Archive for movies

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2021

Posted in Blog Series, Movie Board, movies with tags , , , , on January 14, 2022 by Paxton

Movie Report

2021 continues to be an odd year for movie watching.  I got to go to the theater for a few things, yes, but most of the movies I watched this past year were at home.

Anyway, I keep my list of movies watched (with some small reviews) in two places, similar to my books list.  The first is the usual Google Spreadsheet.  That list is easier to get an overall view of the year and pick out favorite entries because I have it all color coded based on rating and year released.  The other place I keep a list of the movies I watch is over on Letterboxd.  So check me out there.  I’ve been trying to keep up with my reviews on that site much better than I have previously.

So, on to my list.  Rules are like my books, only movies new to me in 2021 are eligible. So in 2021, I was able to see a bunch of “released in 2021” movies.  Not all of them.  Probably less than I really would have liked, but it was a good amount.  So I can go back to the original way I used to present this list, before having to abandon it last year.  So first I’ll do a list of my favorite movies released in 2021.  Then, I think in a separate article, I’ll do a list of my favorite movies I watched for the first time in 2021.  Those can be from any year.  But in this article I’m focusing on 2021 released movies and a few stats from Letterboxd.

So let’s see what my favorite things to watch in 2021 were. And like my books/comics, I’ll give you a “Baker’s Five” (which means 6).

I got most of my images and links from Wikipedia.

Old Henry
Old Henry (2021)
– This movie snuck in at the literal last minute.  I watched it on 12/31/2021.  I had heard a podcaster talk about this for their year end round up, and I was intrigued, so I looked it up.  It sounded interesting, so I watched it.  And WOW.  This movie was fantastic.  An old farmer and his son are living in the Oklahoma territory in the early 1900s when they discover an unconscious man with a saddlebag full of cash.  He claims to be a lawman.  But a group of men show up to the farm asking about the man and they claim to also be the law.  Go in knowing only that much.  I don’t want to give away any of the twists and turns.  Enjoy.  So happy to have a western on the list this year.

The Harder they Fall
The Harder They Fall (2021)
– What’s this?  A *second* western made it on the list this year?  Honestly, a third western could have also made it on the list here but it was made in 2020, not 2021.  Anyway, this western has a dynamite cast with Idris Elba, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, and Lakeith Stanfield.  They are all playing actual historical figures like Stagecoach Mary, Cherokee Bill, Rufus Buck, and Bass Reeves.  It’s a super stylish western, that reminds me of old spaghetti westerns, but it also has a more modern soundtrack with a super eclectic mix of music that sounds like blues, gospel, rock and rap.  It’s a revenge western where Nat Love is after Rufus Buck and his gang for something that happened when he was a kid.  Like I said, very stylish, great dialogue, wonderful cast.  Check it out.

Army of Thieves
Army of Thieves
– This movie is a prequel to Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead.  So I saw that movie last year and didn’t like it.  It was two half baked ideas smashed into one; an okay zombie movie and a not very good heist movie.  So when this came out, I was not interested in a Zack Snyder prequel to Army of the Dead.  AT ALL.  However, then I realized that Zack only produced this.  It’s directed and produced by the movie’s star, Matthias Schweighöfer.  And Schweighöfer’s character, Deiter, is the only one that shows up from the previous movie.  It’s about Deiter’s first heist job that puts him on the path to become the best safe cracker in the world.  Also in this is Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Ramsey in the last few Fast & Furious movies.  This movie was a lot of fun.  It was very stylish.  And most importantly, you don’t need to have seen Army of the Dead to enjoy it.

Shang-Chi
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
– I had a hard time nailing down the final three movies in this list.  Two of them are Marvel movies and one is a DC movie.  But they could have been three others.  But I’m sticking to my guns.  Shang-Chi.  I’ve been a fan of kung fu movies forever.  And comics books.  So I became a fan of Shang-Chi back in junior high when I discovered him in one of those Handbook to the Marvel Universe character guides.  I used to draw pictures of him for extra credit in art class.  Anyway, this movie was simultaneously not what I expected, but almost everything I wanted.  The lead, Simu Liu, is a great Shang-Chi.  I love Awkwafina as his comedic partner.  Michelle Yeoh.  The fight choreography.  The epic storytelling.  Tony Leung as Wenwu.  And Trevor Slattery.  I loved it all.  If I had to nit pick something, it’d be the end.  When the giant CGI dragons come out.  I didn’t need that.  It took focus away from Shang-Chi and his dad.  But again, that’s a nit pick, I loved everything else.

Black Widow
Black Widow
– Here we go, another Marvel movie.  Yes, I am 100% in the bag for most of these movies.  This one is no different.  We finally get the Black Widow movie we should have gotten back after the first Avengers movie in 2012.  I’m sad Hawkeye had virtually no part in this.  However, ScarJo and Florence are amazing as Natasha and Yelena.  We are introduced to Yelena here and if she’s becoming the “new Black Widow”, then I am totally on board.  She is awesome.  I love Rachel Weisz, and she’s pretty good in here.  I’m not a big fan of David Harbour, but he’s actually pretty funny as Alexei.  If I have any problem at all, it’s with how Alexei is written, not Harbour’s performance.  At the beginning of the movie he gives up the two girls to the Red Room too easily. He knows where they are going.  He should have said something. I get it, he’s Russian, he does what his gov’t says.  But he barely looked torn or upset at what was happening.  Just reserved.  Then, when he returns later, the character is all laughs and one-liners and it felt like they were trying to make you forget the fact he gave the girls up to the Red Room in the beginning of the movie.  I really didn’t like that.  But, that’s a small problem in a movie I loved so much else.  I also liked this movie’s version of Taskmaster.  Lots of fun action beats and a good amount of humor, especially between Natasha and Yelena, which is the heart of this movie.

Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad
– I had revolved through several choices for this last pick.  I’m going to go with this for several reasons.  It surprised me.  I saw the first Suicide Squad movie in the theater, and I watched it later on home video.  I liked it in the beginning, but it went WAY off the rails by the middle of the movie.  The Birds of Prey movie I saw on streaming and while it had a few funny moments, it was only ok.  So even though it’s directed by James Gunn, who I mostly like, I was not very interested in this sem-sequel-reboot.  But Michael May assured me it was good, so I gave it a shot.  And he was right, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Idris Elba is a better version of Will Smith’s Deadshot.  Robbie’s Harley Quinn is awesome as usual.  John Cena’s Peacemaker is really funny.  And Joel Kinnaman’s Flagg is a character I *did not* like in the original movie.  He is *much* better in this movie.  He feels a little more loose, a little more natural of a character.  I actually reallly liked him in this.  So, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie and that’s why it made it here.  I’ll definitely give the Peacemaker show a shot.

So that was all movies released in 2021.  Like I mentioned earlier, I’ll do a second part of this list where I talk about movies made before 2021 that I saw for the first time in 2021.

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

2021 Films by Week

Here is a graph showing how many films I watched broken down by week. The week I watched the most movies was Dec 24-30. I saw 13 movies. Steph and the kids were gone for a few days and I did a Fast & the Furious/Paul Walker marathon.  The second biggest week was Mar 5-11. I was actually at my dad’s that week pretty much by myself. I saw 12 films.  June 11-17 gets third place for most movies watched.  I watched 9 movies that week.  All that led up to me watching 194 movies in 2021.  Which is 16.2 movies per month.  3.7 movies per week.  That’s just 6 away from 200.  SO CLOSE.

2021 Top Actors

Here is the list of actors that I watched the most movies of this year.  Scott Adkins had the most with 12 films. I have been exploring his filmography a lot this year.  He’s quickly become one of my favorite action stars.  In second place, surprisingly, but also not so surprisingly, is Paul Walker. If you look at the rest of the top 10, you will notice a trend. I did a full Fast & Furious rewatch this year; Fast 1 through Fast 9.  And this list clearly reflects that.  But I also went on a small Paul Walker non-F&F marathon, so that’s why he’s second.  Tony Todd snuck in there at the end because I did a full Final Destination marathon as well as watching two of the Candyman movies.  I love this top 10.

2021 Top Directors

This is the top 10 list of directors I watched this year.  Again, Justin Lin is in there because of my F&F rewatch.  Isaac Florentine is tied for first place because he directed 5 of the Scott Adkins movies I watched last year.  And James Wan directed Furious 7 as well as the Conjuring movies, which I watched this year.  It’s really interesting to see how these lists develop based on what you watched over the year.  I did a few full franchise marathons and you’re seeing that reflected in these lists.

According to these stats, the first movie I watched in 2021 was El Dorado on Jan 16.  The last movie I watched in 2021 was Timeline on Dec 31.

Okay, that about wraps up my 2021 movies list.  Stay tuned, I have a second movie list where I’ll go over the movies made before 2021 I watched for the first time last year, maybe I’ll also talk about some of my favorite TV series I watched, as well as some “honorable mentions” articles for books, comics, and movies.

I Read Movies’ 2021 Year End Round up

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2022 by Paxton

IRM 2021

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.  Last year, I decided to add to my usual “Best of” lists a year end round up for I Read Movies where I listed out my favorite novelizations that I covered on the show.  So, this year, I’m doing it again.

September 2021 was a big year for I Read Movies.  Not only was it IRM’s 4th birthday but September was the show’s 50th episode!  Hard to believe I’ve done that many episodes.  On the main podcast, I covered 12 novelizations in 2021.  You can see the covers of the novelizations I covered above.  I say, “on the main podcast”, because I did cover a few extra books on other podcasts.  I did the 1995 Mortal Kombat novelization for Cult Film Club, as well as an Appendix episode on the original Stephen King novel, Running Man, that inspired the movie.

So that makes 13 novelizations covered by me in 2021.  I’m very happy with the group of novelizations I picked this year (and you guys, you definitely helped me decide).  Out of 13 novelizations, it would have been easy to pick nearly 10 as my favorites.   But I really dug deep and narrowed it down to my five favorite novelizations.

So let’s see which novelizations I most enjoyed covering on the show in 2021!

FYI, most images and links are to movienovelizations.com.

Batman Forever
Batman Forever (1995) by Peter David
– I covered the first two Burton Batman movies back in 2019. So I continue the coverage of the 90s Batman movies with the third movie in the series. Like the previous two, I had read this novelization when it originally came out and remember loving it. So I was very excited to cover it for the show. And it is still very good. David manages to squeeze in lots of Batman easter eggs as well as lots of early story elements that did not make the movie. Like the giant bat. It’s definitely a fun read. I originally had no real intention to cover the final movie, Batman & Robin. I had read it several years ago and my memory was that it wasn’t very different. Well, I recently appeared on the Authorized Novelizations Podcast and we discussed Batman and Robin, so I read it for them, and I discovered I was wrong. There was lots to talk about. So, now, expect to see Michael Jan Friedman’s Batman & Robin novelization on IRM in 2022!


The A-Team (1983) by Glen A Larson
– A few years ago I started trying to cover at least one TV novelization during the year. I covered two Knight Rider episodes the last two years. This year, I decided to do The A-Team. This novelizes the very first episode, Mexican Slayride. It’s a lot of fun and adds a lot of fun tidbits and scenes to the action of the show. On the other side of the coin, it also doesn’t add any context to things in the episode that aren’t great.  Like Hannibal dressing up as a *very* stereotypical Chinese laundry owner, and the part of the show where Hannibal doesn’t help Amy when she’s accosted and nearly raped by two dudes coming out of a strip club.  That being said, the book is a lot of fun and I think the show turned out to be a good one.  2022 will bring another TV novelization to the show, so stay tuned!

WarGames
Robocop (1987) by Ed Naha
– Shawn had covered this in an article on movienovelizations.com. It sounded bonkers and could be a lot of fun. I mean, in it, Robocop gets a dog! And Murphy’s wife, who shows up in all the movies, actually moves to the moon in this book! They colonized the moon! So yes, I was excited to cover it, and the book delivered. It’s definitely a lot of fun. And actually, I had so much fun, I decided as soon as I finished it, that I wanted to cover the Robocop 2 novelization right after it.  And so I did.  And it was just as fun.  This was a reallly fun 1-2 punch and the episodes I think show how much fun the books were to read.

Back to the Future II Back to the Future III
Back to the Future Part II/Part III by Craig Shaw Gardner –  For my first anniversary back in 2018, I covered the first Back to the Future novelization by George Gipe.  That was a *lot* of fun because you could tell the book really followed the original version of the movie that had Eric Stoltz.  A lot of the gags from the Michael J Fox version just weren’t there, like  all of the “Coast Guard” and “life jacket” jokes from the movie.  Plus the “Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan” scene was extended.  It was a lot of fun to do that episode.  So for my big 50th episode I thought, it’s time to cover the sequels.  So I did both in one episode.  And while these books weren’t as bizarre and different as the first book, they had a lot of fun diversions in them.  They even address one aspect of time travel I had always wondered about in the BTTF universe.  When does a person from the future receive updated memories from a timeline change?  Like Marty at the end of the first movie, will he receive all the memories from his childhood with a more loving and healthy version of his parents?  Or will he always have that hole in his memory and when the family is reminicising he just has to play along?  These books, at least a little bit, address that.  And I appreciate that.

The Mummy 1999
The Mummy (1999) by Max Allan Collins
– This one was a surprise to me.  I forgot how much I love this movie.  Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz are so adorable.  It’s just a lot of fun to watch this movie.  And when I rewatched it for the show, I found myself not taking notes and just watching the movie.  And the novelization continues that fun.  It front loads the book with a lot more of the ancient Egypt stuff, and adds a few extra scenes at the end.  Like I said it just surprised me how much I enjoyed revisiting the movie and reading the novelization.  So, now I want to do the sequel, The Mummy Returns.  Max Allan Collins actually wrote all three Mummy novelizations as well as the very first Mummy spin off with the Rock, Scorpion King.  And you know how much I enjoy one author writing multiple books in a franchise.  So, this may be the beginning of another sub-series on IRM.

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 60 books and novelizations. That includes the 53 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 is Craig Shaw Gardner.  I’ve covered five of his books (Batman 89, Batman Returns, The Lost Boys, Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part II).

In second place is 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 tie between James Kahn and Jeffrey Cooper with three titles each.  Then there are a bunch of authors where I’ve covered only one or two titles.

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 2022.

What usually happens with IRM at year end is that I take a break in January, and then new episodes start again in February.  And this February IRM is going to debut new episodes on the CultFilmClub.com podcast feed.  However, due to behind the scenes stuff, I want to move my break to later in the year, so I’m going to go ahead and do a January episode this year.  So expect that soon.  And I’ll go ahead and reveal it to you now, I’ll be covering the novelization of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.  Up, up, and Away!

2020 Year End Honorable Mentions – Movies

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 21, 2021 by Paxton

Movie Report

So all my favorite lists (books, movies) are out there for the world to see.  I even talked to you about my favorite novelizations on I Read Movies as well as provided you some honorable mentions in books and comics.  So I guess I should come up with some honorable mentions for movies.

This list will be some movies I wanted to talk about, good or bad.  These aren’t all “just missed the favorites list”.  Some of these were never going to make the list.  But maybe I had something more to say about them.

Let’s go.

Bill & Ted 3
Bill & Ted Face the Music
– I want to start with two nostalgia bombs that I watched last year.  First, Bill & Ted 3.  I was one of the ones that was pretty excited about this.  I love the first movie.  I really enjoy the second movie.  I’ve read a ton of the comics that have come out in the intervening years.  I was so ready for this.  And it was great.  Fun and fast paced.  Lots of fun twists and turns.  I feel like some of the story sort of covered the same ground of what’s been done before.  I love Samara Weaving as Bill’s daughter.  Bridget Lundy-Paine as Ted’s daughter took some getting used to, but she’s fine.  I like the story tries to bring in the Princesses more, but ultimately it doesn’t really amount to much.  I enjoyed returning to this world, I enjoyed seeing Reeves and Winter back in their iconic roles, I enjoyed that they tried something a little different (and a lot the same).  As a Bill & Ted fan, I had a lot of fun.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Jay & Silent Bob Reboot
– This was the second “nostalgia bomb” movie I watched last year.  I’m a fan of Jay and Silent Bob.  This movie was really a sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which I’m mostly a fan of.  I always enjoy seeing these View Askew characters in another movie.  And Kevin has a lot of famous friends and pretty much all of them try to make an appearance in this movie.  And that’s ultimately my problem.  This movie doesn’t feel like one continuous movie, but a collection of scenes, filmed separately, with no one interacting with anyone except Jay and Silent Bob.  I know this is due to stars’ scheduling issues, but I feel it in the film.  However, I do appreciate the effort to bring people back.  Jason Lee.  Joey Lauren Adams.  Even Ben Affleck makes an appearance.  But all of their appearances are clearly walled off from everything else that happens in the movie.  The fun of all the interactions is lost.  We only see Jay and Silent Bob reacting.  So, I was a bit disappointed.  But I’m glad I watched it.  I hear Kevin is back on getting Clerks 3 written.  I’m a little wary about that.  I heard Jeff Anderson doesn’t want to do Randal anymore, but if he’s back in, then more power to Kev.

Last Blood
Rambo Last Blood
– Okay, I guess technically, this would be a third nostalgia bomb that I watched.  I’m a Rambo fan.  I love 1-2, forget 3 even exists, and love the 2008 Rambo movie.  So I was excited to see “one last ride” for this character.  And what a great title.  You know what, I would have really liked this movie if it wasn’t Rambo.  It’s a pretty solid action movie.  It’s just not a great Rambo movie.  It takes some time to get going.  I don’t like the middle section where he goes to Mexico.  The last part is pretty good, but it’s not lit well and it’s very hard to see what’s going on.  I saw another movie last year very similar to this called Close Range with Scott Adkins.  It was from 2015, and while I have a few issues with that movie, it’s a better version of the story in Last Blood. This just didn’t feel like a great ending to John Rambo’s story.


High Rise
– From 2015, based on a 1975 novel by JG Ballard.  I watched this for the incredible cast; Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth Moss, Luke Evans, and Sienna Miller, all directed by Ben Wheatley who is directing that new version of Rebecca with Armie Hammer and Lily James. I was pretty pumped.  And it’s terrible.  I was so disappointed.  It’s very stream of consciousness.  It reminded me a lot of Roger Avary’s Rules of Attraction.  Very weird and hard to follow.  It’s definitely an artsy type of film, which is totally not my bag.  So I realize that mileage may vary greatly with this.  But I did NOT like it.

Anna
Anna
– Saw the trailer for this last year and it blew me away.  So I marked it “to watch”.  Finally got around to it last summer.  It’s pretty awesome.  Reminded me of a grittier Salt.  Anna, trapped in the slums of Russia, in a twist of fate, is offered a job within a special division of the KGB.  She becomes a deep undercover operative, posing as a fashion model while accomplishing missions.  She is caught by the CIA, agrees to work as a double agent, then maneuvers both the CIA and KGB in an effort to get her out of the spy business.  But neither agency wants to let her go.  The movie gets pretty tense and has some major action set pieces.  I very much enjoyed it.  The girl who plays Anna, Sasha Luss, is pretty great.  She handles the action well and I believe it when she wants to get out of the business.  Also in this are Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, and Helen Mirren.

And those are some of my movie honorable mentions!  Hope you found something interesting in all of my 2020 lists I gave you.

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2020

Posted in Blog Series, Movie Board, movies with tags , , , , , on January 15, 2021 by Paxton

Movie Report

2020 was an odd year for movie viewing, to say the least.  Typcially I would’ve seen nearly 50 movies in the theater.  This past year I think I saw two.  And both of those were old movies; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on 2/16 and The Godfather on 2/23.  The theater by us was going to show all 8 of the Harry Potter movies starting in Dec 2019 through like May 2020.  I was going to take the kids.  Unfortunately I missed the first two movies in December 2019.  But I caught Harry Potter 3 right before the pandemic.  Then everything shut down and I won’t get to complete that marathon with my kids. Which sucks because they really connected with Harry Potter (books and movies) over the quarantine.  It would have been nice to take them to the theater to see them.  Anyway, that’s my 2020 sob story about seeing movies in theaters.

Anyway, I keep my list of movies watched (with some small reviews) in two places, similar to my books list.  The first is the usual Google Spreadsheet.  That list is easier to get an overall view of the year and pick out favorite entries because I have it all color coded based on rating and year released.  The other place I keep a list of the movies I watch is over on Letterboxd.  So check me out there.  Friend me.  I need friends.  I’m lonely.  SO LONELY.

But now, let’s dig into my list.  Rules are like my books, only movies new to me in 2020 are eligible. Normally, I’d start off giving you a list of my favorite “released in 2020” movies. But, surprise, surprise, things being how they are, I didn’t really watch a lot of “2020 movies”.  So I’m going to mix this list up and do ten of my favorite movies that I watched for the first time in 2020.  And they may not all be movies.  I may include mini-series as well.

So let’s see what my favorite things to watch in 2020 were. I got most of my images and links from Wikipedia.

Ip Man 4
Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019)
– I’m going to start with this one because it leads directly into the next one.  I love Donnie Yen.  I think I first noticed him in his all too brief appearance as Snowman in Blade II.  I’ve followed him ever since.  And this Ip Man series has been fantastic.  Yen is just *awesome* as Ip Man.  The first one is still my favorite, followed closely by the second.  The third one is still good, but not one I love.  However, Part 4, is amazing.  It might be my new favorite after the first.  But tied with the second.  And one of the reasons why is the villain, played by Scott Adkins.  He is brutal and amazing in this.  He has such a powerful screen presence.  I’ve only ever seen him in one movie before this and I remember being underwhelmed.  I may have to revisit that movie now because I was wrong.  This is a great capper to the Donnie Yen/Wilson Yip Ip Man series.  And Scott Adkins is now someone that I’m going to dig more deeply into his filmography.


Scott Adkins movies – 2020, for me, has been about watching movies with my dad. Things have been really rough this year for my dad and I’ve been going back to Alabama to help him with medical stuff and to just spend some time with him, which has been in short supply these last few years. Anyway, he and I watched a TON of movies together this summer. I caught up on a lot of stuff I’d never seen before and discovered a lot of new things. One of those things, thanks to Ip Man 4, is Scott Adkins. Now, being an action/martial arts guy, I’d totally heard about Scott Adkins. This guy is a machine and puts out a ton of movies every year. I’d always meant to catch some but never have. So, my dad being a lover of the action genre, was interested in also checking him out. Especially after I spoke so highly about Scott in Ip Man 4.  So we binged like 5 of Scott Adkins’ movies. And they were AWESOME. We watched The Debt Collector, the sequel The Debt Collectors, Avengement, Close Range, and El Gringo.  And Adkins delivers in every one.  Especially the ones where he gets to show a little personality.  Of these, my favorites may have been The Debt Collector, and its sequel, Debt Collectors.  Adkins and Louis Mandelore have such great chemistry and it was fun watching them get in over their heads in the debt collecting business.  Avengement is awesome because it’s brutal.  He starts off a normal guy and SO MANY bad things happen to him he’s pretty much a different person by the end of the movie.  It’s one bad ass revenge flick.  El Gringo felt like a Robert Rodriguez movie.  I mean that in a good way because I’m very hit or miss on Rodriguez’s output.  Oh, one other movie we saw had Akins in it, but it was a surprise.  We also watched American Assassin with Michael Keaton, Dylan O’Brien and a small but important appearance by Scott Adkins.  Very good.

Palm Springs
Palm Springs (2020)
– Time travel. Andy Samberg. JK Simmons. I don’t think I have to say anything else.  I’m a sucker for time travel movies.  Especially if they are doing something creative or different with the idea.  And this definitely does that.  Plus it has classic Andy Samberg and a hilarious appearance by JK Simmons.  This is great.  See it.

The Last Dance
The Last Dance (2020)
– This was a documentary produced by ESPN and Netflix. I’m a huge sucker for 80s-90s NBA stuff. Books, documentaries, game footage. This scratched every single itch I have for that kind of content.  It’s so good.  It mostly covers Jordan’s career and how he approached the game of basketball but it touches on so many other things like competiveness, drive, how much is too much, and what it costs to be the best.

Once upon a time...
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
– I’m always interested in what Tarantino’s next movie is.  Even if it doesn’t look good I’ll check it out.  This one totaly looked good and I finally sat down to watch it.  And loved it.  I love the atmosphere, I love the time period, I love the performances.  Leo and Brad are fantastic.  Margot is great, and beautiful, and plays Tate with surprising sadness.  I really felt for her.  And the ending, in typcial Tarantino fashion, goes bananas.  I loved it.  I’m picking up the novelization that Tarantino is writing later this summer.  What a fun movie.

Ford v Ferrari
Ford v Ferrari (2019)
– I’m not technically a “car guy”. I admire some styles of cars; especially mid-to-late 60s american muscle cars. But this movie caught my eye not because it’s about racing, but because of the cast. Christian Bale and Matt Damon in the 50s-60s tearing up race tracks and taking on the Italians? Yes. I’m on board.  And I loved every second of this movie.  Damon and Bale are fantastic as always and the action was packed.  There was also a surprising amount of humor which I love.  I was interested to see this movie, but I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

Ready or Not Guns Akimbo
Ready or Not (2019) – I thought the premise of this sounded fun so I streamed it on a lark one night when I had nothing else to watch. And so begins my obsession with Samara Weaving. This move was so fun, but also unexpected at the same time.  Lots of crazy, kooky characters.  And a crazy cool premise.  Samara Weaving finds herself on the run from her new husband’s family in a series of deadly games due to a curse that they believe was put on their family.  It’s so much fun and Weaving is pretty great.  After watching Ready or Not, I jumped into another Samara Weaving movie, Guns Akimbo.  Which is even more crazy and over the top.  Guns Akimbo also has Daniel Radcliffe who is forced into a weird viral game against other crazy characters to kill each other.  Samara Weaving plays the top bad ass character and she’s so awesome.  Both of these movies are pretty over the top but in kind of the best way possible.

We also wound up binging a bunch of TV shows in 2020. So here are three shows we loved watching in 2020.

The Great
The Great
– I heard buzz about this, but I saw it as something like that dreamy and weird Marie Antoinette movie from 2006, which my wife loved.  And I didn’t.  Therefore I didn’t want to watch it.  However, being a good husband, I gave it a chance.  And I was wrong.  SO WRONG.  This is a period piece.  Yes.  But it has more akin to A Knight’s Tale than Marie Antoinette.  It weaves in so much grown up humor, lots of sex, lots of language, and backs it all with a modern music soundtrack.  People like to throw around irreverant, but considering that this movie is ostensibly about Catherine the Great’s rise to power in Russia, it is absolutely irreverent.  And doesn’t care one bit about the actual history (which sounds worse than it actually comes across).  Elle Fanning is amazing in this.  Nicolas Hoult as Peter is so awesome.  This surprised me to my core.  I loved it.


11.22.63
– My wife and I read the Stephen King book back in 2012. And it made my 2012 year end favorites list.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Time Travel.  I’m a sucker for it.  But this series is really good.  James Franco discovers a time warp in the back of a diner that leads to the early 60s.  There are a whole bunch of rules to how it works but he agrees to a plan with the diner’s dying owner to go back in the time warp and try to stop the assassination of John F Kennedy.  But to do that he’ll have to survive and live for two years in the past.  And during those two years while he’ll be preparing to stop the assassination, time itself will do everything it can to stop him.  It’s a cool premise.  Great cast.  And loaded with suspense.  Just like the book.

Queen's Gambit
Queen’s Gambit
– Like The Great, this was another series I’d heard buzz about but wasn’t necessarily excited to start watching.  But again, I was wrong.  The cast in this is so strong.  Ana Taylor-Joy?  Are you kiddding me?  She’s awesome.  Set mostly in the 60s, it centers on Ana Taylor-Joy’s character who turns out to be a chess prodigy.  And in the 60s, chess was not considered a girl’s game.  But Ana Taylor-Joy has a few issues, mostly due to her unideal home life.  And it manifests in drinking.  And pills.  Can she maintain her high level of chess play while shoving booze and fistfuls of pills into her mouth?  Watch to find out.  If I was pressed really hard, I may even say that this was my favorite thing I watched this year.  But only if I was pressed.

I Read Movies’ 2020 Year End Round up

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2021 by Paxton

For those that don’t 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.  Novelizations are great resources for extra information on your favorite movies.  Extra scenes, plot points, missing characters, all can be found in a good novelization.

September 2020 was I Read Movies’ third birthday.  December’s Willow episode was episode 42.  On the main podcast, I covered 11 novelizations in 2020.  You can see the covers of the 11 novelizations above.  I say, “on the main podcast”, because I did cover a few extra novelizations on other podcasts.  Back in May I covered the novelization of Highlander by Gary Killworth for Cult Film Club.  I also talked about the novelizations of Pale Rider and Tombstone on the western podcast Hellbent for Letterbox.  For the last two, I covered those more informally and didn’t go beat by beat the differences with the movie.

So that makes 14 novelizations covered by me in 2020.  I was going to include some of these in my last favorite books article but I decided to just do a quick round up here and pick my 5 favorite novelizations that I covered this year on I Read Movies.  I picked really well this year.  Out of 12 novelizations, it would have been easy to pick 10 as my favorites.   But I really dug deep and narrowed it down to my five favorite novelizations.

So let’s see which novelizations I most enjoyed in 2020!

FYI, all images and links are to my buddy Shawn’s movienovelizations.com.

The Goonies UK
The Goonies (1985) by James Kahn
– This was the first novelization I did in 2020.  Written by James Kahn who also wrote the Return of the Jedi novelization (which I covered in 2018) and the first two Poltergeist novelizations.  There is so much to love about this novel.  It’s written from Mikey’s POV, but clearly after the events have already taken place.  There are extra scenes including the squid scene at the end, as well as a long drawn out scene of the kids riding a raft through some underground caverns.  There’s even an entire chapter written from Chunk’s POV where he takes over telling you the story.  It’s a lot of fun.  And you do get a type of epilogue at the end that shows you what happened after the movie’s last scene via articles in the local newspaper.  If you are a Goonies fan, this novelization is a must.

Knight Rider 2
Knight Rider #2: Trust Doesn’t Rust (1984) by Glen A Larson
– I mostly cover movie novelizations for I Read Movies. However, starting in 2019, I decided I’d pick one TV novelization to do each year.  Last year I did a novelization of the original Knight Rider pilot episode, Knight of the Phoenix.  If I had done an I Read Movies year end round up last year, it would have been on it.  I had so much fun with that first book, that for 2020 I picked up the second book in Larson’s Knight Rider novelizations series, Trust Doesn’t Rust.  This book is based on the season 1, episode 9 debut of KARR, the evil rival to KITT.  I love this TV show, and the KARR episodes (there were two) were definitely some of my favorites.  This book, being based on only one of those episodes, certainly expands a lot on the action in the episode.  And Larson knows these characters well, so he’s the perfect person to do these novelizations.  However, there are two things about this book that surprise me.  First, these books were written a few years after the episodes.  So Larson had knowledge of later episodes in the series when he wrote them.  Despite this, he doesn’t normally incorporate this future knowledge into the story.  So some story beats of the book will contradict what comes later in the show.  Or not really even mention it at all.  The other thing I’m surprised about is that this book doesn’t also novelize the second episode featuring KARR.  They could have easily said, “1 Year Later” and continued on to tell that story.  But those are nit picks.  This book and the previous Knight Rider book is so much fun to read that I’m hoping to continue on in this series.

WarGames Hackers
WarGames (1983) and Hackers (1995) by David Bischoff – This is a two-fer because they are by the same author.  Like my buddy Retromash, WarGames is one of my favorite movies.  I had actually read the WarGames novelization back in high school when I found it in an old “garage sale store” back in Alabama.  I remember loving it.  So, I looked forward to a reread and to cover it on I Read Movies.  And it didn’t disappoint.  It fills in some pretty great story beats, has a few extra deleted scenes, some throwaway dialogue, and a completely different ending.  It’s a lot of fun, and Bischoff would also write another “techno” based movie novelization I read last year, Hackers (1995).  That movie is so much fun and the novelization preserves that fun while vastly increasing a lot of the context of the story.  There are one or two extra scenes, but what Bischoff does is add a lot of story beats to further flesh out the characters.  Plus, there’s a lot of techno jargon that is either wildly inappropriate, or wildly out of date.  I can’t recommend these two novelizations enough.

Jason Lives
Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part 6 (1986) by Simon Hawke
–  Back for my blog’s AWESOME-tober-fest 2012, I covered a bunch of horror novelizations.  Many of the 80s horror novelizations have become extremely hard to find and very collectible.  I had a friend that had almost all of them and he let me borrow them to read and review for the site.  This Friday the 13th book was one of them.  It was released in conjunction with the movie, but lead to Hawke also novelizing the first three movies in the franchise.  I wish they would have let him complete it, because I would have loved to have seen Hawke’s Part IV adaptation.  Anyway, fast forward to 2019 and I lucked into finding a copy of this book at my local used store for $3.  So I decided to cover it last November.  This is such a great adaptation of probably my favorite Jason movie.  It’s lots of fun.  It does add some context to characters and even fills in a bunch of back story for Jason.  Plus, there’s an epilogue featuring Jason’s dad, Elias.  Like I said, it’s become really hard to find and it’s super expensive on the secondary market.  But if you get a chance, I recommend you give it a read.

Halloween
Halloween (1979) by Curtis Richards
– This particular novelization has picked up a sort of legendary status for novelization collectors.  Again, it’s an early horror novelization, so it’s highly collectible and very hard to find.  Plus, it adds *so much* to the story.  I was able to acquire a copy of this in digital form and covered it for I Read Movies’ Halloween episode last year.  And it delivers.  The book starts off talking about weird celtic cults in Ireland.  Then it downshifts into a scene with Michael’s grandmother and mother discussing Michael’s “unfortunate accidents” in school.  It takes a while before you catch up to the movie.  and even then, you get a ton of extra scenes of Michael and what his life was like inside the asylum.  This novelization is an exercise in why novelizations are great.  Actually, I could probably say that about all of my favorites this year.  They all added so much to their stories it made reading them a joy.

So those were my favorite 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 50 books and novelizations. That includes the 42 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 is a three way tie between James Kahn, Jeffrey Cooper and Craig Shaw Gardner with three titles each.

James Kahn – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, The Goonies
Craig Shaw Gardner – The Lost Boys, Batman, Batman Returns
Jeffrey Cooper – Nightmare on Elm Street, Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Nightmare on Elm Street 3

Then there are a bunch of authors where I’ve covered two titles; Alan Dean Foster, George Gipe, David Bischoff, Hank Searls, and Glen Larson. I have a few of these authors scheduled again in 2021 so we shall see who jumps in front next year.

Okay that’s my I Read Movies year end novelization round up.  Hope you enjoyed this past year of the podcast.  I picked a lot of really good choices last year and I think I have a lot of good novelizations coming up in 2021.  I typically take a break in January, but I might have a special episode for January and then I’ll be back in February covering The Last Starfighter by Alan Dean Foster.