Archive for January, 2023

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2022

Posted in movies, Blog Series, Movie Board with tags , , , on January 26, 2023 by Paxton

Movie Report

Here we are again. The beginning of a new year and me picking out my favorite movies of the previous year. Where does all this time go? Insanity.

I’m really trying to keep up with my movie watching throughot the year on my Letterboxd account.  It has nice stats which I’m going to use to go through my 2022 movie watching in this article.  So check me out there.

So, on to my list.  Rules are like my books, only movies new to me in 2022 are eligible. So first I’ll do a list of my favorite movies released in 2022.  Then, I think in a separate article, I’ll do a list of my favorite movies I watched for the first time in 2022.  Those can be from any year.  But in this article I’m focusing on 2022 released movies and a few stats from Letterboxd.

So let’s see what my favorite things to watch in 2022 were. I got most of my images and links from Wikipedia.

Favorites of 2022

Top Gun Maverick
Top Gun Maverick
– I love the original Top Gun.  I saw it with my dad in the theater.  He went to the Naval Academy so he loved it too.  They have been talking about a Top Gun sequel for YEARS.  I didn’t want one.  Especially as we had entered the 2010s and I thought the moment had passed.  But I was wrong.  Holy crap, this movie is amazing and fun and it had everything I did (and did not) know I wanted in a Top Gun sequel.

Dr Strange 2
Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
– This one snuck up on me.  And my love of this movie is directly tied to my love of WandaVision.  The movie is a direct sequel to WandaVision.  They both deal with different kinds of grief in different ways.  One is the grief of loss, the other is the grief of realizing you’ll never have what you want the most.  And after dealing with the first kind of grief, you decide that you aren’t going to stand for the second kind of grief.  Elizabeth Olsen is so good as Wanda in this.  I love her darker turn here.  I love Cumberbatch as Strange, and he excels here as well.  Getting Sam Raimi was perfect, his dark touches make this movie almost a horror movie.  I love it, I really do, and Wanda’s story is heartbreaking.  And we need to see more of America Chavez, she’s awesome.

Everything Everywhere All at Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once
– I had NO IDEA what to expect with this movie.  I wasn’t even sure I understood the trailer the first time I saw it.  But I love Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu.  This thing blew me away.  To be honest, the first time I watched it, I loved it, but it was almost too much.  By the end of the movie I was finding the story a bit hard to follow and I just didn’t know what I thought.  After watching it again a few months later, I get it now.  I think the movie throws so much at you visually, it’s hard to process some of the story because you’re busy processing everything.  The second viewing I was able to better focus and I got everything better.  This movie is throwing a lot at you, but I like that it doesn’t spoon feed you and believes that you are able to keep up with it.

The Gray Man
The Gray Man
– I love this cast, but I heard a lot of people trashing the movie for some reason, so I was concerned.  Then I watched it.  I watched it twice last year.  I almost watched it a third time.  I loved it.  I love the action, I love the humor.  Gosling and Evans are so good in this.  I want to read the book now, but part of me wonders if the humor carried over from the book, or did Gosling and Evans bring all that humor to the roles?  I don’t know.  Regardless, this movie is awesome and I loved it.

Prey
Prey
– Unfortunately, like most everyone, I knew this was a Predator prequel when I pressed PLAY.  I think the filmmakers intended it to be a surprise.  That being said, it didn’t stop me from loving this entry in the Predator franchise.  It is now my second favorite Predator movie.  And every time I watch it I like it a little bit more.

So that was all movies released in 2022.  Like I mentioned earlier, I’ll do a second part of this list where I talk about movies made before 2022 that I saw for the first time in 2022.

Let’s take a look at some of my movie watching stats from my account over on Letterboxd.

2022: Films by week

Here’s a graph of the number of films I watched throughout the year broken down by week.  My overall total was 233 movies watched.  That’s 4.5 movies per week.  Last year’s overall total was 193.  My highest weekly total of movies watched in 2022 was 10.  There were two weeks where I watched 10 films.  The first was Aug 28 – Sep 02.  I was about to do a podcast on movies from the year 2012, so I rewatched a bunch of 2012 movies that week.  The other week I watched 10 films was Sep 12-16.  That was when I did my Friday the 13th rewatch going from the first movie up through the 2009 remake.  Next highest total was 8 movies in a week, which I did 4 times.  It’s interesting, I watched more total movies this year than last, but I had two weeks in 2021 that I watched more movies.  The highest weekly total of movies watched in 2021 was 13 and 12.

2022: Top Actors

Here is the list of actors that I watched the most movies of this year.  JK Simmons being first seems odd, but he’s been in a ton of movies.  And we did a full Spider-Man rewatch last year as a family before seeing No Way Home.  He also popped up in a couple of the 2012 movies I rewatched.  We watched a bunch of Keanu’ filmography last year.  We showed the kids the Bill & Ted movies, the Matrix movies, Speed, and I showed my son two of the John Wick movies.  So that’s where he came from.  And Kane Hodder was in a bunch of the Friday the 13th movies I watched.  Pretty good eclectic list of actors there.

2022: Top Directors

This is the top 10 list of directors I watched this year.  You see where marathons shape these lists.  Sam Raimi for Spider-Man 1-3 and Dr Strange 2.  Kenny Ortega did a lot of those Disney musicals we watched with the kids like High School Musical and Descendants.  I love George Romero made it in there from my finally finishing his original Dead trilogy.

According to these stats, the first movie I watched in 2022 was Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie on January 1.  The last movie I watched in 2022 was The Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery on Dec 26. Surprising I didn’t watch any movies between Dec 26 and Dec 31 last year.

Anyway, that about wraps up my 2022 movies list.  Stay tuned, like my books, I’ll have a second movie list where I’ll go over the movies made before 2022 I watched for the first time last year. And maybe I’ll also talk about some of my favorite TV series I watched, as well as some other “honorable mentions”.

Year End Book Report: My Favorite Books/Comics I Read in 2022

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, comic books with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2023 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

2022 was, for some weird reason, a very productive reading year for me. I reached the highest amount of books/comics read, EVER. So let’s dig into that.

You can find my reading log on Goodreads. I log everything I read there. My reading goal for 2022 was 150.  And according to Goodreads, I finished out the year with 241 books.  I smashed all my previous reading totals. I was even in a position in December where I was within readch of 250, but work was really busy at that time and I didn’t really try to read a few quick things to up the number. Gotta leave some goals for next year, right?

Let’s take a look at some of the GoodReads stats for 2022.

Year in Books 1

It’s not all novels, obviously, I read a lot of comics as well.  And depending on how GoodReads has you log them, it can inflate your totals.  But I’m pretty happy with how much I got read this past year.

Let’s look at the numbers of some of the things I read.

Year in Books 2

Here’s my shortest and longest book I read.  Shortest is an issue of a comic.  Not surprising.  I started that Tom Taylor Nightwing series last year and I’m loving it.  It’s so good.  The longest is, surprisingly, another comic.  I reread the X-men: Inferno story arc.  I hadn’t read that since it came out in 1989.  And I only read the collection of the main mutant titles; X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, and X-Terminators.  Even just that was a lot, but there’s a whole separate collection of all the tie-in books.  At least 20 more issues of tangentially related books.  I had to draw the line there.  Inferno is great, but…no.

Year in Books 3

Here are my “most popular” and “least popular” shelved books.  Most popular was Jurassic Park.  I re-read that last year for the first time since the summer the movie came out.  It’s still a pretty great book.  I’m hoping to re-read the sequel, The Lost World, this year.   Look at that, over a million other people shelved Jurassic Park last year.  That’s crazy.  Wow.

And the least popular book I shelved was The Story of Breakin’.  Which is supposed to be an oral history of the making of the movie.  Don’t get me started on that.  It’s enthusiastic, but it’s not great.

Let’s move on with my recap of my favorite books I read this year.

Rules are the same as every year.  Only books/comics I read for the first time in 2022 are eligible for this list.  No re-reads, of which I typically had a few.  I don’t usually read brand new stuff the year it comes out, but it happens.  This year I read 5 novels that were released in 2022.  One of those 5 was a “did not finish”.  Let’s see if any of them made the list.

Here are the top 5 books I read last year in no particular order.

Images and links are from GoodReads pages.

Books

Rule of Wolves
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
– The currently final book in the Shadow and Bone series. All of this series has made it onto my year end lists in some form or another. The final two books are a duology focusing on Nicolai, who is my favorite character. The book before this, King of Scars, was a very slow starter, so I was concerned going into this.  However, this book was a fantastic ending (?) to the saga.  The story was good, characters arcs wrapped up nicely, it was so much fun.  This whole series is good, but my favorites are the middle two books, Six of Crows, and Crooked Kingdom. Leigh Bardugo is currently one of my favorite writers.  All of her books are really fun and have really good dialogue and characters.

Showtime!
Showtime!: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman
– I’m a huge fan of pre-2000s NBA documentaries and biographies. I’ve read a couple huge oral histories of the NBA and the ABA, and tons of books about players and teams including Larry Bird, Pete Maravich, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Celtics.  This was one I never read.  It’s what the HBO series Winning Time! is loosely based on.  So after really enjoying season 1 of Winning Time! I decided to give this a shot.  And it’s everything I wanted it to be.  Pretty much an oral history of the Los Angeles Lakers starting around the year before Magic was drafted in 1979 and ends right around his (first) retirement in 1991.  It’s a lot of information but it’s a lot of fun to see all the locker room shenanigans the team got into.  And not just the players, Jerry Buss was kind of a wild man as well.  This was a really fun read.

Just One Damned Thing After Another
Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St Marys Book 1) by Jodi Taylor
– Being a huge devotee of time travel books, I’ve been lurking on these St Mary’s books for a while.  Currently I’ve read a short prequel to the series, this first book, and the second book.  I think there are currently 14 books in the series.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to finish the full series, but the first two books are really really good.  There’s a St Mary’s Institute for Historical Research at the University of Thirsk in London.  It studies historical events in “contemporary time”.  Which is a fancy way of saying, they travel back in time and study historical events.  In this book time travel exists and this research institute uses it to bolster the human record of the past.  However, the quirky staff at the Institute are disaster magnets and anything that can go wrong will.  It’s the characters that are the highlight here but there is some good time jumping action.

Kaiju Preservation Society
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
– I’ve always wanted to read John Scalzi but I never pulled the trigger. I read a sample of his book Redshirts, but never actually finished it.  However this came out in February 2022, and my library had a copy online, so I quickly checked it out. And this is a lot of fun.  At first glance you think, “It’s essentially Jurassic Park”.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I read another book in that pastiche that I liked a few years ago called The Great Zoo of China.  They can be a lot of fun.  This story obviously isn’t Earthbound.  The goverment discovers a portal to another dimension and a land filled with kaiju.  They set up a research station in that dimension to learn more about the creatures.  It doesn’t really go the way you expect, ie the kaiju run rampant killing people.  It’s actually more of a people villain that causes a bunch of havok, but it’s certainly a lot of fun.  And the way the research station works and the variety of kaiju are definitely interesting.

Jack West Jr #7
One Impossible Labyrinth (Jack West Jr Book 7) by Matthew Reilly
– I started this series way back in 2010. It’s showed up on my year end list several times, as has the author, Matthew Reilly.  This is the final book in Reilly’s Jack West Jr series which is a big, epic, adventure series akin to Indiana Jones, but even bigger.  There’s a lot to digest here, it’s not just a one off book, you’re gonna need to read the series from the beginning or you’re gonna be lost.  And as a finale, this book nailed it.  I love this series, but the last three or four books have just been exquisite.  Reilly really knows how to write action and keep the plot moving.  So fun.

As usual, I also read a bunch of movie novelizations this year for I Read Movies.  However, I don’t include those in this list.  I do a separate write up for I Read Movies year end.  Check it out here.

Let’s switch over to comics! Here are the top 5 comics I read last year in no particular order.

Comics

All-New Wolverine
All-New Wolverine by Tom Taylor and David Lopez
– I love Laura Kinney (X-23), so I was very curious about this title where she takes over the mantle of the dead (at the time) Wolverine. I think this was also the title that introduced me to writer Tom Taylor.  This is such a great series.  I read the first three volumes in the title and I love every minute of it.  Laura gets a quirky group of characters around her and they have these awesome adventures.  I really enjoyed it.

Nightwing
Nightwing by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Neil Edwards
– So I loved Tom Taylor from All-New Wolverine, and I kind of do like Nightwing. Actually, it wasn’t really Nightwing that drew me to this, it was Taylor and all the buzz he was getting about how good this title is. So I gave it a shot.  Taylor takes over in issue #78 and I’ve read through about issue #94.  The title is GREAT.  I love Dick as Nightwing in this.  I love Barbara Gordon.  I love that the Titans show up every once in a while.  Blockbuster is the main villain, but he’s more a terrifying mob boss than he is the smash first monster that I’m used to.  This is a really good title that I’m continuing to read because I enjoy all the characters.

Squirrel Girl
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
– I’ll admit, the buzz for this one actually kept me away.  The art is weird, I didn’t get the character, and it just seemed like this whole Squirrel Girl “thing” was just not for me.  But I kept hearing from people it’s really good, so towards the end of last year, I decided to just give it a shot.  And you know what?  I really liked it.  Ryan’s humor is a lot of fun.  He writes extra comments in the margins of the comic that are pretty weird and funny.  The first page of each comic is a Twitter-like conversation between Squirrel Girl and other heroes which is hilarious.  I just really enjoyed Squirrel Girl’s positivity and outlook.  I’ll be honest, Erica Henderson’s art takes some getting used to.  Everyone looks weird.  But over time it just works.  You get used to it.  North’s Squirrel Girl adventures remind me a lot of Christopher Hastings Gwenpool series from a few years ago.  Very much enjoyed this.

Batman 3 Jokers
Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok
– I was reluctant to get into this one because I don’t really want an investigation into the nature of The Joker.  The Joker, to me, is a force of nature, an agent of chaos.  I don’t need him defined.  This does that, to a point, but it’s a really good look at how the Joker has affected the lives of Jason Todd, Barbara Gordon, and to an extent, Batman.  In the book we learn there are three Jokers; The Clown, The Criminal, and The Comedian.  And we learn how each one works.  It’s really well done and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  Jason Fabok’s art is fantatic as well.

Maniac of NY 2
Maniac of NY vol 2 – The Bronx is Burning by Elliot Kalan and Andrea Mutti
– The followup to the original Maniac of NY.  I really like this book.  This continues the story of how New York City would deal with having a mysterious, unkillable movie slasher that can disappear and reappear at will.  You have the burned out detective on the slasher swat squad, you have the disaffected mayor, you have the cynical police force.  It’s really good.  However, there are some frustrations, but I think the comic knows they are frustrations.  The book lays out a few “hints” to the back story and nature of the killer, Harry.  Total plot threads like certain spots of the city that he seems to avoid.  And a few other things that point to a possible weakness.  However, nothing is ever picked up on.  They are completely left dangling.  It’s possible these threads will be picked up again for the possible upcoming part 3, but as a reader, that’s fascinating and frustrating in equal measures because I really enjoy this book.

And those were my favorite books and comics I read in 2022. I’ll maybe have a followup article to this talking about some Honorable Mentions.  You know, things that maybe I liked that almost made the list, but also things I didn’t like and really want to talk about.

Hope you enjoyed this article and found something new that you may eventually love.  Let me know if you do!

Okay, that covers EVERYTHING I’ve read.  Next up…MOVIES!  Stay tuned.

I Read Movies’ 2022 Year End Round up

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 9, 2023 by Paxton

As you probably know, I host a movie novelization podcast called I Read Movies.  Every month I read a movie novelization and then on the podcast I talk about the differences between the movie and the novelization.  A few years ago, I decided to add a year end round up for I Read Movies to my other “year end” lists.  It’s been fun and some of you seem to like it.  So here I go again.

2022 was a good year for I Read Movies. It switched over to the Cult Film Club podcast network.  It also got its own online home on the CFC website where you can browse previous episodes of the show.

I’m really liking how this online database is shaping up, I hope you guys like it too.

So, in 2022, I covered 12 novelizations for I Read Movies.  I’m very happy with the group of novelizations I picked this year.  I kind of love all 12 of these books for different reasons, but I took a few moments, really looked inward at myself and all I hold dear, and came up with at least 5 of the novelizations that were my favorites this year and why they were my favorites.  I say “at least 5”, because I may cheat and include an extra or two.  We’ll see.

So let’s see which novelizations I most enjoyed covering on the show in 2022!

FYI, I decided to use the photoshopped IRM episode images for these entries instead of just the covers from movienovelizations.com.  They are so much fun to make and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to showcase them more.  I’ll link each entry to the IRM show page on CFC.com.

This is list in the order of show release.


Superman IV: The Quest for Peace by BB Hiller
– The very first episode of the year.  Cult Film Club covered this movie back in episode 31.  I go back and forth on this movie.  Sometimes I think it’s terrible, and sometimes I find it so bad it’s charming.  My hope was that the BB Hiller novelization would shed some light on things, like Superman’s Great Wall constructing eye beams, and why he gets radiation poisoning from Nuclear Man.  The book didn’t answer everything, and it’s a tad shorter than I’d like, but it has several deleted scenes from the movie, including the scenes with the first Nuclear Man, and it keeps the somewhat weird zany tone.


Batman and Robin by Michael Jan Friedman
– This novelization was the only one of the original four (Batman 89, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) that I didn’t read during the original release of the movie.  And right up to when I did it for the show, it was still the only one I hadn’t already read.  To be honest, I don’t love the movie, so I had never really intended to actually cover it on IRM.  Then I was on the Authorized novelizations podcast talking about the movie and the novelization and realized there’s a lot of fun stuff to mine in that book.  So after I recorded with Authorized, I decided to do this book.  I still don’t really love the movie, but the book was a lot of fun.


Spider-Man by Peter David
– I’m a big fan of Peter David.  Throughout the years I have read the vast majority of his novelization output.  And a good bit of his novels.  I had read all three of these Spider-Man novelizations by the time I did this on IRM.  I remember there being a lot of Easter Eggs pointing to other heroes in the Marvel Universe.  This show was a lot of fun to do because I attempted to do the JK Simmons “J Jonah Jameson” voice.  Regardless of the success of that, I enjoyed attempting it.  This is a great novelization, if you like this first movie, you will love the novelization.


Blade by Mel Odom
– I’ve owned the Blade novelization for years.  I didn’t get it when the movie was out, I got it many years later, but before even IRM was a gleam in my eye.  And I’d never read it.  So digging into it for IRM was a lot of fun.  There’s a lot of good stuff in this one.  It makes me sad that Blade II is the only book in the series that did *not* get a novelization.  Blade Trinity did.  And I own it.  I’d like to do it for the show, but I’m not sure I want to even read it.  It’s a big one.  Nearly 400 pages.  I know when watching Blade Trinity recently the one thing I didn’t say was, “You know what, this movie should be longer.”


Return of the Living Dead by John Russo
– 2022’s Halloween episode, voted on by you listeners!  I love this movie.  I discovered this movie during the 80s home video boom.  I had this one-sheet in my bedroom for years.  My dad and I were such frequent renters at our local video store that they pretty much gave us first choice on posters when they came down from the wall.  I’ve since lost it, and believe me, this is the one poster from my childhood that I regret not holding onto.  This novelization is really good and evokes the feeling of the movie; grungy and punk.  Underground.  Dirty.  It’s a great adaptation of the movie.  If you can find a copy, read it.


Home Alone by Todd Strasser and Home Alone 2 by AL Singer
– The last episode of the season.  Both original Home Alone movies.  I’m not going to lie, I love both of these movies so I was very excited to cover both of these novelizations this past December.  The booby traps and physical harm that happen to Harry and Marv don’t come across as bone crunching as it does in the movie, but they were both still a lot of fun to read.

So those were my favorite novelizations I covered on the show this year. Let’s take a look at a few overall stats for I Read Movies.

Over the course of the show I’ve covered just over 70 books and novelizations. That includes the 64 episodes of the main show, as well as the Apendix special episodes, and any other special episodes I did for Nerd Lunch and Cult Film Club.  How about an author breakdown?

Currently, the author I’ve covered the most on I Read Movies, and the reigning champion from last year, is Craig Shaw Gardner.  I’ve covered five of his books including Batman 89, Batman Returns, The Lost Boys, Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part III.

The rankings haven’t changed much since last year. In second place is still Alan Dean Foster with four books on the show (Star Wars ’77, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, The Last Starfighter, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Third place is a four way tie between James Kahn, Jeffrey Cooper, Glen A Larson, and Peter David, with three titles each.  Then there are a bunch of authors where I’ve covered only one or two titles. Will any new ones emerge next year to join this list? Since I know what the book list is for next year, I’m going to say…yes, there is some movement in the rankings next year. Stay tuned!

So, that’s my I Read Movies year end novelization round up.  Hope you enjoyed this past year of the podcast.  I believe I have a lot of good novelizations coming up in 2023. I’m going to do something different with this year’s book selection. Normally I just pick the books I want to cover and that I think will make an interesting show. However, this year, I used a different method for picking the books, and it’s something I got from my other podcast, Crestwood House. You’ll hear all about it in I Read Movies’ first show of the year soon enough. And in that show I’ll be covering Adventures in Babysitting by Elizabeth Faucher. That should be a lot of fun.