Sunday, February 17, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #136: 'Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince' (1983)

The lovable doggie hero Benji got his own TV series! And for some reason it was a mashup of "Star Wars," "The Fugitive" and Harmony Korine's "Gummo!" It was the ongoing saga of a young alien prince hiding out on Earth, as he's chased by intergalactic hunters and repeatedly rescued by a goofy-looking robot and a plucky homeless dog: "Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince!"

It's one of the weirdest shows we've reviewed in a very long time, so buckle up and start listening to film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold as they unearth this bizarre TV artifact from the 1980s, and decide once and for all if it was... CANCELED TOO SOON!

Give it a listen!

Friday, February 15, 2019

UPN's Lying Promos to 'Star Trek: Voyager'

[The following article was sponsored and assigned by our Patreon subscriber Canadian Keith. To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

Trekkies in the 1990s remember UPN quite well. Paramount's wildly unsuccessful network, which lasted for 11 years and lost the studio nearly $800 million, only ever produced a small handful of hits. Over the years, show after show opened and closed on the network, some of them called the worst of all time (UPN was responsible for 1998's “The Secret Diaries of Desmond Pfeifer,” a tasteless sitcom set in the Lincoln White House). By the time of the great Viacom split in 2005, the UPN was a walking corpse, forced to merge with the equally beleaguered WB Network. The resulting network, The CW, was only slightly stronger than the two of them combined.

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Alita: Battle Angel'

“Alita: Battle Angel,” based on a manga by Yukito Kishiro, famously incubated for many years in the nest of James Cameron. Cameron's plans were ambitious, natch; he penned an “Alita” bible, planned multiple sequels, wrote a screenplay with Laeta Kalogridis, and positioned the project as the next revolution in sci-fi special effects. But Cameron eventually became distracted with his multi-film “Avatar” project, and ultimately handed directing duties to Robert Rodriguez.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Ruben Brandt, Collector'

An art obsessed psychologist enlists his criminal clientele to steal priceless paintings to soothe his own troubled pscyhe in "Ruben Brandt, Collector." This lively animated feature is equally influenced by high art and pulp art, and strives to make a thrilling caper movie classy and unique.

In his review of "Ruben Brandt, Collector" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani praises the film's "alluring, acrobatic" pastiche of influences, but laments that "for a film that evokes masterpieces throughout the centuries, it's frustrating that 'Ruben Brandt, Collector' has no lofty ambition of its own."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Ruben Brandt, Colletor"

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Donnybrook'

Jamie Bell and Frank Grillo play downtrodden criminals on a journey to an illegal, high-stakes, bareknuckle brawl in "Donnybrook," a scuzzy film noir that's about as dour as a film gets.

In his review of "Donnybrook" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls the film "a brutal, depressing, filthy motion picture," and even though that's the point, he argues that "the plot and pacing are too aimless to sustain much interest."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Donnybrook" at The Wrap

Photo Credit: IFC

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Happy Death Day 2U'

The unexpectedly clever smash hit slasher-comedy-"Groundhog Day" riff "Happy Death Day" has a sequel, and it's even more twisty-and-turny than the original. Jessica Rothe returns as sorority student Tree, who finally escapes a time loop in which every time she got murdered (on her birthday no less) she woke up earlier that morning, and had to live the same day over again. In the sequel she's rocketed back into a similar situation, but under very different circumstances.

In his review of "Happy Death Day 2U" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls the film an "ambitious and witty sci-fi treatise on alternate realities and the cinematic significance of personal growth in sequels," and praises writer/director Christopher Landon for defiantly changing the franchise's genre.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Happy Death Day 2U"

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #135: 'Evel Knievel' (1975)

Forty-five years before Sam Elliott earned his first Oscar nomination, for "A Star is Born," the perfectly coiffed, deep-voiced movie star played stuntman supreme Evel Knievel in a failed TV pilot!

The year was 1974, and Evel Knievel (in the series) is taking part in a car-jumping Battle of the Sexes, spouting sexist nonsense and dodging explosions and fighting crime. The question isn't whether it's amazing, the question is... was it CANCELED TOO SOON?

Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold take a trip back to heyday of vehicular heroism in the latest episode of the Canceled Too Soon podcast!

Give it a listen!