Worth Watching by Tyler Smith (Book Review)

It’s an interesting position to be put in when it comes to writing a review of a book that is full of movies reviews and essays. The idea would be to examine the writing and determine whether or not it has enough of a voice found within the words to appreciate and champion as an excellent example of cinematic criticism and critiques. Of course, there is also the matter of how this book is structured. Why these specific reviews? Is there an overarching purpose to combining a select number of online posts and written essays into a trade paperback? Based on what I found in Tyler Smith’s “Worth Watching,” it became apparent that Smith has not only figured out a way to combine a number of his strongest pieces of writing into a handy book but uncovered a method for getting across why he explores his thoughts on cinema as more than just a hobby.

The bulk of the book is made up of movie reviews, with the final section being devoted to short essays and pieces that delve into specific movie-related topics. Following a foreword and introduction that provides some context as to why you would even consider reading some random film blogger’s book of reviews, one will find that the movie reviews featured in “Worth Watching” are separated by genre. These sections include dramas, comedies, blockbusters, horror films, classics, documentaries and faith-based films.

To back up a bit and tell you a few things about the author, Tyler Smith is a film critic and podcaster. He’s based in Los Angeles and is the co-host of Battleship Pretension,” a movie podcast that covers a wide variety of film-related topics and features numerous guests made up of fellow movie critics and the occasional actor, filmmaker or comedian. This podcast recently celebrated its 500th episode.

Smith also hosts the movie podcast “More Than One Lesson.” This podcast goes over various films from a Christian perspective. As a Christian, Smith has spent a lot of time discussing the emergence of Christian social dramas, covered in both his reviews and essays. It’s just one of the many fascinating angles he takes when delving into his love of cinema and mainly due to it being a real examination for what these films stand for and what can be taken away from them, despite perceived thoughts from the outside.

The other essays provide a look at the work of certain notable filmmakers such as Harold Lloyd or the collaboration between Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart. Others have a more inherently fun topic in mind, such as Smith’s love for the Edward Nygma character, aka the infamous Batman villain who challenges potential victims under the guise of The Riddler. With none of these writing pieces lasting longer than they need to, the back end of this book contains many interesting thoughts that span a variety of neat topics.

Putting focus back onto the movie reviews, it is easy enough to say that Smith has found a voice he’s cultivated over the years in his writing. This seems to be why a majority of the reviews focus on films from the past five or so years, with some exceptions and obviously not including the classic films section (though one could imagine those reviews were written fairly recently, as Smith is a relatively young fellow). With this in mind, it should be of little surprise that each review is a quick read that gets to the real opinion Smith has on these films, as opposed to merely describing what they are about and who is in them.

More interesting is looking at which films were selected. Intentionally or not, finding a bulk of movie reviews in the drama section that feature multiple movies starring Tom Hanks allows for a level of consistency in seeing Smith’s thoughts on one of America’s most genial actors. It serves as a base for which to understand from one angle where Smith is coming from when considering his opinions. Similarly, the multiple reviews in the blockbusters section that covers the Marvel Cinematic Universe show how Smith had at one point found plenty of admiration in what these films were delivering, while later admonishing them for being more of what everyone has come to expect (though a reaction Doctor Strange has surprising results). Similar results can be found with his reviews for Pixar films, tracking the studio’s move away from original stories and more towards sequels and prequels.

The section on horror has a surprising level of range, as reviews can be found for classics, recent efforts and lesser known films that will surely inspire some searching on various streaming networks. The same can be said for the classic films section, which goes to great lengths as far as shedding light on less-talked about classics such as The Blue Angel and Sansho The Bailiff, as opposed to yet another review of Casablanca or Gone with the Wind. And finally, while there is enough to enjoy in the documentary films section, there is a lot to enjoy in the multi-page take down of Religulous.

As a movie fan and fellow critic, I tend to blaze through this sort of reading material. I like Smith’s writing but found additional intrigue in this paperback collection due to how I chose to process the selection of reviews included. Seeing how time and familiarity can change one’s appreciation for certain types of films is interesting to see over the course of a collection of reviews written over the course of several years. All of this in mind, any movie fan who appreciates critical opinion would likely enjoy what Smith has to say here. It’s a well-written look at cinema coming from someone with an authentic appreciation for what the medium has to offer.

Worth Watching is available for purchase at WorthWatchingBook.com and MoreThanOneLesson.com.




Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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