Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 237: Free Fire (2017) and Born in China (2017)

MPW Episode 237

Joel Robertson of Retro Movie Geek returns to visit Movie Podcast Weekly to help us Feature Review one of the worst movies of the year: Free Fire (2017). Also in Episode 237, you’ll hear Joel’s review of DisneyNature’s Born in China (2017). To be honest, these Feature Reviews this week are just so-so (because of the films, not because of us)… But the real reason to listen to this episode is our Mini Reviews. 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. New episodes release every single week!


I. Introduction
— Welcome guest Joel Robertson of Retro Movie Geek
— RMG’s Gleaming the Cube episode
— The official launch of Movie Podcast Network – May 1, 2017
_ Next week: Ryan’s “Comedy Movie Podcast”
— Jay’s Horror Story or: Why He’s Laughing so Weirdly This Week

[ 0:13:20 ] II. Mini Reviews
Karl: William Rowan Jr’s screening of “The Villa,” The Fate of the Furious, The Man in the High Castle Season 2
Joel Robertson: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The People vs. OJ Simpson, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, Risky Business
Andy: Bridget Christie: Standup for Her
Jason: Blue Jay (2016); Tom Papa: Live in New York City; Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World; Freakonomics (2010)
Ryan: Ryan’s forthcoming Comic Book; trailer for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Deadpool 2 release date; Ryan’s new Internet; I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

III. New in Theaters This Past Weekend [ Friday, April 21, 2017 ]:
Free Fire
Born in China
The Promise
Phoenix Forgotten
Intro to Life
The Student
Somewhere Beautiful
King Me
Citizen Jane
Let It Fall
Slack Bay
The Governors Pardon: The Case of Andrew Fink
NOLA Circus
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki


[ 1:26:02 ] IV. Feature Review: BORN IN CHINA (2017)
Joel Robertson = 6.5 ( Theater / Rental )
But for wife and kids = 8.5 ( Theater / Buy it! )

[ 1:38:35 ] V. Feature Review: FREE FIRE (2017)
Jason = 4 ( Avoid )
Karl = 5 ( Low-priority Rental )
Ryan = 6 ( Redbox ) – one of Ryan’s Biggest Disappointments of 2017
Joel Robertson = 6.5 ( Stream on Netflix / Redbox )

VI. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending
— The next four Avatar sequels have release dates again
— 2017 WGA strike is imminent
— The final remaining Blockbuster Video stores in America

Episode 238 where we’ll be reviewing “The Circle.” Join us!


Be sure to catch Joel Robertson on Retro Movie Geek, and follow him on Twitter @RetroMovieGeek!

And next week (first week of May), watch for the Movie Podcast Network’s first Special Features release, and the launch of Ryan’s Comedy Movie Podcast!

Ryan says if you’re looking for a science fiction-based, role-playing game, then you should definitely support the Kickstarter for Stellar Chaos by Infinity Monkey Games

Contact MPW:
E-mail us:
Leave us a voicemail: (801) 382-8789.
Follow MPW on Twitter: @MovieCastWeekly
Leave a comment in the show notes for this episode.

Ryan’s new Facebook page
Ry’s BIO
Ryan’s New Facebook Page
Ry’s flagship show: Geek Cast Live Podcast
DONATE here to facilitate the creation of more Geek content!
Blog: Geek Cast Live
Web site: Geek
Twitter: @GeekCastRy

Jason recommends supporting: Operation Underground Railroad

Listen to MPW:
Add MPW to your Stitcher playlist:
MPW on iTunes
MPW’s RSS feed
Right-click to download the MPW 100 Rap

Josh’s links:
Hear Josh named as one of the Top 5 Up-and-Coming Directors on The Film Vault Podcast!
Twitter: @IcarusArts
Josh covers streaming movies on: Movie Stream Cast
Hear Josh on The SciFi Podcast
Hear Josh on Horror Movie Podcast

If you’re a Horror fan, listen to Jason and Josh on HORROR MOVIE PODCAST

We’d like to thank The Dave Eaton Element and Dave himself for the use of his music for our theme song. Buy Dave’s Eaton’s music:

Ryan’s Fake Movie Titles:
Intro to Life
King Me
The Governors Pardon: The Case of Andrew Fink

If you like Movie Podcast Weekly, please subscribe and leave us a review in iTunes. If you want to support the show, we have PayPal buttons in our right-hand sidebar where you can make a one-time donation or you can become a recurring donor for just $2 per month. (Every little bit helps!)

Thanks for listening, and join us again next week for Movie Podcast Weekly.

24 thoughts on “Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 237: Free Fire (2017) and Born in China (2017)

  1. I’m trying my luck guessing the fake movies again. I haven’t listened to the episode yet.

    Intro to Life
    Somewhere Beautiful
    King Me

    How did I do?!

  2. I saw Free Fire last night and quite enjoyed it. It was clearly a Tarantino knock-off, specifically Reservoir Dogs, but a pretty good one. All the performances were fun; I feel like Armie Hammer’s role was written for Jon Hamm but it was a hell of a Jon Hamm impression.

    Looking forward to hearing what you guys hated so much about it; just going off the description of the episode. It was a fun, harmless action movie in my opinion. I’d give it a 7.

  3. Out of curiosity…. Did anyone other than a high as a kite Ryan or your guest even see this movie? Because the movie your describing in this podcast sounds like a someone who slept through long moments of the film at a time…, Or worse, like someone who just took notes I stead of keeping their eyes on the actual screen during the film. First, let me assure you… There were plenty of reloads and hammers clicking empty, there were several plot points during the film, and there was very explicit spayial awareness set through the film. I am actually kind of dismayed to hear this thing that you’re passing off as a “review”, not because you didn’t like the film but because it seems more like you didn’t actually SEE the film.

    Do me a favor… Eat all the food you want, pee all you want, flush toilets, do whatever you have to do but at least try to WATCH a movie before you review it. That’s really my only request… That you pay attention to the film and actually let it hold your attention for the entire time you sit in a theater. This may be the worst “review” I’ve heard, and that includes the Rogue In vs. Gids if Egypt comparison.

    • I haven’t listened yet, so I have no idea what they’ll say, but I definitely watched it and didn’t like it. I gave it a 5.5, which is low for me. The premise and characters were interesting to begin with, but once the bullets started flying, it got old very very quickly. And preposterous, with people always getting shot in the arm or leg, and then tedious with everyone dragging themselves around on the ground and yelling and so forth. There were amusing moments early on, and the initial shootout itself was funny at first, but then there was almost no humor otherwise, and little depth to the interactions of the characters beyond what is established earlier on. Almost everything that happened was predictable to me.

      Eh, it would be fine, and I would probably have rated it higher and been more interested if this kind of thing hadn’t already been done much better. Speaking of which, Reservoir Dogs, by comparison, is incredibly witty, has genuine surprises and shocking moments, and a better style and swagger to it throughout, building to a cool ending. Free Fire ain’t a pimple on the butt of Reservoir Dogs.

    • Looking through the unfresh reviews on RT, these are the ones that especially resonated with my experience:

      “Talking in Wheatley’s ballistic terms, he empties all his guns in the first half hour, leaving him with 60 additional minutes of firing blanks.” – Al Alexander, The Patriot Ledger

      “Without soul or wit, we’re left with nothing but bad Halloween costumes and artillery. Nostalgia never felt so bad.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News

      “The whole enterprise feels like a degradation, like a copy of a copy of a copy.” – Annlee Ellingson, LA Biz

      “A lot of people we don’t like skulking in pain around an ugly location while getting shot at from every direction and swearing badly.” – Sean Burns, Spliced Personality

      Bottom line is, even if he doesn’t articulate it specifically, there are very good reasons for J to dislike this movie. And no reason for the vitriol about J’s review. Well, no reason in *this* case. For other reviews of his, definitely.

      • I thought he movie itself was mediocre and there are valid issues… Just not the issues Jay and company brought up. Like never seeing them reload, not taking into account the bullets flying, the reason for people crawling on the ground, or that there were clear motivations plainly spoken and conveyed throughout the film. I will post point by point spoilers if need be, but this was less about the tea criticisms of the film.

        Additionally… This wasn’t supposed to be a Res Dig ripoff… It was clearly a spaghetti Western set in the 70s. It’s not a “crime drama” like some people obviously expected, and that probably lends to the negative reaction. I went as it was part if a double feature at the drive-in and didn’t even want to see it but was pleasantly surprised.

        If the review had actually covered real critical analysis instead if harping on things that werent issues with the film, I wouldn’t care.

        • I’m not denying the Spaghetti Western feel but Tarantino films homage that sub-genre a lot as well. Not disagreeing with you per se, I”m just saying the entire time I was watching ‘Free Fire’ I kept thinking ‘Hey, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Reservoir Dogs, and I should watch that again soon’ so maybe that’s why I’m thinking that way about it.

          I’m curious who thought this was going to be a crime drama though unless you just didn’t watch the trailers or read about the film before seeing it. I knew going in what it was so maybe that helped as you mentioned above. And I personally enjoy these enclosed scenarios in action films so that might have helped my enjoyment as well.

          Don’t see it ending up on any year end list for me except maybe for under-seen films and I believe it deserved to be a modest hit and not the huge box office failure that it was.

  4. When I said that the trailer for The Circle reminded me of Black Mirror, someone (maybe someone here) told me that Black Mirror was likely influenced by the book of The Circle, which came first. Well regardless, at this point the film of The Circle is influenced by Black Mirror. And falls short of that. Most episodes of Black Mirror have more nuance and layers and surprises.

    The Circle is okay, but ultimately feels “by-the-book” for a modern tech story. Tom Hanks is great as always, but has a pretty limited role. I defended Emma Watson as Belle, but I don’t think she carries this role well enough, and the writing and direction are only serviceable. There’s also an aspect involving John Boyega’s character that I found incredibly preposterous in thinking about it afterwards.

    Damn, that’s two in a row (along with Free Fire) that I was really looking forward to that were pretty disappointing. I hear good buzz about Guardians 2, though, so hopefully that’ll help. I also really want to see Colossal and Lost City of Z, but they’re not showing here. Anyway, I give The Circle a 6, and it’s fine for a Redbox rental with lowered expectations, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the theater. And regardless, just go watch Black Mirror.

    • I haven’t seen The Circle yet but I can tell you the book by Dave Eggers is problematic from a storytelling perspective so I’m not surprised the movie doesn’t work.

      I’m hopefully seeing Collisal and Z in the next couple of days.

      • Lucky on that last part.

        Yeah, assuming the movie wasn’t a total departure from the book, then the book can certainly be blamed for some of my issues. The basic premise is a good one, about what might be done with the kind of technology and information that is available. I just didn’t like some of where it goes with that.

  5. I agree with the broader strokes of Joel’s review of Born in China, but I’ll jump in and defend it a bit.

    I was glad that he mentioned the footage with the filmmakers after the film, as the scope and time dedicated to the project are admirable; this was not an easy movie to make.

    To follow the beginning of a life cycle of a snow leopard, panda, and a monkey is no small feat, and watching their story reveal itself is dramatic enough without the narration of Krasinski which is often welcomed, often not (as Joel laid out).

    Maybe I’m just a sucker for the Planet Earth style documentaries or giant pandas, but I thought the movie was delightful.

    I also heard some hesitation to visit OJ: Made in America. THIS one is the 6+ Hour Academy Award-winning doc., and is absolutely worth your time if you have any interest in the subject matter. It’s a haunting warning about the power of the cult of personality, and a powerful exploration of race in America. Many people have balked at this film because of the long run time (as did I initially), but trust me. It’s worth it. I found the whole documentary streaming on Hulu.

    To conclude: smashing good show chaps. Keep it up.

    • +1 on OJ: Made in America. Well worth the 7 hours, or whatever it is. 10/10

      I grew up in Buffalo, NY, and O.J. was one of my biggest heroes and idols. An amazing athlete and really a super nice guy (as everyone in public knew him, at least) who I think was doing something important to try to move society into being more post-racial. Many of his own race criticized him for it, but I think it was a noble effort that had many positive aspects to it. But then… well… we all know what happened and what had been happening for some time in private between him and his wife.

      This documentary does an incredible job at painting the picture of the man and his society; why he was so beloved, and why his fall was so deep and so far. It also accomplishes something I hadn’t expected… I remember when that verdict came down as “not guilty” and I saw the black community cheering, it made me so sad and mad for how they could be so blind to such an obvious crime and all of its evidence, just because this man was black (and they had often not considered him fully so before that). But the way the first episode or two of this set everything up with the history of the black community in L.A., and how many times over the years they were not given justice, I could see why that meant something in that moment. I still think it was the wrong verdict, of course, but regardless, it helped me to accept that and to understand it better. I’m just barely touching on how well that is all depicted and framed within the doc. Really worth seeing for that aspect alone.

      • Eric and DJ; I’m going to watch ONE of these OJ docs. As I understand it, there’s one on Hulu and one on Netflix? Are you two each talking about a different one? It sounds like it. Any help deciding which one to see?

        • There’s only one documentary, Jenifer, called OJ: Made in America. That’s what we’re both referring to, and it’s the one on Hulu. The other thing is called The People vs. OJ Simpson, and it’s a dramatic depiction starring John Travolta and Cuba Gooding Jr. and others. I watched a few episodes of that one, and it’s good for what it is, but I think the documentary is what really hits the mark for this story.

          • Gotcha. Thanks for clearing that up. I think most of the people I’ve talked to are watching the drama one, and they seem to like that, but I wanted to get some more solid info.

  6. Why does “The Lost City of Z” list everywhere as a 2016 film? It’s well into 2017 now, right? Just checking. Here’s a review I posted on Letterboxd;

    I read the book “The Lost City of Z; A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon” By David Graham a few years ago because it kept coming up among people I follow as a “great, great, read – 10/10”. But I found that it just didn’t hit the mark for me. The same thing happened with this movie. I’m ripe for conversion; I love the British era of exploration and all of the romance, tragedies, and mis-fires that came along with it. I also love the mystery of the Amazon and feel like this is just too rich of a subject to screw up. Maybe that’s the problem; perhaps balancing reality with all of that mystery and wonder and spiritualism and all that we still don’t know is just too big and overwhelming for most writers and directors to tackle. This was an era of heroes, but also one that we can (theoretically) learn from in terms of racism, earth-management and general ignorance. I had hoped that the film would fill in where the book left me cold, detailing the events into life with imagery and a well actualized plot that could bring this story more into focus for me. Not so. I found it just as wandering and undirected as the book. Poor pacing and ineffective character development throughout.

    There should be great stories of this time and place; of adventure and men (and women) who were up to the tasks they undertook. Or maybe I’m not as in love with it all as I think I am.
    Apparently a lot of people think there is a great story here. But so far nobody has me convinced.


    • Whoa, bummer. Could be another in a line of disappointments this year (among some pleasant surprises). I still want to see it, and hope I’ll like it more than you did, but you have at least convinced me to not care about seeing it until it’s convenient to, or perhaps even to wait until Redbox.

    • Ah shoot. I hate to disagree with Jenifer. :) But I quite enjoyed Lost City of Z today. I guess I didn’t feel it needed more plot, per se, for being more of a journey through and along with this man’s obsession. I would agree that it doesn’t let you into his psyche all that much, but I enjoyed going along for his ride, regardless. Or rather, appreciating both what was compelling about his ride, and also destructive about it. I thought that was well depicted.

      I recall making a comment after seeing the trailer that this looked like Indiana Jones meets Bone Tomahawk. This is definitely not either of those things. It’s a period drama, and while there are cannibals and adventurers going through jungles, it never feels like an action/adventure movie. And yet, in a very broad sense, it is painting a picture of the adventurous nature of that time, and does give some nice moments that encourage a spirit of personal adventure.

      I disagree about it having poor pacing or being wandering or undirected. I thought it held its 2:20 run time very well, and the juxtaposition of his Amazon trips with his home life in between gave it a nice balance. And each time he would set out yet again on another trip, I got a sense of the impact of that to his family. Eh, I suppose this story might have worked (or may yet work) better as a standalone series with 8-10 episodes, where you might get a better feel for its epic nature. These trips of his were each like 2-3 years long, and it could be hard to get a real sense of that within the time given in the film.

      Still, it has exploration and survival, some decent social/political commentary, some wonder and danger, and excellent sound design and cinematography. It’s an 8 for me. Being an Amazon production, it’ll probably be on Prime before too long, but I think it’s worth a theater viewing if you have an opportunity.

  7. Comedy Movie Podcast is going to be great. Decades from now, historians will look at 2017 as the year of MPN. Rejoice!

  8. Totally pumped for the screening of The Villa at Andy’s Karl-approved home theater. Is Yolo Jr. going to invite the body double used for Karl’s nude scene?

  9. So GCR/Ryan, in this episode you mention that nobody ever writes you with complaints. I have never sent J an email about any complaint (I don’t care if you guys talk about vasectomies, etc.), but I did make a direct complaint/request to you a few episodes ago in the forums here. And I’ll make it again, this time with further incentive.

    Please get closer to your mic source. Much closer. Your voice should be heard, not the room. You did it briefly a couple shows ago and it was a huge improvement, but then nope, right back to the room sound. It has an off-putting tone and resonance to it that gets hard to listen to. You’re on like 4 podcasts, man… Let us hear your voice and the great things you have to say with some clarity.

    I will up my regular donation to MPW from $2 to $5 a month if I hear that change. Yes, you could be denying MPW a whole $36 per year if you don’t do that. :p If J needs a special heart surgery, but he’s $36 short of being able to afford it, it’ll be on your head. How will you ever live with yourself??

Leave a Reply to Jenifer Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *