Sunday, July 15, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #36: 'Color of Night' and 'Body Heat'

It's a no-holds-barred battle between erotic thrillers! This week on Critically Acclaimed, we're taking a look back at the sexy but notoriously awful "Color of Night," starring Bruce Willis and a cavalcade of characters actors who are too good for this tawdry material, and comparing it to Lawrence Kasdan's explosively sultry neo-noir "Body Heat," starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner as ill-fated lovers who plan to commit murder!

Plus, new reviews of "Skyscraper," "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation," "Eighth Grade," "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot," "Siberia" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream!"

Give it a listen!

Friday, July 13, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (2018)

William Shakespeare's classic comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream" gets another new cinematic adaptation with a contemporary rendition, courtesy of director Casey Wilder Mott. Rachel Leigh Cook ("She's All That"), Hamish Linklater ("Legion"), Lily Rabe ("American Horror Story"), Finn Witrock ("American Crime Story"), Avan Jogia ("Ghost Wars"), Fran Kranz ("Much Ado About Nothing") and Charity Wakefield ("The Player") co-star in this Shakespearean Hollywood story about love potions and film students.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says Mott's adaptation is "unlikely to become any high school drama teacher's go-to DVD for a rainy," and critiques aesthetic, which "looks like a film school project made with a lot of heart, a lot of passion, and not a heck of a lot of skill."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (2018) at The Wrap

Top Photo: Brainstorm Media

Thursday, July 12, 2018

William Bibbiani Highlights 'Underrated Movies That Aren't Underrated Anymore'

If everyone knows a movie is underrated, is it still underrated?

In his latest feature for IGN, William Bibbiani looks at eleven movies that are mostly famous for being better than they're famous for. And that means it's time to admit that films like "Halloween III," "Starship Troopers" and "Grease 2" are all just plain good - and maybe even classic - motion pictures.

Find out what he picked!

Read: William Bibbiani Highlights "11 Underrated Movies... That Aren't Underrated Anymore"

Top Photo: Paramount Pictures

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot'

Joaquin Phoenix stars as disabled alcoholic cartoonist John Callahan in "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot," a new biopic from director Gus Van Sant ("Good Will Hunting"). Jonah Hill and Rooney Mara co-star in a film that focus on Callahan coming to terms with his addiction and becoming an artist to articulate his frustrations with his life.

In his review of "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot" at IGN, William Bibbiani calls the film "earnest but conventional," but that the emphasis on only one aspect of Callahan's life makes it feel like "a missed opportunity to turn a distinctive, interesting person's life into a distinctive, interesting movie."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot" at IGN

Top Photo: Amazon Studios 

Canceled Too Soon #105: Van-Pires (1997)

Every popular show has knockoffs, but few shows spawned weirder imitators than "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers." Case in point, "Van-Pires," a cheap live-action/CGI action series about teenagers who turn into vampire cars and prevent the evil Tracula - who may or may not have been voiced by Jonathan Davis, the lead singer of Korn - from drinking gasoline.

Oh yeah, and it's got an original soundtrack by John Entwistle from The Who. Yes, really.

It's one of the weirdest ideas for a kids show ever, but was Canceled Toon Soon? William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold put the pedal to the metal and explore the hard-rockin', very stupid world of "Van-Pires" in the latest episode of the podcast.

Give it a listen...!

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Eighth Grade'

Although I have done no serious sociological studies on this, a lifetime of casual conversations – as well as my own personal experience – have dictated that the eighth grade is essentially Hell. Puberty comes roaring into your life like a mac truck full of grease and confusion, smearing an unclear vision of sexuality on your eyes, and sealing your mouth shut with hormonal anxiety. And through this, you're expected to go to school, read books, communicate with your guardians, and perhaps even start dating. It's a miserable, miserable time.

Bo Burnham's new film “Eighth Grade” achieves something remarkable: It captures the universal glorious poetry of that horrid, adolescent misery. With an enormous amount of grace and understanding, Burnham puts the camera right at a 13-year-old's eye level, allowing us to see and to experience every last scrap of awkward terror that Kayla, the shy lead character, feels. 

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation'

"Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" stars Adam Sandler as Count Dracula, a well-intentioned monster who runs a vacation getaway for other creepy-crawlies. In the third outing, Dracula's daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) decides that her father needs a vacation, and books them on a cruise to Atlantis along with all their monster friends, but the ship's captain, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn) has more sinister plans in store for them.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani says "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" is "at its best when it's just a delivery system for the gags," arguing that "you might laugh so hard you ignore how uninspired the rest of this movie really is."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" at IGN

Top Photo: Sony Pictures Animation

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Movie Trivia Schmoedown: Jeff Sneider vs. William Bibbiani

William Bibbiani is back and it's his most important Movie Trivia Schmoedown match yet! He's competing against Collider's own Jeff Sneider for a #1 contenders match, and if he doesn't win, he might not play again for the rest of the year.

What does William Bibbiani know about movie trivia? Will he be competing against Samm Levine for the championship in the very near future? 

Watch the latest episode to find out!

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Skyscraper'

Dwayne Johnson stars in "Skyscraper," a new action-thriller about a man with one leg, scaling a giant building that's on fire, to rescue his family from gun-toting bad guys. Neve Campbell ("House of Cards"), Chin Han ("Marco Polo"), Noah Taylor ("Preacher") and Pablo Schreiber ("American Gods") co-star in this blockbuster thriller, which reunites Johnson with his "Central Intelligence" director Rawson Marshall Thurber.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani says that "Skyscraper" takes place in "a parallel reality where action is its own reward," and praises it for being "gigantic and silly."

Read: William Bibbiani reviews "Skyscraper" at IGN

Top Photo: Universal Pictures

Monday, July 9, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #35: 'See No Evil' and 'Don't Breathe'

The year was 2006, and everyone was gaga for Kane! The WWE wrestler starred in his own slasher movie as a serial killer who liked to gouge out eyes, but "See No Evil" didn't take the world by storm. But the terrifying thriller "Don't Breathe" sure as heck did in 2016, and watching these two films back-to-back reveals a heck of a lot about why one of them works, and why the other one does.

In the latest episode of Critically Acclaimed, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold also review "Ant-Man and the Wasp," "The First Purge," "The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter," "Fireworks" and "Sorry to Bother You." They also answer your letters!

Give it a listen!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Double Features: 'The First Purge' (2018)

No motion picture exists in a vacuum. Every week on Double Features, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold watch a new release and offer their individual picks for the perfect film to watch right afterwards, illuminating the themes, the artistry and the history of each movie.

This week's new release: "The First Purge," the prequel to the violent, political and highly lucrative "The Purge" franchise, which details how the dystopian future began, with a horrifying experiment on Staten Island. Y'Lan Noel ("Insecure"), Lex Scott Davis ("Superfly") and Marisa Tomei ("Spider-Man: Homecoming") co-star, in a film directed by Gerard McMurray ("The Burning Sands").

Here's what the critics picked...!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Sorry to Bother You'

Lakeith Stanfield ("Get Out") stars in "Sorry to Bother You," a new comedy from writer/director Boots Riley, about a telemarketer who starts talking like a white person to get ahead at work. The gambit pays off better than expected, leading to a moral quagmire. Tessa Thompson ("Thor: Ragnarok"), Jermaine Fowler ("Superior Donuts"), Terry Crews ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine"), Armie Hammer ("Call Me By Your Name") and Danny Glover ("Lethal Weapon") co-star.

In his review at IGN, Witney Seibold says that "Sorry to Bother You" is "easily one of the best films of the year," and praises the film for its "salient politics" and its "bright liveliness, filmic daring, and cynical humor." 

Read: Witney Seibold Reviews "Sorry to Bother You" at IGN

Top Photo: Annapurna Pictures

William Bibbiani Presents The Best Political Horror Movies

The Fourth of July and "The First Purge" arrive on the same week, so now is the perfect time to look back at the extensive overlap between the horror movie generic and politics. 

In his latest piece for IGN, William Bibbiani offers his picks for the best political horror movies ever made, with themes that span racism, sexism, capitalism, nuclear war and social conformity.

Read: William Bibbiani Picks "The Best Political Horror Movies" at IGN

Top Photo: Toho

Canceled Too Soon #104: Legally Blonde: The Series (2003)

Two years after the blockbuster success of the Reese Witherspoon comedy "Legally Blonde," audiences were given a sequel, "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde." But that same year, the director of the "Legally Blonde" sequel also shot a TV pilot, written and produced by music superstar Rachel Sweet, and starring Jennifer Hall ("Up All Night") as Elle Woods, a fashion-obsessed Beverly Hills lady who goes to Harvard Law School.

A television series based on "Legally Blonde" seems like a great idea, so what went wrong? Why didn't this series get picked up and become the next "M*A*S*H?" And was it... Canceled Too Soon?

William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold dive right in, in their latest crossover with the Critically Acclaimed podcast, which reviewed all of the "Legally Blonde" feature films earlier this week.

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Eight TV Pilots That Did Everything Right

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

“The way they pick TV shows is, they make one show. That show's called a pilot. Then they show that one show to the people who pick shows, and on the strength of that one show they decide if they want to make more shows. Some get chosen and become television programs. Some don't, become nothing.”

~ “Pulp Fiction”

The art of television is, in many ways, the art of the pilot. Most TV shows begin with the creation of just one episode, and they rely on the strength and promise of that episode to get more episodes made. It’s very difficult to get a TV show off the ground if you can’t at least make one good episode. Which is probably as it should be.

But what makes a good pilot episode? It boils down to two simple factors. It has to introduce the characters and their world in an entertaining way, and it has to prove that there are other great stories to tell with those characters, within that world.

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Fireworks'

A teenaged boy fails to protect the girl he likes, and goes back in time to fix his mistakes - again and again - in "Fireworks," a new anime movie that combines romance, slice-of-life drama and an enigmatic MacGuffin. But all is not magical in the world of "Fireworks," and our hero soon discovers that escapism has drawbacks.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says that "Fireworks" is "a sleepy summer day of a movie," and praises the film's everyday fantasy, even though it "never really pops."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Fireworks" at The Wrap

Top Photo: GKIDS

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The First Purge'

The history of the shocking dystopia from "The Purge" franchise is finally revealed in "The First Purge," the prequel to the blockbuster horror franchise. It's the first attempt The New Founding Fathers have made to institutionalize an annual holiday where all crime is legal, and ground zero is Staten Island, where the locals are most indifferent until government-sponsored death squads show up to rain terror on the island and stir up the audience. 

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says that "The First Purge" is "a severe and potent allegory," although the film "de-escalates the violence to a notable degree" compared to the previous entries.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The First Purge" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Blumhouse

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #34: The 'Legally Blonde' Trilogy

Elle Woods wears hot pink, loves animals, and has mastered the "bend and snap." But is she ready for Harvard Law School? You bet she is! And she also takes on Washington D.C., and bequeaths her uptight boarding school to her similarly-attired twin cousins in the blockbuster "Legally Blonde" movie trilogy.

In the latest episode of Critically Acclaimed, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review the entire "Legally Blonde" trilogy, and also make room for a review of the troubling new sequel "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" and a bunch of letters from our listeners!

Give it a listen!

Canceled Too Soon #103 - VR.5 (2015)

Virtual reality: the cause of, and solution to, all of the 1990s' problems. In the short-lived Fox television series VR.5, Lori Singer ("Footloose"), Anthony Stewart Head ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and Michael Easton ("Total Recall 2070") use this amazing technology to enter the subconscious mind of criminals and solve mysteries. Over a dial-up landline. Ain't computers amazing?

"VR.5" is one of the many post-"The X-Files" sci-fi shows that tried to tap into contemporary anxieties, but this one couldn't find an audience, and lasted only 13 episodes. 

But was it... Canceled Too Soon? William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold explore this cult series in the latest episode of the podcast.

Give it a listen...!