January 31, 2016

Halloween

[School of Movies 2016]

This is a deep dive into the 1978 classic, that became the model for the slasher sub-genre. It's also a scorching critique of the kind of BAD slasher that came about afterwards when lesser directors than John Carpenter misinterpreted what made this film so effective, such as 1981s Halloween II.

It's also a damning of the repulsive 2007 remake by Rob Zombie, a tonally confused mess of the most horrible things imaginable stirred into an inhuman slop. 

And we finish talking about Jamie Lee Curtis' character Laurie Strode and how the unappreciated seventh film, Halloween H20 presents an excellent evolution and conclusion of Strode's story. 

We are joined by Kaoru Negisa, Debbie Morse and Brendan Agnew for this Carpenter hat-trick for 2016. Check out our shows on The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China too.

Guests:

Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

Debbie Morse of Sequentially Yours

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

January 30, 2016

Blair Witch 1-3

[School of Movies 2016]
 
The Spooktacular continues as we look at three different ways of telling effectively the same story. 

1999. The Blair Witch Project: An incredibly low budget found footage movie that took the world by storm.

2000. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2: A cash-grab meta-movie slapped together by a confused studio hoping to capitalise on unexpected success.
 
2016. Blair Witch: An in-world sequel to the original released to immense derision to an audience sick of remakes and reboots.
 
Sharon and I go in hard and tackle each film in turn. You get the raw responses from the first two as we watch and then account for their craftsmanship and how they make us feel. The third I saw at the cinema a few days before this review and Sharon hadn't heard anything about it so you get to hear about it fresh along with her. Major spoilers for all three in turn so leave off when you don't want to hear what happens. 
 
We both recommend you see the original, we can't advise seeing the second, as we both found it atrocious, and Alex actually really recommends the third, but with the caveat that most critics panned it so his is the minority experience. 

[School of Movies 2016]

This is the 1975 adaptation of the stage musical written by and co-starring Richard O'Brien. In it, a straight-laced, white-bread American couple end up stuck in a Gothic castle full of strange people, presided over by the outrageous Doctor Frank N. Furter. It's a hilarious, toe-tapping musical which has developed a cult following over the years and means a great deal to a lot of people. It's also a bit of a mess and reviewed terribly when it first came out and bombed. In this episode you'll almost certainly find out new things about this influential oddball. 

This is a birthday present for our dear friend Maureen Foley who has a serious crush on Tim Curry, especially in stockings. 

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

Ian Hopwood of A Year of Steam

Megan Hopwood

January 28, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings

[School of Movies 2016]
 
This is one of the films of the year. A Japanese fable delivered in stunning stop-motion by American studio LAIKA, the team behind Coraline, ParaNorman and Boxtrolls. 
Every single one of you needs to see it. 
 
Joining us are animation experts Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse and Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst. Among other things we discuss the climate for animated films and what it takes to make a hit, which this, tragically, despite its beautiful direction, tight, well-delivered script, vibrant, fun characters and playful yet heartrending score, is not. 
 
Guests:

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

January 27, 2016

Big Trouble in Little China

[School of Movies 2016]

The second of our commissioned shows, this time we delve into John Carpenter's underappreciated (and downright ignored on release) mythical, gangland, kung-fu adventure Big Trouble in Little China. 

Kurt Russel (clearly having the time of his life) stars as the obnoxiously macho Jack Burton, self-styled cowboy hero who gets caught up in a kidnapping involving an ancient sorcerer, warring gangs and elemental magic he couldn't possibly understand.

We explore the cultural implications of this being made in 1986 and the mooted remake starring The Rock. 

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKiddDogg

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

January 26, 2016

Zardoz

[School of Movies 2016]

This is an unexpected episode covering an absolutely batshit mental experimental film from 1974 directed by John Boorman.
It's set in a dystopian future with the standard class divides and extreme violence, but with so many ridiculous decisions in design and direction delivered in an extremely po-faced, allegedly satirical fashion.

Sean Connery is a mean enforcer who was supposed to spend his life running down unruly farmers and molesting the womenfolk, but he goes on a journey to find out who the mysterious Zardoz is. There's a floating stone head, there's boner-fixation, there's people in plastic bags, people with drawn-on moustaches, green bread, psychic powers, and speaking gibberish. Sean Connery wears the pictured costume of gunbelt lingerie with hairy nonchalance and at one point for no reason at all squeezes into a bridal gown.

 It's a film to watch whilst slightly drunk with friends but not heavily stoned on your own.

But first listen to our take on it so you know what to look out for and crucially what the hell is going on! 

January 25, 2016

Unbreakable

[School of Movies 2016]

We continue our Shyamalan season with his follow-up to The Sixth Sense, a story about a security guard who realises he's been Super his whole life.
Since this came about in 2000 it was ahead of the age of the superhero and arguably made some in-roads to legitimising the new wave of comic book to screen adaptations. 

Samuel L. Jackson joins Bruce Willis to deliver an everyday hero and a delicate man looking for their places in the world.

This was the first commissioned work we have done, as we were originally only going to cover The Sixth Sense but patreon supporter Nick Grugin rates this as a favourite of his, so you have him to thank for what we came up with.

January 24, 2016

The Sixth Sense

[School of Movies 2016]

This is the first of two episodes covering the brief period of time when M. Night Shyamalan was suddenly an amazing new director. 

Sharon and I go deep into this wonderful, delicate, tense, terrifying, heartbreaking ghost story including some really arresting colour theory. 

January 23, 2016

Suicide Squad

[School of Movies 2016]

DC continue their epic campaign of not being able to pull together a cinematic universe that many people enjoy being in.
There has been much said of Suicide Squad already and backlash across the board. If critics are critical they get it in the neck from one crowd, if they praise it they get it in the neck from the other crowd, if they vocalise their view that it's a mixed bag they get a heady cocktail of flak from BOTH crowds.

So here's a mixed bag for you. 

This film is empirically botched in the edit. It most definitely has problems of tone, structure and characterisation and has clearly and manifestly been mismanaged by too many executives unsure of exactly what film they wanted.

I'm going to say the people who enjoyed it are capable of overlooking those problems or consider them to be more than made up for by the good stuff.

Bob "Moviebob" Chipman joins myself, Sharon, Brenden Agnew and James Perkins to look at what the hell happened here.

Guests:

Bob Chipman of Geek.com

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

James Perkins of The Digital Fix

January 22, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

[School of Movies 2016]

We are back to talk about the latest Trek movie, one which is being hailed as the best for many years by some and "Still not good enough" by others.

We start off with the question "Why do people hate J.J. Abrams?" because I think it's worth discussing before we get into the first of the alternate universe movies not directed by him.

After that we look at many aspects of this confidently delivered classic spacefaring adventure, rounding off by ranking the thirteen Trek movies.

Rejoining Sharon and I are Brenden Agnew and Kaoru Negisa, and they are joined by newcomer to the show Eric Jones.

Guests:

Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

Eric Jones of Waxing Cinematic

 

January 21, 2016

Star Trek Into Darkness

[School of Movies 2016]

This second foray into New Star Trek is hard to get a balanced view on. Those who liked the 2009 reboot found a movie of similar energy and vibrancy but with more flaws, those who hated the new continuity had more of the same to rage about, especially as it turned out to be a not-so-secret remake of Wrath of Khan. Into Darkness reviewed well with an 86% freshness rating but when people talk about it, usually it's in a negative context. 

Alex starts off with a monologue that compares the strengths of both new and old films. This is followed by some lengthy discussion on where they went wrong from everybody else. 

Guests:

Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

Joe Simpson of Anfield Index Movie Night

Aaron LaCluyze of Card Advantage

[School of Movies 2016]
 
This show covers the 1982 classic and probably most widely loved of the original six Star Trek movies (maybe the first ten... maybe the first thirteen!)  With Leonard Nimoy no longer with us, composer James Horner no longer with us, not to mention DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Ricardo Montablan and who knows who else will follow as 2016 continues its scything away of our heroes, this is a bittersweet experience to watch now.

Guests:

Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

Joe Simpson of Anfield Index Movie Night

Aaron LaCluyze of Card Advantage

[School of Movies 2016]

To get a really good meta conversation going wherein we still managed to focus on the movie for what it was rather than what we wanted it to be we recruited Bob "Moviebob" Chipman.

Maybe the most anticipated follow-up since Star Wars and maybe the least wanted reboot, New Ghostbusters had some enormous boots to fill and an immense amount of people to prove itself to.

Considering one of the possibilities mooted since 1989 and the deflating balloon that was Ghostbusters 2 was Adam Sandler and his wretched cronies squeezing into the overalls to bust ghosts with all the enthusiasm and respect for the source material that they brought to Pixels this movie could have been far, FAR worse!

Guests:

Bob Chipman of Geek.com

January 18, 2016

The Thing

[School of Movies 2016]

John Carpenter's remake of The Thing from Another World, based on the novel Who Goes There was woefully unappreciated on initial release, for reasons we will go into on this show. It has, over the next three decades become a sci-fi pop-culture classic, unblemished by greedy meddling studios desperate to wring every penny from nostalgia. Even the remake/prequel, while slavishly loyal to the aesthetic and tone of this one and not endeavouring to actually be *about* anything isn't all that bad. 

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse and Neil Taylor of GameBurst consider it one of their all-time favourites and in this show you'll find out why it's still so effective. 

This episode exists thanks to Nick Grugin, one of our patreon sponsors buying us a new mic when ours broke. For that show of generosity and faith in our work we are doing one of our first request shows and if you would like something similar done for something you love then this episode has all the details on how you can sponsor us to do an episode. Our weekly movie podcast will continue to be free for everyone and you can back us on patreon like the other awesome people who support this show, but we're also freelance podcast reviewers now.

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

[School of Movies 2016]

In this episode we talk about the first film from 1996, the sequel from 2016 and the state of Britain post-Brexit. 

It's thematically resonant with current events since the angle of the first movie is "We can succeed together" and the angle of the second seems to be "Look at these pretty, young people as they save the day for America." 

Be sure to check out Bob Chipman's YouTube episode of Really That Good on the first Independence Day, it is superb. 

January 16, 2016

Masters of the Universe

[School of Movies 2016]

This time around Sharon and I take a look at a movie nobody asked for a review of and that most people are either unaware of or just plain dislike. The 1987 attempt to bring He-Man to the big screen.

Eschewing a land of swords and sorcery blended with crazy technology in favour of running around American suburbs at night dressed like utter plonkers this film was presented with the task of making space barbarian He-Man real and relevant to teenagers in the 80s. It fails, but it fails spectacularly and earnestly which, for us is enjoyable to watch. 

So out with the old Masters of the Universe and in with Gwildor, (the exuberant wizard-dwarf), Blade (the guy with the blades), Saurod (the guy who gets killed) and Karg (the over-designed glam metal housecat with a hook for a hand), in with Courtney Cox and in with Kevin! And VERY much in with bored-looking, pleasant-berserker; Dolph Lundgren's He-Man and ranting, gloating, aggressive Frank Langella's Skeletor. 

Whether you have fun watching the movie or not you'll probably have fun with us here.

January 15, 2016

Warcraft

[School of Movies 2016]

This is a troubling film for us. My overriding feeling on leaving the theater was not just being pissed off and disappointed, but angry at many of the decisions taken that will leave general audiences cold to this, and unless it does gangbusters overseas will greatly reduce the chances of a sequel that could correct these oversights.
But then again, the Transformers movies are increasingly more vile and poorly received, yet clean up worldwide and continuously break a billion, so you never know for sure. 

This is a game series and a concept that is important to a great deal of people. It was more important to show everyone else why they should care as well rather than placate fans of the lore. 

Join Sharon and I with Glen Watts as we discuss what went wrong that resulted in a critical mauling. There are still definitely elements we like, but they are bogged down in a lot of stuff we don't, and that people don't respond well to in general.

Guest:

Glen Watts

[School of Movies 2016]

This show covers both the 2014 reboot of the Turtles (recorded a year ago and stored in our vault for this very week) AND the 2016 sequel, Out of the Shadows. 

It's Sharon and I going back to a series that has had patches of good, flashes of great but never produced a truly brilliant film. It's also been plagued by some horrible decisions on the parts of the creators, hair-brained, patronizing, head-slappingly dismal attempts to cash in again on the four green brothers once ubiquitous Turtlemania. 

So how do Michael Bay's Turtles stack up against both the previous movies and the Transformers series, which this is now intrinsically linked with?

January 12, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

[School of Movies 2016]

Honestly,  the pains I went through to get this to you. It turned into a really fun but shouty show with a lot of editorializing. 

I strongly advise against going to see this film. Listen to the show at least before you decide. It DOES go into every detail of the plot, but frankly I don't think we could spoil it any more than Fox, Singer and Kinberg have already. 

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst who also saw the movie joined me with Sharon who hadn't.

Guest:

 

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

January 11, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

[School of Movies 2016]

It's quickly jumped to the top of many a Marvel fans' favourites list. Combining the tone of Winter Soldier with the character lineup of Age of Ultron, this has been what people consider a worthy follow-up to the original 2012 Avengers Assemble. 
 
It was an almost impossible task: To more than adequately adapt a Marvel comics crossover of dozens of books, built on forty years of continuity, featuring dozens of characters into two and a half hours, featuring just one dozen characters and built on only eight years.
 
Not only have they succeeded, they managed to focus and update the sprawling text version, striking all the major points, kept the tone balanced between serious social commentary, nail-biting tension and riotous fun, delivered arguably the best superhero battle of all time, two AMAZING new heroes that left us slavering for their solo films, and somehow neither Iron Man nor Captain America were left overshadowed, but in fact came to new peaks of their long arcs in entirely natural fashion. 

Frankly, it's a masterpiece. 

Guests:

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

[School of Movies 2016]

We start off with my initial thoughts on coming back from the cinema. Then there’s a considerably more positive ten minute piece from Eric Jones. Then we get to the rotten meat of the whole bloody affair. Bob Chipman joins myself, Sharon Shaw and Jerome McIntosh to discuss the film in a more meta context, including what DC Warner’s options are, moving forward. 

00.00.30: First Impressions
00.40.00: A More Positive Response
00.56.00: The Main Event

Guests: 

Bob Chipman of Moviebob

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

Eric Jones of Waxing Cinematic

January 6, 2016

Sucker Punch

[School of Movies 2016]

In the run-up to Batman V Superman, let's take a dive into the mind of director Zack Snyder. Let's look at how he sees the world, how he sees the human psyche and how he sees women.

Prepare for a furious battle of wills as Alex goes in guns blazing to take apart a film he never wants to talk about again, and Lorin Grieve defends the movie he loves. Sharon lies somewhere in the middle, but there's a hell of a lot about this that bothers her too.

Get some interpretations that the filmmakers definitely didn't consider, and learn how very vague their feelings are on what this story is actually about. 

Is this a determined feminist text or something far more clumsy and unintentional? The evidence gets presented in and epic disassembling that hopefully will leave your minds clearer. 

This happens to be our 150th dedicated movie show.

Guest:

Doctor Lorin Grieve from Year of Steam

[School of Movies 2016]

We finally come to the dregs of the Marvel cinematic outings. After this it's things like the Hasselhoff Nick Fury, the early Captain Americas and Swamp Thing which barely qualify as movies. 

* Ghost Rider (2007): Nick Cage as eccentric fusion of Spawn and The Mask on a motorbike. 
* Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011): Cage sleepwalks in pursuit of Antichrist. Filmed in a quarry. 
* The Punisher (2004): Thomas Jane plays urban Machiavelli. Travolta never stops being furious. 
* Punisher: War Zone (2008): Ray Stevenson is miserable. Many men are punished. 
* Elektra: (2005) Jennifer Garner stares at lake Tahoe for 90 minutes. Also occasional ninjas. 

If you disagree with any of these assessments and think we are being unfair and need to loudly set us straight our Twitter name is @NotSchoolofMovies

Either way it's a rip-roaring show as we shred these turkeys and prepare for the newest Punisher incarnation in the dark, urban, gritty, realistic, depressing Netflix shows.

January 4, 2016

Deadpool

[School of Movies 2016]

An unexpected, unprepared impromptu podcast about the Deadpool movie, which defied all expectations. 

The adventures of a heavy-for-hire who gets cancer, leaves his girlfriend in secret to get it cured and ends up as a target for weird medical experiments by a company that wants to make super mercenaries out of the homeless and the terminally ill. He is tortured until his body becomes naturally super and left with a face that looks like a bald, pickled hedgehog. 

Unable to reconcile with his girlfriend, because of said face he spends a year tracking down the man who did this to him, dresses in an exotic red outfit and kills lots and lots of people along the way. Eventually they kidnap the girlfriend and he goes to a junk yard to get her back with some new friends he met on the road, one of whom is made of metal, the other of whom can make herself explode. Kills lots more people. I won't spoil the ending. 

It's way better than it sounds.

Love the shows, kick us a few dollars: https://www.patreon.com/alexandershaw?ty=h

Guests:

Jason "Chewie" Slate of The Mana Pool

Ciaran Dachtler of The Overlords

Brendan Agnew of the D1 Podcast

Jesse Ferguson

 

January 3, 2016

Flight of Dragons

[School of Movies 2016]

This is a TV special movie from 1982 made by Rankin Bass (Thundercats/The Hobbit/Rudolph). It is essentially a Dungeons & Dragons adventure and very twee and earnest so you're going to have to leave your cynicism at the door. 

It's based on a book of speculative fiction by Peter Dickinson whereby he presents the theories on how dragons might actually have operated and flown. This is woven very loosely into some of the narrative of another book named The Dragon and the George, by Gordon R. Dickson.

This is a movie I grew up with and has been pretty much forgotten by history. It has received minimal home releases, virtually everyone involved in its undocumented production has passed away and now only its scant few fans keep its memory alive.

So in accordance, we brought in newcomers to the film Lorin Grieve (A Year of Steam) and Jerome McIntosh (GameBurst) and went ridiculously deep on it, covering every moment to bring you all along on the adventure. 

We swear quite a bit though, as we have to assess this with adult eyes, so kids are going to have to wait for this one. 

The good news if you're American is that you can rent this on Amazon instant video for $3 (or buy it for $10), the DVD is harder to come by, especially in the UK where you may even have to resort to VHS. 

Guests:

Lorin Grieve of Year of Steam

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

January 2, 2016

Kung Fu Panda

[School of Movies 2016]

This is one of the most special and important animated movies to me. It’s a classic example of being perfectly underestimated. Both the movie and it’s rotund protagonist are anticipated by most to be a goofy, shambolic collection of pratfalls, but both turn out to be so much more.

We discuss what may be the pinnacle of Dreamworks’ animated achievements to date, and to me, certainly rivals the best of Disney, pixar and Studio Ghibli. 

Guest:

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

[School of Movies 2016]

This was recorded at the end of last year because we knew we had the Disney Robin hood show coming up and felt his mythos needed diving into some more. He is, after all, one of Britain's most abiding legends. 

So we chose our favourite Robin Hood movie and ended up talking about how very silly it is instead. Contrived plot, hammy acting and historical inaccuracies out the wazoo, but damn it we love it even more now that it's gotten the School of Movies treatment.

And then Alan Rickman died. 

One of the greatest actors of all time just up and died on us, leaving a bewildered world to pick over his many achievements, one of which was the pantomime villain of a Sheriff in this movie. 

Guests:

Iain Hopwood of Year of Steam

Megan Hopwood of Tiger's Eye 

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