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The Harold & Maudecast - Sarah Mason & Jake Essoe

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Solo & Cargo - Movie Reviews + Checking in on Westeros

On Episode 328 of The Harold & Maudecast, hosts Sarah Mason and Jake review the movies SOLO and CARGO and checking in on Westeros, predictions for who will survive Game of Thrones.

Han Solo is finally getting his own origin story! Question is, did he really need one? SOLO, A STAR WARS STORY, was released on May 24th to lukewarm box office results, if you consider $115m lukewarm. Well Disney does. It appears SOLO may be the first victim of STAR WARS fatigue, as Disney continues to pump out spin-off films whether we want them or not. 

We meet young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), the would-be pilot as he's escaping with his girlfriend Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) from their home planet, under siege by the Empire. Spoiler alert! One of them gets left behind, but we'll see her again in the future after Han completes his training, does some soldiering for the Empire, meets Chewie and joins a misfit group of space outlaws led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson). After their big score heist goes terribly wrong, they face certain death at the hands of big boss Drydon Vos (Paul Bettany) unless the team can find a ship that can make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs....luckily part time dandy, full time card shark, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), has one. 

SOLO is full of edge-of-your-seat action sequences including a intergalactic space train heist that invokes the spirit of Indiana Jones. Although Ehrenreich's name is a mouthful to say and he looks nothing like Harrison Ford, he's the right guy for the job. He pulls it off thanks to a wonderful supporting cast and a strategic script penned by the great Lawrence Kasdan (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, SILVERADO) and his son Jonathan Kasdan (IN THE LAND OF WOMEN), the younger Kasdan clearly supplied the many satisfying albeit obscure easter eggs like a reference to the 1997 video game, “Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. Director Ron Howard stepped in after Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (THE LEGO MOVIE) were fired for presumably being too silly? Regardless, it was the right choice as Howard's steady vision steered this film into maturity. Oh there's fun, and silliness, lots of crazy Lucas inspired creatures. But what makes this film enjoyable is the feeling that it's being produced by real filmmaking pros. You may not walk away thrilled as you were after THE FORCE AWAKENS, but don't forget that came after a long dry spell and the disasters that were Episodes 1, 2 and 3.  Seek to be entertained in the spirit of Indiana Jones and get over Harrison Ford's absence and you'll dig this film as much as we did. Justice!

​Review for CARGO, the Netflix original re-invention of the zombie genre starring Martin Friedman (Sherlock, THE HOBBIT) starts at 29:17.

In the outback of Australia, Andy (Friedman) and wife Kay (Susie Porter), with baby in tow, are struggling to stay alive in the new zombie stricken world. When tragedy strikes, it's up to Andy to find a family to take care of their baby girl before it's too late. 

In some ways CARGO is your typical zombie story. It's got all the trappings of the genre, biting, walking dead, apocalyptic world, dangerous people who may kill you before the zombies do. Yet, it's far from the maddening crowd of Walking Dead and George Romero films. We don't know why or how the outbreak occurred but if you're lucky enough to have survived this far you're probably familiar with the government issued kit equipped with countdown bracelet and suicide tools. The film rests largely on the performance of Friedman, who delivers. Equally delightful is his young aboriginal companion, Thoomi (Simone Landers), who he must help in order to find refuge for his baby. The countdown/doomsday clock formula of the story combined with the baby, makes the stakes impossibly high for even a zombie movie. It is that urgency and the desperation of Andy that keep you engaged and nervous throughout. It's a tough film to watch -- not entirely tragic, yet sad and draining. Writer/Director team Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling (JUNGLE), stretch and breath life into this genre which seemed to be on it's way out. Justice!

For more podcasts and reviews visit www.thehmcnetwork.com




Age of Distraction 3: Is Social Change Driving the Story

On this episode of The Conversations Podcast, The HMC continues its series, Writing in the Age of Distraction with Part 3: Is Social Change Driving the Story. Host Sarah Mason sits down with screenwriters Warren Lewis (BLACK RAIN) and Stephen Godchaux (Roseanne, Dead Like Me) to discuss writing in a politically charged era -- how and why social movements like #MeToo #BlackLivesMatter and #Parkland are driving storylines from Roseanne to Big Little Lies to Get Out. Should story creators be in the bridge building business or simply entertainment us, and does the success of Black Panther suggest audiences want both? We discuss all this and more.

For the full series visit www.thehmcnetwork.com/interviews




Princess Deadpool

On Episode 327 of The Harold & Maudecast, "Princess Deadpool". Host Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe review DEADPOOL 2.

Ryan Reynolds returns in the title role for DEADPOOL 2, opening May 18. This time the R rated wisecracker finds himself in the unlikely role of mentor and protector after meeting an angry teenage mutant orphan played by Julian Dennison (HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE). Russell becomes the target of Cable (Josh Brolin)a genetically enhanced soldier from the future... let's just call him terminator, seriously. In order to help the kid fight Cable, Deadpool assembles a super squad aka X Force, Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård) Domino (Zazie Beetz) and Peter! (Rob Delaney) No powers, he just read the ad in craigslist.

DEADPOOL 2 is jam packed with cheeky quips, celebrity cameos and lots and lots of ironically placed licensed music -- insert Enya during fight sequence. It's also filled with amazingly choreographed action and fight sequences, great comic performances by Reynolds, Dennison, Beetz and special shoutout Rob Delaney who made us belly laugh as the overweight, middle aged white dude who just wants to hang out. The budget appears to have grown as a result of the success of the first film, DEADPOOL which is evident in the CGI fight between Colossus and Juggernaut. But it seems if they cut back on the music licensing they may be able to afford more X Men.

All in all much fun was had by our audience of two. We give it a 8 on the Justice and Doom meter. Listen to our full review for more of our thoughts.

Bonus! Despite the Royal Wedding threatening to overshadow the release of DEADPOOL 2, it made over $300m worldwide opening weekend. We weigh in on the wedding in our special way, the Hollywood class system, Royal Wedding addition.

For more episodes of The Harold & Maudecast visit www.thehmcnetwork.com




To Infinity and Beyond - Avengers: Infinity War

On Episode 326 of The Harold & Maudecast, "Infinity and Beyond", Sarah and Jake review the movie with the biggest box office opening in history, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, and talk Marvel's master plan, how they got all these super heroes to play together like a well finessed boy(girl) band.

HBO's Westworld returned for Season 2 in April. Is it still surprisingly unsatisfying? We unpack all the episodes thus far and look toward the future of complex plot lines going nowhere.

Sarah and Jake go through their Most Excited to See Summer 2018 Movies, more Marvel, something that looks Incredible 2, Mr Roger's neighborhood, Cher's back? And much more.

Visit www.thehmcnetwork.com for more podcasts, movie reviews and more!




Walk Quiet and Carry a Big Box Office Stick - A Quiet Place

On this week's episode 325 of The Harold & Maudecast hosted by Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe, Now in Theaters reviews, READY PLAYER ONE and A QUIET PLACE, at long last our streaming review of THE LAST JEDI and The Walking Dead Season 8 Finale.

Ready Player One -
A Quiet Place -
The Walking Dead Season 8 Finale -
The Last Jedi -

READY PLAYER ONE is based on the Ernest Cline novel, written by Ernest Cline and Zak Penn, directed by Steven Spielberg, stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Mark Rylance and Ben Mendelsohn. When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

This film was highly anticipated by fan boys and girls including us but did it deliver? Hell no.

A QUIET PLACE stars John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, directed and co-written by John Krasinski with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. In an apocalyptic America, a family is forced to live in silence to hide from creatures who hunt solely by sound.

This PG13 horror film kicked box office ass beating READY PLAYER ONE on its first weekend and almost tying RAMPAGE on its opening weekend. What's in the secret sauce that's making theater goers afraid to make a noise?

We discuss both films and weigh in on why one was Doomed and won received much Justice. For more episodes, reviews and lots of cool stuff from for fans, visit www.thehmcnetwork.com




Hidden Gems & Missed Opportunities - Role Models, Tomb Raider & Downsizing

On this Episode 324 of The Harold & Maudecast, 'Hidden Gems & Missed Opportunities', celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the film, ROLE MODELS and reviews of TOMB RAIDER and DOWNSIZING.

ROLE MODELS is a story about energy drink reps Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) trash the company trunk and are facing jail time until Danny's recently former girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) does some legal wrangling allowing them to do community service with a mentoring program instead of jail time.

ROLE MODELS was released in 2008 to modest box office results initially, $19,167,085 but it has since been streaming its way to cult status. It's grossed $92,380,927 worldwide thanks to its popularity on DVD and streaming services. Rudd co-wrote the film with David Wain (WANDERLUST, WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER), Ken Marino (WANDERLUST) and TImothy Dowling (PIXELS). The cast is filled with comedy character favorites including Jane Lynch (GLEE, 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN), Ken Jeong (THE HANGOVER), Matt Walsh (Veep), Kerry Kenny (Reno 911), Nicole Randall Johnson (Reno 911), and of course McLovin himself, Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

ROLE MODELS is currently streaming on HBO Go & Now. It is one of the funniest movies you've probably never seen. Listen to our commentary and review to find out why.

Also in this episode we dive into two films that shoulda, coulda been better than they turned out to be, now in theaters, TOMB RAIDER and now streaming, DOWNSIZING.

TOMB RAIDER
After finding a clue that may lead to the whereabouts of her missing adventurer father, Lord Walter Croft, Lara Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination -- a fabled tomb on a mythical island possibly off the coast of Japan.

TOMB RAIDER, based on the mega popular game series, Tomb Raider developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix, is a reboot of the movie franchise [based on said game series] starring Angelina Jolie. This time, Alicia Vikander (EX MACHINA, THE DANISH GIRL) takes on the role of Lara Croft. This new film is based on the widely successful 2013 reboot of the game series. Confused yet? The film also stars Dominic West (The Wire) as Lord Walter Croft and Walton Goggins (Justified) as bad guy Mathias Vogel. Screenplay by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons, Directed by Norwegian filmmaker, Roar Uthaug (THE WAVE).

Hardcore fans will be disappointed as the stakes are so much lower and far less adventurous than the game itself. We dissect every missed opportunity and compare movie action to game action.

DOWNSIZING
When scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to overpopulation, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in order to get small and move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.

Directed by two-time Oscar winner Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS, THE DESCENDANTS) and written by Payne and fellow Oscar winner Jim Tayler (SIDEWAYS), starring Oscar winners Damon, Christoph Waltz and Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis, DOWNSIZING had the pedigree of a winner. Unfortunately this was Payne's weakest film and another missed opportunity.

If TOMB RAIDER's stakes were too low, DOWNSIZING's stakes were too high for what should have been a much simpler comedy. The premise alone paired with the A list cast and Payne's signature brilliance in elevating the mundane to fascinating, would have been all this film needed to be entertaining. Instead, the script veers off into several complex and conflicting plots lines taking the story far away from the concept of downsizing.

Listen as we unpack all the missed opportunities in both of these films.

For more movie, game reviews and other podcasts visit www.thehmcnetwork.com



Posted by: Sarah Mason on Apr 11, 2018 at 3:15:45 am tomb raider review, downsizing, role models, movies, reviews

Stitched Together by Netflix - The Frankenstein Chronices

On this episode of The Harold & Maudecast, hosts Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe review Netflix 'The Frankenstein Chronicles'.

Just in time for the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Frankenstein, Netflix picks up 'The Frankenstein Chronicles' starring Sean Bean, the most bingeworthy new drama series. After years in purgatory, (first bought by A&E in 2015 but never produced), the series refused to die. Created by Benjamin Ross and Barry Langford, it is a loose reimagining of the Frankenstein legend. At its core a bold, solid detective story cleverly weaving literary giants like Mary Shelly and William Blake into the story without being too cheeky.

Sarah and Jake review Season 1&2 and talk origin stories as well as future possibilities. For more reviews and podcast episodes visit www.thehmcnetwork.com




Epic Trek: Mapping Harry Potter UK

Sarah and Jake of The Harold & Maudecast travel to the UK to map filming locations for Harry Potter! They begin in London and travel to Oxford, Gloucester through the English countryside, up to Edinburgh and throughout the Scottish Highlands.

In addition to Harry Potter filming locations, Sarah and Jake lay out comprehensive survival guides for historical landmarks, cities, hotels, transportation and more.

Follow their journey in pictures on Instagram, http://www.instagram.com/haroldmaudecast & http://www.instagram.com/samarasnoh and visit http://www.thehmcnetwork.com for a Sarah's blog journal.




Return of the Western - EP 317

Episode 317 of The Harold & Maudecast: Return of the Western. Sarah and Jake examine the resurgence of Westerns, the efforts to revive the genre over the years and whether it's time has truly comeback.

This episode includes a review of HOSTILES, THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN and IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE as well as commentary on new Westerns in development or recently released, and a look back at the last decades attempts to revive.

For more podcast episodes, movie, tv, game reviews and more visit www.thehmcnetwork.com





Posted by: Sarah Mason on Feb 16, 2018 at 10:50:44 pm return of the western, movies, tv, westerns, podcasts

Ep 315: Punish This Netflix - The Punisher & 1922 Reviews

Episode 315 of The Harold & Maudecast "Punish This Netflix", hosts Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe review the Netflix original Series, The Punisher, Season 1 and the Netflix original movie, 1922.

Marvel's The Punisher hit Netflix on November 17th. This live action serial installment of the popular comic book franchise stars Jon Berthal (The Walking Dead), Amber Rose Rivah (Indian Summer), Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls) and Ben Barnes (Westworld). Created by Steve Lightfoot (Hannibal, Narcos), the story picks as ex-special ops Frank Castle/The Punisher (Bernthal) tries to pick up the pieces of his tragic life after his wife and two children are brutally murdered. His revenge spawned blood quest to punish everyone responsible is dealt with as flashbacks in Ep 1. The series follows Castle, presumed dead, living low in NY under an alias, Homeland Security Agent Dina Madani pursuing the source of an anonymous source outing the CIA for murdering an innocent Afghan police officer and David Lieberman aka Micro, a former CIA agent and hacker who becomes Frank's unlikely ally.

Like the other series in the Marvel Defender's universe (which this will presumably tie into), The Punisher is dark, brooding and filled with a lot of unnecessary drama. If you're looking for all out Punisher action, it's there but, with the exception of the first episode, you'll wait till the last 10 minutes of every episode to get it. That said, Bernthal is fantastic and worth all the bloated dialogue spent attempting to make this a drama. 7.5/10

1922, also now streaming on Netflix, is an adaptation of a Stephen King novella. The film stars Thomas Jane (The Mist, Hung) Molly Parker (Deadwood) and Dylan Schmid (Once Upon a Time), written and directed by Zak Hilditch (These Final Hours).

After his wife Arlette (Parker) decides to sell the land they live on bequeathed to her by her father, Wilfred (Jane) conspires to kill her enlisting the help of his son Henry (Schmid). Though it appears they may escape the consequences of the law, Wilfred can not escape the karmic wrath of the spirits that haunt him leading to tragedy for all those around him.

This film is dark, really dark, tragic, sometimes scary and at times hard to watch. It's filled with blood, ghosts and gore. Jane gives a career best with this performance--he is almost unrecognizable, completely transformed into a 1920s era farmer. The film has a similar vibe as the 2015 indie horror film, Witch, creepy, dark but also gripping and well written. This too is well written and Zak Hilditch takes Stephen King's story and both captures the grimness of 1920s heartland America yet modernizes it for today's very sophisticated horror fans. It's slow moving, so don't expect a lot of jump scares. This film takes its time making you uncomfortable. Justice 8.5/10

For more movie, tv, game reviews and other podcast episodes visit ww.thehmcnetwork.com

TV & Streaming Reviews




Posted by: Sarah Mason on Dec 11, 2017 at 7:46:11 pm the punisher, 1922, netflix, streaming, reviews, movies, tv

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The HMC Network is a podcast network featuring genre entertainment commentary, movie and TV reviews, video game reviews, lifestyle & travel, event & Con media coverage & more. Featured on the Creative COW is our flagship podcast, The Harold & Maudecast hosted by Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe. Combining critical analysis with passionate fandom, The Harold & Maudecast offers a fully-informed look at your favorite movies, TV and video games. Commentary and reviews include the latest Walking Dead and Game of Thrones episodes, film festival and Comic Con & fan fest event coverage, technology expos and more. Fandom Never Gets Old.


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