Ep. 113 – Avengers: Infinity War (SPOILERS start at 10:02)

April 28, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

The CineSnob Podcast RETURNS to discuss the biggest superhero movie ever, “Avengers: Infinity War!”

WARNING: Cody and Jerrod talk spoilers starting a 10:02, so tread carefully, true believers!

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Ep. 99 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

May 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and talk about lesser-known San Antonio Spurs players of the last three decades.

[00:00 – 25:51] Intro/Remembering random Spurs from the last 25 years, from Jaren Jackson to Cherokee Parks.

[25:51- 44:48] Review – “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

[44:48-49:01] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

May 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Kurt Russell
Directed by: James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”)
Written by: James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”)

The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film was a gamble in 2014, and it paid off big for Marvel—even if they were stealthily hedging their bets by releasing it late in the summer and without a firm connection to their already-established Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filled with loveable dirtbag characters, sharp humor and enough classic rock needle drops to make Cameron Crowe jealous, writer/director James Gunn’s sci-fi comedy about a bunch of a-holes was a refreshing change of pace from the Earth-bound heroes Marvel built its franchise on.

Following the financial success of the first film, Marvel allowed Gunn to run with the series, and in the time-honored sequel tradition of “bigger and more” he turned out “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” which still delivers most of the stuff you loved about the first go-round, only this time with a lot more of it and somewhat less satisfaction.

After a prologue in 1980 Missouri featuring yet another old actor digitally de-aged (in this case, Kurt Russell) to fill in some of our heroes’ backstory, we jump ahead 34 years as the Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Baustia as Drax, the voice of Bradley Cooper as Rocket, and the heavily-processed voice of Vin Diesel as adorable Baby Groot) are doing some work for hire (their price? Karen Gillen’s Nebula) protecting intergalactic batteries from a space monster for some gold-skinned alien beings called the Sovereign.

After they’ve succeeded, Rocket decides to swipe a few of the priceless batteries for himself, leading to the Sovereign forces giving chase and downing the Guardians’ ship on a remote planet. They’re saved from slaughter by a man riding an egg-shaped ship, named Ego (Russell), who reveals he’s Quill’s long-lost father and wants to show him where he came from. While Gamora and Drax join Quill, Rocket and Groot stay behind to repair the ship and keep watch over Nebula, only to be ambushed by Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his band of Ravagers out to collect a bounty on Rocket for thieving from the Sovereign.

After a mutiny derails Yondu’s original plan, he teams up with Rocket, Baby Groot, and Nebula to save Peter (and the galaxy) from the secret plan Ego has in place for his son.

With a kitchen sink approach to characters, plot turns and yacht rock songs, “GOTG Vol. 2” often feels in danger of collapsing under the bloat, but ends up kept afloat mostly by the enjoyment of hanging out with these characters again and the sheer amount of laughs the screenplay doles out. The comedy MVP trophy for this outing is more than earned by Bautista’s hyper-literal Drax, who punctuates nearly every near-death experience with a hearty, infectious laugh. Like a delicious hamburger with so many toppings they spill out all over your shirt when you take a bite, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is often highly enjoyable, but next time around you’d like it all to hold together a little better.

The Magnificent Seven

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”)
Written by: Richard Wenk (“The Equalizer”) and Nic Pizzolatto (debut)

Movies are often compared to theme park rides; sometimes that’s meant to evoke the thrills a viewer could experience along the way, while the more negative connotation could mean that the film takes you from point A to point B with little drama along the way. Some movies are built like rides at Disneyland: immersive and invigorating, enveloping you in a world far away from the line you waited in for two hours and 15 minutes before delivering you unharmed at an end result that, while fun, is not unexpected. Others are like an attraction at Six Flags: sure, it’s fun, too, but you can see the air conditioning units on top of the gift shop from every angle of the ride and you have to walk past a few ice machines for the adjacent snack bar on the way out.

The 2016 version of “The Magnificent Seven,” from director Antoine Fuqua, is a Six Flags ride of a pop-culture western. You can see the track the entire time, and you probably won’t want to buy the photo they take of you along the way, but the two hours and 15 minutes it took to get through the whole thing won’t feel like a waste of time.

When a crooked robber baron named Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) forcibly takes over the small mining town of Rose Creek in the years after the Civil War, killing and stealing indiscriminately from the populace, a widow (Haley Bennet)  and her companion (Luke Grimes) hope to enlist the help of some gunfighters to free their town from Bogue’s grip. When they encounter honorable bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) in a nearby town, they talk him into their cause and prompt Chisolm to recruit a band of brave men to fight off the evil Bogue and his army of hired guns. Joining Chisolm are the rakish Farraday (Chris Pratt), legendary sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), his quiet-yet-deadly assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), crazy mountain man Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and rebel Comanche Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier)—the so-called Magnificent Seven.

It feels like it’s been a while since a western was played as an action movie—these days they’re the domain of post-modern anti-heroes and moral conundrums. “The Magnificent Seven,” though, is just taking you from one place to another on horseback with some kicks along the way. There are times when the effortlessness actions of the heroes threatens to derail the whole endeavor—seriously, there are almost no obstacles for our heroes until the script dictates them—but it ultimately stays in the saddle long enough to be successful.

Jurassic World

June 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow (“Safety Not Guaranteed”)
Written by:  Rick Jaffa (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), Amanda Silver (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), Colin Trevorrow (“Safety Not Guaranteed”) and Derek Connolly (“Safety Not Guaranteed”)

There’s some reasonably sharp meta humor bubbling under the surface during certain scenes in “Jurassic World” referencing the notion that, 20 or so years after the world in the film became aware that dinosaurs had been genetically-engineered back to life, the public has grown bored with T. rex and company. “No one’s impressed with dinosaurs.”  The titular theme park- envisioned by John Hammond in the ‘90s – has now become a destination resort filled with kitschy souvenirs, Margaritavilles and families wanting more than the thunder lizards they’ve been seeing for the better part of two decades now. This not-so-subtle commentary alludes to the real-life trajectory of 1993’s “Jurassic Park,” the movie that not only started this franchise but is also nearly entirely responsible for the CGI special effects revolution that has dominated the summer movie season and beyond ever since. With knowing winks at the past and some fresher spins on the formula, “Jurassic Work” finally offers fans of the series a truly worthy sequel to the modern Spielberg classic.

Finally a fully-operational theme park to rival anything Disney has to offer, Jurassic World boasts 20,000 visitors a day, but executive Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) recognizes the park needs to evolve to survive financially, and that calls for and exciting (and dangerous) new dinosaur. After the on-site lab cooks up an unstoppable killing machine, the Indominous Rex, billionaire park CEO Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) insists on bringing in an expert to check the safety of the paddock. Thankfully, there’s one on site in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a wiseass dino trainer with his own pack of semi-loyal velociraptors. When I-rex inevitably uses its genetic modifications to escape its enclosure, Claire and Masrani are determined to capture the valuable beast without evacuating the park. Of course this doesn’t go as planned, and it’s up to Owen and his dinosaur pals to stop the I-rex before InGen mercenary Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) can use it in his plan to militarize dinosaurs.

Messy and over-written, “Jurassic World” nonetheless overcomes whatever misdeeds it may commit in its overstuffed screenplay by giving us some thrilling dinosaur action. With no less than six different plots going on—four of them not interesting at all—the movie thrives when focusing on the banality of modern society in the mall-like atmosphere of an over-engineered theme park, filled with tourists staring at their phones, and cramming it up against the very real danger of unleashing murderous monsters into that ecosystem. The climax of the film, offering up a bronto-sized shout out to longtime fans of the series, is just the right kind of goofy craziness to leave you cheering and laughing at the same time. Finally, we have a reason to return to Jurassic Park.

Guardians of the Galaxy

August 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista
Directed by: James Gunn (“Super”)
Written by: James Gunn (“Super”) and Nicole Perlman (debut)

Never bet against Marvel Studios. Ever since Robert Downey Jr. suited up for “Iron Man” in 2008, the hits based on comic books have just kept coming. Even the most jaded cynic can honestly only call the studio’s worst output, namely “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man 2,” merely disappointing, never outright bad. Hollywood hasn’t seen a streak like this since the golden age of Pixar (read: pre-“Cars”), and since they’re playing with the house’s money after smashes like “The Avengers,” apparently someone at Marvel and Disney decided now was the time to see just how far into the outer reaches of the comic book universe they could delve for a mainstream movie. The studio is going all in – because why the hell not? – on a quirky sci-fi comedy in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and the gamble pays off handsomely, for the most part.

After being abducted by aliens as a boy moments after his mother died of cancer, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) travels the galaxy, jamming out on a vintage Walkman while scrounging for treasures to steal to sell to the highest bidder. When he comes across an orb valued by Ronan (Lee Pace), an assassin named Gomora (Zoe Saldana) is sent to relieve Quill (AKA Star-Lord) of his prize. When the two clash on the planet Nova Prime, some opportunistic bounty hunters named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), who happen to be a raccoon and a tree, respectively, spot Quill and notice he has a bounty on his head offered by Quill’s partner/abductor Yondu (Michael Rooker). The duo complicates the interaction enough to land them all in prison where they meet up with Drax (Dave Bautista), a hyper-literal brute who has a grudge against both Ronan and Gomora. This is getting too complicated, so just know they need to overcome their differences in order to save the galaxy from some ultimate evil.

While Marvel may have a license to print money at this point, “Guardians” is by far their riskiest venture. This is a sci-fi movie first and foremost, filled with fantastical aliens, planets made from the guts of some space-faring creature, and guys with unironic epithets after their names like “the accuser” and “the destroyer.” Director James Gunn pulls everything together well, anchored by a winning, winking performance from Pratt, although the CGI Rocket and Groot nearly steal the show with their mix of humor and pathos. The real shame though is the boring, straight-faced villain and the warmed-over hunt for some cosmic MacGuffin. It’s as if the dark elf plot from “Thor: The Dark World” was just copied and pasted into the screenplay with only the names changed. Also somewhat disappointing is the obvious laying of groundwork for future installments. The intergalactic villain Thanos (voice of Josh Brolin), first glimpsed in “The Avengers” after the credits, gets some early screen time, only to disappear for the rest of the movie (and, one assumes, we’ll only see him in a series of cameos until “The Avengers 3” or something). Same for John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey and Glenn Close as Nova Prime; big actors stuffed into tiny parts with truncated arcs, waiting for their turn in subsequent sequels. If superhero fatigue has set in and you can’t take anymore S.H.I.E.L.D. but still need your fix for good versus evil, “Guardians of the Galaxy” should be right up your alley.

(Again, since this is a Marvel movie, stay until the credits have ended for another scene, this time showing just how far down the rabbit hole of the Marvel universe – and bad ‘80s nostalgia – the company is willing to go.)

Delivery Man

November 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders
Directed by: Ken Scott (“Starbuck”)
Written by: Ken Scott (“Starbuck”) and Martin Petit (“Starbuck”)

In “Delivery Man,” manchild and meat company delivery truck driver Dave Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) faces parenthood in a way he couldn’t have imagined: as a sperm donor, he is the biological father of 533 kids. Through this process, Dave finds out that 142 of these children are pursuing a lawsuit against him in order to discover his identity after his privacy forms from the clinic are under the alias of “Starbuck.” As Dave seeks out his children and spends time trying to take care of them, he wrestles with the idea of revealing his identity.

To his credit, Vaughn bucks his conventional role of the fast-talking, neurotic jokester seen in most of his roles and turns in a more subdued performance. It’s a welcome change, especially since his role in this year’s “The Internship” further proved that his schtick is wearing thin, but it is perhaps too dialed back and at times a little lifeless. Most of the humor from the film comes from his lawyer friend Brett played by Chris Pratt (TV’s “Parks and Recreation”), who is knocking on the doorstep of stardom with roles in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the long-awaited fourth installment of the “Jurassic Park” franchise. While Pratt’s full range of comedic abilities isn’t put to use, he is the funniest part of the film and is able to inject some energy into a picture that is surprisingly dour.

Tone is a big problem for “Delivery Man.” It’s almost difficult to call it a comedy, not just because it isn’t particularly funny, but there seems to be a lack of jokes being made at all. The film overshoots for far too many dramatic moments, many of which feel manufactured. There is also an issue with the conceivability of the story. While the narrative might be loosely based on real life situations of sperm donors fathering large amounts of kids, 533 is such a preposterous number to choose that it distracts from the movie itself.

As a comedy, the most humorous part of “Delivery Man” might be the irony that a movie containing a central plot line of a man who donated enough sperm to father a small army of children is being distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It’s riddled with problems, but its main downfall is its lowkey tone that at times robs the film of any vibrancy. Some of the more sentimental moments are well-executed and it’s nice to see Vaughn branch out and try a new role, but ultimately, “Delivery Man” can’t get out of neutral.

The Five-Year-Engagement

April 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jason Segal, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”)
Written by: Jason Segal (“The Muppets”) and Nicholas Stoller (“The Muppets”)

Ever since “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” became a hit in 2005, the influence of its director Judd Apatow has been felt in nearly every comedy Hollywood has released since. The raunchy dialogue, the nudity, and the themes of male sentimentality have become a bankable style, used by Apatow proteges and copycats alike.

“The Five-Year Engagement” is the latest vulgar romantic comedy from the Apatow-backed duo of director/writer Nicholas Stoller and writer/star Jason Segal, previously responsible for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” which itself was responsible for introducing most of the world to Jason Segal’s penis. This time Segal stars as Tom, an affable San Francisco sous chef who opens the film nervously bumbling his way toward proposing to girlfriend Violet (Emily Blunt) by way of a sweetly amateurish skit. With their engagement official, Tom and Violet start to feel the pressure from both sides of the family to marry as soon as possible. However, as it sometimes does, life gets in the way: Violet lands a university job in Michigan, and a reluctantly supportive Tom travels halfway across the country with her, agreeing to postpone their wedding plans while they adjust to life in a new town.

As with the rest of the films producer Apatow has a hand in, the story in “The Five-Year Engagement” is in no particular hurry to unfold. Writers Segal and Stoller take their time, stocking the edges of the story with hilarious minor characters, including the scene-stealing couple played by Chris Pratt and Alison Brie. Director Stoller invites other comedic ringers like Chris Parnell, Brian Posehn, Mindy Kaling, and Kevin Hart to swing by for extended amounts of time just to hang out instead of actually advancing the main plot in any way. The result is a shaggy film that fits squarely in the Apatow/Segal/Stoller brand yet feels like a run-of-the-mill broad romantic comedy at the same time.

With “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Segal and Stoller made a romantic comedy for young men, one wherein the well-meaning man-child was done wrong by an indifferent, uncaring woman. “The Five-Year Engagement” seems to represent an effort to appeal to both men and women, with Segal’s well-meaning man-child being equally responsible for the highs and lows of his relationship with a Blunt’s caring, emotionally-conflicted career woman. At times, though, Segal and Stoller end up outside their comfort zone, littering the plot with threadbare romantic comedy tropes like a fanciful stunt wedding and the rakish older professor (Rhys Ifans) whose ill intentions can be seen coming miles away. But Segal and Stoller still realize the inherent hilarity in seeing Segal’s bare ass, so at least they haven’t forgotten where they came from.