The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, get a bit retro with this week’s spirited review of Bumblebee (2018). Set in the late 1980s, the film stars Hailee Steinfeld as the original teenage “owner” of the fan-favorite, speech impaired Transformer. Directed by Travis Knight from a script by Christina Hodson, this latest entry in the critically maligned franchise co-stars John Cena and features the voice talents of Peter Cullen, Dylan O’Brien, Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux. The big question this time around isn’t really about the storyline or characters...it’s whether or not audiences even want to spend money on a franchise that’s been the source of so much disappointment for a decade or more.
Listen in as we slice, dice, dissect and recombine our thoughts about the spinoff film, which is produced by Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay. Has it transformed us into true believers once more, or merely reminded us of the deceptions of the past?
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, get their “thwip” on in this week’s review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). The film features a generous assortment of Spider-Men, -Women and others from across the multiverse with a focus on solidifying the in-continuity origin story of Miles Morales as he takes up the heroic mantle from the Peter Parker of his reality. The unique animation style has been the subject of significant praise since before the film’s release. Now, will the film’s story prove to be as memorable as its form?
Featuring the voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, and Liev Schreiber, the film is directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, get their steampunk on with this week’s review of Mortal Engines (2018). Directed by Christian Rivers, this cacophonous and nearly incomprehensible film stars Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, and Stephen Lang. Producers and co-writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fame) adapted children’s book illustrator and author Philip Reeve’s young adult book series for the big screen to questionable effect...but at least it helped us keep the run time of this episode sleek and slender.
Do yourself a favor and spend your time on more enjoyable holiday pursuits. But definitely listen to this episode because we had a great time sharing our review!
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, man up and duke it out with this week’s review of Creed II (2018). The follow-up to Ryan Coogler’s critically-acclaimed expansion of the Rocky film franchise is directed this round by Steven Caple, Jr., and features returning stars Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson and Sylvester Stallone. The film also features the long-awaited return of Ivan Drago (played once again by Dolph Lundgren) and introduces Drago’s son, Viktor, who is played by real-life heavyweight boxer Florian Munteanu.
Curious to know if the sequel goes toe-to-toe with its predecessor, 2015’s Creed? Go ahead and place your bets, then listen to the episode to get our take!
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, feel like they’re stealing from the poor with this week’s review of box office bomb Robin Hood (2018). Directed by Otto Bathurst, this latest retelling of the exploits of the popular English archer stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin, and Jamie Dornan. Given the film’s poor reception during its first weekend in theaters, it’s unlikely to inspire a sequel...but was the action-oriented story all that bad?
We break down the good, the bad and the downright unintelligent, while also drawing comparisons to similar projects from years past - Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (2010) starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991), and beloved spoof film Robin Hood Men in Tights (1993) starring Cary Elwes.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, experiment with a bit of augmented reality in this week’s review of Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018). Starring John C. Reilly as the title character and Sarah Silverman as the lovable candy-car racer Vanellope von Schweetz - along with ALL of the Disney princesses in comfy cameos - the new film exposes the heroes to the ever-changing landscape of the Internet. Clever, self-referential comedy and heartfelt metacommentary collide in unique ways, representing both a return to form and an evolution of the franchise.
Ralph Breaks the Internet features an extensive voice cast that includes Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Alfred Molina, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk and Ed O'Neill. Oh, and nearly all of the original voice actors from animated films featuring Disney princesses in the past 70 years.
The Filmlosophers fly out on their Firebolts in this week’s review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). The film marks the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts film series, and the tenth overall in the Wizarding World franchise, which began with the Harry Potter film series. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Jude Law and Johnny Depp, the film takes moviegoers back to the wizarding world we all know and love, reminding us of the place where we all started our journey.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, test out their new panic room in this week’s review of Halloween (2018). The film marks a return to form for the series, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis as battle-ready Laurie Strode as she prepares for a final showdown 40 years in the making against her nemesis, silent serial killer Michael Myers. Producer John Carpenter also returns to the franchise, and he brings along all of the musical themes he helped compose for the original Halloween (1978).
With an opening weekend haul of more than $77 million in the United States, it’s clear the franchise is as alive as ever. The bigger question is whether or not it lives up to audience expectations that are four decades in the making.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, bottle up their emotions for this week’s review of First Man (2018). Director Damien Chazelle reunites with his leading man from La La Land, Ryan Gosling, for an introspective look at the personal story behind Neil Armstong’s journey to become the first man to step onto the lunar surface in NASA’s moon landing in 1969. Featuring a solid co-leading performance from Claire Foy as Armstrong’s wife, Janet, First Man provides a textured portrait of the man behind the gold visor and explores both the technological and psychological aspects of preparing for what could have been a one-way trip.
Does Chazelle’s film stick the landing, so to speak, or is it a failure to launch? Listen in for a glimpse at what has critics declaring this one an award season contender and audiences biding their time before viewing.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, cough up some new personalities with this week’s review of Venom (2018). The Sony Pictures film marks the studio’s first foray into a Spiderverse without a Spider-Man (to this point, at least). Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed and Jenny Slate, Venom follows man-on-the-street journalist Eddie Brock on a confusingly quirky journey in which he finds himself bonded to an alien symbiote and crusades against a similarly symbiote-empowered villain looking to transform life on Earth and take to the stars before the planet succumbs to environmental degradation.
Following a record-breaking October weekend at the box office, does Venom herald the dawn of a new age for Sony when it comes to superhero fare? Or were you better off catching Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star is Born (2018)? Listen in to find out!
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, straddle state lines with this week’s review of Bad Times at the El Royale (2018). Set in a rundown casino hotel where almost nothing is as it seems, the film features a number of familiar faces including Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson and Chris Hemsworth. It also marks a career-making turn from Cynthia Erivo, who also makes a splash in Widows (2018) next month.
Written, directed and produced by former Daredevil showrunner Drew Goddard, Bad Times at the El Royale includes twist upon twist and is sure to keep you guessing until the end. In spite of its dark subject matter, the film manages to captivate and delight throughout its two-hour-plus runtime.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, run without scissors for this week’s review of A Simple Favor (2018). The film centers on Connecticut mommy vlogger Stephanie, played by Anna Kendrick, and her unusual friendship with a crass, Manhattan-based PR director played by Blake Lively. Directed by Paul Feig, the film also stars Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Rupert Friend and Jean Smart.
Beyond this, there’s little to relay coherently from a meandering plot that attempts, unsuccessfully, to balance intrigue and comedy. As the episode title suggests, this film didn’t impress the Filmlosophers crew...but you should still take some time to hear why, if only to know the mess we’ve helped you avoid.
HEY YOU GUYS! We're back! In this bonus episode, we discuss how incredible Marvel's Captain Marvel trailer looks, and why we may think it holds some key elements to what the future MCU will look like. What do you think? Listen in to hear our thoughts!
Stick around and join the conversation as we are barely able to contain ourselves! So pull up a chair, and prepare for some bonus hilarity in "Extra Credit!"
If you're wanting a bit more context, head over to our main episode, Lesson 131, where this bonus episode crash lands into a Blockbuster at!
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, prepare for the worst with this week’s double feature review of two recent Netflix-distributed films: How It Ends (2018) and Extinction (2018). Both films explore themes of connection and loss against a backdrop of catastrophe, and they each fit broadly within the sci-fi subgenre of dystopic futures. Flavored with tinges of Mad Max mixed with The Road, How It Ends stars Theo James and Forest Whitaker in a story about two men traveling cross-country to save a woman they both love. Alternatively, Extinction stars Michael Peña and Lizzy Caplan as concerned parents trying to ensure their family’s survival in the face of a military invasion from the stars.
What sort of storytelling DNA do these films share, and how do they treat their subjects differently? Most importantly, does either film do enough to keep your attention?
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, work on ways to disappear into their surroundings with this week’s review of The Predator (2018). The latest film in the 31-year franchise is directed by Shane Black and leans heavily on comedic beats from its ensemble - including Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, and Sterling K. Brown - to balance the bloodier moments that punctuate certain scenes and sequences. Which begs the question: in playing up the levity angle, does it cause the franchise to finally lose its balance?
With additional subplots revolving around PTSD, mental health and Asperger’s-related behaviors, the film also dances around issues that deserve more attention than they receive here. Instead, these character traits are leveraged to transform the sci-fi horror film into a pseudo-action/comedy, and the presumed entertainment value of these choices will be polarizing to those who don’t believe in making light of such intense personal struggles.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, try to steal back a few wasted minutes with this week’s review of Kin (2018). Adapted and expanded from the short film Bag Man (2014), Kin follows a meandering plot that loosely supports the idea of family bonds that transcend blood connections. Starring Jack Reynor, Zoë Kravitz, Carrie Coon, Dennis Quaid, James Franco, and newcomer Myles Truitt, the film centers on a pair of unlikely brothers who go on the run from thugs in Detroit and set off across the country with a powerful weapon of otherworldly origin and immense destructive power.
Aside from an intriguing collection of elements that pay homage to 80s sci-fi films, there’s little to distinguish Kin as a project worth the price of a movie theater ticket. Though the premise shows promise and certain technical elements move in the right direction, the end result never proves to be more than the sum of its parts.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, welcome back guest host Laura Sirikul and live like a bunch of multi-billionaires with this week’s review of Crazy Rich Asians (2018). Based on the popular novel by Kevin Kwan, the film adaptation boasts an all-Asian cast and appears to mark the return of the contemporary romantic comedy genre. Starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, and Nico Santos, the film provides a lavish look at one of the wealthiest locations on earth: Singapore.
After claiming the top spot at the North American box office two weeks in a row, Crazy Rich Asians may be hard for new films to beat now that we’ve hit the post-summer slowdown in ticket sales.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, dive into hot bag of time-hopping crazy with this week’s review of The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018). The popular made-for-TV movie series, which has been delivering B-movie laughs and eye rolls every year since 2013, pulls out all the stops for a shark-infested cameo-fest that spans history and strains the nearly invisible veneer of believability that has characterized the entire series.
Starring Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and a boatload (no pun intended) of guest performers, Sharknado 6 chums the philosophical waters with cringe-worthy moments you’ll likely binge for days (assuming the level of ridiculousness hasn’t turned you off after the first few minutes). Is it truly the last installment in the franchise? Only time will tell...
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, take a fresh tour of Oakland, California, with this week’s review of Blindspotting (2018). Filmed in 2017 in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhoods of West Oakland, Blindspotting stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal as lifelong friends who wrestle with personal challenges and societal ills as they try to come to grips with the changes that are transforming their home turf. Bursting with angst at a variety of levels, the film manages to blend timeless themes and traditional pacing with contemporary spurts of spoken word verse, rap and vivid cinematography.
Directed by Carlos López Estrada, the film delivers a series of emotional moments by synthesizing “ripped from the headlines” elements of racially motivated police brutality with a beautifully balanced, almost Shakespearean plot progression. The film also stars Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Ethan Embry.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, stick to the shallows for this week’s review of The Meg (2018). The Meg stars Jason Statham as a deep sea rescue diver who tangles with a prehistoric super-shark called the megalodon more than 200 miles off the coast of China. Billed as a modern-day thriller in the same vein as Jaws (1975), the film features an international cast and borrows heavily from some of its predecessor’s most beloved moments. The question remains, however, whether it will stand the test of time or sink quickly.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub, the film is based off a series of adventure novels by Steve Alten. Some liberties have been taken in converting the story from page to screen, although it’s difficult to say whether the final product is stronger or weaker for the changes. The film also stars Ruby Rose, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Robert Taylor, Page Kennedy, Masi Oka, Winston Chao, and Jessica McNamee.
It's been awhile, but we're back! In this bonus episode, we discuss whether or not B-movies are actually worth watching, and why Spencer loves them so much. What do you think? Listen in to hear our thoughts!
Stick around and join the conversation as we are barely able to contain ourselves! So pull up a chair, and prepare for some bonus hilarity in "Extra Credit!"
If you're wanting a bit more context, head over to our main episode, Lesson 125, where this bonus episode steals its most prized possession from!
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, get a little sentimental with this week’s review of Christopher Robin (2018), the latest in a series of live action adaptations of famous Disney cartoons. Starring Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell and a slew of famous voices including Jim Cummings, who has voiced Winnie the Pooh and Tigger for more than 30 years. Whether you’ve followed the ongoing adventures of Pooh and his friends for years or you’re just now getting to know the characters, there’s a lot to appreciate in this tale of friendship and family.
Directed by Marc Forster, the film features all of the classic characters including Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo. It’s also bound to inspire a whole new generation of fans with some adorable stuffed animals for Christmas.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, race against time to face a series of challenges head-on with this week’s review of Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018). Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt in the film franchise’s sixth installment, alongside a slew of returning performers including Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan, Sean Harris and Alec Baldwin. The action thriller is filled to the brim with breathtaking stunt sequences and features only a few new faces - Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, and Henry Cavill’s mustache - but it may just be too full with a runtime of nearly two and a half hours.
How does Fallout fare in comparison with the previous five films, and does it succeed in extending the narrative of the franchise in a meaningful way? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to listen in and find out. This message will self-destruct in five seconds...
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, face the towering inferno and come out the other side for this week’s review of Skyscraper (2018). Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Chin Han and Neve Campbell, the story centers on a private security contractor hired to certify the safety of the world’s tallest building, the fictional Pearl in Hong Kong, and its suitability to house new residents. Featuring numerous death-defying moments for Johnson’s character, the story pushes the boundaries of logic and challenges even the most gullible audience member’s ability to suspend disbelief.
A raging inferno, kidnapped loved ones, crime syndicates, wind turbines and henchmen - this movie does absolutely the most. We smelled what The Rock was cookin’ - and not even his trademark charisma was enough to hold our interest beyond the inciting incident.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, hop on the Neighborhood Trolley for a trip down memory lane with this week’s review of the feature length documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018). Directed by Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, the film chronicles the career of Fred Rogers, creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS. Utilizing a collection of archival footage and in-depth interviews with family and friends, Neville weaves a winsome tapestry of the motivation and mission of one of American television’s pioneering voices.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? offers a heartfelt glimpse of the behind-the-scenes humor, sincerity and passion that went into Rogers’ often-countercultural phenomenon, including insights into his critical view of most entertainment programming. The film takes a candid look at how Mister Rogers Neighborhood tackled heavy subjects and serious psychological topics with curiosity and dignity, and it may come as some surprise to hear that some members of the audience may appreciate having tissues handy.