Thursday, August 27, 2015

Movin' On Up: Why I Haven't Been (and Won't Be) Updating This Blog

UPDATE: You should also come see my stuff over at Fandom.com.

I started this blog for one reason: I have an insatiable urge to write about movies. In a perfect world, I'd be able to sustain myself by doing just that. The world isn't perfect, but it has gotten a little easier to tolerate over the past year.

Since last September, I've become a regular contributor over at CHUD.com, and that has been a dream come true. It's a movie site that I've been reading for over ten years, and now I've become a significant member of its crew. I've been doing my best to make the site the kind of place I'd want to read regarding movie news, editorials, op-eds, and columns. We now have a sizable team of writers over at CHUD, and we're in the process of doing some really special stuff that will be coming over the horizon shortly.

I'll also be starting my first freelance review gig for my local paper The News-Press doing play reviews. That gig will start in about a month, and I'm unbelievably excited about it.

And, as you few readers may know, I do a weekly podcast called The Drew Reviews Podcast. While there have been new episodes, I haven't had the time or the memory to post them here due to my other duties.

Add to all this a regular job that I work at for 40 hours a week and you can see how crazy my life can be.

So, as of now, I won't be updating this blog. All the stuff I would be writing on here (movie reviews, op-eds, columns) will be at CHUD, so follow that link above to check that stuff out as well as other great writings from other talented contributors. As far as the podcast goes, the best way to stay updated with it is to subscribe to it. You can do that via SoundCloud or iTunes, and also by following us on Twitter @thedrewreviews.

For anyone who has read this blog, I want to thank you immensely. It's helped me get one step closer to actually fulfilling what I want out of life, and that's all one can really hope for in this less than perfect world.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 44: Cuckoo For Criterion - THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

Drew and Nick lean on the everlasting arm of one of America's greatest films, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.

Currently Consuming topics: 7 DAYS IN HELL and the Batman: Arkham games.
 

Friday, July 24, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: PIXELS Could Be Good, But It's Not


I was expecting nothing but the worst from Pixels. Having stayed away from any Adam Sandler movie since Funny People (you can read about my feelings towards that movie and Sandler's career here), I braced myself for what had to be one of the worst movie-going experiences in recent memory. Imagine my surprise when Pixels didn't turn out to be a cinematic abomination, but rather a run-of-the-mill slice of big budget boredom. It's always nice when a film exceeds your expectations.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 43: Cuckoo For Criterion - THE WAGES OF FEAR

Drew and Nick accept a dangerous mission to traverse the 1953 suspense classic, THE WAGES OF FEAR.

Currently Consuming topics: MARRIED and the SUICIDE SQUAD trailer
 

Friday, July 17, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: ANT-MAN is Small but Servicable


A lot of people are going to remark on the scaled back nature of Ant-Man. The movie feels small and is aware of that. It's purposefully reducing its stakes and scope in order to accommodate its shrinking protagonist, and that mostly works. What hinders Ant-Man isn't its sense of smallness, but that it feels slight in its construction. For such a wacky concept, the movie feels incredibly by-the-numbers and lacking any real distinct flavor in regards to its presentation.

There's hints of a more bizarre movie oozing through the cracks of the film, but they are all mostly downplayed by director Peyton Reed. The climactic journey to a subatomic microverse feels like it should reach new levels of comic book weirdness on film, but it amounts to nothing more than some fractal imagery and a short and uneventful stay in what is essentially another dimension. The majority of the shrinking segments, though expertly rendered by thankless CG artists, feel almost too grounded in an attempt to avoid alienating audiences. It doesn't feel like the filmmakers took full advantage of their superhero's ability (until the end, which I'll get to).

It doesn't help that the movie's pacing is both slow-going and boringly familiar. Though this does help a lot with the characters, it makes the movie feel like it's skittish about itself. Thankfully, the characters in this movie make up for its sluggishness Paul Rudd is a natural leading man and his charm and softness work wonders for Scott Lang. Though Michael Douglas is mostly relegated to exposition, techno-babble, and basic mentoring, the times that he gets to give Hank Pym some depth work really well. Evangeline Lilly is underutilized as Pym's daughter, Hope, but she her time is spent showing she can be as tough as any Avenger. And Corey Stoll very nearly steals the show as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket. Stoll is going full-on eeeevil in this and it's a hoot. Between him and Ultron, it looks like Marvel might be starting to figure out how to handle their villains.

What surprised me the most about Ant-Man was the comedy element of the film. Not that I was surprised that it was a comedy, but how light and unremarkable most of the comedy was. Ant-Man certainly isn't lacking in laughs, but there wasn't a single joke or bit in the film that was worth an enormous response. Considering that Paul Rudd and Adam McKay have screenwriting credits, I was shocked that the movie wasn't the funniest Marvel movie yet.

However, one arena where Ant-Man delivers is in the final act. For all of its faults, the showdown between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket is a blast. This is where the movie really takes advantage of its concept well, using shrinking (and enlarging) to both comedic and engaging effect. If the heist portion of the film was infused with the same energy and inventiveness, Ant-Man would have been a knockout.

It sounds like I really disliked Ant-Man, but I didn't. It's an ever-dreaded "okay." There's nothing offensively bad or poorly executed about the film. but it feels like its been sanitized in order to broaden its appeal. The idea of shrinking is a wildly fantastic one, and Ant-Man doesn't embrace that goofiness as emphatically as it should.

Ant-Man is a minor Marvel movie (I'd be shocked if it gets a sequel) that does its job but leaves you wanting a lot more. It makes me anxious about Marvel dipping into its more out there characters like Doctor Strange. One of the reasons Guardians of the Galaxy worked was because the person at the helm, James Gunn, was able to balance his workman abilities with his innate craziness. If Marvel wants to play with riskier characters and worlds, they need to be willing to let some riskier visions into their cinematic universe. Ant-Man is proof of that.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 42: Cuckoo For Criterion - LE SAMOURAI

Drew and Nick accept a contract to watch one of the best hitman movies ever, LE SAMOURAI.

Currently Consuming topics: INVASION OFTHE BODY SNATCHERS and BLOW OUT.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 41: Cuckoo for Criterion - THE BANK DICK

Drew and Nick get soused this week with the W.C. Fields comedy classic, THE BANK DICK. Currently Consuming topics: DOPE and TERMINATOR GENISYS
 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 40: Cuckoo For Criterion - MAN BITES DOG

Drew makes Nick watch this brutal comedy about a charming serial killer and the documentary film crew that follows him around. Not an all ages movie by any means.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 39: Cuckoo for Criterion - CRAZED FRUIT

Drew and Nick are takin' it easy and showing off their cinematic chops at the same by digging into the Criterion Collection. The first entry: 1956's Crazed Fruit.

Friday, June 19, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: INSIDE OUT is the Best Thing Pixar Has Ever Made


Pixar very rarely shies away from heavier concepts and emotions in their films. Although they make movies intended for a young audience, they don’t often allow that restriction to hinder their stories and characters. While they’ve dealt with somber stories before, Inside Out does something bolder than those films ever attempted: explore why those feelings are important.

And it works fantastically. Taking place inside the head of eleven year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), we get to know the five emotions that control Riley’s state of mind: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Due to an accident, Joy and Sadness are separated from Headquaters and must find their way back by navigating through Riley’s mindscape.

For what amounts to a simple setup in terms of the driving plot, the actual story becomes a deep and thoughtful examination into the purposes of our memories and emotions. Joy and Sadness are the first two feelings that manifest inside of baby Riley’s head, and Joy is as dismissive as she can be of Sadness from the outset. It’s this subtle conflict that becomes the core of the movie and creates what is easily Pixar’s most nuanced and mature look at the human experience. The film is basically an hour and a half thesis on the necessity of sadness and how it isn’t always the negative emotion it’s made out to be.

Though this all sounds like it might be overwhelmingly depressing, the movie supports its weightier center with pillars of hilarity. Inside Out is unbelievably funny, with a cast that never feels like they’re slumming it. Everyone is doing great work, especially Phyllis Smith. While Joy is the obvious figurehead of the film, it’s Sadness that I hope breaks out in a big way. Her Eeyore-esque deliveries are delightful, and when she’s asked to be sincere and moving, she delivers in spades.

Something I found surprising in the best of ways is that Inside Out is a wonderful science fiction film. Some would argue it’s more of a fantasy, but when you see that Pixar consulted with doctors who specialize in how our brains create and manage emotional responses, you start to see that this isn’t a simple flight of fancy. There’s a technological way to how Riley’s head operates, and although it’s draped in colorful and kid-friendly designs, it’s as valid an exploration about experiencing existence and what it means to be human as something like Blade Runner or The Matrix. Considering that Disney also gave us the mediocre Tomorrowland this year, I’m pleasantly shocked to find Inside Out to be one of the better sci-fi films I’ve seen in a while.

Another element that powers the film is a genuine sense of peril. It’s common to believe that tense moments in kid films are empty because you know everything has to turn out okay. Inside Out doesn’t pull these punches, and there are sequences of tangible loss that hit home in a big way. The fact that all of these moments are taking place within the mind of one person doesn’t diminish their impact. If anything, it strengthens them. By honing in on one character for the entire running time, Inside Out crafts a fully developed character who doesn’t need any stereotypical villains or outward forces to make the audience invested in her personal stakes. It’s a lesson that a lot of the emptier blockbuster films of this era could learn from.

I’m still riding high on this, but I’m close to declaring Inside Out Pixar’s best film. It tackles difficult concepts in a way that is both adult and exciting (Up will be most peoples’ defense to this, but I found Up‘s plot and world unexciting), it creates an entire universe that is uniquely imaginative and gorgeously realized (this film has the biggest scope of any Pixar movie, and it all takes place in a character’s head!), and its characters are immensely endearing. Add on top of that a story that ends up being about how all of our emotions are valid, even the “bad” ones, and you have the textbook example of what a movie for kids should be: accessible but never at the cost of treating its audience like children.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 38: JURASSIC WORLD

The park is open, and Drew and Nick spare no expense touring the place. Is this new attraction worth the price of admission?

Friday, June 12, 2015

TAG TEAM REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD

For my review of Jurassic World, follow the link below for my tag team review with the inimitable Travis Newton:

http://www.chud.com/164842/tag-team-review-jurassic-world/

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3


I really dig Insidious. It felt like the perfect salve to spread on the rash of found footage movies that had plagued the genre after Paranormal Activity crushed the box office in 2007. Insidious felt classic and timeless, drawing more on atmosphere and mood than easy scares. While I respected the direct continuation that Insidious: Chapter 2 (even their sequel naming convention is classy) attempted to pull off, it also did some things that undermined the unknown factors of the original. With the knowledge that Insidious: Chapter 3 was a prequel, I was worried that the same issue was going to be exacerbated.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 36: THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK

Something has survived, but will Drew and Nick survive The Lost World: Jurassic Park?

Currently Consuming topics: Kingdom Hearts and Kingsman: The Secret Service

Sunday, May 24, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: TOMORROWLAND is More Sermon than Cinema


I've been known to tell people that movies are my church. The powerful feelings that some people get from going to a place of worship are the best way I can equate what happens to me when I see a really great film. I may have to amend this description because people might misconstrue that sentiment as, "Oh, you must enjoy when a movie is like a sermon!" That's what Tomorrowland felt like: a preachy bit of prepackaged optimism from the Mouse House.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: POLTERGEIST is a Textbook Example of How Not to Remake a Movie


Remakes aren't inherently a bad thing. When a story or an idea is good, it can always be told from a different perspective or with a new twist. A remake should utilize its source material as a foundation and then build something unique on top of that.

Poltergeist is not that remake.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 34: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (w/ Travis Newton)

This journey through the Wasteland comes to a close, but we picked up another road warrior along the way. Travis Newton joins us for our final episode on the Mad Max series, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

Currently Consuming topics include: Ex Machina, Fallout 3, Don Hertzfeldt's World of Tomorrow, The Strokes, The Pixies, and Stephen King's Rage.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 33: MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME

We don't need another Mad Max movie, but we've got one anyways. This week, we does the tell with MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME.

Currently Consuming topics: The Beatles' HELP and GRAVITY FALLS
 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 32: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

The journey through the wasteland continues with the post-apocalyptic classic, THE ROAD WARRIOR.

Currently Consuming topics this week: Mario Kart 8 and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Thursday, April 30, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is an Enjoyable Sophomore Slump

When The Avengers came out, it was almost miraculous. Marvel’s serialized cinematic experiment succeeded, and the pure novelty of a superhero team-up movie was more than enough to make the film work like gangbusters. Now, with the novelty worn off, does Avengers: Age of Ultron stand on its own, propel the collective narrative forward in exciting ways, and prove that these films are greater than the sum of their parts?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 31: MAD MAX

Drew and Nick are on the fast track into the wasteland for the next four weeks, starting with the movie that kicked off Mel Gibson's career, MAD MAX.
 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: EX MACHINA Is the BLACK MIRROR Version of Spike Jonze's HER


Science fiction has had it rough at the multiplex. Due to changing trends and ever-increasing ticket prices, the genre has had to lean towards more action elements in order to entice audiences. While this can lead to the occasional great flick (Looper and Edge of Tomorrow are two stellar examples), it means that smaller and more meditative stories don’t often find their way to a wide release. So, when something like Ex Machina comes along and proves that quiet sci-fi movies can be just as impacting as blockbuster behemoths, it deserves notice and appreciation. It certainly helps when Ex Machina is such a great example of what these kinds of films can be.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 30: THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS

Everything that has a beginning has an end. Drew and Nick conclude their series on The Matrix trilogy with its controversial conclusion, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS.
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Drew Reviews Podcast - Episode 29: THE ANIMATRIX & THE MATRIX RELOADED

Drew and Nick continue to see how deep the rabbit hole goes with THE ANIMATRIX and THE MATRIX RELOADED. Neo's boner is discussed at one point. This is obviously a good episode.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tag Team Review: IT FOLLOWS

Hey, everyone! You can read my tag team review of It Follows with Travis Newton over at CHUD.com by following this link. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

THE DREW REVIEWS PODCAST - EPISODE 25: Single Season Spring Cleaning - WONDERFALLS

The Single Season Spring Cleaning continues with a look at Wonderfalls, the only show where inanimate objects tell someone to help people out. Trust us, it's better than it sounds.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: RUN ALL NIGHT Is Familiar in All the Right Ways


With the exception of the first Taken film, I've missed out on the glut of Liam Neeson action flicks that the rest of the world seems to have become bored with. Neeson himself seems through with the genre, making recent remarks that he'll be leaving that era of his career behind within the next two years. Now I think I've done the man a disservice, because Run All Night feels like the perfect cap to a period of films I've unwittingly avoided.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

THE DREW REVIEWS PODCAST - EPISODE 23: Single Season Spring Cleaning - CLONE HIGH

A new month, a new series. We're spending the month of March looking at shows that only lasted for one season. Besides this first episode, these are all shows we're seeing for the first time. First up is MTV's Clone High.
 

Monday, February 16, 2015

THE DREW REVIEWS PODCAST - EPISODE 20 & 21: Oscar-baitin' - The 1990s and 2000s

Oops. Forgot to post the '90s episode last week, so here's both the '90s and the '00s eps for your listening pleasure!

Our Oscar snub series continues into the decade that gave us Nirvana, The X-Files, and Tamagotchi (two out of three ain't bad). There are lots of great movies to cover, but only two get picked. Spoiler alert: Neither of them are Independence Day.



Continue onward for the 2000s episode!

Friday, February 6, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: THE VOICES Will Challenge Everything You Think About Ryan Reynolds


I have never liked Ryan Reynolds. I wasn't won over by his breakout role in Van Wilder, his forays into comic book territory have varied from misguided to insufferable, and his propensity for bargain bin rom-coms made me write him off entirely. I never even entertained the thought that Ryan Reynolds was an actual actor. After seeing The Voices, I can no longer take that stance. In fact, I have to completely reverse it and declare that Ryan Reynolds might be one of our secret, untapped great actors.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

THE DREW REVIEWS PODCAST - EPISODE 19: Oscar-baitin' - The 1980s

We're celebrating Oscar month by taking a look at some fantastic movies that didn't get nominated for Best Picture. This month finds us looking at one director's last film, and the first film that launched another director into the big leagues. Polish your monocles and join us on this trip through some serious snubs.


Monday, January 26, 2015

THE DREW REVIEWS PODCAST - EPISODE 18: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION

The first month of 2015 ends with a discussion about one of the most influential anime series ever made, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Nick gives his opinion on Inherent Vice, while Drew reiterates how great John Wick is and talks about his first viewing of The Godfather Part III.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

THE DREW REVIEWS PODCAST - EPISODE 17: BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III

The Back to the Future series comes to a close with a trip back to the Old West. Nick talks about his trip to New York, and Drew makes up for last week's weaker-than-usual Currently Consuming.
 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

THE DREW REVIEWS PODCAST - EPISODE 16: BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II

The Back to the Future rewatch continues with our trip into 2015. Nick and Drew also have very few things to contribute to Currently Consuming this week, but they figure out how to waste time talking anyways.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

THE DREW REVIEWS PODCAST - EPISODE 15: BACK TO THE FUTURE

We're celebrating 2015 with a three episode series on the Back to the Future trilogy. Along with discussing the first film, Nick gives his opinion on Tim Burton's Big Eyes, and Drew recommends a ton of movies he missed in 2014.