FRED Watch Episode 20: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE OZ!

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

To celebrate the eightieth anniversary of Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz (1939), Wayne and Phillip discuss the iconic film’s place in cinematic history and its endurance in popular culture.

But with eight decades of movies to compare it to, is there still gold on the other side of the rainbow?

 

Listen to their review here:

 

Check out the trailer:

 

Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale performs Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Clara Blandick, Charley Grapewin, Pat Walshe, Terry, Mitchell Lewis [uncredited], Adriana Caselotti [uncredited].

Director: Victor Fleming | Producer: Mervyn LeRoy | Writers: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf (based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum Blanche Sewell) | Music: Herbert Stothart | Cinematographer: Harold Rosson | Editor: Blanche Sewell

Available: DVD and Blu-ray. (Soundtrack also available here.)

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

You’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED PODCAST: FRED Watch Pride Month 2019 Special: Stonewall (1995) ⬇️


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Beta Test #20: Hollow Knight

Beta Test

It’s a dark, dreamy, windy twilight in the dust bowl plane. You stand poised over your target. Nothing makes a sound. not even the leafless trees burble out a sullen woosh. You hover, ready to strike. Yes, finally, this is your moment. Suddenly,  a moaning, grunting noise as the beast in front of you rebounds into life. Your ears prick. The target moves. Slowly you rise, ready to hit. Hit. HIT.

Your target dodges and you lose all life points. 

You wake up on a bench. 

Headder

Hello my little bone knights! I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a hardcore button masher, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review. 

Dear lord, what a month. I have moved out of home, almost quit my job on three separate occasions, my therapist keeps telling me I need to take authority, and I got rained on a lot! I’m an actual wreck. On the plus side though, I’ve been to a theme park, seen a museum, gone walkabout in the Royal botanic gardens, and bought three sexy pairs of cowboy boots! so … there’s a trade off in there somewhere (probably the boots). Might help to play some video games. Yes, I’m sure that’ll set me right. Help me video game gods, you’re my only hope!

Hollow Knight, Developed and published by Team Cherry is a platform jumping game that hearkens back to early 00’s multi site pathfinder days. Taking place in a post industrial boom town, find yourself traversing lush greenery, and craggy caverns, dodging enemy attacks, and fleeing things that make you go “ohshitohshitohshit”, while solving mysteries and unlocking all the treasures of the playing field.

I’m gonna start out with shouting a big hearty ‘I am so happy with this game’! The feel of the universe, the character play, the intrigue, the drama, the boss fights that make you scream like Markiplier in a FNAF video. It had it all! Let’s start at the beginning. I was immediately enthralled by the beautiful scenery, and from there I was pulled into the dimension. The game insists on giving you very little to work with, which would normally be a detriment, yet I found myself enjoying that I knew as much as the characters. It’s a story rich game that takes time, which made me slow down and feel the game play, as opposed to barrelling along in my usual style. In deed, Hollow Knight takes all my base knowledge of early 2000’s platformers and brings it into crystal clear HD quality in a way that only an indie millennial platformer could. 

The artistic style is beautiful in that ‘I just made my first indie game and I’m pulling all the stops‘ kind of way, which I am a massive slut for (You know it, I know it, at least five game developers by this point know it). The easy, flowing nature of the art, and the score meant I was able to find a peaceful moment in almost every stage of my playthrough. More over though, I felt in awe of the culminative efforts of the developing team, and the way they were able to stitch together a game with SO MUCH INTEGRITY. (If we remember back far enough, I tried my hand at Nihilumbra a couple of months ago, and thought it was mostly OK.) Hollow Knight takes Nihilumbra by the collar (balls) and shoves it into inky black oblivion, while dialling up everything on its’ own metre to 100. It’s wild to see such a well made game in such a saturated market do so well. Side note: It’s been living up to the pay bracket as well, which, you know, $50 for a game. You’d hope it’s as good as it says it is. 

Hollow Knight was easy to access, and user friendly. I found myself switching the controls around quite a bit to find a setting that suited me, and I enjoy that the game allowed me to take full control of the user interfacing. From a development point of view I am also thoroughly impressed with the sound effects of the characters. It makes it a lot easier to see what’s going on, especially for those of us who may be impaired. I solidly recommend Hollow Knight to anyone who wants to buy it. Thoroughly sucked in.

All in all, this is an amazing game. I had such a blast playing it, and I will absolutely be continuing in my QUEST throughout the coming months! 

Because of the beauty and grace of the animations, and the solid game play, I give this game:

5/5 Skully bois for style
4/5 Skully bois for plot
2/5 Skully bois for easiness
5/5 Skully bois for ATMOSPHERE

So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a jumpy jumpy Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!

Until next time,

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A Podcast Called FRED #80: Favourite Leonardo DiCaprio Films

Kendall, Fulya, and Wayne deliver the latest in nerdy news and geeky goodness in the pop culture podcast that refuses to behave—it’s A Podcast Called FRED!

 

Nerdy News includes:

  • Hollywood legend Peter Fonda and Oscar-winning Roger Rabbit animator Richard Williams die;
  • Krypton cancelled;
  • Disney+ announces Love, Simon series as Netflix releases The Crown Season 3 teaser;
  • and so much more!

Trailer Park discussions:

  • Little Women
  • Dolemite is My Name
  • Last Christmas

Quickie Reviews:

  • Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (2019)
  • The Nightingale (2019)
  • Angel of Mine (2019)

Popcorn Culture:

  • This week, the team discuss their favourite Leonardo DiCaprio films—featuring responses from you!

 

Check out A Podcast Called FRED #80 ⬇️

Remember to let us know your response to the Popcorn Culture question so you can be featured in the next episode of A Podcast Called FRED!

 

PREVIOUS EPISODE: A Podcast Called FRED #79 ⬇️


FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Iron Man 2 (2010)

IRON MAN SURVIVES KINK IN THE ARMOUR…

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Iron Man 2

Marvel Studios / Fairview Entertainment / Paramount Pictures

Having confessed to being superhero Iron Man six months earlier, billionaire businessman Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) resists calls from the United States government to hand over his famous suit’s technology while dealing with his depleting health from the arc reactor in his chest.

Meanwhile, Russian scientist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) develops the same technology to extract revenge against the Stark family while teaming up with Tony’s business rival, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell).

As is the case with most sequels, Iron Man 2 is all the better for jumping straight into the action as well as delving further into plot points and narrative arcs set up in its predecessor. Robert Downey, Jr. is more than comfortable in a role that simply would not work as well with anyone else under the nitinol armour, and his rapport with Gwyneth Paltrow (as “Pepper” Potts) is thankfully given more screen time. Unlike the first Iron Man film, there is no questioning the pair’s invested interest in one another—personally as well as professionally—however, it would have perhaps been best to draw out their declaration of love for one another for a little longer (that is, in another film).

What works best here is the continued exploration of the principal characters, particularly Stark himself, whose meditation on his mortality and relationship with his father Howard (an excellent John Slattery) are a narrative highlight. Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard from the first film, and unsurprisingly does a great job at fulfilling James Rhodes’s previous promise to don the War Machine suit. There is excellent chemistry between Cheadle and Downey, so there is plenty for the audience to invest in whenever the pair battle reluctantly, even though Rhodes’s motivation for first armouring up comes across as a little underdeveloped; the stakes should have been higher.

Scene-stealer Sam Rockwell is outstanding as the white-collar antagonist, that you can’t help but selfishly wish there was more of him. Scarlett Johansson makes a remarkable entry into the franchise as the mysterious new Stark Enterprises employee, it is always a pleasure to see Clark Gregg as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson, and director Jon Favreau’s crowd-pleasing Happy Hogan is given more to do this time around.

With strong performances across the board and a more confident utilisation of visual effects (helped, no doubt, by a bigger budget), it is unfortunate that Iron Man 2 doesn’t reach its full potential. This is primarily to do with Justin Theroux’s screenplay. Chief villain Ivan Vanko is so two-dimensional that it is impossible to have any connection to him despite Mickey Rourke’s adequate performance, the character’s backstory, and his love for animals. Additionally, Vanko’s final battle is particularly underwhelming when considering the build-up to it. There are also continued hints of things to come (which are fun retrospectively, especially Coulson’s reaction to the Captain America shield), but these will be lost on those who are not heavily invested in the franchise.

Iron Man 2 cannot be watched without it’s predecessor’s viewing (and this is by no means a critique; it is a sequel, after all), but those who enjoyed the first film will find this follow-up unnecessarily sluggish in parts. And it says a lot about a film when its most exciting moment is a post-credit scene. However, this third instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is well-worth watching despite a number of kinks in its armour. 3 / 5

 

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau, Clark Gregg, Leslie Bibb, John Slattery, Garry Shandling, Paul Bettany [voice], Olivia Munn, Yevgeni Lazarev, Kate Mara, Stan Lee [cameo], Christiane Amanpour [cameo], Bill O’Reilly [cameo], Adam Goldstein [cameo], Elon Musk [cameo], Larry Ellison [cameo].

Director/Producer: Jon Favreau | Writer: Justin Theroux (based on Iron Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Jack Kirby) | Music: John Debney | Cinematographer: Matthew Libatique | Editors: Dan Lebental, Richard Pearson

 

Available: DVD; Blu-ray; stan

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED VIDEO: Non-Scripted Ramblings #6: Countdown to Infinity War—Iron Man 2 ⬇️


A Podcast Called FRED #79

Kendall and Fulya deliver the latest in nerdy news and geeky goodness in the pop culture podcast that refuses to behave—it’s A Podcast Called FRED!

 

Nerdy News includes:

  • Andy Serkis to direct Venom 2;
  • Kevin Conroy to play live action Bruce Wayne in upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover;
  • Home Alone reboot in the works at Disney +;
  • Coming to America 2 announces Wesley Snipes and Kiki Layne joining the cast;
  • and so much more!

Trailer Park discussions:

  • Addams Family
  • Honey Boy
  • Treadstone

Quickie Reviews:

  • The Dead Don’t Die (2019)
  • Incredibles 2 (2018)

Popcorn Culture:

  • This week, the team discuss which nerdy tattoo they would get—featuring responses from you!

 

Check out A Podcast Called FRED #79 ⬇️

 

Remember to let us know your response to the Popcorn Culture question so you can be featured in the next episode of A Podcast Called FRED!

 

PREVIOUS EPISODE: A Podcast Called FRED #78 ⬇️


FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

INCREDIBLE, INDEED!

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is the underrated, The Incredible Hulk

Marvel Studios / Valhalla Motion Pictures / Universal Pictures

On the run from the military, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) attempts to cure himself of gamma radiation poisoning that turns him into an aggressive, giant green figure dubbed the Hulk. But when Banner is captured by General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), a power-hungry soldier, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), becomes an uncontrollable creature with similar strengths.

The burden for filmmakers in bringing the Incredible Hulk to the big screen is the character’s checkered history. The beloved 1970s TV series and its three sluggish spin-off made-for-television movies are elevated with nostalgia, and Ang Lee’s 2003 overlong, melodramatic, visual spectacle remains a sore spot for fans of the comic book genre.

Linked to 2008’s Iron Man, Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk is not only far superior to any of the character’s previous big and small screen incarnations, but it is an altogether masterstroke in this sort of storytelling. What Zak Penn’s screenplay and star Edward Norton’s uncredited contributions achieve is a taut narrative that encompasses and successfully balances elements of superhero, chase, thriller, romance, and action genre tropes with confidence.

Beginning with a brave choice of surmising Bruce Banner/the Hulk’s origin in a stirring opening title sequence (and referring back to it later for those who may not have completely understood it), no time is wasted in meeting our tormented protagonist. Characters are gradually introduced as he seeks to cure his gamma ray-induced condition, but we instantly know the status of these interpersonal relationships because we have already met these key players within the first few minutes.

Furthermore, the stakes intensify as the film progresses, allowing more characters to develop as distinctive good guys and bad. But, of course, things are not always that simple and the reluctantly aggressive Banner is juxtaposed against those who elect belligerence at will. There’s also a love story at the heart of the film between Banner and his antagonist’s daughter, Elizabeth Ross, that is both tender and tragic. The success of The Incredible Hulk rides on its characters. Through Penn’s script and Leterrier’s conscious directorial choices, Norton and Liv Tyler perfectly portray a couple fighting against numerous forces to be together. It is lovely seeing their relationship unfold, so much so that we are invested in them to a degree that when the third act goes into overdrive, we believe it all.

Of course, Norton (one of the finest actors of his generation) is unsurprisingly exceptional as Bruce Banner/Hulk and Tyler is consistently wonderful, but there’s also solid turns from Tim Roth and William Hurt as our antagonists who are the driving force behind the tension of the narrative. The chase and action sequences do not disappoint and are enhanced by John Wright, Rick Shaine, and Vincent Tabaillon‘s slick editing, as well as Craig Armstrong’s score and Peter Menzies Jr.’s beautiful cinematography. Minor quip: The final scene would have been best saved for after the credits, as the one before it rounds up the narrative perfectly.

Under-performing at the box office upon release and still unappreciated today, make no mistake about it, The Incredible Hulk is a pretty incredible genre picture. 4½ / 5

 

Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, William Hurt, Lou Ferrigno [voice; cameo], Robert Downey Jr. [uncredited], Stan Lee, Michael K. Williams, Paul Soles, Rickson Gracie, Débora Nascimento, Peter Mensah, Christina Cabot, P.J. Kerr, Nicholas Rose, Martin Starr.

Director: Louis Leterrier | Writer: Zak Penn (based on Hulk by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) | Producers: Avi Arad, Gale Anne Hurd, Kevin Feige | Music: Craig Armstrong | Cinematographer: Peter Menzies Jr. | Editors: John Wright, Rick Shaine, Vincent Tabaillon

 

Available: DVD; Blu-ray; YouTube

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED VIDEO: Non-Scripted Ramblings #5: Countdown to Infinity War—The Incredible Hulk ⬇️


A Podcast Called FRED #78

Kendall, Fulya, and Wayne deliver the latest in nerdy news and geeky goodness in the pop culture podcast that refuses to behave—it’s A Podcast Called FRED!

 

Nerdy News includes:

  • Aquaman confimed as queer in Young Justice episode;
  • Joss Whedon’s HBO series The Nevers announces cast;
  • Stephen King to write new ending for The Stand;
  • 13 Reasons Why to end with fourth season;
  • and so much more!

Trailer Park discussions:

Popcorn Culture:

  • This week, the team discuss which horrible films they absolutely love—featuring responses from you!

 

Check out A Podcast Called FRED #78 ⬇️

 

Remember to let us know your response to the Popcorn Culture question so you can be featured in the next episode of A Podcast Called FRED!

 

PREVIOUS EPISODE: A Podcast Called FRED #77 ⬇️


FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Iron Man (2008)

MAN OF IRON!

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film launched the biggest superhero franchise of all time, Iron Man

Marvel Studios / Fairview Entertainment / Paramount Pictures

Having survived a kidnapping using his remarkable intelligence and ingenuity to build a high-tech armoured suit, unscrupulous billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) decides to use his skills and mega organisation Stark Industries for good.

But when he uncovers a plot with disastrous global ramifications, he upgrades his armour and is determined to protect the world under the guise of Iron Man.

What is perhaps most notable and commendable about Jon Favreau’s Iron Man is that it achieves what some previous superhero movies have strived for with nowhere near as much success. Blending heavy contemporary real-world themes into the realm of a science fiction fantasy film is difficult because the very essence of the Tony Stark character, his heroic alter ego, and the world he inhibits, only work if the audience is willing to suspend their disbelief. Iron Man asks us to suspend a lot, which is a mighty task when considering that all-too-familiar instances of terrorism and warfare are vital in setting up the plot.

But how does Iron Man get this balance so right? Well, the on screen world is easily recognisable as our own and, although the level of technological advancements may not be, we accept it because what we learn of Stark through a video played at an awards ceremony and the manner in which he conducts himself from the get-go makes sense. These come together harmoniously because Robert Downey Jr. plays the complex Tony Stark straight with touches of dry humour that keep him accessible. Both eccentric and distant, the audience has to put the work into gauging Stark, who shows flashes of strength and vulnerability. By the end of the film, we know more about him but realise there’s plenty left to discover, as suggested in his final press conference.

As perfectly cast as Downey is as the titular hero, Iron Man is not without its flaws. It has plenty to introduce, and takes its time in doing so, but the payoff doesn’t quite feel as satisfying as it should for a movie of this scale. As is the case with many superhero films, the leading lady and love interest isn’t given much to do besides advance the hero’s narrative. But Gwyneth Paltrow is nonetheless a joy to watch as Pepper Potts and there is a lovely genuineness about her chemistry with Downey. Despite this, their relationship isn’t always quite as believable as it should be, so the climactic battle that reduces Potts to lamenting over Stark’s mortality misses the emotional beats it strives for and comes across as melodramatic.

The script plants an excessive number of seeds for future films but you won’t feel as though you are missing anything if you were to stop right here. Although inevitably suffering from the responsibility of setting up a franchise with a character making his big screen debut, there’s still plenty to enjoy about Iron Man. 3½ / 5

 

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow, Faran Tahir, Paul Bettany [voice], Leslie Bibb, Clark Gregg, Will Lyman [voice], Jon Favreau, Samuel L. Jackson, Stan Lee, Tom Morello, Jim Cramer.

Director: Jon Favreau | Writers: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway (based on Iron Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Jack Kirby) | Producers: Avi Arad, Kevin Feige | Music: Ramin Djawadi | Cinematographer: Matthew Libatique | Editor: Dan Lebental

 

Available: DVD; Blu-ray; stan

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED VIDEO: Non-Scripted Ramblings #4: Countdown to Infinity War—Iron Man ⬇️


The Monthly @ WiniFRED’s #25

Get ready for a new episode of The Monthly @ WiniFRED’s!

Join Fulya and Kendall as they discuss Disney’s animated and live-action Aladdin films—featuring responses thoughts from you!

Have a listen and let us know which one you preferred! Also, get ready to respond to the next Monthly question, revealed at the end of the episode ⬇️

 

PREVIOUS EPISODE: The Monthly @ WiniFRED’s #24: Disney’s Animated Worlds ⬇️


Collectible Chaos: Top Ten Infinity Saga Films

Join FRED the ALIEN Productions‘s pop culture queen Kendall Richardson for Collectible Chaos!

Here, Kendall counts down her favourite movies that made up the record-breaking Infinity Saga in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Let us know your number one choice in the comments.

Check out Collectible Chaos – Top Ten Infinity Saga Films (SPOILERS AHEAD)

RELATED VIDEO: Collectible Chaos: Top Ten Thor Trilogy Moments ⬇️