One of the most critically and commercially successful entries in the venerable science fiction franchise, Star Trek IV saw the film series opt for a more light-hearted adventure with an underlying social conscious message against whaling after the darker, apocalyptic intensity of The Search for Spock. What resulted was a comedic romp through San Francisco in 1986 with the crew trying to save the future but having a good time while doing it. Watch along and listen as the gang revisit what Jake refers to as his favorite Star Trek thing ever.

Direct download: StarTrekIV.mp3
Category:Commentary -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
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Jake is back to talk about greatest band in the land, Kiss! This time around, he's brought his brother Mick to talk about the band's fifth studio album, Rock and Roll Over! Listen as the Bozek Brothers talk their memories growing up with Kiss as they go over the album track-by-track including a ballad that Jake claims is greater than their highest-charting single, Beth!

Direct download: 05RockRollOver.mp3
Category:KISS Talk -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
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Sam shares his, urm, thoughts on the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie...

I think I was a bit too young for Transformers and GI Joe; I just missed that wave of 80s cartoons. What I did watch a hell of a lot of on Saturday mornings growing up was Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the latter leaving a bigger impact (My stance was/is Ghostbusters had the better movies but the Ninja Turtles had the better cartoon and video games). What I'm doing with this longwinded, stream of conscious intro is try to justify to myself why I saw this abomination on celluloid even though I knew, I KNEW, what I was in for before the theater lights even dimmed.

Let's get to good stuff out of the way first: This movie is the closest a live action adaptation gets to the cartoon. Shredder looks more like Shredder and less like a human Swiss Army Knife. Brian Tee imbues the iconic Turtle nemesis (A phrase never thought I'd necessarily write) with more personality and menace than he had in the 2014 film...mostly chewing scenery and scowling but still an improvement. Bebop and Rocksteady show up! I've been waiting for those two for a full-on cinematic appearance since 1991 (Getting Tokka and Rahzar instead) so seeing those two along with Krang and Baxter Stockman was very welcome as was the Technodrome and Turtle...well, I guess, not van but a converted garbage truck this time. And despite being 10 minutes longer than its predecessor, it feels shorter and moves quicker which is especially merciful when dealing with a movie of this, uh, caliber.

Look, I get that there isn't necessarily a lot of depth in Ninja Turtles on a conceptual level, I totally get it. Even though the franchise was created as a parody of gritty street-level comics of the 80s, it is still, at the end of the day, the story of four human-sized anthropomorphic turtles that live in the sewers of New York City emerging to fight crime in between pizza parties and sick skateboarding sessions; not exactly Tolstoy, is it? But this movie, man...[Mild spoilers from here on out]

The Turtles themselves aren't really at fault in their own movie though they still look more like a Salvador Dali acid trip than the shellheads of old. Their more annoying traits are toned down and Michelangelo is thankfully nowhere near the creeper he was towards Megan Fox this time around. And speaking of Megan Fox, in her opening scene, she disguises herself as a sexy schoolgirl when she's already in disguise as it is JUST BECAUSE. I get that subtlety was never part of the game plan but it sets the tone for the movie going forward and not in a good way at all. 

Stephen Amell doesn't necessarily do a bad job as hockey mask-wearing badass Casey Jones but his part is written less as Arrow's Oliver Queen and more as Steve from Blue's Clues with a bad attitude and seemingly infinite supply of hockey pucks. Tyler Perry's Baxter Stockman is understandably goofy (Again, kid's movie) and conveniently has a device that can generate mutagen from an extra-dimensional source in about ten seconds. Not a ten second montage; it's just primed and ready to go for something that he literally didn't know existed ten seconds prior in real-time.

The plot has Shredder broken out of prison and team-up with Krang to ostensibly take over the world by assembling three scatter MacGuffins to open some extra-dimensional, oh fuck it all, it's the Turtles trying to save the day from Shredder and Krang with Bebop and Rocksteady thrown in as recurring muscle; nothing more, nothing less. And Bebop and Rocksteady have this recurring "gag" where they'll random turn to each other literally at least 3 times a scene and go "MY MAN!" even if they've just had their everliving shit wrecked. That is the height of comedy in this. I've never wanted to see an endangered species, mutated or otherwise, obliterated until this movie so thank you for having me hit that personal low, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, for that.

Also, the 2014 movie goes out of its way to show that the Turtles are completely bulletproof so it's weird to see them surrender at gunpoint multiple times. MOVING ON!

I think one of the first big movie reviews I wrote on here was for the 2014 Ninja Turtles which I remarked was a movie not made based on desire or imagination but simply because they could. This continues that by being a sequel made because they could. You could cynically and not inaccurately describe that's how all big-budget movies are made these days but I like to think there's a little something extra under the hood, certainly to get me to care about them.

A bit less grating and more brisk than its predecessor, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows still fucking sucks. The action is a little more coherent, the characters generally less annoying, and there's more elements from the classic cartoon than ever but when you fail to stick the landing (Or the jump or the fancy shit you do in between the jump and the landing), what's the point? Yo, X-Men: Apocalypse! You're not the worst movie I've seen so far this year anymore!

Category:First Impressions -- posted at: 9:47am EDT
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A milestone as big as 100 episodes is too big to be contained in a single regular-sized episode so we've divided it into two parts this week! While we certainly love talking about pop culture, we're changing gears this week with Sam interviewing the featured scientists from the Science Channel's Outrageous Acts of Science and How to Build Everything! Listen as Sam goes one-on-one with astrophysicist Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, physicist Dr. Debbie Berebichez, molecular biologist Dr. Adam Ruben, and science writer (And editor of Nerdist Science and host of the Nerdist YouTube show Because Science) Kyle Hill in a series of informative, revealing interviews about various branches of science!

The gang also launches into a lengthy discussion of how their experiences at this year's Awesome Con in Washington, DC went! 

Outrageous Acts of Science and How to Build to Everything return on the Science Channel on Wednesday, June 22 at 9 PM EST!

Direct download: Episode100B.mp3
Category:Nerd Talk -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
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Wowzers, has it been 100 regular episodes (Not counting book reviews, commentaries, and special episodes) already? It has and the gang is here to reminisce about the show and they've brought along superstar comic book artist Skottie Young along for the ride! Skottie is here to promote the start of the second arc of his Image Comics series, I Hate Fairyland, and listen as he talks about the book, his influences, and some of his favorite variant covers for Marvel! Also, the gang discusses X-Men: Apocalypse and the passing of Muhammad Ali. Stay tuned for more on the 100th episode front...

I Hate Fairyland returns with issue #6 on Wednesday, June 15! The first volume is available in comic book shops everywhere and on Comixology now!

Direct download: Episode100A.mp3
Category:Nerd Talk -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
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Several weeks ago, we spoke to Phil Hester and John McCrea about their Image Comics series Mythic and this week we have an advance review of the first volume collecting the series' first eight issues. Listen as Sam and Jake talk about the team-based tale of what happens when magic around the world goes wrong!

Mythic, Volume 1 out in comic shops everywhere and on Comixology on Wednesday, June 22!

Direct download: BookClub18.mp3
Category:Book Club -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
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It's been out for a week and a half so Sam shares his spoiler-heavy thoughts on X-Men: Apocalypse:

Way back, I remember a kid in my neighborhood inviting me over one afternoon after he taped the series premiere of a brand new cartoon the previous evening. The cartoon was X-Men: The Animated Series and the episode was Night of the Sentinels and it began my lifelong enjoyment of Marvel Comics' superteam of misfits defending a world that hates and fears them. The major antagonist of the series was Apocalypse, the world's first documented mutant who had since evolved to possess god-like powers. He quickly became my favorite X-Men villain; Magneto is their most iconic frenemy, sure, but whenever Apocalypse reared his head, it was always all hands on deck. When I heard the latest X-Men would center on Apocalypse, I got very excited; Bryan Singer had returned to the franchise he brought the big screen back in 2000 with the best entry yet in X-Men: Days of Future Past and I was eager to see what he would do.

So imagine my surprise, last night, when I found myself wishing I could fall asleep instead of watching what was unfolding before my eyes. How do you make an X-Men movie focused on Apocalypse boring? How is Apocalypse himself the worst thing in the movie? How did the guy that directed the terrific X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men: Days of Future Past helm the worst installment in the series by a country mile? Fucked if I know but let me go over it and see if I can find out by the time I'm done thinking out loud (Or, in this context, electronically).

Largely set in 1983, ten years after the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, everyone is trying to move on in the ensuing decade. Professor X and Beast are more interested in running a school for mutants rather than training a team to defend the world. Magneto has returned to his native Poland to live a quiet life as a factory worker while raising a family. Mystique has become the face of mutant heroism after saving the President at the conclusion of Days of Future Past; a title she rejects as she adopts a human appearance and lives underground in Western Europe. But when CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Bryne returning from X-Men: First Class) accidentally awakens the millennia-dormant Apocalypse, she sets into motion the events that will lead this wayward figures to cross paths again.

Apocalypse immediately sets out to recruit four lieutenants as his Four Horseman with a young Storm, Olivia Munn's Psylocke, and Ben Hardy's Archangel being the first three brought into the fold after each receiving a power upgrade (Archangel's recruitment being set to Metallica's Four Horsemen because fuck subtlety). Meanwhile, Professor X welcomes teenaged Cyclops and Nightcrawler to his school while keeping a watchful eye on the young Jean Grey, well aware of the destructive capabilities of the Phoenix Force inside her.

After Magneto draws attention to himself by using his powers, the authorities kill his family after it's revealed his daughter can...control birds? It's dumber than it sounds and it sounded pretty dumb to begin with. A heartbroken Magneto is then recruited by Apocalypse as one of the biggest pieces of his nonsensical master plan completing his requisite quartet. I've always been a big fan of Michael Fassbender and thought he deserved the Academy Award for Best Actor last year over DiCaprio for his performance in the criminally overlooked Steve Jobs and he does a decent enough job from the outset but, after he loses his family, he turns in one of the most ham-fisted performances I've seen so far this year. I get that a narrative that centers on a strong allegory for prejudice can get heavy-handed at times (For fuck's sake, Magneto visits Auschwitz as if he forgot why he became the man he is) but it gets a bit over-the-top. And after joining the Four Horsemen, he and the others just stand and sulk like they're posing for a bad album cover.

Oscar Isaac is an actor I've watched make a monumental ascension recently. Sure, he was in the latest Star Wars and does a fantastic job with that smaller role but it was his star-making performances in Inside Llewyn Davis, Ex Machina, and Show Me a Hero that put him on my radar. When I heard he was cast as Apocalypse, I was very happy but I'm not happy anymore. It doesn't help that he goes through the movie looking like a monochromatic sad clown and chews scenery like an all you can eat buffet.
Faring much better are Sophie Turner as the teenage Jean Grey and Tye Sheridan as the teenage Cyclops who are the best additions to the expanding X-Men cast. Jean Grey and Cyclops have one of the most iconic love stories in comics; two figures who have difficulty controlling their powers and living in constant fear of their own potential that ultimately find solace and tranquility with each other. They don't get as much to do as they should as they take a backseat to the central conflict but they do well with what they're given. And I hope there's no Jubilee fans because even though she shows up in her classic outfit, she gets jack shit to do...just kidding, Jubilee fans don't exist.

I think the faults of X-Men: Apocalypse are best exemplified by the film's centerpiece action sequence featuring Quicksilver. The sequence is bigger and more ambitious than the memorable set piece in Days of Future Past that saw the supersonic mutant save the day set to Jim Croce's Time in a Bottle...but bigger definitely doesn't always mean better and somehow the special effects got worse over the past two years? The scene wasn't an exercise in imagination so much as a direct attempt to top something that's been done before...but setting it to the pulsating menace of Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics is pretty cool.

After 6 X-Men films (8 if you count the Wolverine spin-offs), everything feels played out; the love just isn't there anymore. All of the pieces we've come to know and love are on the board. James McAvoy still does an underrated job as a younger Professor X and there's a reason why Jennifer Lawrence has an Academy Award and three additional nominations under her belt already (Though Mystique has a very contrived role to play here). But there's just no heart in it and it's a soulless, dragging flick. Maybe skip this one and just watch Captain America: Civil War again because this thing is a trainwreck.

Category:First Impressions -- posted at: 4:06pm EDT
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Our 100th commentary! Continuing our countdown to Star Trek Beyond and in celebration of 50 years of Star Trek, this is our commentary for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Having come off such a positive experience working on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and looking to break into feature film directing, Leonard Nimoy returned to franchise he had originally written off (And been written out of) both on screen and in the director's chair! Knocked by many for being too much in the shadow of its more successful predecessor, The Search for Spock serves as a sort of extended epilogue to The Wrath of Khan and goes even darker by the end. Listen as the boys revisit Leonard Nimoy's feature directorial debut!

Direct download: StarTrekIII.mp3
Category:Commentary -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
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It's Chris' birthday! Well, it was back in April... He's finally had a chance to collect all of the Laserdiscs that gifted to him and in this episode he goes through all of them and thanks all his lovely friends!

Direct download: LaserDicks08.mp3
Category:Laserdisc Talk -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
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The gang is back with another special episode this time as Chris' friend Nicole comes on the show to talk about her experiences working on the upcoming Pierce Brosnan film Urge. In addition to her time with the production, the gang talks about her activity on Twitch (Her Twitch handle is timeywimeygirl_) and cosplaying at the various New York City-based cons!

Urge is in theaters everywhere on Friday, June 3!

Direct download: NicoleIntervew.mp3
Category:Nerd Talk -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
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