Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Scout's Dishonor

Monday, July 24, 2017

More Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

GeekPulse Radio Podcast: Episode 9

I had the opportunity to join the good folks at Geeks + Gamers on GeekPulse Radio last week, and in addition to engaging with a fun and wide-ranging conversation about the latest headlines with the hosting trifecta of Chris Kubiak, Jonathan Youngblood, and Chris Clow, I also had a chance to dive in for an in-depth chat about my own history with film criticism, my love of the Planet of the Apes franchise, and what I thought of Fox's trilogy-closer War for the Planet of the Apes. Had a really good time with this, and I'm confident you'll enjoy listening just as much as I enjoyed being a part of it. Listen to parts and two below, and subscribe to the show on iTunes here.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Zaki's Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

Six years ago, Twentieth Century Fox executed one of the most skillful under-the-radar reboots in movie history with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. As directed by Rupert Wyatt (from a script by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver) it was a grounded, character-based "prequel" of sorts to its Planet of the Apes franchise that was embraced by audiences to the tune of nearly $500 million worldwide. In addition to laying the pipe for the 1968 classic, Rise offered audiences remarkable marriage of groundbreaking digital effects and performance capture technology to visualize its menagerie of hirsute heroes -- led by Andy Serkis as hyper-intelligent chimp Caesar.

Director Matt Reeves stepped in for 2014's sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which upped the intensity of its scenario while also carrying the ball inexorably forward towards the preordained conclusion of simian domination promised by its title, and was rewarded with critical love and an even greater global haul. Taken together, these two films were notable not only for their special effects advances -- at least as much of a game-changer as John Chambers' ape prosthetics from the original batch of Apes adventures -- but also for how they made audiences complicit in the downfall of their own species, all under the auspices of popcorn entertainment.

Zaki's Retro Review: RoboCop

That was how critic Maggie Anderson described her experience watching the original RoboCop in 1988, a few months after its release, while writing for London’s Evening Standard. On the surface, you can kind of see where she was coming from: Virtually all of its lean103-minute running time is packed with bullets, gore, and profanity. But while Ms. Anderson’s reaction was hardly unique, it was also hardly representative of the mainstream. Rather, RoboCop represented one of those rare instances where critical and popular acclaim were out of sync. What makes this even more impressive still is that this was — on the surface, anyway — a standard issue action vehicle with a gloriously goofy title that almost dared audiences to dismiss it out of hand. Heck, per his own telling, even director Paul Verhoeven tossed the script across the room without reading it as soon as he saw the title.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: War for the Planet of the Apes

This week Brian & Zaki talk War for the Planet of the Apes in a spoiler-filled discussion of the third and final entry in the Apes series' current trilogy! Additionally, Zaki interviews David Lowery, writer and director of A Ghost Story, the boys discuss Matt Reeves abandoning Ben Affleck's draft of The Batman script, as well as Star Wars news, Listener Letters, and plenty of other movie talk! 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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Dr. Abdul El-Sayed

For this episode we're joined by Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, currently running for governor in the state of Michigan. While Dr. El-Sayed's candidacy is historic for a number of reasons, including being the first Muslim to seek the state's highest office, he comes to the race with a long background in public service and a desire to further help. Listen to our conversation at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Spider-Man's Long Journey Home

Fifteen years ago last May, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man debuted to an astounding $100 million+ in its first three days of release — until then, the White Whale of opening weekends. The franchise, which is one of the most successful in history, is due for its second reboot with this week's Spider-Man: Homecoming. But even though Marvel Comics’ web-slinger has now become a valued, signature property for Sony Pictures, he spent more than a decade lingering in development hell before his first movie hit theaters in 2002.

Bear in mind that, until very recently, Marvel had never enjoyed a successful big-screen adaptation. Not one. This might seem hard to believe in today's post-Iron Man age, but back then their cinematic prospects were one long, uninterrupted joke, with mega-flops like 1986's Howard the Duck and also-rans like 1990's The Punisher and Captain America (not to mention 1994’s never-released Fantastic Four) serving as periodic punch-lines. But the timing couldn't have been better for Spidey.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Random Thought

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Is It Jaws Podcast: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

A few months ago I had the chance to join my friend Paul Spataro on his fun movie review show Is It Jaws? where we discussed 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which rebooted the brand after lying fallow for a decade. With this week's release of War for the Planet of the Apes, the episode has just dropped, and it's a pretty good listen if I do say so myself. As you know, I'm a big fan of the flick, so having the chance to really dig into it with a fellow fan was a lot of fun. If you've never listened to Paul's show, you can get more info and subscribe here, and check out my guest shot at this link. I've also recorded a follow-up episode discussing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, so keep it peeled for that as well!

Actively Stupid.

An activist who wears a blue vest says Fox is trolling him with an Apes character in a blue vest. Literally one of the dumbest things I've ever seen on Twitter. 🙄


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Batman: The Animated Series Turns 25!

In just a few short months, the legendary Batman: The Animated Series hits its big quarter-century anniversary. In order to mark the occasion, I'm joined by John Trumbull -- author of an expansive oral history of the series for Back Issue! magazine featuring interviews with most of the key creatives -- for a fun and free-ranging conversation including John's conversations with Bruce Timm, etc. about the animated Batman's journey to the screen, how the series changed the playing field for all kidvid going forward, praise for the amazing ensemble cast (Kevin Conroy! Mark Hamill! Richard Moll! Adrienne Barbeau!), and our picks for some favorites from the show's 100-plus episodes. You can listen to it at the embed below, 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, July 07, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming is in theaters now, and Brian & Zaki have a spoiler-filled chat to celebrate the wallcrawler’s entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe! How does it stack up to previous Spider-flicks? Does Tom Holland supplant Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in our hearts and minds? Also: director Matt Reeves’ comments on directing The Batman, rumors of a Rocky rematch in Creed 2, and more on the behind-the-scenes turmoil at the Star Wars Han Solo spin-off movie. Plus: more reactions to Transformers: The Last Knight in Listener Letters! 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.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Sunday, July 02, 2017

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Planet of the Apes (2001)

With the impending release of Fox's much-anticipated three-quel War For the Planet of the ApesBrian and Zaki decided this was a perfect time to revisit the misbegotten Planet of the Apes "re-imagining" from 2001 directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg. We discuss the project's long road to the screen, including the many notable filmmakers like Peter Jackson and James Cameron whose abortive attempts at reviving the Apes brand never made it to the screen, and also why the movie we did get is such a fascinating failure. It's not just two hours of throwing poop at the screen, and 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.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Zaki's Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

When I reviewed The Amazing Spider-Man -- Sony's 2012 insta-reboot that ditched the franchise continuity that director Sam Raimi had started just ten years earlier -- I compared it to a kid hitting reset on a video game just because he'd lost a "life."

Even with the less-than-stellar reception accorded 2007's Spider-Man 3, there was nothing so broken that a solid sequel couldn't have fixed without necessitating a baby-with-the-bathwater approach. Nonetheless that's exactly what we got, with the studio quickly pulling the trigger on a "Here we go again!" reboot, and director Marc Webb & star Andrew Garfield handed the unenviable task of making audiences think they hadn't seen this exact story not that long ago. Still, as I said at the time, "the Spider-Man myth is more powerful than any of its individual tellings, and with Andrew Garfield behind the mask, it'll likely continue to spin for several years yet."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Great Moments in Presidential Rhetoric

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Zaki's Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

Ten years ago Paramount and director Michael Bay birthed the big screen Transformers franchise, and I was entirely onboard with it. In hindsight, this would prove to be the solitary shining moment for this series, with everything after a very determined race to the bottom. When the first sequel came out in 2009, I pretty much hated it, as I did the third film two years after that. When the fourth hit theaters in 2014, I...didn't end up minding it as much. But as it turns out, that was nothing more than a momentary blip. What we'd call, in stock trading parlance, a "dead cat bounce."

And now here we are with Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth installment of a series that's practically daring you to care about anything in it or about it at this point. Even with IMAX and 3D being dangled as value-added elements, the big budget series based on Hasbro's long-running action figures has become shorthand for the calcifying corrosion that's befallen summer movie season in recent years. Don't spend time on coherence and clarity on a story level, just go bigger, louder, and explodier. Don't worry, the audiences can always be counted on to dutifully line up at the turnstile and hand over their money -- even if they complain along the way.

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.

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.