Ep. 109 – The Cloverfield Paradox

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week, Jerrod and Cody tackled the surprise Netflix release of “The Cloverfield Paradox,” plus a quick rundown of the trailers that aired during The Big Game.

(There are some audio issues with Cody’s track that we can’t overcome, sorry he sounds like a robot.)

Click here to download the episode!

Ep. 107 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi (spoilers start at 17:04) and The Disaster Artist

December 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review the year’s most anticipated movie, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” BE AWARE: Spoilers run from 17:04 to 40:35!

They also review last week’s wide release “The Disaster Artist,” which is also the subject of Bonus Episode 13, so give that a listen too!

Click here to download the episode!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek Into Darkness”)
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan (“Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”), J.J. Abrams (“Super 8”), Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”)

After more than a decade-and-a-half of heartache whipped into a frenzy of pain and anger by the rise of the internet and some cold, sub-standard prequels hatched exclusively from the brain of series creator George Lucas, “Star Wars” fans felt they had, ahem, a new hope when Disney bought the franchise in and immediately announced an Episode 7 of the saga—now known as “The Force Awakens”—would finally continue the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia. Adding admitted fan J.J. Abrams as the director and “The Empire Strikes Back” screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan to the creative team, along with the pledge to return to some practical special effects and film stock instead of existing almost exclusively in the digital world as the prequels did, ramped anticipation for the film into the Dagobah system. After what seems like years of carefully navigating the news releases and leaks to avoid spoilers, the movie is finally here, and it most definitely calls to mind the classic “Star Wars” movies—for better or worse.

The spoiler-free synopsis goes like this: 30 years after the death of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has vanished. The First Order has risen in the Empire’s place, and is on the hunt for the last Jedi, led by Vader-worshipper Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke (motion capture legend Andy Serkis). A hotshot pilot for the Resistance, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), has the missing chunk of a map that leads to Skywalker’s location, and to keep it from falling into the First Order’s hands as he comes under attack from Ren, he entrusts the data to beach-ball droid BB-8 on the desert planet Jakku. BB-8 rolls his way across the sand dunes and encounters Rey (Daisy Ridley), a young scavenger waiting for her family to return after abandoning her years ago. Meanwhile, a Stormtrooper groomed from birth to be a warrior (John Boyega) grows a conscience and helps free Dameron from Ren’s clutches. The two escape on a stolen TIE Fighter, where Dameron gives his new friend the name Finn and tells him they need to retrieve BB-8. After crash landing on Jakku, Finn finds Rey and the droid, and the trio must run flee the planet to look for help as the First Order closes in. Luckily there happens to be an old, junky spaceship lying around…

In an effort to please the fans who felt burned by the relative crumminess of the prequel trilogy, Disney has rendered “The Force Awakens” as the mega-franchise version of Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house. It’s cinematic comfort food with almost no exotic ingredients to make it different than the similar meals you’ve enjoyed before. Sure, some things were rearranged and there was a small sampling of a new type of gravy—look, what I mean is this “The Force Awakens” essentially serves up a greatest hits remix of original trilogy plot points. Desert planet? Check. Droid with secret plans? Yup. Planet-sized planet-destroying weapon with one point of weakness? Oh yes. A showdown between family members on the opposite sides of good and evil on a bridge over a bottomless chasm? Yeah, even that, and much more. But it still makes for a fine sci-fi fantasy, and Ridley, Boyega, Driver, and Isaac are all fantastic additions to a cast that includes old timers Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and the rare engaged Harrison Ford. I suppose the franchise needed this palate cleanser, but let’s hope the next adventure is a little more adventurous.

Star Trek Into Darkness

May 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Kiko

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek”)
Written by: Roberto Orci (“Star Trek”), Alex Kurtzman (“Star Trek”) and Damon Lindelof (“Prometheus”)

Already having given audiences the best “Mission Impossible” film of the series with the third installment in 2006 and the best “Star Trek” movie with his hip revamp in 2009, director J.J. Abrams attempts to top himself again by joining up with the Starship Enterprise in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” a solid follow-up to Abrams’ first foray into space seven years ago. It’s more proof that you don’t have to be a Klingon-speaking geekboy to find this franchise one of the more fascinating big-budget sci-fi projects to hit the mainstream in the last four or five years.

Of course, if you are one of those hardcore “Star Trek” fans that won’t be happy with the shape of Mr. Spock’s ears in comparison to Leonard Nimoy’s or looking forward to nitpicking any number of creative choices Abrams makes that are different from the original TV show, then it’s probably best if you stay home and Netflix “The Trouble with Tribbles.” This isn’t your grandfather’s “Star Trek.” For those interested in another fresh take from Abrams and have the open-mindedness to let things go, then “Into Darkness” just might be the popcorn movie of the pre-summer.

Working loosely off 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” which is what most “Star Trek” aficionados agree is the best of the original films, we join the crew of the Enterprise as they search for John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a former commander who has gone rogue. On his trail and reprising their roles from the 2009 film are Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, who was recently relieved and then reinstated as Captain; Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock; Zoe Saldana as Uhura; Karl Urban as Bones; Simon Pegg as Scotty; John Cho as Sulu; Anton Yelchin as Chekov; and Alice Eve as new and attractive science officer Carol Marcus. When they catch up to Harrison on a Klingon planet, the crew is shocked to learn there is more to their manhunt than simply eliminating a powerful villain.

Aside from the outstanding action sequences and set pieces that packed its predecessor, “Into Darkness” also takes an effective emotional turn with the relationship between Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock. Kirk’s massive ego and bullheaded nature and Spock’s reluctance to break regulation frame their interaction very well. Pine and Quinto once again take command of the characters in the same way William Shatner and Nimoy did in the late 60s. Sorry, purists, but those roles are theirs now.

With today’s technology catching up to Gene Roddenberry’s creation, the universe feels even more volatile, which makes for an exciting adventure with this crew. Who knows how long Abrams will stay on board (now that he’s been dubbed to lead the new “Star Wars” movie in 2015), but he’s laid some great groundwork for a dozen more and has taken the storytelling to a place few directors have gone before.

Super 8

June 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek”)
Written by: J.J. Abrams (“Misson: Impossible III”)

As much as filmmaker J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek”) would have liked for his nostalgic sci-fi “Super 8” to convey as much enchantment as a Steven Spielberg-directed masterpiece like “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” or “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” it doesn’t quite reach that ambitious goal. Nevertheless, “Super 8” is not without its own small trove of delightful moments. Standing on its own as a less aggressive version of the Abrams-produced 2008 creature feature “Cloverfield,” the movie doesn’t have all the elements necessary to make it a true classic, but there are some admirable things it accomplishes, especially when the enthusiastic kids are at the forefront.
 
Set in the small fictional town of Lillian, Ohio in 1979, the film follows six friends who are spending their free time during the summer shooting a zombie movie with a Super 8 camera, a set piece not nearly important enough to warrant the title. At the center of the imaginative group of teens is Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), an innocent boy with a mop-top who is mourning the recent loss of his mother, butting heads with his deputy-sheriff father (Kyle Chandler), and fawning over Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), a classmate invited onto the no-budget set to give their George A. Romero-inspired project a more affectionate vibe.
 
The kids’ summer plans take a mysterious turn when they are witness to a catastrophic train wreck that takes place during a late-night shoot. Soon, bizarre incidents start occurring around town (dogs and appliances go missing; the U.S. Air Force shows up tight lipped). Although Abrams keep the audience in the dark for a majority of the film, we know something has escaped from the train’s cargo and is now terrorizing the town. The movie’s tagline – “It Arrives” – kind of confirms this isn’t a surprise visit from grandma.
 
Impressively capturing the ambiance of the era, Abrams embraces his young characters in the same manner as Spielberg with “E.T.,” Richard Donner with “The Goonies,” and Rob Reiner with “Stand by Me.” While the film’s script is short on the same emotional appeal as those timeless pictures (the father-son dynamic lacks authenticity), Joe and Alice’s puppy love is sweet enough and the lighthearted and humorous dialogue shared between the kid actors complements their realistic performances.

Lest we forget Abrams knows a thing or two about the action genre. If this movie’s train derailment doesn’t end up being the single best use of CGI this summer, special effects hounds have a lot to anticipate.

Star Trek

May 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (“Mission: Impossible 3”)
Written by: Roberto Orci (“Transformers”) and Alex Kurtzman (“Tranformers”)

Welcome me with open arms Trekkies worldwide.

While I may not know the difference between photon and polaron torpedoes and can’t speak a lick of Klingon, the new J.J. Abrams-helmed “Star Trek” has created a new fan – at least of the most recent film.

Commanding the Starship Enterprise is a young James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), the son of a former captain whose reign was short-lived after being attacked by a Romulan ship the night his wife gave birth to James. Leading the enemy ship throughout the film is Nero (an unrecognizable Eric Bana), a Romulan who wants nothing more than to make anyone he comes in contact with suffer, especially the Vulcan race.

The back stories to the most influential characters of the series, including Kirk, Spock, and “Bones” McCoy are extremely fascinating. Give credit to screenwriting team Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman of the overblown “Transformers” movie for reenergizing this franchise. With so much material to work with in “Star Trek” folklore, Orci and Kurtzman do well in dabbling in both the old and the new aspects of what has made the franchise popular for so long.

As the new half human-half Vulcan Spock, actor Zachary Quinto is spot on, not only with his pointy-eared look but when what he brings to the character. The scenes he shares with the original Spock (Leonord Nimoy) are well-written and fit in nicely with the new story. The most important thing about this small cameo is that Nimoy doesn’t feel like he was thrown in as a gimmick. His contribution to the film is integral and Abrams uses the short time he has with him to expand the story by light years.

Once Kirk enlists in the Starfleet, “Star Trek” never lingers. It’s an extraordinary action film complete with impressive special effects and solid performances by the entire cast.