Friday, June 23, 2017

Diffused Congruence Podcast: Hakim Archuletta

As we get ready to close out Ramadan, we're joined by special guest Hakim Archuletta on the latest show for a lengthy and engaging discussion about his journey to Islam, as well some counsel from the 30 years he's spent working in the healing arts profession. Check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Infuriating.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Transformers: The Last Knight

Transformers: The Last Knight is in theaters now, and hoo-boy, we’ve got lots to say about Michael Bay’s latest rock ‘em, sock ‘em robot romp starring Mark Wahlberg. Listen in as we attempt to make sense of the plot, divine directorial intact, and ultimately figure out what the heck we were doing in the theater! But that’s not all! We also discuss the divergent box office fortunes of Wonder Woman and The Mummy, mention the sudden retirement of Daniel Day-Lewis, and more! Plus: Listener Letters, some big Star Wars News, and all the other features you’ve come to expect! You can listen through the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Batman-on-Film.com Podcast: The Star Wars Prequels

I once again joined the Batman-on-Film.com Podcast this past weekend for a fun and far-ranging conversation about the much-derided, still-divisive Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. Love 'em or hate 'em, they've been part of the Star Wars tapestry for coming up on two decades now, and so it's worth at least looking at them from a holistic perspective. At least, that was the perspective I offered to host Rick Shew and the other members of the BOF Roundtable for this very interesting conversation:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Zaki's Retro Review: Batman Returns

When the time came to craft a follow-up to his 1989 mega-hit Batman, Tim Burton made exactly the movie he wanted — and exactly the movie Warner Bros. didn't.

Given how superheroes have taken over cinemas over the last decade or so, it's easy to forget what a gamble that initial Batman had been when it first came out. The only serious take on superheroes before then had been 1978’s Superman, directed by Richard Donner and starring Christopher Reeve, and that franchise didn't take long to peter out: Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987) signaled the ignominious end (for nearly twenty years, it would turn out) of the Man of Steel's big-screen career.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Batman & Robin Turns 20!

Holy trainwreck! This week marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most fascinating misfires in movie history, Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin. The film’s less-than-stellar box office reception in summer of ‘97 marked the end of the Dark Knight’s first movie series, and in the years since has become a fascinating case study for how studios can kill their golden goose franchises. With that in mind, Brian and Zaki have used the occasion to dive in for a feature-length commentary track as they attempt to make sense of George Clooney’s single turn as the Caped Crusader while keeping count of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze ice puns and puzzling over why Bruce Wayne would put moulded rubber nipples on his Batman suits. It’s a fun and freewheeling conversation that we hope you’ll enjoy being a part of. 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!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Mummy

Is The Mummy magnificent, or merely a mess? The MovieFilm boys tackle the Tom Cruise monster mash -- first entry in Universal’s ballyhooed “Dark Universe” -- and try to figure out whether it should live forever or go back under wraps. But that's not all! We also pay respects to the late, great Adam West following his passing, and share our fond memories of the Batman star and his seminal series. In addition, we also talk up the latest developments on Justice League and X-Men: Dark Phoenix, discuss the trailers for Black Panther and Flatliners, and catch up on the latest Star Wars news! You can listen through the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. And as always, please hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Batman-on-Film.com Podcast: Wonder Woman

Click the embed below to catch my appearance on the latest Batman-on-Film Podcast. I joined hosts Bill Ramey and Rick Shew, as well as regular panelists Justin Kowalski and Ryan Hoss for an in-depth discussion on the latest -- and most definitely greatest! -- entry in DC's Expanded Universe, Wonder Woman. As always, I had a great time chatting with the gang, and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to it as well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Diffused Congruence Podcast: Celebrating the Big Five-Oh!

Parvez and Zaki take a break in the middle of Ramadan to celebrate fifty episodes of the podcast! Listen in for a fun and free-ranging conversation about a whole host of current events, including the tragic terror attacks in London last week, the Capitol Hill testimony of ex-FBI director James Comey, and what lies ahead for the increasingly scandal-engulfed Trump administration. Check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: When Adam West Came Back to Batman!

With yesterday's passing of legendary Batman actor Adam West, it's understandable that much digital ink has been spilled singing the praises of his turn on the '66-'69 TV series based on the DC Comics, and the decades-long impact it ended up having. It's also led to a renewed round of righteous appreciation for the show that gave him his immortality. However, it's worth remembering that while Batman took up permanent residence in the brainpans of those who grew up watching, it also did a number on career of the guy playing the title role.

After Batman went off the air in '69, Adam West suddenly found himself out of work, and spent much of the next few decades trying to get out of its shadow. It wasn't until much later that the star found a second act by lampooning his own image, but for awhile there, his most consistent work came via reprising the Dark Knight (er, sorry, Bright Knight) in various different forms. I talked about one such instance last year, but the first time was in 1977's short-lived The New Adventures of Batman, which aired on CBS:

Friday, June 09, 2017

Zaki's Review: The Mummy (2017)

It's been more than fifty years since Universal's web of interconnected monster movies -- Frankenstein! Dracula! The Wolf Man! -- have dominated the big screen, but the studio has been desperate to recapture that halcyon glory ever since. And when you think about it, it's entirely understandable. After all, long before Marvel Studios was a glint in anyone's eye, before anyone thought to have Batman and Superman square off together onscreen, Universal had already laid claim to the concept of a shared cinematic universe, with its roster of creatures comforting audience from the early '30s through the late '50s.

And while they've tried in years past -- whether with 2015's Dracula Untold in 2015 or 2010's The Wolfman or 2004's Van Helsing -- to reignite those franchise fires, no attempt has really caught on with modern audiences. The closest they came to a box office phenomenon was with 1999's The Mummy. Though the Stephen Sommers-directed film borrowed its title and iconography from the 1932 Karl Freund original, it otherwise went its own way with an Indiana Jones-lite adventure story, and was rewarded with enough success to merit two increasingly far-fetched sequels (though I do have a soft spot for 2001's The Mummy Returns, featuring the cinematic debut of one Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Wonder Woman + Zoe Lister-Jones on Band Aid

Summer movie season continues! This week: An in-depth, spoiler-filled discussion of Warner Bros. freshly-minted megahit Wonder Woman! But that's not all, you can also hear Zaki's interview with writer/director/star Zoe Lister-Jones about her fresh new comedy Band Aid. In addition, hear quick takes on the trailers for Murder on the Orient ExpressAmerican Made, and Logan Lucky, as well as all the Headlines, Listener Letters, and Star Wars news you've come to expect. Listen through the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. And as always, please hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Zaki's Original Review: The Mummy (1999)

First published: May 14, 1999

The 1930s and ‘40s or something of a golden age for horror movies in general, and Universal Pictures horror movies in particular. With lightning rapidity, the Studio pumped out a vast coterie of unforgettable monsters ranging from Lugosi's Dracula to Chaney's Wolf Man the Karloff’s Frankenstein monster.

Occupying the lower tier of Universal Horrors was the Mummy series. Never quite as overtly terrifying as his creature kin, the Mummy (first brought to life by Boris Karloff in the 1932 film of the same name) still obviously left enough of an impression on director Stephen Sommers (the underrated Deep Rising) for him to mount a stylish remake cast in the ‘90s mold.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Commentary Track

The Commentary Trek continues! After having a blast with our Star Trek: The Motion Picture commentary last month, I'm joined once again by my friend Glenn Greenberg, former Marvel Comics editor, and writer of many Hulk and Star Trek comics, just in time to celebrate the 35th anniversary of fan-favorite film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan! Listen and watch along with us as we discuss our own histories with this beloved film, as well as revealing interesting trivia and behind-the-scenes factoids. As always, we had a blast recording this one, and I'm confident you'll enjoy listening to it. Next up: The Search For Spock! Click below to listen, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play (and remember to leave a review!). As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The MovieFilm boys kick off June on the high seas with an in-depth discussion of Captain Jack Sparrow's fifth (and final?) outing in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales! But before that, Zaki gives his thoughts on Baywatch and Captain Underpants - in addition to teasing his take on Wonder Woman - and Brian sees The Dark Knight through a whole new lens after revisiting Michael Mann's crime epic Heat. Plus, Universal and Warner Bros. battle over the word "dark," debating the merits of continuing with The Walking Dead, and Zaki interviews chef Jeremiah Tower, subject of the new documentary Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. Hear all of this and much, much more via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Zaki's Review: Wonder Woman

Despite being one of the most iconic heroes in the DC Comics stable, Wonder Woman made her cinematic entree under less than ideal circumstances when she bounded into the already-overstuffed climax of last year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder. As played by Gal Gadot, the character provided one of the few moments of genuine uplift in that dour spectacle, but while her extended cameo was meant to prime the pump for her this week’s Wonder Woman solo feature, directed by Patty Jenkins, still I couldn’t help feeling a bit wary.

As I said at the time, the movie felt like, "a nightmare, mirror-image version of the one in the comics," making me question in advance my ability or desire to sit through several more of these things. I'm someone who genuinely liked 2013's Man of Steel, but if your big idea as a studio is to culminate your big Superman reboot by having him snap a baddie’s neck (no matter how badly he feels afterwards), what would the celluloid spin on one of his classic contemporaries end up looking like? That was my foremost concern as we geared up for the very first silver screen appearance of the first (and most famous) female superhero in comic book history.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Covfefe Conundrum

Monday, May 29, 2017

Zaki's Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Before last week, my sole experience with the Pirates of the Caribbean films was seeing the first one during its theatrical release in 2003 while honeymooning in Hawaii. At the time, I remember my reaction being something along the lines of, "It was okay...I guess." While the effects were suitably snazzy and director Gore Verbinski's skill behind the camera is undeniable, it was about a half-hour longer than it needed to be, and Johnny Depp's Oscar-nominated turn as Captain Jack Sparrow aside, the entire experience passed in one glass eyeball and out the other.

Given my relative apathy toward the original, I skipped the first sequel, Dead Man's Chest, when it dropped a few years later (as I did with all the subsequent ones), and my most lasting memory is utter befuddlement at how those films rode the waves to box office glory. For the first time in my filmgoing life, it just felt like the zeitgeist had left me stranded ashore. But with the onset of the Disney mega-franchise's fifth installment, I steeled myself for the hard reality that I needed to get up to speed very, very quickly, and so I mainlined ten hours of Pirates movies in rapid succession, culminating in the latest, Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: The First Wonder Woman!

With this week's impending release of Warner Bros.' much-anticipated Wonder Woman feature film, I thought it might be fun this week to take a brief look back at the character's very first foray into live action, which is definitely a far cry from the version that Gal Gadot is playing, and doesn't even have much to do with the original DC comics. Instead, this version took some broad cues from comics of the late '60s/early '70s that saw Wonder Woman ditch her trademark star-spangled bathing suit in favor of being de-powered and wearing "mod" clothing.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Alien: Covenant + Clayne Crawford on A Fighting Season

It's a packed, extra-size episode of the MovieFilm Podcast this week! Hear Zaki's interview (beginning at 44:20) with actor Clayne Crawford of TV's Lethal Weapon to discuss his new film, the compelling war drama A Fighting Season, as well as what it's like to take on Mel Gibson's iconic alter ego. After that, it's on to a spoiler-filled chat about Alien: Covenant, the latest entry in the long-lived Fox sci-fi/horror franchise. Did we like it? Did we loathe it? You'll have to breach the Spoiler Wall to find out! In addition, hear quick takes on movies we've caught recently, brief remembrances to mark the sad passings of former James Bond star Roger Moore and rocker Chris Cornell, and a special round of Star Wars news to mark the franchise's 40th anniversary! You can hear it all all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Archival: Star Wars: 20 Years and Still in Force

First published March 27, 1997
Note: With today marking the fortieth anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars, I thought it'd be fun to dip into my personal archives and present the remembrance I wrote for my high school paper, The North Current, on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary, with the Special Edition release still fresh in theaters. I cringe a little while reading this (dig that timely reference to the Flintstones movie!), and I'd like to think my writing has improved in the intervening two decades, but for the completeness' sake, here it is!

It's still hard to believe that its has been twenty years since the Star Wars saga first entered the public arena. During that time, the films and their strange and wonderful assortment of characters have become an indelible part of the collective consciousness. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia are all unforgettable characters who have evolved beyond their movie origins and transformed into icons.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More Moore

Roger Moore, RIP

In a 2015 interview with Fox, Sir Roger Moore, at that point long since retired from his signature role as Ian Fleming’s elegant superspy James Bond 007 and promoting his then-new autobiography One Lucky Bastard, was asked where he'd rank himself among the other actors who've temporarily taken stewardship of the legendary part. "I think a little bit behind George Lazenby I suppose," he offered, referring to the actor who infamously appeared in only one film before bolting.

Continue reading at Legacy.com...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Still Normal.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Totally Normal.

Nostalgia Theater Rewind: Alien Action Figures!

With Alien: Covenant currently sitting atop the box office (read my very mixed review) here, I thought it'd be fun to dive back in time to my entry from a few years ago (just before the release of Prometheus, as it happens) looking at the short-lived line of action figures and accessories from Kenner in the early '90s based on the Fox sci-fi/horror franchise. It was a bygone, magical time when you could turn R-rated movies into family entertainment. Click the link below to check it out!

Continue reading...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Zaki's Review: Alien: Covenant

 Click here to read my 2012 review of Prometheus


Alien: Covenant is a movie all about pondering the nature of existence, yet it can't seem to figure out why it exists.

The original 1979 Alien remains a masterpiece even thirty-eight years out, and I doubt director Ridley Scott could have anticipated back then the evergreen property it would end up becoming for home studio Fox. From then to 2012, the film (which I've previously called "cinematic alchemy" for how perfectly all of its elements just work) spawned five cinematic follow-ups (including two spin-off entries), and with all manner of comic books, action figures, video games, etc. More than that, its titular creature has become one of the most iconic horror icons of the modern (post-Universal Monsters) era.

No small feat, that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Pain, Part II

The Pain

Nostalgia Theater: King Arthur and the Knights of Justice

As I've mentioned a few times here in Nostalgia Theater, barring a few notable exceptions (I'm looking at you, Batman: The Animated Series), action-adventure kidvid during the early '90s was a real big garbage dump, a veritable Dark Ages where even decent concepts mired in terrible animation and questionable execution. Today's entry, however, was terrible all the way around. I'm talking about King Arthur and the Knights of Justice, a show that proves they've been trying to crack the Arthur myth for modern audiences long before Guy Ritchie and Charlie Hunnam came along.