Ep. 161 – Beastie Boys Story, Extraction, Bad Education

April 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week in another deep quarantine episode of The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review Apple TV+’s “Beastie Boys Story,” Netflix’s “Extraction,” and HBO’s “Bad Education.”

They also talk ever-shifting movie release dates, including the decision by Warner Bros. to release “Scoob!” straight to VOD.

Click here to download the episode!

The Front Runner

November 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, Sara Paxon
Directed by: Jason Reitman (“Tully”)
Written by: Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”), Jay Carson (debut), Matt Bai (debut)

It’s almost laughable to think that only 30 years ago, an entire political campaign for a U.S. presidential hopeful collapsed under the weight of a sordid extramarital affair. In comparison to the numerous sexual misconduct allegations raised about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016 — not to mention his countless public gaffes that would’ve destroyed any other candidate’s chances of making it to the White House — the unfaithfulness of Colorado Senator Gary Hart feels like such a trivial issue.

In “The Front Runner,” however, Academy Award-nominated writer/director Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”) does his best to make Hart’s narrative resonate for audiences that can see the parallels between his indiscretions in the late 1980s and the bad behavior men from all industries have been called out for since the start of the #MeToo movement last year. It’s not heavy-handed from this aspect, but the similarities are recognizable for those who consume news on, at least, a semi-regular basis.

Reitman, who has been in a slump these last five years with less-than-stellar contributions like “Labor Day” and “Men, Women & Children,” delivers a sufficient look behind the scenes of a campaign spiraling out of control, although much of it is surface-level drama that fails to get into the heads of its main characters. It’s especially true of Hart (Hugh Jackman), who spends most of the film’s run time playing defense against accusations and blaming reporters for their salacious coverage.

As Hart, Jackman is genuinely believable in his role as a confident politician who is “talented at untangling the bullshit of politics” and becomes the front runner for the 1988 Democratic nomination. Hart was known for his resistance to answering questions about his personal life, so when the Miami Herald ran an article on an affair he was allegedly involved in, he quickly became a punchline for Johnny Carson and would later be written into the history books as the embodiment of political scandal.

“The Front Runner” is a captivating story but would’ve benefited from the script giving audiences a more meaningful insight into how Hart’s infidelity affected the lives of everyone around him — specifically his wife Lee (Vera Farmiga), campaign manager Bill Dixon (J.K. Simmons) and young lover Donna Rice (Sara Paxton). In her couple of scenes, Paxton gets closer than anyone in capturing the magnitude of Hart’s selfish actions.

Like all politicians, “The Front Runner” is flawed. But Reitman offers up a compelling enough glimpse from the campaign trail and shows that, no matter in what era, journalists will always be there to hold people in power accountable — even if that means forcing them to air out their dirty laundry.

Ep. 95 – Logan (spoilers start at 53:52), The Great Wall, A Cure For Wellness, and why can’t WB nail down The Batman?

February 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody, Jerrod and special guest critic James Roberts review “Logan” (spoilers for the movie start at 53:52, so be wary!), “The Great Wall” and “A Cure For Wellness.” They also wonder just what the hell is going on with Warner Bros. losing yet another director for “The Batman.”

[00:00-14:09] Intro

[14:09-38:56] News: Director Matt Reeves might be walking away from “The Batman,” leaving the movie in disarray

[38:56-1:02:50] Review: “Logan” (spoilers run 53:52-1:02:16)

[1:02:50-1:14:31] “The Great Wall”

[1:14:31-1:24:56] “A Cure For Wellness”

[1:24:56-1:36:07] No Ticket Required: “Manchester by the Sea”

[1:36:07-1:43:41] Wrap up/tease
Click here to download the episode!


February 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Directed by: James Mangold (“The Wolverine”)
Written by: Scott Frank (“The Wolverine”) & James Mangold (“Walk The Line”) and Michael Green (“Green Lantern”)

In the 17 years since Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” birthed the modern comic book movie, there have been a sizable number of really good films in the genre—but transcendent ones are as rare as adamantium. 2008’s “The Dark Knight” obviously makes that list, and many would put 2012’s “The Avengers” right behind it, followed in some circles by last year’s “Deadpool.” And now, nearly two decades after his first, career-making appearance as Wolverine, Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold join their company and outdo every film in the X-series—and most comic book movies, period–with the R-rated “Logan.”

Set in 2029 after something mysterious (and blissfully unexplored) left most mutants dead, “Logan” opens with Jackman’s erstwhile berserker X-Man, weak and hungover, sleeping in a limousine. When a group of guys try to steal his rims, Logan can’t muster the strength to take them down—until a shotgun blast to the chest awakens his anger and he cuts them to ribbons. Later, he’s met by a woman named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who offers him $50,000 to take her and her young daughter, Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota—both of whom are also wanted by a ruthless, robotic-handed mercenary Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). When the shit hits the fan, Logan and an elderly, dementia-addled Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) escape in the limo with Laura, who mysteriously mirrors Logan in both rage and the presence of razor-sharp claws that extend from her appendages.

Clearly owing a debt to the financial success of the brilliantly profane and grisly “Deadpool,” Jackman and Mangold were taken off the PG-13 leash, free to pepper “Logan” (seemingly not beholden to much of the series’ notoriously convoluted timeline) with all of the fucks and gory decapitations that have been missing from the character’s DNA. It pays off, too, allowing the film’s achingly bleak, last-of-its-kind tone to wash over everything without the compromise normally required for something meant to sell action figures and breakfast cereal. 17 years later, after pretty great movies (“X2,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past”) horrible duds (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) and underappreciated turns missing just a little something (“The Wolverine”), Jackman—in what he insists is his final performance in a role he 100 percent owns—finally has his comic book movie masterpiece.

Ep. 89 – The Birth of a Nation, 13th, Logan’s hard-R guarantee, and too much political talk

October 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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After a month away, The CineSnob Podcast returns! Cody and Jerrod talk “The Birth of a Nation,” “13th,” the news about “Logan” being hard-R, and a whole bunch of instantly-dated political stuff.

[00:00-35:08] Intro/”What We Do In The Shadows” events/politics

[35:08-53-14] News – “Logan,” the new Wolverine movie, releases new images and a script page

[53:14-1:10:58] Review – “The Birth of a Nation”

[1:10:58-1:34:44] Review – “13th”

[1:34:44-1:43:00] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

Eddie the Eagle

February 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher (“Wild Bill”)
Written by:  Sean Macauly (debut) and Simon Kelton (debut)

Inoffensive, inspirational sports movies seem to be written Mad Libs-style: “A down-on-his luck (noun) dreams of being a star athlete in (name of sport), but he comes from a (negative adjective) family who wants him to continue working as a (type of humdrum job) instead of chasing his dreams. In an effort to achieve his dreams, he runs across a disgraced/retired/old legend in (same sport as before) who he begs to train him, but that person is too much of a (insert negative trait here) and wants to move on with his life. When the dreamer finally steps in to the world of (name of same sport), he’s met with derision from the (nationality and/or social class) superstar who laughs in his face, causing the dreamer’s spirit to falter. That’s when the legend steps in to coach the dreamer, and through a series of unorthodox/old school training methods, the legend will help the dreamer overcome any obstacle to get to the big (name of major sporting event here). “

Last year, “Creed” followed this formula and turned it into a rousing success, fueled by great direction and powerful performances. “Eddie the Eagle,” on the other hand, follows this formula like a pair of skis locked into the trenches of a ski jump. There’s never any doubt exactly how the film is going to land.

“Eddie the Eagle” is the true-but-really-embellished story of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton of “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” squinting behind geeky glasses and never quite selling it), a would-be downhill skier for the British Olympic team, except that he’s not the best skier and he’s kind of weird, so the posh British officials drum him out of the sport and force him to reluctantly work as a plasterer, like his father. You see, Eddie’s always been a dreamer, and he’s always wanted to be an Olympian – in that late-‘70s kind of way – when they became superstars. Too bad the British officials seem to hate him, for some reason. Only Eddie isn’t finished dreaming, so he decides to give ski jumping a try. He travels to Germany to train, where all hot Swedish skiers laugh at him and he nearly kills himself making jumps. That’s when Eddie catches the eye of snow plow driver Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman, dressed like Wolverine only without the mutton chops), himself a disgraced former ski jumper with a drinking problem who first tries to talk Eddie out of the sport, but then, of course, becomes his coach, guiding Eddie on a path toward the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Stuffy British officials be damned.

You’ve seen this movie before. It wasn’t wearing ski jumping gear, but you’ve seen “Eddie the Eagle” in some form or fashion probably 10 times, if not more. Do you want to see it again? Do you care that much about ski jumping? My guess is no, and the movie probably knows this. But the synth-heavy pseudo-‘80s soundtrack is pretty great. Can I just listen to that instead?


October 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund
Directed by: Joe Wright (“Atonement”)
Written by: Jason Fuchs (“Ice Age: Continental Drift”)

After the beautiful adaptation of “Cinderella” earlier this year from Oscar-nominated director Kenneth Branagh (“Henry V”), one might’ve started to think recreating animated Disney classics into live-action films could end up being a fantastic experience for children and adults alike. With a handful of these kinds of films currently in some stage of production, including “The Jungle Book” and “Beauty and the Beast,” one could only hope these stories are also going to get the same sort of royal treatment Branagh and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”) were able to deliver.

Don’t hold you’re breath just yet. Swooping in like a fairy on angel dust to muck that idea up is a prequel to the story of author J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. In “Pan,” a directionless and pitiful excuse for children’s entertainment, director Joe Wright (“Atonement”) and screenwriter Jason Fuchs (“Ice Age: Continental Drift”) try to do some off-the-wall things with the storytelling, but fall deep into a creative rut when making decisions on exactly what this prequel should actually be about.

Plenty of those decisions are terrible ones. We won’t even get into the fact that the film includes a musical interlude where Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard the Pirate sings Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (something the film “Moulin Rouge!” gets away with because the rendition is so insane and interesting) and pretends it’s not the most foolish thing he’s done since donning a prosthetic scrotum in “Movie 43.”

In “Pan,” Peter’s story pre-Neverland is laid out from his childhood in a London orphanage to his first encounter with his future arch-nemesis Captain Hook (Garret Hedlund). Both start off as friends with a common enemy in Blackbeard. Swashbuckling their way through action sequences, the CGI-heavy scenes start to droll on and on like a sequel to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.

There’s really no reason for “Pan” to exist. With the satisfactory 2003 adaption “Peter Pan” from director P.J. Hogan and the original 1953 animation (we’ll pretend “Hook” never happened), do we really need to know how Peter Pan learned to fly? Some backstories – especially when they’re told this thoughtlessly – should be left to the imagination. What’s next? A movie about how the Genie actually got into the lamp? Let’s hope not.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

May 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
Directed by: Bryan Singer (“X-Men,” “X2: X-Men United”)
Written by: Simon Kinburg (“X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Sherlock Holmes”)

In this golden age of comic book movies, the X-Men franchise is the unlikely elder statesman. Bill Clinton was still president when the first film hit theaters in 2000, for crying out loud, and since then we’ve had two different sets of Spider-Man movies, three different versions of the Hulk, and we’re working on our second go-round with both Batman and Superman. And the X-movies, with their often blatant disregard for continuity with one another, fly in the face of the clockwork-precision the current slate of Avengers-based blockbusters Marvel and Disney are pumping out. It’s no secret that Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine is the glue that holds everything together, anchoring the everything from the best (“X2”) and worst (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) in the series with his definitive take on the most popular X-Man. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is no different, only this time it shrewdly sends the mutant MVP back through time to undo some of the franchise’s most glaring missteps in an adventure that ranks among the series’ strongest.

Opening in a dystopian future — and weirdly, seeming to shrug off the post-credits sequence of “The Wolverine” — “Days of Future Past” finds Logan, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellan), and a small group of X-Men fighting for their lives against shape-shifting killer robots known as Sentinels. Originally meant to hunt down mutants, the Sentinels’ programming changed to include taking out mutant-sympathizing humans as well. In an effort to end the war before it begins, Professor X hatches a plan with Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) to send Logan’s consciousness back through time into his younger body. His goal is to unite the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lesherr (Michael Fassbender) to stop Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Sentinel creator Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), an event that set humankind on a mission to eradicate mutants from the world.

Returning to the franchise for the first time since “X2,” director Bryan Singer seems to have one goal in mind: clean up the mess the series has become. Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinburg rely heavily on the audience being familiar with  most of the events in “X-Men,” “X2,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and the prequel “X-Men: First Class” (again, oddly, the superior “The Wolverine” is largely ignored), and the duo make a massive effort to smash all of that into a timeline that makes sense within itself (spoiler: it never does). Thinking about it too much can make your head hurt, and thankfully the film is exciting enough that you don’t need to worry about it. At this point Jackman IS Wolverine, and his performance is as badass and funny as ever. The “First Class” cast, led by Lawrence, McAvoy, Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult (as Hank McCoy/Beast) all shine as well. “Days of Future Past” ultimately serves as a giant reset button and with Singer back at the helm, the future of the franchise seems brighter than ever.


September 26, 2013 by  
Filed under CineStrays

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve (“Incendies”)
Written by: Aaron Guzikowski (“Contraband”)

While it’s script might transform from intriguing police procedural into something that could be described as controlled chaos, director Denis Villeneuve 153-minute long drama is effectively tense. Anchored by a raw and powerful performance from Hugh Jackman and a solid contribution from Jake Gyllenhaal, this film about two young girls who are kidnapped confronts some extremely hard-hitting themes and scenarios that would make any parent shudder. Things get messy as the film spirals to a conclusion, but there’s no way you’re going to move unless you know how it all ends (even though you technically don’t).

The Wolverine

July 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima
Written by: Mark Bomback (“Live Free or Die Hard”) and Scott Frank (“Marley & Me”)
Directed by: James Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma,” “Walk the Line”)

When we last saw Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, it was in the dismal “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (if you don’t count his hilarious cameo in “X-Men: First Class,” that is). Marred by a dumb, continuity-shredding storyline and crummy special effects, Jackman’s first solo turn as the mysterious mutant fell flat, disappointing X-fans and shelving what had been a planned series of origin stories for other mutants. Yet with comic book heroes ruling the box office and Jackman’s absolute ownership of the Logan/Wolverine role, the character’s solo adventures continue with this latest entry, simply titled “The Wolverine.”

In a prologue set in the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, Logan is being held prisoner, trapped underground in a well. When the atomic devastation awaiting the city becomes evident, Japanese soldiers start performing harakiri. One young soldier, Yashida, is stopped by Logan before plunging a sword into his belly. Using his mutant healing factor to withstand the nuclear assault, Logan shields Yashida from the blast, saving his life. Sixty-plus years later, a dying Yashida, now the head of a huge technological corporation, requests a visit from the troubled, near-immortal Logan, offering him something the mutant could never attain on his own: mortality. After telling the old man no thanks, though, a strange doctor and a clan of ninjas look to take Logan out of the picture in order to get to Yashida’s daughter.

Directed by James Mangold, “The Wolverine” is the freshest, most satisfying X-movie since “X2” hit theaters a decade ago. For most of its running time, it feels nothing like the comic book movies that pop up every summer. While it pays to know what happened in previous films in the series (“The Wolverine” picks up after the events of “X-Men: The Last Stand”), the film isn’t beholden to plot points and table-setting put in place by what came before it. This is the real Wolverine solo film fans have been looking for, packed with high-energy action sequences that stretch across Tokyo city blocks or, most impressively, on top of a speeding bullet train. “The Wolverine” loses steam toward the end, unfortunately, when sweet ninja fights give way to robots and lame mutants, but leaves fans on a high-note when the obligatory post-credits sequence sets up Logan’s, and the X-Men’s, next adventure.

Les Misérables

December 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway
Directed by: Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”)
Written by: William Nicholson (“Gladiator”)

Whether you jump on board for the most recent cinematic adaptation of “Les Misérables,” based on Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel, will all depend on two major decisions Oscar-winning filmmaker Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) made to separate it from other versions of the musical that have come before. Of those two choices, one will more than likely earn an actress her first Academy Award of her career. The other is a debauched experiment in the actual framework of the musical. It’s sure to have anyone sitting on the fence reconsider giving the genre another chance after what can only be described as a grandiloquent mistake.

In “Les Misérables,” Hugh Jackman stars as Jean Valjean, an ex-prisoner who finds a new meaning to his life when he agrees to take care of Cosette (Isabelle Allen as a child; Amanda Seyfried as a young woman). Cosette is the daughter of Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a worker at one of Valjean’s factories who is forced into a life of prostitution to pay her debts. Oscar winning actor Russell Crowe, who is completely miscast in this production, plays Javert, a police inspector who has long searched for Valjean for breaking parole years before.

Hooper’s first decision, which is likely to send actress Anne Hathaway to the podium for an Oscar come February, is having all the musical performances sung live. While most musicals shoot actors lip syncing their parts and dubbing them in post-production, allowing Hathaway and others to break from the normal practices and sing from within was the right call by Hooper. It is especially evident in Hathaway’s moving performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” which captures the depth of the entire musical in a single powerful scene.

What else Hooper demands of his musical in a larger sense, however, is what ultimately takes ““Les Misérables” from an epic period drama into an indistinct collection of classic songs that would be better experienced listening to the film’s soundtrack. Instead of interspersing the musical numbers with dialogue, Hooper insists every word of the narrative be sung. By doing this, the intimacy, anger, or any number of other emotions the characters are supposed to share between each other is whittled down into awkward exchanges.

Despite the inevitable humming of the songs that will come after seeing the film, not much else will stick from “Les Misérables” aside from the beautiful technical aspects, including the costume design and art direction. For a narrative so swathed in raw emotion, however, Hathaway’s lone performance (and a memorable supporting role by theatrical actress Samantha Barks as Eponine) will make the only true connection.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

May 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston
Directed by: Gavin Hood (“Rendition”)
Written by: David Benioff (“The Kite Runner”) and Skip Woods (“Swordfish”)

It’s no surprise 20th Century Fox wanted to start the new “X-Men Origins” series with the most popular character of the mutant group after the first three installments raked in more than 600 million in the U.S.

In “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which is the first in more than likely a string of prequels to follow (“Magneto” is scheduled for 2011), Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the clawed-one. Director Gavin Hood (“Rendition”) takes us back to the beginning of the superhero’s life when he was a young, sickly boy struggling with the gift/curse with which he was born.

While the back story to Logan AKA Wolverine’s upbringing is noteworthy (we watch him and his half-brother Victor, who later becomes his nemesis Sabretooth, fight their way through years of war and suffering), the script soon stumbles onto an uninspired story of revenge. It’s a played-out theme that should have been left for its predecessors or at least built on a bit more securely.

When Logan turns his back on his unique capabilities and chooses to live his life in Canada as a normal human being with his wife, Victor (Liev Schreiber) gives him six years of freedom before coming to knock at his door and cause problems. Taking a page from “Watchmen,” Sabretooth is picking off his former mutant comrades and decides to punish Logan by killing his wife. (Cue the cliché aerial camera shot of a distraught Jackman screaming in the air as he holds his dead wife in his arms).

This prompts Logan to set out after his bro for revenge, but not before getting help from William Stryker (Danny Huston), the military man who unites the band of mutants at the beginning of the film to search for an indestructible material in Africa. This, of course, is the substance that is later injected into Logan to transform him into Marvel Comics’ icon Wolverine. The event is highlighted with Logan’s jagged claws turning into sleek alloy blades.

From here, the familiar Wolverine is born and begins his journey to find Sabretooth and destroy him. But not before screenwriters David Benioff (“The Kite Runner”) and Skip Woods (“Swordfish”) can introduce (or reintroduce) us to more mutants who, despite their massive following in the comic-book world, sort of bow out without doing much of anything. In essence, characters like Gamit (Taylor Kitsch), Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Agent Zero (David North), feel like trivial cameos amidst some astonishingly terrible special effects. (Hood might as well have left the actual green screen on the set during some scenes. The actors literally look like their running in a studio lot).

Nevertheless, it’s not only the technical flaws that make “Wolverine” so average and dull. Most of the finger-pointing should be directed toward Benioff and Woods for sticking to the safe route rather than giving audiences something they’ve never seen before. Sadly, “Wolverine” falls somewhere in the middle in terms of superhero cinema. It’s where most comic-based blockbusters that make millions go to be forgotten.

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