Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 134: Unfriended (2015) and Monkey Kingdom (2015) and Woman in Gold (2015)

Episode 134

Welcome to the new and improved Movie Podcast Weekly. This is Episode 134. In this show, your favorite podcast hosts bring you Feature Reviews of Unfriended and Woman in Gold and Monkey Kingdom. We’re also joined by special guest Willis Wheeler — The Wild Man…

In this episode, you’ll also hear how Andy would fare during a zombie apocalypse, and we talk about an MPW foot race between Karl and Andy. Please be sure that you VOTE ON OUR POLL QUESTION to help us improve this podcast. Join us!

If you’re new to our show… Movie Podcast Weekly typically features three hosts — Jason, Andy and Karl — along with frequent guests. We give you our verdicts on at least one new movie release from the current year that’s currently playing in theaters, as well as several mini reviews of whatever we’ve been watching lately. And we usually provide specialized genre recommendations. New episodes release every single Wednesday.


I. Introduction
— Welcome Willis Wheeler

[ 0:02:48 ] II. Mini Reviews
Karl: House of Cards Season 3, Arrow (TV), The Flash (TV), The Walking Dead
Willis Wheeler: Daredevil (series on Netflix), Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story, The Sheik,
Jason: Bernie, The Karate Kid (1984), Annie (2014)
Andy: Chaos, The Company You Keep

III. What’s New in Theaters This Past Weekend
Monkey Kingdom
Child 44
True Story
Alex of Venice
Beyond the Reach
Felix and Meira
Monsters: Dark Continent
The Dead Lands
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

[ 0:55:02 ] IV. Andy discusses Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (without having seen it)


[ 1:05:13 ] V. Feature Review: UNFRIENDED (2015)
Jason = 0.5 ( Avoid )
Willis Wheeler = 7.5 ( Rental )

[ 1:22:01 ] VI. Feature Review: WOMAN IN GOLD (2015)
Karl = 7.5 ( Buy it! )

[ 1:30:37 ] VII. Feature Review: MONKEY KINGDOM (2015)
Jason = 4 ( Low-priority Rental )

[ 0:00:00 ] VIII. Movie News
— Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens new trailer
— Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice new trailer
— New Jurassic World trailer
— New Fantastic Four trailer

IX. Specialty Recommendation Segments:

Husk (2011)

Source Code (2011)

X. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending

Episode 135 when we’ll be reviewing “Ex Machina.”


Read about Andy’s nationally covered court case.

Jason highly recommends trying out Mattroid and William Rowan Jr.’s new, must-listen show — The SciFi Podcast

Provo Film Society on Facebook
Provo Film Society on Twitter

Jason recommends supporting: Operation Underground Railroad

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Twitter: @IcarusArts
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Thanks for listening, and join us again next Wednesday for Movie Podcast Weekly.

78 thoughts on “Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 134: Unfriended (2015) and Monkey Kingdom (2015) and Woman in Gold (2015)

  1. Great show guys and I have to thank you for mentioning my movies that I think you should review…. I was like wow J of the Dead and Andy are so cool.

    If you are ever in Orange County CA let me know and I will take you to the movies at the AMC district as I work there part time. I will have the whole back row reserved for you Jason.

    Look forward to your comments next week on the movies.

    As for the Karate Kid the original it still is an outstanding movie I showed it to my 10 year old son a few weeks ago and he loved it just as much as I did when I was a kid. I love showing movies to my son to share with him that I grew up with. What are some movies that you are looking forward to sharing with your children?

    Look forward to hearing your comments…

    Oh and I saw the BABADOOK and I loved it thanks for recommendation!!! I go around the house now scaring my Wife saying “now you better be good or the BABADOOK is going to get you….” My Daughter keeps asking what is that but she is not ready to watch it yet as I know she would be sleeping in our bed for a few nights if she did…

    Keep up the good work!


        • I’ll be travelling through California the last week of May/first week of June, visiting friends and getting some r&r before our second son arrives (I think the kids call it a babymoon). If we have some downtime while in Irvine, I’ll throw up a message here to let you know.

    • Mario,
      I will take you up on that offer in a year or two. Thank you! We plan to visit Orange County and go to the beach sometime. …More on your comment later. I’m at work now. : )

    • As for movies that I’m excited to share with my children, almost all my picks are those that I need to wait until they’re older: “Alien” and “The Thing” spring to mind immediately. But in a year or so, when my 7-year-old son gets a little more attentive to live-action films, we’ll watch the “Indiana Jones” trilogy. (I didn’t mention “Crystal Skull,” because I prefer for my boy to live in a world that’s pre-2008, back when we could all completely give our hearts to the “Indiana Jones” franchise, without any flies in the ointment.)


      • Hello Jason,

        Great picks as I can tell you cant wait to scare the pants off of your son as your picks for Alien and the Thing had me freaked out when I was a teenager but I still love to this day.

        The Indian Jones Trilogy is a great pick to watch with your son and enjoy movies with. I am sure he will love them just as much as I did when I was a kid. My favorite and I am not in the majority is ” the Temple of Doom” Hey I loved short round and who would not want to go on adventures with Indy!!! It was one of the first PG-13 movies I ever saw and was so happy coming out of theater. Since he will be turning seven maybe start with the “never ending story”, “Goonies” and “labyrinth” that way you can see how much scary movie he can take. My son who is 10 always runs out of the room in the goonies when they show Sloth for the first time. So I know he still not ready for the Thing or Alien….. Maybe when he is older.

        Also took your recommendation and saw Blue Ruin I gave it a 6 a rental. It was a bit slow but made me think how far would you go to get revenge…. I was really surprised to see Eve Plumb playing the sister I was like hey it is Jan Brady!!! A little treasure there.

        Oh more thing when did you review “BABADOOK” either on MPW or HPW would love to hear your review on it. My girlfriend and I keeping talking about it and would love to hear your comments on it….

        Thanks for the podcast keep up the good work


  2. As a practising scientologist I found Willis’s comments regarding Jaden Smith extremely offensive. I’d be happy to lecture him more on the matter but right now I have to rush to the post office before it closes. The Master hates when cheques from his followers aren’t mailed on time!

    • David,
      As the host and editor of MPW, I must take full responsibility for this one and apologize to you, Sir. I actually meant to edit that comment, but it slipped through, in my haste, and I blew it. Sorry, Brother.

      In fact, the listeners of MPW wouldn’t believe how much offensive content I edit out of the show every week. We would have death threats, mail bombs and law suits by now… (And Karl would have spoiled the ending to everything he has ever reviewed. ha ha.)

      When Josh was on the show, he was always informing me of offenses that I wasn’t even aware of… So, it’s hard to tell how many people we’ve offended by now.

      Your comment about mailing checks for the Master made me laugh out loud at work. And for the record, Willis, I was offended, too… Not as a Scientologist, but as the world’s only defender of “Battlefield Earth.”


      • You’re beating me at my own game here, Jay. I can’t tell if you’re so trusting and good-natured that actually believe I’m a scientologist or you’re just subtlely humouring my facetious nonsense.

        And I too am a defender of “Battlefield Earth” but only as an inexplicably miscalculated so-bad-it’s-good/how-did-this-get-green-lit sort of film.

      • I thought that by now we’d established that Dino is the “cutting edge” one, Juan is the peaceful and diplomatic one and I’m the deluded imbecile.

        • Jay, can we just be referred to as juavino whenever you guys mention us? Recent discoveries have made us aware that we were once an all-powerful being that was separated in three by humankind’s jealousy. Eons ago, we were known as juavino* and although we are a far cry from what we once were, we’re still very much attached to our original name.


          *I am also ok with dadiuan and dajino

          • “Yes it was, David, yes it was. Now, let us combine our powers… HEART!”

            Heart? I guess you’re the one who drew the short straw.

            Man, do you remember the horribly miscalculated episode of that show where some kid gets aids and the bad guy’s plot of the week is basically to just print out posters of said kid shaming him for his illness. I always tell people about that episode and they just refuse to believe that it was real. But it WAS real dammit! And Jeff Goldblum voiced an anthropomorphic rat.

          • Hahaha I don’t remember that episode, but it sounds very appropriate for that time. I used to think heart was lame too, David, but as you grow older and wiser you see that that is the furthest thing from the truth. Heart is important. It’s essential. I would think that someone that loves Basket Case as much as you do would understand a little something about heart.It breaks my lame heart that this seems not the case </3

  3. Also, in defence of “Troll 2”: Sure, it’s not a conventionally well executed film but it’s like a million times more charming, entertaining and unforgettable than thousands of movies with 100 times it’s budget, “Paul Bart Mall Rat” no doubt being one of them.

  4. Wow, I can’t believe how dismissive Karl and Jason are of the new “Star Wars” trailer. What more could you guys possibly want? I don’t get Karl’s argument that its a WHOLE 30 years later so everything should look different. One of the biggest problems with the prequels was how shiny and distinctly un-star-wars everything looked. This is the franchise that really kicked off the used-universe look, why take that away from it? That’s one of it’s most appealing attributes in my opinion. Besides 30 years is not a long time by any means, especially in a period suffering the economic setbacks of a devastating war. I mean do cars and aeroplanes and ships really look that much different than they did 30 years ago in the real world? Not really. An aircraft carrier still looks like an aircraft carrier.

    You guys are sounding even more cantankerous and cynical than I normally do and that’a heck of feat. Well done. In a way.

    • Whoa, they discuss the Star Wars trailer?!

      Can someone be a buddy and post the timestamps for the beginning and end of that discussion?

      I’m very anti-discussing trailers of movies and consider it to be extremely spoilery. I know this might come off as me joking, but I’m actually being quite serious.

      p.s. I also don’t look at the show notes for the MPW podcast episodes until after I listen to the show because, of course, I don’t want my listening experience to be spoiled. Yes, this is how deep my neurosis runs.

    • David, this episode in general had many little comments that made me cringe. But that whole trailer sequence was totally out of control. How can they judge movies so harshly based on a trailer? I mean, it’s not like these are stupid movies. And when I say stupid, I mean on a Paul Blart level of stupid, which I don’t believe any of the four movies discusses is or will be. Jay’s dismissal of Unfriended was also very disturbing. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve little interest in the movie, but based on how well it’s been received, I’m definitely going to check it out. A 0.5 rating seems excessive given that that would put it on the same level as a Paul Blart movie. And speaking of Paul Blart, did you guys notice how Andy’s comments on Paul Blart 2 were breaking Jay’s heart? I heard a lot of disapproving grunting coming from Jay’s mic during that section of the podcast. Jay, be honest, are you a Paul Blart fan?

      I have more where that came from, but I don’t want to make Jay cry.


      • Sometimes I feel like all I do these days is pick on Jay. I hope he knows that deep down I love him dearly, insane quirks and all.

        I have to disagree about him being too dismissive of “Unfriended” though. The title alone is enough to prompt me to totally sympathise with Jay’s 0.5/10 rating. I admit that’s extremely judgemental and totally unfair but these technological-gimmick teenage-demographic kind of films are just the antithesis of the old-man activities I most enjoy.

        There was definitely a slight defensive tone coming from Jay in the “False Start Mall Flop” discussion though. I’m totally with Andy on that one. Every movie Happy Madison produce is just lowest common denominator schlock aimed at generating massive revenue from blatant and offensive product placement. Isn’t this one basically just an advert for some hotel resort? It’s utterly shameless and pitiful. And how much do the people squirting out these buckets of shit get paid? The concept in it’s entirety is ironically the one thing the writers of these sorts of films can’t be bothered to muster; a joke.

      • I’m only about halfway through the episode, but the only thing that’s made me cringe so far was hearing Karl argue the pronunciation of Ryan Phillippe’s name so emphatically – because he was wrong and, more importantly, because who cares.

        • Ryan Phillippe cares. Especially since this is probably the first time anyone has discussed his career in a professional setting in at least a decade.

          • I don’t even know if Ryan Phillippe cares. I’ve always had the impression that he’s a completely self-loathing individual. I read an interview of him back in the CRUEL INTENTIONS days, probably at the height of his career, and he kept banging on and on about how uninteresting and unattractive he thinks he is.


      In regards to Karl’s complaint that we’re just getting Tie Fighters chasing The Falcon again and it’s the same-old same-old; my theory is that the folks who put this trailer together are all too aware how disenfranchised most fans were with the prequels and are thusly making a concerted effort to show us that the new movie is going to be a return to form. I imagine that they’ve purposefully cherry picked scenes which will be recognizable and resonant to fans of the original trilogy.

      And with regards to it potentially being a CGI fest; from the few production photos floating around out there it looks like they’re using actual sets and practical effect creatures. Full scale models of the Falcon and X-wings have also been spotted and I’m sure I heard somewhere that even that little ball-droid is an actual working physical prop. I’m certain there will be CGI in the movie but come on, there’s nothing even close to the awful cartoony effects of the prequels to be seen in this trailer. I can’t tell if what I’m looking at is CGI or practical at all and that’s the way it should be.

      And aren’t you guys the least bit intrigued by the many mysteries suggested here? Who’s holding Vader’s charred helmet? Why don’t we see Luke, or is he the guy with the creepy robot hand touching R2-D2. Who’s the bad-ass silver storm trooper? Why is John Boyega showing more emotion in a brief scene than we saw any characters display in the entire prequel trilogy? Who’s leading the Empire?

      Jay, when you said “come on guys this is looking….I am not excited.” my jaw just dropped. Please enlighten us. Tell us what an exciting new Star Wars trailer should contain?

      Personally I’m just glad we’re not being bombarded with hundred of Jedi littering the screen swinging their lightsabers all over the place like vacant LARPers with phosphorescent tubes. If the prequels taught us anything it’s that actual Jedi are the most boring characters ever written. Unsuspecting Jedi, reclusive Jedi and Jedi in-training I’m fine with but no more boring old farts in monk robes delivering terribly written, moronically contradictory dialogue, please!

      Josh, where are you? I need back-up here!

      • I’ve got your back, David. I haven’t gotten to Jay and Karl’s specific beefs yet (caught the first 1:26:30-ish of Ep. 134 while running this morning; had to stop and take my daughter to her piano lesson in the middle of Karl’s review of “Woman in Gold”), but I’ve got the gist. It’s too soon to know what the film will be like, of course, but both of the teasers are masterful as teasers. They certainly don’t seem to be littered with cheap CGI-jinks like the prequel films. I’m seeing signs of fun new worlds to explore, intriguing new characters and situations, and well-staged action, with a very deliberately “Star Wars”-ian vibe to tie it all together.

        Also, speaking of jaw-dropping moments from Ep. 134, MY jaw hit the floor when Jay started not-so-subtly calling this “chubby:”

        Wrong, Jay. You are just plain … wrong. Also a bit bemused that in the same episode in which you berate Andy and Karl for not caring about character arcs and emotional investment that you would whine about “Karate Kid” for spending so much time depicting Daniel’s training. Come on, Jay, the joy is in the journey. I actually think “Karate Kid” is to be commended for taking some time to show Daniel be mentored by Mr. Miyagi INSTEAD of just compressing it all into a three-minute pop song. It’s a GREAT movie. There is NOTHING wrong with it.

        • Who needs Josh for back-up when Cody Clark’s in your corner! Thanks for talking some much needed sense Cody.

          And the whole time Jay was talking about Elisabeth Shue in “Karate Kid” I was trying hard to remember her “body-type” in that movie, thinking “what on earth does he mean!”. And that picture proves it. If that woman isn’t regarded as anything other than slender by modern standards then we have some serious problems. Maybe it’s just the unflattering* nature of 80’s clothes?

          *”Unflattering” in a contemporary and conventional sense. Awesome in every other sense.

          • Elisabeth Shue is perfect. There is nothing wrong with her, just like there is nothing wrong with the Star Wars trailer.

            The Karate Kid comments were the most jarring to me. “I hate training sequences.” First of all, The Karate Kid’s training scenes had substance to them. They weren’t just a bunch of montages with cheesy music playing in the background. They had actual dialogue that served to develop the relationship between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel and move the story forward. Second of all, with a 10 year background of martial arts, why would you hate seeing characters training, bettering themselves, trying to reach their full potential? Did you also have no patience during your Karate training and wished that you were a master martial artist by the end of the first class? Did they not teach you the virtue of patience at the Karate school that you went to? Isn’t that a requirement for the body and mind to reach their full potential? Is your martial arts background even real? We need charts, bro.

          • I agree, Juan. Surely 99% of karate IS training so I don’t know what the hell Jay was expecting from a movie called “Karate Kid”. A baby born with instinctive black belt abilities? If there’s such a thing as a “martial arts training” sub-genre then “Karate Kid” belongs in it. It’s arguably the most important element of the movie.

            I think Jay’s real problem is just how ripe the training sequences are for parody montages!

            One thing’s for certain though; all of our internet movie discussions wouldn’t be a millionth as interesting without Jay and his craziness! It’s just another reason to love him.

          • And don’t forget Doc’s admonishing words, Juan: “you have subjected this community to a series of statistical charts…”

            May that sentence forever hang like an albatross about your neck!

        • @Cody Clark et al.
          For such smart guys, I don’t know how you could twist around my words so egregiously, unless you’re just trying to provoke me… : )

          My point was so simple. I wasn’t criticizing Shue’s appearance in 1984. I think she looks “fine” and healthy.

          I was merely lamenting that in our present day, a leading lady typically wouldn’t be cast for a role if she looked the same degree of “fine and healthy” as Shue did in 1984.

          To be crystal clear, I’m only lamenting that our culture’s perception of what’s “attractive” or “healthy” is actually very unhealthy. Compare and contrast the photos at the link below, and you’ll see my point illustrated. And for the record, I much prefer Shue’s appearance… I think Knightley looks unwell:

          And if you look at her IMDb photo here, I don’t know how Knightley’s neck is holding up her head:


          • I knew what you meant, Jay. I know you weren’t in anyway being critical of Elisabeth Shue’s body type but the modern idealisation of the female form can just be hard pill to swallow.

            I find cruel and irresponsible grip that the media has on people’s body image utterly disturbing. Some girls are naturally skinny and that’s totally fine but stuff like that recent thigh-gap obsession is just totally screwed up.

            Ladies (and gentlemen for that matter), please be proud of your natural shape whatever that shape may be. Always try to stay healthy, sure, but don’t give in to this sick culture that would have you all look some specific way as defined by a bunch of vapid, soulless, idiotic scumbags. People who’ll judge you most on the way you look aren’t the sort of people who’s opinion you should give a single shit about.

            • Well said, David.

              Confession: I was a very thin guy my whole life. I’m 5′ 10″ and I should be about 160 lbs (don’t know the kilograms, sorry, David and the rest of the world). Anyway, I’m clocking in now at 201 (41 pounds too much!), and for the first time in my life, I’ve gotten a glimpse of what people feel who struggle with their weight. So, to be clear to everyone, I might have said stupid things about people’s weight in my youth, but with my own little baby bump, you’ll never hear me ridicule an overweight person again. Ever.

              But I love Hostess Ho-Ho’s and Coca-Cola, and anything with chocolate and sugar and pizza. ha ha. I’m a big eater, to be sure. A “comfort eater,” as they say.

              All of this weird over-share to report that I’m fighting mad about the awful head problems our culture has given our ladies and our youth. Recently (in 2014) actress Misty Upham (“Frozen River”) took her own life, reportedly, because she knew she’d never be able to look like the other actresses in Hollywood and to fit in. That is nothing short of an absolute tragedy, and it makes me want to harm somebody.


        • Regarding the training sequences…

          As I said on the show (perhaps you missed it)… The first time watching the movie, it’s very powerful. It’s a surprise. There’s a revelation involved.

          But when did you last watch “The Karate Kid,” Guys?

          I just re-watched it (and I’ve watched it many times over the years).

          In terms of re-watch value (which is part of how I judge a film), the training sequences are too long. Besides, “wax on and wax off” is basically the same thing as “sand the floor.”

          I’m just saying, it should have been shorter.

          If you still disagree, I dare any one of you to watch “The Karate Kid” (1984) five days in a row, and tell me if the training sequences aren’t too long… I dare you.

          This is a great movie, but it doesn’t need to be two hours long.


          • Jason: Provoke you? Perish the thought, sir. 😉

            I know your intention was to frown at the wildly out-of-control body image issues that are inflicted on the entire culture by Hollywood in 2015. What rankled me is that you talked about Elisabeth Shue as having a “body type,” which sounds vaguely pejorative. I’m pretty sure what you actually meant is that she doesn’t look like she’s 20 pounds underweight, which is unfortunately commonplace in the Hollywood of 2015.

            The topic is such a minefield, though. Nobody should ever endorse the idea that women or men who look like stick figures with muscle definition have the only desirable or acceptable physique, or that the rest of us are some sort of visual blight. At the same time, however, actual obesity is both dangerous and dangerously widespread. We need to pry ourselves loose from idealizing (and idolizing) skeletal chic, but without going too far in the direction of brushing aside that obesity is a legitimate public health crisis.

            “The Karate Kid” is one of those movies that I get around to watching every other year or so, so it’s never been too long since the last time that I saw it. I have never once wished that the movie would hurry it up with the training sequences. I’m with Karl on this one. I enjoy the dynamic between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi far too much to rush through any of it. The pacing is exactly what it should be. And the movie is NOT any longer than it should be. It is 100 percent rewatchable exactly the way it is.

            Also, you mention very quickly in the podcast that knowing the “twist” is part of what detracts from the training sequences for you. My personal opinion here is that moviegoers have become far too twist-obsessed. I’m always annoyed when people think that a movie is somehow less valuable if they weren’t flabbergasted by any of the plot turns. I’ve never been bored by “The Empire Strikes Back” because I already know that (SPOILER). I don’t get antsy watching the climactic lightsaber duel and think, “Boy, they’re really dragging this thing out,” because I already know that (SPOILER). It’s just a great filmmaking telling a great story. The training sequences in “The Karate Kid” are the same way. They are perfectly enjoyable whether or not I already know that (SPOILER).

          • “At the same time, however, actual obesity is both dangerous and dangerously widespread. We need to pry ourselves loose from idealizing (and idolizing) skeletal chic, but without going too far in the direction of brushing aside that obesity is a legitimate public health crisis.”

            This is a great and important point, Cody. I admittedly don’t know much about the US obesity-crisis but I’d imagine that the “desired” body-type being so unachievable and unrealistic probably doesn’t do much to help matters. If the message is “look like the shadow of a pencil or you’re worthless” then a whole bunch of folks must just think “why even try”.

            When I see these magazines full of invasive paparazzi photos shaming actresses for looking like perfectly normal human beings it makes me want to find the guys who make money off that and beat them with a massive stick.

    • David, (No trailer spoilers here, Dino)
      Sometimes we get “too precious” about the things we love. And love is funny that way. Love can blind us to the point that we lose all objectivity, and we merely perceive what we want to perceive…

      There is nothing special or outstanding about these “Star Wars” trailers. Any of these could be “deleted scenes” from the previous movies (especially the prequels).

      I was born in 1976, so I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” in the theater (and all the releases thereafter). I collected “Star Wars” action figures, and while I’m not a Jedi Master Steve Hernandez in my fandom, I’d still consider myself a fan.

      But I have to call some people out right here: You people who are going nuts over these teaser trailers are suffering from “Phantom Menace-itis.” What’s that?

      Remember 1999 when we all contracted that? “Phantom Menace-itis” was the denial that we all had as we walked out of the theater in 1999, after having watched “The Phantom Menace,” and we all **thought** we loved it at first…

      We were just so happy to see a new “Star Wars” film on the big screen that we lied to ourselves because we couldn’t face the possibility that we had waited 16 years for a “Star Wars” movie that was disappointing… This phenomenon is called “Phantom Menace-itis.”

      And here we are again. You guys better get to a pharmacist and get some cream, because your Phantom Menace-itis is flaring up! (By the way, Willis Wheeler has the worst case of Phantom Menace-itis I’ve ever witnessed! He has it concerning any and all fantasy films.)

      But rest assured, David, in the coming months, if we get a full-blown Episode VII trailer that looks great, I’ll be the happiest man, and I’ll be the first to proclaim it.

      Don’t worry, David. If they blow Ep. VII, we’ll all get through it together.

      • “There is nothing special or outstanding about these “Star Wars” trailers. Any of these could be “deleted scenes” from the previous movies (especially the prequels).”

        You couldn’t be more wrong, Jay!

        For starters the composition of the shots in the prequel trilogy (particularly the later two) was terribly cluttered and ugly. Here with have much more of a classic and graceful looking approach. Take the subtle moment of a lightsaber being passed from one person to another; there’s a reserved, intimacy and simplicity to those few seconds that was almost totally absent from the prequel trilogy. I think the overzealous use of green screening in the franchises last few entries really sucked all the life out of the scenes. Aside from the Where’s Waldo-esque battle sequences most of those films just seem to consist of people talking to each other while walking down corridors or standing in awkwardly static positions, everything looked unimaginative and extremely stagy while in this new trailer things are looking far more cinematic and kinetic. The special effects here are also a million times more convincing than the unrefined, video-game-cutscene style of the prequel trilogy. Just the shot of the crashed Star Destroyer that opens the Force Awakens trailer is an example of an image far more artful, effective and unforgettable than anything latter-day Lucas came up with. It looks like a beautiful matte painting exuding texture, grit and daunting scale. Even the colour palate is a world away from the garish rainbow of that part of the franchise we’d rather forget, this new take on the Universe seems to have resurrected the more muted, washed-out look that made the original Trilogy feel so authentic and tangible and gave the locations and sets such an atmospheric quality.

        As for your diagnosis of “Phantom Menace-itis”, well I’m afraid to say I think the medical textbooks you’ve been reading must have been written by a quack! In reality the symptoms of “Phantom Menace-itis” are as follows: Unchecked levels of cynicism and jadedness resulting in compromised objectivity and an overly critical outlook. This condition is analogous to post traumatic stress disorder and is normally found in mature males who were once excited for the Star Wars prequels; the resultant crushing disappointment thought to be the cause of their inability to feel joy even when presented with positive additions to the subjective franchise.

        In all seriousness though, I do admit that I was incredibly excited when I first saw the “Phantom Menace” trailer. I was excited to see the new action figures in stores and to play the playstation game and most of all I was excited to finally have a “Star Wars” movie come out in my lifetime, something that, until the initial rumours, I had never even dared to dream about. And yes when I first walked out of that cinema with all those other suckers I can’t deny that I had myself convinced that the film was great. But I was 12 at the time. What was your excuse again, Jay?

        *You have my endless gratitude for facilitating my use of the term “quack” in this context

        • Great comment, David. We may have to agree to disagree on many of these points, much to my surprise. Your comment deserves more of an answer than I have time to type right now, but let me just say another thing that this conversation has reminded me of: In the months when “Phantom Menace” was coming out, there was a national zeitgeist here in the United States. (I was about 23 at the time.) There were full-size, Darth Maul cardboard cut-outs standing up in grocery stores and toys galore, and you could feel the electric excitement of that movie’s arrival. A similar thing happened with “The Dark Knight,” but to a lesser extent.

          But I love when this cultural sweep occurs in anticipation for a film. When the P&A for a film becomes a multi-million dollar ambush, then I get very excited… I realize it’s only April (and Ep. VII) doesn’t arrive until December, but I’m truly hoping we get the same zeitgeist as we saw back in 1999.

          Was it the same in England, David?


          • “Was it the same in England, David?”

            Very much so. If I recall correctly you couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into a display of toy Jar Jar’s or a cardboard Battle Droid. Even at the incredibly small, grotty and usually empty local cinema where I went to see the movie (“THE HOLLY OD PLAZA” as the ill maintained sign proclaims) there was a huge queue and a guy from pizza hut dressed as Darth Maul handing out free slices!

      • Jay: You know what’s even worse than “Phantom Menace-itis”? Being immune to “Phantom Menace-itis.” I distinctly remember experiencing an almost physical pang of embarrassment at seeing the credit “Written and Directed by George Lucas” pop onscreen at the end “The Phantom Menace” … because I had known since the opening moments of the movie that George Lucas had been away from it too long, and remembered all of the wrong things about the original films and their cultural impact. I felt horrible for George Lucas that this tone-deaf calamity is what he’d come up with. I wasn’t distressed on my own account. I just felt deeply sad that a childhood hero of mine was in for it … and that I knew I couldn’t honestly defend him.

  5. I have mild interest in seeing UNFRIENDED, but really feel like the experience would be best watching it on a computer screen (like Willis said). It’s been getting somewhat solid reviews overall, though, so I’m interested to see why Jay hated it so much.

      • @Willis – What do you rate THE DEN? I know you briefly mentioned it on the podcast, but how do you think it compares to UNFRIENDED?

        • Sorry to butt in, but having watched The Den I can tell you that it’s not worth your time. It does interesting things and it has promise for a few minutes until it all becomes so unnecessarily convoluted and contrived that my head was spinning by the end. It was a simple premise and it should’ve stayed a simple story. It’s in the 4-5 range for me.

          • Yeah, it was about the same for me. I gave it a 5.5/10, but it was probably my most disappointing horror film of 2014. It actually made me mad because I was really excited about it, but I really struggled with the movie. It had some serious gore and brutality, but no real suspense. I was just thinking it would be a good barometer to measure against. If UNFRIENDED is better, then I might go check it out in theaters. If not, then I’ll wait.

          • “Think I’ll hold off on UNFRIENDED until I can watch it on my computer screen.”

            I guess these style movies probably make a lot more sense when viewed in that manner as opposed to seeing them on the big screen.

            • That’s probably true. I wish I had seen THE DEN on my computer instead of on my plasma. Then again, it probably would still have been just as average.

              I do have to say that I watched that movie with my wife, and it’s a little too hardcore for her tastes (a lot, really). I think that somewhat soured my experience.

      • Willis,
        I don’t live on Facebook or Twitter. I have accounts, but the real-life experience of *personal* social media (read: non podcast-related) is so tedious and boring to me that the last thing I want to do is watch someone else on Facebook for 90 minutes!

        And it isn’t too racy for me. It was simply mind-numbing. The ridiculous and repetitive dialogue of “The Blair Witch Project” has more merit than “Unfriended.” I don’t go too in-depth on horror movies on this podcast, because I don’t want to steal or repeat my coverage for HMP. But I’ll be explaining my objections a little more in-depth on HMP Ep. 053 on May 8.


    • Jay hasn’t been on the comment boards, Willis, because Jay has been busy producing two weekly podcasts…

      And when the angry mob arrives one of these weeks, David, they’ll just have to wait until I’m finished with the 25-hour production process of the 4 hours of free content before they drag me away.
      : )


      • Awww, Jay. I hope you didn’t think I was doing anything other than joking around with that remark. I wasn’t intending to come across as unappreciative of the huge amount of effort you put in. In truth I can barely express my gratitude for the great shows you slave over for us. I don’t have any experience making podcasts but nonetheless I’m certain that this level of production quality, attention to detail, and exceptional content comes at a hefty price with regards to the free-time you’re putting into it.

        • My apologies, my friends. After seeing the sober tone of your comment, I re-read what I wrote above and was a little horrified to see how martyrish it sounds… (Cringe.) My apologies to everyone. Didn’t mean to sound like such a martyr, y’all.

          In truth, I am grateful to have feedback and debates (even busting my chops), as opposed to having no comments at all! I’m glad I seem to provoke everyone, because I love the comments…

          Sorry again, everybody. My comment above came off totally wrong.

          I’m proud and happy to produce these shows, and your interaction and apparent appreciation of them does a lot for me personally. Thank you all.


  6. Hey, guys. I was so busy lately that I was missing the show but now I’m binge listening and only have one show to catch up.

    I’m very impressed by Andy’s work. Or should I say Anthony? 😉 The case is very depressing, indeed. On the other hand quite interesting. Is it over now or there is some continuation? I’m very intrigued by this story. In a way it’s kind of like watching some dark crime film. Jason, if you can keep posting links to the story I will appreciate it. Thanks. =)

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