Back Row Thoughts: Review Roulette

In the midst of all the movies I’ve been watching, reviews I’ve been writing, and actual paid work I’ve been doing, my mind has been stewing for the last several months about what to do next on my YouTube channel. I came up with this idea about three months ago, and ever since it’s been all about sorting out the logistics to see if I could get it done.

This is a new feature that I like to call, “Review Roulette,” and it will be exclusive to the YT channel. The idea is simple. Whether I like a movie or hate it, there are usually a fair amount of moments where I’ll have both positive and negative reactions. I could still laugh at a terrible movie, or note a cliché in a really good one. That’s where this idea gets its legs.

Whenever I do this, I’ll pick a movie that I’ve previously reviewed here on the blog. Then I’ll come up with a list of reactions I had while watching it, and place them on a wheel graphic on some random generator. At that point, I spin the wheel, and whatever it lands on, that’s what I discuss, whether the movie is a work of art or hot garbage. It forces me to consider all angles of a production’s quality independent of its overall score. Plus, there’s plenty of room for jokes and sarcasm, and I haven’t found anyone else on YouTube that reviews movies in this particular way. There may be, and I just didn’t use the right search parameters, but for now I’m gonna say this is an original idea.

For the first movie, I decided on Raya and the Last Dragon, as it was the first movie I saw as part of the official 2021 canon (everything from January and February counts as 2020 due to COVID delays, and were all considered for this year’s Oscars), and Disney’s other animated feature for the year, Encanto, opens tomorrow in theatres. Synergy, baby!

I concede upfront that the production values are kind of crap. For one thing, I can only work with the standard Windows Video Editor software on my machine. I can’t afford Avid or Premiere, and I’m not sure my computer has the processing speed to do more high-end editing just yet. That was part of the delay in getting this video done, constantly running into roadblocks in just doing basic editing. I recorded my last video on Zoom, so doing picture-in-picture with commentary wasn’t going to be difficult, but doing it in segments and putting it all together, along with actual footage from the movie was a huge challenge. I succeeded in my goal, but obviously the audio integration from the clips, as well as the overall video quality, suffered a bit. With time, advice, and better gear, that will improve.

Obviously, due to copyright laws, it is hella difficult to get actual footage of the scenes I wanted. I finally found a way to do it yesterday, and it took a few hours to get everything I needed, but I’m hesitant to use this method further, as later in the evening my computer crashed, and my second hard drive (the one with all my media and data stored on it) disconnected from the machine, either physically or through a malware deletion of the drivers. Needless to say, I had to get up at the crack of dawn this morning for Geek Squad to bail me out. I really don’t want to have to go through that again, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to do another one if I don’t find another means to secure rips and screen captures of the movies themselves. How the hell do CinemaSins and Nostalgia Critic do it? Please tell me if you happen to know.

But setting all this aside, I think this is a concept that can work as its own feature going forward, and I’d love your feedback. Check out the video, and let me know what you think. What movies should I do for this series? Should I add more reactions into the video or do fewer so that the clips are shorter (this one comes out to 28 minutes, a far cry from the 90 of my first video, but still long-ish)? Do you have ideas for more types of reactions? I’m all ears.

For now, though, please enjoy my amateurish ambitions, and if you like it, awesome.

Join the conversation in the comments below! Did you like the video? Can the series work? How ugly am I on camera? Let me know! (except that last part, no need to be mean)

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