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An Oral History of Now Playing’s ‘Friday the 13th’ Retrospective

In a crowded field of competing film-focused podcasts, Now Playing Podcast has managed to separate itself from the pack via its acclaimed retrospective format, keeping listeners engaged week after week as the show’s panel of critics chronicle decades of Hollywood franchise hits (and misses). 

But it wasn’t always the plan. Now Playing Podcast launched in 2007 as a short-form, off-the-cuff movie review program focused on new releases. Early reviews of Spider-Man 3Iron Man, and The Dark Knight not only lacked the in-depth conversation that listeners are now accustomed to, but the randomness of the chosen reviews prevented the show from gaining a foothold in the budding podcast space.

Format changes were desperately needed if the show were to succeed in attracting a loyal following. On January 9, 2009, Now Playing debuted its first retrospective; a 12-episode exploration of the Friday the 13thfranchise, building up to the release of the Platinum Dunes-produced remake. 

The revised format struck the right chord with listeners. More than 11 years later, the original trio of Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Brock have reunited. THIS is an oral history of Now Playing’s Friday the 13th Retrospective Series

Arnie: As a completist, retrospectives have always appealed to me. I remember the day Star Trek V: The Final Frontier came out; I woke up at 1 a.m. so I could watch the first four Trek films and still make it to the first showing of Final Frontier. In the 90s I did a game site in which I’d review all installments of a game series in order of release. I’d even done some podcasting along those lines, with the Star Wars Action News book club, reviewing every Star Wars novel in order of release. Sadly, I can never watch Leonard Part 6 because I can’t find Leonard Parts 1-5.

Stuart had visited Springfield a few months before, and we saw The Midnight Meat Train, since Barker films were something we often watched together. After, Marjorie pretty much stuck a microphone in Stuart’s face and, without him knowing what was really going on, we had our normal post-movie conversation, but on the mic, and it became a podcast. But I also had real fun doing it.

Released on August 8, 2008, The Midnight Meat Train review marked host Stuart Atkinson’s first appearance on Now Playing Podcast. One week later, Brock would join the rotating panel of hosts for a review of Pineapple Express. The podcast continued to utilize two hosts, rather than the standard three that appear in every new episode. 

Arnie: I’d mostly stepped away from hosting Now Playing, letting Brock and his wife Elisha take the reins. I’d always insisted the show review current movies, and Brock and I had discussed if it was worth doing new-to-video releases, etc. But then the Friday the 13th reboot arrived, and I got really hyped. 

Brock: I remember having a conversation with Arnie about the download numbers on Midnight Meat Train being something we weren’t seeing on other episodes. The horror genre was clearly needing more podcasting content, yet I never thought I’d be involved there; it wasn’t my preferred genre. With a baby on the way, my wife and I knew we weren’t going to be able to see new releases each week, and so we recorded a few new-to-DVD episodes, like Burn After Reading, as a way to stay current enough. But it all changed when Arnie came to me with an idea that combined all of these ideas. 

Arnie: I’d had so much fun with Midnight Meat Train that I thought it would be fun to come back and channel my hype for the new Friday film through a podcast. I really wanted Stuart to be a part of it because of Midnight Meat Train.

Stuart: I thought it was an idea slightly worse than when Arnie and I decided to open a detective agency in sixth grade. I couldn’t imagine I’d have 13 minutes of thoughts on the whole franchise, but then I remembered how much I like to talk and it went fine.

Arnie: We’d always had a two-person format, but since Brock had never seen a Friday the 13th film I thought it would be great to bring in that third perspective to balance my fandom and Stuart’s jaded dislike of the series.

Brock: I rented the first Friday the 13th back in high school because I was curious enough to see what spawned all the endless sequels. And I had enough with that first movie. Didn’t feel I was missing anything. I prefer suspense horror movies to slashers. I acknowledged the brilliance of the idea – a fan, a casual or jaded fan, and a newbie discuss each movie in the series leading up to the new movie. But wow, some of those movies felt like I wasted my time watching them, though talking with the guys about the movie didn’t feel like a waste of time at all. Who knew my lack of horror movie experience would pay off?

Arnie: Brock and his wife came to visit us while we were recording the series. As a foursome, Brock, Elisha, Marjorie, and me, we watched Jason Takes Manhattan. I was laughing at the movie, but laughing more at the mortified looks on Brock’s and Elisha’s faces. They weren’t seeing the humor I was in it.

Brock: I found the movie insulting, like it was challenging the viewer to see what depths of dreck they could get us to watch. Being from the suburbs of New York, what nonsense that they think they’d get away with anyone believing that was shot in Manhattan! On a positive side, Arnie and Marjorie were great to have us over to watch the movie, and it was a blast to record with Arnie in person for the first time. Arnie and Marjorie also introduced me to the infamous Springfield culinary concoction known as The Horseshoe! 

Arnie: It was never intended to be a long-term thing, just a one-off that wouldn’t even be in the main Now Playing series. Then we saw the download numbers skyrocket, and the rest was history.

Brock: Week after week the numbers kept exploding, getting larger and larger. I remember phone calls with Arnie about the numbers, how the first shows in the series continued to rise, meaning new people were finding the show as we went on, and likely people were returning to listen again. We were just flabbergasted by the response. It was unbelievable. 

The Friday the 13th retrospective would establish a number of Now Playing firsts. In addition to establishing the three-host format, it was the first series to receive its own credits – narrated by Brock – with the famed Part III theme used in the introduction and outro. However, longtime listeners recognize the “rawness” of the first retrospective, which lacks the standard plot summary, outtakes, and was plagued by recording challenges. 

Brock: I was helping to edit the show back then, and to make it sound as good as it does was a bit of a challenge. Listening now you can clearly hear a difference in sound quality with this first series, but still completely listenable today. The headset mic I had back then wasn’t very good, and my “p’s” would pop something fierce, especially recording the credits. If you listen to the end credits of the Friday the 13th series you can hear how the “p” was edited to be softer on the word “retrospective,” and less noticeably on the ones in “Now Playing Podcast.” It was so hard to not pop my “p’s” saying the name of the show. I recorded those three words over and over and over to get a cleaner recording. The credits back then were so much simpler than what we have today. They were perfunctory, blatantly explaining the format and the concept of the show to the listeners. Arnie was really just starting to skim the surface with interspersing the quotes from the movies into the credits. We took both the podcast concept explanation and movie quotes so much further with the next series, Star Trek

Arnie: When we recorded the Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan episode, it was a laugh riot, but a mess. I told Stuart and Brock that we had to redo the show because we were all laughing so hard; we were having fun but there wasn’t any context to the jokes — only those who were intimately familiar with Jason Takes Manhattan could follow along. 

Brock: While watching the movie was not so enjoyable, the three of us had such a blast busting on that movie together, making each other laugh. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a cohesive show.

Arnie: So we re-recorded the entire episode (one of only four or five shows that we’ve had to do that with in more than a decade). That second recording was solid and had a great explanation of the film, but not the mirth because we’d told each other the jokes. It was pretty flat. 

Brock: To recreate it was no fun, we spent all the jokes. It was like your dad having you tell that same stale joke he likes to another one of his friends.

Arnie: I knew what had to be done. I spent about a dozen hours Frankenstein-ing the two conversations into one. The second recording was the skeleton, giving the conversation structure, and the first recording was the meat, the really good part of the show. So I found a place for all of the first recording to liven up the second, and to this day I still think it’s one of our best shows.

Stuart: It’s hilarious to think about now, but I was actually worried that being so opinionated on the podcast would turn me into a Hollywood pariah. Like, Kane Hodder would totally be asking me to write his big horror movie comeback, but then somehow the Jason Takes Manhattan show would reach his ears and he’d start smashing my face in a typewriter or something. Turns out I was pretty good at getting industry doors slammed in my face without Now Playing’s help.  

Brock: I too was worried that if I crossed over to the movie critic side of things it would come back to bite me. Like if I ever decided to come out of retirement from performing I would be confronted, chewed out and denied opportunities by angry performers, producers, and filmmakers. 

Despite two edits to make the show listenable, there remained some issues that took years to iron out.

Arnie: When I saw Jason Takes Manhattan in theaters I was 14 and my (much) older sister and brother-in-law took me. At that showing my brother-in-law went on and on about how Peter Mark Richman, who plays the McCulloch character, was the guy who played Dr. Smith on Lost in Space. He talked about it endlessly and, him being older and having watched a lot of Lost in Space, I believed him; and I passed that misinformation on to our listeners on the show. Man, did I get lambasted for that. For a decade I’d constantly get emails from new listeners telling me that the actor was Peter Mark Richman, not Jonathan Harris. Finally, in 2019, for that episode’s 10th anniversary, I went back to the original file and edited the show again to remove that error. I hadn’t edited it before because it seemed like a cop out but finally I excised that one sentence that people fixated on.

With no new entries since 2009, Friday the 13th is the oldest Now Playing retrospective without a sequel, remake, or reboot on the horizon. A legal battle between the first film’s director and screenwriter has kept Jason Voorhees off the screen for more than a decade; fortunately the hosts have their favorite entries to fall back on. 

Stuart: Sticking with the “proper” entries in the series, Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives  is still the most technically proficient and exciting. Plus, that Alice Cooper song was dope!

Arnie: For the solo Jason films, I agree that Part 6 is the best, but I like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter  just a little bit better. Corey Feldman was the best Tommy Jarvis of the three, plus there’s Crispin Glover’s weirdness, Teddy watching vintage porn; it had so many memorable characters and moments that I always enjoyed watching it most. It’s the only Friday the 13th to cast a shadow. No other protagonist returned for any other sequels, only Jarvis came back.

Brock: The one I remember liking the most is Jason X, because it had all sorts of enjoyable moments, I felt I was in on the joke the whole time, and what a fun ending. It is absolutely wonderfully insane enjoyable entry in the series. 

Stuart: Freddy vs. Jason is clearly the best movie, though maybe not the best Friday the 13th movie.

Brock: Recording Freddy vs Jason for this series I felt so lost when the guys were talking about how it was more of A Nightmare on Elm Street movie. When we came back to it again for the Nightmare series, it was an entirely different experience. 

Arnie: The outhouse death in Part V is classic [but] Freddy vs. Jason is the best movie with Jason in it. It’s funny, fun, and brings a lot of action into the brawl. I think that movie was why I was so excited for a new Jason film. 

The Now Playing Podcast Friday the 13th Retrospective Series wrapped on February 20, 2009, with a “wrap-up” episode in which the hosts looked back at the series. To this day, it remains the only “wrap-up” for a retrospective. The state of the Friday the 13th franchise remains in limbo, with no new film in production as of November 2020.

November 13, 2020 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast | , | Leave a Comment

‘Navigator’ Star Recounts Pitfalls of Child Stardom, Redemption in ‘Life After’ Documentary

By Heath Chamerski

On August 1 1986, Walt Disney released Flight of the Navigator. Considered a seminal family sci-fi flick, it grossed $18 million at the box office on its way to becoming a cult hit on VHS and cable. Navigator is the story of 12-year-old David Freeman, who mysteriously disappears in 1978 only to return eight years later, not having aged a day, and before long he’s whisked away on an alien spacecraft and with the help of a robot named Max, discovers the truth behind his disappearance.

Flash forward to 2016, and the film’s star, Joe Cramer, who battled drug addiction in the intervening years after deciding to step away from an acting career, found himself in the spotlight once again as he was arrested for holding up a bank in British Columbia, and was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison. The motivation for the crime, Cramer explains, was not financial; rather, it was a way to gain access to a rehabilitation program at Nanaimo Correctional Centre, which was only available to those incarcerated at the facility. 

The 2020 documentary Life after the Navigator chronicles the behind-the-scenes story of the film, but more importantly, it is the story of Cramer himself, as he begins his recovery and attempts to get his life back on track. In the lead-up to Life after the Navigator’s Blu-ray release on November 9, Now Playing Podcast Heath Chamerski discussed the documentary with Cramer, Flight of the Navigator director Randal Kleiser and Life after the Navigator writer/director Lisa Downs.

Fall of the Navigator
Cramer’s story is a tragic one. After carving out a promising career as a young actor in films such as Runaway and D.A.RY.L., Cramer, still in his early teens, left Hollywood not long after finishing work on Flight of the Navigator, and his issues with drug addiction began shortly after leaving his acting career behind. But as he discusses in the documentary, he thinks his decision to do so probably saved his life, as he believes he would have gone down an even darker path if he had remained in Hollywood.

Cramer’s decision to take part in the documentary was an easy one after Downs made contact with him while he was still serving his sentence. 

“Lisa had written me.” Cramer explains. “I was still in jail at that point and she wrote me a letter talking about it and I right off the bat thought ‘Wow, this could be a really cool thing.’ After speaking with her a bit more and kind of becoming pen pals and writing back and forth, I really found that her vision and intention for the film was something authentic and from the heart — a love of the movie, as well as a real candid look at my life after the Navigator, and what happened. So that’s when I really got excited and felt like it was really an exciting opportunity for me just to get my story out there and share with people in a really authentic way.”

What Happened?
After completing work on her previous film, Life after Flash, which chronicled the production of 1980’s Flash Gordon and the life of the actor who played Flash, Sam J. Jones, Downs said the idea to make a film on Flight of the Navigator came to her long before she knew about Cramer’s troubles, but after reading articles about his arrest, she knew there had to be more to the story than the headlines told us.

“When I started to look at news articles, I thought that this would be an amazing film because when you read the headline, there’s gotta be more to Joe’s story than that,” Downs says. “Like, why did it happen? What happened from him being in the film to getting arrested? And when you read those headlines you think, ‘Oh, another child actor, another product of the Disney machine,’ and it might not necessarily be the child actor thing. So, after reading that, I was just really curious and knew that Flight of the Navigator was the next one I wanted to do.”

Flight of the Navigator seemed like a natural follow-up for Downs as it’s been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. 

“For me, I grew up with it as part of this collection of films, such as LabyrinthThe GooniesThe NeverEnding Story, that I absolutely loved and I desperately wanted to be David and fly in the ship with him,” she adds. “It stuck with me from such an early age and has just been ingrained in my childhood.”

After completing his sentence in 2017, Cramer and Downs continued their contact and plans for the documentary were underway, with filming commencing in 2018. Cramer notes that the experience made his recovery process so much easier and that the film was just what he needed at that point in his life.

“I had been through a lot of self-development and a lot of work over the years but especially in the time leading up to the actual filming.” Cramer says. “The therapeutic community that I went through was really helpful and I worked through a lot of underlying issues and trauma, so I was really at a point where I was okay about opening up about what had happened.

“Lisa and [producer] Ashley Pugh made it so easy. Their film is a celebration of the movie for the fans, and including my story in there of the trials and tribulations of child stardom or just life in general that can in ways happen to the most normal people. You know, anyone can go sideways in a way that isn’t expected.”

Reuniting the cast and crew of Navigator nearly 35 years later turned out to be an easier task than expected, thanks to the tireless efforts and support of Kleiser, who personally tracked down many of the film’s cast and crew, including actors Veronica Cartwright and Cliff DeYoung, for a reunion seen in the documentary.

Taking Flight
Kleiser is still incredibly proud of his movie and recalls it being one of his favorite directing experiences in a career that has spanned more than five decades and has included iconic films such as GreaseThe Blue Lagoon, and White Fang.

“It holds up pretty well I think, it’s really two types of movies – an action film and then it’s a family drama because there were two companies doing it.” Kleiser says. “I think it’s very easy to identify with the character Joey plays — you know, being lost and having a family gone and being confused about what’s going on around you and then having an adventure and then being reunited with the family. 

“It has a really good structure – beginning, middle, and end — so I think the fact it has this fantasy type of sci-fi feeling, and the idea that a kid gets to become friends with an alien, always works. I mean look at E.T.? So, all those elements came together.”

Cramer too fondly recalls his time working on the movie, even with the heavy workload of having to carry a $9 million Disney film on his 12-year-old shoulders, with his character of David appearing in almost every scene of the film; and there’s a good portion of the film where he’s the only (human) character on screen. But it’s been a part of his life ever since.

“You know, having to carry a whole film at such a young age was quite a bit of work and Randal made it really easy,” Cramer says. “We had a great relationship, he’s a wonderful director and I felt comfortable. 

“Like, looking back on some other films I worked on, I remember tough things and having difficulties with scenes because it wasn’t as great an environment; but Navigator just flowed really nicely, and it made it really easy to do. I was really fortunate to work with all the people I did on that film, for sure. But to revisit it now these past few years and connect with these fans who still love it after all this time has been such a gift. I’ve heard these wonderful stories from people who still love the film, I’ve heard stories of parents showing it to their kids and now their kids love it and it’s spanning generations. And then reconnecting with Randal and reconnecting with the cast and hearing their stories, it’s just really amazing to be part of that.”

A Decade in Review
The 1980s often stands above all others when it comes to nostalgia and seems to be an exalted era among film fans. For Downs, her love of 80s movies is still as strong today as it was for when she was growing up.

“The 80s was just this innocent, magical period of storytelling and fantasy and adventure and it was this magical time with this amazing run of films with amazing stories and amazing characters and they’re films that are so special that they stay with you,” she says. “I don’t know what films coming out now might stay with kids who are 9-12 years old in 20 or 30 years. 

“And I just think ’80s kids were really lucky that they happened to grow up in the greatest decade for children’s films. I do think the 80s is still special for the magic it created with the physical models and I think that’s why audiences and filmmakers still connect with this era is because of how magical these films feel.”

Kleiser believe it was the hard work and effort that it took to get sci-fi and fantasy films on screen and the focus on storytelling back in the 80s that is part of the reason why they endure to this day.

“Today I think because films like the Marvel movies have so many effects, it’s like a firehose in your face and you know it’s all fake so it’s not the same as looking at something and knowing it’s actually there and being photographed,” he says. “And also, the effects were so hard to achieve, you used them sparingly, nowadays they’re so easy that they do so much of it that you can’t have a break.”

Life After the Navigator achieves the not inconsiderable task of being both a retrospective documentary and also a very human story of hope and redemption. It is this aspect of the film that Downs thinks sets it apart from similar documentaries.

“I wanted to have that point of difference because you do have this trend at the moment of having these celebration documentaries come out but as amazing as those films are and they celebrate the Back to the Futures and the Ghostbusters, they’re still just the making-of element,” she says. “I wanted to have a point of difference and so for me the point of difference was having that extra access to the main star and spending more time with them and getting to know them and telling their personal story and I think that’s a side of these people that you don’t normally know. 

“You can Google the headlines of Joe but you can never know what happened. Why did he end up like that? I hope that’s a point of difference in these Life After films.”

Family Reunion
The paternal bond evident between Kleiser and Cramer during the production of Navigator is still something the duo share to this day, with Cramer stating that he always looked up to Kleiser as a father figure, particularly as his own father was absent for much of his life, and Kleiser is proud of the progress Cramer has made in recent years.

“Well, I do feel kind of parental towards him” Kleiser says. “Because I see he went through a lot of troubles and I’m happy to help him get back on his feet and I think that’s what this movie has done so far. I’m just hoping that he gets some nice acting parts now. You know it would be great if he could continue on and do what he really wants to do.”

It’s impossible not to be moved to tears by certain aspects of Cramer’s story while watching Life after the Navigator, especially in the moments where he discusses the tough decisions his mother made in an effort to help him beat his addiction and also as Cramer discusses the robbery itself and the sadness he feels for the trauma and pain he caused the bank employee he confronted. While people may not have lived through the same circumstances Cramer has, he believes everyone can take something positive away from his story.

“Everyone goes through stuff, maybe not as extreme as I have been through, but people go through things, so I think to see that we’re all human and we’re all just living our lives the best that we can and that we can always overcome and connecting to people is one of the best ways to do that,” Cramer says. “We can all relate to feeling insecure, feeling unworthy, feeling less than — all of those self-doubts that come in, and then realizing, ‘It’s okay, that’s what makes us human; all of those little flaws.’ 

“When we can just embrace those things, it opens up our lives to so many other amazing opportunities. Once I shared all of those deep dark secrets it almost freed me from this prison.”

Life After ‘Life After the Navigator’
Downs is currently in production of her third Life After movie, titled Life After Atreyu, which explores the life of The NeverEnding Story star Noah Hathaway. 

Cramer, meanwhile, has rediscovered his love of acting again, having already completed work on a few short films, with the documentary a catalyst for him to rediscover his love of the craft. As seen in the movie, he’s become part of the convention circuit and has enjoyed connecting with Navigator fans for the first time in a long time.

“It’s a journey, it’s an ongoing process, but it’s been wonderful,” he says. “When I was younger, I fell into acting and everything exploded and I went from a play to a commercial to features and then boom; everything blew up and I understand that’s like one in a million. 

“So, I’m not expecting anything like that to happen but what I’m finding is that I just love learning the craft and realising that all of my experiences in life are helping me become a better artist. It’s exciting and I absolutely have faith that we’ll see me again. I’m going step by step.”

November 6, 2020 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a Comment

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast In November 2020

Despite all that’s happened in 2020, there’s a lot to be thankful for at Now Playing Podcast. This year, we’ve launched our IN FOCUS newsletter, hosted a series of summer watch parties, started up a Letterboxd channel, and we never missed a week of podcasting. That last part is only possible because of the support of our listeners, and so we’re rewarding you in November with a full slate of  new episodes every Tuesday and Friday. This month’s schedule features two all-new retrospectives, a long-requested sci-fi horror series for donors, and a pair of exclusive episodes funded by Podbean patrons.

Here’s a look at everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in November 2020. 

November 3 – The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

John Frankenheimer’s political thriller hits the main podcast feed on Election Day in the United States, and explores a conspiracy involving soldiers reprogrammed as sleeper agents and an attempt to subvert democracy at the highest levels of government. Recognized as one of the 20th century’s best films, The Manchurian Candidate stars Frank Sinatra (back on Now Playing for the first time since The Detective), Angela Lansbury, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh.  

November 6 – 10 Cloverfield Lane

A “spiritual sequel” to 2008’s Cloverfield, the underground bunker thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane is the second installment in Now Playing’s Platinum Level donation series. The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a woman hiding in a fallout shelter with John Goodman’s not-quite-stable survivalist; the latter convinced the world is under attack. Listeners supporting the show with a donation of $35 or more will receive all three Cloverfield episodes, as well as the Rosemary’s BabyThe OmenThe Hills Have Eyes, and The Last House on the Left retrospectives.  

November 10 – The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Denzel Washington fronted the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, which hits theaters in the months before the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Directed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), the remake was not a box office smash but received critical acclaim. 

November 13 – The Cloverfield Paradox

Remember when Netflix dropped The Cloverfield Paradox right after the 2018 Super Bowl? It was a stroke of genius from a marketing perspective, but the critical reception was savage. Paradox tells the story of astronauts transported to a parallel universe while conducting a particle accelerator test in space. What does that have to do with Cloverfield? Watch it and then join Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob for the conversation

November 17 – The Craft

“We are the weirdos, mister.” The Craft hit theaters in May 1996, serving as the kickoff to the horror renaissance that would define the latter half of the decade. It helped to have future Scream stars Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich in the cast, alongside Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, Robin Tunney, Breckin Meyer, and Christine Taylor. The film focuses on a coven of teenage witches and the trouble they stir up when casting spells for revenge, power, love, and vanity.  

November 20 – JFK

Oliver Stone’s examination of the events surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was a massive hit in 1991; but also sparked numerous controversies and blowback in the press, with many accusing the director of distorting history and stirring up conspiracy theories. One thing no one can argue is that JFK has an all-time cast, with Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, Laurie Metcalf, Wayne Knight, John Candy, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Gary Oldman, Sally Kirkland, Bob Gunton, John Larroquette, Donald Sutherland, Ed Asner, Frank Whaley, Lolita Davidovich, and many, many more notable actors appearing on screen. The Now Playing Podcast review of JFK is made possible by listener Sean Ray, who contributed to our Podbean Patron campaign.

November 24 – The Craft Legacy

Actress, producer, and director Zoe Lister-Jones helms The Craft: Legacy, a sequel to the aforementioned supernatural horror flick. In the film, a new quartet – Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, and Zoey Luna – brew up trouble when they dabble in witchcraft. The film hit video-on-demand platforms October 28, so there’s time to catch it before the review drops on November 24.

November 27 – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

What better time to drop Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner than the week of Thanksgiving? The 1967 Best Picture nominee put the national spotlight on race relations and interracial marriage, as Katharine Houghton brings home her black fiancée, Sidney Poitier, to meet her white parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Now Playing Podcast listener “Kyle” chose the review through our Podbean Patron campaign, and it will be served up for patrons on Friday, Nov. 27. 

October 27, 2020 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , | Leave a Comment

The Scariest Films Our Hosts Have Ever Seen

Do you remember which film gave you the biggest jump scare of your life?

All of us can point to at least one example of, “The scariest movie I ever saw!” but as we all know, one person’s nightmare fuel is another person’s fandom. For every viewer so freaked out by Freddy Krueger that they can’t watch another A Nightmare on Elm Street movie, there’s another happy to indulge in annual Nightmare marathons and endless replays of that Freddy’s Greatest Hits album.

But enough about the Springwood Slasher. After all, the lasting impact of a horror film is subjective, right? 

Not if you ask science. Recently, a study conducted by broadbandchoices.com sought to determine the scariest movies ever made by measuring the rising heart rates of its participants. 

The “Science of Scare Project” determined 2012’s Sinister to be scariest of them all. Other films that made the Top 25 include InsidiousThe ExorcistHushHalloween, and the aforementioned A Nightmare on Elm Street

See the Complete ‘Science of Scare Project’ List

But do those results hold up with our Now Playing Podcast hosts? Certainly, they’ve seen enough horror to be considered experts on the subject. So, we asked them.

Here are the movies that terrified, and still terrify, the hosts.

Jakob – The Thing
“Even after multiple watches, the blood test scene in John Carpenter’s The Thing is so tense I’m always on the edge of my seat. When the shapeshifter is finally revealed, it never fails to get my pulse pounding.”

Marjorie – Poltergeist
“I still don’t like TV static. Nor do I like looking under my bed. As an adult, it’s Fire In the Sky. I couldn’t even make it through the movie and had nightmares about what I did see.”

Brock – The Shining The first time I watched The Shining I recall being very uncomfortable. Psychological horror movies get me going more than slasher movies ever can. The Shining just keeps building the tension and creepiness as it pulls you in.”

Arnie – Contagion 
“Are we all picking Contagion? Or is that just me? I am hard pressed to think of a horror movie that has scared me, as in made me want to sleep with a night light on. Some gross me out, but to me that’s different than fear, it’s revolting.”  

Stuart – 2001: A Space Odyssey
“It’s not a horror movie, but 2001 elicits primal terror when the computer, HAL, clips unlucky astronaut Frank Poole’s air hose. I can’t watch that little guy float off, gasping into a silent abyss, without needing to grab an arm rest or something grounding. The worst death imaginable!”

October 23, 2020 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a Comment

Sequester & Chill: Summer Streaming Surprises

The pandemic may have spoiled the summer movie season, but that doesn’t mean there are no summer movies. 

It’s been a summer movie season like no other. Some would say we didn’t have a summer movie season, with the likes of Maverick: Top Gun 2, Fast and Furious 9, Black Widow, Tenet, and many other highly anticipated blockbusters being punted to the future.

Yet, there were still many movies released. 

Out of necessity, the practice of straight-to-streaming exploded this summer. Less than a year ago, many considered such a release as a monstrous curiosity that would destroy cinemas (see Scorsese’s The Irishman), but when there are no cinemas, or a communal viewing experience isn’t safe, distributors and streaming services combined to give cinephiles a way to experience new movies.

And some of them were really, really good!

Here’s a list of “new summer movies” I saw and most certainly recommend*:

Palm Springs

After Hot Rod and That’s My Boy I have avoided Andy Samberg like a COVID-19 ward, but good word of mouth had me visit Palm Springs and it was a good trip! There have been many movies to try and take the Groundhog Day repeating-day conceit, but I can think of none that had such interesting characters. It was funny and had some character-driven plot twists that kept me engaged.  

If you see only one repeating-day film, see Groundhog Day. But if you want to see another, head to Palm Springs.

My Spy

It’s the dearth of new entertainment that led me to watch Dave Bautista’s entry in the “muscle man with kids” genre. Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger broke out of his big-guns stereotype and became a family-friendly name with Kindergarten Cop it seems every wrestler-turned-actor has tried to copy that success. Some of these comedies work (I enjoyed The Game Plan),and some don’t (Hulk Hogan in Mr. Nanny). 

After trying the insipid Stuber I wasn’t inclined to see My Spy but… I did. And it exceeded all my expectations. The chemistry between Bautista and child actress Chloe Coleman feels very natural, and the plot avoids several of the Kindergarten Cop cliches. 

In a year that also brought the near-unwatchable Playing with Fire, My Spy was a fun diversion.

The Lovebirds 

When this was intended for theatrical release the trailers made the film look funny. Kumail Nanjiani really impressed me with The Big Sick so I’m more inclined to see his work (though with Stuber that was a poor choice).

Lovebirds follows Nanjiani and costar Issa Rae as a couple on the verge of break-up. Well, nothing brings the spark back into a releationship as being on the run for a murder you didn’t commit. The result is the couple trying to find the real killer, uncovering a major conspiracy of Eyes Wide Shut orgiastic proportions, and making me laugh the whole way through.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge 

It shouldn’t be difficult to make a Mortal Kombat movie. The stories are pre-written for the characters, the filmmakers then need to dramatize those stories in an interesting way. 

Legends differentiates itself from previous Kombat movies by focusing on Scorpion. He was a near-mute ninja in the live-action films. Here, he is the protagonist.

The story is pretty rote. Scorpion is a felled warrior resurrected for revenge (see also: The Crow, The Wraith, Spawn, etc.) but the plot does have a few twists. For fans of the previous Kombat games or movies, seeing the classic characters brings a nostalgic thrill.  

The only drawback is the animated action. It’s well-drawn, but either you like cartoon fighting or you don’t, and it never thrilled me in any animated form. I much prefer seeing stuntmen do well-choreographed martial arts to seeing artists’ renderings.

It’s not at Flawless Victory, but Scorpion wins.

*For the sake of this list, only movies released as movies were included. Mini-series that really played like long movies, like Defending Jacob, were excluded becuase their episodic format labels them “TV Series”

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in August 2020

August had been heralded as the month in which tentpole theatrical films would return to movie theaters. We now know that’s not going to happen. With little-to-no success at “crushing the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the biggest release on the calendar – Christopher Nolan’s Tenet – will debut overseas in August before getting a staggered rollout in America beginning September 3

Despite the continued postponement of the summer movie season, Now Playing Podcast pushes forward in August, with new entries in its ongoing – nearly six years now – Stephen King retrospective series, the final two episodes of its bonus Sleepaway Camp retrospective, two patron-supported podcasts, and one excellent, all-new retrospective on the main feed. 

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in August 2020.

August 4 – The Langoliers

By 1995, Hollywood was ready to unleash a wave of CGI-powered blockbusters on moviegoers. We were on the verge of films like Twister and Titanic when ABC thought it wise to adapt King’s The Langoliers for television viewers. The two-night miniseries follows the story of airline passengers stuck in a time warp, or something, no one really knows for sure. It’s got Balki from Perfect Strangers and some odious, truly awful, special effects. Try to contain your laughter if you watch the full two-parter on YouTube. 

August 7 – Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor

The sequel to 1989’s Sleepaway Camp III started production in 1992 and was shelved until 2012. In between, another Sleepaway Camp movie was released, but the fifth one actually gets the No. 4 attached to it. Arnie, Stuart, and Brock will explain why when they break down this entry for Platinum-level supporters. 

August 11 – Secret Window

This 2004 Johnny Depp thriller, like The Langoliers, was adapted from King’s Four Past Midnight collection of stories, and focuses on a writer (shocking) caught up in a murder mystery. Obviously, there are more layers that will be peeled back, it’s a King story after all. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lF7CSXCMws

August 14 – Return to Sleepaway Camp 

The fifth film in Now Playing’s Sleepaway Camp retrospective is actually the fourth, and features the return of Felissa Rose, who portrayed the the original “Angela.” There is still a summer camp, and the murders that franchise fans turn out to see. But this one’s also got Isaac Hayes and Sopranos alum Vincent Pastore. 

August 18 – Golden Years

The final King entry for August is a limited series that aired on CBS in 1991 and 1992. Golden Years was conceived by the author as a “novel for television” and stars Felicity Huffman, Ed Lauter, Frances Sternhagen, and Keith Szarabajka. The plot involves a man aging in reverse, kind of like Benjamin Button. That’s where the comparisons stop.

August 21 – Deep Blue Sea 3

When Now Playing Podcast reviewed Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea as part of its Jaws retrospective, no one could predict the film would get one direct-to-video sequel, let alone two. Now, 21 years after the first DBSdebuted in theaters, the adventures of CGI smart sharks are chronicled in this sequel from the writer-director behind Quarantine 2 , The Skulls II, and The Skulls III.

August 25 – Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

United Artists did starving movie fans a big favor when they announced in July that Bill & Ted Face the Musicwould debut on premium VOD and select theaters on September 1. That gave Now Playing the greenlight to carry on with its planned Bill & Ted retrospective series, starting with the duo’s famed Excellent Adventure. The 1989 original stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as high school buds that use a time machine to ace their history report. Just sit back and go with it, dudes. 

Patron Review: Cast Away

Tom Hanks won a Golden Globe and received a Best Actor nomination for his portrayl of a FedEx employee stranded on a deserted island. The film is remembered fondly for Hanks’ performance and friendship with an inanimate volleyball named Wilson. The Now Playing Podcast hosts will venture to the island in August after the film was selected for review by one of its Podbean patrons.   

Bonus Patron Review: The Dark Crystal

In 1982, Jim Henson and Frank Oz teamed for an animatronic-fueled fantasy taking place on a distant planet. It became a cult classic for a generation and spawned a Netflix prequel series in 2019. Now Playing Podcast will review The Dark Crystal as a bonus patron review in August.

July 27, 2020 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in August 2020

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in March 2020

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast

Jordan Peele. John Krasinski. Uwe Boll. Not only are you reading those names in the same paragraph for the first (and probably last) time in your life, you’ll also be hearing about them throughout the month of March on Now Playing Podcast. 

With the major franchise releases looming in April and May, Now Playing has packed the March schedule with new entries in its long-running video game movie retrospective, as well as the first three episodes of its Spring/Summer 2020 donation drive, and an all-new Podbean patron exclusive.

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in March 2020:

March 3: Kong: Skull Island

The big ape is back, but this time he’s not going to New York City. Kong: Skull Island features Marvel movie stars Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, and Brie Larson among a group that travels to King Kong’s mysterious home, where they do battle with an assortment of CGI monsters and help lay the groundwork for this year’s Godzilla vs. Kong. There’s a reason they call it the “Monsterverse.”

March 10: The King of Fighters

The video game series that began in the 90s finally made it to the big screen in 2010. The adaptation features a number of stars discussed in other Now Playing retrospectives, including Maggie Q (Live Free or Die Hard), Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine), and Ray Park (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace).

March 13: Us

The first Friday the 13th of the year gives you plenty of reason to return to Now Playing’s first retrospective series, but the day also marks the beginning of the Spring/Summer 2020 donation drive, and the Silver Level series kicks off with a review of Jordan Peele’s 2019 blockbuster Us. You can get the show, and a whole lot more, at the Now Playing Podcast website.

March 17: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Grab your airsick bags, Uwe Boll is back on Now Playing Podcast! Justin, Arnie, and Stuart keep the video game movie retrospective rolling in March with the first film inspired by the Dungeon Siege series, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. In case you missed it when it hit theaters (or possibly, just theater) in 2007, this Uwe Boll action fantasy boasts a familiar cast, including a pre-Expendables Jason Statham, alongside Claire Forlani, Ron Perlman, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies, Ray Liotta, and, [checks notes] Burt Reynolds. Maybe our hosts can explain how Boll, who directed such memorable video game hits as Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead, managed to pull this cast together for any reason other than money.

March 20: A Quiet Place

You can wash the taste of Uwe Boll out of your mouth on March 20, when Now Playing leaves the Middle Ages for A Quiet Place. The 2018 blockbuster, directed by The Office veteran John Krasinski, follows a family trying to escape alien invaders who hunt by sound. It’s much better than that last sentence suggests. But will it get three green arrows from our hosts? Support Now Playing’s Spring/Summer 2020 donation drive at the Platinum Level and find out!

March 24: In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds

Annnnnnnnnd Boll is back. This time, he’s swapped Jason Statham for Dolph Lundgren and added Dead Man on Campus legend Lochlyn Munro to headline his 2011 sequel. If the trailer doesn’t suck you in, that’s understandable.

March 27: A Quiet Place Part II

John Krasinski is back behind the camera (and on the screen) for a sequel that picks up right after the events of the first film. Audiences (and studio executives) are expecting big things for A Quiet Place: Part II. Our hosts will be in the theater opening weekend, and they’ll have the review ready for Platinum Level donors on March 27. 

March 31: In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission

Uwe Boll directs his third In the Name of the King film. This one has Dominic Purcell. Also time travel. Say a little prayer for our hosts

If that doesn’t whet your appetite for March, Now Playing Podcast has one more review on the calendar; chosen by one of the show’s listeners via Now Playing’s Podbean patron campaign.

March Patron Review: Dragged Across Concrete 

Director Steven Craig Zahler earned accolades for his first two directing efforts, the horror-western Bone Tomahawk and the prison thriller Brawl in Cell Block 99. In 2018, he wrote and directed the neo-noir cop drama Dragged Across Concrete, with Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as police detectives who plot to steal a supply of gold bullion from a group of thieves. 

Dragged is the first of Zahler’s films to be reviewed on Now Playing Podcast, and host Stuart Atkinson has a preview of his thoughts on the director…

“My overall impression of his work is that he’s a very sly crime poet waiting for his breakout. His words aren’t quite Tarantino clever, and visuals aren’t yet Michael Mann cool. But, he could have the career of either of those filmmakers if he gets a proper budget and promotional push. Obviously his big themes are male ego and outlaw justice. Not sure what you call it… eulogies for tough guys?” – Stuart

February 29, 2020 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in March 2020

Now Playing Podcast Host Arnie’s 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2020

It seemed in 2019 I was anxious each month for a new film. From Glass (a super-villain team-up!) to Avengers: Endgame (how can they follow up infinity war?) to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Tarantino back with DiCaprio and Pitt in a Charles Manson story!) to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (can they end on a high note?) there were so many films that had me hyped.

As we start 2020 my list is much shorter than 2019’s, but there are still some films that have me shivering with antici…….pation. Here’s the top 10:

10. The New Mutants (April 10)

Anticipation doesn’t always mean I expect it to be good. The X-Men films have been on a steady decline since First Class, and the years of delays, rumors of reshoots, then rumors that the reshoots didn’t happen, mean this film is likely to be a incomprehensible mess. Still…after wondering if it would ever come out, that they released a new trailer and it looks to actually be happening has me ready.

9. Fantasy Island (Feb 14)

How I picture a few dozen Valentine’s Day conversations (or maybe just mine):

Him: “Hey honey, for Valentine’s Day let’s go to Fantasy Island!”
Her: “Sure!”
Him: “This Fantasy Island has Hostel like torture and Wishmaster level ironies”
Her: “Ummm… How about dinner out instead?”

I can’t imagine why Blumhouse took a license like Fantasy Island only to make something so vastly different from the Aaron Spelling cheese-fest that ruled early ’80s television.

It could be laughably bad, or it could actually be Happy Death Day level fun. I’m hoping for the latter.

8. Black Widow (May 1)

Post Endgame I find little excitement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its stars have left. They’re in what a sports team would call a “rebuilding year.” So they’re banking on their biggest marquee star, Scarlett Johansson, to launch us into Phase 4 with the second female-led Marvel film.

But…why? Didn’t she die in Endgame? If this is, as Marvel claims, a movie set in the past, between Civil War and Infinity War, what does it have to offer the Universe?

It looks exciting, the jokes in the trailer are funny, but there’s lots of funny action films. That alone wouldn’t put this movie on the list.

Two things make me ready for the Widow‘s sting–first, Johansson has taken Black Widow from a horrible inconvenience (Iron Man 2) to a rich main player (I still think The Winter Soldier featured her best). She deserved a solo film, and it will likely be very good.

But…is it possible Marvel is lying? Could there be bigger surprises in store? The glimpse of a very de-aged General Ross (William Hurt) in the trailer makes me hope there will be some Universe-impacting surprises yet to come…

7. Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5)

The DC connected movie universe has more hits than misses, but the original Wonder Woman was one of the brightest spots. I was skeptical about this sequel when I heard Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters 2016, SNL) was hired to play Cheetah…but when that first trailer arrived I was hooked.

The ’80s aesthetic, the idea that the bad guy is what defined the ’80s–ambition–and the humor in the return of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) makes this look like a DC movie that would actually be fun! So let’s go to the mall…today!

(But, I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for New Order and so putting “Blue Monday” under any trailer is likely to get my hype level up.)

6. Underwater (January 10)

This movie seems to have no buzz about it. The premiere showings are tonight as I write this, but no one is talking about Underwater…and I don’t know why.

Kristen Stewart has proven herself a capable actress, and was practically the only good part of last year’s Charlie’s Angels. To see her take on a Ripley role in this film that looks completely like Alien underwater has made this a must-see.

5. Bill & Ted Face the Music (August 21)

When we last saw the Wild Stallyns they seemed ready to become a global phenomenon of hair metal music. Unfortunately their music never lead to nirvana as Nirvana brought a new sound that changed public tastes.

I’ll admit on paper the idea of bringing these two righteous dudes back together 31 years after their Excellent Adventure seems like a bad idea. And I imagine Alex Winter wasn’t one to turn down a gig. But Keanu Reeves has had his (2nd? 3rd?) career renaissance. He doesn’t need Bill & Ted. Something in Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon’s screenplay (the writers of the two original Journeys) must have captured his imagination. He even shaved his beard for the role!

I’ll be there opening weekend, ready to air guitar with this blast from the past.

4. No Time to Die (April 10)

At 51 Daniel Craig may feel a little old to play Bond…James Bond, but he’s still six years younger than Roger Moore in A View to a Kill so let’s have some optimism!

Craig has produced two of the best Bond movies in Casino Royale an Skyfall (still my favorite all-time Bond film). Then there were the forgettable Quantum of Solace and ill-advised Spectre.

If the pattern holds, then Craig’s odd-numbered films are the great ones…and Rami Malek impressed the hell out of me with his performances in both Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody. No Time to Die has me ready to be shaken, not stirred, by another spy flick.

3. Ghostbusters: Afterlife

I hate saying bad things about the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot because the issue has become so politicized by ugly people (one of whom was so butt-hurt by the idea of women Ghostbusters he leaked naked photos of Leslie Jones). Still, if I’m being honest, that movie didn’t match the quality of Ghostbusters 2, let alone the classic original.

The trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife seems to reach for an ’80s Spielberg vibe–or at least a variation on Stranger Things. Having Egon Spengler’s grandson rediscover a spectral world both honors the original (including the late Harold Ramis) and feels fresh for a new generation.

That the original Ghostbusters are also returning (for a cameo? bit part?) for a proper reunion has me very anxious for this new film.

But…please…can they not hire any more modern bands to play Ray Parker Jr’s song? Please?

2. Tenet (July 17)

Christopher Nolan has a large contingent of fans anxious for whatever his next project may be. I’m not one of them. Several of his movies, especially period pieces, failed to excite me. (You can hear me, Stuart, and Jakob review every Nolan film at NowPlayingPodcast.com).

But when Nolan does sci-fi tinged action films like The Dark Knight and Inception I feel he has no equal. While the teaser trailer for Tenet doesn’t give me much to go on, I get a big Inception feel from the trailer.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being my favorite film of 2020.

1. Top Gun: Maverick (June 26)

It’s been 34 years(!) since Tom Cruise lost that lovin’ feeling at the Top Gun academy in a film that tends to polarize modern audiences. It’s a movie I’ve come to adore (along with that near-impossible to beat NES game)…but Cruise donning his Maverick helmet again wasn’t something I need.

Besides, do we still need fighter pilots? It seems the future is here and fighter jets have been replaced with drones, our servicemen safely in a building, not at risk of dying in a dogfight.

Still, when Cruise partners with Christopher McQuarrie the results are usually good (I’ll forgive them The Mummy). I do wish McQuarrie was directing Maverick, not just co-writing, but he knows a tight script.

But what really got me excited is when Paramount announced only one shot in this movie is CGI. Nearly all aerial stunts took place with real FA-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets. The dogfights, the navigating through a canyon, it’s all real. The actors are even in the planes pulling the G-forces (though, no, they didn’t fly the planes) and I can feel it in the trailer.

Plus Cruise seems surrounded by a great cast, with Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, and Miles Teller (forgive him his Fant4stic mistake, he was amazing in Whiplash and Bleed for This).

So enlist me now for an opening weekend seat back at Top Gun!

Will these movies live up to my expectations? You can follow me on Letterboxd where I log and rate every movie I watch.

Do you agree with my list? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | 1 Comment

Arnie’s Top 25 Films of the 2010s

I keep reading articles and posts about how movies aren’t what they used to be. From Martin Scorsese, bitter about his Irishman distribution woes, to Spielberg decrying the “movie-ness” of streaming services, to box office reports of lower attendance.

Yet I maintain the 2010s have had as many great films as any decade before.

When putting this list together it was literally impossible to only do ten movies. I finally cut it off at 25, and then which order became a frustrating rearranging.

Finally, here are my Top 25 films of the 2010s:

25. It: A movie that genuinely horrified, and did Stranger Things better than Stranger Things. The opening scene is (pardon the pun) a grabber, and it didn’t let up much after that point. Had the sequel been as good there’s a chance this would rank even higher on the list as a duology. As it is, It is still the 25th best of the 2010s.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of It

24. The Hateful Eight: Tarantino gets two slots on this list, and the first is his underrated suspense film from 2015. Both funny and gruesome, I was unexpectedly pulled into this period piece.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Hateful Eight

23. Wind River: Jeremy Renner does his fair share of franchise films, but when he escapes those films he brings a depth and realism to his characters. He showed this in the incredible The Hurt Locker, and he did it again in this 2017 murder mystery. Likewise, Elizabeth Olsen keeps up with Renner as a FBI outsider investigating a murder on Native American lands (the best rookie FBI performance since Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs)

22. The A-Team: I was skeptical any new cast could capture the magic, the chemistry, and the unique personalities of NBC’s ’80s The A-Team. I was wrong. Christian Kaplan, the film’s executive in charge of casting, deserves an award for finding four performers who simply are the 2010 personifications of Hannibal Smith, Face, BA Baracus, and Howling Mad Murdock.

More, director Joe Carnahan’s use of montage to show how the team went from planning to execution was invigorating.

I love it when a movie comes together, and this one surely did.

Read Jakob, Arnie, and Marjorie’s reviews of The A-Team and 124 other movies in the Now Playing book Underrated Movies We Recommend. The eBook is available now, the print book is shipping soon!

21. Deadpool: Funny and irreverent–I’d expect nothing less from Ryan Reynolds or Deadpool. Romantic and exciting–those are the surprises in store in Fox’s R-rated (relatively) low budget comic book movie. While Fox studios is no more, the risks they took with first Deadpool and then Logan showed the big boys at Disney and Warner Bros. that comic book movies aren’t just for teenage boys. Without Deadpool there’d be no Joker.

Hear the full Now Playing review of Deadpool

20. Her: Joaquin Phoenix had his biggest box-office hit with 2019’s Joker. Likewise, moviegoers hail his lead performance (quite a trick to follow up Heath Ledger’s ’08 turn). But Joker wasn’t Phoenix’s best performance of the decade–that was in 2013’s Her.

For much of the film Phoenix’s character Theodore is the only person on screen. While Scarlett Johansson’s voice speaks to him in most scenes, but still Phoenix alone must carry the physical performance. He must be visually and emotionally bare as he alone has all the actor’s tools at his behest.

Moving and thought-provoking, I recommend spending an evening with Her.

19. Hereditary: That scene, right? That one scene (that I won’t spoil)… it is to Hereditary what the shower is to Psycho, the pig’s blood to Carrie, or the orgasm scene of When Harry Met Sally. But to focus only on that scene is to ignore the other 126 minutes of a deeply disturbing and creepy film. Toni Collette takes you with her on her spiral into…madness? And Alex Wolff’s physical performance creates a moment second only to that scene. Hereditary gripped me like a nightmare from which I didn’t want to wake.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Hereditary

18. The Social Network: Facebook is so central to communication that it’s difficult to remember the time before. It has become so engrained in American life that The Social Network is perhaps even more important today than when it was released in 2010.

The story of Facebook’s creation is so dramatic and sensational it’s hard to believe it’s real. In fact, the real Mark Zuckerberg disputes this movie’s accuracy saying, “This is my life, so I know it’s not so dramatic.” Still, it’s hard to not be drawn into the world of Facebook’s creation.

“Nerds” programming at computers could be terribly stale to watch, but director David Fincher brings his trademark visual panache and makes Facebook’s creation feel as suspenseful as Seven. And Jesse Eisenberg was a great choice to play Zuckerberg, bringing the right amount of whiny and nerdy.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Social Network

17. Baby Driver: Is Baby Driver a movie, or is it a 113 minute music video? The concept–thievery perfectly timed with music–was originally a music video for Mint Royale’s “Blue Song.”

Yes, the hook of Baby Driver is its gimmick–its soundtrack dominates the film. It makes a scene of getting coffee fun and visually appealing. Really, Baby Driver is an old-fashioned musical, only no one in this film sings–they listen to iPods.

But the magic of Baby Driver is the cast, specifically lead Ansel Elgort. This “one last job” story is given extra depth when it collides with Baby’s love story with Debora (Lily James). Jamie Foxx brings true menace with his character “Bats”, and Jon Hamm’s arc as “Buddy” is almost as involving as Baby’s.

Almost three years since the film’s release I still can’t stop listening to the soundtrack, but mostly those songs now make me remember the film.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Baby Driver

16. Whiplash: I came late to the 2014 film Whiplash. By the time I watched it I’d already watched J. K. Simmons accept his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. I really thought I knew what I was in for…and I was wrong.

Whiplash isn’t your standard “exceptional student” film like Finding Forrester or Good Will Hunting. It also isn’t the cliche “evil teacher” movie like 21 or Real Genius. No, Whiplash is a story of obsession where the student’s ambition is as big an enemy as his teacher.

Simmons earns his Oscar as abusive music teacher Terence Fletcher. It’s a role that, in the wrong hands, could have become camp, but Simmons rides that line. He’s not evil, just amoral and obsessed.

The film ends on a number of twists, the first of which made me roll my eyes…but writer/director Damien Chazelle is too smart to let this film end in a tired cliche, and the film’s final scene sticks with me.

15. Inception: I’ve gotten some guff for not being a paid member of the Christopher Nolan fan club. That said, I love three of his films: Memento, The Dark Knight and Inception. \

Nolan has a way of shooting a cityscape that is gothic and expansive, dwarfing its characters in a Metropolis. It worked so well in Dark Knight and he uses it to great effect in Inception where he adds another dimension as cities change and reshape themselves.

It’s a cinematic equivalent of a M.C. Escher artwork.

But the plot is as exciting as its visuals–a heist film with constant escalation. Add great performances from the entire cast (Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Cillian Murphy are stand-outs) and Inception is a movie that’s incredible, and incredibly fun, to watch.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Inception

14. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: How unexpected is it that not only is the best Spider-Man feature film animated, but it doesn’t even star Peter Parker?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the most comic-booky of all comic-book movies. It’s not afraid to tackle topics that live-action movies eschew, including multiverses and alternate versions of characters. But comics do that constantly.

Miles Morales was a Spider-Man created by Brian Michael Bendis in Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe. When Peter Parker was killed Miles Morales stepped up and inherited the Spider-Man mantle. Being biracial, young, and hip, Morales quickly developed his own following as Spider-Man. Now he got a big-screen starring turn…with Peter Parker (actually two Peter Parkers) in supporting roles.

Yes, it’s yet another superhero origin story–but it’s so fast-paced, and the characters come so quickly, that it manages to feel fresh despite audiences having seen hundreds of movies like this before.

I get more out of this film every time I enter the Spider-Verse

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

13. It Follows: Elevated horror often focuses too much on the “elevated” and too little on the “horror.” Not so with It Follows. The metaphor of death coming after intercorse is clear. Yet the horror and paranoia of being stalked by an unstoppable, invisible assailant pulled me in. I empathized with the protagonists and joined them in their fear of “it.”

Hear Now Playing’s full review of It Follows

12. Kingsman: The Secret Service: Matthew Vaugn’s visual style brings three movies to this list of 25…more than any other director. The first is this 2014 spy comedy. It both mocks the James Bond spy formula while also adhering to it, a post-modern, self-aware thriller. From its opening (to Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”) to its end (to Brian Ferry’s “Slave to Love”) the movie is exciting and fun–but it’s the church scene (choreographed to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”) that cements its place as one of the decade’s best.

11. Maniac (2012): Lately movie reboots (and even sequels like The Force Awakens and Jurassic World) seem to only retell or remake the original film. Maniac does not fall prey to that lazy device. It takes inspiration from the grimy 1980 film, but director Franch Khalfoun and producer Alexandre Aja bring a totally different vibe to this slasher film.

Replacing large, grimy Joe Spinell with small, refined Elijah Wood already indicates this film will be vastly different than the original. But more, the choice to show most of the film in first-person, to in effect make the viewer the killer, is unlike anything in the 1980 film.

We’ve seen first-person slashers before (Halloween’s opening scene may be the best known, but Friday the 13th and others have used this technique). Doing an entire film in that style is a gimmick–but one that works so well here.

With Wood’s creepy performance as Frank Zito (and one of Frank’s arms) and the haunting score by Rob, Maniac is one of the best films I only watched because of Now Playing’s review. Truly one of the most original and best horror films of the decade.

Hear Now Playing’s review of Maniac (2012)

10. Contagion: Few things frighten me more than a fast spreading, highly contagious disease wiping out the population. From The Stand to Outbreak to even Rise of the Planet of the Apes, this all-too-possible scenario scares the hell out of me.

That fear is realized in Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion. The disease spreads through the global population as the film focuses on both the race for a cure and some of the individuals living in this crumbling world.

Never have I rooted more for a film’s protagonists. And Soderbergh’s ensemble cast of familiar faces from Gwyneth Paltrow to Laurence Fishburne helped me connect with nearly every character.

Contagion doesn’t end on the bleakest of notes, but it carries with it the bleakest of horrors. I hope to never find out if Soderbergh made a realistic film, but he made a thrilling one.

9. 12 Years a Slave: I can think of several horror films that start with a kidnapping and forced enslavement. Seven, Saw, and Hostel just to name a few. But imagine that horror told as a period-piece biopic–a true story of the worst American horror.

It’s unbelievable and horrible that a free African-American in New York could be kidnapped and sold as a slave, with no recourse to regain his freedom. Yet in 1840s America such a scam was commonplace, and happened to Solomon Northup (played here by Chiwetel Ejiofor).

The film is sad, and yet shows a genuine triumph of human spirit and perseverance. I was moved by the tale.

8. The Cabin in the Woods: Is this a horror film or a parody? It rides the line with its trite story of five college students going to a cabin for a weekend of partying. Yet the scenario is reframed here as manipulation by people who look like extras from Office Space. They release pheromones and use drugs to turn these five people into horror stereotypes…but the deaths caused are too real.

With a final twist and cameo appearance that work perfectly, I revisit The Cabin in the Woods often.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Cabin in the Woods

7. Django Unchained: Tarantinos’ second film on this list ranks with Reservoir Dogs as his best work. Django (Jamie Foxx) and King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) are a tremendous on-screen duo as bounty hunters who infiltrate the slave trade to rescue Django’s wife Broomhilda.

The movie starts as an action film, but ends up becoming a heist movie along the lines of Ocean’s 11 as the two protagonists plot their rescue. And Foxx brings a gravity to his role as a freed slave, while also being funny with his character’s clothes and turn-of-phrase.

To see Samuel L. Jackson play someone other than Samuel L. Jackson is a delight here as well. The strongest of recommends.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Django Unchained

6. Kick-Ass: Matthew Vaughn’s second entry in this list is this 2010 comic-book adaptation. Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman smoothed out the bumps in Mark Millar’s original graphic novel, creating an escapist super-hero fantasy. Voiceover narration and early hero patrols mimic Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man. But Aaron Johnson as the titular hero is an underdog that you can truly root for.

Then Kick-Ass teams up with Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and the film goes to another level of madcap carnage.

Like Kingsman: The Secret Service this film has over-the-top fights and a “happy” ending that works like a fairy tale. Yet the sheer joy of watching these performances and these characters really does Kick-Ass.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Kick-Ass

5. Mad Max: Fury Road: For 20 years or more I’ve read articles and heard complaints from movie critics and fans that sequels and franchises are univentive and tired, ruining American cinema. (Once more, see Scorsese’s comments regarding Marvel films).

I contend franchise films are like all films–there are some that are lazy and poorly made, but then there are moments of genius. Mad Max: Fury Road epitomizes that phenomenon.

Everything could go wrong with a fourth Mad Max film. The titular character was recast to Tom Hardy, and the last installment, Beyond Thunderdome, came 30 years earlier and was hardly a blockbuster. Yet septuagenarian director George Miller injected this film with high-octane action creating one of cinema’s best chase films.

More than just action-for-action’s sake, the film also co-stars Charlize Theron as female liberator Imperator Furiosa, giving the series a kick-ass woman who outshined Hardy and gave Mad Max a feminist bent.

Whether you watch it in the Black and Chrome edition or the color release, watch it on as big a screen as you can find, crank the sound system, and unleash the Fury.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Mad Max: Fury Road

4. The Nice Guys: Writer/director Shane Black seems unable to recapture the box-office magic he had in the ’80s when he wrote Lethal Weapon (Iron Man 3 excluded as, let’s face it, Black was not the reason that film made a billion dollars). It’s a shame audiences are ignoring Black because his best screenplays have come in the 21st century (and I don’t mean The Predator).

In 2005 Black wrote and directed a buddy-crime film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — a funny and exciting noir mystery set in Hollywood (and featured in Now Playing’s Underrated Movies We Recommend book). It barely broke even for the studio.

In 2016 he tried again with the comedic noir mystery The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Set in late ’70s Los Angeles the movie follows private eye Holland March (Gosling) as he investigates the death of porn star Misty Mountains. The case leads him to be beaten-up by tough-guy Jackson Healy (Crowe). Soon the two team-up to investigate a complex mystery. They are both aided and hampered by March’s daughter Holly (Angourie Rice).

Gosling and Crowe are perfectly cast. Crowe’s cinematic history and his large frame perfectly fit his character, while Gosling’s charisma makes a mediocre private eye fun to watch. The mystery is as complex (or is that convoluted) as Lethal Weapon, but the joy is in the characters.

But The Nice Guys did finish last, barely making its budget back, and Black went on to do the atrocious The Predator. I hope his creative spark wasn’t squashed when his two best films didn’t find an audience.

3. X-Men: First Class: Matthew Vaughn’s third film on this list may prove controversial. X-Men: First Class is a polarizing film among fans…though I can’t understand the view of people who dislike this fourth X-Men installment.

A prequel to the original X-Men trilogy, First Class is set in the early ’60s and shows the origins of classic X-Men characters Charles “Professor X” Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), Raven “Mystique” Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) and others.

It’s impossible to not be impressed with this cast. They got Lawrence one year before she became a superstar with The Hunger Games and an Oscar winner for Silver Linings Playbook. McAvoy and Fassbender never reached the popularity of their co-star, but both are magnificent actors able to bring a variety of emotion and pathos to their roles. With Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Platt, Rose Byrne, Zoe Kravitz,and Kevin Bacon in supporting roles, the cast is captivating and interesting.

The stakes couldn’t be higher as First Class offers a bit of revisionist history to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The story spans the globe from Germany to England to Russia and more.

Once again, Matthew Vaughn brings his visual style to a comic book adaptation in a way that’s fresh and fun, and gives us one of the best cameos I’ve ever seen.

With its message of “Mutant and Proud”, its character evolution, and its infectious score by Henry Jackman, there isn’t a moment of this movie I don’t love.

2. The Avengers: Honestly, this entire list could be films from Marvel Studios. Their output is remarkable in consistent quality, and their cast and characters improve from film to film.

Truthfully, I limited myself to one Marvel Studios movie for this list…but which one? Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame all truly deserve spots in any “best of the decade” list.

Marvel’s films have become a cultural touchpoint for people around the world. People who would never deign to read a comic book now wear Captain America T-Shirts and buy Funko POP! figures of their favorite characters.

So which to pick? The one that really started it all-2012’s The Avengers. Sure, you can argue Iron Man started it in 2008, but Marvel’s films were only moderately successful through 2011. While both Iron Man films made over $300mil domestic, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor all failed to reach $200 million (2015’s Ant-Man is the only post-2012 film to not gross over $200m).

It took Joss Whedon to make the Marvel Cinematic Universe coalesce, bringing a god, a super-soldier, a rampaging monster, and a playboy in an armored suit together to fight each other, and then an alien invasion.

In only 143 minutes Wheadon gave satisfying character arcs to six characters…the four listed above, plus Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), both of whom failed to impress in their previous MCU films.

Wheadon did that and made it look effortless, while keeping the film moving at a good clip and having enough quips to keep the audience smiling.

The Avengers truly did assemble here, and an unstoppable cinematic juggernaut was the result. You may love that or hate it, but damn if that isn’t an impressive feat.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs the World: How is it the number 1 film is a comic book but isn’t a Marvel movie? Leave it to Edgar Wright’s action-romance fable Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s eponymous series of graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim takes place in a fantasy land where video game rules apply. Skateboarders grind down flights of stairs like in Tony Hawk games. People throw punches and kicks in the streets like Mortal Kombat. Battles of the Bands create large electronic kaiju. And when someone dies, a bunch of coins fly from where their body used to be.

But inside this video game is a romantic comedy where listless Scott Pilgrim (a perfectly cast Michael Cera) falls for the woman of his dreams–Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead at her most alluring). As with any rom-com there are obstacles to their romance. Not only is Scott dating high-school girl Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), but to date Ramona Scott must fight her seven evil exes.

Scott has never fought for anything, so can he keep up the fight for Ramona? Should he even do that?

The result is a light-hearted but emotional film where Scott and Ramona have ups, downs, and battles with the likes of Chris Evans and Brandon Routh.

I also love the entire cast here. Comic book movie veterans Evans and Routh are joined by Thomas Jane, plus future Captain Marvel Brie Larson. Yet the standout supporting character is Kieran Culkin as Scott’s gay and snarky roommate Wallace Wells. Culkin delivers his lines with such snide sarcasm I can’t help to smile.

Get a life and don’t miss out on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Read Jakob, Arnie, and Marjorie’s reviews of Scott Pilgrim vs the World and 124 other movies in the Now Playing book Underrated Movies We Recommend. The eBook is available now, the print book is shipping soon!

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | Comments Off on Arnie’s Top 25 Films of the 2010s

Arnie’s Best Films of 2019

As we approach New Year’s, it’s a time to look back at what 2019 brought…and that means best of/worst of lists.

I readily admit my movie watching in 2019 was dominated by Now Playing Podcast’s calendar. Many of the films in this list were reviewed on that podcast.

Now to the list:

10. Between Two Ferns: The Movie: I always found Funny or Die videos to lean more to the “die” side. But the awkward humor of Zach Galifianakis interviewing celebrities always made me chuckle. Thrown into narrative form for the Netflix movie, I laughed out loud often. The bloopers at the end, showing the celebrities cracking up at the jokes, made it even better.

9. Zombieland: Double Tap: It took 10 years to bring the Zombieland team back together. No doubt, my love of that original film and those characters tint my view of this lesser sequel. Yet the addition of new character Madison (Zoey Deutch) brings a new energy and life to this picture. The cameo at the very end cements this sequel on this best-of list.

Hear Now Playing’s full Zombieland: Double Tap review

8. Toy Story 4: When I was a kid I’d love my new toys, but after a while I’d get bored and want to move on to a new toy line. Smurfs went in a box to make way for Transformers, etc. Such is the case with Woody and Buzz on their fourth outing (not counting TV specials and shorts). The bloom is a bit off the rose as these character age and lead their post-Andy life. Still, Toy Story 4 finds a way to still have toys build a metaphor for real life, and the horror of the puppet minions was highly effective. Plus, once again Pixar blazes new trails in the realm of CGI animation.

Hear Now Playing’s full Toy Story 4 review

7. Us: Jordan Peele proved himself a master of horror with Get Out (hear Now Playing’s review), but could he repeat that success in his second film? Happily, Peele avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with this story of evil suburban dopplegangers. Like Get Out, it works both as horror and social commentary.

6. Marriage Story: A Kramer vs. Kramer for our time, Marriage Story features Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as parents going through a divorce. It starts amicable, but turns bitter as the stakes escalate. I do wish the film made me feel more for these characters’ loss, but the two lead performances are both impacting and real. I’d not be surprised to see both Johansson and Driver nominated at the 2020 Academy Awards (unless this being a Netflix film dooms it politically).

5. Knives Out: I wasn’t sure what to make of Rian Johnson’s whodunnit when I saw the trailers, with Daniel Craig being called out for his Kentucky Fried accent. But I am a sucker for a good murder mystery, and Knives Out is a great one. With a roster of A-list stars, Johnson counterintuitively makes the film’s focus the lesser known Ana de Armas. This works very well as she is a working-class maid surrounded by parvenu, the star wattage surrounding her sells that difference. The end reveal got me. I hear there’s now rumors of this $200mil grosser becoming a franchise. If Johnson can make them all this clever and funny, I’m ready for another cut.

4. Joker: DC had one of their best years in 2019. Shazam was a solid entry in their DC Extended Universe (hear the Now Playing review)–a movie that played it safe. Then the studio took some creative risks letting Todd Phillips, a director most known for comedy, co-write and direct the R-Rated Joker. With its Scorsese feel and a captivating performance by Joaquin Phoenix, Joker stopped anyone from laughing at DC’s movie offerings and proved comic book movies can span genres and achieve greatness. The camerawork and score emphasize the film’s theme while keeping the film visually interesting.

I fear what Joker’s success may bring (rumors of a sequel, as well as a series of more R-rated comic origins frighten me) but Joker truly is the Clown Prince of comic movies.

Hear Now Playing’s full Joker review.

3. Terminator: Dark Fate: I hear the derision now… “Anyone that includes Dark Fate on a best-of list needs to watch more movies.” The film was a commercial flop costing the studio over $100mil in losses. It was released to an audience seemingly tired with franchise revivals (or, at least, tired of Terminator‘s string of lackluster sequels).

But I am a champion of underrated movies (I even co-wrote a book about them) and Dark Fate fits that bill. Following the Halloween (2018) model, the film has creator James Cameron producing, and Linda Hamilton returning in a co-starring role. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terminator is both funny and sympathetic, making this the muscle-man’s best performance since before he was elected Governor of California.

With action that packs a punch, a cool two-for-one Terminator Rev-9, and a pace that rarely lets you catch your breath, I was hoping this Dark Fate would be back for more…but I’m positive this is “hasta la vista, baby” for the series.

Hear Now Playing’s full Terminator: Dark Fate review

2. Spider-Man: Far From Home: After the drama and high stakes of Avengers: Endgame audiences needed a breather. Something a little lighter. A funny film that is just a good popcorn film. Far From Home meets all those targets perfectly.

Spanning several European countries, Far From Home works as a road movie, a travelogue, a teen comedy, and a comic book action film.

Tom Holland has proven himself to be the best live-action Spider-Man in five movies from 2016-2019 (two more than any other Spider-Man actor). In his second solo outing, Holland’s Spider-Man still struggles with teen drama but also brings in a good villain in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. Gyllenhaal and Holland have great on-screen chemistry, as do Holland and love-interest Zendaya.

The cliffhanger ending (with a cameo sure to make Spider-Man fans smile) makes the web-head’s return to the screen my most-anticipated MCU film.

Is it 2021 yet?

Hear Now Playing’s full Spider-Man: Far From Home review

1. Avengers: Endgame: When I think of the duology of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame I’m reminded of a cliffhanger from Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Best of Both Worlds.” The first episode of that duology was dark, exciting, and ended with a feeling that all is lost. When the conclusion aired three months later…they just couldn’t stick the landing. Everything was neatly wrapped up easily…and unsatisfactorily.

Avengers: Infinity War ended on a similar note with Vision dead, along with half the population in the universe. Could the Avengers’ rematch with Thanos meet the adventure-filled Infinity War?

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo didn’t just give Infinity War’s story a satisfying conclusion–they made an amazing film that works on its own. It’s a final hurrah for the original Avengers, and the scaled-down cast allows Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor to each have their own satisfying character arcs. I cheered during the film’s high points, and tears streamed down my face as I bid farewell to some characters I’ve lived with for over a decade.

It feels like a conclusion to the MCU as a whole…I’m not sure Shang-Chi and The Eternals will bring as much to the table as the original Avengers, but damn…what a high note to end on!

Hear Now Playing’s full Avengers: Endgame review

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | , , , , | Comments Off on Arnie’s Best Films of 2019

Star Wars Action News Review: X-Wing Miniatures Second Edition

By Curtis Stevenson

“I’m not such a bad pilot myself.

 -Luke Skywalker

We all have seen the great pilots — Luke, Vader, Han, Kylo, Boba Fett, Rey, Anakin, and Chewbacca — on the big screen. Now, with the newest wave of pre-painted miniatures from Fantasy Flight Games, you can fly with all of them in X-Wing Miniatures Game 2.0, right on your kitchen table.

As of March 2019, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) has released ships and pilots from all eras of the Star Wars saga, from the Jedi and clones of the Republic to Kylo Ren and the hordes of the First order. You and a friend can take flight in epic starfighter combat in your own home or local game store.

I had a passing interest in the detailed models FFG released since Star Wars Celebration 6, when I saw them demonstrating games on the convention floor. With the release of a 2.0 version last summer and the announced release of the Republic and Separatist factions, I knew now was a good entry point into this game — one that seems easy to learn but hard to master. X-Wing also feeds the collector side of the player base with dozens of ships all pre-painted and some with alternate paint jobs to reflect great pilots and ships over the whole saga. X-Wing and Tie Fighters have had numerous paint applications, the Falcon has 3 iterations depending on where in the saga it has been pulled from, and the droid armies of the separatist are on the way with an exclusive paint color vulture droid, at Adepticon 2019.

Gameplay is learned via a simple scenario included with the Core set (two Tie Fighters and one X-Wing) that teaches the basics of movement and combat. But within the simple game is a deeper game of decisions and consequences.  Focus, Evade, Target Lock, and Barrel Roll are just a few of your options, depending on what ships you are flying. With the 2.0 launch, FFG added online squad building via an application on your smartphone. 

The community for X-Wing in my experience, both at my Friendly Local Game store and online, is great. The online community for X-Wing is rich with content both for head-to-head and alternate format objective play, with dozens of sites and forums posting ideas and list examples, some great reviews of new and old content, along with breakdowns of organized play results. Customizers within this slice of fandom also have an amazing outlet for custom painted ships and the braver ones adding lights to these tiny Starfighters truly are works of art. One group holds an annual event called Campaign Against Cancer, X-Wing tournament to raise money for various charities around the world! This group will have a booth at the upcoming Star Wars Celebration (#1648). This year, they will also be having a painting show/raffle. The painted ships will be on display at Celebration and fans will be able to vote on their favorite custom ship. The ship with the most votes will also be raffled off to one of the voters at Celebration. The other ships will be used as prizes for the Campaign Against Cancer event being held May 18t, 2019 at local game stores all around the country.

FFG will also be at Celebration, with an exclusive Darth Vader for another one of their miniature games, But I have a feeling they will have demo times for all their Star Wars product during the convention.

Getting started is as simple as the Core Set (MSRP) and then, as your skill grows, more ships are available in expansion packs from $20-$40 adding more gameplay and abilities to ensure victory. A simple game can take 45 minutes according to the rules (official play is limited to 75 minutes) and the application tracks pilot and ship points up to 200 (the max for official events). So far, I have enjoyed collecting ships and facing the collector’s dilemma of what to collect. I have decided to keep with Empire and Rebels for now. If you’re a fan of the scrappy underdog, or want to fly a full swarm of Tie Fighters, or battle as the Ace pilots that make up the Scum and Villainy faction, X-Wing Miniatures can give you all that, on your kitchen table.

March 27, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Star Wars Action News Review: X-Wing Miniatures Second Edition

4 Spoiler-Free Thoughts on That Spoiler-Free ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer

We didn’t see that coming.

Marvel Studios dropped a poster and second trailer for Avengers: Endgame on Wednesday morning; dialing the hype machine up to 22 for fans still floating on air following Captain Marvel’s mid-credits tease. The blockbuster (and it will be) arrives in theaters April 26, and while the gap between Captain Marvel and Endgame is just a little more than a month, the wait feels eternal.

Surely, those of us at Now Playing Podcast and Marvelicious Toys are not the only fans have spent much of the day speculating about the plot while rewatching the trailer at every opportunity. For those trying to avoid speculation and spoilers, this is a safe space. Instead, we offer just a few quick thoughts on our current state of mind.

1. Marvel, You Spoil Us

The truth is, we didn’t need an Avengers: Endgame trailer this morning. We really don’t need any more trailers at all. April 26 is burned into our brains and the first trailer, combined with the Super Bowl spot footage, combined with the aforementioned Captain Marvel tease, is good enough. The Endgame hype machine rises above traditional marketing strategies in the sense that we don’t need new footage to tide us over.  Our collective thirst for what comes next started with the “snap” (or the “decimation” as it’s referred to online) and all we want is for April 26 to get here.

2. Marvel, You’re Not Spoiling Us

There’s nothing that today’s Endgame trailer could do to increase our hype, and that’s fine, because the trailer shows us nothing. Yes, there are scenes that offer a glimpse of a post-snap world and we see what’s left of the Avengers rally in the end for a space adventure of some sort, but this is generally a spoiler-free trailer. Just like the early Avengers: Infinity War trailer, it relies heavily on callbacks to remind you of how much Marvel has accomplished in 10-plus years. If this is the final trailer before Endgame, we’re going in with no clue what’s going to happen. Score one for Marvel marketing. 

3. These 6 a.m. Trailers Need to Stop

Waking up to a brand spanking new Avengers: Endgame trailer should be a nice way to start your day, and it is. An early morning trailer launch ensures that everybody will be posting about it first thing and then talking about it with their co-workers the rest of the day. But lordy, it is a productivity murderer. Once that trailer hit this morning, it pretty much ruined the rest of the day because all that matters now is Endgame. Yes, that means we’re falling right in line with Marvel’s marketing plan and we’re pawns in their little game and blah, blah, blah, “insert your cynicism here.” The point is, we’d get a lot more done if this trailer had dropped at 9 p.m. last night, or maybe not at all?  

4. Those 3-Hour Runtime Rumors Are Looking Right, and We Don’t Care

You’ve likely read the snippets online about Endgame running three hours, which would make it the longest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Too long? Not really. We’re talking, what, 30 minutes longer than Infinity War? That’s nothing. Clearly, the varying hairstyles amongst a couple characters in the trailer hint at a film that’s going to take its time getting to its resolution. That’s fine. It’s what we came for. You might have also read online rumors about an intermission? That’s fine too. We’ll treat it like a hockey game. Hell, throw in an overture at the beginning. It’s an event, after all.

Avengers: Endgame hits theaters April 26. Now, continue your conversation about Hawkeye’s haircut.

Whatever it takes.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | News | 1 Comment

Friday the 13th (2009) – Revisited

by Arnie Carvalho

“No matter how much you love the original films in the Friday the 13th series,
 it’s virtually indisputable that the 2009 remake/reboot/re-
imagining is far and away the best made of all of them.” 
— Adam-Troy Castro, Syfy.com

“Can we now admit ‘Friday the 13th’ 2009 was damn good?” 
— Michael White, Bloody-Disgusting.com

“It is one of the best film franchise reboots put out in theaters in the past 15 years.” 
— Jason Parker, Friday The 13th Franchise.com

“I’ve always been of the mind (and it’s a hill I’ll die on), that it kinda just 
makes no sense to be a fan of the original Friday the 13th movies and yet not
 a fan of Friday the 13th ’09”
 — John Squires, Editor in Chief of Bloody Disgusting.com, on Twitter

“Stay away from this movie. It really is one of the bad ones…
Run from this movie. Do not reward the makers with your money” 
— Arnie, Now Playing’s 2009 Podcast review

“In three years no one, absolutely no one, will remember that they saw it, that
 they liked it, it will have no aftertaste whatsoever. People will remember 
the original, they will not remember this movie.” 
— Stuart, Now Playing’s 2009 Podcast review

Still Now Playing 10 Years Later…

Today is a momentous day in my life. It’s a birthday of sorts.

While Now Playing Podcast started in 2007 it (like many shows, TV, radio, podcast, and otherwise) went through some growing pains. Cast changes, an irregular release schedule, and format changes all marred the first two years.

That began to change on January 9, 2009 — the date we released the first episode in our first retrospective series: a review of 1980’s Friday the 13th leading up to the 2009 reboot. The show went from two hosts to three (that would begin rotating later that same year). The “Recommend/Not Recommend” finale was solidified, as were patterns of series-specific opening credits, art, and titles for each film series.

Yet it’s arguably today, Friday, February 13th, that could be seen as Now Playing’s true 10th anniversary. It was the day we recorded our final Friday the 13th review. By that point we knew the retrospective was a big hit. Despite initial misgivings, we decided to immediately continue the format and review Star Trek leading up to its reboot. Stuart even went out and bought a microphone and literally stopped “phoning it in.”

I’ll never forget the night of Friday, February 13th, 2009. I was in New York City covering Toy Fair International. I went to see the Friday the 13th reboot in a Times Square movie theater, accompanied by my wife Marjorie. The excitement that caused me to begin the retrospective series was reaching its peak as the lights went down and the movie started.

Flash forward to five hours later. I’m in our hotel room (small, as most all NYC rooms are). I’m pacing. My iPhone 3G is hot against my face from being on a call for so long. I’m on a telephone recording my disappointment with the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot. Brock is in Chicago recording the call, and he would edit the show released to our listeners the following Monday.

All three of us had very similar reactions, and the reboot became the fourth Friday the 13th, out of 12, to get three red arrows on our website.

I honestly never looked back.

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity” — Robert Morgan

As the 10th anniversary of the Friday the 13th reboot approached I came upon an interesting and unexpected turn of events: a number of think pieces were published celebrating the film. Even those who had reacted poorly to the movie initially had come around and not only enjoyed but celebrated director Marcus Nispel’s fresh take on iconic slasher Jason Voorhees (played by Derek Mears).

I started to question my own memory. Could they be right? Could that movie have aged well?

Having been a movie critic for over a decade I know from experience one of the hardest things to do when reviewing a film is to separate expectations from the final product. Movies are marketed to create expectations–to get you into a theater seat and spending money expecting delivery on what trailers, interviews, and even posters have sold.

Going into Friday the 13th in 2009 my expectations were sky high. I had loved Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake far more than the original Tobe Hooper film. I loved Jason as a killer. Jason’s last appearance on screen in 2003’s Freddy vs Jason was one of his best, and that movie’s writing team of Damian Shannon and Mark Swift were writers for the remake.

Could the movie have been good, or at least recommendable, but simply not met my expectations?

10 years have passed, so I decided to find out. For this re-review of 2009’s Friday the 13th I watched the extended “Killer Cut” released on Blu-Ray and Video on Demand. This cut was nine minutes longer than what I saw in theaters.

The Review

I watched the movie having not listened to our 2009 podcast since it was released. I remembered very little going in, only that Stuart thought Jason was a pothead. Then after watching the movie I listened to our old podcast to see what it was that got me so worked up.

SPOILERS BELOW for this 10-year-old movie!

I liked the opening. This is a reboot, and people want Jason as the killer, not old lady Pamela Voorhees. Yet Pamela’s plight from Sean S. Cunningham’s 1980 original Friday is integral to the Jason mythos. To have the climax of the original movie done in montage fashion pays homage and checks the boxes. It does create a confusing timeline as to Jason’s supposed drowning, but handled well.

Then we have the second prologue and, not having seen the movie in a decade, I was faked out. I thought this would be the movie and these five characters, Wade (Jonathan Sadowski), Richie (Ben Feldman), Mike (Nick Mennell), Whitney (Amanda Righetti), and Amanda (America Olivo), were going to be our core cast. They actually seem like a fun group and call back to so many earlier Friday the 13th casts where there’s couples hooking up…and the lonely odd man out. That Jason comes in and killed so many so quickly was a shock.

Then comes our new Jason by Derek Mears. One of my big problems in 2009 goes back to expectation: I was used to the Jason played by Kane Hodder. Jason had gone through many iterations, from bag-wearing woodsman to space-zombie, but the walking after people who run, the nearly supernatural way of catching the prey, seemed like a staple.

This Jason was fast and aggressive. He killed brutally. And he used tools and more thought power than earlier Jasons. Hanging one woman over the campfire to burn while setting a bear trap for another victim really wasn’t in Jason’s modus operandi. But then I had to remember, this is a reboot, not a remake. The Friday the 13th series had lost its luster by doing the same things again and again. In 2009 I couldn’t reconcile this Jason with the ones before. Now I realize this reboot gives us an entirely new Jason.

If I just accept this is a new character, perhaps call him “Jimmy Voorhees”, I’d have no trouble with these new killings. Nispel wanted to revitalize the character and return him to his violent, horror roots. Nearly 30 years had passed since Jason first wielded his machete. It may not be the Jason I wanted, but this viewing I can accept this “Jimmy Voorhees.”

The two characters coming upon Jason’s cabin (plus the bag over Jason’s head) took me back to 1981’s Friday the 13th Part II, and I can go with it.

Not only did the prologue surprise me in killing (seemingly) everyone so fast, I also understand the need to have a body count. One of the pressures with each new horror movie installment was to have more kills. Here, we establish Jason as a badass killer, and we got five good kills. And for those who expect topless women in your Friday films, you got that out of the way too.

Plus, the gore! I was watching the unrated cut, but I marveled at how freely the blood flowed.

Then we actually get to the movie. Again, my expectation was, since we had Shannon and Swift writing again, that we would have a group of fun, believable characters like they gave us in Freddy vs. Jason. Instead, we have a group of character types that would never be friends. I had a real problem with that in theaters.

Yet, when watching it at home on a television, I found myself more forgiving. How many groups of totally different people went camping together in the past? Sure, Parts 1 and 2 made them counsellors thrown together, and 8 had them as classmates, but the victims in parts 3 and 4, and especially 7, don’t feel like they’d hang out together either. So, is this bad writing…or is this an intentional homage to the bad writing in previous installments? More, if I can accept these weird groups in earlier films, why not here too? So, I compartmentalized that complaint and, instead, found these seven young adults appealing, flawed characters, most of whom were obviously going to end up impaled on a machete.

Trent (Travis Van Winkle) is a great douche you love to hate (and with a rich boy name like Travis Van Winkle I wonder how much he was acting). Bree (Julianna Guill) is a wonderful seductress, and the attraction Chewie (Aaron Yoo) shows for Bree takes me back to Crispin Glover’s character in The Final Chapter.

Lawrence (Arien Escarpeta) is a stoner that feels like he would hang out with Chewie. The other couple of Chelsea (Willa Ford) and Nolan (Ryan Hansen) aren’t in the film long enough for me to get a bead on them.

Which does raise one flaw–this group is too big to keep track of. They’re here for a body count, but I’m not sure they are disparate enough where I can even assign them tropes of “the smart one” and “the shy one”, etc. Especially Chelsea and Nolan, they are the flattest of characters.

Then we have typical last-girl Jenna (Danielle Panabaker). Like so many Jason survivors in films past, she’s a brunette, she’s smart, she doesn’t smoke weed, and she doesn’t get naked. And when she encounters, and partners with, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) who is searching for his missing sister Whitney, I’m taken back (in a positive way) to the similar plot in The Final Chapter.

The kills also are varied. I had a problem with Jason using an arrow to kill Nolan, but he used a crossbow in Part II so this wasn’t so far off. And again, this is the new “Jimmy Voorhees.” He’s a survivalist. He has to hunt to survive. It makes sense he’d be good with a bow. (It equally makes sense that this Jason is far more intelligent than the previous incarnations and so he uses Kerosene to power his home). And Chelsea’s machete-in-the-head gave Jason his usual, nearly supernatural sense of where his victims hide.

So halfway in the movie I wonder…was I too harsh on Friday the 13th? Did I allow my expectation to cloud what was delivered?

The answer is….partially, for the movie really does fall apart in the second half.

Nispel was best known (and may still be best known) for his Texas Chainsaw reboot. I don’t know if Nispel rewrote any of Shannon and Swift’s script, but the second half does turn this new Jason into a wannabe Leatherface. Why are there catacombs underneath Camp Crystal Lake? It makes no sense. Why did Jason kidnap Whitney? It makes no sense. Why does Whitney look so good after six weeks of captivity? It makes no sense.

Yet the deaths continue to impress. In this “Killer Cut” Chewie’s slow death in the tool shed was painful to watch as he writhes, groans, and bleeds for a very long time. Lawrence’s kill by Jason throwing an ax goes back to the survivalist skills, and creates a more “realistic” Jason who can’t just walk after every person who runs.

The best death/fake-out may belong to Trent, though. Waving down a tow truck, a silent hand waves Trent to get on. Can this Jason drive a car? No…it’s an old man on oxygen, unable to shout to the young man whose hesitation results in his being impaled on the truck as it drives away.

Yet another decent fake-out is Jenna. She seemed like the perfect “last girl” and, echoing The Final Chapter‘s Trish, I thought it was a given she’d escape. But two brunettes is one to many in a Friday the 13th film so when Whitney is discovered alive Jenna had to die.

The rest is pretty rote action with Jason just dead enough for a climax, yet, of course, always ready to come back for another sequel.

The Verdict

So, was I too harsh on the 2009 Friday the 13th? Yes, I clearly was. My expectation of what the previous Fridays had given clouded my ability to appreciate the changes Nispel tried to bring to make a Jason that could be scary in the 21st century.

Yet, the writing becomes very lazy in the second half. The film is almost a straight downward line, its quality decreasing with every passing frame of film, start to end. At no point does the body of the film reach the highs of its two prologues.

While this is a totally new Jason, much of the film, including the group of victims, is a throwback to the installments released 1980-1984. I wasn’t a fan of many of those early groups, so this is not a success, but it’s not worthy of the damnation I gave on the podcast.

So is it a recommend or not recommend?

It is on the borderline. I think that slasher fans will have a lot to enjoy, while old school Friday the 13th fans will have a lot to swallow.

The ridiculous ending, including everything after the rescue of Whitney (the tunnels under the camp, the convenient machinery, the obvious final “jump scare”), make me stand by my red arrow. But it’s a close call, and it’s what I’d call on the podcast “A very weak not recommend”…which is the most positive thing said about this movie in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast.



(the tunnels under the camp, the convenient machinery, the obvious final “jump scare”), make me stand by my red arrow. But it’s a close call, and it’s what I’d call on the podcast “A very weak not recommend”…which is the most positive thing said about this movie in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast.

Yet the film has had a longer lifespan than I had imagined ten years ago today and, had it not been for endless legal wrangling over Friday the 13th’s IP rights, I have no doubt “Jimmy Voorhees” would have returned to slay again.

Yet while lawsuits continue over who has the right to make the next Friday film, I look forward to it. Ten years is the longest Jason has ever gone without a movie since his inception in 1980. He is missed, and hopefully Jason Voorhees, not “Jimmy”, will return to the silver screen again in the near future.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!

Hear Now Playing Podcast’s original retrospective series, 12 reviews of Friday the 13th films (plus a bonus recap episode), all available now at NowPlayingPodcast.com

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Create a Custom Dengar Figure In Just 7 Steps

Star Wars Action News Photo Editor Curtis Stevenson shows you how

Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson

With Sideshow finally finishing the Empire Strikes Back bounty hunter series, many collectors had already broken out their old Hasbro figures to see what could be salvaged and upgraded with a little paint or some simple mods to display with their other figures.

Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson
Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson

Curtis: After Sideshow released Dengar in 2017 for $239, I knew could make a display-worthy figure to put on my shelf. Dengar is not, after all, a very dynamically posed figure. 

STEP ONE

Curtis: I started with the old 2002 Hasbro figure, thinking his armor could be used, and perhaps the head wraps if I could just give him a better face sculpt. Sideshow/Hot Toys armor is so expensive to part out so I figured a paint job and some weathering and I’m set. The base figure set me back $17.

STEP TWO

Curtis: For the body, I went with an extra Sideshow body from an older Han Solo figure. It has modern articulation and is compatible with extra hands and neck peg adapters to fit all types of heads. Plain bodies can be found online for $14-$20 if you don’t have an extra on hand.

Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson
Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson

STEP THREE

Curtis: Dengar has a “unique” glove shared by a bunch of on-screen characters that have not been made yet. But very similar to the AT-AT driver glove and the AT-AT added some extra details I like. I found them for $7.

STEP FOUR

Curtis: The trusty blaster for this bounty hunter changes in the film. The base is an MG34 however of course in 1/6 scale that is not available and the few loose blasters form this figure sold very quickly online. However, an MG42 kit is online for $1-$2! I was able to score one on eBay for $0.76, a great deal to help build this figure on the cheap. It needed to be repainted and weathered. Simple black acrylic paint thinned with water to weather after simple black and silver paint.

Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson

STEP FIVE

Curtis: For the jumpsuit, I did find a Tan/Green flight suit, online  $5 and it arrived for this custom.  After trying the suit on the body, it really didn’t look right.  So I went back to the Hasbro tan Hasbro suit.  For that was $5 ‘wasted’ but now I have a suit for another custom.

STEP SIX

Curtis: Now, the worst part of the Hasbro (outside the stiff body) figure is the face. Using heat treatment or a warm hairdryer and a sharp knife I cut the face away from the head wraps. I had a few options for head wraps but figured I should save the Hasbro ones if I could. The original head is hollowed so that makes it a simple task of stuffing a new head in the wraps.

STEP SEVEN

Curtis: The toughest part was to find a head with the quality to match my other Sideshow and Hot Toys figures on display. Online, you can find heads parted out from nearly any 1/6 figure released in the past few years. I found a “bloodied” head and thought that would look good under the head wraps and the lived in the universe of Star Wars.

STEP EIGHT

Curtis: Putting the figure together, I kept the Hasbro armor stock. I honestly did not think I could improve on the weathering and depth of colors in his armor. Not a big deal, again, this was going to be a 1/6 scale figure on the cheap and easy.

Curtis: Sideshow’s figure looks good but the lack of dynamic display options made it hard for me to justify the $240+ purchase. So I attempted a good enough version. I know he’s not the best, and I do see areas for simple improvements, but for $66 I think it was a good start to building a custom figure. Perhaps I will keep finding low-cost Hot Toys/Sideshow armor to replace and upgrade, but for now, I am quite happy with him and moving on my next custom figure.

I have also found a comparison between the Hasbro and Sideshow figure.

RECIPE

  1. Hasbro 2002 figure as base $17
  2. Upgraded Hot Toy KO body $14
  3. Tan jumpsuit $5- did not use for this figure
  4. Repainted Hasbro armor- changed mind and kept original
  5. Custom head modified to fit Hasbro headwrap -$26
  6. New stormtrooper legs/boots- Perhaps a future upgrade?
  7. White/grey gloves- At-At driver hands $7
  8. MG42 kit from eBay $0.76 + paint(free)

 

February 11, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Create a Custom Dengar Figure In Just 7 Steps

‘Child’s Play’ Teaser Saves Chucky for Later

Friday’s Child’s Play teaser drop left plenty of wanting, and not much to unpack. Those hoping for a full reveal of a reanimated Chucky doll will have to wait for the next trailer to arrive, which will come sometime between now and June 21.

The few clues dropped in the 60-second ad hint at a (somewhat) fresh take on the franchise. The remake still revolves around mother Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza), son Andy (Gabriel Bateman), and the series’ iconic villain, though it has seemingly scrapped the “doll possessed by a serial killer” plot in favor of a “technology gone wrong” angle — a bit of speculation based on an early video tease describing the Buddi doll line (from which Chucky hails) as the “greatest, most interactive toy on the market.”

That tease will likely lead more than a few fans to assume the new Child’s Play serves as a cautionary tale about artificial intelligence and the facial/voice recognition technologies currently permeating our culture. If that is indeed the angle the remake takes, at least it’s a fresh approach.

Still, some will be disappointed if series star Brad Dourif doesn’t reprise his role as the voice of Chucky, although the actor is believed to be doing so for a Child’s Play television series from creator Don Mancini, one that would continue with the established canon and pick up after the events of 2017’s straight-to-video Curse of Chucky.

At the very least, fans can be thankful for is the return of Chucky on the big screen, something they’ve missed since 2005.

Child’s Play hits theaters June 21.

You can hear the complete Child’s Play retrospective in the Now Playing Podcast archives.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on ‘Child’s Play’ Teaser Saves Chucky for Later

‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Gives ‘Fast & Furious’ a Fresh New Direction

Dwayne Johnson saved Universal’s flagship franchise once before. Now he’s turned it into a full-blown superhero spectacle.

By Jason R. Latham

“I’m trying to save the world, which, for the record, will be my fourth time,” boasts Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs in the debut trailer for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, the spinoff to Universal’s long-lasting and lucrative franchise.

Fast & Furious turns 18 in June and while it has, over the years, outrun the wrath of critics and survived the sudden death of original co-star Paul Walker, 2017’s The Fate of the Furious (despite a $1.2 billion global haul) showed obvious signs of an aging series in need of a tune-up. Exhibit A: the out-of-nowhere revelation that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto had unknowingly fathered a son sometime between Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6 – a Cousin Oliver-sized shark jump, even for a series that has employed amnesia as a plot device.

Likewise, Fate’s addition of Scott Eastwood as a secret agent who joins Toretto’s team failed to boost cast chemistry and only served as a reminder that Walker’s presence is sorely missed. 

So, where can the franchise turn for a fresh coat of paint? Re-enter Johnson, a.k.a. “Franchise Viagra.”

The wrestler-turned-actor-turned-box office lucky charm has already saved Fast & Furious once, when his Luke Hobbs character joined the fray in 2011’s Fast Five. In doing so, he not only revived interest in the series, but resurrected his own career from the doldrums of kiddie fare such as Tooth Fairy and Race to Witch Mountain.

With Johnson’s arrival, the Fast & Furious films not only made more money, but they became more and more outrageous, with cars fighting tanks, cars jumping through skyscrapers, and cars outracing a nuclear submarine on a frozen lake. Like Johnson’s Hollywood profile, Hobbs’ presence in the films has expanded with each successive Fast entry, with the character evolving from a hulkish foil into a lawman who loves his family as much as loves cracking skulls.

Along the way, Hobbs made a frenemy in Jason Statham’s rogue secret agent Deckard Shaw, and the pair’s scene-stealing chemistry in Fate added some much-needed levity to counter Diesel’s dour performance. Recognizing this, Universal rightly gave Johnson and Statham room to grow in their own spinoff, one that pits them against Idris Elba’s bulletproof supervillain, Brixton.

The Hobbs & Shaw trailer bills Brixton as “human evolutionary change,” a huge leap forward from the street-level drug dealers and cyber-thieves that have comprised the Fast & Furious rogue’s gallery. An outsized villain needs outsized heroes. Hobbs and Shaw fit the bill, and the trailer thrills by showcasing Elba as a bad guy who can go toe-to-toe with both. 

The concept of “superhero fatigue” can be overblown. Audiences are still drawn to charismatic stars, and Johnson has always had charisma to spare. The spinoff at last gives him the spotlight – where he belongs – and further expands the Fast & Furious universe, which is now free to leave street racing behind and rally around its characters instead of cars.

With Hobbs & Shaw, Fast & Furious can fully evolve into Universal’s superhero franchise, further embracing James Bond-ian levels of action (and absurdity) reminiscent of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. 

Johnson’s name has been bandied about superhero (and supervillain) circles for years. As Hobbs, an original creation, he’s not bound by the restraints of comic book continuity or fan expectations. From the moment he burst through the window of a Rio de Janeiro favela — hot on the heels of Toretto — he’s been the hero Fast & Furious needed.

Now, with Statham’s smart-ass super spy serving as his sidekick (although I wouldn’t tell him that) and Elba’s indestructible baddie in his sights, Johnson is set to steer the franchise into unexplored territory. Suddenly, the idea of Fast & Furious in space doesn’t seem so strange.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw hits theaters August 2.

Need more F&F? Head to our archives to revisit the Now Playing Podcast retrospective!

February 1, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Gives ‘Fast & Furious’ a Fresh New Direction

New Podcast: Hitman

Justin, Arnie, and Stuart use the 42nd installment of the Now Playing Arcade to celebrate being 47… that is, video game Hitman: Codename 47. Die Hard 4 villain Timothy Olyphant hoped to make a killing at the box office when he suited up to play this mysterious baldie with a barcode back in Thanksgiving 2007.  But can his follically-challenged assassin deliver enough carnage and believable romantic chemistry with beautiful Russian target Olga Kurylenko to satisfy audiences not holding a joystick?  Find out when you slip on some headphones and Listen Now.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Hitman

New Podcast: After Earth – For Annual Subscribers

Are you entertained watching ungrateful children sass their parents in public places? Check out After Earth – M. Night Shyamalan’s documentary on the trials and tribulations Will Smith goes through trying to turn son Jaden into a movie star. (Ostensibly, it’s also a sci-fi saga about a father and son marooned on inhospitable future Earth, working together to find enough cell signal to call an Uber.) Is the twist ending that Shyamalan is working for Scientologists?  Find out when you Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level Series.

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: After Earth – For Annual Subscribers

New Podcast: After Earth

Are you entertained watching ungrateful children sass their parents in public places? Check out After Earth – M. Night Shyamalan’s documentary on the trials and tribulations Will Smith goes through trying to turn son Jaden into a movie star. (Ostensibly, it’s also a sci-fi saga about a father and son marooned on inhospitable future Earth, working together to find enough cell signal to call an Uber.) Is the twist ending that Shyamalan is working for Scientologists?  Find out when you Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level Series.

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: After Earth

Bumblebee

The Last Knight left many Transformers fans feeling stung, but Hasbro hopes to reawaken nostalgia for the 1980s toy line with their retro-minded solo film Bumblebee. Can the lovable VW bug connect with a grieving gearhead teenager (Hailee Steinfeld) using only a car radio to speak? And will Sector 7 jarhead John Cena, or Decepticons Shatter (Angela Bassett) and Dropkick (Justin Theroux), undermine the Autobot plot to relocate to Earth? Don’t take this high dive back into dicey waters alone.  Roll out with Jerry, Arnie, and Stuart. Listen Now!

January 1, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Bumblebee

Bumblebee – Early Unedited Release for Patrons

Our review of Bumblebee will be out for everyone on Totally Free Tuesday, January 1. This is an early, (mostly) unedited release for our Gold level patrons of $25 and higher.

If you want to hear this and many other shows early, plus get access to over 20 exclusive bonus shows, join our Patron campaign today!

December 29, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Bumblebee – Early Unedited Release for Patrons

The Last Airbender – Donation Bonus

M. Night Shyamalan’s career continued to deflate as he turned The Last Airbender, a beloved Nickelodeon cartoon series, into the Razzie award-winning Worst Film of 2010.  Are podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob ready to tattoo red arrows on their foreheads and go to war with this sham cinematic genius?  Or can they bend the rules for badly directed karate kids riding a flying bison, and let it all pass as children’s entertainment? Join our Gold Level Tribe and rediscover the lost art of breaking wind. Donate Today!          

December 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Last Airbender – Donation Bonus

Aquaman

DC Comics invites audiences to dive under the sea and get chummy with Aquaman – a character who got a lot of sand kicked in his face back in the days of Superfriends.  Now tough guy Jason Momoa is on the hook to win the bastard Atlantean some cinematic justice. Will he stop half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) from becoming Oceanmaster, and uniting the seven seas against the surface world?  More importantly, can “Fishboy” talk crabby podcasters Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart out of torpedoing his first stand-alone feature? Listen and find out.

December 25, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Aquaman

Aquaman — Early Unedited Release for Patrons

Our review of Aquaman will be out for everyone on Totally Free Tuesday, Chrismas — December 25th. This is an early, (mostly) unedited release for our Gold level patrons and higher.

If you want to hear this and many other shows early, plus get access to over 20 exclusive bonus shows (including next week’s A Nightmare Before Christmas), join our Patron campaign today!

December 22, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Aquaman — Early Unedited Release for Patrons

The Happening – For Annual Subscribers

Everybody out of the swimming pool!  There’s a Lady in the Water who keeps insisting M. Night Shyamalan is the most important and inspirational writer of the 21st Century… even after making this flop fairy tale!  Can schlubby building superintendent Paul Giamatti set sea nymph Bryce Dallas Howard straight, and keep this vanity project from going sideways? Or will Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob be forced to tear apart the Story like a pack of wild Scrunts?  Donate Today and find the hidden messages in this unofficial remake of Splash!  

 

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

December 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Happening – For Annual Subscribers

The Happening – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $25 or more.  This podcast will only be available until March 31, 2019, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

Bad things keep Happening to M Night Shyamalan!  Was his foray into R-rated horror simply a creative way of committing career suicide?  Or was the Sixth Sense creator under the influence of some kind of psychotropic herb (or $6 cough syrup) when he concocted this loony environmental parable?  And should science teacher Mark Wahlberg be running away from the wind or his traitorous, tiramisu-eating wife Zooey Deschanel? Walk it all backwards with Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob when you Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level Shyamalan series!

 

December 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Happening – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Early Unedited Release for Patrons

Our review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will be out for everyone on Totally Free Tuesday, December 18th. This is an early, mostly unedited release for our Gold level patrons and higher.

If you want to hear this and many other shows early, plus get access to over 20 exclusive bonus shows, join our Patron campaign today!

December 15, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Early Unedited Release for Patrons

Lady in the Water – For Annual Subscribers

Everybody out of the swimming pool!  There’s a Lady in the Water who keeps insisting M. Night Shyamalan is the most important and inspirational writer of the 21st Century… even after making this flop fairy tale!  Can schlubby building superintendent Paul Giamatti set sea nymph Bryce Dallas Howard straight, and keep this vanity project from going sideways? Or will Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob be forced to tear apart the Story like a pack of wild Scrunts?  Donate Today and find the hidden messages in this unofficial remake of Splash!  

 

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

December 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Lady in the Water – For Annual Subscribers

Lady in the Water – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $25 or more.  This podcast will only be available until March 31, 2019, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

Everybody out of the swimming pool!  There’s a Lady in the Water who keeps insisting M. Night Shyamalan is the most important and inspirational writer of the 21st Century… even after making this flop fairy tale!  Can schlubby building superintendent Paul Giamatti set sea nymph Bryce Dallas Howard straight, and keep this vanity project from going sideways? Or will Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob be forced to tear apart the Story like a pack of wild Scrunts?  Donate Today and find the hidden messages in this unofficial remake of Splash!  

December 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Lady in the Water – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Lady in the Water – Donation Bonus

Everybody out of the swimming pool!  There’s a Lady in the Water who keeps insisting M. Night Shyamalan is the most important and inspirational writer of the 21st Century… even after making this flop fairy tale!  Can schlubby building superintendent Paul Giamatti set sea nymph Bryce Dallas Howard straight, and keep this vanity project from going sideways? Or will Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob be forced to tear apart the Story like a pack of wild Scrunts?  Donate Today and find the hidden messages in this unofficial remake of Splash!  

December 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Lady in the Water – Donation Bonus

Max Payne

Mark Wahlberg aimed to please fans of the popular shooter Max Payne, but his 2008 movie adaptation missed its target audience and clipped the wings of a potential franchise. Will this vigilante cop have better luck scoring points with Now Playing Arcade hosts Justin, Arnie, and Stuart?  And can they coherently link the man who murdered Max’s family to a wild conspiracy involving hallucinogenic street drugs and C-list celebrities Mila Kunis, Chris O’Donnell, and singer Nelly Furtado? Your best shot at finding answers is to Listen Now!       

December 11, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Max Payne

The Village – For Annual Subscribers

M. Night Shyamalan built a wall between himself and some of his fan base when he set his encore to Signs in a 19th Century Village full of superstition and suppressed passion. Can podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob turn a blind eye to a controversial twist that makes a fool out of Adrien Brody? Or do you have to be Bryce Dallas Howard not to see “the Bad Color” popping up on their arrows, pointing audiences away from these monster-filled woods? Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level series and be led by love through the pitfalls to the painful truth!  

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

December 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Village – For Annual Subscribers

The Village – Donation Bonus

M. Night Shyamalan built a wall between himself and some of his fan base when he set his encore to Signs in a 19th Century Village full of superstition and suppressed passion. Can podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob turn a blind eye to a controversial twist that makes a fool out of Adrien Brody? Or do you have to be Bryce Dallas Howard not to see “the Bad Color” popping up on their arrows, pointing audiences away from these monster-filled woods? Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level series and be led by love through the pitfalls to the painful truth!

December 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Village – Donation Bonus

Creed II

The Rocky series continues to go the distance with its eighth installment: Creed II. But is this really Adonis Creed’s story, or is it Rocky’s, as old nemesis Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) brings his son Viktor to the US for a fight? Will history repeat itself? And can Creed II still pack a punch when Creed writer/director Ryan Coogler is replaced with his buddy Steven Caple Jr? Go for it! Listen to Now Playing’s new movie review to find out!

December 4, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Creed II

Signs – Donation Bonus

Unbreakable showed no Signs of derailing M. Night Shyamalan’s plans to reclaim summer box office glory with another story of spiritual crisis, suspense, and unseen supernatural forces. Was it coincidence or an act of God that brings Mel Gibson to the role of a troubled holy man turning the other cheek to mysterious crop circles in his field? And will Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie need tin foil hats to decipher the motivations of hydrophobic aliens showing up to the farm in time for batting practice? Things all make sense when you Donate for Gold Level!

November 30, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Signs – Donation Bonus

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Wreck-It Ralph not only Breaks The Internet with his second movie, he shatters Thanksgiving box office records. But never fear… it’s Tech Support Tuesday, and hosts Justin, Arnie, and Stuart have the antivirus to all the holiday weekend hype. Will entering a violent racing game help glitchy Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) connect with her inner Disney Princess, and save her Sugar Rush friends? Or will John C Reilly’s 8-bit oaf bring down the franchise with a series of humiliating viral videos? CLICK HERE to get your next Now Playing Arcade fix!

November 27, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Ralph Breaks the Internet

Star Wars Cyber Monday Savings Give Your Wallet Force!

May the Savings be with you on this Cyber Monday where, finally, there are some great bargains to be had on Black Series and Vintage Collection Hasbro Toys, LEGO, and more!

Black Series/The Vintage Collection Hasbro Toys

The best bargain at Amazon today is the Black Series Force FX Z6 Riot Control Baton. This $200 prop replica is 1/3 off today–just $134.39!

Also in the Black Series Roleplay, the Stormtrooper Helmet is 38% off, down to $49.99 from $80 today only!

The Vintage Collection Imperial Combat Assault Tank from Rogue One is now 40% off at Amazon — just $47.99, down from $79.99.  I jumped and got one at that price.

The Black Series Dewback with Sandtrooper is also over 25% off, marked down to $42.97 (not the cheapest it’s been, but a good price on a great toy)

Also in the Black Series, the Kylo Ren Centerpiece set is almost half off, just $28.96 (which is the right price for a non-articulated figure and diorama base)

It’s also a good time to army build your Jawas! The Black Series Jawa figure is down to $12.41.

Also the troop builder Black Series Range Trooper from SOLO is 41% off, just $11.77

And it seems stores can’t give away the Vintage Collection Snoke figure.  You can get one now from Amazon for just $6.96 (down from $13), but it’s an Add-on item only.

Other Hasbro Toys

The Ultimate Co-Pilot Chewie is a great gift for kids (or those who are still kids at heart).  This $130 toy is almost half off today only, $69.92!

In the 5POA line, the ForceLink 2.0 Resistance A-Wing with Pilot Tallie is 42% off, just $17.31.  Likewise the ForceLink 2.0 Millennium Falcon with Escape Craft is 20% off, down to $23.99

And can you ever have enough Rathtars? The 3.75-inch Rathtar with Bala-Tik is 70% off–just $6.07

From Solo in the 5POA line, the Han Solo Landspeeder with figure is 15% off, $25.49 shipped.

In the kids focused Galactic Heroes line, the Galactic Rivals 10-Figure pack, with Grievous, Yoda, Luke, Vader, Sidious, Obi-Wan, and more, is 43% off, $17.14.

In that same line, Amazon’s exclusive Galacitc Heroes Millennium Falcon with Han and Chewie is $25, down from $40.

Amazon also still has the Sphero R2-D2 for just $39.99. Given that it’s sat at that price for about a week I could see a cheaper lightning deal, but that’s still a great price.

LEGO

Amazon has many Star Wars LEGO sets on deep discount today.

It’s the perfect time to get the 2018 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar. it’s 18% off, and you’ll get it in time to start opening on the countdown to Christmas!

The LEGO Imperial Patrol Battle Pack is also 27% off — just $10.99.

The Imperial TIE Fighter set is 20% off, $55.99.

LEGO Brickheadz Boba Fett is 20% off, down to $7.99

The Jedi & Clone Trooper Battle Pack is also 20% off, just $11.99

Also LEGO, Entertainment Earth has the Jakku Quadjumper for 35% off, just $32.49

The LEGO Porg Building Kit is 20% off, down to $55.99

From SOLO, Moloch’s Landspeeder set is 20% off, down to $31.99

Getting to the OT, from Empire Strikes Back comes Yoda’s Hut, marked down 20% to $23.99

GAMING

For gamers, Amazon has several discounts as well:

Star Wars CLUE is almost half off, marked down to $24.95

The Black Series Star Wars Trivial Pursuit is also almost half off, just $20.50

The Star Wars: Rebellion game is over 20% off, just $78.99

The Star Wars: Legion core set is $54.69, down from its usual $90.

The Star Wars: Legion Snow Troopers Expansion is 24% off: $18.99

Star Wars: Edge of Empire – Beyond the Rim is 11% off, down to $21.01

And many more Gaming Bargains can be found on Amazon’s site!

 

Got a deal we didn’t list here? E-mail us at show@swactionnews.com and let us know about it!

Finally, if you’re a Star Wars Action News listener, you may want to know about the Cyber Monday deal our sister podcast Now Playing Podcast is having right now — for just the next 18 hours!

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | Comments Off on Star Wars Cyber Monday Savings Give Your Wallet Force!

Ralph Breaks the Internet – Early Release Rough Edit for Patrons

For Thanksgiving Arnie, Justin, and Stuart watched and reviewed the second Wreck-It Ralph movie.  Did they wreck this blockbuster sequel? 

The fully edited show will be on our main feed Tuesday, for everyone, for free! But Now Playing Patrons who are at the $25 level or higher for early show releases can hear the (mostly) unedited, show now! 

 

Get the unedited recording now at NowPlayingPATRON.com 

November 24, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Ralph Breaks the Internet – Early Release Rough Edit for Patrons

Unbreakable – Donation Bonus

The bond between writer/director M. Night Shyamalan and superstar Bruce Willis was Unbreakable in 2000, as the Dynamic Duo quickly reunited for another tale of secret supernatural powers. Yet their brooding comic book movie didn’t come close to shattering Sixth Sense box office records, and a sequel sat in movie jail for nearly twenty years.  Before Sam “Mr. Glass” Jackson unleashes his next diabolical plot this January, join Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie for issue number two in our Gold Level M. Night Series. Donate Today!    

November 23, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Unbreakable – Donation Bonus

Wreck-It Ralph

Good video games typically “go Turbo” and become crummy movies, but Walt Disney animators try to “Fix-It” with Wreck-It Ralph – a love letter to classic coin-ops. Can an 8-bit villain voiced by John C. Reilly step into a first person shooter and rebrand himself a hero? And do Arnie, Justin, and Stuart get a sugar rush seeing so much pixelated nostalgia from their childhood, like Q*bert and Sonic the Hedgehog? Or will they inevitably find something to glitch about? Save your quarters, because the answers are free when you press play and Listen Now!

November 20, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Wreck-It Ralph

Apocalypse Now – For Annual Subscribers

Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie have a mission for all listeners this November: become a Now Playing Patron and enjoy an epic review of 1979 ‘Nam classic Apocalypse Now. Martin Sheen put his life on the line to play a shell-shocked soldier traveling a war-torn river on the hunt for rogue colonel Marlon Brando. Is this boat trip into the heart of darkness worth the risks creator Francis Ford Coppola took with his sanity and Godfather profits? And does napalm smell even sweeter in the extended 2003 Redux Cut? The dossier is declassified when you Enlist Today!

November 19, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Apocalypse Now – For Annual Subscribers

Apocalypse Now – Patron Exclusive Review

Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie have a mission for all listeners this November: become a Now Playing Patron and enjoy an epic review of 1979 ‘Nam classic Apocalypse Now. Martin Sheen put his life on the line to play a shell-shocked soldier traveling a war-torn river on the hunt for rogue colonel Marlon Brando. Is this boat trip into the heart of darkness worth the risks creator Francis Ford Coppola took with his sanity and Godfather profits? And does napalm smell even sweeter in the extended 2003 Redux Cut? The dossier is declassified when you Enlist Today!

November 19, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Apocalypse Now – Patron Exclusive Review

A Message from Stuart about our Sixth Sense Movie Review

This week Now Playing starts its M Night Shyamalan Thrillers Retrospective series of podcast movie reviews. M Night is a director Stuart has long wanted to cover on Now Playing and now, with the upcoming release of Glass, the third part in Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 Trilogy, he’s getting the chance.

Here Stuart has a message for all listeners of Now Playing, as well as a preview of our review of THE SIXTH SENSE.

Listen to his message, then sign up today to hear all 11 M Night movie reviews!

November 17, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on A Message from Stuart about our Sixth Sense Movie Review

Silent Hill: Revelation

It’s homecoming weekend in Silent Hill, as teenage runaway Sharon reunites with her darkside doppelganger Alessa for a 2012 sequel in 3-D!  Will the Revelation that cultists have kidnapped adoptive father Sean Bean provide a good reason for moviegoers to head back into the fog and solve new puzzles? And is Game of Thrones hunk Kit Harington much help in the fight against Pyramid Head, a lunatic Malcolm McDowell, and a staff of faceless demon nurses?  Find out when you take another merry-go-round ride on the Now Playing Arcade!

November 13, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Silent Hill: Revelation

Silent Hill: Revelation – Early Release for Patrons

This podcast was released early for Now Playing Patrons of $25 or more.  It will be made publicly available on our usual “new podcast” day, Tuesday, November 13.

It’s homecoming weekend in Silent Hill, as teenage runaway Sharon reunites with her darkside doppelganger Alessa for a 2012 sequel in 3-D!  Will the Revelation that cultists have kidnapped adoptive father Sean Bean provide a good reason for moviegoers to head back into the fog and solve new puzzles? And is Game of Thrones hunk Kit Harington much help in the fight against Pyramid Head, a lunatic Malcolm McDowell, and a staff of faceless demon nurses?  Find out when you take another merry-go-round ride on the Now Playing Arcade!

November 12, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Silent Hill: Revelation – Early Release for Patrons

Suspiria (2018) – For Annual Subscribers

40 years after Dario Argento burned down Tanz Academy, the school for dancing and occult sciences is open again in divided Berlin for an epic 2018 remake of Suspiria! Can 50 Shades star Dakota Johnson keep pace with all the new steps that Oscar nominee Luca Guadagnino has added to this horror exercise? And is witchcraft, delusion, or too much spinning the reason we keep seeing Tilda Swinton in triplicate? Catch your breath when you Donate to hear Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob dig their hooks into this dense and dizzying Silver Level finale.    

 

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

November 9, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Suspiria (2018) – For Annual Subscribers

Suspiria (2018) – A Podcast Preview

40 years after Dario Argento burned down Tanz Academy, the school for dancing and occult sciences is open again in divided Berlin for an epic 2018 remake of Suspiria! Can 50 Shades star Dakota Johnson keep pace with all the new steps that Oscar nominee Luca Guadagnino has added to this horror exercise? And is witchcraft, delusion, or too much spinning the reason we keep seeing Tilda Swinton in triplicate? Catch your breath when you Donate to hear Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob dig their hooks into this dense and dizzying Silver Level finale.    

November 9, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Suspiria (2018) – A Podcast Preview

Silent Hill

The Now Playing Arcade finally has a reason to put down the flamethrower!  Hosts Arnie, Stuart, and Justin stumble through the falling ash of Uwe Boll films to arrive at Silent Hill – the rare video game movie to earn box office success. Will stranded mother Radha Mitchell find any Green Arrows while searching the West Virginian ghost town for her missing adoptive daughter Sharon?  And is that a pyramid, or a dunce cap, atop the head of the sword-wielding monster that follows close behind her? Quiet your questioning mind with another podcast review!

November 6, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Silent Hill

Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers) – A Podcast Preview

Before she battled David Bowie in the Labyrinth, Jennifer Connelly fought off a deformed serial killer at her Swiss boarding school in Dario Argento’s demented fantasy Phenomena.  Better known as Creepers in the States, the movie finds the teenage beauty using paranormal powers to befriend flies, lightning bugs, and swarms of flesh-eating insects (not to mention crippled entomologist Donald Pleasance and a razor-wielding monkey). Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series and help convince Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart they didn’t just dream the whole thing up while sleepwalking.  

November 2, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers) – A Podcast Preview

Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers)

Before she battled David Bowie in the Labyrinth, Jennifer Connelly fought off a deformed serial killer at her Swiss boarding school in Dario Argento’s demented fantasy Phenomena. Better known as Creepers in the States, the movie finds the teenage beauty using paranormal powers to befriend flies, lightning bugs, and swarms of flesh-eating insects (not to mention crippled entomologist Donald Pleasance and a razor-wielding monkey). Donate for Silver Level and help convince Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart they didn’t just dream the whole thing up while sleepwalking.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers)

Hereditary

Because we consider you family, Now Playing is releasing a bonus podcast review of Hereditary for your Halloween enjoyment.  Will Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob lose their heads over what’s become the most hyped horror flick of 2018?  Or is the sight of Toni Collette’s model household going insane more likely to induce headaches than heart palpitations?  You don’t need to worship King Paimon to acquire these answers. This show is free for everyone, and available now, as our way of saying Happy, Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Hereditary

Children of the Corn: Runaway

Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie tried to Runaway from their Stephen King duties in 2018, but the tenth installment of Children of the Corn has found its way onto the Now Playing calendar in time for Halloween!  Join these podcasters as they catch up with Ruth – a fugitive of the Gatlin corn cult who is forced to fight He Who Walks Behind The Rows for custody of her teenage son. Will Feast director John Gulager find a kernel of a good idea in a franchise that’s yielded a steady crop of Red Arrows?  The only way to know if the hosts survive this harvest is to Listen Now!

 

 
Watch our exclusive interviews with Courtney Gains John Franklin at the Now Playing YouTube Channel

October 30, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Children of the Corn: Runaway

Terror Train – A Podcast Preview

All aboard Terror Train – the final stop on Jamie Lee Curtis’ world tour as Scream Queen of 1980.  The horror icon now finds herself stalked on a steam-powered locomotive by a fraternity pledge in a Groucho Marx mask. Donate at the Platinum Level and watch magician David Copperfield’s acting career disappear before you eyes!  Marvel at the Dr. Loomis impersonation given by Oscar-winning train conductor Ben Johnson! And enjoy this VIP ticket with Now Playing podcasters Brock, Arnie, and Stuart on their last ride together for 2018! All aboard Terror Train – the final stop on Jamie Lee Curtis’ world tour as Scream Queen of 1980.  The horror icon now finds herself stalked on a steam-powered locomotive by a fraternity pledge in a Groucho Marx mask. Donate at the Platinum Level and watch magician David Copperfield’s acting career disappear before you eyes!  Marvel at the Dr. Loomis impersonation given by Oscar-winning train conductor Ben Johnson! And enjoy this VIP ticket with Now Playing podcasters Brock, Arnie, and Stuart on their last ride together for 2018!

October 26, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Terror Train – A Podcast Preview

Halloween (2018)

Return to Haddonfield with Brock, Arnie, and Stuart as they celebrate the 40th anniversary of Halloween with a podcast review of the blockbuster 2018 requel (rebooted sequel)! Former babysitter Laurie Strode is the one stalking Michael Myers this time, as the captured killer is transferred to a new sanitarium. Can Jamie Lee Curtis’s pistol-packin’ grandma hit the bull’s eye without original director John Carpenter? And will her therapist daughter Karen (Judy Greer), or rebellious grandkid Allyson (Andi Madichak), inherit her Scream Queen title?  Listen Now and find out!

October 23, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Halloween (2018)

Halloween (2018) – Early Release (Unedited and Extended) for Patrons

The New Halloween film broke records for its box office, and Stuart, Arnie, and Brock broke a record for one of our longest recordings — nearly 2.5 hours discussing this sequel/Reboot.  

 

The edited, much shorter, show will be on our main feed Tuesday for everyone for free! But Now Playing Patrons who are at the level for early show releases can hear the (mostly) unedited, full 2.5 hour show now! 

 

Get the unedited recording now at NowPlayingPATRON.com 

October 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Halloween (2018) – Early Release (Unedited and Extended) for Patrons

Prom Night (1980) – A Podcast Preview

 

Fans crowned Jamie Lee Curtis a Scream Queen on Halloween, but the actress didn’t receive her tiara until she walked the catwalk on Prom Night.  Is the actress playing another innocent  high school student under attack? Or could Curtis be the one under that glittery ski mask, slicing up the bullies responsible for her sister’s fatal hide-and-seek accident?  Most important of all, does this flick deserve to rank with Friday the 13th as one of the biggest holiday-themed slashers of 1980?  Cast your vote with Brock, Arnie, and Stuart when you Donate Today!   

October 19, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Prom Night (1980) – A Podcast Preview

Postal

Notorious filmmaker Uwe Boll has gone Postal – firing back at his many critics with a raunchy adaptation of one of the most offensive video games ever made. Can one unlucky Dude with a shotgun (Zack Ward) stop a Taliban plot to spread bird flu, and earn the respect of his trailer park? Or will he simply kill his cheating wife, cult leader uncle (David Foley), a corrupt cop, that rude lady at the welfare office, and Uwe Boll himself playing the owner of a Nazi-themed amusement park? Find out if Now Playing can make peace with it all when you listen now!

October 16, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Postal

The Fog (1980) – A Podcast Preview

Jamie Lee Curtis kicked off 1980 by re-teaming with Halloween director John Carpenter for a tangle with zombie lepers in The Fog.  Does accepting rides from crusty Tom Atkins successfully change the actress’ image from virginal babysitter to promiscuous hitchhiker?  Or will our Scream Queen be upstaged by Carpenter’s busty wife Adrienne Barbeau, making her big screen debut as a radio DJ giving weather reports atop a lighthouse?  Brock, Stuart, and Arnie will clear the air on this horror classic when you Donate at the Platinum Level.

October 12, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Fog (1980) – A Podcast Preview

Venom

WE are Now Playing, and this week WE are watching Venom – the gooey space alien who tries to survive a new movie without Spider-Man as his host.  WE will see if reporter Tom Hardy and his black-and-white parasite can bring down unethical tech guru Riz Ahmed, repair a broken relationship with lawyer/fiancee Michelle Williams, and stop a second symbiote named Riot from eating the heads of everyone in San Francisco. (But WE will be the ones spitting venom if this character hasn’t received an upgrade from his Spider-Man 3 debut). WE will Listen Now!

October 9, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Venom

Venom – Unedited Recording Early Release for Patrons

Now Playing’s review of Venom will be on our main feed Tuesday, June 19, 2018 — for free, for everyone, forever. But patrons of $25 or more can enjoy this early unedited release.

Being a (mostly) unedited podcast.  It has no opening or closing credits and will contain background noises, misspeaks, and other errors. Also a couple corrections or “inserts” may be in the final version and not in this release.

But we are releasing this for our Patrons of $25 or more who want the fastest access to the show! 

October 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Venom – Unedited Recording Early Release for Patrons

The Witch – A Patron Podcast Preview

Now Playing Patrons have damned podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob to make sense of The Witch, the spooky 2016 indie that divides genre fans over the label “elevated horror”.  Is black magic at work when baby Samuel goes missing, and a 17th Century family of Salem exiles start blaming each other for their sudden streak of misfortune?  Or should Split star Anya Taylor-Joy fear her parents’ extreme religious teachings more than demonic goat Black Phillip?  Thoust will find out – and live deliciously – when you Become a Now Playing Patron this October.  But before you sign that book, here’s a preview of the full show!

October 5, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Witch – A Patron Podcast Preview

The Witch – For Annual Subscribers

Now Playing Patrons have damned podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob to make sense of The Witch, the spooky 2016 indie that divides genre fans over the label “elevated horror”.  Is black magic at work when baby Samuel goes missing, and a 17th Century family of Salem exiles start blaming each other for their sudden streak of misfortune?  Or should Split star Anya Taylor-Joy fear her parents’ extreme religious teachings more than demonic goat Black Phillip?  Thoust will find out – and live deliciously – when you Become a Now Playing Patron this October.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Witch – For Annual Subscribers

The Witch – Patron Exclusive Review

Now Playing Patrons have damned podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob to make sense of The Witch, the spooky 2016 indie that divides genre fans over the label “elevated horror”.  Is black magic at work when baby Samuel goes missing, and a 17th Century family of Salem exiles start blaming each other for their sudden streak of misfortune?  Or should Split star Anya Taylor-Joy fear her parents’ extreme religious teachings more than demonic goat Black Phillip?  Thoust will find out – and live deliciously – when you Become a Now Playing Patron this October.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Witch – Patron Exclusive Review

House of the Dead II

Uwe Boll’s reviled adaptation of Sega’s House of the Dead video game won’t stay dead, lumbering back to life with a SyFy Channel sequel. AMS agents Nightingale (Saw 2 babe Emmanuelle Vaugier) and Ellis (Ed Quinn) lead a team of soldiers into a college campus overrun with “hyper-sapiens”.  Can they retrieve a blood sample from Patient Zero, and cure the zombie outbreak, before Dick Cheney decides to drop the bomb?  And do Justin, Arnie, and Stuart see the franchise evolving now that it’s in new directorial hands? Listen and find out!

October 2, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on House of the Dead II

Mother of Tears – For Annual Subscribers

30 years after Suspiria put Italian splatter movies on the map, Dario Argento completes the Three Mothers trilogy with an apocalyptic 2007 finale.  Museum curators unseal an ancient urn, and unwittingly unleash a kinky witch named Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) onto the streets of Rome.  But if she’s the Mother of Tears, why can’t podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob stop laughing?  Find out if novice spellcaster Asia Argento stems the wave of crazy violence her father puts up on screen when you Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series!  

 

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

September 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mother of Tears – For Annual Subscribers

Mother of Tears – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $10 or more.  This podcast will only be available until March 31, 2019, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

 

30 years after Suspiria put Italian splatter movies on the map, Dario Argento completes the Three Mothers trilogy with an apocalyptic 2007 finale.  Museum curators unseal an ancient urn, and unwittingly unleash a kinky witch named Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) onto the streets of Rome.  But if she’s the Mother of Tears, why can’t podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob stop laughing?  Find out if novice spellcaster Asia Argento stems the wave of crazy violence her father puts up on screen when you Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series!  

September 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mother of Tears – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Mother of Tears – A Podcast Preview

30 years after Suspiria put Italian splatter movies on the map, Dario Argento completes the Three Mothers trilogy with an apocalyptic 2007 finale.  Museum curators unseal an ancient urn, and unwittingly unleash a kinky witch named Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) onto the streets of Rome.  But if she’s the Mother of Tears, why can’t podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob stop laughing?  Find out if novice spellcaster Asia Argento stems the wave of crazy violence her father puts up on screen when you Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series!  

September 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mother of Tears – A Podcast Preview

Mother of Tears

30 years after Suspiria put Italian splatter movies on the map, Dario Argento completes the Three Mothers trilogy with an apocalyptic 2007 finale.  Museum curators unseal an ancient urn, and unwittingly unleash a kinky witch named Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) onto the streets of Rome.  But if she’s the Mother of Tears, why can’t podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob stop laughing?  Find out if novice spellcaster Asia Argento stems the wave of crazy violence her father puts up on screen when you Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series!  

September 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mother of Tears

Inferno – A Podcast Preview

The second chapter in Dario Argento’s wicked witch trilogy finds Suspiriorum’s younger sister Mother Tenebrarum (Veronica Lazar) working her black magic in the flooded basement of a New York highrise.  Can music student Mark Elliot (Leigh McCloskey) stop his sibling Rose (Irene Miracle) from falling under the spell of this Mother of Darkness? And is the neighbor attempting to exterminate the building’s feral cats actually creating a bigger flesh-eating rat problem?  Find out if the sequel is a towering Inferno or a reeking dumpster fire. Donate Now!    

September 26, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Inferno – A Podcast Preview

House of the Dead

The 1996 shooter House of the Dead invited gamers to pick up light guns and mow down scores of charging zombies.  But the 2003 movie adaptation has podcasters Justin, Arnie, and Stuart taking aim once again at immortal writer/director Uwe Boll.  Should bad movie lovers take that boat ride with Clint Howard, and attend a Sega-sponsored rave on Seattle’s Island of the Dead? Or will the hangover live forever in viewers’ minds?  You’ll find out if the Now Playing Arcade escapes this overturned porta-potty when you listen now!

September 25, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on House of the Dead

Inferno

The second chapter in Dario Argento’s wicked witch trilogy finds Suspiriorum’s younger sister Mother Tenebrarum (Veronica Lazar) working her black magic in the flooded basement of a New York highrise.  Can music student Mark Elliot (Leigh McCloskey) stop his sibling Rose (Irene Miracle) from falling under the spell of this Mother of Darkness? And is the neighbor attempting to exterminate the building’s feral cats actually creating a bigger flesh-eating rat problem?  Find out if the sequel is a towering Inferno or a reeking dumpster fire. Donate Now!

September 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Inferno

The Predator

30 years after his foul-mouthed mercenary Hawkins was slaughtered in a South American jungle, actor Shane Black returns to write and direct the fourth installment in The Predator franchise. Will audiences be missing Arnold when sniper Boyd Holbrook (Narcos), his autistic son Jacob Tremblay (Wonder), and a busload of looney war vets tangle with the space hunter?  And can centerfold-ready scientist Olivia Munn help Sterling K. Brown determine if these new predators got milk, or some other juice, enlarging their bones? “Stick around” and find out!          

September 18, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Predator

Suspiria (1976) – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $10 or more.  This podcast will only be available until March 31, 2019, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

 

Before producing Dawn of the Dead and Demons, Italian horror master Dario Argento shocked the world with Suspiria – the first installment in a feverish trilogy of witch films known as The Three Mothers. Is American ballerina Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) cracking under the high demands of a prestigious German dance academy?  Or are her grueling new instructors really part of a black magic coven? Become a Silver Level Donor this fall and hear the sighs of delight and frustration as hosts Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie review this beguiling, gory fairy tale.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Suspiria (1976) – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Suspiria (1976) – A Podcast Preview

Before producing Dawn of the Dead and Demons, Italian horror master Dario Argento shocked the world with Suspiria – the first installment in a feverish trilogy of witch films known as The Three Mothers. Is American ballerina Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) cracking under the high demands of a prestigious German dance academy?  Or are her grueling new instructors really part of a black magic coven? Become a Silver Level Donor this fall and hear the sighs of delight and frustration as hosts Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie review this beguiling, gory fairy tale.

This podcast is not available for general download.

Now Playing is a podcast with no sponsors or advertisements. We rely solely on listener support to keep going. Our Fall 2018 Donation Drive is underway and from now through March 31, 2019, the The Three Mothers Retrospective series is available as a “thank you” to those who support Now Playing.

You can listen to this preview of the show for free now using the link above.

The full podcast series is available through a Paypal donation to Now Playing, or individual episodes are available on our Podbean page. Details can be found on our Fall 2018 Donation page.

You can get this review now and help support Now Playing! It is available on our Podbean page.

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You can also get this episode and every donation show we’ve done– plus a 12 month subscription for all new shows! Details can be found on our Podbean Subscription page.

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Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

 

September 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Suspiria (1976) – A Podcast Preview

The Nun

Are podcasters Arnie, Marjorie, and Stuart ready to put their faith in The Nun after spitting on most of The Conjuring universe?  The latest installment in the franchise traces the origins of demon-in-a-wimple Valak to a war-torn monastery in Romania.  Can a free-spirited novitiate (Vera’s little sis Taissa Farmiga), and a guilt-ridden exorcist (Oscar nominee Demian Bichir), find the strength… and that misplaced vial of Christ blood… to combat this unholy sister act?  Our vow of silence ends when you click play. Listen Now!

September 11, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Nun

Vanilla Sky – Patron Exclusive Review

Open your eyes and take another look at Vanilla Sky, the much-maligned puzzle movie that Tom Cruise and director Cameron Crowe made as an encore to Jerry Maguire.  Audiences in 2001 thought the toothy mega-star would always play handsome, infallible heroes, and recoiled when the fantastical melodrama remade Cruise into a disfigured murderer. Will podcasters Jakob, Arnie, and Stuart see new virtues as they pull the intricate story out of deep freeze, or are they just de-thawing a 17-year-old dog?  Find out when you become a Now Playing Patron!

September 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Vanilla Sky – Patron Exclusive Review

D.O.A. – Dead Or Alive

D.O.A. brought a healthy dose of T&A to fighting games in 1996, and the same holds true for the campy 2006 movie adaptation.  Everything jiggles when a trashy American wrestler (Jamie Presley), shinobi ninja princess (Devon Aoki), and slinky British cat burglar (Holly Valance) compete in the lucrative Dead Or Alive competition. Will the vixens put aside their differences and unite against Eric Roberts as he uses nanotechnology to extract and sell off their combat skills? Hear the Now Playing Arcade hosts receive another ass whuppin’ when you Listen Now!  

September 4, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on D.O.A. – Dead Or Alive

Righteous Kill – A Podcast Preview

The prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shoot up the screen together still generated enough box office heat in 2008 to earn them a Righteous Kill. Now the iconic duo  work side-by-side as police detectives on the trail of a demented poet who targets the crooks they weren’t able to put behind bars. Could a movie with this much acting talent be without virtue?  Donate Today to hear Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie perform the autopsy on this final installment of the Platinum Level Pacino Series.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Righteous Kill – A Podcast Preview

Righteous Kill – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $50 or more.  This podcast will only be available until August 31, 2018, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

 

The prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shoot up the screen together still generated enough box office heat in 2008 to earn them a Righteous Kill. Now the iconic duo  work side-by-side as police detectives on the trail of a demented poet who targets the crooks they weren’t able to put behind bars. Could a movie with this much acting talent be without virtue?  Donate Today to hear Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie perform the autopsy on this final installment of the Platinum Level Pacino Series.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Righteous Kill – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Righteous Kill – For Annual Subscribers

The prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shoot up the screen together still generated enough box office heat in 2008 to earn them a Righteous Kill. Now the iconic duo  work side-by-side as police detectives on the trail of a demented poet who targets the crooks they weren’t able to put behind bars. Could a movie with this much acting talent be without virtue?  Donate Today to hear Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie perform the autopsy on this final installment of the Platinum Level Pacino Series.

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

August 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Righteous Kill – For Annual Subscribers

Righteous Kill

The prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shoot up the screen together still generated enough box office heat in 2008 to earn them a Righteous Kill. Now the iconic duo  work side-by-side as police detectives on the trail of a demented poet who targets the crooks they weren’t able to put behind bars. Could a movie with this much acting talent be without virtue?  Donate Today to hear Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie perform the autopsy on this final installment of the Platinum Level Pacino Series.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Righteous Kill

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Before it became one of the most beloved movies of all time, The Godfather was a blockbuster novel with characters and plot points that never made it to the screen.  Join long lost podcaster Stuart as he comes home to his Books & Nachos family and parses out all the changes made to Mario Puzo’s classic.

August 30, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge (Movie Review)

Because the first Tekken movie didn’t prove fatal, podcasters Arnie, Justin, and Stuart must now survive Kazuya’s Revenge!  But could the emotionless amnesiac drifting through this low budget prequel be the same Kazuya who so rashly seized control of the Iron Fist Tournament last time?  And what good could possibly come from partnering with future champ Bryan Fury (Gary Daniels) to take down the assassin school that trained them?  Things are gonna get messy, even with a crazed janitor mopping up the arena. Assume a defensive position and Listen Now! 

August 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge (Movie Review)

Donnie Brasco

Johnny Depp stars as a real life FBI agent who spent six years infiltrating the New York mafia as Donnie Brasco.  Will a close friendship with veteran gangster “Lucky” Ruggiero, played by veteran actor Al Pacino, convince the fresh-faced lawman to fuhgetabout his wife, daughters, and Uncle Sam and switch allegiances to The Family?  Or will suspicious new capo Michael Madsen find out Depp is really a fugazi and whack that mole? You’ll find out, and be a “friend of ours,” when you donate for this final installment of Now Playing’s 2018 Gold Level series.  

August 24, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Donnie Brasco

Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach

Ben’s three-year-old brother Eric disappeared five years ago, but Ben continues to search. When Ben takes a job at the store where Eric vanished things are not all that they seem. Join Brock for his spoiler-free review of Bad Man to see if this is the perfect thriller to cap off your summer reading list!

August 23, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach

Tekken (2009) Movie Review

Arnie, Justin, and Stuart climb into yet another arcade arena for a round with Tekken – the classic 1996 fighting game that inspired a not-so-classic 2010 science fiction flick. Can lowly thief Jin Kazama (John Foo) hold his own in a “kill or be killed” cage match with eight corporately-sponsored gladiators? Or will he take the fight to the evil organizers of the Iron Fist Tournament, and expose reigning champ Bryan Fury (Gary Daniels) to be a cyborg? Find out if the most damaging blows to the head are delivered to the audience when you Listen Now!

August 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Tekken (2009) Movie Review

Heat – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $50 or more.  This podcast will only be available until August 31, 2018, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro both appeared in Godfather Part 2, but they never had a scene together until they faced off in Heat.  Michael Mann’s 1995 heist epic finds the iconic Italian actors giving it all they’ve got – Al is an LAPD detective better at catching bad guys than holding on to good women, while Bobby is a thief who prides himself on being able to walk away from everything he steals.  Find out who scores with podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob when you Donate for Now Playing’s Platinum Pacino Series!

August 17, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Heat – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Heat – A Podcast Preview

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro both appeared in Godfather Part 2, but they never had a scene together until they faced off in Heat.  Michael Mann’s 1995 heist epic finds the iconic Italian actors giving it all they’ve got – Al is an LAPD detective better at catching bad guys than holding on to good women, while Bobby is a thief who prides himself on being able to walk away from everything he steals.  Find out who scores with podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob when you Donate for Now Playing’s Platinum Pacino Series!

August 17, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Heat – A Podcast Preview

Heat – Donation Bonus

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro both appeared in Godfather Part 2, but they never had a scene together until they faced off in Heat.  Michael Mann’s 1995 heist epic finds the iconic Italian actors giving it all they’ve got – Al is an LAPD detective better at catching bad guys than holding on to good women, while Bobby is a thief who prides himself on being able to walk away from everything he steals.  Find out who scores with podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob when you Donate for Now Playing’s Platinum Pacino Series!

August 17, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Heat – Donation Bonus

Warcraft

The 1994 strategy video game Warcraft expanded into the worlds of novels, trading cards, and online multiplayer spin-offs before finally reaching movie screens in 2016. The long awaited battle between orcs, elves, and humans was a massive hit with international audiences, but bombed big time in the States.  Will Yank podcasters Arnie, Justin, and Stuart have more success than their fellow countrymen making sense of the cross-dimensional storyline? Grow some tusks and join them as they bite into this Tolkien-sized fantasy.

August 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Warcraft

New Jack City – Patron Exclusive Review

Now Playing is looking for some New Jack patrons to join them for a New Jack gangster flick.  Let Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart sex you up this August with an exclusive podcast dedicated to the 1991 hood classic New Jack City!  Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) thinks “the world is mine” now that Al Pacino’s Scarface is dead, and he controls New York’s crack cocaine empire. Find out if the bad guy also steals the spotlight away from director/star Mario Van Peebles, rapper Ice-T, Breakfast Club bad boy Judd Nelson, and comedic junkie Chris Rock when you become a patron today.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on New Jack City – Patron Exclusive Review

Carlito’s Way – A Podcast Preview

Al Pacino and director Brian De Palma reunited 10 years after Scarface for another movie about a legendary Latino gangster.  But penitent Puerto Rican Carlito Brigante goes a different direction than bloodthirsty Cuban Tony Montana – refusing to deal drugs once he’s sprung from jail on a technicality.  Will corrupt lawyer Sean Penn obstruct Carlito’s Way out of a life of crime by involving him in a risky prison break?  And do podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob still want to party with Pacino without the cocaine?  Find out when you donate at the Gold Level or higher!

August 11, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Carlito’s Way – A Podcast Preview

Volume 2, Episode 1: Hasbro and San Diego — Video Podcast

Marvelicious Toys is Back–and LIVE!

Welcome to the All-New, not All-Different Marvelicious Toys collecting show! There’s new music, there’s video content, and it is broadcast LIVE.  But it’s still Justin, Arnie, and Marjorie bringing you the news and reviews of Marvel toys, statues, and more. So join them on this first episode as they reflect on Hasbro’s big news from San Diego Comic-Con.

Then join them LIVE August 23, 2018 at 9pm ET/6pm PT for Episode 2 LIVE!

August 11, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Volume 2, Episode 1: Hasbro and San Diego — Video Podcast

Carlito’s Way – For Annual Subscribers

Al Pacino and director Brian De Palma reunited 10 years after Scarface for another movie about a legendary Latino gangster.  But penitent Puerto Rican Carlito Brigante goes a different direction than bloodthirsty Cuban Tony Montana – refusing to deal drugs once he’s sprung from jail on a technicality.  Will corrupt lawyer Sean Penn obstruct Carlito’s Way out of a life of crime by involving him in a risky prison break?  And do podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob still want to party with Pacino without the cocaine?  Find out when you donate at the Gold Level or higher!

August 10, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Carlito’s Way – For Annual Subscribers

Carlito’s Way – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $50 or more.  This podcast will only be available until August 31, 2018, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

 

Al Pacino and director Brian De Palma reunited 10 years after Scarface for another movie about a legendary Latino gangster.  But penitent Puerto Rican Carlito Brigante goes a different direction than bloodthirsty Cuban Tony Montana – refusing to deal drugs once he’s sprung from jail on a technicality.  Will corrupt lawyer Sean Penn obstruct Carlito’s Way out of a life of crime by involving him in a risky prison break?  And do podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob still want to party with Pacino without the cocaine?  Find out when you donate at the Gold Level or higher!

August 10, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Carlito’s Way – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Carlito’s Way – Donation Bonus

Al Pacino and director Brian De Palma reunited 10 years after Scarface for another movie about a legendary Latino gangster.  But penitent Puerto Rican Carlito Brigante goes a different direction than bloodthirsty Cuban Tony Montana – refusing to deal drugs once he’s sprung from jail on a technicality.  Will corrupt lawyer Sean Penn obstruct Carlito’s Way out of a life of crime by involving him in a risky prison break?  And do podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob still want to party with Pacino without the cocaine?  Find out when you donate at the Gold Level or higher!

August 10, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Carlito’s Way – Donation Bonus

Teen Titans GO! To the Movies

Robin is tired of being Batman’s sidekick, so he and the other Teen Titans are taking their hit Cartoon Network show To The Movies.  Trouble is, Hollywood still doesn’t consider the Boy Wonder, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, or Beast Boy to be big screen stars.  Does picking a fight with Slade, a “Deadpool rip-off” voiced by Will Arnett, help their box office? And will listeners catch Jakob, Arnie, and Stuart singing along with these goofsters as they crack an egg on the DC Universe?  The answers aren’t on the usual Bat Channel. Go! to Now Playing to find out!

August 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Teen Titans GO! To the Movies

Dick Tracy – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $50 or more.  This podcast will only be available until August 31, 2018, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

Al Pacino earned his sixth Oscar nomination playing Big Boy Caprice, the manic mobster who comes down hard on comic strip cop Dick Tracy.  Warren Beatty’s big-budget 1990 summer movie was considered a disappointment when its box office didn’t match Tim Burton’s Batman.  But will podcasters Jakob, Arnie, and Stuart find it to be the better film?  And does Madonna deserve a spanking for her performance as gangster’s moll Breathless Mahoney?  Extra Extra! Hear all about it when you donate for the Now Playing Gold Level Al Pacino series.

August 3, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Dick Tracy – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Dick Tracy

Al Pacino earned his sixth Oscar nomination playing Big Boy Caprice, the manic mobster who comes down hard on comic strip cop Dick Tracy.  Warren Beatty’s big-budget 1990 summer movie was considered a disappointment when its box office didn’t match Tim Burton’s Batman.  But will podcasters Jakob, Arnie, and Stuart find it to be the better film?  And does Madonna deserve a spanking for her performance as gangster’s moll Breathless Mahoney?  Extra Extra! Hear all about it when you donate for the Now Playing Gold Level Al Pacino series!

August 3, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Dick Tracy

Mission: Impossible — Fallout (Podcast Review)

Tom Cruise recovers from the Fallout of recent flops, and a shattered ankle, by leaping back to the top of the box office with his tried and true Mission: Impossible franchise.  The daredevil actor saves the world for the sixth time by once again teaming with techie Benji (Simon Pegg), hacker Luther (Ving Rhames), and markswoman Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) to stop plutonium-wielding terrorists. Listen now to find out if a tagalong CIA superman (Henry Cavill) and captive criminal mastermind (Sean Harris) compromise their mission to entertain.

July 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mission: Impossible — Fallout (Podcast Review)