Sucker Punch: CFQ Spotlight #10

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Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski narrowly avoid a sucker punch to the solar plexus as they dodge and feint their way through an examination of Zack Snyder’s new CGI-laced fantasy action pic. Is SUCKER PUNCH a female empowerment flick or another male fantasy about hot chicks in skirts wielding weapons? Is it an original vision for the 21st Century, or is it a rehash of a dozen other flicks (BRAZIL, DRAGONSLAYER, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, MOULIN ROUGE and ALICE IN WONDERLAND, to name a few)? Does Emily Browning have more than one expression, and is Scott Glenn ready to star in THE IGGY POP STORY? These and other questions are asked, if not necessarily answered in the Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast #10.

Limitless: CFQ Spotlight Podcast #9

Limitless (2011)

Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski expand their minds to LIMITLESS proportions in the latest installment of Cinefantastique’s Spotlight Podcast, which focuses on the new movie starring Bradley Cooper as a man who achieves fame and fortune thanks to ingestion of NZT, an illegal wonder drug that allows users to reach their fullest potential. Complications ensue, in the form of withdrawal pains, Russian Mafia types, and a manipulative corporate big-wig played by Robert DeNiro. Is this sophisticated science fiction at its finest, or does LIMITLESS have trouble living up to its own higher aspirations? Listen in, and find out.

Battle: Los Angeles – CFQ Spotlight Podcast #8

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Aliens invade Los Angeles – well, Santa Monica, actually – in BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, the subject of this week’s episode of the Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast. Dan Persons returns as host, hashing over the details of the latest entry in the alien-invasion sub-genre with Steve Biodrowski. The story follows an old soldier on the verge of retirement (Aaron Eckhart) leading a group of marines fresh out of training into battle with mysterious invaders blasting the Pacific Coast into oblivion. Think of it as BLACK HAWK DOWN meets INDEPENDENCE DAY – a gritty, grunts-eye view of the usual “war of the worlds” scenario. Sure, we’ve seen it all before, but the film makes it worth seeing again.

The Adjustment Bureau: CFQ Spotlight Podcast #7

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Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski don their Fedoras and go door to door, exploring the ins and outs of fate and free-will in their free-wheeling examination of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, writer-director George Nolfi’s combo of paranoid science fiction and romantic fantasy, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star as star-crossed lovers, whose blooming romance is threatened by a mysterious group calling themselves “The Adjustment Bureau.” Their task: to keep peoples’ lives on the path laid out for them in the grand design, pushing them back on track whenever chance or free will leads them astray. Is this a brilliant conflation of speculative fiction and popular film-making, or is THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU a great idea ruined by focus group alterations? Listen in for the grand debate – and hold on to your hats.

Drive Angry: CFQ Spotlight Review Podcast #6

Yup, Cage doesn't flinch as the car explodes in slow-motion behind him.
Yup, Cage doesn't flinch as the car explodes in slow-motion behind him.

Twisted metal, slow-motion explosions, outrageous gunfights, and more bodies than you can count – some naked, some bloody, some both – and all of it in 3-D! It’s a rip-roaring trip down the Road to Hell as the Cinefantastique Podcast crew (Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski)  hitch a ride with Nicolas Cage for DRIVE ANGRY, the movie that dares to reveal what Satan really thinks of Satanists. Is this the film that GRINDHOUSE tried (and failed) to be? Listen in, and find out!

I Am Number Four: Cinefantastique Spotlight Review Podcast #5

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Who are you? Why, I am Number Four – or at least that’s what the title tells me. But I am not a number; I am a free man! No, wait – that’s THE PRISONER. This week’s topic of conversation on the newly re-christened Cinefantastique Spotlight Review Podcast is I AM NUMBER FOUR, the new teen-oriented science-fiction action flick from producer Michael Bay, distributed by DreamWorks. Why “Number Four,” you ask? Well, the film itself won’t tell you, so if you want to find out, you should listen in as guest commentator Andrea Lipinski (of the Chronic Rift) reveals all the details from the source novel that the screenplay not-so-cleverly left out. Also chiming in our CFQ podcast regulars Dan Persons (who remarks on the film’s debt to SMALLVILLE and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, by way of screenwriters Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and Marti Noxon) and Steve Biodrowski (who reveals that even the most disappointing films can be redeemed by cute animals such as lizards and dogs).

The Innocents: Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast #4

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The fourth installment of the Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast focuses its attention on the 1961 classic THE INNOCENTS. This ambiguous and haunting ghost story was produced and directed by Jack Clayton, based on Henry James’ novel The Turn of the Screw and William Archibald’s stage adaptation, The Innocents. Oscar-winner Freddie Francis supplied the atmospheric black-and-white photography, and Oscar-nominee Deborah Kerr starred as governess Miss Giddens, put in charge of two apparently innocent children who may – or may not – be in league with ghosts. Lawrence French, Arbogast (of Arbogast on Film), and Steve Biodrowski struggle to penetrate the miasma of secrets surrounding this intriguing film, one of the great achievements in the horror genre.
Consider this the first installment in this year’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Films of 1961. As we did in 2010, Cinefantastique will offer periodic posts and/or podcasts throughout the year, looking back at the great genre achievements of five decades ago.


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The Innocents  with Deborah Kerr Miss Giddens gets a glimpse of the ghostly Quint (Peter Wyngarde) Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) explores the haunts of Bly Miss Jessell (Clytie Jessop) manifests by the lake Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) holds Miles (Martin Stephens)

The Rite: Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast #3

The Rite
The Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast goes to Hell in a handbasket this week, as Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski scourge the evil spirits possessing THE RITE, the new exorcism-themed horror film starring Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS). Allegedly inspired by true events, the screenplay by Michael Petroni (suggested by Matt Baglio’s book) has skeptical seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) reluctantly attending exorcism school at the Vatican, where he meets expert exorcist Father Lucas (Hopkins), who tries to convince him of the reality of the Devil. Mikael Hafstrom (1408) directed. Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Rutger Hauer, and Franco Nero co-star.
Is this THE EXORCIST for the 21st Century, or is it just warmed over pea soup? Come along and find out.

Steven Moffat's Jekyll: Cinefantastique Podcast Spotlight #2

Bloody Good Monster: James Nesbitt as JEKYLL.
Bloody Good Monster: James Nesbitt in JEKYLL.

And the dream comes true for one young, idealistic podcast host. After months of campaigning, Dan finally gets a chance to bring Steven Moffat’s (DOCTOR WHO) BBC series, JEKYLL, to the table for an extended discussion. Listen in as CFQ editor Steve Biodrowski and theofantastique.com‘s John W. Morehead join Dan Persons in a spirited and detailed appraisal of this updated sequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella, and learn whether this radical reenvisioning — featuring standout performances by James Nesbitt (BLOODY SUNDAY) and Gina Bellman (COUPLING), plus corporate conspiracies, weird science and, oh yes, lesbian private detectives — is worth your time.

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The Green Hornet: Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast #1

A Race to Top Billing: Seth Rogen (right) and Jay Chou defy death in THE GREEN HORNET.
A Race to Top Billing: Seth Rogen (right) and Jay Chou defy death in THE GREEN HORNET.

It’s all change, baby, and with that in mind we’re experimenting with the format of the podcast. We’ve stripped away the news and theatrical and homevid release segments, combining them with our weekly Post-Mortem bull session to form what will be called the Cinefantastique Round Table Podcast. What’s left, now dubbed the Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast, will provide us with time to stretch out, unhinge our brains and mouths, and let the conversation about the week’s top release take us where it will.
And brudder, do we have a kick-off film for the new format. THE GREEN HORNET arrives in theaters with a clouded past that’s only been partially concealed by a late-in-the-game decision to convert it to 3D. Did the extra months give its creators — including director Michel Gondry and star/co-writer Seth Rogen — time enough to find the right balance between super-hero action and Apatow bro-comedy? Join Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons to find out.

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