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Two Geek Soup: Captain Marvel

22 Mar

In this episode, John is joined by Dr. Michelle Reyes to discuss Captain Marvel.

Listen to “Ep. 32 "Maybe Goose is Loki"” on Spreaker.

Prove Yourself, by Tyler Smith

6 Mar

There is a moment late in Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel in which the main character defiantly proclaims that she doesn’t need to prove herself to anybody. It’s a powerful moment, but one that is ultimately undercut by the film itself. The first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature a female hero as its lead, Captain Marvel is under heavy scrutiny, both from those that looking to champion the film’s nod toward equal representation and those that are suspicious of it. It is more of a burden than any one popcorn film should have to bear, but it’s not necessarily impossible. The best way to do this is to focus squarely on character and story and let the cultural chips fall where they may. This is what made DC’s Wonder Woman such a satisfying filmgoing experience. Unfortunately, despite its claims to the contrary, Captain Marvel throws back its shoulders, juts out its chin, and challenges its critics to take a swing at it, out to prove that it is every bit as legitimate as Iron Man or Captain America, losing much of its narrative – and, even worse, its character – thread in the process.

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One Giant Leap, by Bob Connally

4 Mar

The televised image of Neil Armstrong taking his first steps upon the surface of the moon has been burned into the collective consciousness of the human race since that moment on July 20, 1969. Despite not being born until more than a decade later, I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t recognize that image and Armstrong’s accompanying words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Sending people to the moon and returning them safely to earth is almost unquestionably humanity’s greatest achievement and while we may have thought it was well documented, it turns out we had no idea just how well documented it was.

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Joe Dante’s Inferno, by Bob Connally

20 Feb

Last summer in my look at Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, I expressed my unabashed love of Looney Tunes. Robert Zemeckis’ 1988 masterpiece featured essentially every Looney Tunes star in a cameo role and while there is a lot of wacky humor in the film it has the story and structure of a detective movie. In 1996, the Looney Tunes stars were given bigger roles in Space Jam, a film that holds a strange nostalgic power for many Millennials that escapes me. A few moments aside, the comedy is weak and it’s a visual nightmare. The moment Daffy Duck and Bill Murray share a frame is however a great contribution to American cinema. 2003’s Looney Tunes: Back in Action is now largely forgotten, even by me and I saw it. Thirteen years before however, that film’s director, Joe Dante, unleashed a film that truly captured the off the wall spirit of Looney Tunes in a way that neither Space Jam nor Back in Action came close to doing. He did it, in of all things, a sequel to one of the biggest commercial hits of the 1980s.

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The Bob Award Winners!

20 Feb

It’s here again! The most prestigious movie award ceremony on the planet that does not in fact have a ceremony. I don’t have commercial breaks but if I did I wouldn’t make the cinematographers and film editors receive their trophies- which I also don’t have- during them. So instead of watching an Oscars sure to be even more boring than the Super Bowl, save yourself four hours and read these.

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Over Pressure, by Reed Lackey

14 Jan

In the realm of faith-based films, perhaps the least likely of sub-genres to encounter (second only to out-right horror) is the suspense thriller. The challenges in developing a compelling narrative while still making the film accessible to families are numerous. Tackling those challenges in his most recent film, Thy Neighbor, is director George A. Johnson, who has managed to craft a compelling and provocative suspense film, even if it does still succumb to some of the usual difficulties of both the suspense and faith-based genres.

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The Uncurious Case of Adam McKay, by Tyler Smith

18 Dec

It may have helped his career and general pedigree, but it would seem that the worst thing for director Adam McKay’s artistic sensibilities was winning that Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2016 for The Big Short. In rewarding his comedically-anarchic approach to would-be dramatic material, the Academy essentially communicated to McKay that his throw-everything-at-the-wall instincts were much more of an asset than a liability. And while it can be refreshing to portray harrowing real life events in a humorous fashion – see Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin as a recent example – it can lead to an unevenness of tone and execution that amounts to a sort of thematic wheel-spinning; making a lot of noise, but ultimately going nowhere. This is most certainly true of McKay’s new film, Vice, which purports to portray what lay behind the actions of former Vice President Dick Cheney. The instincts that may have served McKay well with the event-centered Big Short fail him here, as his attempts to make an illuminating character study are undercut by his own incredulity. The final product is a film that is self satisfied, condescending, and – perhaps worst of all – exceedingly uncurious. 

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Sharp Wit, by Bob Connally

12 Dec

There is a different version of The Favourite that could have been made. The traditional, staid period film that would have felt like so many others. Like anything else, this can be – and has been – done well. However, it can also be the kind of filmmaking that keeps the audience at a distance and that can make the past feel like a relic even to the people we’re watching live it. But screenwriters Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara and director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) had something significantly more vibrant in mind. A film that despite its setting, costumes, and lack of modern technology feels as though it’s in the present. All the better because for its fascinating real life characters, it is.

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Lookin’ for Adventure and Whatever Comes Our Way, by Josh Long

6 Dec

It’s always a bit strange to me that the “road movie” is even a genre. It’s a weirdly specific format and structure, and while I don’t have any problems with it, I always wonder what draws people to that particular type of story. Maybe it’s the wonder of seeing different places, maybe it’s the pressure cooker of people trapped together in a vehicle (a plane, train, or automobile, if you will) for long periods of time. Maybe it’s the unlikely connections between people, which has become a staple of the genre. Whatever it is, people are still making road movies and will continue to do so. While Hannah Fidell’s The Long Dumb Road may not bring anything strikingly new to the road movie, the wit and the performances make it a worthwhile watch.

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Dwelling on the Past, by Bob Connally

17 Nov

Two years ago in my review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I wrote that, “It’s difficult not to be wary of films detailing the backstories of our favorite movies.” Thankfully that movie was a far cry from The Phantom Menace. Instead of being a direct prequel to the Harry Potter series that focuses on Dumbledore, it was a film with entirely new characters in a different time and place in the history of the Wizarding World. Its hero, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) was not your typical protagonist. Withdrawn, he isn’t yearning for adventure and he has no desire to do battle with anybody. He just wants to be left to take special care of the “fantastic beasts” he loves so much and to help the rest of the Wizarding World understand them as he does. Newt would likely be someone the hero would meet along the way in most movies. An odd but likable helper who might be there to lend a hand for a couple of scenes in the second act. Maybe he’d show up again at the end after the climactic action sequence. His being the lead gave Fantastic Beasts a unique feel.

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