Friday, November 30, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Anna and the Apocalypse'

A sweet little musical about high school kids looking for love and freedom at Christmastime is rudely interrupted by a zombie uprising in "Anna and the Apocalypse," which may very well be the only teen Christmas zombie musical in existence.

In his review of "Anna and the Apocalypse" at IGN, William Bibbiani calls the film "Jolly, gross and pretty darned catchy," praising the film's quirky concept and mostly solid songs, but critiquing the film for sidelining the Christmas theme to the extent that the movie works perfectly well without it.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Anna and the Apocalypse" for IGN

Top Photo: Orion Pictures

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Possession of Hannah Grace'

A troubled woman takes a job in the graveyard shift at the morgue, but one of the corpses isn't what it appears to be in "The Possession of Hannah Grace." The new supernatural thriller evokes memories of "The Autopsy of Jane Doe," and stars Shay Mitchell, Kirby Johnson and Stana Katic.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "The Possession of Hannah Grace" is "a dreary horror thriller, without any of those pesky thrills," and critiques the film for its slow pacing, perfunctory storytelling and ineffectual score.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Possession of Hannah Grace" for The Wrap

Top Photo: Sony

Thursday, November 29, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse'

Spider-Man is dead, but there are a half dozen others from parallel dimensions to take his place in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," a new animated adventure starring Shameik Moore ("Dope") as Miles Morales, Jake Johnson ("Jurassic World") as Peter Parker, Hailee Steinfeld ("Bumblebee") as Gwen Stacy and Liev Schreiber ("Ray Donovan") as the villainous Kingpin. 

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is "easily the best Spider-Man movie since 'Spider-Man 2,'" and praises the film's dynamic visuals, tragic drama, hilarious humor and appreciation for every aspect of comic book lore.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" at The Wrap

Photo: Sony Animation

Canceled Too Soon #126: 'Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD' (1998)

Samuel L. Jackson wasn't the first live-action Nick Fury. That honor belongs to David Hasselhoff, of "Baywatch" fame, who took on the role in a 1998 tv movie that was also a failed pilot for a television series. 

Originally written David Goyer, who also gave you the movies "Blade" and "Batman Begins," this spy thriller evokes all the campy thrills of its action-packed TV contemporaries "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys."

It's also one of Marvel's most notorious misfires! But could it be that "Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD" was actually canceled too soon? Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold explore this infamous dud in the latest episode of the podcast!

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #55: The 'Home Alone' Movies

Did you know there are five "Home Alone" movies? Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review them all - and declare one of the lesser known sequels to the be the best in the series! - in the latest episode of Critically Acclaimed!

Plus, new reviews of "Ralph Breaks the Internet," "Robin Hood," "Creed II," "The Favourite," "Shoplifters" and "The Christmas Chronicles!" Hurray!

Give it a listen! 

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Elliot the Littlest Reindeer'

In the animated family film "Elliot the Littlest Reindeer," one of Santa's reindeer has unexpectedly retired and there's only three days left until Christmas! Can a miniature horse voiced by Josh Hutcherson ("The Hunger Games") possibly make it through the reindeer games and become a member of Santa's team? Will his best goat friend, voiced by Samantha Bee ("Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"), be able to help him? And will an elf named Lemondrop, voiced by Martin Short, stand in their way?

In his review of "Elliot the Littlest Reindeer" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "audiences might have more fun overanalyzing the mythology than by following the actual plot," and delves deep into the difficult questions the film asks - mostly by accident - about Santa Claus, magic reindeer, and why people who know animals are sentient beings still eat them en masse.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Elliot the Littlest Reindeer" at The Wrap

Photo: Screen Media

Monday, November 26, 2018

Witney Seibold Looks Back at 'Bowfinger,' 19 Years Later

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

Frank Oz's “Bowfinger,” written by Steve Martin, was released in theaters in August of 1999 to a generally positive response, although it was by no means a giant hit. In the 19 years since its release, it has quietly gathered a small cult of affable devotees who hold it up as a great example of broad showbiz satire. 

I sharply recall seeing “Bowfinger” in 1999, and I even wrote an (unpublished) review at the time, which fell in line with popular opinion: I found the film to be approachable, pleasant, slight and more amusing than outright funny. The film's core idea was its best feature: Having no money to make a feature film, an ambitious B-movie director shoots a sci-fi thriller, guerrilla style and in public, around a famous Hollywood star who has no idea he's being included.

19 years later, “Bowfinger” hasn't aged well, nor has it aged poorly. It's just as mildly-funny as it was in 1999, it's just as slight, it's just as pleasant. Now, as then, “Bowfinger” seems afraid to get its claws out. 

Canceled Too Soon #125: 'Blade: The Series' (2006)

The "Blade" movies changed the landscape of blockbuster cinema, maybe forever, but "Blade: The Series" got canceled after just one season. What happened to this live-action, gory, sexy action/adventure series, produced by David S. Goyer ("Batman Begins"), and starring Sticky Fingaz as the half-vampire hero? And why does Jill Wagner completely steal the show from the title character?

You'll find out as our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS continues! William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold perform a post-mortem on this all-new episode, and reveal what works about "Blade: The Series," what sucks, and why the show is basically Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious" but with vampires in it.

Give it a listen!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Christmas Chronicles'

Kurt Russell is Santa Claus in "The Christmas Chronicles," a new Netflix Original movie about two kids who stow away in Santa's sleigh and accidentally ruin everything. Now, they're stuck in Chicago without any of Santa's magic, and have to go through one madcap adventure after another in order to save Christmas and, by extension, the whole world.

In his review of "The Christmas Chronicles" at IGN, William Bibbiani calls the film "conventional but likable," but praises the heck out of Kurt Russell's performance, calling him "one of the all-time great movie Santa Clauses."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Christmas Chronicle" at IGN

Top Photo: Netflix

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

William Bibbiani Presents The Worst Product Placements in Movie History

Lots of movies take advantage of "product placement," the practice of highlighting specific products in movies to make money, but some films do it better than others. And some films do it very, very, VERY badly.

In his latest list at IGN, William Bibbiani presents his picks for the worst product placements in movie history, featuring Superman, Supergirl, Rambo, lots of superheroes and a whole bunch of Adam Sandler movies!

Read: William Bibbiani Presents The Worst Product Placements in Movie History at IGN

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Robin Hood'

Taron Egerton stars as "Robin Hood," an outlaw who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, and who's been the subject of many great and awful movies in the past. Jamie Foxx co-stars as Robin Hood's mentor, Ben Mendelsohn plays the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham, and together they live in a strange hybrid world that exists half in the Middle Ages and half in stark fashion catalogue.

In his review of "Robin Hood" at IGN, William Bibbiani says this movie "may very well be the first 'Robin Hood' movie without a point" and criticizing the film's muddled timeline and mediocre action, but reserves some praise for Egerton and Mendelsohn's performances.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Robin Hood" at IGN

Top Photo: Lionsgate

Monday, November 19, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #124: 'Solarman' (1986, 1989, 1992)

One of the most obscure Marvel superheroes got one of the most obscure failed pilots! He's called "Solarman," he's basically Green Lantern without the interesting bits, and he was rebooted from another comic book line and this version was co-created by the late, legendary Stan Lee! 

But was Solarman's adventures to defeat the sun-destroying leader of the Robodroids, Gormaga Kraal, Canceled Too Soon? You'll find out as our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS continues! William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold delve into this weird relic of the 1980s and 1990s and emerge with dumb robots, fantabulous hunkiness and more.

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #123: 'Generation X' (1996)

Our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS turns tragic this week, with the passing of the great Stan Lee, who co-created many of our favorite Marvel comic book characters. William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold celebrate the life and career of Stan Lee, and share their favorite Stan Lee stories, on this episode of CANCELED TOO SOON.

But also, since it's Canceled Too Soon, we're reviewing another failed television series, and this one might very well be the most 1990s of all the Marvel footnotes. It's called "Generation X," it's about a bunch of teenage mutants in the X-Men universe, who do battle with - basically - the Riddler from "Batman Forever," as played by Matt Frewer ("Max Headroom").

Was it canceled too soon? And could it possibly get any more 90s? We'll find out together on this brand new episode.

Give it a listen!

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Widows'

Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave") assembles an all-star cast for "Widows," the story of a group of recently widowed women decide to complete their criminal husbands' final heist. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson and Robert Duvall co-star.

In his review of "Widows" at IGN, William Bibbiani calls the film "the most artsy, thoughtful and impressively cast heist movie in a long, long while," but criticizes the film not balancing its pulpy heist storyline with its heady intellectual commentary.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Widows" at IGN

Top Photo: 20th Century Fox

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Instant Family'

Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne adopt three kids at once in "Instant Family," a new dramedy from the director of "Daddy's Home" and "Daddy's Home 2," that illustrates the incredible highs and desperate lows of the foster care process.

In his review of "Instant Family" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls the film "an earnest, moving family drama that just happens to be kinda funny," and praises the film for being "positive about the system and its goals, [and] also honest about how nearly impossible it can seem."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Instant Family" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Paramount Pictures

Monday, November 12, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #53: 'Mars Needs Moms' and 'Spirited Away'

It's official: Mars needs moms, and they need them so badly, that they made "Mars Needs Moms!" This epic misfire, which lost over $100 million at the box office, destroyed studios and nearly killed an animation medium, and earned tons of negative reviews. But is it really that bad? And why is it the perfect double feature with Hayao Miyazaki's beloved, acclaimed, Oscar-winning animated classic "Spirited Away?"

You'll get all that, plus new reviews of "The Grinch," "Overlord," "Outlaw King," "The Girl in the Spider's Web" and "The New Romantic!"

Give it a listen at Podcast One!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #122: 'Marvel's Inhumans' (2017)

The history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a history of success! Except, of course, for "Marvel's Inhumans," a television series based on the comic book that Marvel kept trying to turn into a movie, then gave up on, and turned into a failed television series.

Bad luck for them, good luck for Canceled Too Soon! After all, we're the podcast that reviews TV shows that only lasted one season or less...

This week in our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold crack upon the bizarre history of the Inhumans, their disappointing television series, and a story that tries to turn the oppressive regime at the head of a brutal caste system... into the good guys.

Friday, November 9, 2018

William Bibbiani Looks at the History of World War II Horror Movies

Julius Avery's "Overlord" might very well be the ultimate World War II horror movie... but it's hardly the first. In his latest article at IGN, film critic William Bibbiani guides you through the history of horror movies set in and around the events of World War II, with ghosts and killer puppets and lots and lots and lots of Nazi zombies!

Read: William Bibbiani Writes "The Road to Overlord: When Horror Mixes With World War II Movies" at IGN

Top Photo: Blue Underground

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Overlord'

A group of soldiers in World War II are tasked with destroying a radio tower, but discover something unspeakable in the catacombs beneath it. That's the plot of "Overlord," a horror story straight out of "Two-Fisted Tales," that combines WWII action movie tropes with mad scientist grotesqueries. Jovan Adepo ("Fences") and Wyatt Russell ("Goon: Last of the Enforcers") co-star, in a film directed by Julius Avery ("Son of the Gun").

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "Overlord" is "one of the best video game movies ever made," even though it's not based on a video game, and praises the film's dynamic storytelling and visceral gore.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Overlord" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Paramount

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'

Newt Scamander is back and just as socially awkward as ever in "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," the latest film in the "Harry Potter" prequel series, about wizards in the 1920s staving off intolerance and political turmoil in the buildup to World War II. Eddie Redmayne stars alongside Katherine Watson, Dan Fogler, Johnny Depp, Callum Turner, Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol and Jude Law, in film directed by David Yates, who helmed every "Harry Potter" film since "The Order of the Phoenix." 

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani describes "Fantastic Beasts 2" as a "1,000 page novel shoved into a 134-minute running time," critiquing the film for its convoluted storyline and dropped supporting characters, but praising the film for its distinctive protagonist and rejuvenated sense of wonder.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Warner Bros.

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Pelíšky' a.k.a. 'Cosy Dens'

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

Jan Hřebejk's film “Pelíšky” (translated into English as “Cosy Dens”), is as twee as they come. Set in Prague in late 1967 – mere months before the Communist invasion of the city – “Pelíšky” takes place largely in the stiflingly ultra-clean, chintzy, Plasticine apartments of presumably average Czech citizens as they suffer through Christmas together.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'The Girl in the Spider's Web'

Uruguayan director Fede Álvarez first caught the eye of American audiences with his 2013 remake of “Evil Dead,” which was striking less for its only-somewhat-novel approach to its story (was the protagonist possessed or simply in the throes of a drug withdrawal?) and more for its awesome amount of blood and gore (the finale features a chainsaw through the face while blood literally rains from the sky).

His second feature, 2016's “Don't Breathe” was a clever, exciting, taut, and twisted little thriller that can easily be gathered within the enormous school of excellent indie horror films that have been gracing theaters for the last decade. His new film, “The Girl in the Spider's Web” is his first large-scale studio-sanctioned mainstream big-budget project and, well, all of a sudden he's far less interesting. I guess necessity really is the mother of invention.

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs'

The Coen Bros. tell a series of weird, ironic wild west tales in "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," a Netflix Original movie about death and fate. Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Tom Waits, Liam Neeson, Zoe Kazan, Brendan Gleeson and Tyne Daly are just some of the big stars who show up for this ambitious new bittersweet comedy.

In his review of "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" at IGN, William Bibbiani calls the film "one of [the Coen Bros.] finest films," which encapsulates "everything that fascinates them about the human experience."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" at IGN

Top Photo: Netflix

William Bibbiani Presents 14 Remakes That Are Better Than The Original

Every week, Hollywood announces a big remake of a classic (or not so classic) motion picture. And every week, people complain that Hollywood has run out of ideas, and that they're ruining classic films. And every week, people seem to forget that there are a lot of movie remakes that aren't just good but actually surpass the originals.

William Bibbiani provides 14 examples of remakes that are better than the originals, in his latest article at IGN!

Read: William Bibbiani Presents "14 Remakes That Are Better Than The Originals" at IGN

Top Photo: Columbia Pictures

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #52: 'Reefer Madness' and 'Smiley Face'

It's the one-year anniversary of the Critically Acclaimed podcast, and we're celebrating the way you knew we would, with one of the worst movies ever made! Our listeners asked us to review the iconic and incompetent scare film "Reefer Madness," and we're pairing this ironic stoner classic with a hilarious (and relatively honest) stoner classic: Gregg Araki's "Smiley Face!"

Plus, we've got new reviews of "The Other Side of the Wind" and "They'll Love Me When I'm Dead," as well as "Boy Erased" and "Bohemian Rhapsody!"

Give it a listen at Podcast One!

Monday, November 5, 2018

William Bibbiani Tackles Orson Welles' Last Film: 'The Other Side of the Wind'

One of the most important movies in years, maybe even in modern memory, has finally been released this weekend, and not a lot of people noticed. Orson Welles, the iconoclastic director of "Citizen Kane" and "Touch of Evil," completed filming "The Other Side of the Wind" in 1976, but the film wasn't finished until this year, and audiences only get to see it now.

In his latest article for IGN, William Bibbiani invites you to look at the history of "The Other Side of the Wind," and grasp with the film's unbelievable history and invaluable context within Welles' filmography and the artistic climate of its era.

Read: William Bibbiani Explains "The Other Side of the Wind" at IGN

Top Photo: Netflix

William Bibbiani Talks 'Citizen Kane' on The Nerd GOAT Podcast!

Who's the greatest fictional character in history? That's the question they answer every week on Nerd GOAT, hosted by Ed Greer and Ron Swallow. Our very own William Bibbiani is their latest guest, and after debating such motion picture icons as Laurie Strode, Jason Voorhees and Moose from the "Step Up" films, settled on Charles Foster Kane from "Citizen Kane."

Why is Charles Foster Kane the greatest movie character of all time? You'll have to listen to the episode to find out!

Listen: William Bibbiani Calls Charles Foster Kane the Greatest Character of All Time on Nerd GOAT

Top Photo: RKO

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #121: 'Fred and Barney Meet The Thing' (1979)

Welcome, to our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS! Every episode of Canceled Too Soon in November is dedicated to a failed television series based on a Marvel comic book, and we're starting off with one of the weirdest cartoon series ever made, in which Fantastic Four hero Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing, has been transformed into a teenager who can summon his aging Brooklynite rock monster alter ego using magic rings, and by uttering the words "Thing Ring, Do Your Thing!"

Naturally, he uses those godlike powers to make picnics slightly less annoying.

Was this Hanna-Bareara cartoon, and one of the oddest footnotes in Marvel multimedia history, canceled too soon? We can't wait to find out! Join William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold as they delve into every episode of this inane cartoon series, and stick around, because our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS is only beginning!

Give it a listen!

Witney Seibold Says the 'Super Mario Bros.' is Just Like 'Orpheus'

25 years ago, there was a film about brothers. Mario brothers. And they were super. But the "Super Mario Bros." movie, based on the iconic video game, was a bizarre and extremely loose adaptation that ticked off the fans, tanked at the box office, and confused film critics around the world.

But not all critics hate "Super Mario Bros." Our very own Witney Seibold argues in favor of the strange artistic qualities of this unsung cult oddity by comparing it, believe it or not, to "Orpheus," as iconic a myth as has ever been told.

Yes, really. You're going to want to read this one, folks!

Read: Witney Seibold Equates "Super Mario Bros." and "Orpheus" at!

Top Photo: Buena Vista