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Off TopicMay 20, 2019 2:00 pm CT

Off Topic: Movies with Mikey has changed the way I look at movies like John Wick

I love movies. I love going to see them in theaters, I love seeing them with friends, I love watching them at one in the morning when I should be writing, and I especially love learning more about them. Thankfully Mikey Neumann has me covered with his series called Movies with Mikey. Formerly the Chief Creative Champion on Borderlands and Borderlands 2 at Gearbox Software, Mikey even provided the voice for beloved character Scooter! Sadly, he had to leave Gearbox in 2017 due to health concerns, but the whole time he was making Movies with Mikey.

There’s no shortage of film and movie content on YouTube, but there’s something very special about Mikey. These days there’s no shortage of videos tearing apart the latest movie for perceived plot holes, or counting nitpicky “sins.” Movies with Mikey does something different. It focuses on the best parts of movies — really digging into why they work — and the people who help make them work. They are joyous deep dives into the reasons why movies have become such a beloved cultural phenomenon.

His most recent video was about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and focused on the amazing technology that helped to make it such a stand-out. If it wasn’t for Mikey, I never would’ve realized that they timed their animation in such a way that you could grab the most amazing screenshots of any scene in the movie. His real gift is being able to talk about things like animation styles and making them interesting. It doesn’t hurt either that Mikey is stone cold hilarious.

John Wick, or the Boogeyman destroys Mount Olympus

My favorite video is the one he did on the first John Wick movie. If I’m introducing someone to Movies with Mikey this is my go-to. It’s got the best reframing of a movie I’ve ever seen. At first watch, John Wick was a great action movie, but it was easy to write off as being pretty shallow and unsubtle. When Mikey showed me how they tied classical Greek Mythological figures into the narrative my mind was blown. I immediately went back and watched the movie with fresh eyes, noticing all of the little touches he highlights.

There’s also great trivia sprinkled through the videos. Without Mikey, I would never have known that the actor who had to kill the dog in the movie didn’t talk to anyone between takes — choosing instead to stay with the puppy. For his video on John Wick: Chapter 2, Mikey continued to find mythological connections sprinkled throughout. The descent into Hell to escape a deal with the Devil.

I know that when I go and see John Wick: Chapter 3 tonight I’m going to be paying way more attention to little touches like that. Because of Mikey, I have a new throughline to watch for in a movie. Having such a positive example of critical thinking has helped me to enjoy everything I watch and play a little more.

On top of Movies with Mikey, he’s got another series called Deep Dive. Along with his friends, he’ll watch a movie that’s wildly considered to be not great — and find good things to say about it. They even manage to make the 1998 Godzilla starring Mathew Broderick look good! I can’t recommend his channel enough. There are currently 83 episodes of Movies with Mikey, take a look through the list and find a movie you love. You might just come away with a newfound appreciation of the movie.

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