Monday Morning Movie Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Saturday evening my neighbor invited me over to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) on his outdoor inflatable screen.  My neighbor, his wife, his son, and I had a blast watching this classic under the stars.

Raiders is one of those films that has so many iconic scenes, I sometimes forget the actual order of events.  I experience the same sensation with the original Star Wars (1977) film, which I also watched outdoors with my neighbor and his family:  I know the broad strokes of the story and all of the memorable moments, but I am always amazed by how much I have forgotten between viewings.

I don’t know if anyone else experiences this sensation when watching these modern classics, but I think it accounts, in part, for their enduring freshness (even if Star Wars looks like the 1970s in a samurai-western space opera).  Every viewing feels, in a small way, like seeing the film for the first time.  I suspect it’s due in part to the young age at which I first saw these flicks, and the marked but incomplete impressions they left upon my young mind.

But enough navel-gazing!  Raiders stands the test of time, and I was reminded again how great Hollywood blockbusters used to be.

Read More »


Monday Morning Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

Friday night I went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) on a whim.  I hadn’t realized the flick was already out, as I’ve been knee-deep in end-of-the-school-year responsibilities.  After celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Thai food (the Thai place was a lot less crowded than the Mexican restaurants), my companion proposed we check out the latest Guardians flick, so on a whim we made it to a showing that had just started rolling the previews.

I’m a big fan of the first two films.  When I first saw the original Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) nine years ago (has it been that long?), I was hooked.  I compared it favorably to the Star Wars trilogy, and in the wake of the disastrous sequel trilogy in that franchise, the Guardians trilogy serves as an excellent alternative for Star Wars fans slavering for more intergalactic hijinks.

The elements are there in both sets of films:  a group of immature misfits get tossed together into an ad hoc group of unlikely heroes, who, despite their shortcomings and inexperience, grow together to defeat a greater evil.  Along the way, they forge friendships together, and come to learn more about themselves and each other.

The original Star Wars trilogy pulls this off better than Guardians, especially in the wake of this third installment.  Just as Star Wars has its Return of the Jedi (1983)—a fun conclusion to the story, but not quite as weighty as its predecessors, Guardians has its Vol. 3, which is full of bizarre creatures, but is actually much heavier and darker in tone than its predecessors.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday CXCIX: Ponty and Portly’s #1 Picks

Between Easter and Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2023, I never got around to writing a retrospective of the #1 films from the Top Ten Best Film lists Ponty and I put together.

Well, in case you missed them, here they are now:  the “best” films of all time:

Happy Sunday—and Happy Birthday to my mom!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Monday Morning Movie Review: The Haunting (1963)

Last week I reviewed Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which prompted several readers to recommend the 1963 film adaptation, The Haunting.  I rented the flick on YouTube for about three bucks, and found it to be a mostly faithful adaptation of the book.

Indeed, beyond a few changes to some of the characters (Dr. Montague is now Dr. Markway, and his wife is not an insufferable Spiritualist but instead scoffs at the idea of ghosts) and the elimination of Arthur, the overbearing boys’ school headmaster, it does a great deal to enhance the book, a rare case where the movie, if not necessarily better than the book, is at least a worthy supplement to it.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday CXCVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2023

Another Spring Break is in the books and I’m back to the grind tomorrow.  It’s five weeks of classes, one week of exams, and one week of teacher meetings until I’m free—free!

Before heading into the final leg of the school year, here’s a look back at last week’s Spring Break Short Story Recommendations:

Happy Sunday—and Happy Reading!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday CXCVI: Hono[u]rable Mentions

The long countdown of mine and Ponty’s favorite films ends tomorrow with Ponty’s #1 pick.  What will it be?  Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)?  Porky’s (1981)?  That video he and Tina made that no one else is supposed to know about?  In twenty-four short hours, we’ll know all.

In the meantime, here are our respective hono[u]rable mentions lists.  I did mine in one succinct, efficient package; Ponty spread his over three massive posts, full of lovingly rendered detail and pathos:

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Best Films: #1: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

As far as I can tell, the very first installment of Monday Morning Movie Review—simply “Monday Movie Review” back then—was a review of The Empire Strikes Back (1980).  I wrote it on 28 September 2020, which seems like just a few days ago.  Pretty crazy to think it’s been almost three years since this blog started running movie reviews on Mondays.

Indeed, in the interest of saving time (today is my school’s big Spring Concert, and I’m chaperoning a trip to Washington, D.C., later in the week, so time is at a premium), I’m quoting extensively from that original review.  Work smarter, not harder, eh?

Growing up as a chubby kid in the 1990s, I was a huge Star Wars fan.  That was long before the new trilogy retconned/soft-rebooted everything and destroyed the legacy of classic Star Wars, and even before the prequels made the flicks even more cartoonishly ridiculous.  I’m not even a huge critic of the prequels—they were never going to live up to the perfection of the original trilogy—and I enjoyed some of the fun world-building and thorny trade blockades of Phantom Menace (1999; although that’s all a bit too technocratic for a space opera).  But the magic of the original trilogy is more than the sum of its parts, and it’s based on rich storytelling and exceptionally strong character development, with nearly every major character growing and evolving over the course of the three films.

So it is that I would argue that The Empire Strikes Back is not just the best Star Wars film, but the best film of all time.

Read More »

Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Best Films: Hono[u]rable Mentions, Part III

A quick blurb before getting to Ponty’s incredible post:  I’ve released my second book, Arizonan Sojourn, South Carolinian Dreams: And Other Adventures.  It’s a collection of travel essays I’ve accumulated over the last four years, and it’s available now on Amazon.

Here’s where you can pick it up:

Pick up a copy today!  Even sharing the above links is a huge help.

Thank you for your support!



Ponty wraps up his extended honorable mentions with this third part, and it’s the biggest one yet.

In reading through his lists, I’m struck by how many incredible films have come out in my lifetime.  The 1980s through the early 2000s were surely a golden age for engaging storytelling on the big screen.  Even crummier films from those decades are far more enjoyable (and significantly less “woke”) than much of the garbage coming out now.  I’m not suggesting there are no good films these days—quite the contrary—but those years were sprinkled with fairy dust.

Ponty leaves no cinematic stone unturned.  He told me he had spent four hours writing this list—and at that point, he wasn’t even finished!  I don’t think I’ve ever spent four hours on a blog post.  Kudos to him:  this list is a true labor of love, and we’re all the beneficiaries of his pen.

With that, here is Ponty’s third and final installment of honorable mentions:

Read More »

TBT^2: Hawkworld

This weekend my older brother will be running the Myrtle Beach Marathon, which means we’ll be feasting on seafood and good times (and he’ll be running 26.2 miles, so he’ll have earned the festivities; I’m just driving him to the starting line).  I’m hoping that’ll mean a trip to Player’s Choice, an amazing comics and collectibles store that is, improbably, the anchor store (essentially) for a failing mall.

The idea of picking up three comics for $7 (as I did when I scooped up Hawkworld in 2021) seems unheard of in this Age of Hyperinflation.  I don’t know how much inflation has affected the price of used comic books, but the idea of getting three of anything for seven bucks seems like some kind of fevered fantasy these days.

I really enjoyed this comic and its storyline of a decadent empire in decline, and the message seems eerily prescient for us in these latter days of the American Empire.


With that, here is 3 March 2023’s “TBT: Hawkworld“:

Read More »