Ep. 122 – Shazam!, Unicorn Store, and the runtime of Avengers: Endgame

April 8, 2019 by  
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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod dive into “Shazam!” and “Unicorn Store.” They also discuss the 3 hour runtime of “Avengers: Endgame” and the controversial practice of splitting movies in two.

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Ep. 121 – Us, and a quick recap of SXSW

March 25, 2019 by  
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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review the latest from Jordan Peele, “Us,” and the fellows talk about their time at South by Southwest.

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Ep. 120 – Captain Marvel, Leaving Neverland

March 9, 2019 by  
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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review the 21st Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and first with a female lead, “Captain Marvel.” They also take a deep dive into the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” and what it means for the legacy of a dead entertainer now considered monstrous by part of the populace.

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Captain Marvel

March 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn
Directed by: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson,” “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”)
Written by: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson,” “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”)  & Geneva Robertson-Dworet (“Tomb Raider”)

The 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a milestone that’s been a long time coming—the first movie in the decade-old series with a female lead character. The idea that it’s taken nearly two dozen Marvel movies for that to happen—especially when struggling rival DC turned out the wonderful “Wonder Woman” two summers ago—is, seemingly, a point of embarrassment for the company, and they’ve worked to make it right with the lead up to “Captain Marvel.” The campaigns prominently feature the word “her” dissolving into the work “hero,” for example. The importance for representation in these films, especially as these comic-book movies have taken over the world and the audience becomes everyone alive, can’t be overstated. Alas, despite the best (yet belated) intentions of overlord Kevin Feige, the final product that is “Captain Marvel,” from the script to the pacing, do a disservice to what should have been a triumphant moment for the franchise.

Following in the footsteps of other cosmic adventures like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” the film opens with Vers (Brie Larson) combat training with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) on the Kree home planet of Hala Yon-Rogg is attempting to teach Vers discipline in order to control the mysterious power she possesses to shoot beams of energy from her hands. Yes, the movie drops you right in to that. Anyway, both Vers and Yon-Rogg are part of Starforce, a group of elite warriors who battle the Skrull, shape-shifting goblin-looking creatures the Kree see as terrorists. When a mission to rescue a spy goes awry, Vers finds herself in the clutches of Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn, who is great) who reactivates lost memories of a past life in her head. Vers manages to escape, and ends up crash landing in a Blockbuster Video on Earth, circa 1995. Her arrival is greeted by Agent of SHIELD Nick Fury (a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson, having a blast), who Vers—a.k.a. Carol Danvers–teams up with to find a scientist who developed a light speed engine (Annette Benning) and discover who she really is.

Despite being Marvel’s most powerful superhero—and being portrayed by Oscar winner Larson—the screenplay never fully develops Carol as a character. We’re told she’s a badass fighter pilot, for example, but that part of her story cobbled together from mind-bending flashbacks that don’t offer a clear picture of her skill. Instead they just show she climbed into a plane and sometimes flew one. Also, as a member of Starforce, she’s apparently the only one with the power to fire energy beams—but how does this affect her relationship with, well, anyone?

The screenplay, credited in part to directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, seems to envision Carol as a female version of Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, only it doesn’t offer half of the characterization “GOTG” gave its lead. Instead, Carol is sort of an empty vessel, and the heavy lifting of the emotional beats—like her finally throwing off the oppression of strong men in her life—is left to female-driven ‘90s pop songs. Needle drops from No Doubt, Garbage and Elastica aren’t anything to complain about, but when that’s all the female empowerment you’re lending to your first female superhero star, then you’re letting your audience down.

Ep. 119 – Recapping the somewhat disastrous 91st Oscars

February 26, 2019 by  
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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod talk the mess that was the 91st Oscars, from highs like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” winning best animated feature, to awful lows like any wins for “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book.”

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Ep. 118 – The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, High Flying Bird

February 13, 2019 by  
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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review the highly-anticipated sequel “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” and Steven Soderbergh’s Netflix film “High Flying Bird.”

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The Lego Movie 2

February 7, 2019 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews, Uncategorized

Starring: Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett
Directed by: Mike Mitchell (“Trolls, Shrek Forever After”)
Written by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“The LEGO Movie”)

Dizzily upending the pre-release dread of a film based on a toy line that was bereft of its own characters—they’re BLOCKS, for crying out loud—2014’s “The LEGO Movie” was pure joy from start to finish. Firmly cementing the writing and directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller superstar creators, the film was an unexpected delight, a love letter to creativity from a toy line that long ago seemed to abandon that aspect in favor of building ships from “Star Wars” or castles from “Harry Potter.” And, unlike most non-Disney/Pixar animated fare, the script was peppered with whip-smart jokes and enough meta jokes (the reference to the short-lived LEGO NBA line from the early-2000s might have been directed squarely at me) for to make even the most aloof post-modernist laugh his ass off. Everything was awesome, as the song went.

It’s been five years and two spin-offs, “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The LEGO Ninjago Movie,” were fine and not good, respectively, but we’re finally back to the story of everyman Emmett Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and his friend/chief rescuer/master builder Lucy, a.k.a. Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks). After defeating Lord Business (Will Ferrell, who hilariously seems to be phoning in his voice acting this time), the town of Bricksburg was invaded by baby-talking Duplo creatures. We then flash forward half a decade, as the real-world implications of a little sister co-opting her big brother’s LEGO bricks are echoed in Bricksburg, which has transformed into the desolate Apocalypseburg.

Despite everyone else, even Jeff the cat, being hardened into “Mad Max”-style desert dwellers, Emmett remains upbeat and optimistic about moving into his dream house with Lucy. However, his dreams and home are destroyed when the leader of the Duplo army, on orders from Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), kidnaps Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Metalbeard (Nick Offerman) and Benny (Charlie Day) and takes them to the Systar system. Now, it’s up to Emmett and mysterious adventurer Rex Dangervest to save them.

So, is “The LEGO Movie 2” a blast? Yes, it very much is. Is it as good as the first one? Not quite, it takes a while to get going. Is the magic of the reveal—that this is all happening at the whims of people in the real world—missing this time around? Yes. It’s not hard to put together what’s going on, with names like the Systar system, or the ominous warnings of Ar-mom-ageddon. And that’s the price we pay, unfortunately, because the rest of the movie is top notch, and ups the ante on laser-specific jokes. Do you know what it’s like feeling as if you’re the only person a vocal cameo from former Sonic/Laker Gary Payton is meant for? “The Second Part” doesn’t quite stack up to the original, but it’s still light years better than most animated films that most parents would rather step on a LEGO than watch with their kids.

Bonus Episode 14: Greg Sestero, writer/producer/star of “Best F(r)iends Vol. 1 & 2”

January 26, 2019 by  
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In this bonus episode of The CineSnob Podcast, f(r)iend of the show Greg Sestero chats with Cody and Jerrod after the release of “Best F(r)iends Vol. 1 & 2” on digital and Blu-ray. In the movies, Greg–who also wrote and produced the films–re-teams with his “The Room” co-star Tommy Wiseau.

Buy your copy of “Best F(r)iends Vol. 1 & 2” here!

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Ep. 117 – Glass, Fyre

January 21, 2019 by  
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The CineSnob Podcast returns from another sabbatical to review M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” and the Netflix documentary “Fyre.”

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Ep. 116 – Venom, A Star is Born

October 7, 2018 by  
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The CineSnob Podcast returns from its summer abroad, with reviews of “Venom” and “A Star is Born.” Cody also gives us a recap of Fantastic Fest, and we remind you to go download our friend Greg Sestero’s movie “Best F(r)iends: Vol. 1.”

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Venom

October 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Tom Hardy, Riz Ahmed, Michelle Williams
Directed by: Ruben Fleisher (“Zombieland,” “Gangster Squad”)
Written by: Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinkner (“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”) and Kelly Marcel (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) and Will Beall (“Gangster Squad”)

Do you remember the old days, post-Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” and pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe, when comic book movies were these weird standalone things, and studios were pulling out all the stops to try and get them to stick? We got mediocre to terrible movies like “Hulk,” “Daredevil,” and “Ghost Rider” out of the deal that each had to build a world where the main character was humanity’s first superhero. It sucked.

Apparently Sony, with their Tom Holland Spider-Man on loan to the MCU, looked back fondly on this era and realized they had the rights to Spider-Man’s arch nemesis Venom and thought “fuck it, let’s just make a ‘Venom’ movie with no Spider-Man whatsoever – that should be fine.”

It isn’t. “Venom” is the opposite of fine.

Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, a hotshot investigative journalist in San Francisco with a hit TV show who dresses like I imagine Tom Hardy dresses all the time. When he’s given the chance to interview rocket-obsessed tech billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) after his latest spacecraft crashes on re-entry, Brock instead sneaks into the email of his girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams, paying for a new vacation house, I guess) and notices people are dying in some human trials Drake is conducting (because, you see, Anne is one of his lawyers).

Anyway, instead of asking Drake about the spaceship (that, oops, brought back violent alien “symbiotes” that take over people’s bodies), Brock grills him about the human testing and promptly gets thrown out on his ass from the interview, his job and his relationship. Six months later, a down-and-out Brock is approached by Dr. Skirth (Jenny Slate), a whistleblower in the company who wants to put an end to Drake’s experiments. She sneaks him into the company headquarters (on property overlooking Horseshoe Bay that will apparently once become Starfleet HQ) where, in an effort to save a woman he knows from being experimented on, Brock becomes infected with a wise-cracking, head-eating symbiote known as Venom.

While “Venom” nakedly wants to be like “Deadpool,” the way it’s been clearly hacked into a PG-13 rating and the weird desire to turn the inky black monster into a do-gooder almost immediately blunts the whole thing from the start. Still, Hardy gives a wonderfully batshit if dimwitted performance at times, but alas that’s nowhere near enough to overcome the utter stupidity of Drake’s motivation or the unintentional comedy peppered throughout the film, be it an odd push in on a background scientist’s troubled reaction or making four-time Academy Award-nominee tenderly deliver the line “I’m sorry about Venom.”

No, Michelle, Sony is the one who should be sorry about Venom.

The Predator

September 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown
Directed by: Shane Black (“Iron Man 3,” “The Nice Guys”)
Written by: Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon”) & Fred Dekker (“The Monster Squad”)

The original “Predator” movie, released in 1987, is arguably the pinnacle of the ‘80s action movie genre. With a mix of shooting bad guys in the jungle, science fiction and pre-megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger, its no-bullshit, all-action approach makes it essential viewing. Hell, the greeting between Arnold’s Dutch and Carl Weathers’ Dillon and the “get to the choppah!” line are basically perfect. The other movies in the series, including a couple of sequels and a pair of crossovers with the “Alien” franchise, are best left unwatched.

Anyway, here we are 31 years later, and director Shane Black—who played Hawkins, the first guy the Predator killed in ’87—is at the helm of “The Predator,” a self-referential sequel that goes for laughs, but ends up with few surprises and far too many characters to remain interesting or entertaining, even with some ‘80s-level gore.

Set in a world where only the first two “Predator” movies happened, one of the dreadlocked aliens crash lands on Earth, essentially on top of sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) as he’s taking out some  random bad guys in Central America. A firefight ensues with the Predator, and he’s knocked out. Quinn steals the creature’s helmet and gauntlet, which he then mails to his family for safe keeping. He then swallows (for some reason) the ball thing that allows the Predator to become invisible, which gives him the power to cloak himself. Meanwhile, a mysterious government agency led by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown, all quips and honestly lots of fun) swoops in and steals the sedated Predator away to the United States, where he calls in Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), whose specialty is space animals because she wrote a letter to the president about it once.

Also, Quinn’s son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who is on the spectrum, opens the box containing the Predator mask and gauntlet and somehow figures out the complex operating system and turns the helmet into a Halloween costume, possibly ushering in a “Magical autistic kid” trope in the process.

Anyway, Quinn is arrested by Traeger’s men for what he knows, and is packed onto a military prison bus with the “Loonies,” a rag-tag team of soldiers with differing levels of mental issues, including characters played by Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane. When the Predator escapes and kills a bunch of lab techs, Quinn and the Loonies set out to kill the Predator, only to run up against an even bigger Predator.

While there are admittedly some laughs and groan-worthy meta-callbacks (“get to the choppers!” in reference to a bunch of street motorcycles on a military base, for some reason), “The Predator” is mostly a mess of goofs, gore, and muddled, incomplete character arcs. After three decades, everything new just keeps getting worse and worse in this franchise. Please, as with “Alien” and “Terminator” movies just…stop.

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