Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #64: All the Mummy Movies!

Universal loves their monster movies, but they don't always know what to do with them. So it was a pleasant surprise when their big budget 1999 reboot of "The Mummy" was such an enormous hit that it spawned a sprawling fantasy-adventure franchise that, whether you realize it or not, is still going strong today! We're reviewing all the "Mummy" movies on this week's CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, and every single film in the lesser known but long-running "Scorpion King" spinoff franchise!

Also this week, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold talk about all the Oscar nominations, and review the new releases "The Kid Who Would Be King," "Memory: The Origins of Alien," and the utterly BIZARRE new thriller "Serenity," which has to be seen to be believed!

Give it a listen!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part'

"The LEGO Movie 2," the sequel to the smash hit "The LEGO Movie," is an ambitious production, as the imaginations of two children collide, creating a narrative of kidnapping, brainwashing and betrayal. Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett return, with Stephanie Beatriz and Tiffany Haddish joining the cast as residents of the "Sistar System."

In his review of "The LEGO Movie 2" at IGN, William Bibbiani argues that the original film "raised the bar so high that the sequel can't reach it," praising the new movie's ambitions but arguing that the internal logic of the LEGO universe is so complicated it detracts from the story.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part" at IGN

Top Photo: Warner Bros.

Witney Seibold and William Bibbiani Review 'Justice League: The New Frontier'

[The following article was sponsored by our Patreon subscriber Sean Wrinkle, who assigned the same review to both of our critics. To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

Witney Seibold's Review: 

In 2004, DC comics published a well-regarded and award-winning comic called DC: The New Frontier. Like Marvel Comics' Marvels from 1994, New Frontier was a retro-re-imagining of the company's central superhero characters, looking at their origin stories in an edgy, modern light. 

Although published a decade apart, both books follow the same ethos: To reinterpret the previously corny, fantastical, and boldly morally absolute world of Silver Age superhero comics and set them in a wholly modern and morally ambiguous world. Both books highlight not the glories, but the tragedy, violence, and inner turbulence of their superhero characters; They eschew the bold-faced kid-friendly avatars of our childhoods, replacing them with more mature, complex figures of philosophical ambivalence.

Critically Acclaimed BONUS: Mailbag Episode - January 2019

YOU took the time to write us, and WE need to answer a whole bunch of letters! It's a giant-sized podcast dedicated to your questions, critiques, and deepest thoughts, with film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold!

Give it a listen!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #133: 'Kitchen Confidential' (2005)

Before he was the Oscar-nominated star of "A Star is Born," Bradley Cooper starred in a failed sitcom called "Kitchen Confidential," based on the bestselling nonfiction book by the late Anthony Bourdain. But even though "Kitchen Confidential" had an amazing cast - including John Cho, Frank Langella, Jamie King, John Francis Daley, Bonnie Somerville and Sam Pancake - it was canceled by Fox after only four episodes.

Was "Kitchen Confidential" really... Canceled Too Soon? Film critics William Bibbiani explore what worked about this series, what feels hopelessly mired in the mid-2000s, and what makes us cringe today, in the latest episode of the podcast!

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Absurdism in Film: An Overview

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

What do a bicycle and a duck have in common?
They both have handlebars, except for the duck.

For the rebellious, for the contrarian, for the playful adolescent punk, absurdism is an appealing philosophy. For those eager to playfully circumvent the status quo – to subvert the dominant paradigm, as the saying goes – absurdism can be wielded as an ideology as well as a category of humor, both intended to confront the listener with a simple philosophical truth: That nothing has any meaning and everything can be deconstructed and reduced down to the point where its base elements appear to have no connection at all.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Memory: The Origins of Alien'

Alexandre O. Phillippe's new documentary "Memory: The Origins of Alien" takes the audience into the history of one of the scariest movies ever made, revealing where the film's most terrifying ideas and how they were brought to life. It's an in-depth documentary featuring cast, crew and film critics alike sharing stories about "Alien" and what it really means.

In his review of "Memory" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says the documentary "oversells its thesis — and suffers from glaring omissions — it’s a thoughtful love letter to a fascinating classic."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Memory: The Origins of Alien" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Writer Dan O'Bannon on the Shepperton Studios set of Ridley Scott's 'Alien.' Photo courtesy of The O'Bannon Estate.

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Serenity'

Matthew McConaughey reteams with his "Interstellar" co-star Anne Hathaway in "Serenity," a film noir from writer/director Steven Knight ("Locke"). In the film, McConaughey plays an obsessive fisherman whose ex-wife asks him to kill her new husband, which leads to unexpected revelations.

In his review of "Serenity" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls the film "a twist in search of a movie, a film noir in search of a purpose, and a great cast in search of better material."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews 'Serenity' at The Wrap

Top Photo: Aviron

Monday, January 21, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #64: The Swarm and The Birds!

It's been decades since anyone talked about the awful Michael Caine killer bee disaster movie "The Swarm," but went it came out it was called one of the worst movies ever made. And guess what? THEY'RE RIGHT! Find out what makes this mostly-forgotten box office failure one of the most legendarily terrible films in history, and find out why it pairs perfectly with Alfred Hitchcock's experimental groundbreaker, "The Birds!"

Also this week, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review the new releases "Glass," the long awaited trilogy capper from M. Night Shyamalan, and the two competing Fyre Festival documentaries, "Fyre Fraud" (from Hulu) and "Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened" (from Netflix)!

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #132: The Edge (1992-1993)

Julie Brown, Jennifer Aniston, Tom Kenny and Wayne Knight all starred in "The Edge," the most violent sketch comedy show ever made, in which every episode opens with the whole cast getting killed. This topical, raunchy, bloody, juvenile, and just plain weird sketch comedy show only lasted one season, but that was enough for the showrunners to almost get sued by Aaron Spelling for their vicious parody of "Beverly Hills 90210!"

It's a heck of a show to pull out of a pop culture vote, but was "The Edge" really... CANCELED TOO SOON? William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold explore every episode of this fascinating but forgotten series and reveal which gags are still funny and which gags are completely tasteless now!

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Canceled Too Soon Letters Episode: January 2019

You took the time to write to us, and we want to answer as many of your emails as possible! On the latest Canceled Too Soon Letters Episode, we talk about about the TV tropes that drive us nuts, reflect on changing social attitudes and how they affect our favorite movies and TV shows, and change one of host's opinions about humanity. Is it William Bibbiani or Witney Seibold? There's only one way to find out!

The Canceled Too Soon Letters Episode is only available on Patreon, but it is free to everybody, not just our subscribers! 

Head on over and check it out!

Critically Acclaimed #62: Green Hornet and Re-Animator

There aren't a whole lot of epic superhero movie disasters nowadays, but "Green Hornet" is one of them. Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz, the motion picture adaptation of the classic radio and tv vigilante failed to take off with critics and mainstream audiences alike, but is it really as bad as you've heard? And why the heck is it the perfect double feature with Stuart Gordon's ultraviolent horror comedy "Re-Animator?"

Plus! It's a slow week for new releases, but we're reviewing the new Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller "Replicas," so we hope that absolutely thrills you!

Give it a listen!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Glass'

If I were the type to write “clever,” pun-filled headlines, the banner above this review would read “GLASS Shatters Expectations; Disappoints.” Luckily for you, dear reader, I am not that type of critic.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #61: The Films of Guillermo del Toro

Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has a career that's full of dreamers, monsters and weird special effects, and this week on CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED we're reviewing every single one of his feature films, including "Cronos," "Hellboy," "Pan's Labyrinth," "Pacific Rim," "The Shape of Water" and more!

Also, it's the first week of the year, so the new release pickings are slim, but at least we've got reviews of "Escape Room" and "Bandersnatch," as well as a discussion about this year's Golden Globes, and how much (or how little) they really mean.

Give it a listen!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #131: Tagteam (1991)

In 1991, professional wrestlers-turned-actors Jesse Ventura and Roddy Piper teamed up for a television series, playing professional wrestlers-turned-cops! It's called TAGTEAM, and it's an affable comedy adventure about lovable musclebound dudes who fight crime and occasionally drop pianos out of windows, and onto other pianos.

Tagteam could have been a hit series, but instead it only lasted one episode. Was it... CANCELED TOO SOON? William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review the failed series on this all-new episode of of the podcast!

Give it a listen!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Escape Room'

A group of strangers are invited to a brand new escape room, but this time, the puzzles can kill you! Adam Robitel ("Insidious: The Last Key") directs the new, gimmicky thriller starring Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll and Nik Dodani, co-star in a film that evokes "Cube," "Saw" and the oeuvre of William Castle.

In William Bibbiani's review at The Wrap, he argues "if you’re willing to buy into [the] premise, it’s about as good as a movie with that premise could probably be," praising the film's inventive puzzles and commitment to the silly premise.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Escape Room" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Sony Pictures

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Witney Seibold Picks the Best Films of 2018!

I repeat this mantra every year: Choosing the best films of the year is the best part of a critic's job. Ranking them is the worst. Most interested readers want to know what a given critic's #1 film was, of course, and most critics are willing to do their due diligence in providing one, but ranking beyond that seems largely arbitrary; who cares what your 7th best is in comparison to your 5th?

So, as a favor to myself, I have elected to forgo a stringent ranking system this year, proving readers instead with a more general list of some great films I managed to see this year. Not only does this free me from having to pit unlike films against one another (most films aren't necessarily comparable in any empirical sense), but it also allows readers to explore more freely the enormous gaggle of excellent features released in 2018.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #60: The Worst Movies of 2018!

It would be nice to say that every movie in 2018 was good, or at least deserved a free pass. But life isn't that simple and neither is art! On this episode of CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold reveal their picks for the worst movies of 2018, the ones we desperately need to learn from so we don't make the same old mistakes, over and over again.

Which blockbuster movies made their list? Which acclaimed Oscar-contender deserves a second, more critical perspective? You'll find out by listening to CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED! 

Give it a listen!