seen many times before, and I hope it has something up its sleeve to avoid its generic feel.

7. Goodbye Christopher Robin (October 13): 



I love A.A, Milne's two collection of children's stories Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, because it so wonderfully embodies the mind of an imaginative child with it innocence, naivety, mischief, curiosity, and gentleness. It is a balance of being comforting stories mixed with a sense of adventure. Milne did such an impressive job really getting into the mind of a child, which has helped make it one of the enduring collection of children stories (Disney probably helped a tad too). The upcoming biopic of the famous author is intriguing because it has that sense of wonder and whimsy, but also shows a man traumatized by the war and needing these childhood stories to heal himself. It also has a tender and complicated relationship with his son who ends up being one of the main characters in the stories of Hundred Acre Wood. Domhnall Gleeson is wonderful casting, because he has the dramatic heft to handle those moments of a man wrestling his past but also a natural kind-hearted spirit that shows a man able to write the iconic stories. Margot Robbie has proven to always be terrific as well, so hopefully she is given some substantial scenes. It will be interesting to see how the movie weaves his traumatic history with the creation of the iconic bear. This looks like another one that may earn it tears and be a solid feel gooder this fall. This trailer gives me a lot more anticipation than the first one that at the time made the movie feel a bit more derivative and manipulative.

8. The Hitman's Bodyguard (August 18):



I have really dug the marketing campaign for The Hitman's Bodyguard, and it has a fun Lethal Weapon like action mixed with comedy vibe except this one leans much heavier on comedy. Maybe it is more of a Midnight Run? This time around this trailer seems to be trying to hint that Salma Hayek has a bigger role than past trailers have promised. My feeling is the success of female lead pictures this year has made the studio want to capitalize on that demographic to beef up the box office. My guess, is she is still just a typical wife character that stays at home while the boys play, except she curses way more.

9. Death Wish (November 22):



The original Death Wish came out in 1974, during a time that crime in New York was rising and also many minorities were moving into the city. Those two things don't coincide, but the city was dipping into poverty and the citizens were petrified of crime. The 1970s was a time where there was a great mistrust of government and authority, but one of the big things was the feeling that the police were not doing enough to protect the average citizen from skyrocketing crime. It was movies like Death Wish and Dirty Harry that were playing like visceral fantasies were vigilantes didn't follow the rules and did whatever they could to fight crime. Things have changed a lot since the 1970s, especially that now a lot of the fear surrounds cops abusing their power to kill and the misguided vigilante with a gun who shoots the unarmed black man. It was this change of tide that made me nervous about a Death Wish remake and making me believe the producers behind it were tone death. My fears were increased when Eli Roth was attached, because he has a history of making movies that play on fears of xenophobia and fears of the "other" like Hostel and The Green Inferno. The trailer has now furthered my belief this is a big misstep in the studio constant obsession with using known properties to launch a franchise. The music and tone makes this look like a fun romp action picture, but it is still a white guy with a gun going around executing people and trying to make him look like some kind of hero. Maybe there is some layers and an attempt to make Bruce Willis' character complicated and tormented, but the grindhouse obsessed Roth has never proven to me to be a nuanced and complex storyteller.

10. First They Killed My Father (September 15):



Combination of the notorious out east wifi that I am constantly been battling and the duties of the family tripping father has now made this piece stretch over two days now, so I am going to try to wrap this up soon, so we can all move on with our lives and this avoids being posted a week from my writing this (Saturday morning now). This is clearly one of Netflix's big grabs for that Best Picture Oscar nomination that has eluded them and has already gone to competitor Amazon Studios last year (Manchester by the Sea). I haven't heard a lot of buzz for this even though it looks haunting and powerful without using the token imagery from typical "message" movies. I really like Angeline Jolie's visual sense as a director even if she has a narrative she constantly returns to telling. Loung Ung's memoirs are powerful and I think there is still a lot to be explored during the genocide perpetuated during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The big issue will be having strong characters and having moments to breath during the heavy and dark material. The colourful a d bright visuals does a lot to set a contrasting tone to the story that will be told.

11. Suburbicon (October 27):



Wifi is driving me crazy and the small living space means I'm trying to create words while trying to ignore varying renditions of 'Let It Go' in between sibling Royal Rumbles, so it is time to tap out on this piece. I needed to say that the George Clooney directed, Coen brother written and Matt Damon starring quirky suburb thriller is right behind The Last Jedi as my most anticipated of the fall. It of course is very different, even if both will have great supporting roles from Oscar Isaac (who will be playing very different characters). The key here is how well Clooney can balance the satirical elements with the man raging against the mob thriller story. This one is brimming with personality and some intriguing characters. But once again, I find myself not entirely confident I'll actually be able to see it this year as it isn't a guarantee to be Brantford bound.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Promoting Scott's Newest Writing Endeavour and My Own Brief Exploration Into My Personal Emotional Warfare


The lesson of the past two week is that wifi is no match for mountains, oceans, and big trees. I had hopes of writing more than my one throwaway piece two weekends ago, but the islands have smote me by making my connection non-existent most hours of the day. I do not have a solid history with islands, as they seem to best me (my Medeba brethren know this well).

If my connection had been better then I would have already promoted the latest writing project by my The Movie Breakdown co-host, Scott Martin, He is still putting up movie reviews over at his Movie a Day Blog (a title that sadly often is not true, but he vows to make it a reality), but he has now started up a new site detailing his daily battles with mental health and anxiety called Ramblings of a Closet Nut Bag. Crippling anxiety and now agoraphobia have been a daily part of Scott's life for the last four years, or also known as his entire time co-hosting The Movie Breakdown, so despite its emotional crush, he has found ways to be productive.

Writing about mental health and having people be open with their own personal struggles is really important. I commend those brave enough to share their personal experiences. I do not think mental health has the same stigma that it once did, but a lot of that is due to people who are willing to really explain how it effects and dictates their days and lives. This is also why I've been drawn to the very talented and funny writer Nathan Rabin, who writes about pop culture and assortment of big creative flops, but has also not shied away from sharing his own compulsive tendencies, battles with depression, and daily warfare with anxiety. It has helped me realize that I am not on an isolated island who has a complicated writing career that is a dream and provider of solace while also a constant source of mind-exploding compulsive obsessive worry and panic attack inducing anxiety.

It has been my great shame that every day my emotions bounce to high blood pressure, painful muscle tension, and chest constricting anxiety to down in the deepest gutter depression despite having joyous children and a wonderful wife. I know, I have no reason to have these emotions, and feel that I have not been able to provide my very best, despite knowing my little cherubs and long-suffering wife deserve so much better. I have the usual panic attacks over where my next client will come from and fighting the dark voices that shame me that I'm not the breadwinner in my family despite being equipped with a penis. I also freak out when the phone rings or I know someone is coming over for a visit or there is the pending doom that is a social gathering on a weekend. I've been labelled a curmudgeon, even though I actually enjoy social interactions, but my anxiety likes to trick me into believing otherwise. Since April, I had many sleepless night and battles with bouncing emotions over this family trip over knowing how hard it is to be away when I am a freelancer (no thing as vacation pay and clients tend leave if gone over a week) and also just because my emotions have made me less flexible with change. Of course, I know the trip is good for me and it has been a grand experience for my family.

I also panic daily over being revealed that I am nothing more than a hack writer trying to delude himself into believing he can create anything that people want to read. Self-doubt and lack of faith in my skills has been something I've known most of my life, yet is then contradicted by a constant need to write and have public exposure. The voices scream constantly over how can I lure in strangers and grow an audience when I know that even most of my family and friends don't even regularly read my stuff (even if there is evidence that hundred and sometimes even thousands of people have read my stuff, thus going against this hourly fear). I obsess daily over my numbers in an attempt to validate myself as someone with talent and value as a writer. Sometimes it works out well when a piece is massively popular, but other times can crash against the rocks when it is revealed that my last two podcasts The Breakdown of Box Office Flops and Breakdown of Totally '80s (two pieces that I put a lot of time and heart into) didn't end up being the hits that I had hoped or imagined. I admit that I've been depressed they did not end up being popular, though if I am honest, they have had a decent amount of listenership for shows lacking new release reviews (plus history shows when I am not posting stuff regularly that the podcast numbers do dip slightly).

Actual facts are not enough to eradicate the cloud of failure that haunts me. It strikes me with lightening that causes daily panic attacks that I often fear are actual heart attacks, and leave me the depressed evening zombie that forces me to dig into the near empty energy vessel to finish client work after the kids are in bed and leave nothing after to maintain the blog that I keep promising will have regular content (and eventually be something that I want to have a large enough audience where I can derive a source of income). I have alluded to all this in past blogs, which is why I feel redundant writing about this now, though I am not sure if I have ever actually admitted fully to this daily war.

I also don't think I have fully admitted that every extended podcast hiatus has been my doing. It has been panic that the show isn't good enough or not worthy of listeners or isn't popular, so why put the energy into it. Or other times, other parts of my career seem to be suffering, so the podcast has been the burden that needs to be released. I regret it every time, and it has never resulted in anything worthwhile. I hope it never happens again, but I never trust myself when guided by fear and self-doubt.

This is why I am thankful for the Scott Martins and Nathan Rabins of the writing world who admit daily anxiety and obsessing over their popularity are struggles that more than myself face. It reminds me the crucial importance of being honest in my own writing and forcing myself to tackle these demons by writing about them when they are at their strongest. Though to be honest, I think all this is probably boring for everyone who isn't me, but at least it provides a reason for why I am often not true to my words when I promise the content will pour flow from the rainbows like Skittles. Though as I opened this piece, a lot of these past few weeks has more to do with my current environment and inability to access the wonders of the Internet.

This is my thank you to Scott for being brave, so please check out his daily blog, and prove it is important to write about mental illness and anxiety. Maybe we can prove there is a community out there that is supporting each other, and that we can manage this nasty emotional stuff to create something beautiful and magical.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Breakdown of the Totally '80s - 'E.T', 'The Karate Kid', 'Romancing the Stone', 'Tron', 'Conan the Barbarian' and '9 to 5'


I'm a 1980s kid. I was born in 1977, but my impressionable years were spent in the 1980s. I remember when fanny packs and neon shorts were cool and Saturday morning cartoons were how you kicked off the weekend proper. This means there are several movies from that decade that are priceless treasures when it comes to memorable pop culture. But do they hold up? This week Scott and I hop into our DeLorean to answer that question with six big movie reviews, including the biggest movie of the decade in E.T. and lots of Arnold Schwarzenegger without a shirt in Conan the Barbarian. It is a huge show as we immerse ourselves in nostalgia. If you love the show then please help us out by spreading the word to other movie lovers or leave us a five star review on iTunes.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



The Breakdown Outline:

E.T. 2:28
Romancing the Stone 25:05
The Karate Kid 43:11
Conan the Barbarian 1:03:42
9 to 5 1:18:49
Tron 1:35:03
Review Rundown 2:00:13

Rating Rundown:

E.T. **** (CS & SM)
Romancing the Stone **** (CS) & *** (SM)
The Karate Kid **** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
Conan the Barbarian ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)
9 to 5 *** (CS & SM)
Tron ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $346 718 198

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Breakdown of Box Office Flops - 'Drive Angry', 'Speed Racer', 'Jupiter Ascending', 'Treasure Planet', 'The Legend of Hercules' and 'Doctor Dolittle'


The box office flop is almost always assumed to be a bad movie, because if it was good, then otherwise people would have flocked to see it. Except that theory puts too much faith in the general public that made Transformers a massive franchise. Big box office hits or failures do not mean anything about a movie's quality. The ignored does not always mean the unworthy. This week it is The Breakdown of the Box Office Flops where we look at several films that did not achieve financial greatness, but we hope to discover are loaded with high quality. One of the favourite things of The Breakdown is to discover those hidden gems, and a collection of films passed over by the majority is a great place to start. We have a pretty diverse slate from a Nicholas Cage grindhouse homage in Drive Angry to two Wachowski flicks to a family musical in Doctor Dolittle to Renny Harlin's The Legend of Hercules to a rare Disney misfire in Treasure Planet. I will spoil things right now, and let you know we praise a few of these movies. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



The Breakdown Outline:

Drive Angry review 1:14
Speed Racer review 17:59
Jupiter Ascending review 38:10
Treasure Planet review 52:53
The Legend of Hercules review 1:04:10
Doctor Dolittle review 1:18:02
Review Rundown 1:34:26

Rating Rundown:

Drive Angry *** (CS & SM)
Speed Racer ***½ (CS) & ** (SM)
Jupiter Ascending ** (CS) & **½ (SM)
Treasure Planet *** (CS & SM)
The Legend of Hercules ½* (CS) & * (SM)
Doctor Dolittle **½ (CS) & ** (SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $346 718 198

Sunday, July 30, 2017

No 'Atomic Blonde'

In a few upcoming podcasts, I will mention my hope that an Atomic Blonde review is posted up on the blog. I knew going into the next few weeks it would be a boy armed with soggy noodle battling a fully armoured giant like feat to not only get a review written but even see a theatrical movie. I had the opportunity in my grasp, but then I stared at it to discover it was a movie theatre that only played their pictures in French. While I do not think Atomic Blonde will be the most dialogue intensive movie this summer, I am thinking there may be a point as a reviewer where I will want to know why Charlize Theron is kicking that husky guy out a window. Now my chances of seeing a theatrical movie rely on the frequency of special screenings presented by owl and bears. Atomic Blonde may turn out to be a no-go unless it stays strong and is still in theatres in a few weeks. Also my output on here will be even rarer in the coming week, but there will be The Breakdown of the Box Office Flops on Monday and hope by next weekend to be able to find some time to get a few things up. Hope your end of July has been behaving and not pushing over your garbage can again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Maybe I Should Have Waited a Month Before My Grand Declaration for the Future


Reviews and humour and thoughts and magic and kid pictures will flow like a fine maple syrup on this blog, but probably won't be doing such a thing until after August 20th. This is something that I knew for months, yet still thought my post from last week was a thing that I should write right away. There will hopefully still be some articles and maybe (a very small and miniscule maybe) a few movie reviews on here in the next four weeks, but there is almost definitely going to be a few several day droughts due to my upcoming limited access to Wi-Fi. I am well aware this may resemble a ghost town, but this isn't me just tripping into the emotional abyss for every 6 days. I will be a little engine that could, and hope that I will have a piping hot plate of words to serve up on a semi-regular basis over the next several weeks (though between July 30th and August 5th, there is likely to be almost nothing on here, as well as a few other 3 day periods later on).

What I know will be posted on here every Monday is The Breakdown podcast, because those are recorded and ready for listening. Next Monday, we have a show that really is to the styles, strengths and flavour of me and Scott's reviewing with The Breakdown of Box Office Flops. We like trying to find the gem amongst what others regard as trash, and I will spoil that there is at least one movie (but maybe so many more) that we both agree is worth checking out.

Then on August 7th is a show that embodies much of my childhood and brimming with nostalgic goodness in our The Breakdown of Totally 80s. We looks at such 1980s pieces of magic like E.T., Romancing the Stone, and The Karate Kid. Almost every movie on that show held a pretty special place in my heart as a kid, so it was exciting revisiting them and seeing if they held up. It was also interesting seeing how my childhood treasures were different than Scott's own. A few movies are bestowed with the cherished 4 stars.

The next stop for the podcast is August 14th, which happens to be our 200th episode. Scott is still reeling over the fact that we didn't do anything special for the 100th episode, so this time we explore what we have learned and experienced doing a movie review podcast over these past 5 years with The Breakdown of What We Learned After 200 Episodes. Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties with this show, and we lost a good 30 minutes of it that we were unable to recover. It is still a great show and worth looking forward to it, and you may not even notice that some audio was cut other than it is shorter than most of our recent shows.

Finally, our last in-the-can show has a theme that we have wanted to do for over a year now with The Breakdown of Genre Filmmakers. We explore the directors who are most associated with films like horror or sci-fi or other mid-budget genre fare. It is a great show to introduce you to talented directors that are worth checking out while also discussing some of the movies that define them. Many of these directors have some of their work on Netflix, so many of you can check out their stuff right after the show. Synergy! That show will be coming your way on August 21st.

Now you know there will be our regular schedule of podcasts over the next month, and I think they are all pretty good and fun, but of course, I would say that. You will have to listen to them to see how accurate I am about that.

The goal is to have stuff up here as much as I ca until August 20th, then after that day there should be a slew of not-quite new releases reviews and other thoughts about how the world has changed over the last 26 or so days. This place will really rock and pop at the end of August, but until then, please stop by every few days (and every Monday), but also catch some sun, you're starting to look pasty.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Dunkirk', 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' and 'Fantastic Four'


The Breakdown serves up another hot and tasy plate of new releases reviews with Christopher Nolan's foray into World War 2 in Dunkirk and as well Luc Besson campy space opera adventure, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. We also go all way the back to the distant year of 2015 to review the comic book misfire, Fantastic Four. As well we have some topic discussions where we debate if Netflix is right with their distribution model for their original movies and also if comedies still work as a theatrical experience after the string of high profil failures. As always if you love the show then please shout about it to the heavens so that other movie lovers may hear.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


Breakdown Outline:

01:39 Dunkirk review
20:45 Fantastic Four review
37:15 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets review
55:07 Is Netlix right about the original movie distribution model?
1:06;42 Are comedies as theatrical movies now dead?
1:18:52 Box Office Analysis
1:25:33 Trailer Reviews: Justice League, Ready Player One, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Jigsaw, The Shape of Water
1:41:01 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Dunkirk ***½ (CS)
Fantastic Four ** (CS) & * (SM)
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets **** (CS)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes  $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $546 651 120 

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $322 186 275


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Scott Finally Finished His Part of the Summer Box Office Challenge 2016 Bet


It has taken almost an entire year, but Scott has finally fulfilled his end of the bet that we made during last year's Summer Box Office Challenge. The contest was that we would both pick ten movies that we felt would have the highest domestic opening weekend, and the winner at the end of the summer got to pick three movies that the loser had to watch and review. I had picked Sex and the City 2, Superfast, and Smurfs 2. Then Scott took forever in watching the movies, so Superfast left Netflix before he got to it, so he had to watch the original Sex and the City movie, since the sequel seemed to be such a painful experience. So, you can now enjoy his pain as he goes back to New York City with his favourite sexy ladies in his latest review.

If you enjoy Scott reviewing awful movies, then you are in luck. We did the Summer Box Office Challenge again this year, and Scott has proven to be awful at it. It is inevitable he will be losing once again, so I get to pick three more atrocious movies for him to review. The hope is that he does it in a couple of months rather than an entire year, but we will see how that goes.

Ranking 2017 Movies So Far


I told myself that I wasn't going to do this again. I also told myself that I'd stop just doing podcast reviews of new releases and have a svelte army of kicking written reviews. I have done better this year with written reviews than the past. I think I have a whole spanking five or maybe even six written this year, and if all goes well, by the end of the year I might even enter into the double digits.

Except I'm now hoping yesterday's grand declaration was enough of a rocket booster to at least get me to do a few hundred word reviews of everything going forward into the forever and forever. Amen.

My brain gets all misfired and short-circuited if I don't have some type of spot to reveal what I've seen so far other than just the podcast. I am ranking from worse to best every 2017 movie that I've reviewed this year (and a few that the podcast missed).

It has been a pretty killer year so far, and it is shaping up to be one of the best since I started reviewing movies professionally (got paid) in 2012. Several of these movies deserve deeper and more thorough thoughts in the future, and some of them I hope to never ever see again. They all represent the year of 2017 in movie form. This list just like all things in the movie review realm can change on any given day, and it is almost assured that movies will swap places when I reveal my Top 10 (or 20) movies at the end of the year. This is how I feel about them at this very moment as I type this in my underwear (it is hot today, but not as sizzling as this list).

76. Deuces *
75. You Get Me *
74. Clinical *
73. Small Crimes *
72. The House *
71. Take the 10
70. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword *
69. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter *½
68. Going in Style *½
67. Baywatch
66. The Circle *½
65. Rough Night
64. iBoy **
63. XXX: Return of Xander Cage **
62. Underworld: Blood Wars **
61. Fist Fight **
60. In the Shadow of Iris **
59. Goon: The Last of the Enforcers **
58. David Brent: Life on the Road **
57. The Great Wall **
56. Girlfriend’s Day **
55. Sandy Wexler **
54. The Fate of the Furious **
53. Shimmer Lake **
52. The Discovery **
51. Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie **
50. War Machine **
49. A Cure for Wellness **
48. Most Hated Woman in America **
47. Coin Heist **
46. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press **½
45. Kong: Skull Island **½
44. Ballerina **½
43. Win It All **½
42. Slam **½
41. Life **½
40. Before I Wake **½
39. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tells No Tales **½
38. Alien: Covenant **½
37. Despicable Me 3 **½
36. Deidra and Laney Rob a Train **½
35. Lucid Dream ***
34. Pandora ***
33. Casting JonBenet ***
32. Snatched ***
31. Journey to Greenland ***
30. Tramps ***
29. El Faro De Las Orcas ***
28. The 101 Year Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared ***
27. Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower ***
26. Counterpunch ***
25. Rodney King ***
24. I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore ***
23. Before I Fall ***
22. Burning Sands ***
21. To the Bone ***
20. Cars 3 ***
19. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie ***
18. John Wick: Chapter 2 ***
17. The LEGO Batman Movie ***
16. The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ***
15. Chasing Coral ***
14. Megan Leavey ***½
13. Oh, Hello On Broadway ***½
12. Imperial Dreams  ***½
11. Split ***½
10. Beauty and the Beast ***½
9. Okja ***½
8. The Girl with All the Gifts ***½
7. Get Out ***½
6. Wonder Woman ***½
5.  Spider-Man: Homecoming ***½
4. Baby Driver ***½
3. Logan ***½
2. War for the Planet of the Apes ****
1. The Big Sick ****

EDIT: The initial ranking was missing the number 8 movie, The Girl with All the Gifts.

A Whiff from the Bygone


My wardrobe consisting of the majority of the clothing purchased half a decade ago and my propensity to use cultural references that were almost fresh in the 1980s is enough proof that I'm not the paragon of cutting edge and timely. So, it is only fair that my blog churns out some dated material as well. As a follow-up to yesterday's confession/rant/reboot/exercise in self-indulgence, I'm going to try to play catch-up on some movie reviews, celebrity tributes, and not-so-hot news analysis that I've allowed to fly by over the past several years. I'm also going to even try to be relevant and personal and all the other stuff a writer is supposed to be as well, but there is a rather large catalogue of topics that I regret never delving into when they were hot and fresh. 

Plus it is always fun to tackle the challenge of writing about something way past newsworthy and try to make it relevant and valuable now. This won't just pertain to such fresh topics like Carrie Fisher or After Earth, but there is some stuff about Everett that happened in the pre-Danika era that I've been meaning to explore via prose. 

All this stuff will be made all the more interesting due to my fading memory and likely unintentional fictionalization of the reality because I'm remember it all wrong. Anyway, just a warning if you start wondering if Roddy Piper has suddenly passed away again to warrant an obit or if I'm referring to some little known remake that happens to have Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg (and an undead Bill Paxton) reprising their roles in 2 Guns. Nope, just me doing what I do best, be rather dated and behind the times.

Though speaking of hot and fresh, you should most definitely expect written reviews of new releases in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Dunkirk in the coming days (I may or may not see both movies tonight, as I have other writing to still tackle and my sole ruling of the kingdom is coming to an end).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This Site May Start to Suck


My blog and podcast follower numbers are at their highest. This obviously gives me satisfaction, and more importantly, gives me motivation to work harder and produce better content. It also in theory means that I've been doing something right, because there has to be a reason people keep dropping by on a daily basis. The numbers still aren't big sponsor ready (though the current state of the Internet has made advertising far less lucrative) and after my two pitches towards Patreon, it has become obvious my readership/listenership isn't strong enough to be motivated to "donate" to my writing and recordings. The numbers are growing at a decent enough rate that I have a speckle of optimism that the site can grow and potentially lead to being a small part of my income (or just be what it has always been, a door to clients and writing for bigger sites that pay). 

While I have been happy with the work Scott and I do with the podcast, I largely feel a cloud of downpouring and electric shame over my blog. I confess most weeks that I feel the podcast can be deeper and tighter, but I am usually happy with the end product after recording. The blog has mostly frustrated me, even though I have complete control over its content and output rate. This is part of the reason that for the last two or three years, I keep posting pieces that declare a fresh and better start for the blog. In my odd and compulsive mind, my site can't start churning out greatness until I make a declaration that all things are anew. 

Of course, those posts really don't mean anything, and they mean even less if I just rewrite them every few months after weeks of posts of trailers, occasional reviews, and podcast promotion. The main reason for the "restarts" is because I want this site to be more than those things above. I keep telling myself I want it to resemble the articles that were posted on here in 2010 to 2012, but more professional and a stronger pop culture focus (with some occasional chronicles of my parenting adventures). I want it to have several pieces a day that range from hot takes on news, reviews of movies and television, variety of creative writing bits, humorous or thoughtful observations of my life, and be a place that provide some movie news along with deeper analysis pieces.

Except the more that I want to pile on here, the more it is one lone writer who also looks after kids during the day and has writing for other clients trying to be a one-stop shop site. Right there is kind of the problem, I am not the fastest of writers to begin with, but even with that hitch, that is way too much for any non-cyborg like being to tackle. 

It all gets worse because I am constantly hampered by the most productivity prohibitive form of perfectionism. This site could function quite well with a few 500ish word movie reviews a week, a few short pieces on news or movies, and a weekly larger thinkpiece. Part of the problem is my brain is a machine that pops out idea after idea at a rate that is far faster than my fingers can type and creates an itinerary that is far too much to ever finish in a week. This means I've often been taunted by pieces that I don't have time to give focus. It all is made worse when along with those taunts is a dark and insidious voice that says what I am currently writing or what I am planning to write isn't good enough or not the least bit interesting to anyone. Even if blog numbers or the occasional comments that I get contradict all that.

The worst thing about the voice is that it has meant that several reviews or thinkpieces that I've written will never to read by anyone because not only did I leave them unfinished, but eventually I deleted them with no way to recover them. This is something that has happened far too often, and is the epitome of foolishness for someone who feels that he never has enough time to get to all the projects and work. 

This blog is missing way, way, way too many written movie reviews from the past few years. Though at least in that case, most of them have been covered by the podcast. At times, I wonder if that is the best way to focus on my movie reviews. Though my gut and my mind won't stop nagging how important it is to have a written version and to try to go in avenues that are different than the ones explored by the podcast. The site is also missing tributes to celebrities like Carrie Fisher, George A. Romero, John G. Avildsen, Roddy Piper and Shirley Temple. It is missing pieces that have been bouncing around in my head regarding the modern (ridiculous and unhealthy) battle between conservatives and liberals, the dangers of hiding behind "fake news", how Everett's new events are more anxious for me than him, and only about fifty other ideas as well.

No matter how much people like my site or how great a single piece may turn out, I am nagged and dogged by the fact there should be way more and it should be way better. The easy solution is to quiet that nagging by writing one or two or ten of those pieces. It does get slightly harder when the brain doesn't help by adding in ten more each day. It gets even harder when the inner screams are tearing my work apart and making me fearful of exposing myself as a hack.

2017 has been a great year for movies (not much else), and there have been several movies that I could have championed on here. There have been some interesting themes and ideas that have arose from the type of movies that have been released this year that I have wanted to explore. I've done it to some extent, but not anywhere near to where I have wanted.

My point is I apologize. Apologize because I let those foolish voices win too often. I have it in my head that every piece needs to be ambitious and perfect and come hand delivered from heaven. My reviews need insight and analysis that no other writer was able to uncover. While my brain gives podcasts a pass and I have convinced myself trailer are piffling affairs that can posted swiftly before the echoes start up in my head, everything else gets hampered by my need for the composition of words to be award winners. Of course, that nasty voice forgets to mention you can't win literary awards with no words written and sites without daily content can't earn sponsors.

If my writing is to continue and I am going to meet each day despite the wall bouncing anxiety and the crippling self-doubt, then I have to accept that the voices aren't going anywhere any time soon. Instead of fearing them, I listen to them, I say "sure, you're right", and then write anyway. I accept what I just wrote was a steaming pile of awful and then subject all my readers to it anyway, The caveat being then I tell myself that I will try harder tomorrow and I will write better the next time. Then when that steaming pile of awful is posted, I tell myself there is tomorrow, and after that day there is tomorrow again. While I am at it, I will complete those disastrous novels and send out those putrid short stories, and I will get my rejections. Because maybe, just maybe, I will fool a publisher into liking my work, and everyone's taste turns out to slide towards the wretched, and my writing stumbles upon some success.

The bigger deal, is that if I keep on writing then the ideas clogging my head with get some release. If I write despite the voices screaming it is no good, maybe one day I will have written enough that one day that voice will say, "Okay, this was alright, maybe I'll give you a pass." Or I'll just laughing at that voice the same way that I do when Danika tries to convince me it was the dog that poured her cereal on her head. I have been around long enough to realize some voices are just straight-up wrong.

So, for the hundredth time, I promise this blog will have more content, but I will worry about the "better" for later. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

'Professor Marston & the Wonder Women' Trailer: Not Your Typical Super Hero Story


Fall is on its way and so that means all the Oscar bait trailers are starting to roll out. Nothing says Oscar bait like a biopic, and during the rise of superhero movies, I am shocked it has taken this long for there to be a movie about a comic book creator. Annapurna Pictures just released the first full trailer for its big fall feature in Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, which I had wrongfully believed was a documentary until I saw the trailer. Also based off this trailer, it seems to be far less about the creation of the iconic superhero, Wonder Woman, and more about the love triangle between Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and his mistress Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote).

I don't know much about the actual history of these figures, but the movie seems to have some intriguing drama. I am now on team Evans after his great performance in Beauty and the Beast, and Hall has been great in everything she has been in. I hope that the movie does explore further some of the problematic contradictions of Wonder Woman created as a feminist icon but the mixed message coming out of those original stories. Plus it seems like Marston himself had some divergent views opposed to what Wonder Woman signifies now.

The timing is right for this movie to be a decent hit for Annapurna, since Wonder Woman was a smash hit movie this summer and so her name is hotter than it has been in a long time. Of course, the material of this movie is likely to appeal to those that often skip out on super hero movies and wait until October to return to the movie theatres.

It at least looks to move away from many of the typical biopic beats and is willing to delve into some more controversial and interesting material. It hope this doesn't just go full tawdry romance and does explore some of the interesting elements of the comic's creation.

'Alpha' Trailer: Caveboy and His Friendly Wild Wolf


Alpha is slated to be one of Sony/Columbia Pictures' original movies for 2018. It was initially scheduled for this September and was called The Solutrean. It is set 20, 000 years ago in Upper Paleolithic era Europe (though, it wouldn't have been called that then). It is about a young teenage caveman who gets lost on a hunting expedition after he is presumed dead and then forms a relationship with a wolf. It also apparently stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Let Me In) but I did not recognize him at all as the lead in this trailer. I guess, I can credit either make-up and costume or the power of aging and growing out hair.

I really want to get excited for this movie. Any time there is a big studio production that isn't based off an established franchise, it is worth promoting and championing. But just being an original story isn't enough, it also needs to be good. I hate to say it, but this just doesn't look like a big studio movie but rather something out of an ambitious independent or a high budget TV series. I am going to assume that the date push is so that they can have more time on the post production and polish up the CGI. When we are world that gave us Jungle Book and War for the Planet of the Apes, this isn't going to cut it as a big movie event that is attempting to be taken as realistic and serious.

Speaking of being taken seriously, one of the early scenes where a cavemen is attacked by a savage animal elicited a laugh rather than fright. This the big problem with this trailer, it is coming off more as a parody of an early man move rather than the man fighting against and learning to respect nature story that it wants to be. Plus we've seen this story many times before with the survival tale in The Revenant, or hero bonding with the beast in The Good Dinosaur or even the cavemen tale in Quest for Fire. I'm not seeing anything new or interesting here, but I look forward to be proven wrong. I also thought Megan Leavey looked horribly generic and was a delightful surprise. What we need is more original movies and we need them to succeed. Though, we also need them to be actually original too.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Me This Week

As mentioned on this morning's The Breakdown.



In other news, yes, I have really sucked at posting written reviews on here again. But please check out this morning's show for glowing reviews for War for the Planet of the Apes and The Big Sick.

Also, not doing so swell on following through on my upcoming stuff post. Some of those will still be happening, but others will be replaced with something 100 times more awesome.

The Breakdown of "War for the Planet of the Apes", "The Big Sick", "To the Bone", "Chasing Coral", "Pixels", and Remembering George A. Romero


It is a huge week on The Breakdown as we have five big movie reviews including the much anticipated final chapter to what is one of the best trilogies ever, War for the Planet of the Apes. We also review a modern comedy that is actually getting critical praise and tries something cutting-edge like being funny in The Big Sick. We also look at Netflix originals in To the Bone and Chasing Coral. As well, we pay tribute to the man who created an entire horror subgenre in the zombie movie, George A. Romero. As always if you love the show then please spread the word so we can grow and get even better.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

4:41 To the Bone review
27:36 War for the Planet of the Apes review
47:30 Chasing Coral review
58:57 The Big Sick review
1:13:46 Pixels review
1:26:58 Remebering George A. Romero
1:39:26 Trailer Reviews: A Wrinkle in Time, Darkest Hour, Birth of a DragonDave Made a MazeThe Layover
1:55:33 Box Office Analysis
2:02:22 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

To the Bone ***½ (CS & SM)
War for the Planet of the Apes **** (CS)
Chasing Coral *** (CS & SM)
The Big Sick **** (CS)
Pixels * (CS) & *½ (SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes  $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $546 651 120 

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk
6. Annabelle: Creation
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $271 686 275

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Happy Birthday Summit: Eight Wonderful Years of Bone-Crushing Lap Sits, Unexpected Mountings, and Lots of Slobber -- And Love


Eight years ago today a ball of fur rolled out into this world. Several weeks later that fuzzball of cuteness was named Summit and a few weeks after that we took him home. He instantly became my furry and slobbering son. He only knows me as 'daddy' and Emily as 'mommy.' He would tilt his head and eventually walk away if you asked him to find Christopher. For three years, I considered him my baby boy, until a real and far less furry one came into my life. But he always has and always will be family.

He was there the day my grandma passed away and I didn't know how to manage my feelings other than break down and cry. For that entire day he refused to leave my side and allowed me to just squeeze him and sob.

Every day without fail, he will come ambling over while I am writing to stick his muzzle under my arm and fling it into the air. This is his way of letting me know it is time for some pets and hugs. It is also his way of reminding me that he loves me and he is always there for me.

When we finally got kids, he had little problem transitioning into climbing apparatus. He has had Everett and Danika sitting on his head countless times and been the mountain to conquer when they first started crawling. When he has enough of being a play toy, he quietly gets up and moves to another room. I know enough to tell the kids he isn't interested in them following. If they do, he puts up with it for a while before moving to the next location.


Danika loves Summit. I mean, really adores and loves him. She wakes up every day with her most frequent first question being about the whereabouts of 'doggy.' She cheers with glee when he runs into her room and if that doesn't happen, the celebration commences when we find him downstairs. He is her best friend. She loves letting him know when he is a "good boy", one of her highlights is giving him treats, she squeals with delight when he comes outside with us, and will often tell off her brother if she thinks he is teasing him.

He keeps me fit. We walk twice a day. Or at least, we are supposed to. I've been a little slack the last few months, and maybe that is partly why my emotions have been flaring up. My time with Summit in the cool evening is special. It is our time to unwind and decompress. It is when we bond.

My eight years with my constantly shedding and panting son has convinced me there is no such thing as "just a dog." Summit is family. Summit is my child. Summit is my love. Summit is my treasure. I can't imagine these past eight years without him. If I had a wish, it would be that I could get eight more with him. His breed makes that very unlikely, so I will settle with the remaining years being memorable.

He is still healthy and full of life. Like most Bernese Mountain Dogs, he is convinced that he is still a puppy. If you are sitting on the floor, he believes his 80 pound frame is perfect for your lap. If you are standing, he will sneak through your legs so that you have now mounted him. He just wants to be real close. He is a family dog, and he is a central part of my family.

Happy Birthday, my son Summit. Thank you for eight very special years.


Monday, July 10, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Spider-Man: Homecoming', 'Bone Tomahawk', 'The Girl with All the Gifts' and 'Mortal Instrument: City of Bones'


The Breakdown serves up a review of the latest big Marvel spectacular and the first collaboration with Sony Pictures in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It is the third launching of this franchise in 15 years but this time tries something different by focusing on Peter Parker's high school life. We discuss if this new direction works. As well we look at some genre pictures that may not be straight horror but definitely have some strong elements of it in the Western cannibal picture, Bone Tomahawk and the latest zombie picture, The Girl with All the Gifts. We also go all YA as we discuss The Mortal Instrument: City of Bones. Finally, we also look at the hug success of Wonder Woman and analyze what this means about the future of diveristy in tentpoles. As always if you enjoy the show then please spread the word to other movie lovers.

As well, you can check out my written review of Spider-Man: Homecoming right here.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

00:44 Spider-Man: Homecoming review
19:15 Bone Tomahawk review
37:15 The Girl with All the Gifts review
53:57 The Mortal Instrument: City of Bones review
1:08:34 Will Wonder Woman's success open up the door for more diverse tentpoles?
1:21:04 Box Office Anlysis
1:29:46 Trailer Review: Borg v. McEnroe, Geostorm, Icarus, A Family Man, The Foreigner
1:44:26 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Spider-Man: Homecoming ***½ (CS)
Bone Tomahawk ***½ (CS & SM)
The Girl with All the Gifts ***½ (CS & SM)
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones *½ (CS) & ½* (SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes  
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $490 151 120 

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk
6. Annabelle: Creation
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard


Total: $271 686 275

Friday, July 07, 2017

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Review: An Icon Redone Right


Rating: **
Starring: Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier
Director: Jon Watts
Screenplay: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Story By: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Source Material: Spider-Man comic book series by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Cinematographer: Salvatore Totino
Editor: Dan Lebental & Debbie Berman
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction
Rated: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (US) - Violence, Language May Offend
Release Date: July 7, 2017
Run Time: 133 minutes

Marvel Studios has developed a solid and structured formula for success with their super hero epics: kick-off with a fast paced action sequence, follow with funny character development scenes, build-up a villain with a diabolical plan that creates stakes, have the hero start to doubt their effectiveness, and then cap it off with a massive special effects battle spectacle. Even though almost every one of their movies hits all of those beats, they have so confidently refined the formula that they can dip into different genres to at least create a feeling of freshness and unique storytelling. We get a rather diverse collection of movies like a comedic heist picture in Ant-Man, an irreverent space opera in Guardians of the Galaxy, a LSD like trippy fantasy adventure in Doctor Strange, and a 1970s stylized political thriller in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So, Sony Pictures made the right move when they decided to hand over the storytelling to Marvel Studios when launching the Spider-Man franchise for a third time in 15 years.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is still a reboot and a big special-effects laden action extravaganza, but for large stretches it also feels like a classic John Hughes-ish style high school dramedy. It also smartly recognizes that most of the audience have seen the Spider-Man origin story twice and trusts all of us know how Peter Parker got his powers, so we arrive with him already fully formed as Spider-Man. Or as fully formed, as a puberty stricken 15 year old male can possibly be.

Director Jon Watts along with screenwriters Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley are far more interested in a character-driven exploration into the daily challenges of insecure and awkward teenagers but still serve up big visual action sequences like battling a villain with a sonic blasting fist or Spider-Man rescuing his classmates from a plummeting elevator.

Creating a realistic and authentic high school picture needs believable teenage leads, and Tom Holland is a wonder as Peter Parker. He feels like a natural and average teenager that has a hard time talking to his crush Liz (Laura Harrier), struggles to stand up to his bully Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), geeking out over the prospect of building a LEGO Death Star with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and through it all giving the vibe of a young teenager uncomfortably trying to find his place in the world. His place is obviously as a super hero protecting Queens New York, where in his Spider-Man suit he exudes confidence and has a sharp wit and biting one-liners while taking down bank robbers and thieves. This is where he finds his purpose and gets to feel like he is contributing to the world.

Watts differentiates this from so many other super hero flicks, because Parker doesn't just suddenly figure out how to properly use his powers and crime-fighting technology. Plus he is still an immature and gawky 15 year old boy, so he is prone to making mistakes. Much like the initial intent of the comic book series conceived by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the suit is an allegory for puberty and the struggle of trying to shift ones way into adulthood. We get stuff like the very funny homage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (more John Hughes' inspiration) where a still getting used to his suit Spider-Man smashes and falls through several backyards making a major mess while trying to chase some criminals. You get almost heroic moments like when Spider-Man uses his webs to pull back together a lasered in half ferry that is full of innocent people, but not only did some of his decisions create that problem but he doesn't quite have the skill to save them on his own. This is what is so refreshing about this movie, Parker has good intentions, but like every teenager, he makes a lot of foolish choices and mistakes that often cause as much trouble as the villains.

This leads to a great father figure in Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) who has a mentoring and at times antagonistic relationship with Parker. Holland and Downey have an incredible chemistry with each other where you believe they have a respect and affection for each other but also sense the growing frustration between each other. Much like what really exists between almost every teenager and their parent. Parker desperately wants to join the Avengers, but Stark feels he isn't ready and should be content just as a "friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man." Parker is frustrated because he has the skills and abilities to be a hero, but Stark feels he lacks the experience and maturity. This relationship also leads to a fun running gag where Starks has his assistant Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) oversee Parker and leads to Parker constantly calling and texting an exceedingly exasperated and agitated Hogan to try to convince him he is ready to join the big team.

Spider-Man: Homecoming shines because it is a movie that is grounded with relatable characters and has a script jammed with humour that unfold naturally. You have comedic performers with sharp, dry-wit like Martin Starr and Hannibal Buress used fantastically as teachers who seem to just be going through the motions to survive their job. Captain America (Chris Evans) has the perfect comedic cameo as the celebrity in several PSA's played throughout the school, while students debate if he is a war criminal now after the events of Civil War. Zendaya is terrific as the snarky Michelle who uses his sly remarks to mask her true feelings and has a fun relationship with Parker. All of Parker's interactions with his fellow students feel authentic, but he has an endearing friendship with Ned that brings the heart of the movie, as the two geek out over Parker's super powers and Ned dreams of ways he can be the sidekick. Marisa Tomei may be the youngest Aunt May yet, but she brings a maturity and wisdom to her role, and even though she is underused, she excels in her few scenes with Holland.

This intimate and character-driven approach leads to Marvel's best villain since Loki in Michael Keaton's intimidating Adrian Toomes who has the alter ego of Vulture (when he is in his robotic flying suit). It is so effective not only because Keaton is haunting while also giving the emotional layers that make him at times vulnerable, but he also isn't the generic villain that that is trying to destroy the world. He has real motives as he and his guys were laid off several years ago by Starks Industries on a job where they were retrieving and dismantling the alien technology left behind from the war in the original Avengers movie. Toomes is now out of a job but also has several men who no longer have a means to support their families either. This makes Toomes a relatable figure as it is easy to understand why he resorts to stealing some of the alien technology and turning it into high-tech weapons that he sells on the black market. His intentions of providing for his crew and his own family is noble, even if his act of unleashing city destroying weapons are disastrous. He also is less than impressed with Spider-Man trying to stop him, so he has the added crime of attempting murder.

So yes, we still get the loud and flashy chaotic finale, but the road there is bouncy, charming, and energetic because we care about these characters and the majority of the movie is more about delighting and making us laugh. For those that come for the big action, Watts adds personality and significant visual wonder to his battles with Vulture and Shocker (a terrific Bokeem Woodbine who bring personality to a one note character) and adds significant stakes to events like Spider-Man crawling up a tower or saving a storekeeper from his burning shop. This seems like the right time to mention that if you see this is in 3D, you will get a crisp and gorgeous experience that lets you soak up Salvatore Totino's great cinematography, but it doesn't really add anything to a movie that would look just as amazing in 2D (though sadly, so many movies looks worse in 3D, so this is still a positive).

Spider-Man: Homecoming follows the new and bold strategy implemented by other 2017 comic book movies Logan, Wonder Woman, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where it actually focuses on creating an entertaining story rather than expanding its cinematic universe or opening up doors for spin-offs. This may be partly due to the fact Marvel Studios produced this picture but Sony Picture is still distributing it. We get a significant role for Iron Man, reference to past events in the Marvel Universe, but no blatant setting up for next summer's Avengers: Infinity War. Unlike the not-very-good The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there are no obvious attempts to set-up Sony's own Spider-verse franchise. Instead, we have two stingers where one is done for pure comedy and another, is more specifically setting things up for a Spider-Man sequel (even then, it also works well as wrapping up the story). This almost gives me hope that studios are finally figuring out the best way to build audiences is focusing on delivering a really good movie.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is that really good movie that has its own unique personality and creates characters you really care about and hope to see again. Stars have been made and my heart has been won over, and it is a strong enough start that maybe we don't even need to reboot this franchise for at least another decade.