Friday, October 13, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 3 - Composer of War

Welcome back to the Final Frontier!

Discovery Debrief returns to talk the fourth episode of Star Trek: Discovery, "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry." In addition to the usual pleasantries and Trek love from our four panelists — Chris Clow (, Comics on Consoles, GeekPulse Radio), Rachael Clow (Biology PhD candidate), Cicero Holmes (Spawn On Me Cast), and me! — we also give you an in-depth perspective that can only come from four longtime Star Trek franchise fans.

Plus: trouble ahead? We respond to a listener who wants something different from our show, but we also want to know what YOU think! Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @DSCDebrief, and be sure to like, comment, rate, subscribe, and just get in touch! Please continue boldly going with us in our ongoing mission to explore the latest series in the Star Trek franchise!

Geek Life, Part II

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Special Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer 2 Discussion

The final trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi has dropped, and that can only mean one thing: Invasion. No, wait, wrong trilogy. What it actually means is that we were so excited about all of the new and exciting glimpses of what’s to come in Episode 8, that we just had to talk about it in this very special mini-episode. You can hear it all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. And if you haven’t already, please make sure to hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Zaki's Review: Blade Runner 2049

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
Those words are uttered by Roy Batty, the rogue robot played by Rutger Hauer in Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi detective yarn Blade Runner (the line was improvised by Hauer, or so the story goes). In many ways they sum up for me the existential angst that brackets the entire film and gives it much of its enduring appeal. Why do we exist? What will be left of us once we're gone? Whether robot questioning man or man questioning himself, it's the essential, unanswerable permanence of such ponderings that have allowed the movie to transcend its era and be regarded as one of the greatest science-fiction movies ever made.

But while Scott's neo-noir opus is indeed widely considered a classic today, it sure didn't start out that way. Based on a Philip K. Dick trippy 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the project spent more than a decade languishing in the dreaded development pipeline, endured a famously troubled production beset with all kinds of problems with home studio Warner Bros., and limped out of theaters barely recouping its not-inconsiderable $28 million budget. All told, Scott was unhappy with the film, star Harrison Ford was unhappy with the film, and perhaps most importantly, audiences were unhappy with the film.

Geek Life

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is now in theaters, arriving thirty-five years after the cult classic original! For this week’s show, Brian and I dive deep into the Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi detective yarn starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. But that's not all! Listen to my interview with Peter Landesman, writer/director of the new film Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, plus quick conversations on James Cameron’s new Terminator plans, Universal’s Fast & Furious spin-off, and much more! As always, you can hear it all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. If you haven't already, make sure to hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Diffused Congruence: A. David Lewis on Muslim Superheroes

On our latest episode we're very excited to speak with our special guest A. David Lewis, graphic novelist, scholar, and author of the new book Muslim Superheroes: Comics, Islam, and Representation. We had a great time geeking out about the history of the medium and its traditionally thorny depictions of Muslims and Islam, as well as how/if that trend has changed in recent years with such new characters as G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel. We know you'll really enjoy this one, and you can check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to, or at our Facebook page.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 2 - Space Monsters and Mutineers

Discovery Debrief returns with its panel — Chris Clow (, Comics on Consoles, GeekPulse Radio), Rachael Clow (Biology PhD candidate), Cicero Holmes (Spawn On Me Cast), and me! — to talk the latest news surrounding the current iteration of the Star Trek franchise, and then dive in deep to the events of the series' third episode: "Context is for Kings."

With former Commander Michael Burnham finding herself on a brand new starship — albeit with some decidedly familiar faces — she's thrust into a mysterious plot that places her inside an adrift haunted house in space that has more in common with the likes of the original two Alien films and John Carpenter's The Thing than it does anything else in the Trek franchise. The panel also discusses the enigma that is Discovery's commanding officer, Gabriel Lorca, the positioning of longer-term characters, and some speculation surrounding a clandestine intelligence organization we've seen before in the Star Trek universe. Plus: we answer YOUR questions! Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @DSCDebrief, and be sure to like, comment, rate, subscribe, and anything else you can think of!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Zaki's Review: American Made

The past several months haven't been great ones for the brand that is "Tom Cruise: Movie Star." With the critical and box office shellacking endured by Universal's franchise flameout The Mummy last spring -- despite Cruise's face and name given even more prominence in the marketing than the titular monster -- plus the the less-than-spectacular reception accorded his Jack Reacher sequel last year, it's easy to think that the Mission: Impossible Maverick's once-impeccable ability to pick just the right projects to play to his superstar strengths had begun to fail him.

And y'know, maybe the immutable passage of time and the exigencies of audience interest have pushed us past the point where the mere presence of Cruise's all-caps name in front of a title could turn any movie into a must-see event. But hey, thirty-plus years as one of the most remarkably consistent draws in the world is no small feat. And while he's still a bona fide star, if we're at the point in his career where he's more likely to set aside his action hero image and choose "for love of the game" projects like American Made, than that's not a bad place to be either -- for him as an actor and for us in the audience.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 1 - Our Own Vulcan Hello

With last Sunday's premiere of Star Trek: Discovery (read my review here if you haven't already),  I was honored to be asked by my friend Chris Clow (of and GeekPulse Radio) join the panel for a new weekly podcast that will cover each installment of Star Trek's newest universe as it airs. To that end, Discovery Debrief: A Star Trek Podcast dropped its first episode this week. I had a great time chatting with Chris, Rachael Clow (Biology PhD candidate), and Cicero Holmes (Spawn On Me Cast), for a far-ranging discussion that spanned not only each of our personal histories with the Trek franchise, but also our thoughts on this latest sojourn into Gene Roddenberry's fictional fiefdom. Check out the first show below, and if you dig it, hit up iTunes and show us some love. Look for new episodes every week as the show airs!

Out Now with Aaron and Abe Podcast: The Big 300!

This past week the Out Now with Aaron and Abe Podcast celebrated its big 300th episode, and to celebrate they brought on a whole slew of former guests to briefly come on the show and talk podcastin' and movies. It's been my pleasure to be part of their rotating roster of guests over the years, and any chance to hang with them is a fun time for me. Check out part one of the supersize episode at the embed below or here at iTunes:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Star Trek: The Next Generation Turns 30!

Today marks thirty years to the day that TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation first premiered in syndication. The sequel series was a risky venture by Paramount, but three decades later, it’s fair to say that Captain Picard, Commander Data, and the other crewmembers of the Enterprise-D are at least as beloved as their legendary predecessors. Why did The Next Generation work almost despite itself? I discuss that question and more with my special guest, Mark A. Altman.

In addition to working on such series as TNT's The Librarians and ABC's Castle, Mark has been called “The World’s Foremost Trekspert,” having authored or co-authored dozens of books and articles about Gene Roddenberry’s creation, including Trek Navigator, Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, and last year's best-selling two volume set The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek. Join us for a fun and...(wait for it)...engaging chat about Star Trek: The Next Generation's thirty-year voyage, and what the future may hold for the Trek franchise.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Zaki's Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

When Kingsman: The Secret Service arrived in theaters a scant two years and seven months ago, it had the benefit of gliding in with little to no pre-existing expectations (or pre-existing audience, for that matter). All we knew is that it was an action flick from Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn, and it was based on a comic book few people had even heard of, written by the guy who created Wanted. I'm willing to bet that precise lack of pre-release fanfare was as big a factor as any in making the spritely spy picture starring Colin Firth and Taron Egerton break out the way that it did. All told, the first Kingsman cleared more than $400 million worldwide against an $81 million budget.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

The MovieFilm boys celebrate Zaki's birthday with a spoiler–filled conversation about current box office ruler Kingsman: The Golden Circle. But that's not all! Also: Quick takes on The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, and our early reaction to CBS’ new Star Trek series, Discovery. Plus: An interview with director Hany Abu Assad about the upcoming The Mountain Between Us! All that, plus plenty of Listener Letters and more! As always, you can hear it all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. If you haven't already, make sure to hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to

Monday, September 25, 2017

Zaki's Review: Star Trek: Discovery

Episode 1: "The Vulcan Hello"
Episode 2: "Battle at the Binary Stars"

When Star Trek: Enterprise signed off the airwaves more than a decade ago on May 13, 2005, it brought to a close an extraordinary run of TV Trekking that by then encompassed 29 seasons and literally hundreds of episodes. Some were good, some were great, and some were forgettable. But the collective value of that catalogue -- and the fan ardor that came with it -- had long ago transformed Star Trek from a three-season sci-fi oddity in the ‘60s, into a United Federation of Programs by the mid-aughts.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Lena Khan Talks The Tiger Hunter

On our latest episode we're joined by Lena Khan, writer/producer/director of the new film The Tiger Hunter, in theaters now. The film stars Danny Pudi, Rizwan Manji, and Jon Heder, and is inspired by her father's immigrant experience coming to the west in the 1970s. We had the opportunity to chat with Lena about her own interest in the film industry, some of her artistic inspirations, and the long journey of bringing this film to the screen, from concept to crowdfunding, to completion. It's a story about artistic perserverance that's at least as inspirational as the film itself, and you can hear it all at the embed below, or via iTunes or Stitcher. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any comments or questions to

Monday, September 18, 2017

Zaki's Retro Review: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

We're now thirty-five years out from when Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial first arrived in theaters, beginning a flight through the record books that would see it become not only the top-grossing release of the 1980s, but also displacing 1977’s Star Wars as the top domestic earner of all-time (a hallowed crown it would retain for the next fifteen years -- until it was itself dispatched by the 1997 Star Wars reissue). With the movie back in theaters this week for a limited run celebrating its anniversary and a newly remastered print, it's a perfect time to look back at Spielberg's ode to innocence and reflect on its road to becoming one of the most beloved classics of the modern era.

Before we even talk about E.T, it's helpful to remember who Steven Spielberg was in the run-up to its production. The director had first broken through in 1976 with the staggering, off the charts success of Jaws, which redefined the kind of blockbuster performance you could potentially get from exactly the right kind of crowd-pleaser. He quickly followed that up the next year with another smash, Close Encounters of the The Kind. And while 1979's 1941 ended up being a bit of a debacle, Spielberg nonetheless reclaimed his luster with 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark (produced by George Lucas, which introduced the world to Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

One Day on the Set of Attack of the Clones...

I look at Jimmy Smits' face in the above shot from Star Wars: Episode II, and for some reason this is how I picture his discussion with George Lucas while filming.

(Inspired by a conversation with my podcast partner Brian Hall)

The MovieFilm Podcast: IT: Chapter One

IT is here, and with the killer clown movie bringing the box office back to undead life, we’ve got lots to discuss on the first MovieFilm of the fall as we pick apart the horrific Stephen King adaptation and whether it measures up to the famous 1990 TV adaptation! But while Pennywise is our main topic, we’d be pound foolish if we didn’t also discuss this week’s new release American Assassin, and talk about the latest headlines out of Hollywood, including Liam Neeson announcing his retirement from action films, and word that J.J. Abrams has taken over the command of Star Wars: Episode 9! In addition, hear our takes on the trailers for Mark Felt and The Disaster Artist, plus Zaki’s interview with writer/director Danny Strong about his new film Rebel in the Rye, now in theaters. All that, plus plenty of Listener Letters and more! As always, you can hear it all via the embed below, or at iTunesor Stitcher or Google Play. If you haven't already, make sure to hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to

Recommended Reading

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: M*A*S*H Turns 45!

Attention all personnel! Today marks exactly 45 years to the day that the classic TV series M*A*S*H first premiered on CBS. Based on the novel by Richard Hooker and the 1970 feature film directed by Robert Altman, the boundary-busting sitcom starring Alan Alda had an impressive eleven season run, redefining what television was capable of, and leaving the air with a finale that remains to this day the highest rated episode of any TV show ever. Not a bad legacy, and it provided quite the springboard for conversation with my buddy (and M*A*S*H superfan) Rob Kelly via a special arrangement with his own Film & Water Podcast wherein we share the same interview and distribute it via our respective shows. It's a fun chat that runs the gamut from Trapper to BJ, Henry to Potter! We talk about how we became fans, why we're still fans, and what it is about M*A*S*H that still resonates this many decades later. Listen via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play (and remember to leave a review!). Like always, send any questions or comments to, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Truth in Advertising

Zaki's Review: American Assassin

It was exactly thirty years ago that I first saw the Chuck Norris actioner The Delta Force, giving seven-year-old Zaki one of his earliest glimpses of the filter through which Hollywood tends to depict Middle Eastern/Muslim characters. You know the type: Swarthy hordes with bushy beards (skullcap optional), spouting exclamations such as "By the beard of the prophet!" and the like. Well, here we are three decades on, and here's the simplistic, xenophobic, just-plain-dumb American Assassin right on schedule to show us how far we haven't come.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Zaki's Review: It: Chapter One (2017)

I was all of ten years old when I saw the two-part TV movie adaptation of Stephen King's It. Starring Tim Curry as the titular creature, a.k.a. Pennywise the Dancing Clown, alongside a whole host of TV-familiar faces like Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Annette O'Toole, and John Ritter,  It first aired on ABC in fall of 1990 as one of those marquee "Sweeps Week" events so common back then. On reflection, I'm not sure if it was a childhood unease with clowns that made the miniseries so effective, or if the miniseries was so effective that it retroactively instilled an unease of clowns in me.

Either way, it sure did a number one me, permanently embedding itself in my still-developing brain even after only a single viewing (I revisited it for the first time just last week), and when word came that Warner Bros. was developing a cinematic spin on the Stephen King best seller, I was more than a little curious to see if anything could top the sight of Tim Curry in clown makeup lurking beneath a sewer grate, his teeth sharpened to feast on little kids just like me. Well, It version 2.0 is here, and it finds its own vein of terror to mine that's just as rich as its predecessor.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Nerd Lunch Podcast: Star Trek: The Next Generation “Drill Down”

In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I was honored to join the fine folks at the Nerd Lunch Podcast as their "Fourth Chair" for a fond look back at the seminal sci-fi series. I had a great time, and we covered a whole lot of ground, all of which you can listen to via the embed below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Diffused Congruence Podcast: Imam Dawood Yasin

On our latest episode, we're joined by Imam Dawood YasinDean of Student Life & Experiential Learning at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA. Listen as he shares the fascinating story of his own journey, going from the modeling on the catwalk to studying and teaching Islam all over the world. It's a fun and wide-ranging discussion we're confident you'll enjoy. Check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to, or at our Facebook page

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Podcast: Remembering Batman '89

I had the chance once again to hang out with crew this past weekend for a celebration of their auspicious 89th episode by looking back at -- appropriately enough -- the '89 Batman movie starring Michael Keaton & Jack Nicholson, and directed by Tim Burton. I think it's safe to say that this flick is the juncture point to which many Batman, movie, and comic book fans can point to as the origin of their fandom. I had a really good time with this one, and I think you'll enjoy listening just as much as I did participating: 

Friday, September 08, 2017

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Return to The Dark Crystal

Thirty-five years ago this December, directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz first took audiences into the mystical land of Thra, home of The Dark Crystal. While the ambitious puppet-centric feature didn't quite land with audiences at the time, its mix of effects and fantasy have turned it into a cult artifact in the decades since. For this episode, I'm joined by special guest is Caseen Gaines, author of the beautiful new tome The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, for a fun chat about the film's origins, production, scuppered plans for a sequel, and much more! Check it out 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, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Summer Movie Wrap!

Labor Day has come and gone, and with it summer movie season! As is our annual tradition, the MovieFilm boys reconvene after the long weekend to look back at the past several months of high profile blockbusters, all-ages animated films, and low budget indies. From The Fate of the Furious to Dunkirk -- with plenty of pit stops in-between -- we take stock of what worked and what didn't. And with this being one of the lowest-grossing summers on record, there's plenty to unpack! In addition, we discuss the news of yet another directorial shuffle on a Star Wars film, talk about seeing the legendary John Williams in concert and Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the big screen, plus plenty of other Hollywood Headlines! Listen via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. If you haven’t already, make sure to hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

After watching Batman & Robin a few weeks ago, you'd think there was no further we could fall, but Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is here to say, “Hold my beer.” That's right, the MovieFilm boys have a commentary to mark the Man of Steel’s 1987 franchise-killer hitting its thirtieth anniversary last month. Come don your nostalgia-tinted glasses with us and see if they're enough to dull the pain of Christopher Reeve’s ignominious farewell to his most iconic role. Listen in as we go through some of the behind-the-scenes history, highlight the pluses, zero in on the minuses, and just generally have a good time talking through Superman’s unkindest cut. As always, you can hear it via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. If you haven't already, make sure to hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to

Friday, August 25, 2017

Diffused Congruence: John O'Brien on Keeping it Halal

For this episode we're joined by special guest John O'BrienAssistant Professor of Sociology at New York University Abu Dhabi and author of the new book Keeping It Halal: The Everyday Lives of Muslim American Teenage Boys. for a rousing discussion on the background, methodology, and results documented in this ethnographic study, as well as its broader implications on the discussion of Muslims in the American sphere. Check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to, or at our Facebook page.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

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

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I recently joined my friend Paul Spataro on the Is It Jaws? podcast to talk 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the second leg of the rebooted Apes trilogy. The episode dropped a few weeks ago, and I completely forgot to post it here. It's a fun listen, as Paul's show usually is, and you can get more info and subscribe here, and download my guest shot at this link

The MovieFilm Podcast: The MovieFilm Mailbag!

It's the dog days of August, but that doesn't mean we don't have a lot to discuss on the MovieFilm show! Hear our thoughts on plans to revive the Terminator franchise once again, word of a solo picture for Batman’s nemesis the Joker, behind-the-scenes drama with Justice League, and more! Plus: some exciting new Star Wars news, a hefty dose of Listener Letters as we answer a diverse array of questions from all corners, and Zaki’s reflections on attending his 20 year high school reunion! 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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Film & Water Podcast #105: M*A*S*H

A few weeks ago my MovieFilm partner Brian Hall and I joined Rob Kelly on his Film & Water Podcast for a fun conversation about the 1970 feature film M*A*S*H, -- a podcast episode sparked by an offhand exchange on an episode of the MovieFilm Podcast. I always have a good time chatting with Rob, and getting to do a guest shot with my buddy Brian just made it even more fun. I have a feeling you'll enjoy listening to this whether you've seen the movie or not. Give the show a listen at this link or via the embed below, and if you dig it, please head over to iTunes and hit "subscribe"!

Play in new window | Download

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Raiders of the Lost Ark

It’s a skip week for the regular show, so we thought it was a perfect time to hit “play” on one of our all-time favorite flicks and record a commentary track! For this episode we talk through 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film that introduced intrepid archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones to the moviegoing world. Whether you watch along with us at home or just listen on the go, you'll find lots of behind-the-scenes trivia, story discussion, and our personal remembrances of the Steven Spielberg-George Lucas-Harrison Ford classic. Listen below or via iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (and make sure to write us a review!). Drop us a line at, or at our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock Commentary Track

Back for another Commentary Trek continues! This time I'm rejoined by my friend Glenn Greenberg, former Marvel Comics editor, and writer of many Hulk and Star Trek comics, for the third feature voyage for original Star Trek crew, 1984's Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. As always, you can hear our own personal histories with this installment, plus plenty of trivia and behind-the-scenes factoids. As always, we had a blast with this one, and we're alread planning ahead for The Voyage Home! 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, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Friday, August 04, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Dunkirk + The Dark Tower

After more than ten years in development, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower has finally come to movie screens, and the MovieFilm boys are here to offer their takes on the would-be franchise-starter from Sony Pictures. Does the Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey adventure movie signal a bold beginning or an ignominious end? We offer our takes on that, as well as Christopher Nolan’s wartime opus Dunkirk. But that’s not all!

We also talk the upcoming TV series sequel to 1980s classic The Karate Kid, the dissolution of the much-ballyhooed Transformers writers’ room, a familiar face joining Ron Howard’s Han Solo Star Wars spin-off movie. Plus: Quick takes on the new Death Wish trailer starring Bruce Willis, and thoughts on a whole slew of sad Hollywood passings in the past few weeks. 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

Zaki's Review: The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower has spent more than a decade kicking around Hollywood’s dreaded development pipeline, and it’s easy to see why. Since the debut entry of Stephen King’s magnum opus in 1982, the franchise has racked up eight total books and a legion of fans all over the world. As such, certainly from a pure dollars and sense perspective, this is exactly the kind of thing that franchise-hungry studios are looking for in the ever-expanding hunt for sequel-friendly intellectual property to exploit.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: RoboCop

For our latest commentary track, the MovieFilm Podcast celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of RoboCop! The sci-fi classic directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Peter Weller first hit theaters during summer of 1987, and its legacy is whirring and humming along even this many years later. In this track we discuss the background on how the film got made, interesting behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and our own personal histories with one of the most defining movies of the 1980s. 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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Zaki's Review: Dunkirk

The evacuation of Dunkirk occurred seventy-seven years ago at the outset of the second World War. After the German push across France and Belgium threatened to wipe out allied forces in one fell swoop and change the direction of human history, the rescue of nearly half a million soldiers across the English Channel from the port of Dunkirk kept victory from Hitler's grasp. Dunkirk fundamentally altered the trajectory of the war, though of course anyone who was in it at the time -- just trying to stay alive long enough to make it home -- couldn't possibly have known that.

While the episode is rightly revered in Europe and England (where the phrase "Dunkirk spirit," for pulling together through adversity, is still a common part of the parlance), it's also a story that's likely unknown to the vast majority of Americans. As such, Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk will likely be the first exposure for many to this fascinating piece of history, one that exposes in equal measure human beings' unerring capacity for inflicting senseless atrocities on one another, and showing selfless compassion even in the face of unspeakable odds.

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

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, 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.

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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, 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