Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 156: Black Mass (2015) and Everest (2015) and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Episode 156

Welcome to Movie Podcast Weekly, Episode 156. Better late than never! In this episode, your favorite hosts bring you Feature Reviews of Black Mass and Everest and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. We also have a quick little impromptu from special guest Natalie Pyles, Jason’s wife. Join us!

If you’re new to our show… Movie Podcast Weekly typically features four hosts — Jason, Andy, Karl and Geek Cast Ry — 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
— A grundle of a story

[ 0:09:23 ] II. Mini Reviews
Jason: Aloha (mini review with special guest Natalie Pyles), A Single Shot, War of the Worlds Broadcast, Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Karl: Lord of War, The Machine (2013), Larry Crowne
Ryan: The Bootleg Universe Pitch Show
Andy: A Most Violent Year

III. New in Theaters This Past Weekend:
Black Mass
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Racing Extinction
The New Girlfriend
Pawn Sacrifice
Peace Officer
Songs From the North
The Cut
Prophet’s Prey
Uncle John


[ 1:00:43 ] IV. Feature Review: EVEREST (2015)
Andy = 8 ( Theater IMAX 3D / Buy it! )
Karl = 7.5 ( 2D Theater / Rental / Avoid in 3D )

[ 1:29:25 ] V. Feature Review: BLACK MASS (2015)
Jason = 8.5 ( Theater / Buy it! )
Andy = 9 ( Theater / Buy it! )

[ 1:45:01 ] VI. Feature Review: MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS (2015)
Karl = 8.5 ( Theater / Buy it! )

VII. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending

Episode 156 where we’ll be reviewing “The Green Inferno” and “The Intern.” Join us!

See “Capt. Jack Sparrow” visit children in hospital

Episode 156b


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28 thoughts on “Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 156: Black Mass (2015) and Everest (2015) and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

  1. Jay, you need to stand up for yourself. When someone hands you a hot steaming mess of wet cookie, you throw it back at their face and demand what’s truly yours.

    Wars have been started for less reasons.

      • SEE!

        Cookies (And other desserts) are serious business. If you have any self respect, Jay, you need to march down there and either demand what’s yours or declare war on that theater chain.

        Some people (Probably your wife and every other person who offers their 2 cents) would think you’re being childish, but if you don’t declare war over a soggy bag of hot cookie mess, where’s the line? I ask you Jay, WHERE’S THE MEEP LINE?!!!!

    • You are exactly right, Sal. I should have stood up for myself. I’m such a milquetoast sometimes…
      Thanks for your support.

      • Jay’s description of the wet cookie would have had me rolling in the aisles, except that I was running up a hill at the time. That is a priceless anecdote, sir. I have no beef with you for not standing up to the offending concessionista, because if you’d stood firm and demanded your just desserts (see what I did there?), then we wouldn’t have gotten the part of the story where you let the soggy cookie congeal and firm up, then ate it and found out that it tasted funny. I love that you didn’t just toss it in the trash and storm off grumbling about incompetent youths who dispense theater concessions. Awesome story, brother.

      • Ditto. Though I don’t love 3D, I’ve had some incredible experiences and I’ve never had problems with blurry or unfocused images. I wear glasses so it’s bothersome to have to wear glasses on top of glasses, but technically the 3D works fine even under those circumstances.

  2. Excellent episode, fellas. I wish Ry had been able to weigh in on the feature reviews, though I did thoroughly enjoy the back-and-forth about “Aloha.” I’ve been torn about whether to see it for months, because Cameron Crowe made two of my favorite films, “Say Anything” and “Almost Famous.” (I sorta feel the same way about “Almost Famous” that Karl does about “Love Actually.”) On the other hand, Crowe’s mojo has been broken for years. I didn’t quite hate “Elizabethtown” with the fire of a thousand suns, but man is that movie bad. Actually, it sounds like there’s a lot of common ground between that one and “Aloha.” I’d largely written off “Aloha” after hearing Ry rip it to shreds a few months back, but Natalie has made me curious again.

    I’m definitely going to see “Everest,” at some point. I was interested to hear Andy ding it for factual snafus on account of not following “Into Thin Air.” I’ve read “Into Thin Air,” and it’s an excellent book, but it’s by no means the definitive account. Boukreev wrote his own Everest book about the ’96 disaster, “The Climb” (which I haven’t read), that disagrees with Krakauer’s account on a number of points. And many people objected to Krakauer’s version at the time it was published. The filmmakers behind “Everest” deliberately did not use “Into Thin Air” (other people hold those rights) for their screenplay, turning to Beck Weathers’ book “Left for Dead” instead. They also had access to previously withheld audio of calls between base camp and the climbing teams (most of which I believe had been in the possession of Jan Arnold, Rob Hall’s widow), and some of those conversations went into “Everest” essentially word-for-word.

    Another fascinating aspect of the ’96 disaster is that a filmmaking team led by two famous American climbers, David Breashears and Ed Visteurs, was on the mountain in 1996 gathering footage for the IMAX documentary “Everest” (shot entirely in IMAX, on location — think about THAT). I’d love to know whether there’s footage that Breashears has never shared that bears on the ’96 disaster as well. The IMAX “Everest” (which I saw once many years ago in Seattle and don’t remember all that well), with a lifetime gross of $127 million, is one of the highest-grossing IMAX films ever made.

    I also enjoyed hearing Jay and Andy’s (mostly) glowing report of “Black Mass.” I’ve been feeling drawn to that one for months, though I tend to fall closer to Ry and Karl on the “aversion to crime drama” spectrum. On the other hand, I also haven’t ever seen many of classics (mob movies in particular), so I try not to opine too freely about whether or not that’s my thing. It’s a notable blind spot for me.

  3. I really enjoyed EVEREST. To me, it’s a very similar movie to JURASSIC WORLD in that it’s fine as a movie but great as a theater experience. I was fortunate enough to see EVEREST in Cinemark XD 3D, sitting in the perfect seat (3rd row, middle seat… again, why do the MPW guys insist the back row is the best seat?!). My theater experience was sublime with the oversize screen, superb sound and crystal clear 3D all adding up to a completely immersive viewing.

    The movie itself was perfectly adequate. Again, the way I felt about EVEREST was similar to how I felt about JURASSIC WORLD – it was a fine movie, but a better theater experience. Also like JW, I found myself wishing EVEREST was a better movie as I was watching it. There’s so much material there to make it a highly poignant story, but it just falls a little flat in the end. Not only the tragedy of what happens, but the theme of pushing oneself beyond the limit of what should be humanly possible is never really fully explored. They could have done so much more. I actually said “wait, that’s it?!” to myself as the movie was ending.

    As it is, EVEREST is a 7.5/10 for me on its own merit, but EVEREST the XD 3D theater experience is more like an 8-8.5. This is one that should be seen in the theater, in 3D on the biggest screen you can find. Andy said it right – EVEREST is the perfect movie for 3D. It’s beautiful and fully immersive. Honestly, I would go so far as to say that seeing it in 2D would cheat you out of a rare cinematic experience.

    The EVEREST review really drove home for me that I have very different entertainment-related preferences to the MPW crew, apart from just my love of streaming media over physical discs. I prefer to sit close to the screen at the theater opposed to far back; and I love good 3D, and will almost always choose 3D over 2D when given the option.

    • Dino, what is this “good” 3D you speak of? I saw so much crappy, tacked-on, post-production afterthought 3D over the last couple of years that I worked at my newspaper gig that I practically flee at the mention of 3D. (Although I do love IMAX.) The only two movies I’ve ever seen in 3D and thought, “Wow, that actually added something,” were both animated: “Beowulf” and “How to Train Your Dragon.” (And those two both had the benefit of IMAX presentation when I saw them.) If people are going to get mad at “Avatar” for something, then they should blast it for locking in 3D as a relevant money-making gimmick for at least the next decade or two.

      • You mean other than EVEREST?

        My main attraction to going to the theater is to give myself a fully immersive movie-watching experience that isn’t possible to get at home. That’s why I sit closer to the screen – so the picture can fill my entire field of vision – and that’s probably also why I enjoy 3D.

        Thinking back over this summer’s movies, I can only think of one where the 3D was distracting to me at times and that’s AGE OF ULTRON (and only then during a few action sequences). I quite liked it in several movies, including FURY ROAD, JURASSIC WORLD and, yes, EVEREST. And going back over the last few years, there have been some excellent 3D experiences – INTERSTELLAR and GRAVITY being two that immediately come to mind.

        • I do enjoy a good immersive movie experience like what you’re describing, but 3D just doesn’t do it for me. When it’s cheaply/poorly done, it makes me actively angry, but even when I can tell it’s “high end,” I’m almost never engaged by it. I’ve also often found myself wondering what filmmakers might potentially be doing to advance the art/tech of film making if they weren’t throwing gobs of cash at 3D?

          • I’m not a 3D whore like Dino here, but I appreciate it and have been impressed by it. Gravity, Avatar, and Interstellar are great examples of 3D done right. I agree that there is a lot of crap that gets released on 3D that does nothing with it and in many cases, gets hurt by it. I will also say, however, that there are some movies–not many, but some–that should be seen in 3D (and IMAX if possible) to fully appreciate them and see them the way they were intended to be seen.

    • I agree with everything you said in your review, Dino. While I really enjoyed the visuals, the acting, the sound, and the IMAX 3D experience, the movie ultimately put too much emphasis on depicting the events that transpired but forgot to flesh out its characters and explore their humanity. There were moments where interesting character interactions were beginning to surface, but they were too short and too few. It was like the real hero of the movie was the mountain, which would have been really effective had they shown the toll it took on the climbers not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally as well. Again, glimpses were shown here and there, but not nearly enough. My favorite scene of the movie revolved around a conversation where people were trying to describe why they were doing the climb. It was a sublime moment of pure humanity, passion, and love. I wanted more of that. Never got it again. Overall I did enjoy the movie, but like Dino, I also felt like it fell flat in the end. Everest is a 7 for me.

    • Oh and I’m more in line with the MPW gang on sitting towards the back of the theater. I hate sitting at the front, especially in IMAX. I don’t know about your screen, bro, but mine’s so big I have to actually turn my head from side to side to fully see it. Sorry bro.

      • Yeah, that’s totally fine. I guess the point is that there is no “best place” to sit, just a “best place for you.” I personally don’t sit so close that I need to turn my head from side to side, but I try to make sure the screen fills my entire field of vision. I prefer to have my peripheral vision filled by the stuff that’s happening on the edges of the screen rather than the theater walls and seats. I find that distracting, and takes me out of the movie. It just bothers me when the MPW guys speak in such certainties. It’s alienating.

        • Haha alright calm down, breathe deep, and count to ten. It’ll be ok, Dino. I promise. But yeah, I see your point and they do that a lot, but it’s part of their charm.

          • You’re right, they do do that a lot. 😉

            The saddest part of all this for me is that we won’t be able to sit together at the theater during the MPW/HMP meet-up (which, I assume, would involve seeing a movie so we can discuss).

            • I’m saddened much more by the fact that no one has brought up the meet up and whenever someone brings it up in the comments, it gets ignored. I wish the meet up would just get addressed as either “still happening” or “don’t hold your breath”. I get it can be a nuisance to coordinate it or maybe even a liability? Maybe Andy advised against it as a lawyer? I don’t know, my bird law knowledge is pretty limited.

      • The seating location is one thing in which I completely agree with Jay. If I have it my way, I always sit in the top row and in the very middle. When it comes to talking, I find it’s a lot more distracting when it’s coming from behind you rather than in front or to the sides. I also like that there’s typically a little more room in the top rope to stretch your legs and you feel like a king looking over all of your loyal subjects.

        Whenever I arrive at the theater and find that the top row middle seat is taken, I feel like just crawling back into bed because MY ENTIRE DAY IS RUINED!

  4. I love this show and the chemistry between the hosts, but Karl’s closed-mindedness really drives me nuts sometimes.

    He said something early in the EVEREST review about it being a “tragedy that didn’t have to happen.” It’s possible he said this because there were several signals that they should have turned around much sooner, but I got the impression he felt that way because he thinks mountaineering is stupid. That bothers me on the same level as when people say we shouldn’t swim in the ocean because of sharks (I’m thinking of that viral YouTube clip J played on the show… maybe HMP… this past summer). I’m not a mountaineer (although, I do have hankering to get into it), but I am a surfer and I can’t imagine never going back into the ocean. We can’t just go through life and not do anything because there’s the potential that something bad could happen.

    What really got my grundle in a knot, though, was his (Karl’s) complete dismissal of BLACK MASS. I’m not bothered if someone chooses not to watch a certain film because of its subject matter or because it doesn’t seem interesting to them, but his dismissal of the film came from the assumption that the movie was a glorification of a notorious gangster. I don’t know about everyone else, but that’s not at all what I got from BLACK MASS. The movie, to me, simply shed some light on an ugly period in our history, and only made the characters involved seem like the corrupt, vicious monsters they were.

    Ok, now on to the movie…

    BLACK MASS is a film that I’ve come to like less and less the more I think about it. It’s definitely solid and entertaining, and I really enjoyed the film as I was watching it. I mean, REALLY enjoyed it. It felt like a 9/10 while my butt was in the theater seat, and I found myself wondering if I was watching the next great gangster film. But it turned out to be a very slight movie, overall. There isn’t much substance to take away from it, and it lacked any real emotion to ultimately make me care about the movie after the fact.

    The movie uses what could have been an interesting storytelling mechanism, but the implementation ultimately makes the film feel disconnected. I think it fails because there is no main protagonist for the audience to latch onto. We’re essentially getting a story that’s being told by several different people at different times, with the narrative continually jumping from one perspective to another. It wasn’t necessarily confusing, but it made for an entirely incoherent experience.

    Also, there really isn’t any character development at all. They tried to introduce different layers to Whitey Bulger’s psyche (or, rather, events/elements that could have influenced him), but they ultimately fail to pay off. His character is rather one-note all the way through. Even more frustrating, though, is the character of John Connolly. I don’t want to talk about specifics because of spoilers, but he could have had a very interesting arc. Unfortunately, the movie never really does anything to explore it.

    I know my comments on BLACK MASS have been mostly negative, but I did really enjoy the movie. I’m just frustrated by it because it could have been so much better. Like I said earlier, it was in the 9+ range for me as I was watching it but, ultimately, I’m coming in at an 8/10.

    • So apart from the fact that Bulger is presented in the script as a one-note villain, what did you think of Johnny Depp’s performance? Tell it, brother.

      • I think he did a fine job. I know there are a lot of Depp haters out there; I’m not one of them. That said, his performance was perhaps a little more over-the-top than the rest of the cast, almost as if he was playing a comic book version of a gangster (maybe it was just the accent and makeup). On its own, I liked his performance. He was chilling at times, especially in his dinner exchange with his son, or later on in the scene with Connolly’s wife (granted those two scenes had very different tones). It just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the movie.

        Have you decided whether or not you’re going to see it?

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