Movies watched in 2021

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.

Continue reading Movies watched in 2021

Movies Watched in 2020

I watched 65 movies in 2020. That sounds like a lot, even for a lockdown / quarantine / stay-at-home kind of year, even for someone with no kids.

On the other hand, I don’t watch television.

Let that sink in.

TV shows add up fast! Movies don’t require the same time commitment. They come in self-contained 90-minute or two-hour chunks. Movie marathons are less likely to occur than TV binge-watching because not every movie is part of a series, and movies don’t tend to end in cliffhangers.

See below for stats and favorites.

Continue reading Movies Watched in 2020

Minority Report (2002)

I like sci-fi movies, and I like Tom Cruise movies, but I don’t like this particular sci-fi Tom Cruise movie, which I just watched for perhaps the second or third time. It’s a murder mystery that thinks it’s sci-fi—a philosophical murder mystery with some annoying CGI and a dash of horror.

See below for more thoughts (no spoilers).

Continue reading Minority Report (2002)

Total Recall (1990) again

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the original Total Recall was one of the most expensive movies of its time, and like a lot of movies based on stories by Philip K. Dick, it has an interesting premise. It’s a classic of the sci-fi/action genre and its plot is a lot cleverer than that of the remake, but it’s still too bloody for my taste. Here’s what I wrote about it before.

Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

The word “mnemonic” has nothing to do with anything in the movie. Nothing. It’s just a weird word that makes the title sound fancy.

As an adjective, “mnemonic” means “aiding or designed to aid the memory” or “relating to the power of memory”. As a noun, it means a special word or poem that helps you recall a set of connected ideas—like “FANBOYS”, which reminds you of seven coordinating conjunctions in English: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

But the premise of Johnny Mnemonic is that the protagonist is carrying data in his head like a drug mule and doesn’t even know what it is! Moreover, he doesn’t remember much about himself; he dumped his memories to make more space to carry data. From the title, I would have guessed he had a special memory skill, but no. He just has a cybernetic upgrade that turned his brain into a (rather faulty) hard drive. He’s nothing special. Might as well be named John Doe.

William Gibson wrote the screenplay as well as the short story of the same name, so the title was his choice, nothing to do with Hollywood. Maybe he picked it because the character wishes he could remember his childhood?

Watch it on Amazon

See below for more on what the movie is like and why I didn’t particularly like it.

Continue reading Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Need for Speed (2014)

Currently the Rotten Tomatoes rating for Need for Speed is 23% (57% audience score). I can understand why it wasn’t a critical success, but I’m definitely on the side of the audience here.

Watch this movie if…

  • …you like car racing movies.
  • …you like practical special effects (rather than CGI).
  • …you don’t mind a ridiculous premise.
  • …you like happy endings and don’t mind a predictable plot.

Do NOT watch this movie if…

  • …you are tired of The Fast and the Furious franchise.
  • …you hate tropes and are hoping for some literary merit.
  • …your attention span is less than 130 minutes.
  • …you are a pedantic gearhead.

Personally, I don’t mind stories whose plots I can predict. After all, I’ve been trying to become an expert on plot by watching and summarizing movies. What bugs me is when I can predict the dialogue, and this movie didn’t have that problem. A commercially successful movie plot has to have certain elements, but there’s no excuse for stale dialogue. If the characters are going to say something obvious, they may as well say nothing at all.

See below for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Need for Speed (2014)

Onward (2020)

Either Onward wasn’t that great, or I was in a weird mood when I watched it.

Or maybe the previews ruined it. I prefer to watch movies that I know nothing about. Movie trailers that show you jokes from the movie are awful, because a joke is really only funny when it’s a surprise.

Or maybe it’s that I don’t like movies about high school. Onward is about a magical quest, sure, but it is also somewhat about being in high school. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a television or film depiction of “the American high school experience” that bore any resemblance to my own high school experience. Relatability fail. Every time.

Or maybe it’s that the movie can’t be about an epic quest and high school at the same time… too much cognitive dissonance.

Or maybe it’s that Pixar’s charm is fading; too much reliance on a formula? The story did seem to have the odor of plot coupons — not that the brothers had to physically collect things, but they did go through a series of preordained steps to reach a goal. Sure, there was a meaningful ‘inner’ journey, but the outer journey seemed a bit paint-by-numbers.

It’s not that it was a bad movie. It was good. But I couldn’t love it whole-heartedly.

The funniest part of Onward was the scene at the chasm. I laughed so much! But there are some really, really sad moments too… And some cringey ones, which is probably another reason I didn’t like the movie as much as I was hoping to.

Watch on Amazon

See below for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Onward (2020)

The Swan Princess (1994)

I didn’t see The Swan Princess when I was a kid so I have no happy nostalgic feelings for it. I have almost no happy feelings for it at all, to be frank. It was the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Was the whole thing terrible? No… The villain song was good. Still, although I love me a good villain song (Ursula’s in particular), even a great villain song can’t hold up an entire movie.

And no, in case you were curious, the plot is nothing like the plot of the ballet. That’s what I’m told, anyway, and I believe it—in part because I can’t imagine a ballet that would be anything like this movie.

Whereas The Swan Princess seems hopelessly outdated, Beauty and the Beast, which came out three years earlier, seems like a timeless classic. I hesitate to even compare the two, though they are both early nineties princess cartoons. A less unfair comparison to make would be with Thumbelina (1994), which came out the same year… and was also terrible.

Maybe kids like this nonsense… after all, The Swan Princess has like… eight sequels! Still, I think children deserve better.

The Lion King (2019)

Okay, Disney. The Lion King (1994) is my, like, second-favorite Disney cartoon. How are you going to handle it? Hopefully with great care.

You want to change the jokes?
Great. That’s a must.

You want to give Nala some kind of “Lion Queen” status, more agency, even her very own second-tier villain?
Fine. Do that. Yay for us wimmin.

But then, you also want to take away Rafiki’s words of wisdom? You’d better have a good reason!

You know what I’m talking about… right?

Continue reading The Lion King (2019)