Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Covfefe Conundrum

Monday, May 29, 2017

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

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

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: The First Wonder Woman!

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

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

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Archival: Star Wars: 20 Years and Still in Force

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More Moore

Roger Moore, RIP

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

Continue reading at Legacy.com...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Still Normal.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Totally Normal.

Nostalgia Theater Rewind: Alien Action Figures!

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

Continue reading...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Zaki's Review: Alien: Covenant

 Click here to read my 2012 review of Prometheus


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

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

No small feat, that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Pain, Part II

The Pain

Nostalgia Theater: King Arthur and the Knights of Justice

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Zaki's Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

When you think about it, Monty Python kind of ruined the King Arthur story for future generations.

That was the thought that kept running through my mind while watching Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. As Charlie Hunnam’s Arthur descend into the depths to have his fabled encounter with the famed Lady of the Lake and the legendary sword Excalibur. All I could hear in my head was Michael Palin’s politically-minded peasant Dennis exclaiming, “Strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government.”

That observation is neither here nor there, I guess, but I think it does go some ways toward explaining why in the decades since we’ve never gotten an epic, definitive telling of this most classic of fables. John Boorman’s Excalibur in 1981 probably came closest (I’ll set the 1967 musical Camelot to one side), but Hollywood’s fancy tends to lean towards deconstruction rather than devotion, which explains stuff like 1995’s First Knight and 2004’s King Arthur, both of which stripped away the fanciful underpinnings of the Camelot story in favor of “realism.”

Nixon-ish

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Guardians of the Galaxy Starts Summer


It's the start of May, and that means summer movie season is upon us! This week the MovieFilm boys dive in for a spoiler-filled conversation on Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! The sci-fi actioner starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana is the number one film in the country, and we've got lots to say about it! But that's not all, you can also get our thoughts on the new trailers for Wonder Woman, The Dark Tower, and Blade Runner 2049, and hear quick takes on the passing of legendary director Jonathan Demme, word that the Hellboy franchise is getting rebooted, and Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow is getting a sequel -- whether we want one or not. In addition, listen in for the usual Star Wars news, Listener Letters, and other assored banter! You can hear it all all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Zaki's Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Read my 2014 review of the first Guardians of the Galaxy here

It’s easy to forget now, but when Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy first arrived in theaters in 2014, it represented something of a departure for the Disney-owned superhero factory in terms of both style and content. The sci-fi caper (written & directed by James Gunn) not only had a fanciful tone and setting that made other properties in the already-expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe (such as Iron Man and Captain America) feel positively sedate by way of comparison, it also leaned heavily on the likability and chemistry of its cast to make the sale to audiences who likely had little-to-no familiarity with a cast of characters that were a deep dive into comic book arcana by even the most diehard fanboy standards.

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

May the 4th be with you! The MovieFilm boys celebrate Star Wars day by debuting a brand new commentary track talking through the final leg of the original trilogy, 1983's Return of the Jedi. Whether you queue up your DVD, blu-ray, or digital copy to watch in synch with us, or just want listen separately while you're on the road or exercising, we're pretty sure you'll find lots to enjoy with this one. There's lots of behind-the-scenes stories, some or our own observations on specific plot points, and as always, our own personal histories with the final (or so we thought...) Star Wars flick. 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!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Aladdin, Jurassic World 2, and More!

Lots to discuss in the latest MovieFilm show! First up, hear quick takes from Brian on a host of recent releases he's seen, while Zaki teases his thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 nd brags about finally getting ahold of the impossible-to-find NES Classic! After that, it's on to headlines, with thoughts on Jeff Goldblum returning to the Jurassic franchise, David Fincher taking on an unexpected franchise flick, Robert Zemeckis flirting with directing a superhero picture, and much more, including some fresh new Star Wars news, and our thoughts on the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle! you can hear it all all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Wajahat Ali on 100 Days of Trump

We're joined once again by journalist, playwright, and raconteur Wajahat Ali for our latest episode. You've probably seen Wajahat all over cable news for the past few months, offering his cogent analyses and humorous insights as he discusses the unfolding Trump administration, and we've got him for a full hour in a far-reaching discussion about President Trump's first 100 days in office, and what lessons we can take from his successes and failures, and we close out the show with a poignant discussion about the state of Muslim activism and the challenges and pitfalls for Muslim activists. 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.