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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Scout's Dishonor

Monday, July 24, 2017

More Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

GeekPulse Radio Podcast: Episode 9

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

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

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

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

Zaki's Retro Review: RoboCop

“I want money back, I want my time back — and most of all i want my innocence back.”

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.

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.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Random Thought

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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

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

Actively Stupid.

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

Sunday, July 09, 2017

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

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

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Sunday, July 02, 2017

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

With the impending release of Fox's much-anticipated three-quel War For the Planet of the ApesBrian and Zaki decided this was a perfect time to revisit the misbegotten Planet of the Apes "re-imagining" from 2001 directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg. We discuss the project's long road to the screen, including the many notable filmmakers like Peter Jackson and James Cameron whose abortive attempts at reviving the Apes brand never made it to the screen, and also why the movie we did get is such a fascinating failure. It's not just two hours of throwing poop at the screen, and you can listen through the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. And as always, please hit “like” on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to