Wow, I feel like this article needs about three different openings because I haven’t written anything in a while. Let’s get to it!
Yes, first off: where has my writing been? What the heck, right? AP and Jabroniville have done a STUPENDOUS (Stew-pendous. ha!) job keeping SWOProductions flowing lately with all of their fantastic contributions! They have articles on the MCU Disney Plus series, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more! Really bailing me out. God bless ’em!
As for me… there’s no overly simple answer here.
On the one hand, I’ve been hard at work on podcast matters. I recorded a bunch of episodes for Stew World Order throughout January with some truly amazing guests I was happy to have on. So watching movies, recording on them, editing the shows… that’s been taking up some time. I’m also working on some format and scheduling changes for the show as of its one year anniversary on 4/1/2022. We’ll be moving up from twice per month (on the 1st and 15th) to thrice per month (on the 2nd, 12th, and 22nd… or, as I’m calling it, Stew On The Two’s, which my wife balked at! Probably because it is terrible).
I’ve also been spending a lot of time doing podcast community support, listening to other shows and giving them my constructive feedback. I mean, I HAVE been podcasting since 2018, so I like finding new shows who are looking to find their footing and help them out. It’s important to me!
Aside from that… I’ve been facing some mental health obstacles of late, and writing is always the first thing to go when that hits because self-doubt becomes all-encompassing! Nothing to go into at length, but that’s why, for examples, I did not write a review this month on WWE Day 1 and why my lookback on the Wizard Top 100 series has been delayed.
It’s not dead! Just kind of on pause at the moment! Numbers 40 through 1 will be coming your way!
But it’s just been a struggle lately not feeling a bit down or obsessive or anxious at every given moment. Maybe it’s a winter/holidays thing? Eh, I’ll get through it; I always do. But currently, my Crazy Person Pills are. Not. Helping.
I wanted to do this article, though, because it’s an easy gimme sort of thing I can work on and see if it eases the inspiration out. Let’s see!
Okay, so that was Intro #1: An Apology. This is Intro #2: Why This?
I have always loved movies, but I’ve also had to accept that I have had HUGE and NOTICEABLE blind spots in my “What Have I Actually Seen” areas. For whatever reason, the start of COVID presented me with a challenge: Watch movies. LOTS of movies. As many as I can stand! And see how many of my most glaring misses I can correct.
For instance, in 2020, I watched films like Groundhog Day, The Exorcist, Inglourious Basterds, Alien, Predator, and so many more! Flicks that it feels like EVERYONE had seen… except me somehow.
Across 2021–having watched 223 movies in total last year–84 of them fell under the category of “Movies I Never Saw Before That Had Not Come Out In 2021”. More blanks to fill in, such as it were. Some lived up to their reputation. Others blew me far more away than I anticipated. And some were stunningly disappointing. However they made me feel, I ranked them all, best to worst.
So today we have that list. I’m not going to talk all 84 movies; that’s insane (and I probably mentioned them all across my many Entertainment Rex articles in 2021). And you would get bored. I’m only going to touch on a handful–the more noticeable ones I’ve finally followed through on.
The bottom nine.
Now, is it stunning that I’d never seen Rise of Skywalker? No. Because I’ve only seen an odd assortment of Star Wars. There are three trilogies, right? I have not seen all three movies in any of those trilogies. So having not watched this last one before is not surprising.
Tell ya what, though; I wish I still hadn’t seen it. I’d call it tedious, but that is a personal affront to activities like watching grass grow. Rise of Skywalker felt like a collection of the worst part of every video game: fetch quests. Go here to get that, use that to go there, go there to get this, use this to go elsewhere…
And don’t get me started on Crank. I really thought that, if nothing else, that flick would be fun. It’s not! It slows down FAR too much given its own premise; I kept thinking, “No, if what the movie has told me is true, he should 100% be dead right now. He’s just STANDING IN AN ELEVATOR. Nothing is ‘Cranked’ about this”.
AND there’s a surprisingly awful rape scene that is hand-waved away as “Don’t really, she actually liked it and he had to do it to keep his heart going”.
I love Death Proof, man. It’s crazy. I’m relatively sure it doesn’t work as much as a MOVIE as it does as a dare. In my head, someone went up to Quentin Tarantino and said, “Hey, I bet you couldn’t make a movie about Kurt Russell murdering hot chicks with his car AND make it one of the most boring movies on Earth!”. And QT was eager to prove that he could, in fact, do that thing!
So here we are.
If you tell me he actually TRIED to make a competent, enjoyable flick there… ha, no I can’t believe that. No, he HAD to have known what he was doing, right? Intentionally ruining a fun premise.
MACGRUBER IS GETTING A STREAMING SERIES REVIVAL. Just… how? How? What reality allows that to be a thing? That movie is aggressively unfunny. I ranked it ahead of EuroTrip and Idle Hands, but that feels like an error because I’d unquestionably rewatch either of those than MacGruber if I had to choose right now.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I refuse to believe anyone enjoys Point Break unironically. If we as a society all kind of met in the shadows and said, “Can we all just pretend this awful movie is really fun? Let’s just do that so no one feels bad”, I’d understand. but I feel like I’ve always been told it is a great action movie, and… it’s not. It’s the pits. Johnny Utah is the most infuriating protagonist of all time. Both in what he does and in how Keanu is acting.
Ginger Snaps is a fine enough werewolf movie, I suppose. Horror in particular is a genre I love, but for which I am always told “How have you not watched [X]?!”. Ginger Snaps was one such movie. And it’s not bad–this part of the list is where we kind of quickly pivot from “Best of the bad films” to “Worst of the good films”. Snaps is right in that window to adequacy.
Road House is… not a good movie! Not for three quarters of its runtime, at least. It is saved by an absolutely BONKERS final act that just throws all caution to the wind by taking a boring, rudderless movie and saying “Now people are going to rip out each other’s throats and hurl spears at each other”. I’m not going to lie: as far as saving grace third acts go, this was pretty damn good. Still, the road there is rough, and the flick is a solid half an hour longer than it should be.
I swear to god I thought I saw Snatch when I was in college, but I turned it on and remembered absolutely nothing that was happening. Maybe I’m thinking of another movie? But I have no idea what that could be. So I’m considering it a first time watch.
It’s… funny enough at points. Great cast. I always love seeing Dennis Farina in anything. I just didn’t feel Wow’ed by it.
My Neighbor Totoro is a KIDS’ MOVIE in every sense of the word. It barely has the idea of almost having something adjacent to a plot. It’s much more about having made a remarkable fantasy world and letting children watch and relish that. I respect that, but it wasn’t really for me, I guess.
It takes me out of sequence, but we have two John Carpenter/Kurt Russell vehicles here, so let’s talk about both of those. Escape From New York is good enough, but honestly kind of a disappointment in the grand scheme of things. It felt a lot less intelligent than most of Carpenter’s other best works.
Speaking of which, Big Trouble In Little China is a movie on which I had to ruminate. Initially, I thought it was very Escape From NY: Fun as a romp, but with nothing to say. As I pondered it, though, I convinced myself that it is incredibly subversive and intelligent takedown of the White Savior trope, which is remarkable if true given it’s from the mid-80’s! Viewing it through that lens, it’s even FUNNIER, and I dig it more. And I trust Carpenter enough to think that is what he intended.
What’s that? The Thing, you say? Well, no, that is the 2011 Mary Elizabeth Winstead Thing prequel you see at #35. But if you are curious if I had ever seen the Carpenter/Russell iteration of The Thing before 2021… well, stick around for a few minutes…
Mad Max Fury Road is a very good movie that I have no idea how people have convinced themselves is a legendarily great movie. I have little bad to say about this flick, other than maybe that the entire third act is just… the first two acts, but in rewind. It’s a blast and looks gorgeous! And if it hadn’t been NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE AND TOUTED AS ONE OF THE BEST FILMS OF THIS CENTURY… I’d be more okay with it.
Guys, seriously… calm down on Fury Road. It’s solid! Three-and-a-half out of five! That’s it.
I regret that The Invisible Man is on this screenshot, because to me, it is the last of the GREAT movies I saw before you get into the Very Good territory, which is everything else pictured here. This 1930’s era Universal horror flick is to-the-point, humorous, well-acted, and just all around a lot of fun. It’s very of-its-era, but come on… it’s a 90 year old movie that still pretty much entirely holds up. I saw this early in 2021, and I’m surprised it didn’t kick off a Universal horror spree.
There’s still time…
My top ten includes 3 anime, a few other independent films, and Romero zombies. Am I… am I a hipster, guys? Is that what this is?That is an obnoxious top ten, right? I mean… I loved each and every one of those flicks, but… I feel bad about myself for it, I think.
Anyway, HEY LOOK, there’s The Thing. As someone who has always had Halloween in my personal top ten ever and loved They Live, how did it take me until 2021 to watch Escape, Little China, and The Thing? I have no excuses.
The Thing would be higher if I had somehow seen it without knowing everything about it. But it’s a very pop culture influential hit, and I already knew everything that was coming before it did. I knew about the teeth scene. I knew about the blood test. I knew who survived to the end and what clues exist as to if any of those survivors is The Thing. So I think this movie would be higher if I had been taken on the ride it wanted to take me on, but even apart from that… really fun, intense stuff.
So I just said all of that about The Thing, and yet I somehow managed to watch Total Recall knowing extremely little about it! So that was nice. I knew it was about Mars. And that heads exploded. That was IT. So the twists and turns that were telegraphed for me in The Thing were more exciting in Recall.
It’s only amazing I’d never seen Day Of The Dead before because I’ve seen Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead both so many times! I don’t know why I had convinced myself Day wasn’t worth my time. It turns out, it very much is. Out of the three, I actually think Day might be the best. I kind of loved Bub with all of my heart, and when he is loose at the end and finds out the man who was nice to him has been killed… that’s more touching than a scene in zombiepocalypse movie should be, man.
And yeah, I’d never seen Shawshank before. I KNOW. What’s my problem? Honestly, I wouldn’t have even watched it except my wife REALLY wanted to. It’s obviously great. I am just intimidated by three hour long movies that aren’t about Spider-Man. I’ve had Saving Private Ryan and Seven Samurai on my To-Watch list for YEARS. I keep passing on them for 90 minute fare.
I’m the bad guy here; I accept that.
(Also, wait. I ranked Black Christmas ahead of An American Werewolf In London? That can’t be right)
It’s currently January 25th, and I’m keeping track of this same subject matter for 2022, as well, don’t worry!
I am at… nine! Which doesn’t sound like much, but would pace to 108 new fist-time watches on the year. Honestly, I probably already saw the one that will finish at #1, too, even though it feels WAY too early to say that. But it’s another one of those “How have you never watched THAT?” flicks, and when I watched it, I thought “Why did I never watch THAT?”.
Blindspots are weird, folks.
And that’s it for me. I should… go read more books from that Wizard list.
We will see.
I still have a bunch of podcast editing to do.
Until next time, take care!