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

April 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

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. 120 – Captain Marvel, Leaving Neverland

March 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

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. 117 – Glass, Fyre

January 21, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

 

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

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Kong: Skull Island

March 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts (“The Kings of Summer”)
Written by: Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”) and Max Borenstein (“Godzilla”) and Derek Connolly (“Jurassic World”)

What if “Apocalypse Now” was remade today, but with a twist:  instead of the Viet Cong, you replace them with King Kong? While the movie isn’t shameless enough to title itself “Viet Kong,” instead “Kong: Skull Island” foregoes subtlety—and, damningly, simplicity—to sort of retell Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece with a giant ape and connective tissue to other giant monsters in the pipeline ready to star in their own film franchises. In short, “Kong: Skull Island” is a weird fucking movie, albeit one that squanders that weirdness by bogging it down in a swamp of exposition, an overabundance of characters, and weird shifts in tone.

After a prologue shows us a pair of pilots, one American and one Japanese, crash landing on an island in the South Pacific during World War II and encountering our title character, we’re thrown ahead nearly 30 years to the waning days of the Vietnam War. Satellite photography and mapping is all the rage, and would-be explorer Bill Randa (John Goodman) uses the threat of Russian discovery to convince a senator to finance an exploratory mission with a military escort to Skull Island, which is permanently surrounded by storms.

The military enlists Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a career soldier looking for a fight after having to “cut and run” in Vietnam, and his men to facilitate the expedition. Along for the ride is former British special forces tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), the latter of which provides the story with its inevitable “Beauty and the Beast” allegory. As soon as the team arrives and sets off bombs for, uh, some reason, they’re met with a fury by Kong himself, swatting helicopters out of the air and leaving Packard with a thirst for revenge.

Cool monster fisticuffs aside, “Kong: Skull Island” ends up a mess as we’re expected to follow too many different poorly-drawn characters (big ape included) as they make their way across the unclear geography of Skull Island, during which moments of would-be or unintentional comic relief mar what comes down to a movie about a crazed Samuel L. Jackson taking on King Kong. I mean, that sounds badass, right? But then what the hell is with Tom Hiddleston tossing on a gas mask and grabbing a katana to knife through a flock of pterodactyls in a poisonous gas cloud in slow motion? Is THAT supposed to be badass? Because it’s just sort of laughable. And the glut of characters leaves fine actors, like Goodman, Brie Larson, Shea Whigham, and Toby Kebbell, either stranded with nothing to do or with so little motivation the whole thing feels like a byproduct of bad editing.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Tim Burton (“Big Eyes”)
Written by: Jane Goldman (“X-Men: First Class”)

Filmmaker Tim Burton has made an entire career out of being “peculiar.” Even when its putting his own spin on an established franchise, Burton’s gothic, eccentric stamp (at least stylistically) is an omnipresent factor in most of his films. Even when making poor films, Burton is hired to be Burton and is rarely a director for hire. Perhaps that’s why it is so surprising that his new film, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” has zero identity.

After the loss of his grandfather, Jake (Asa Butterfield) decides to investigate a place that he has only heard about and seen in pictures. As a home for kids with certain “peculiarities,” Jake explores the vast land of special powered children and their leader, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). He finds, however, that as special as these children are, danger within them also lies ahead.

For having a decent cast of well known actors, nobody other than Green really makes a mark. Butterfield looks and feels too old to be convincing as the age of the character he is playing, Samuel L. Jackson hams it up as the main villain and Ella Purnell, while certainly looking the part, is bland. It isn’t entirely the fault of the actors, as the script is generic and boring.

“Miss Peregrine’s” feels like an odd hodgepodge of popular young adult series, and sort of meanders for its way too long run time. It flirts with some interesting concepts, and “powers,” so to speak, but at the end of the day, nothing happening on screen is interesting in anyway. The dialogue is dull and stilted and, narratively, the film goes nowhere.

There’s a scene at a boardwalk that is actually one of the very few, but very fleeting bright moments of the film. Bringing out some odd skeleton characters for a big battle, there is at least something intriguing happening on the screen that feels at least mildly entertaining. It is here, and only here, that the film actually feels like a Tim Burton movie.

When watching the film, Burton fans will be looking for his fingerprints, but will find nothing. In fact, it is the film that bares the least of his characteristics than any of his career. There is nothing special, let alone exceptional about any of it, and it truly feels like it could have been directed by anyone else. His artistic vision is unquestionably unique, but for Burton to be successful, his movies need to match his vision with a sense of whimsy. This film, however, is dead on arrival. The most peculiar thing about “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is how soulless it really is.

Ep. 84 – Star Trek Beyond, SDCC trailer dump, and Kiko is treading the boards with a new take on The Little Mermaid’s Ursula

July 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

[iframe style=”border:none” src=”//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4539558/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/yes/render-playlist/no/theme/standard” height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review Star Trek Beyond, talk about all the comic book movie trailers that dropped at San Diego Comic Con, and speculate on what stage role Kiko has taken that’s caused him to miss this week’s show.

[00:00-11:48] Intro/Where is Kiko? Is he starring in The Little Mermaid?

[11:48-38:53] SDCC trailers: Justice League, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Kong: Skull Island and Doctor Strange, plus casting news featuring Brie Larson, Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone.

[38:53-1:09:53] REVIEW: Star Trek Beyond

[1:09:53-1:17:43] Wrap up/tease

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The Hateful Eight

January 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”)
Written by: Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction”)

Three years after Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning “Django Unchained” opened on Christmas Day 2012, the controversial filmmaker delivers another Western bloodbath for fans to eat up this holiday season, this time a 3-hour epic (including prologue and intermission) set in post-Civil War Wyoming. With a strong blizzard bearing down, two bounty hunters, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Ruth (Kurt Russell), the latter chained to fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), find shelter in a local haberdashery where they must keep their eyes on a motley crew of strangers with unknown intentions. As with most of Tarantino’s creations, the film is full of smartly written dialogue and absurd violence. Different is the stage play quality it exhibits since most takes place in a single location. This might be second-tier Tarantino, but there’s plenty to enjoy, especially composer Ennio Morricone’s extraordinary score.

Ep. 50 – Spy, Entourage, Love & Mercy, The Lion’s Mouth Opens, The Rock to star in Big Trouble in Little China remake, and Samuel L. Jackson won’t be in Captain America: Civil War

June 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

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Click here to download the episode!

In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from CineSnob.net review “Spy,” “Entourage,” “Love & Mercy,” and “The Lion’s Mouth Opens.” They also discussed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing a remake of “Big Trouble in Little China” and Samuel L. Jackson being left out of “Captain America: Civil War.”

[0:00-9:27] Intro/live audience talk/bat boys and ball girls
[9:27-19:47] The Rock to star in Big Trouble in Little China remake
[19:47-26:27] Samuel L. Jackson won’t be in Captain America: Civil War
[26:27-40:44] Spy
[40:44-55:23] Entourage
[55:23-1:06:09] Love & Mercy
[1:06:09-1:17:44] The Lion’s Mouth Opens
[1:17:44-1:28:53] Teases for next week and close

Subscribe to The CineSnob Podcast via RSSiTunes or Stitcher.

To give your feedback, e-mail us at podcast [at] cinesnob [dot] net, or leave a voicemail at 920-FILM-210.

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service

February 13, 2015 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn (“X-Men: First Class”)
Written by: Matthew Vaughn (“X-Men: First Class”) and Jane Goldman (“X-Men: First Class”)

After going all out with the stylistic violence and edgy humor of “Kick-Ass,” director Matthew Vaughn may have seemed like a surprising choice to reboot the studio-run “X-Men” franchise. Despite this fact, “X-Men: First Class” was a massive success and widely seen as an injection of rejuvenation into the Marvel moneymaker. Perhaps old habits die hard, however, as “Kingsman: The Secret Service” sees Vaughn and writing partner Jane Goldman return to the adult-themed bloodbaths introduced in “Kick-Ass,” complete with a British spy twist.

After losing a valuable member of their spy service, the Kingsman set out to replace a lost member with Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a street kid with little potential. As his mentor, Harry Hart (Colin Firth) sets out to train Eggsy while trying to foil a billionaire Internet tycoon (Samuel L. Jackson) with a questionable plan to control humanity.

Firth might seem like the last choice for casting in a physical role as a badass, gun-toting spy, and that very well may be why it works so well. It is equal parts unexpected and fantastic as Firth is an unanticipated natural, especially in scenes that call for mayhem. As a lead, Egerton is a natural. Despite his relatively unknown state in American film, he is charismatic and charming, feeding off of Firth while also being able to stand on his own. Even though there are some memorable characters, “Kingsman” isn’t entirely successful on this front. Most notably, Samuel L. Jackson turns in a hammy performance as a villain with an inexplicable lisp that adds nothing to the mix other than its inherent eccentricity.

A lot of the faults of “Kingsman” fall on the screenplay, which struggles to find a steady tone. The first half of the film is almost entirely meant to evoke spy-films and training expertise, while the second half goes completely off the rails and is filled with adult-humor, often times skewing towards the juvenile. It is also worth mentioning that the villain turn and frankly, the entire villain plotline is flimsy at best, with an extremely general mind control device and a convoluted “global warming” explanation that is barely explored.

One thing that is undeniable, however, is that “Kingsman” is sleek and stylish. Taking its cues from its dapperly dressed leads, Vaughn creates quick-paced and visually gratifying action set pieces, none better than an incredibly well choreographed scene of chaos in a church set absolutely brilliantly to the soaring guitar solo of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” The visual effects may look spotty from time to time, but Vaughn shows a clear interest in tailor making a visually unique spy series.

If “Kingsman” has one thing going for it, it is that it knows exactly what kind of movie it is. It is filled with unapologetic, and at times, gratuitous violence. Ultimately, it has one mission, and one mission alone: to entertain by any means necessary. With that being said, your level of entertainment is likely to depend on the length to which you can buy into the film’s absurdity. If you’re in from the get-go, you’ll be able to strap in and enjoy the ride. If you’re like me and on the fence about it, the films climax goes a touch too far, and comes off as way too silly and over-the-top to be considered entertaining. There’s a lot to like about this take on the spy genre, but Vaughn traded substance, sense and characterization for pure bloody mayhem, which is likely to work for some, but not for all.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

April 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannson, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Joe and Anthony Russo (“You, Me and Dupree”)
Written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor: The Dark World”)

Of the stable of Marvel Comics superheroes that make up the cinematic version of The Avengers, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is the one tinged with the most melancholy. Originally a shrimpy wannabe World War II enlistee, Rogers was transformed into the super soldier Captain America, accidentally frozen for 70 years, and revived to fight for a cause he’s not so sure he believes in anymore. While he hasn’t aged a day, his best girl went on to marry someone else and grow old and gray. He’s a man out of time, working for an organization, SHIELD, that seems more about intimidation than securing freedom. But Cap is a soldier, and he does what a soldier does:  follow orders.

Cap’s unease continues to grow as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” kicks off. Sent to rescue the crew of a SHIELD ship from Algerian pirates, Rogers’ trust in SHIELD is shaken when fellow team member Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson) ignores his orders to covertly retrieve data from the ship’s computers. Back in Washington, D.C., Rogers confronts SHIELD leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) about his suspicions. Fury comes clean, letting Rogers in on Operation: Insight, a system of satellites and helicarriers linked to eliminate threats before they happen. Cap isn’t reassured, and during a visit with his former love Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), he laments what has become of the country he signed up to fight for. Meanwhile Fury, after visiting with SHIELD official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) about delaying Operation: Insight, Fury is attacked in the streets of D.C. by a mysterious assassin known as The Winter Solider.

A delicious mixture of superheroics and ‘70s-style political thrills, “The Winter Soldier” plants its flag firmly at the top of the Marvel cinematic universe alongside “The Avengers” and Cap’s first big-screen adventure. While “Iron Man 3” felt like it was laying the groundwork for Robert Downey Jr.’s eventual exit (presumably, anyway) and “Thor: The Dark World” kept most of its action in Asgard, “The Winter Soldier” feels like the first Marvel film since “The Avengers” dominated the box office to actually live in and shake up the world that film left behind. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo turn in a hard-hitting, exceedingly confident film that feels effortless, the same of which can’t be said for the latest adventures of Thor and Iron Man. Evans shines again as Captain America, playing it straight while not turning the part into a clichéd patriot/man from the past. Surprisingly, the veteran Redford comes to play as well, digging his teeth into the material instead of coasting on his decades of movie stardom. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” may not be flawless – once again, the standalone film conveniently ignores the fact that the hero has other super pals he could call on – but it’s close.

RoboCop

February 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton
Directed by: Jose Padilha (“Elite Squad”)
Written by: Joshua Zetumer (debut)

Question: is it fair to judge a remake/reboot by how it compares to the original film? After all, with the near-instant availability of pretty much every movie ever made via streaming or download, its easier than ever to to tick off essential film boxes on your personal movie watching checklist. Remakes don’t exist in a vacuum, especially remakes of beloved modern classics. If we’re being honest, remakes are at least partly banking on the movie-going public having at least a passing knowledge of the original film.

Answer: yeah, absolutely. And when it comes to the new remake of “RoboCop,” the comparison (probably not surprisingly) isn’t favorable.

Like the gory 1987 sci-fi satire, the modern “RoboCop” centers on Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman). As an undercover cop, Murphy and his partner Lewis (Michael K. Williams) are made by a drug lord (Patrick Garrow) they’ve been investigating. After a shootout in a restaurant leaves Lewis hospitalized, the drug lord’s goons go after Murphy by detonating a car bomb in front of his home leaving Murphy comatose and paralyzed.

Meanwhile OmniCorp, a giant corporation responsible for producing robotic drones that keep the peace in war-torn Middle Eastern countries, desperately desires to bring its killbots to U.S. soil. Federal law prohibits robots from conducting law enforcement, however, due to the fact that the ‘bots aren’t capable of human decision-making, a law that is a frequent target of rage for outspoken talk show host Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson). The promise of raking in billions of dollars in the American market leads CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) to a revelation: put a man inside a machine. After convincing Murphy’s wife (Abbie Cornish) the only way to save her dying husband is to hand him over to OmniCorp’s Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman), RoboCop is born.

Whereas director Paul Verhoeven’s late-’80s “RoboCop” relished in satirizing hyper violence and corporate greed, Brazilian director Jose Padihla’s PG-13 “RoboCop” sets its sights on the ethical dilemma of drone warfare, only with a muddier, more somber tone. The crux of the too-long subplot about the repeal of legislation banning robot cops – what is this, “The Phantom Menace?”- deals with the notion that a man should be the one pulling the trigger seems to ignore the fact that, well, men pull the triggers on robot drone strikes today. The movie also takes too long to get to the RoboCopping, dispensing buckets of backstory that ultimately doesn’t pay off, taking nearly a full hour to show off Murphy’s new cybernetic construction we all came to see.

Speaking of Murphy, the remake lets him keep his humanity from his initial boot up as RoboCop, a decision that significantly blunts the character’s arc. Instead of memory wipes, this Alex Murphy is less of a soulless automaton and instead just gets hyper-focused and emotionless when his dopamine levels are dialed down.

And, in what is perhaps the film’s worst offense, Samuel L. Jackson’s gets to utter his trademark phrase—motherfucker—only to have it bleeped. Which, when you think about it, sums up the mistakes of a straight-faced, PG-13 remake of “RoboCop” better than anything else.

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