Friday, May 31, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #149: 'The After' (2014)

Chris Carter Month continues!

Years before Chris Carter returned to "The X-Files," the producer revealed his most ambitious series to date: "The After," a 99-episode sci-fi/fantasy series about a group of mismatched strangers who, in the pilot, seem to be stuck together after a mysterious apocalypse.

Twists and turns aplenty awaited fans of "The After," including a real doozy at the end of the episode, but Amazon chose not to proceed with any more episodes, and Chris Carter's story remains untold!

What Was "The After," what strange entity was it transforming into, and was it... CANCELED TOO SOON?

Let's find out.

Give it a listen!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Domino' (2019)

Brian De Palma is back with a new thriller starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten from "Game of Thrones." They're Danish detectives investigating a murder of a fellow cop, at the hands of a vigilant on a one-man mission of vengeance against ISIS.

In his review of "Domino" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani laments that "an actual game of dominos has more entertainment value," and "more depth and panache," but notes that the virtuosic director does occasionally put an interesting idea on screen.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Domino" at The Wrap!

Top Photo: Saban

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Ma'

Octavia Spencer reteams with Tate Taylor, the director of "The Help" (which earned her an Oscar), in the new thriller "Ma." Spencer stars as a woman who buys liquor for a group of teenagers, then begins to feed off of their attention, opening an underage tavern in her basement to lure adolescents. When they reject her, the dark side of "Ma" gets reveal. Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans co-star.

In his review of "Ma" at Bloody-Disgusting, William Bibbiani praises the film's smart writing and creepy deaths, and in particular Octavia Spencer's performance, saying she "has the potential to become a classic horror villain."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews 'Ma' at Bloody-Disgusting

Top Photo: Universal

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Godzilla: King of the Monsters'

Godzilla is back, and this time he's bringing some old friends with him! "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" teams Godzilla back up with his old pal Mothra, as they fight to save the world from the awesome and terrifying powers of Ghidorah and Rodan. Oh, and a bunch of humans are in it too, like Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Ken Watanabe, Bradley Whitford, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Thomas Middleditch, Zhang Ziyi and Charles Dance!

In his review of "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" at Bloody-Disgusting, William Bibbiani calls the movie "impossibly huge," and compares it to "an exhilarating theme park attraction where the guides are all award-winning Hollywood stars," but laments that the movie wastes its impressive ensemble cast.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" at Bloody-Disgusting!

Top Photo: Warner Bros.

Critically Acclaimed #80: Aladdin, Brightburn, Booksmart and The Future of Non-Blockbuster Movies!

"Aladdin" made all the money in the world at the box office! But while audiences are flocking to mediocre remakes and expensive sequels, they're choosing to eschew smaller films like "Booksmart" in theaters, instead choosing to wait until these films are on streaming. Is there any future for smaller movies at the box office? Is there any reversing this trend? And is it even worth worrying about in the first place?

Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold tackle one of the biggest questions facing the film industry on this week's CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED! They also review a bunch of new releases, including "Aladdin," "Brightburn," "The Perfection," "See You Yesterday" and - you guessed it - "Booksmart!"

Give it a listen!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #148: 'Harsh Realm' (1999-2000)

After years of teasing, it's FINALLY here... CHRIS CARTER MONTH!

The creator of "The X-Files" may be best known for his genre-defining sci-fi classic series, but that doesn't mean everything Chris Carter touched turned to gold. He's had a LOT of flops over the years, and we're going to tackle a whole bunch of them, starting with HARSH REALM, a sci-fi series about a virtual reality world, released just months after the smash hit "The Matrix," which only lasted three episodes before Fox canceled it and burned off the rest of the series the next year on another station.

Was "Harsh Realm" canceled too soon? Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold tell you everything you need to know about this ambitious, but failed experiment from Chris Carter, in the latest episode of CANCELED TOO SOON!

Give it a listen!

The Two-Shot #10: 'Bride Wars' and 'Death Becomes Her'!

Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson aren't just brides, they're WARRIOR BRIDES in the 2009 comedy "Bride Wars!" It's a bizarre and off-putting comedy about two women who used to be friends and then vow to destroy each other for the sake of pride and vanity, and although it's a rather bad film about that topic, "Death Becomes Her" does the same thing BEAUTIFULLY, and all it does is add Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, and ultraviolent zombie mayhem!

Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold take another crack at one of the best movies ever made, and one of the worst, in this all-new episode of THE TWO-SHOT!

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Critically Acclaimed: 'John Wick: Chapter 3' and Why 1999 Was the Best Year for Movies Ever

"The Matrix," "Fight Club," "The Sixth Sense," "Being John Malkovich," "Office Space," "Eyes Wide Shut," "The Iron Giant," "All About My Mother." What do these classics - and dozens of other great and classic movies - have in common? 

They all came out in 1999, a year which - as we sift through the ubiquitous nostalgic 20th anniversary articles - is increasingly called one of (if not the) best years for movies ever. In the latest episode of CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold explore how such an incredible year came about, revisit how these movies changed cinema's landscape, and point out some unsung classics that nobody seems to be talking about.

They also review the brand new releases "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum," "Photograph," "Trial By Fire" and "The Souvenir!"

Give it a listen!

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Brightburn'

A horrifying reimagining of the Superman mythos, "Brightburn" tells the story of an alien boy who comes to Earth, gets raised by two decent midwestern parents, and turns into a horrifying monster anyway. Elizabeth Banks, David Denman and Jackson A. Dunn star, in a film directed by David Yarovesky.

In his review of "Brightburn" at IGN, Witney Seibold calls the film "a dark little hoot" and praises its efficacy as a "superhero murder thriller," but argues that it "doesn't take its satire to any kind of satisfying extreme." 

Read: Witney Seibold Reviews "Brightburn" for IGN

Top Photo: Sony Pictures

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Aladdin' (2019)

"Aladdin" is the latest Disney animated classic to get the live-action treatment. The new "Aladdin" stars Mena Massoud as the title character, a "diamond in the rough" who finds a Genie (Will Smith), woos a noble princess (Naomi Scott) and saves a country from the evil Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), in a film directed by Guy Ritchie ("The Man from U.N.C.LE.").

In his review of "Aladdin" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls the film "a chintzy revival, specifically designed to appeal to audiences who think 'that looks familiar' qualifies as entertainment," but praises the leads for their charming performances.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Aladdin" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Disney

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Brightburn'

What if Superman was a homicidal sociopath? That's the premise of "Brightburn," a new horror-thriller about a midwest couple who find an alien child in the woods and raise it to adolescence, when his powers kick in and give him all the opportunity he needs to do unspeakable things. Elizabeth Banks, David Denman and Jackson A. Dunn star in a film directed by David Yarovesky.

In his review of "Brightburn" at Bloody Digusting, William Bibbiani says the film "walks a fine line between wry pop culture commentary and genuine terror," but the refusal to take a thematic stance leaves the story open to some potentially ugly interpretations.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Brightburn" at Bloody Disgusting!

Top Photo: Sony Pictures

Monday, May 20, 2019

Critically Acclaimed Commentary Track: 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'

It's a FREE PREVIEW of our Patreon Exclusive commentary tracks! 

Now you can listen in while William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold watch and rant about some of the most beloved movies ever made, starting with Steven Spielberg's RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK!

It's one of the best action movies, and in this free preview, Bibbs and Witney discuss the history of the film, its many cinematic influences, why some of the most famous plot holes aren't plot holes at all, and more! 

Just synch up your copy of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to listen along in real time, or - if you know the movie pretty well already (and you probably do) - just listen to the episode like you would any other podcast.

Give it a listen!

Next time on CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED COMMENTARIES, Bibbs and Witney dive into the late 1990s slasher hit I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER! But that one (and every commentary track in the future) will be a Patreon Exclusive, so head on over and sign up!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Witney Seibold Reviews the First Season of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'

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

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a TV show created by Joss Whedon, based on his screenplay for a 1992 horror/comedy film, ran from 1997 until 2003 on various networks, accumulating a cult audience that from a brief glimpse appears to be even more passionate about their object of affection than your average cult audience.

The Two-Shot #9: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Phantom of the Paradise!

Everyone loves The Beatles, so why does nobody love the movie "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?" It probably has something to do with the film's tedious story, forgettable cover songs and completely wasted all-star cast, which includes The Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Earth Wind and Fire, Steve Martin and George Burns!

But hey, at least it's the perfect double feature with Brian De Palma's passionately eccentric camp musical " Phantom of the Paradise," about a musician who sells his soul for rock and roll!

This week on THE TWO-SHOT, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review one of the worst movie musicals ever made, and a film that deserves reputation - according to one of our critics, at least - as one of the best.

Give it a listen!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #147: The 3rd Annual Canceled Too Soon Awards!


This week, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold run down all the best, the worst, and the WEIRDEST failed television shows they reviewed in the third, epic year of the CANCELED TOO SOON podcast!

Was anything stranger than the teleporting Rodney Dangerfield sitcom "Where's Rodney?" Was anything worse than "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids?" And was anything better than the spectacularly twisted "Blood Drive?"

You'll have to listen in to find out. So give it a listen!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #79: 'Pokémon Detective Pikachu' and The Dark Side of Letting People Enjoy Things

"Shhhhh..." they tell you. "Let people enjoy things," they tell you. But in a fantastic new article at Medium, Esther Rosenfield argues that "letting people enjoy things" is just a self-serving way of shouting down dissent, and if we don't let people criticize the most powerful franchises in the world, what has popular culture become?

On the latest episode of "Critically Acclaimed," William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold take their own look at the "let people enjoy things" phenomenon, and - surprise! - these two film critics argue in favor of being critical. 

They also review the new releases "Pokémon Detective Pikachu," "The Wandering Earth," "The Professor and the Madman" and "Tolkien," and say goodbye to the late, legendary John Singleton and Peter Mayhew!

Give it a listen!

Monday, May 13, 2019

William Bibbiani Answers Your Questions on 'Collider Mailbag!'

William Bibbiani and his old Schmoedown rival John Rocha team up to answer YOUR questions on this week's Collider Mailbag! 

Watch the latest episode for insights on the box office failure of "Hellboy," the best action movie franchises ever made, how to get your start as a film critic, how Captain America returned those Infinity Stones in "Avengers: Endgame," and the best film composers in history!

Hit the jump to see the fabulous video!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Two-Shot #8: Joe Wright's 'Pan' and Jan Švankmajer's 'Alice!'

The 2015 fantasy prequel "Pan" is one of the most catastrophic motion picture disasters in years, an arch and overpowering and completely overblown mega-budget spectacle that critics and audiences completely rejected. So why did one of our critics really like it, and why is it the perfect double feature with surrealist Czech stop-motion animator Jan Švankmajer's horrifying "Alice in Wonderland" adaptation, "Alice?"

You'll find out in this week's episode of THE TWO-SHOT, hosted by film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold!

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Only the Best: The Best Picture Nominees of 1934 (Part 2)!

ONLY THE BEST returns with the second half of the Best Picture Oscar-nominees of 1934! There were twelve nominees, and in this episode we dive into "Imitation of Life," "One Night of Love," "The Thin Man," "Viva Villa!," "The White Parade" and the winner, one of the most influential comedies ever made, Frank Capra's "It Happened One Night."

It's a strange ensemble of radically different movies, including progressive social dramas, creepy Opera romances, drunken murder mysteries, Mexican war epics, serious nursing school dramas and wacky road trips! 

And it's a veritable "who's who" of classic Hollywood, with performances by the great Claudette Colbert, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Wallace Beery, Loretta Young, Clark Gable and, well, Claudette Colbert (again)!

Only The Best is a Patreon-exclusive podcast, and 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 to give Only The Best a listen!

Photo: RKO

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

William Bibbiani Picks the Best 'Hellraiser' Straight-To-Video Sequel!

For nearly 20 years, every film in the "Hellraiser" horror movie franchise has had almost nothing to do with "Hellraiser." The straight-to-video sequels have mostly been original screenplays, hastily retrofitted to include some of Clive Barker's iconic, sadomasochistic monster, whether or not it makes any sense for them to be there.

And, arguably, none of them are particularly good. But which one is the BEST?

William Bibbiani explores the unpleasant nether-regions of one of the best known, but most mistreated horror franchises in his latest article at Bloody Disgusting!

Read: William Bibbiani Picks the Best Straight-To-Video "Hellraiser" Sequel!

Top Photo: Dimension

Monday, May 6, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #78: 'Long Shot,' 'Meeting Gorbachev,' 'Extremely Wicked' and the Sonic the Hedgehog Controversy

Fans complained that Sonic the Hedgehog didn’t look like Sonic the Hedgehog in the "Sonic the Hedgehog" movie trailers, so the filmmakers are redesigning him. But are they giving too much power to fans before they see the movie, or are they just listening to their target demographic? 

William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold debate this, the most pressing issue of the day, and also review the new releases "Long Shot," "Meeting Gorbachev," and "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" on this week’s Critically Acclaimed!

Give it a listen!

Friday, May 3, 2019

'PAW Patrol': A Dark Randian Fantasy

My son is 4, which means, as of this writing, I have watched several dozen hours of "PAW Patrol," Nickelodeon's current cash cow. While "PAW Patrol" isn't a terribly nuanced or sophisticated piece of children's entertainment - it's yet another nondescript object in a long, long line of friendly, color-coded crime-fighting animal shows - I constantly thank my lucky stars that, as a parent, it could be so much worse. My son, for instance, could have chosen something truly intolerable, forcing a wedge between us, causing a schism in our lives that would never be bridged until a tearful reconciliation 30 years later.

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Meeting Gorbachev'

Werner Herzog sits down with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former President of the USSR, in the new documentary "Meeting Gorbachev." Co-directed by André Singer and Herzog, the documentary mostly features interview footage alongside historical context, but also features some of the unlikely humor and insight that fans have come to expect from Herzog's work.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "Meeting Gorbachev" is "a conversation so deeply fascinating that there's nothing else the filmmakers could have done to spice it up," and praises the film's emotional depth along with Herzog's interview style.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Meeting Gorbachev" at The Wrap

Top Photo: 1091

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Tolkien'

The author of "The Lord of the Rings" gets his own biopic starring Nicholas Hoult ("The Favourite") and Lily Collins ("The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"). "Tolkien" foreshadows J.R.R. Tolkien's literary creations with a story of love and war.

In his revel of "Tolkien" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls out the film's embarrassing clichés and contrivances, comparing it (unfavorably) to a Lifetime Original Movie and declaring "If you were trying to produce a parody of what a Tolkien biopic would look like, you'd get the exact same film."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews 'Tolkien' at The Wrap

Top Photo: Fox Searchlight

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Three-Shot: Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy!

They're three of the most beautiful, celebrated motion pictures in history, so why hasn't everyone seen, or even heard of THE APU TRILOGY? This series of Indian classics from director Satyajit Ray tell the story of a young Bengali boy's life from infancy to adulthood, encompassing all the tragedies and victories of life, death, love, and suffering. 

Beautifully photographed and rich in detail, "The Apu Trilogy" nevertheless remains one of the most universal artistic accomplishments in film history. So we're really glad our listeners voted for us to review it on THE TWO-SHOT, the podcast where we review the best and worst movies ever made... usually at the same time!

Join film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold as they delve into this acclaimed series of films, and hopefully introduce it to a whole new audience.