The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, rally together to deliver this week’s review of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019). This franchise-finishing film reunites a voice cast that includes Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, and a new villain played by F. Murray Abraham. As Toothless works out a few new dance moves for the Light Fury he’s suddenly sweet on, his human companion, Hiccup, wrestles with the mantle of leadership...and where does that leave the human-dragon utopia by the final frame? You’ll have to listen to find out.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, break out the cue cards and goodie bags for this year’s Oscars Recap. We’re light on the fashion play-by-play and heavy on the sass as we dive into who won, who deserved to win and whether or not Samuel L. Jackson and Spike Lee had anything to do with the rise of the Koala Challenge on social media. Honorable mentions go out to Bradley Cooper’s mom, Congressman John Lewis and a sidebar about the review of “Bohemian Rhapsody” we never got around to recording.
The Filmlosophers pick apart the cybernetic workings of the latest film from Director Rober Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel (2019). Rodriguez, alongside producer and co-writer James Cameron, set to change the landscape of anime-live action adaptations with their latest cinema offering! The film stars Rosa Salazar as the titular role, alongside the incredible Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and new-comer Keean Johnson. But does this film measure up to the expectations of anime and film fans, alike? Or will Alita: Battle Angel fall to the wayside much like its predecessors, and become a ghost of its former self?
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, host a pop music dance party for this week’s review of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019). Mike Mitchell directs off a script from executive producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who wrote and directed the first film), and the film stars Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, and Will Ferrell reprising their roles from the first film in the series.
With additional characters voiced and/or performed by Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz and Maya Rudolph, the question isn’t whether or not this sequel has enough star power...but is everything still awesome five years later? Visual gags, plot twists and incessant-tunes-that-get-stuck-in-your-head are here in abundance, so let’s get playful!
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, get a little bit shallow with this week’s review of A Star is Born (2018). As the fourth iteration of this particular storyline, the Oscar-nominated film modernizes the tale of an aging and substance-abusing musician who discovers a new talent and helps to launch her professional career. Directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, the film also stars Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, and Sam Elliott.
As one of this year’s most highly publicized awards contenders, A Star is Born has already raked in more than 180 nominations from a variety of sources in multiple categories. It’s also a commercial success, with nearly $208 million in domestic tickets sales. So why didn’t it earn top marks from our team? Listen and find out!
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, dust off their swords and take a few practice swings for this week’s review of The Kid Who Would Be King (2019). The film brings the myth of King Arthur, Excalibur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table into the present-day and caters strongly to the YA crowd in terms of both tone and complexity. Directed by Joe Cornish, the film stars a boatload of British youngsters including Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Angus Imrie, Rhianna Dorris and Tom Taylor alongside Rebecca Ferguson and Sir Patrick Stewart.
One part Arthurian legend and one part Disney’s “The Sword in the Stone” brought into the modern world, the movie works hard to court its young intended audience. In spite of its dismal North American box office opening, is there something worth watching after all?
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, get mental with this week’s review of M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass (2019), the trilogy-concluding sequel to Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016). The film unites Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy under one roof, as their respective characters are psychologically evaluated by franchise newcomer Sarah Paulson.
Will Jackson’s titular Elijah Price, aka Mister Glass, be able to outthink the shrink and cast his fellow patients as superheroes (or supervillains) in full view of the public? And will we care, once the time comes?
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, take time to appreciate their surroundings with this week’s review of Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA (2018). Comprised almost entirely of scenes taken from Cuarón’s memory and shot on location in Mexico City, the film stars Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey and several others. Its gorgeous, panoramic cinematography provides a meditative look at the places, people and ideas that shaped a generation.
ROMA has been described as Cuarón’s most essential and personal work to date, and fellow director Guillermo del Toro has already listed it as one of his top five favorite films of all time. The Netflix-distributed film is also generating quite a lot of buzz and nominations during the current award season.
The Filmlosophers, Eddie Villanueva, Chad Riley and Spencer Williams, wax a bit nostalgic as they discuss the highs (and lows) of the films of yesteryear. Perusing through the library of reviews they’ve done for 2018, the Trio find themselves relishing in some of the most memorable times -both good and bad- in cinema. Nothing is off the table, as the conversation veers from the most ridiculous and silly, to the most heartfelt and moving of instances we’ve shared on the show. How does our list stack up to yours? Are any of our choices ones you considered for best/worst of 2018?
Listen in as we chop it up casual-style and talk about which films moved us, and which ones needed to move out of the theater faster. Tune in to another episode of The Filmlosophers!
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.