Apparently I watched 88 movies in 2021. They’re listed in my movie log.
- 39 were movies I was rewatching.
- 34 were in a series.
- 16 were animated.
- 9 were book adaptations that I watched because I read the book.
- 6 were starring Keanu Reeves.
- 5 were starring Tom Cruise.
- 2 were live-action with animated characters.
- 2 were Chinese.
- 2 were in theaters.
- 1 was a musical.
- 1 was a documentary.
Bambi by Felix Salten
The oldest movie I watched was Bambi (1942). Hard to believe it’s 80 years old! In 2021, upon learning that the movie was based on a book, I read Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten, translated by Hannah Correll. Since the original German text is public domain as of 1 Jan 2022, two new translations are being published this year. My other site, We Love Translations: World Literature in English, has a post on the translations of Bambi: A Life in the Woods.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Movies obviously have to be more efficient than the books they’re based on for reasons of length. Some movie adaptations come across as pale imitations. Others come across as improved distillations. Oliver Twist the novel, which I read for book club in August 2021, has surprisingly little focus on the titular character, whereas Oliver Twist (2005) puts him right in the middle of the action, thus achieving increased storytelling force.
I wouldn’t necessarily say I enjoyed watching the musical, which has a runtime of 2.5 hours. I remembered the songs from Oliver! (1968) from having seen it as a kid; they’re very catchy.
Disney’s Oliver and Company (1988) is like a whole other plot, but you gotta love Billy Joel’s song: “Why Should I Worry?”
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Although movie-making has changed a lot in the last 70 years, Treasure Island (1950), Disney’s first live-action movie ever, is pretty good. I didn’t take notes, but I felt like it was pretty faithful to the book, which I read for book club in November 2021.
Treasure Island (2012), a miniseries with two parts totaling 3 hours, twisted the characters and the story to send an anti-materialistic message. The novel is a story about a successful treasure hunt. What kind of killjoy is against the very idea of treasure hunts? It’s an adventure quest story! Not a sermon! Leave it alone!
Treasure Planet (2002) preserves the heart of the story. It has some gross-out jokes that I could do without, but the visuals and music are beautiful, and the story was altered in ways that didn’t bother me. Apparently it was really expensive to make because of the amount of 3D modeling they did.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I read the book (Maude translation) about two years ago for book club. It’s a powerful story. Anna Karenina (2012) is also powerful. But extremely weird. It has some of the qualities of a stage play… I don’t think I liked that aspect of it. I’ve got an older adaptation in my DVD collection; someday I’ll try watching that.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Another powerful story. Atticus Finch is an amazing character. I don’t remember anything that particularly struck me about the black-and-white film To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) apart from the fact that the kids’ voices were shrill. I guess prefer the book, which I read many years ago but also for book club in March 2021.
Notable Movies Watched in 2021
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
I watched the whole series (13 movies), and I think I liked this one the best. I liked the sedate pacing, which put the focus on the special effects, which hold up pretty well for being 40+ years old! I also really liked the underlying sci-fi premise, a mystery only revealed late in the movie, and the neutral-colored uniforms.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
I watched the whole series (5 movies). The sequels are okay, but the 2003 debut of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Orlando Bloom as Will, and Keira Knightley as Elizabeth is unforgettable, as is the awesome music.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
I was distracted by the fact that the hero’s name is romanized using the Wade-Giles system (Shang-Chi) and not Pinyin (Sheng Qi)… But never mind that. I was blown away by the fact that the beginning of the movie is in Chinese. An American superhero film franchise is not just filming Asian actors playing Asian characters, they’re requiring English-speaking audiences to read subtitles to understand Asian dialog!