Sunday, September 16, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #114: 'Living Biblically' (2018)


Can this film critic live his life 100% by The Bible? Can a sitcom get anything right about The Bible or film criticism? We'll find out in the latest episode of Canceled Too Soon (the show where we review TV series that lasted only one season or less), because we're reviewing the recent television failure "Living Biblically!"

This short-lived sitcom, based on a non-fiction book by A.J. Jacobs, takes a different lesson from The Bible and takes it 100% literally every single week, with a dramatically overqualified cast desperately trying to make the wonky high-concept work.

Was "Living Biblically" canceled too soon? Listen up and find out!

Give it a listen!


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Level Five'


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

Back in the 1990s the world was teetering on the cusp of a technological boom that led to profligate consumption of cellular phones, a dot-com bubble encouraged by the promise of online life, and a video game culture that we are now more deeply entrenched in than ever. Virtual reality was, practically speaking, still on the horizon, but the concept had been introduced, and it promised to be the Next Big Thing in human evolution. 

During this technological epoch – marked by a joyous consumer enthusiasm for new widgets and toys – many artists, writers, and storytellers took the opportunity to become wistfully philosophical about the state of human consciousness, and many began to ask questions as to the ultimate end to technology. 

Are we simply making our lives easier and easier to the point of mental stagnation? Are we using technology to eventually gain ultimate mastery of all Creation, making ourselves into God? If we can replace actual reality with a convincing facsimile, will actual reality cease to be important? Is it moral to replace the real with the manufactured? And isn't that, perhaps, the very nature of Platonic metaphysics? That we live in a world of ideas? Will technology help us know more, or simply allow us to create the world afresh with the old ideas we already have? 


William Bibbiani Reviews 'Mandy'


Nicolas Cage stars in "Mandy," a hallucinogenic revenge fantasy inspired by Death Metal and 1980s pulp fantasy novels, from director Panos Cosmatos ("Beyond the Black Rainbow"). Andrea Riseborough ("Battle of the Sexes") and Linus Roache ("Vikings") co-star in a film that's ultraviolent, ultra-acted, and ultra-trippy to look at.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "visually, aurally, symbolically, it's a heavy motion picture that may be too much for some audiences to handle," but praises the film for having "a thoughtfulness at the center of all this extremity."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Mandy" at The Wrap

Top Photo: RLJE Films

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #44: 'Lady in the Water' and 'Bind'


M. Night Shyamalan directed some of the most popular original sci-fi/fantasy films of the last 20 years. He's also directed some notorious stinkers, like "Lady in the Water," in which writer/director Shyamalan casts himself as a writer whose work is destined to save the world, but only if he can be visited by a water sprite, and if that water sprite doesn't get eaten by a grass wolf who isn't afraid of monkeys made out of trees who write all the supernatural laws.

It's a goofy movie, so why is "Lady in the Water" the perfect double feature with Eskil Vogt's brilliant, but underseen Norwegian mindbender "Blind," about a woman who recently lost her vision and is recreated the world around her in fiction?

You'll find out in this week's episode of Critically Acclaimed! You'll also get our farewell to the late, great Burt Reynolds, and our reviews of the new releases "The Nun," "Peppermint" and "I Am Not a Witch!"

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


Monday, September 10, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Predator'


Predator is back, and this time it's got a "the." Shane Black, the director of "The Nice Guys," directs and co-writes the latest sci-fi/action/horror hybrid, with an alien hunter crash-landing on Earth, losing its precious cargo, and fighting a team of comic relief mentally ill soldiers to accomplish its mission. Boyd Holbrook ("Logan"), Olivia Munn ("The Newsroom"), Keegan-Michael Key ("Keanu"), Sterling K. Brown ("Hotel Artemis") and Jacob Tremblay ("Room") co-star.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "The Predator" is "the worst movie in the 'Predator' series that doesn't have 'Alien vs.' in the title," and critiques the film's shoddy editing, silly mythologizing, bizarre attitude towards mental illness and its disturbing treatment of co-star Olivia Munn.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Predator" at The Wrap

Top Photo: 20th Century Fox

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #113: 'Will' (2017)


It's time for SUDDENLY, LAST SEASON! Every September on Canceled Too Soon, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold dedicate an entire month to review television shows that were canceled the previous season, and they're kicking this year off with a doozy: "Will," a hip new biographical series about the life of William Shakespeare, with anachronistic rock music, anachronistic history, sex and violence and teen angst.

How does "Will" hold up to the works of Shakespeare? How does it hold up to history? And is it so good it's good, so bad it's good, so bad it's bad? You'll have to check out the podcast to find out, because this show is too weird to describe in just a couple of paragraphs.

Give it a listen!


Saturday, September 8, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Ghost of Peter Sellers'


In the new documentary "The Ghost of Peter Sellers," director Peter Medak ("The Changeling") looks back at the catastrophic production of his pirate comedy "Ghost in the Noonday Sun." Suffering from weak screenwriting, low budgeting and a star who actively attempted to sabotage the film at every turn, the film was such a monumental failure that it didn't get released until ten years after its completion, and the filmmaker says the experience has haunted him for decades since.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani describes "The Ghost of Peter Sellers" as "an amusing collection of tragicomic anecdotes," but says the original film's obscurity and Peter Medak's dedication towards vindicating his own role in the production suggests that "the film was made by Medak, for Medak."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Ghost of Peter Sellers" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Vegas Media

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Peppermint'


Over the course of the last decade, Jennifer Garner has played a doting, put-upon suburban mom in nearly a dozen films. Starting with “Juno” in 2007 – in which Garner played a woman desperate to have a baby – Garner has appeared time and time again as the capable matriarch of various families. In “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” she dreamed up her ultimate child. In “Men, Women & Children,” she was an overprotective cyber-stalking mom. She went on to play similar mom characters in films like “Miracles from Heaven,” “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” “Nine Lives,” “The Tribes of Palos Verdes,” and, most recently, “Love, Simon.” She even played the tragically lost wife of Jason Sudeikis' widower in “Mother's Day.” 

When it comes to moms, Garner has run the gamut. This is a dramatic shift from her earlier action heroine days that included the TV series “Alias” and the maligned superhero flick “Elektra.”

With Pierre Morel's “Peppermint,” America's most prolific cinematic mom finally gets back to her roots in her very own ultra-violent vigilante thriller. And, just like many of the ultra-violent vigilante thrillers offered by her male contemporaries (most notably Liam Neeson, star of “Taken,” also directed by Morel), “Peppermint” is morally irresponsible to a wild degree, pretty chaotic, and plenty dumb. If you're tired of dumb thrillers featuring aging Hollywood men throwing punches at scowling bad guys half their age, here is a version of the same thing featuring a capable woman in her prime in the lead, but with all of the genre's glorious fatuousness intact.

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business'


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

As a young man,
I plug into the tube,
But the stench of all that pretense
I cannot muddle through.

I lay on my back
And scan the radio
All that comes out my speakers
Is a steady syrup flow.

I suck information through the holes in my skull
As my belly gurgles hungry, my mouth is always full.

          "Antipop" by Primus

In 1984 – when Ronald Reagan was president, when Macintosh was posed to take over the tech world, when pop entertainment was poppier than ever – there naturally arrived a wave of essays and thinkpieces on George Orwell's eponymous novel. 

Up until that point, A.D. 1984 had previously been associated with political dystopia and governmental control of a citizen's unconsciousness, all thanks to Orwell's frantic – and all too plausible – warning. When the year itself finally arrived, pundits and thinkers all around the world – writing in the pages of political rags and entertainment magazines – began to compare the dark future of Orwell's imagination to the actual present state of the world, offering compare/contrast articles, both to the positive and to the negative. 

How powerful wast he government in the actual 1984? How much were we being spied upon or controlled? How did the real world's news language resemble Orwell's Newspeak? How much was cultural rebellion tolerated, and how much was silenced?

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Peppermint'


Jennifer Garner stars in "Peppermint," a new revenge thriller directed by Pierre Morel ("Taken"), about a suburban mom who becomes a vigilante after her family is gunned down by drug dealers, and a corrupt legal system denies her justice. John Gallagher Jr. ("Hush"), John Ortiz ("Kong: Skull Island") and Juan Pablo Raba ("Narcos") co-star.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani says that "Peppermint" struggled with the problematic elements of the story, but that Jennifer Garner "brings an eager, frustrated determination to every action sequence, and proves - as if she needed to - that she should have been a gigantic action star this whole time."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Peppermint" at IGN

Top Photo: STX Films

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

William Bibbiani Ranks the 'Conjuring' Movies From Worst to Best


The blockbuster "The Conjuring" franchise is spiraling into a complex series of interconnected horror thrillers, with sequels and prequels that expand on the characters and mythology, and introduce new demonic forces that are determined to destroy humanity.

In his latest list for The Wrap, William Bibbiani ranks all of the films in the "Conjure-verse," including "The Conjuring," "The Conjuring 2," "Annabelle," "Annabelle: Creation" and "The Nun," to see which films work, which ones fail, and why.


Top Photo: Warner Bros.

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Nun'


Taissa Farmiga ("American Horror Story") and Demian Bichir ("The Hateful Eight") star in "The Nun," the latest spin-off of the blockbuster "The Conjuring" horror movie franchise. In this prequel, a priest and a nun investigate a mysterious death at an isolated convent, and discover a supernatural presence desperate to escape into our world.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani declares "The Nun" an "absurd, inept, but watchable horror mishmash," with "a b-movie adventure sensibility that would be charmingly silly, were it not for the repetitive horror sequences."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Nun" at The Wrap 

Top Photo: Warner Bros.

Monday, September 3, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'At Eternity's Gate'



Willem Dafoe stars as Vincent Van Gogh in Julian Schnabel's unconventional biopic "At Eternity's Gate," which highlights the tragic author's social anxiety and artistic process. Oscar Isaac co-stars as painter Paul Gauguin, in a film directed by director and famed painter Julian Schnabel ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly").

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani praises Willem Dafoe's "towering, vulnerable performance," and Schabel for creating - with the exception of one heavy-handed scene - "a natural, immersive motion picture that conveys the experience of being, living with, and painting like Vincent Van Gogh."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "At Eternity's Gate" at The Wrap

Top Photo: CBS Films

Critically Acclaimed #43: 'The Flintstones' and 'Streets of Fire'


"The Flintstones" was a hit animated series about cave people whose lives eerily resembled the classic sitcom "The Honeymooners," and decades after it left the air, it became a blockbuster live-action movie starring John Goodman, Ric Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, Rosie O'Donnell, Kyle MacLachlan, Halle Berry and Elizabeth Taylor. And it's awful. Just awful.

So why is the live-action version of "The Flintstones" the perfect double feature with Walter Hill's cult classic 1950s-themed rock and roll action thriller "Streets of Fire?" You'll just have to listen to this week's episode of Critically Acclaimed to find out!

Plus, new reviews of "Kin," "Let the Corpses Tan," "The Little Stranger," "Operation Finale" and "Searching," and more of your letters!

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


Saturday, September 1, 2018

William Bibbiani Ranks Every Jack Ryan from Worst to Best


With the new television series "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan," John Krasinski ("A Quiet Place") becomes the fifth actor to assume the role of the CIA analyst who repeatedly saves the world from international disaster. But how does his portrayal stack up against Alec Baldwin ("The Hunt for Red October"), Harrison Ford ("Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger"), Ben Affleck ("The Sum of All Fears") and Chris Pine ("Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit").

In his latest ranked list at IGN, William Bibbiani pits each Jack Ryan against each other, factoring in both the quality of the portrayal and the quality of the adaptation. 

Head on over to see how John Krasinski stacks up and which Jack Ryan is the ultimate on-screen version of the character!

Read: William Bibbiani Ranks All The Jack Ryans from Worst to Best at IGN

Top Photo: Amazon

Friday, August 31, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Let the Corpses Tan'


Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are back with "Let the Corpses Tan," a new crime thriller starring Elina Lowensohn ("Nadja") as a reclusive artist who invites several strangers to her hideaway for the weekend, not knowing that they are violent criminals who transform the weekend into a deadly, complex shootout.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "Let the Corpses Tan" is "exciting, exhausting, and unlike any shootout film before it," and calls Cattet and Forzani as "the most visually arresting filmmakers working today."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Let the Corpses Tan" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Kino Lorber

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Little Stranger'


Domhnall Gleeson stars in "The Little Stranger," based on the novel by Sarah Waters, about a doctor who ingratiates himself into a formerly rich family, whose gigantic, decaying manor may (or may not) be haunted. Ruth Wilson ("The Affair"), Will Poulter ("Detroit") and Charlotte Rampling ("45 Years") co-star in the latest film from director Lenny Abrahamson ("Room").

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says  "The Little Stranger" is "infuriating," and that "Abrahamson seems fascinated with the idea of gothic storytelling, but he hasn't quite got the knack of it."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Little Stranger" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Focus Features







Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #112 - K-9000 (1991)


From the writer of "Die Hard" and "48 Hours" comes the failed pilot for a television series about a tough cop who gets a microchip forcibly injected into his brain, which allows him to hear the thoughts of a high-tech cyborg dog, with whom he teams up to solve crimes. You know, the usual. 

It's a little show called "K-9000," and there's a really good chance that it was... Canceled Too Soon! William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold join forces to figure out what the heck is going on in this weird television program, what works, what fails miserably, and why there never seem to be any movies about cops teaming up with cats to stop bad guys.

Give it a listen!

The Evolution of the Romantic Comedy: The 1980s/1990s vs. The 2000s/2010s


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

Trends, by definition, must come and go. Certain film genres, directing and editing styles, the careers of certain performers, they must wax and wane in the public consciousness like so many phases of the moon. And while the tides of popular opinion wash in and out, one thing remains frustratingly persistent: the endless string of online nostalgic thinkpieces, wistful essays, and halcyon retrospectives reminding us of the lost trends that have died in the recent past. 

Whether or not the trends in question are, indeed, deceased – I can't tell you how many times some film wonk has dared to posit that horror is finally dead – said essays tend to crop up with a maddening regularity.

One common subject of such thinkpieces is that of the romantic comedy, and, just as quickly, its demise.

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Kin'


Myles Truitt ("Queen Sugar") and Jack Reynor ("Sing Street") star in "Kin," about a pair of mismatched brothers who go on the run from murderous criminals, with $60,000 and an alien ray gun. Dennis Quaid, James Franco and Zoe Kravitz round out the supporting cast, in a film that combines serious familial melodrama with sci-fi genre elements.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani argues that the combination doesn't work. "Without an even ratio of sci-fi wonderment and plausible drama, Kin gets boring quickly," he argues.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Kin" at IGN

Top Photo: Lionsgate

Monday, August 27, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #42: The Yojimbo Movies


Akira Kurosawa reinvented and openly criticized the action movie genre with his classic samurai films "Yojimbo" and "Sanjuro," which inspired waves of imitators that kept the badassery and violence but ignored the films' satire of the action genre. Heck, even the last two (sort of) "Yojimbo" movies, "Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo" and "Incident at Blood Pass," seem to have missed the point entirely, even though they're ripping good pulp fun.

In the latest episode of Critically Acclaimed, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review all four of the "Yojimbo" movies, for fans new and old, and also review the new releases "The Happytime Murders" and "A-X-L."

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


William Bibbiani Reviews 'A-X-L'


Alex Neustaedter ("Colony") stars in "A-X-L," the story of a dirt bike racing enthusiast teenager and his high-tech robot war dog friend, who team up with a graffiti artist to save their robo-dog from corrupt scientists, the U.S. military, and high school bullies who have flamethrowers. Becky G ("Power Rangers") and Thomas Jane ("1922") co-star.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani critiques "A-X-L" for being "a scrapyard of a motion picture, full of dented, leftover parts from other, sometimes only marginally better movies," while pointing out several frustrating lapses in storytelling logic.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "A-X-L" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Global Road

Thursday, August 23, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Happytime Murders'


Bill Barretta and Melissa McCarthy star in "The Happytime Murders," a raunchy, comedic film noir about a series of brutal murders in a Hollywood where puppets and human beings live side-by-side. Brian Henson ("Muppet Treasure Island") directs this R-rated film, in the vein of "Alien Nation" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," which depicts fantastical creatures as second-class citizens in a cruel, corrupt, human world.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani says "The Happytime Murders" is "a punch in the nose to everyone - inside and outside of the entertainment industry - who thinks puppeteering isn't a serious art form," and praises the film's raunchy presentation for illustrating, via extremes, "that puppets - and by extension, puppeteers - are complex, flawed and even tragic people."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Happytime Murders" at IGN

Top Photo: STX Entertainment

Canceled Too Soon #111: 'Bone Chillers' (1996)


Everyone remembers "Goosebumps," but not everyone remembers the hit kids horror novel series "Bone Chillers," which became a short-lived live-action TV show on ABC in the 1996, starring Linda Cardellini ("Freaks and Geeks") and Charles Fleischer ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit"), executive produced by Adam Rifkin ("The Dark Backward").

It's a strange and manic horror series about teenagers who go to a high school full of monsters, ghosts, mummies, ghouls, and the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. The guest stars include Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov, so it's got a better pedigree than most other kids shows of any kind. But did it deserve to get canceled after one short season, or was "Bone Chillers"... canceled too soon?

You'll have to listen to the latest episode of the podcast to find out!

Give it a listen!


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Movie Trivia Schmoedown: Marc Andreyko vs. William Bibbiani (Title Match)


It's the rematch everyone was waiting for! William Bibbiani and Marc Andreyko made their Movie Trivia Schmoedown debut against each other, in one of the most epic matches in the history of the sport. Now they're going head to head one more time, and the winner becomes the Schmoedown Singles Champion!

Also, you'll have to see William Bibbiani's entrance for yourselves. Trust us!

Watch the episode below!


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #41: 'Dead Man On Campus' and 'Strangers On a Train' (Plus: Bonus Letters Episode!)


It's "Back to School" time again! This week on Critically Acclaimed, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review the notoriously unfunny comedy "Dead Man On Campus," about two college roommates who try to get their other roommate to kill themselves, so they can get straight "A's." It's ghoulish, it's creepy, and it's the perfect double feature with Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers On a Train," about a tennis pro who gets roped into the "perfect" murder plot after a chance encounter with a fan.

Plus! Reviews of the new releases "Mile 22," "Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich," "Alpha" and "Crazy Rich Asians!"

Plus! A whole bonus episode, dedicated entirely to your letters! It's a smorgasbord of Critically Acclaimed!

Listen: "Critically Acclaimed #41: Dead Man on Campus and Strangers On a Train"

Listen: "Critically Acclaimed: Bonus Letters Episode #2"

Top Photos: Paramount Pictures / Warner Bros.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich'


Thomas Lennon ("Dog Days") stars in "Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich," a reboot of the long-running "Puppet Master" horror franchise, about marionettes that come to life and kill people. Barbara Crampton ("You're Next"), Michael Paré ("The Vatican Tapes"), Udo Kier ("Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot") and Jenny Pellicer ("The Bridge") co-star in the film, about collectors of Nazi memorabilia being murdered by the supernaturally possessed trinkets.

In his review of "Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich" at IGN, William Bibbiani praises the film's gore effects, acting and dialogue, but argues that changing the puppets from Nazi-killing antiheroes to sadistic Nazis "reads more like a betrayal of the franchise than a satisfying new interpretation."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich" at IGN

Photo: RLJE Films

Friday, August 17, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #110: 'Emily's Reasons Why Not' (2006)


Heather Graham stars in "Emily's Reasons Why Not," one of the most notorious TV misfires in history. It looks like an everyday sitcom about a young woman dealing with dating disasters and working in the publishing industry, but "Emily's Reasons Why Not" was canceled after airing only one episode, and since hardly anyone saw it, most people have no idea why.

Canceled Too Soon to the rescue! William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold delve into that legendary first episode, and the next six episodes - which eventually appeared online and on DVD - to figure out what went wrong, what (if anything) went right, and whether "Emily's Reasons Why Not" was actually... canceled too soon!

Give it a listen!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Alpha'


Kodi Smit-McPhee ("X-Men: Apocalypse") stars in "Alpha," a new historical adventure about the first domesticated wolf, and the young boy who depends on his new best friend for survival. The film is directed by Albert Hughes, making his solo directorial debut after years of collaborations with his brother, including "Menace II Society," "Dead Presidents" and "From Hell."

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani praises the film's "impossibly gorgeous" cinematography, and the "fantastic and transformative performance" of the wolf, while criticizing the film's story and protagonist, which "aren't quite rich enough to take ["Alpha"] to the next level."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Alpha" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Studio 8

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Mile 22'


Mark Wahlberg reteams with Peter Berg for "Mile 22," a hard-edged action thriller about a black ops team escorting a high priority suspect out of a country where everyone wants them dead. Lauren Cohan ("The Walking Dead"), Ronda Rousey ("The Expendables 3"), John Malkovich ("Crossbones") and Iko Uwais ("The Raid 2") co-star the fourth collaborations between Wahlberg and Berg, after "Lone Survivor," "Deepwater Horizon" and "Patriots Day."

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani argues that "Berg tries to hide the script's deficiencies by treating the material like it's Black Hawk Down," while critiquing the film's "choppy" action and "waste" of athletic co-star Iko Uwais.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Mile 22" at IGN

Top Photo: STX Entertainment

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Only The Best #4: The Best Picture Nominees of 1929/1930


It's an all-new episode of Only The Best, the podcast where William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review every single nominee for Best Picture, in chronological order! 

In this Patreon-exclusive podcast, Bibbs and Witney look back at the second annual Academy Awards, and review the hardboiled prison thriller "The Big House," the stodgy historical biopic"Disraeli," the salacious marital melodrama "The Divorcee," the gender-reversing screwball musical "The Love Parade," and arguably the greatest anti-war film ever made... "All Quiet on the Western Front."

Only The Best is a Patreon-exclusive podcast, but you can listen right now for a $10 monthly pledge! You'll also get more bonus podcasts, the chance to vote for future episodes and the power to assign articles to Witney Seibold and William Bibbiani!

Head on over to sign up, and listen to Only The Best!


Top Photo: MGM

Monday, August 13, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #109 - 'Crazyhead' (2016)


A young woman goes off her meds and starts seeing demons in "Crazyhead," a horror-comedy series from Netflix and E4, in which maybe the demons are real or maybe they're not. (Except they're real, but anyway.) It's a short-lived series which tries to take the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" format and update it for a crasser, more eccentric audience, and maybe, just maybe... it was Canceled Too Soon!

Join film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold as they look at this short-lived cult show, and figure out what made "Crazyhead" work, what held it back, and what makes demons tick!

Give it a listen!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #40: 'The Cat in the Hat' and 'Funny Games'



"The Cat in the Hat" is one of the most notoriously terrible children's movies of the 21st century. So why is the the purr-fect double feature with Michael Haneke's brilliant, acidic, and horrifying home invasion thriller "Funny Games?"

You'll find out in this week's episode of Critically Acclaimed! You'll also get reviews of the new releases "The Meg," "BlacKkKlansman" and "Slender Man," and a long, detailed discussion about why the new changes to the Academy Awards are terrible, terrible idea.

Give it a listen over at Podcast One!

Email us at letters@criticallyacclaimed.net and follow your hosts on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani and @WitneySeibold

Head on over to the Schmoeville! Facebook page to vote in our weekly polls, every Sunday, and force Bibbs and Witney watch the bad movies YOU want them to watch!


Top Photos: Castle Rock Entertainment / Universal Pictures

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Slender Man'


Joey King ("Wish Upon") does battle with another supernatural entity in "Slender Man," an adaptation of the popular internet meme, created by Victor Surge. In the film, the faceless, tall, handsomely suited boogeyman gets into the heads of bored teenagers, driving them insane with fear, and eventually... doing... bad stuff?... to them... apparently. Sylvain White ("Stop the Yard") directs, and Juliana Goldani Telles ("The Affair"), Jaz Sinclair ("Paper Towns") and Annalise Basso ("Ouija: Origin of Evil") co-star.

In his review of "Slender Man" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "the most terrifying moment came when someone dropped a beer bottle at the back of the theater," critiquing the film's "boring" and "underwritten" story, and the incredibly dim lighting, which makes the film "so dark we have to take most of the jump scares on faith."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Slender Man" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Screen Gems

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Witney Seibold Calls the New 'Most Popular Film' Oscar a 'Terrible Mistake'


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced this week the addition of a new Oscars category, for "Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film." Although the exact criteria for the award has yet to be explained, the inclusion of an award specifically created to appeal to mainstream audiences is a major change for the awards ceremony, and a lot of people aren't happy about what it represents.

Writing for IGN, Witney Seibold says "these ideas are unilaterally terrible and threaten the very integrity of the Academy Awards themselves," and explains why the Academy is "essentially giving up any pretense of authority they had in dictating a film's quality."

Read: Witney Seibold Argues "The Oscars' New Popular Film Category is a Bad Idea" at IGN

Top Photo: Paramount Pictures


William Bibbiani Reviews 'BlacKkKlansman'


John David Washington plays real-life Det. Ron Stallworth, a black police officer who successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Kan, in Spike Lee's latest motion picture, "BlacKkKlansman." The film co-stars Adam Driver ("Star Wars: The Last Jedi") as the Jewish detective who plays "Ron Stallworth" in person at Klan meetings, Laura Harrier ("Spider-Man: Homecoming") as the Black Student Union president who introduces Ron to political activism, and Topher Grace ("War Machine") as David Duke, the National Director/Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani says that "BlacKkKlansman" is "one of Spike Lee's best movies," praising the film's ability to be, at the same time, "a ripping crime thriller, a pointed character-driven drama, and an insightful critical analysis of the cinematic form."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "BlacKkKlansman" at IGN


Top Photo: Focus Features

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Meg'


Jason Statham is back and he's fighting a giant prehistoric shark in The Meg, a new action-thriller from director Jon Turteltaub ("National Treasure"). In the film, Statham plays a rescue diver assigned with saving scientists stuck at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, but who inadvertently release a Megalodon into the ocean, where it wreaks havoc. Bingbing Li ("Transformers: Age of Extinction"), Rainn Wilson ("Star Trek: Discovery"), Ruby Rose ("Orange is the New Black"), Page Kennedy ("Rush Hour") and Cliff Curtis ("The Dark Horse") co-star.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani praises "The Meg" for its modest charms, calling it "a fun giant killer shark movie, and a solid Jason Statham action romp," but criticizes the film for its pacing, arguing that "the film is nearly two hours long and a heck of a lot of that time is spent not watching a giant shark bite things."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Meg" at IGN

Top Photo: Warner Bros.

William Bibbiani Hunts for Stephen King Easter Eggs in 'Castle Rock'


The new television series "Castle Rock" airs on Hulu every Wednesday, and it's filled from top to bottom with shoutouts to every Stephen King story around. The show takes place in Castle Rock, Maine where a mysterious man is discovered in a cage, underneath Shawshank Penitentiary. From there the story spirals to include characters Stephen King fans are familiar with, and new creations whose lives parallel some of the most famous stories in the author's bibliography.

Each episode of "Castle Rock" is full of Easter Eggs for Stephen King fans to find, and William Bibbiani is hunting for them over at IGN. Check back every Wednesday for new discoveries from the latest episodes, and let us know if you find anything he missed!

Read: William Bibbiani Hunts for Stephen King Easter Eggs in "Castle Rock" at IGN

Top Photo: Hulu

Monday, August 6, 2018

William Bibbiani Explains Why 'Halloween H20' is the Best 'Halloween' Sequel


With David Gordon Green's "Halloween" reboot just around the corner, film critic William Bibbiani takes a look back at the last time the slasher franchise rewrote its own history. "Halloween H20" took the then-daring tactic of claiming most of the sequels never happened, and focusing entirely on the character of Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, who still suffers from the trauma inflicted upon her on Halloween night, twenty years ago.

In his latest retrospective for IGN, William Bibbiani argues that "Halloween H20" is "one of the finest performances of Jamie Lee Curtis's career," giving her an "empowering finale" and celebrating the way the film turns "what once was horrifying into a heroic anthem."

Read: OPINION: Halloween H20 is the Best Halloween Sequel (So Far)

Top Photo: Dimension Films


Canceled Too Soon #108 - 'Voyagers!' (1982-1983)


A shirtless mega hunk travels through time with a precocious young genius in "Voyagers!," America's primetime answer to "Doctor Who." The action/adventure series aired on NBC from 1982-1983 and starred the late, great John-Erik Hexum ("Cover Up") and Meeno Peluce ("The Amityville Horror"), and a host of great guest stars as famous historical figures, including Jonathan Frakes ("Star Trek: The Next Generation") as Charles Lindbergh, Gregg Henry ("Guardians of the Galaxy") as Teddy Roosevelt and Julia Duffy ("Newhart") as Nellie Bly.

"Voyagers!" lasted one full season and got pretty danged good ratings, but it was canceled anyway. The question is, was it Canceled Too Soon? Our hosts William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold delve into the strange mythology of the show, the tragic fate of John-Erik Hexum, and every unusual episode of this ambitious sci-fi series!

Give it a listen!


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'The Darkest Minds'


Amandla Stenberg stars in "The Darkest Minds" as Ruby, a young woman with telepathic powers, in a world where 90% of the world's children have been killed by a mysterious virus. Now, adults look at the surviving, superpowered children with terror, and a group of mismatched teens have to go on the run to survive. Harris Dickinson ("Trust"), Skylan Brooks ("The Get Down"), Mandy Moore ("47 Meters Down"), Gwendolyn Christie ("Game of Thrones") and Bradley Whitford ("Get Out") co-star in the live-action debut of director Jennifer Yuh Nelson ("Kung Fu Panda 3").

In his latest review at IGN, Witney Seibold says "[The Darkest Minds] may scratch the very particular YA itch possessed by those who grew up with the genre (and who perhaps miss it), but will certainly not usher in a new, secondary post-modern wave of post-Potter YA adventures."

Read: Witney Seibold Reviews "The Darkest Minds" at IGN

Top Photo: 20th Century Fox

Critically Acclaimed #39: 'The Benchwarmers' and 'Stephen King's IT'


Rob Schneider is notorious for starring in poorly reviewed comedies, but is the baseball yuckfest "The Benchwarmers" really one of his worst movies? And why is this fart-joke family flick the perfect double feature with Andy Muschietti's horrifying killer clown blockbuster "Stephen King's IT?"

You'll find out in this week's episode of Critically Acclaimed! And you'll also get reviews of the new releases "Christopher Robin," "The Darkest Minds" and "The Spy Who Dumped Me!"

Give it a listen over at Podcast One!

Email us at letters@criticallyacclaimed.net and follow your hosts on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani and @WitneySeibold

Head on over to the Schmoeville! Facebook page to vote in our weekly polls, every Sunday, and force Bibbs and Witney watch the bad movies YOU want them to watch!

Top Photos: Revolution Studios / Warner Bros.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Christopher Robin'


Ewan MacGregor stars in, and as, "Christopher Robin," a live-action reimagining of the beloved "Winnie the Pooh" stories, written by A.A. Milne. In the new film, Christopher Robin has grown up, forgotten his childhood friends, and started a family of his own. Unfortunately, he now spends most of his time working, so Pooh and his pals have to teach him a valuable lesson about... not doing that. Hayley Atwell ("Agent Carter") and Mark Gatiss ("Sherlock") co-star, along with voice actors Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Mohammed and Peter Capaldi, in a movie directed by Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland").

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani says "When artists worry about what big corporations might do after they buy the rights to their creations, Disney's 'Christopher Robin' is exactly what they're worried about." 

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Christopher Robin" at IGN

Top Photo: Walt Disney

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Canceled Too Soon and Linoleum Knife: "It Happened One Christmas" and "A Christmas Prince"


It's Christmas in July! This year, our very own Canceled Too Soon podcast is teaming up with the amazing folks at Linoleum Knife to review two cult Christmas TV movies, one you've heard of and one you might not even believe is real.

Here at Canceled Too Soon, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold invite Dave White and Alonso Duralde to review "It Happened One Christmas," a 1977 television remake of "It's a Wonderful Life," starring Marlo Thomas ("That Girl") in the James Stewart role, Cloris Leachman as the angel, and Orson Welles as the dastardly Mr. Potter. It's one of the weirder footnotes in Christmas TV movie history!

Listen to the "It Happened One Christmas" episode now!

Over at Linoleum Knife, Dave White and Alonso Duralde invite Bibbs and Witney over to review Netflix's unexpected cult hit "A Christmas Prince," starring Rose McIver ("iZombie"), Ben Lamb ("The White Queen"), Sarah Douglas ("Superman II") and Alice Krige ("Star Trek: First Contact"). It's one of many TV movies about American girls falling in love with fictional European princes, and surprise! Almost all of them are directed by the same guy.

Listen to the "A Christmas Prince" episode now!

These episodes are PATREON EXCLUSIVE, so to listen to both of them you'll have to subscribe to both Canceled Too Soon and Linoleum Knife. But you'll be glad you did! They both have fantastic content!

Top Photos: ABC / Netflix

Monday, July 30, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Darkest Minds'


Amandla Stenberg stars in "The Darkest Minds" as Ruby, a young woman with telepathic powers, in a world where 90% of the world's children have been killed by a mysterious virus. Now, adults look at the surviving, superpowered children with terror, and a group of mismatched teens have to go on the run to survive. Harris Dickinson ("Trust"), Skylan Brooks ("The Get Down"), Mandy Moore ("47 Meters Down"), Gwendolyn Christie ("Game of Thrones") and Bradley Whitford ("Get Out") co-star in the live-action debut of director Jennifer Yuh Nelson ("Kung Fu Panda 3").

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani praises "The Darkest Minds" for being "fierce" and "a clarion call to arms" for young, burgeoning activists, but critiques the film's "efficient" direction for making it feel "more like a manifesto than a sci-fi thriller."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Darkest Minds" at The Wrap

Top Photo: 20th Century Fox

Critically Acclaimed #38: The Films of Tim Burton


Tim Burton spent his career giving a voice to outsiders, only to become a mass-marketed corporate institution. It's a strange and ironic arc to a strange and sometimes ironic career, and it's the subject of this week's episode of Critically Acclaimed podcast!

Film critics William Bibbiani review every single feature film directed by Tim Burton, and one film he didn't direct (and two shorts), to delve into the filmmaker's specific recurring themes, and his sometimes glaring storytelling weaknesses. They even stand up for some of his most commonly maligned motion pictures!

Plus, reviews of the new releases "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" and "Puzzle!"

Give it a listen below!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

William Bibbiani Picks The 10 Best Action Movies of the 1980s


The 1980s are often celebrated as a heyday for "badass cinema," in which violence was frequently used to an outrageous extent to tell exciting, crowd-pleasing stories. Indeed, many of the best action movies ever made hail from the 1980s, and narrowing them down to only ten was a difficult feat.

But, film critic William Bibbiani did it! You can read his picks for the best action movies of the 1980s - featuring films from Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and more - in his latest article at IGN.

Read: William Bibbiani Picks The 10 Best '80s Action Movies at IGN

Top Photo: Film Workshop

William Bibbiani Highlights Movie Franchises That Got Better, Not Worse


The time-honored credo that "sequels suck" doesn't seem to apply anymore, if it ever did. Many movie franchises get better over time - or at least, get worse and then get better again - and William Bibbiani highlights many of them in his latest article at IGN.

Action movies, horror movies, romances, westerns and more. There's a franchise that healed itself for just about everybody! And here they are...

Read: William Bibbiani Highlights Movie Franchises That Got Better Over Time at IGN

Top Photo: Paramount Pictures

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Puzzle'


A stifled housewife rekindles her passion for life with a new love, jigsaw puzzles, in Marc Turteltaub's new drama "Puzzle." Kelly MacDonald ("T2 Trainspotting") plays Agnes, who lies to her family in order to join a national puzzle tournament with an unlikely partner, a rich inventor played by Irrfan Khan ("Life of Pi"), and has to decide how much she wants to change her life.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says that "Puzzle" is "undeniably satisfying," praising the film's "quiet, zen-like" storytelling and, in particular, Kelly MacDonald's "superb" performance.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Puzzle" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

William Bibbiani Ranks the 'National Lampoon' Movies


This week marks the 40th anniversary of "National Lampoon's Animal House," AND the 35th anniversary of "National Lampoon's Vacation." For better or worse, these films had an indelible impact on the comedy genre, and left behind them scores of imitators... many of them made by National Lampoon!

In his latest article for The Wrap, film critic William Bibbiani ranks all the major National Lampoon comedies from worst to best, with commentary on films ranging from the "Vacation" franchise to the "Van Wilder" movies, as well as National Lampoon obscurities like "Movie Madness" and "Senior Trip!"

Read: William Bibbiani Ranks the National Lampoon Movies at The Wrap

Top Photo: Warner Bros.