Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: The Year in Reviews

Got my annual "best of year" countdown on the way, but meanwhile here's an overview of the movies I did full reviews on during calendar year 2017, with a little blurb from each. Another big year for me, with more reviews than ever before. (This doesn't include retro or archival reviews, of which there were also a few.) Catch them all after the jump!

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: The Making of X-Men: The Animated Series!

25 years ago last October, the Fox network debuted the X-Men animated series as part of its Saturday morning lineup. Along with Batman: The Animated Series, which had premiered two months earlier, this was really a turning point in terms of how action and adventure shows were presented for animation, and it was a real leap forward for complex, serialized storytelling, which had basically been unheard of in American animation outside of imported shows like Robotech in the mid-’80s. And while it was an instant sensation upon release, the road to getting X-Men to the scree was no easy feat, and here to discuss that with me are writer-producers Eric & Julia Lewald, who were instrumental in making X-Men what it was. Eric has a new book out entitled Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series, which offers his behind-the-scenes perspective on getting the show on the air. Click below to listen, or subscribe at iTunes, Stitcher Radio, TuneIn 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.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 11 - Debriefing The Last Jedi

Special guest Kyle Sullivan (Trekspertise) returns to Discovery Debrief along with our regular panelists — Chris Clow (, Comics on Consoles), Rachael Clow (Biology PhD candidate), Cicero Holmes (Spawn On Me Cast), and me! — as we take a cosmic detour from the Alpha Quadrant, and into a galaxy far, far away....

It's hard to ignore the biggest event to transpire as we await new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, namely the arrival of writer-directo Rian Johnson's highly anticipated entry in the ongoing "Skywalker Saga:" Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Join us for our final episode of the year as we break down this latest box office juggernaut from all our unique perspectives, as we take this brief galactic pit stop ahead of the return of our podcast's subject series!

Friday, December 29, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Fallout!

Now with multiple viewings and hours of inward reflection under their belts, the MovieFilm boys are ready to revisit and reassess their thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi! But before the main event, Zaki and Brian catch each other up on all of the award season hopefuls they've caught this month: The Post, The Shape of Water, The Disaster Artist, Molly's Game, Coco, and Netflix's first "blockbuster" Bright while they're at it. Listen to 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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Talking Star Wars With Omer Mozaffar

As we wrap up 2017, we continue what's become a December tradition by once again inviting lecturer and film critic Omer Mozaffar for a conversation about the newest entry in the Star Wars saga: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi. This new visit to the galaxy far, far away gave us all a lot ot unpack from a variety of perspectives, and we spent eighty minutes going all in with a fun conversation we think you'll enjoy listening to as much as we enjoyed participating in. Listen to it below, or download at the link. Also, be sure to hit us up at our Facebook page to let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Episode!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters, and the Force is back in force! And as has become a MovieFilm tradition, the boys toss the format like an unwanted lightsaber and instead dive in for a full show of Star Wars conversation! Listen as Brian and Zaki give their takes on this newest episode of the beloved franchise. We unpack the plot, dissect the details, just generally give our all-in takes on what we loved, what we didn’t, and where we’d like to see things go next in the galaxy far, far away. 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

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Left Shew Politics Podcast: Roy Moore Loses, Trump Loses

Click below to check out my appearance on Left Shew Politics Podcast with my bud Rick Shew about the Alabama special election that saw President Trump's favored candidate Roy Moore lose to Democrat Doug Jones. We recorded this mere hours after the election was called, so it's our absolute fresh takes on the news just as it hit. And if you're digging the show, click over to iTunes and show some love by hitting subscribe and/or leaving a review!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Zaki's Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Two years ago Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought the storied saga roaring back to life with an installment that was steeped in homage -- both narrative and stylistic. The J.J. Abrams-helmed Episode 7, the franchise's debut offering following Disney's 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm, was a polished bit of brand management that nonetheless relied so heavily on audiences' nostalgic attachment to this universe that it left one with the nagging sense that it was more concerned with staying near home base than with moving the ball forward (if you'll permit me to mix my sports metaphors).

As a necessary refresh of a cherished brand, The Force Awakens did a lot right. But even as I enjoyed the film, I said at the time that it felt "less like a fully realized experience on its own than a promising setup for future developments," leaving us on a literal cliffhanger as our new lead character Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracked down missing-in-action hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and attempted to return the lightsaber he misplaced lo those many movies ago. It was a powerful moment, pregnant with anticipation, yet its effectiveness could only truly be measured against the context of whatever was going to come next.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

A new Star Wars movie is almost upon us, and that means it’s time once again for the MovieFilm boys to mark the occasion with another commentary track talking through the one of the older films. For this go-round, we enter the prequel era with 1999’s The Phantom Menace! Whether you queue up your blu-ray or digital copy to watch along with us, or listen separately, you’ll find plenty to enjoy as we pick apart one of the weaker entries in the Star Wars canon and try to figure out where it stepped wrong. There’s behind-the-scenes trivia, observations on plot and story specifics, and our personal memories of returning after so many years to that Galaxy Far, Far Away. 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

Friday, December 08, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 10 - Season One, Chapter One Review

In a long-awaited episode, the Discovery Debrief panelists — Chris Clow (, Comics on Consoles), Rachael Clow (Biology PhD candidate), Cicero Holmes (Spawn On Me Cast), and me! — return to break down every episode of Star Trek: Discovery between the introductory "The Vulcan Hello," and the cliffhanger "Into the Forest I Go!"

To help us out with having an in-depth conversation, joining the panelists is special guest Kyle Sullivan, creator of the terrific and acclaimed YouTube channel Trekspertise to break down everything from the characters, to the plots, and even some conspiratorial guessing on where the show may pick things up in the new year.

PLUS: the panel reacts to the news that director Quentin Tarantino may be the next cinematic steward of the Star Trek franchise, and we break down what we feel this means for the franchise's future. You don't want to miss this one!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Fallout From Justice League

The MovieFilm boys are back after an extended post-Thanksgiving layover! This week: We dive in with a look at the stunning box office flame-out of Warner Bros.’ superhero epic Justice League. Why did it fall so far shot of the financial mark? What does this mean for the future of the DC Comics Expanded Universe? We offer our thoughts and theories. Also: Hear our thoughts on the first trailer for next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, and Zaki’s interview with director Joe Wright about the new film Darkest Hour. Plus: Get our takes on James Cameron’s Avatar sequel plans, word that Disney is looking to buy Twentieth Century Fox, news of Quentin Tarantino taking on the Star Trek franchise, and much more! Listen to 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

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Dr. Sherman Jackson - LIVE!

For this special episode of Diffused Congruence we're pleased to present the audio from a sit-down with Dr. Sherman Jackson that we moderated this past summer in the Bay Area. We're very excited to have Dr. Jackson back on the show, and for you to hear him hold forth on a variety of subjects of relevance to the American Muslim Experience, all with his usual ability to cut right to the heart of the matter in ways that are both enlightening and entertaining. Listen below, or via iTunes or Stitcher. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any comments or questions to

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Commentary Track

The Nostalgia Theater show is back with a new Commentary Trek! My friend Glenn Greenberg, writer of many Star Trek books and comics, joins me on the 31st anniversary of the release of 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Like always, listen in for our own personal histories with this sequel and lots of fun trivia and behind-the-scenes stories. We're two thirds of the way through the classic Trek movies, but there's two more missions to go! Click below to listen, or subscribe at iTunes, Stitcher Radio, TuneIn 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, November 24, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 8 - One Last Jump

In a full, long and in-depth discussion about the finale of Star Trek: Discovery's "chapter one," our panel of Star Trek aficionados — Chris Clow (, Comics on Consoles, GeekPulse Radio), Rachael Clow (Biology PhD candidate), Cicero Holmes (Spawn On Me Cast), and me! — unpack where we stand as we head into the long, dark wait for new adventures for the crew of the Starship Discovery! Plus, we answer your questions, and give a hint towards what we'll be up to in the mid-season lull. Be sure to download the latest episode of Discovery Debrief today!

Friday, November 17, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Justice League Episode!

Justice League is in theaters now, bringing DC Comics' biggest superstars onscreen and in action together for the first time, and the MovieFilm boys are all in! Join Brian, Zaki, and special guest Aaron Neuwirth of the Out Now With Aaron & Abe Podcast for a show-long discussion of the latest DC Comics superhero flick from Zack Snyder (and company)! Did the movie meet our expectations? Was it a mistake to have any expectations? Does Ben Affleck make it apparent that he's got one foot out the door? Does Henry Cavill finally get to be the Superman we all hope he can be? What did we think of newbies like Aquaman and the Flash? Hear our spoiler-filled conversation for all our thoughts on where we're at with the League, and how we're feeling about the DC Comics Expanded Universe moving forward. 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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Zaki's Review: Justice League

Less than a minute. That's how long it took for Justice League to win me over.

It happened before we even got to the title sequence, with some point-of-view footage of Superman (Henry Cavill) talking to a group of kids and explaining the significance of the "S" insignia on his chest. His suit is bright, blazing blue. He's smiling and happy and completely at ease with himself as he engages with his young audience. Here, finally, was the Superman I so desperately missed in last year's dour, self-serious Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice with its drab color palette and self-serious air of Götterdämmerung. Just the color of his costume thirty seconds into Justice League was telling me they had already begun to correct the course. And just like that, I knew what it was to hope again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: More Hollywood Scandals!

It’s a big week of big headlines for the MovieFilm Podcast! First, we discuss the shocking revelations about comedian Louis C.K. that rocked the industry last week, as well as the continued fallout from Kevin Spacey’s abuse scandal. After that, we talk up Amazon’s big Lord of the Rings TV plans, Current Batman Ben Affleck’s will-he/won’t-he flirtation with continuing to play the Dark Knight after Justice League, and more! Plus: the latest news out of the Star Wars universe, as director Rian Johnson makes plans for an entirely different trilogy set in the galaxy far, far away, and word that Disney is planning a Star Wars TV offering exclusively for their recently-announced streaming service. All that, plus Listener Letters, and Trailer Talk, and all the fun and banter you’ve come to expect. Be sure to check back later this week for our special “All Justice League” review show! As always, stream it below, or listen via iTunes or Stitcher. And please make sure to hit “like” on our Facebook page and let us know how we’re doing by writing a review!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 7 - Saru’s Surprising Strength

Sorry for the delay! After one of our co-hosts finally recovered from a bout of the Phage, our terrific panel of Star Trek enthusiasts — Chris Clow (, Comics on Consoles, GeekPulse Radio), Rachael Clow (Biology PhD candidate), Cicero Holmes (Spawn On Me Cast), and me! — are back to dive into the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Discovery's Fall chapter! Does this relative return to a demonstrably classic Trek form help or hurt this week's episode of the series?

Plus, we go over a couple of consequential news items relating to the franchise, and wind up to prepare for next week's Fall finale! You won't want to miss this!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Man of Steel

In preparation for the impending release of Justice League, the MovieFilm boys are back with a brand new commentary track for 2013's Man of Steel. This latest iteration of the Superman mythos inspires derison and devotion in equal measures, and we're here to zero in with our thoughts on what works and what doesn't in the Zack Snyder-directed opus starring Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon. Whether you watch along with us or listen on the go, you'll find lots of behind-the-scenes trivia, discussion on story and plot points, and lots of fun digressions too! 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!

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Omer Mozaffar

For this episode we are joined by Omer Mozaffar, thought leader, film critic, and educator in the Chicagoland area, to discuss the alarming instances of sexual and spiritual abuse perpetrated by leaders within the Muslim community. He discusses his difficult role in mediating some of the high profile cases he has been involved with which we then used to delve deeper into defining terms like predatory behavior, spiritual abuse, secret marriages, etc. that often come up as the community grapples with these issues. Join us for a riveting and timely discussion, as more and more cases of sexual abuse and predatory behavior seem to be emerging more and more frequently both within the Muslim community and the broader society at large. Listen below, or via iTunes or Stitcher. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any comments or questions to

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Getting Hammered With Thor: Ragnarok!

It’s hammer time -- again! -- for the MovieFilm boys! After dropping some thoughts on Stranger Things 2 and the latest headlines out of Hollywood -- including the rapidly escalating Kevin Spacey scandal, word of a fifth Lethal Weapon movie, and the Fast & Furious feud -- we bust through the Spoiler Wall and offer our thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly about the latest opus from Marvel Studios — Thor: Ragnarok. Does the Hemsworth & Hulk team-up flick excel or underwhelm? You’ll have to listen to learn. But that’s not all, there’s also a whole rounds of new Star Wars news, and plenty of other fun and banter. As usual, you can stream it below, or listen via iTunesor Stitcher. Make sure to visit our Facebook page so you can let us know how we’re doing!

Friday, November 03, 2017

Zaki's Review: Thor: Ragnarok

The last time Chris Hemsworth graced the screen as his muscle-bound alter ego Thor was in Avengers: Age of Ultron nearly two-and-a-half years ago -- practically an eternity in Marvel Cinematic Universe terms. In that time, we’ve seen Captain America and Iron Man square off with one another, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange join the Marvel pantheon, and the Guardians of the Galaxy do more of...whatever it is they were already doing. That’s a lot of plot and characters to juggle, signifying how the multi-platform behemoth that is the MCU has become such a sprawling thing that it’s easy for its foundational characters to get lost in the shuffle.

As such, and with the big Marvel superhero jam pic Avengers: Infinity War right around the corner, the timing was just about right for Marvel's hammer-wielding he-man to make a return engagement via Thor: Ragnarok, the belated third entry in his solo series (after all, his last one was waaaay back in fall of 2013, almost exactly four years ago). Now, a bit more than the adjacent Iron Man and Captain America franchises, the Thor wing of the Marvel Universe has had a bit of problem finding its tonal footing. Sure, the 2011 original directed by Kenneth Branagh did a lot of the heavy lifting of establishing the characters and their world of magic and monsters while situating them within a relatable, fish-out-water, god-meets girl/god-loses girl framework.

Discovery Debrief: Episode 6 - Loop-de-loop

In this episode, the panel of devoted, longtime Star Trek fans dive into the relative one-off season 1 episode of Star Trek: Discovery, "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad," a return to the classic "time loop" trope made famous by episodes like Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Cause and Effect."

We also examine some of the latest Star Trek franchise news, including the consequential revelations put forth by Discovery actor Anthony Rapp, as well as a couple of smaller items dealing with the franchise at-large. Establish a sensor lock on this podcast and download now!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Multiverse Musings: A DC Comics Podcast - Reminiscing About Batman '66

Click the embed below to hear the latest episode of Multiverse Musings, a new podcast looking at the DC Comics universe in all its depth and breadth. For this episode, hosts Adam and Jordan were gracious enough to let me join them for a fun discussion about the 1966 Batman TV series -- a nostalgic fave for me -- as well as the two animated movies recently released by WB/TV set in that world (which also mark the swan song of the late Adam West voicing his iconic alter ego). I had a great time with this one, and I hope you do as well when you listen! If you dig what they're putting out, be sure to subscribe here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Producer Danny Bilson Talks 1990's The Flash

For this episode I'm joined by special guest Danny Bilson, a movie and TV veteran who's probably best known for being co-creator (along with Paul DeMeo) of the 1990 version of The Flash, which aired for one season on CBS, and co-writer of the 1991 feature film The Rocketeer. Danny was gracious enough to join me for a fun and freewheeling conversation about the ins-and-outs of the industry as we covered the Flash's too-brief first TV run and its ignominious cancellation. We also talked about the production of The Rocketeer, the short-lived ABC adaption of The Human Target, UPN's The Sentinel, and much more! Listen via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunes, Stitcher Radio, TuneIn 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.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Podcast: Celebrating the Rocky Franchise

I once again had the chance this past weekend to hang out with the crew this past weekend (Rick Shew and Ryan Hoss for this go-round) for a celebration of the Rocky franchise. Anyone who knows me knows I don't need an excuse to talk up Sylvester Stallone as the Italian Stallion and his many movie escapades, so I was ecstatic when they graciously extended me an invitation to join the festivities. We covered not only our personal histories and affinity for all six original films, but also the franchise's future via the ongoing Creed series, and much more. Whether Rocky fan or not, I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Download here or listen via the embed below:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 5 - Vulcan Revelations

The panel discusses the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery's first season, "Lethe," with particular focus on the canonical ramifications we discover surrounding one of the Star Trek franchise's most defining icons.

PLUS: more investigation into the mystery surrounding a supporting character and a prime antagonist, as well as going over the latest news surrounding the world of Star Trek. Get a lock on this episode, and energize it into your podcast feed!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Foreigner, HBO's Spielberg and more!

On this week's show, Brian and I talk the Jackie Chan actioner The Foreigner, HBO's in-depth documentary about Steven Spielberg, and much more. Also: Mark Wahlberg's big regret, Michael Bay putting his spin on a beloved children's character, controversy over the runtime for Justice League, and Sylvester Stallone stepping back into the ring as director of Creed 2. Plus: Quick takes on the trailers for Black Panther and Pacific Rim: Uprising, and the latest Star Wars news. 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

Friday, October 20, 2017

Discovery Debrief: Episode 4 - Mudd-y Waters

This week, a character returns to the Star Trek franchise for the first time since THE ORIGINAL SERIES, and our awesome panel — Chris Clow (, Comics on Consoles, GeekPulse Radio), Rachael Clow (Biology PhD candidate), Cicero Holmes (Spawn On Me Cast), and me! — unpacks a new plot of intrigue that surrounds Captain Lorca, Michael Burnham, and the Federation's war with the Klingon Empire.

PLUS: a secret revealed?! The panel has to go to RED ALERT to warn listeners about a possible secret the show is attempting to keep that was brought to our attention by Cicero, and it could lead to some very consequential occurrences on the show for our characters to contend with. Finally, some of the latest Star Trek news and the discussion you've come to know and (hopefully) love!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Out Now with Aaron and Abe Podcast: The Foreigner (and Friends)

Had a great time last weekend on the Out Now with Aaron and Abe Podcast (Abe was MIA this week, but we got special guest Alan Aguilera) to talk the new Jackie Chan-Pierce Brosnan actioner The Foreigner. What did I think of Jackie's entree into the genre of "Old Men Kicking All Form of Ass"? You'll have to listen in for the goods. We also talked the trailer for Fox's upcoming X-Men spin-off The New Mutants, and much more! As always, a fun chat that I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to. Check it out via the embed below, or over here at iTunes.

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.