Thursday, April 28, 2016

INTERVIEW: Jeremy Saulnier & Anton Yelchin on Green Room

After making a splash with the crowdfunded 2013 thriller Blue Ruin, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier's next project is an even darker dive, the survival horror film Green Room. Following a punk band's harrowing encounter with neo-Nazis in the green room of a hole-in-the-wall bar, the film stars Anton Yelchin as one of the unfortunate band members, and features a chilling performance by Patrick Stewart as the enigmatic white supremacist leader.

I had a chance to discuss the film (which also features a supporting turn by Imogen Poots) with Saulnier and Yelchin during their recent swing through San Francisco, and you can read on for some highlights of our chat, including Saulnier's shying away from studio pictures, their mutual fondness for the punk scene, and whether Yelchin swapped Star Trek stories with Patrick Stewart:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Clawed Cameo in Final X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer

The hype right now is all about Captain America: Civil War's release next week, but lest we forget, there's another Marvel Comics-inspired movie hitting screens shortly after, Fox's X-Men: Apocalypse. Coming on the heels of Deadpool's out-of-nowhere success earlier this year (with a sequel already in the works, naturally), Apocalypse can't help but suddenly feel like the big brother that suddenly got overshadowed.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Rewind: The Crappy Captain America Movies

With the release of Captain America: Civil War mere weeks away (I'm hoping to catch a screening a week from tomorrow, in fact) and expected to bring in the big bucks for home studio Disney, it's easy to forget that Marvel Comics' star-spangled man of action wasn't always the sure thing that he's perceived as today. In fact, over the decades there had actually been several attempts at bringing the iconic hero to the screen -- both big and small -- with less-than-stellar results. I took a look at those pre-Chris Evans tries at Cap in a Nostalgia Theater post from a few years ago, so I figured this was as good a time as any to link back to that. Click below to feel the embarrassment!

Continue reading...

Zaki's Retro Review: The Last Starfighter

Yesterday I decided to pop in 1984's The Last Starfighter for my kids. I was about five or six when I was first exposed to this flick, which was probably the perfect age to have it take up permanent residence in my psyche. The sci-fi adventure, about teenager Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) who inadvertently drafts himself into an intergalactic corps of space pilots after beating a video game, is completely of its time -- the quintessential '80s artifact -- though in this case I mean that in the best way possible. It arrived at a time when earnestness hadn't yet been overwhelmed by cynicism, and it's the earnestness that's the key element in this mix.

Directed by Nick Castle from a script by Jonathan Betuel, The Last Starfighter was one of the first films to use computer-generated effects as a stand-in for models, in the "real" world (as opposed to the entirely otherworldly Tron), and if there's a creaky element to the movie, it's probably that. However, the central storyline, Alex's journey, his relationship with his family and girlfriend (Catherine Mary Stewart), is something that resonates no matter when we happen to watch it, and it's the human elements allow us to look past any deficits in the effects area. Here, watch the trailer:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Am I Actually Excited For Independence Day 2?

When I first heard they were doing a sequel to 1996's mega-hit Independence Day, I chuckled at the hubris of digging up an IP that came and went three presidential administrations ago (no matter how much I loved the thing when it first came out). But still, either because of the comfortable gauze of nostalgia, or the damn good marketing campaign from Twentieth Century Fox, I've just been consistently impressed and ever more anticipatory with each new bit of footage we're seeing from the Roland Emmerich-directed sequel.

Guy Hamilton, RIP

Was saddened to hear yesterday that director Guy Hamilton passed away. Having lived to the age of 93 there's no denying that he enjoyed a full life, and while he has an impressive roster of credits that span the 1950s through the late '80s, he's probably best known for his key role in the early days of the James Bond franchise. While Terence Young ably directed the first two pictures, 1962's Dr. No and 1963's From Russia With Love, it's arguably with Hamilton's 007 debut, 1964's Goldfinger that the quintessence of what we consider "essential" to Bond was established.

Zaki's Review: The Huntsman: Winter's War

In the age of the insta-franchise, where studios force sequels on audiences whether they're warranted or not, it shouldn't come as a great shock that The Huntsman: Winter's War exists. After all, despite mostly mixed notices from critics, 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman still managed to rake in nearly $400 million worldwide against a $170 mil budget. Thus, with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season, here comes Winter's War off the Universal Studios assembly line to serve as prequel, sequel, spin-off and, most importantly, brand extender.

Now, while I wasn't a particularly big fan of the previous film, my general indifference to it came down more to execution than concept. While I left the theater feeling that the revisionist fairy tale, directed by Rupert Sanders and starring Kristen Stewart as the most butt-kicking Snow White in cinematic history, didn't live up to its own potential, I did think that a potential follow-up (if one was absolutely necessary, which is certainly open to debate) might have been made worthy of our time with a few minor course corrections.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Jungle Book, and Key & Peele on Keanu!

This week Brian and I discuss a whole host of new and upcoming release, including Disney's box office behemoth The Jungle Book, the Kevin Costner action thriller Criminal, and Universal's sequel/spin-off The Huntsman: Winter's War. From there, listen to an interview with the hilarious comedy duo Key & Peele about their feature film Keanu. After that, it's on to a discussion of the trailers for The Magnificent Seven and Jason Bourne, and some headlines, including James Cameron's further Avatar plans and the first look at actress Elizabeth Banks as the baddie in the upcoming Mighty Morphin Power Rangers feature, plus more! Listen to it all via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio, and make sure to write us a review or leave a star rating! As always, send a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Jason Bourne is Back

The last time Matt Damon was kicking butt and taking names as Robert Ludlum's literary superspy Jason Bourne was in 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, and while that film bolstered Universal's bottom line, it put enough of a bow around Bourne's amnesiac storyline that Damon felt it was a good place to walk away with his boots on. Of course, in the interim the studio tried 2012's Damon-less The Bourne Legacy, to mixed results, and Damon himself had mixed success parlaying his Bourne visibility over to other roles.

Thus, after many years of back-and-forth negotiations between parties, we end up with this July's Jason Bourne, which brings back Damon as well as director Paul Greengrass, and which just had its first trailer released last night. Coming nine years after the trilogy-capper, this installment is being called more of an epilogue than a bold new beginning, and while it kind of looks like more of the same with this franchise, that's not necessarily a bad thing given how much goodwill the Bourne brand -- with Damon -- still carries. Check it out below:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Watch the First Trailer for The Magnificent Seven!

When I first heard MGM had a redo of seminal western The Magnificent Seven in the works, I was reflexively reticent, partly because MGM doesn't have a great track record digging up their library titles, and partly because the original is still such a damn good movie that it doesn't need a remake. Nonetheless, when Training Day director Antoine Fuqua signed on my interest was piqued, and even more when I saw the cast he lined up (Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'onofrio).

Fuqua, of course, bolted the terrible London Has Fallen to make this, and if the new teaser trailer, released this morning, for the September release is anything to go by, he made the right choice. This may be one remake that actually beats the odds. The 1960 version, directed by John Sturgess, starred Yul Brynner, and made movie stars of Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and also spawned a film franchise of its own in the '60s (not to mention a short-lived TV show in the '90s), so I'm sure the Lion has visions of sequels flitting in front of their eyes with the 2016 Magnificent as well. Watch the vid below, and look for the movie this fall.

Zaki's Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

Following in the very successful wake of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in 2010 and Kenneth Branagh's Cinderalla last year, it's no surprise that Disney is continuing the process of turning titles from its voluminous roster of animated classics into big budget live action spectacles. The latest such effort is The Jungle Book, and as directed by Jon Favreau, it's a feast for the mind and the eyes, with stunning special effects, dazzling use of 3D (seriously, go see it in 3D!), and a revelatory performance from a talented young newcomer to hold it all together.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

From The Onion...

I laughed way too hard at this.
Elderly Man Who’s Outlived Wife By 8 Years Must Not Have Loved Her Very Much
LAUREL, MD—Noting that the 81-year-old is still in relatively good health to this day, sources reported Monday that elderly man Jonathan Eckman, who has outlived his wife by eight years now, must not have loved her very much. “If he didn’t die the day after his wife, or later that year on their wedding anniversary, then he probably didn’t really care about her at all,” said local acquaintance Dana Ridgely, who added that the least Eckman could have done if he, in fact, cherished and adored the woman he spent 50 years of his life alongside, was die within a few weeks of her. “He vows to be with her forever, he raises three kids with her, and he spends nearly every moment with her for decades, but he doesn’t even pass away moments after she does, still holding her hand? He must have been cheating on her or something.” Sources added that unless Eckman dies 10 years to the day after his wife’s passing, it was almost guaranteed that he never even loved her to begin with and their marriage was one big lie.

Nostalgia Theater: Disney's TaleSpin Takes Flight!

Just over two years ago I covered Disney's Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers in this column, with the promise that I'd eventually get to TaleSpin, another offering from the famed Disney Afternoon syndicated block. Well, with Disney's live action Jungle Book adaptation now in theaters, I figured this was a perfect opportunity to look back at the time Baloo, King Louie, and Shere Khan took a break from hanging out with Mowgli to engage in high-flying derring-do in and around the fictional South Pacific town of Cape Suzette. Here's the intro, with another catchy Disney theme song:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Diffused Congruence: Dr. Meraj Mohiuddin

For our latest episode we're pleased to be joined by Dr. Meraj Mohiuddin, author of the upcoming book Revelation: The Story of Muhammad. Listen in as Dr. Mohiuddin shares how he came up with the idea for the book fifteen years ago, and his long journey bringing it to fruition. You can catch the show via the embed below, or via iTunes or Stitcher Radio. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any comments or questions to DiffusedCongruence@gmail.com

Zaki's Review: Criminal

A couple of years back, in 3 Days to Kill, Kevin Costner tried his hand at playing a hardbitten action hero in the latter day Liam Neeson mould. While that film was largely forgettable, Costner ended up making it a lot more engaging than would otherwise have been warranted, and one can say the same thing about his latest actioner, the mind-bending, body-swapping thriller Criminal. Oddly enough, for the last few years we've seen a pattern emerge where two Costner pics open within weeks of each other, one bad, one good.

You might recall that (minor spoiler) Batman v. Superman a few weeks ago featured a spectral appearance by the actor as Superman's deceased papa. And given how spectacularly god-awful that picture was, it has the sideways benefit of making Criminal, by default, the "good" Costner flick for this year. Well, "good" might be overselling things a bit. As boilerplate thrillers go, it's mostly diverting, and moderately engrossing, but not quite worthy of the top-drawer cast that's been assembled in front of the camera (including Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Gal Gadot, and more).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Interview With Yours Truly

About a month ago Jordan Peffley, a college student from Middle Tennessee State University, interviewed me about my time as a film critic. It was my honor to chat with her, and I think I come off as occasionally lucid, so I'll file it as a win. Check it out here.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 92

This week we start things out with Brian offering some of his post-season thoughts on FX's The People vs. O.J. Simpson and Hulu's 11/22/63. From there, listen to my interview with director Jeremy Saulnier and actor Anton Yelchin about their shocking new thriller Green Room (featuring Patrick Stewart in his creepiest role to date). After that, we discuss the box office collapse of Batman v. Superman, and what effect -- if any -- it will have on Warner Bros.' plans for their big superhero cinematic universe, and then we dive into a whole host of brand new trailers of highly-anticipated upcoming releases, including Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts, Marvel's brand new franchise Doctor Strange, and the upcoming Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One. You can catch it via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (and make sure to write us a review or leave a star rating!). Like always, you can drop us a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Watch the First Trailer For Marvel's Doctor Strange!

We're now in the final approach to Captain America: Civil War, that doesn't mean Marvel Studios is taking a breather. Case in point, the trailer for what Disney no doubt hopes will be the superhero factory's next big launch: Doctor Strange. Based on a Stan Lee-Steve Ditko character introduced in 1963, the Scott Derrickson-directed film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, an arrogant physician who loses the use of his hands and in traveling the world searching for a cure, ends up becoming Earth's mystic guardian (a.k.a the Sorcerer Supreme).

In addition to Cumberbatch, we've also got Tilda Swinton in the cast as his mystical mentor, the Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as the villainous Baron Mordo, as well as Rachel McAdams as (I presume) Strange's love interest. This is a chance for Marvel to explore some new terrain -- that of the mystic other-realms that have only been hinted at thus far -- and if history is our guide, it'll be just as much of a success as its Marvel Studios forerunners. Watch the vid below, and look for Doctor Strange to hit theaters this November:

Recommended Reading

If you're like me, you're getting pretty sick and tired of how long the Democratic primary is dragging on. Not because there aren't important issues to be discussed and worked out between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but because of how annoying it's getting to deal with their respective supporters on social media, which is making it seem like this is the most bitter, hard-fought election since, well, Clinton and Obama, I guess. Regardless, maybe it's just me being eight years older, but I'm pretty worn down by it all. Here's New York Magazine's Jesse Singal, echoing what I'm feeling:
What makes me desperate for the sporks is the extent to which many people engaging in online arguments on both sides of the Democratic primary turn into nasty, bullying blowhards incapable of seeing their ideological opponents’ basic humanity. To Bernie fans, Hillary supporters’ only policy goal is to have Wall Street bankers run thousands of drone missions geared at wiping out distant orphans. To Hillary supporters, Bernie fans are motivated only by misogyny and the sort of revolutionary politics that would get you laughed out of even a stoned-freshmen dorm-room debate about politics.
Read on for more from Singal, specifically on why, despite what it might seem like online, there aren't as many differences between Clinton and Sanders supporters as we might think.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Centennial -- The Story of the American West

This past week I've been re-watching the 1978 miniseries Centennial, and it's one of those shows that I've been meaning to write about here in Nostalgia Theater for awhile, so I figured this was as good a time as any. Based on the novel of the same name by James Michener, the mammoth production (which cost nearly $100 million in today's dollars) tracks the history of a particular piece of land in Colorado from Native American days through the first settlers arriving to the then-present day of the late '70s. (The title refers to the name of the town that's founded on that land.)

I first saw Centennial when it aired on Saudi TV in the early '90s (albeit in a heavily bowdlerized form). I was all of ten years old but I was absolutely captivated by the richness of the the story. I fell in love with characters -- such as Robert Conrad as French trapper Pasquinel, and Richard Chamberlain as his partner Alexander McKeag --  and my heart broke as they aged and eventually exited. While not itself a true story, Centennial is certainly based around true events, and like Roots before it, it exposes uncomfortable truths about our history (a fictionalized depiction of the infamous Sand Creek massacre of 1864 remains shocking even today).

Thursday, April 07, 2016

First Trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out and made $2+ bil at the global box office, proving Disney made a wise decision when they bought Lucasfilm back in 2012, but you didn't think things would go quiet after that, did you? Nope, the next step in the Mouse House's plan to strap booster rockets on the biggest franchise in the galaxy is here with our first look at this coming December's Rogue One. Subtitled as "A Star Wars Story", the film is the first of what they no doubt hope will be many more branded spin-offs set in and around the larger Star Wars universe separate from the "episodes" that will continue to advance the central saga. Check it out:

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Celebrating Batman on Screen!

With the release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice two weeks ago (read my thoughts here), Batman has made his triumphant return to movie screens after an interminable interregnum of...just a few years, actually. As it turns out, audiences can't go too long without DC Comics' Dark Knight Detective showing up to beat up baddies and right wrongs on big screen and small. But what is it about Batman that keeps folks coming back again and again? To unpack that question, I'm joined by pop culture historian John Kenneth Muir, author of The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television, to discuss his own history with Batman, his thoughts on the many incarnations of the Caped Crusader, from the movie serials in the 1940s to the 1960s television series to the various feature films over the years, and answer whether Batman truly is forever. It's a long-ranging conversation that goes deep and wide, and you can listen to it via the embed below, or via iTunesStitcher Radio, or TuneIn Radio. As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Recommended Reading

Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine has a look into the bundle of dysfunction that is the Donald Trump campaign. If you thought that was a whole lotta "yikes" before, just wait until after you read this. Hoo-boy.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

INTERVIEW: Director Gavin Hood on Eye in the Sky, Drone Warfare, and Alan Rickman

With such films as Tsotsi and Rendition, director Gavin Hood has made a career out of tackling difficult subject matter and presenting them in a compelling fashion. His latest, the military thriller Eye in the Sky, which doubles as both a character drama and a meditation on the ramifications of drone warfare, is no exception. The film, featuring an all-star ensemble including Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, and the final performance Alan Rickman, is thoughtful and challenging, and unlike a lot of the films we tend to get out of Hollywood on this subject.

I had a chance to discuss the film with Mr. Hood recently, and we delved not only into the origins of the project, but also his own views on the difficult issue of drones, as well as his thoughts on working on independent films versus Hollywood blockbusters like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and his memories of working with the late, great Alan Rickman. Read on for the transcript of our chat:

Nostalgia Theater: The Brady Kids Come to Animation

About a year ago I discussed The Bradys, an attempt to continue the Brady Bunch brand several years after the original show had ended. And while that ended up being this goofy thing that was pretty much rejected on arrival, it was hardly the first try to at expanding creator Sherwood Schwartz's Brady empire. For instance, there was The Brady Kids, an animated show that aired for twenty-two episodes between 1972 and 1973. Here's the intro:

Friday, April 01, 2016

Diffused Congruence: Dr. Ingrid Mattson

For this month's show we're joined by Dr. Ingrid Mattson, renowned scholar and former president of ISNA (the Islamic Society of North America), who discusses her own personal journey to Islam, and also her experience at the forefront of combatting Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment during her ten years with ISNA. It's a fascinating and insightful conversation that we hope you'll enjoy listening to via the embed below. You can also listen at iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Send any comments or questions to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com or via our Facebook page!

INTERVIEW: Director Jeff Nichols on Midnight Special

From the time he burst onto the scene with 2007's Shotgun Stories, filmmaker Jeff Nichols has blazed a unique trail of quirky projects that draw on his preternatural grasp of concept and character to create some of the most rich and rewarding film experiences in recent memory. For his latest film, Midnight Special, the writer-director has created a meditative fantasy film that draws equally from early-era Spielberg and his own particular fancies.

The film follows the journey of a frantic father (Michael Shannon) as he attempts to rescue his supernaturally gifted son from the forces that are out to ensnare him. With an impressive roster of supporting players including Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Adam Driver, this is a movie that manages to be both surprising and (as promised by the title) special.

I had a chance to discuss the film, his first major studio release, with Nichols on his recent visit to San Francisco, and in addition to giving a sense of where this idea came from, he also dove deep into his creative partnership with star Shannon, his personal preferences as a filmmaker between indie and studios, and why he was never actually attached to the Aquaman feature adaptation despite what you may have read. Read on for the transcript of our chat:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sad Affleck

I meant to post this here last week, but I figure this one is good enough that a few days late is still fine. Witness Ben Affleck's slow realization of just how terrible the reviews for Batman v. Superman have been. Stuff like this is why the Internet exists, folks.

"Galactically, Deliberately Ignorant"

The description above comes from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones in reference to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and his grasp of the basic issues of policy and governance that he'll presumably be required to have some awareness of should he actually ascend to the office he's seeking. Click here to read Drum's account of what happened when Trump was tossed a relative softball by an audience member at a CNN town hall Tuesday night. Yikes.

Fallen Icon

If you read my review or listened to our MovieFilm episode on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, you already know I'm not crazy about the way the Zack Snyder film contorts and twists its portrayal of Superman into a version that doesn't resemble the one that's lasted for decades upon decades. I'd been planning on delving into my unease at this portrayal in greater detail, but this piece by Devin Faraci over at Birth.Movies.Death pretty much conveys my thoughts, and then some. Says he:
What would Superman do? Be a good guy, be polite, be kind. Every time.  
Every time until 2016.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Zaki's Very First Review: Rumble in the Bronx

First published: March 22, 1996

Note: Dipping into the archives, I realized that last week marked twenty years since my very first film review was published, in my high school paper The North Current. Given how old this is, I don't make any apologies for how it reads or what I say, but yeah, I do kind of cringe a little. But regardless, in the interests of disclosure, feel free to read on.

"Where has this guy been?" I found myself wondering that question countless times throughout Rumble in the Bronx, starring Hong Kong martial arts sensation Jackie Chan.

I know that outside the U.S., especially in Asia, Chan is a legend whose popularity rivals that of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. What I'm thinking is, "Why has it taken this long for Chan to hit it big in the land of opportunity?"

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Batman v. Superman Episode!

Justice dawned at the box office to the tune of record-breaking $167 million opening weekend, but the questions remains: Is Batman v. Superman a good movie? Is Ben Affleck the best Batman we've ever seen? Will Henry Cavill's Superman ever manage to crack a smile? Brian and Zaki get into it it all with an extended conversation that discusses the pluses and minuses of the Zack Snyder-directed superhero epic's convoluted plot, what we thought of the various performances (Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor), and whether the pieces it sets up for future films in Warner Bros.' DC Comics "shared universe" add up to a satisfactory whole. (Click here to read my full review.) In addition, we also talk about the sad passing of comedy legend Garry Shandling, share some Listener Letters and offer quick takes on some other new releases. You can catch it via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (and make sure to write us a review or leave a star rating!). Like always, you can drop us a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: The Horrible Justice League TV Pilot

Justice is currently dawning at multiplexes, and if you want my thoughts on Batman v. Superman you can click over here and check out my review, but meanwhile I wanted to take another dip into the well of previous attempts to translate the expansive DC Comics universe to the screen. Last week I looked at the abortive Legends of the Superheroes TV specials, and this time I'm talking about that time CBS almost turned the Justice League into a live action series -- before common sense prevailed.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Zaki's Review: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

You may recall, I was quite effusive in my praise of director Zack Snyder's Man of Steel when it was released three years ago. I took no end of grief for that, but I still stand by that initial assessment. Sure, I had some quibbles with Warner Bros.' second try at rebooting their Superman property for the big screen (following 2006's failed franchise-starter Superman Returns), but I still left the theater satisfied, and was confident that any issues would be ironed out in the inevitable follow-up whenever it materialized down the pike.

Of course, that was before the film's $668 mil global haul proved substantially less than the billion dollar bonanza that was no doubt hoped for. Thus, early in the development cycle they hit a bat-shaped panic button to quickly shore up their nascent franchise. And so, here we are with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a mega-budgeted mess of a movie that betrays all the telltale signs of a studio at war with itself. It tells you something about how little confidence Warners has in Superman when the character is essentially a supporting player in his own sequel.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Superman: The Movie

With the release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice mere days away, Brian and Zaki take a fond stroll down memory lane as we look at the very first big budget superhero epic of the modern era, Superman: The Movie. Listen in as we offer up anecdotes about the making of the Richard Donner film starring Christopher Reeve, as well as our thoughts on Superman's pop culture longevity, and how this telling of this most iconic of tales stacks up against more recent iteration. Whether you watch alongside us or listen separately, there's lots or trivia and laughs as we go through this undeniable modern classic together for the very first time. Listen below or via iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (and make sure to write us a review!). Drop us a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Legends of the Superheroes -- The Original Dawn of Justice

This week sees the long-awaited, much-anticipated release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and while I'll have plenty to say about that in a couple of days, I figured I'd take a look back at the first attempt to team up DC Comics' most recognizable heroes in live action. That's right, I'm talking about Legends of the Superheroes. What's that? You have no recollection of this? Congrats. That means you're one-up on the cast and crew, who have to live with this waking nightmare every day (the ones that are still around, anyway).

Produced by Hanna-Barbera as kind of a sidelight to their Super Friends animated show, Legends of the Superheroes was a pair of TV special airing on NBC that had the distinction of bringing Adam West and Burt Ward back as Batman & Robin after a decade-long interregnum. But that's about where the project's appeal begins and ends. Where Batman walked the narrowest of tightropes between playfulness and mockery, Legends of the Superheroes went all-in on the latter, looking like even more of a joke in the process.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 90

In this week's MovieFilm Podcast, we discuss a whole host of new and upcoming releases, including Zootopia, London Has Fallen, and the upcoming film from Richard Linklater, Everybody Wants Some!! After that, it's on to headlines, including our thoughts on Spider-Man making his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, and the plans for an in-home option for viewing brand-new movies. We also have reactions to the trailers for Ghostbusters, Ben-Hur, and The Legend of Tarzan. From there, it's on to the main event: A spoiler-filled conversation about the new mystery thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane. What did we think? You'll have to listen in to find out. You can catch it through the embed below or via iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (and make sure to write us a review or leave a star rating!). Like always, you can drop us a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MGM's Ben-Hur Remake -- Why? Just Why?

I first talked about this one way back here, and then promptly forgot all about it until yesterday afternoon, when MGM dropped our first look at the new film. On the list of movies that absolutely were not crying out for a remake, William Wyler's 1959 classic epic Ben-Hur, winner of a then-record eleven Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for star Charlton Heston), is certainly up there near the top.

Nonetheless, the Lion doesn't exactly have a deep bench of exploitable IP's to pull from, so I guess the only surprise is that it took this long to happen. Still, I gotta say, everything about this new take, released by Warner Bros. and directed by Wanted's Timur Bekmambetov, just looks chintzy and low class -- and only more so when compared with the scope and majesty of the original.

Boardwalk Empire's Jack Huston assays the title role here, a Jewish noble who's betrayed by his Roman best friend. He's a good actor, but he's no Heston. He just lacks that larger-than-life quality that made the original work. Same goes for Toby Kebbell (last seen as Doctor Doom in the unfortunate Fantastic Four remake last year) as Messala, his Roman friend-turned-foe. I don't know, am I being an old fuddy-duddy? Watch the trailer after the jump, and you tell me:

Watch the Latest Trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse

Given the way Fox's Deadpool showed up a month ago and laid waste to the box office, it kind of feels like the tail is wagging the dog when it comes to the studio's X-Men franchise. As such, it almost feels anti-climactic looking at this latest assemblage promoting the Memorial Day release of X-Men: Apocalypse. The ninth film in the X-franchise aims to wrap up the "prequel" trilogy that began in 2011 with X-Men: First Class, bringing back James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence for their contractually-mandated duties.

This one give us a better sense of the plot's shape, as well as what super-mutant Apocalypse (played by Oscar Isaac) intends. We also get more of the other X-Men, including new/old recruits Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), etc. I was mostly okay with the first trailer from last December, but this one didn't really move the dial for me. Granted, my ticket has already been sold, but I wonder how this will play to folks who aren't already onboard -- or if that's even a realistic question to ask this many films into the franchise. Regardless, check out the vid after the jump, and leave your thoughts:

Monday, March 14, 2016

Larry-as-Bernie: “I’m Great But Not Five-Facebook-Posts-A Day Great”

As usual during an election year, Saturday Night Live has really found its stride, with a solid cast and some solid material to work from. Here's the cold open from this past weekend's show, which has a pretty funny bit with Darrell Hammond's Donald Trump excepting an endorsement from Jay Pharoah's creepy Ben Carson. However, the real gem is Larry David once again popping up as Bernie Sanders. I've mostly stayed out of opining on the Democratic primary here and elsewhere, but I think this pretty much sums it up for me:

"Someone Will Die"

After the events of last Friday, with a Donald Trump rally canceled over security concerns, and a further coarsening of feelings both for and against the candidate, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo believes things are headed in a very grim direction:
What we have seen over the last two weeks isn't just an escalation of chaos and low level violence but a progressive normalization of unacceptable behavior - more racist verbal attacks, more violence. This is in turn clearly attracting more people who want trouble - on both sides. If you're an angry racist who wants to act out on his anger, can you imagine any better place to go than a Trump rally? If you hate Trump, his supporters and all he stands for and want to get physical about it, where best to go?
Marshall goes on to clarify that he's not implying an equivalence on both sides of this divide, but the point he raises is a cogent one. Sometimes rhetoric and passion get so overheated that they can take things in a direction no one wants. It sure feels like that's happening right now. Read the rest here.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Birth of a Supervillain

There's a great piece up at the New York Times that looks at the improbable rise of Donald Trump to the GOP's frontrunner, and how the roots of this race can be found in the humorous shellacking Trump took at Barack Obama's hands at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner. That night, you may recall, was memorable for the fact that Obama would, hours later, preside over the operation that took out Osama Bin Laden. But as far as what audiences saw at the dinner, it was Trump gamely taking broadside after broadside for his birtherism, his business practices, his reality TV show, you name it. None of that sat well with the famously thin-skinned billionaire, and one might say the roots of what became his presidential run were planted that very evening, in the soil of his wounded ego. In other words: Thanks, Obama!

Read the whole article here.

Nostalgia Theater: The Best Spider-Man Fight Scene of all Time

The Internet lit up this past week thanks to the brief glimpse of Spider-Man at the tail end of the new trailer for May's Captain America: Civil War. Certainly for me, as a fan of the character going back to practically when I was in the cradle, it was kind of surreal to see a depiction of Marvel's webhead that truly feels like he swung right off the comic book page, looking for all the world like a John Romita drawing come to life.

Anyway, that got me thinking about the old CBS Spider-Man TV series from the '70s, when our options were far more limited. I'll spend a bit more time on this show at a later date, so I'll keep most of my powder dry, but for now watch the fight scene below from the pilot movie, featuring Spidey (Nicholas Hammond and/or a stuntman) taking on various bald martial arts guys. Watch, and be grateful for how far we've come. (Though I defy you not to have that twangy '70s music stuck in your head the rest of the day.)


One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: TV's Hunter -- The Poor Man's Dirty Harry

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. Rides into the Sunset

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Beastmaster -- Walk With the Animals, Talk With the Animals

Four Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Highlander: The Series -- Weekly Beheadings on a TV Budget

Thursday, March 10, 2016

First Look at Spider-Man in the MCU!

Check out the latest trailer for Captain America: Civil War, which is about six weeks away. This is a pretty terrific spot with lots of great shots of our heroes throwing down (my kids will love all the Ant-Man focus), along with more details on what brings on this conflict. But I'm pretty sure the one thing everyone will be talking about is our very first visual confirmation of a certain webhead's entry into the vast construct that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That's right, Tom Holland's Spider-Man makes his MCU debut after Disney and Sony brokered an unprecedented deal to share the character, and one watch of this vid should make clear which side he's on. I have little doubt that, after Tobey Maguire, after Andrew Garfield, Holland will now be thought of as the "real" Spider-Man simply by virtue of his inclusion here. Check it out below:

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of Darkwing Duck With Creator Tad Stones

After a brief gap, we're back with an all-new episode of the Nostalgia Theater show! This week, we’re talking about Disney's Darkwing Duck, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this very year (read my article on the show here). A spin-off of Disney’s very successful DuckTales, Darkwing was created by veteran animator Tad Stones (Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command), who was gracious enough to join me for a fun and insightful hour of conversation as we took a fond look back at the terror that flaps in the night, plus his many other experiences in the world of animation. Check out the show via the embed below, or subscribe via iTunesStitcher Radio, or TuneIn Radio. As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page

The Rubio Rescission

Back in 2012, after Barack Obama's reelection campaign was bolstered so heavily by the disproportionate support from the Hispanic community, I was fairly certain that, come 2016, we'd either see Marco Rubio heading the Republican ticket or at least being the running mate for the party's nominee. And while the second part is still a possibility, any notion of Rubio being the standard bearer is just wishful thinking (on his part). So what happened, exactly? How did a candidate who came into office with so much promise (the Obama comparisons were flying fast and furious for awhile there) end up being so much of a nothing when it came to actually running for the top job? Nate Silver has some suspicions.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Recommended Reading

Matt Taibbi over at Rolling Stone looks at Donald Trump's ascension and makes some linkages with George W. Bush's election sixteen years ago, positing that one led to the other, with some key distinctions to be made all the same:
...Unlike Bush, who had the decency to not even try to understand the news, Trump reads all sorts of crazy things and believes them all. From theories about vaccines causing autism to conspiratorial questions about the pillow on Antonin Scalia's face to Internet legends about Americans using bullets dipped in pigs' blood to shoot Muslims, there isn't any absurd idea Donald Trump isn't willing to entertain, so long as it fits in with his worldview.  
But Washington is freaking out about Trump in a way they never did about Bush. Why? Because Bush was their moron, while Trump is his own moron. That's really what it comes down to.
 Read the rest here. As always from Taibbi, informative and entertaining.

SNL's Anti-Trump Ad Ain't Exactly Subtle

Despite the fact that Donald Trump hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live a few months ago (garnering crazy ratings in the process), the sketch show poked fun at the GOP's presumptive frontrunner last night with a faux campaign ad that doesn't exactly disguise what they think underlies his appeal. Check it out below:

Nostalgia Theater: Pat Morita is Ohara

Last week's discussion on David Janssen's unconventional, short-lived cop show Harry O sent my mind drifting back to yet another unconventional detective skein built around a beloved performer -- and with a weirdly similar title, at that. I'm talking about the '87-'88 series Ohara, starring Noriyuki "Pat" Morita as the title character, an LA detective who relies on his, y'know, "Eastern-ness" to help him solve crimes.

Yep, it was exactly as gimmicky as it sounds.

Were it not for audience familiarity with and fondness for Morita (both from his Happy Days tenure as Arnold as well as his then-continuing role as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid films -- for which he'd been nominated for an Oscar), I doubt the thing would have gotten any traction at all. Here's the intro, which is like a grab bag of '80s intro cliches (jump to 30 seconds in):

Friday, March 04, 2016

Zaki's Review: London Has Fallen


Just to get it out of the way early, I wasn't a big fan of Olympus Has Fallen when it hit theaters in spring of 2013.  As it happens, that year saw two "White House under siege" thrillers debut within months of each other, and while Olympus was first out the chute, I enjoyed the second, Roland Emmerich's action-comedy White House Down, just a little bit more. Don't get me wrong, both are exceedingly dumb, but the latter was fun-dumb, while the former was dumb-dumb.

But in the almighty battle for box office glory, Olympus took the franchise-making crown. Thus, here we are a scant three years later, and Gerard Butler's indomitable Secret Service agent Mike Banning has taken his act across the pond for London Has Fallen. While North Koreans were the baddies last time, for this go-round it's hordes of Muslim terrorists that are after Aaron Eckhardt's President Benjamin Asher, who has to be wondering how the same stuff can happen to the same president twice.