Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

ANCC: TV Shows (2015 Edition)

Nick and the Gorehound come together to discuss what they are watching on TV or TV-on-Netflix.  The two discuss a wide variety of shows from The Flash and Vikings to Entourage and Chicago area legend, Svengoolie!  But that isn’t all…Nick, the couch potato that he is, decides it is a good idea to each potato chips while talking.  The results are hilariously awkward! Come and give a listen!

Click here or on the image to listen to the podcast!


ANCC: WolfCop

After a week off, Nick and the Gorehound return to to discuss the 2014 horror-comedy WolfCop!  Join them as they discuss the complete insanity that this film presents!  Also listen as their conversation about a cop turned werewolf-cop devolves into a discussion on tattoos!

Speaking of which, if you live in the Champaign, Illinois area and are looking to get a tattoo, then look no further than No Regrets Tattoo!

Click here or on the image to listen to the podcast!


Also, check out The Gorehound’s WolfCop review here!


I Unfortunately Saw Spectre

I’m convinced that Daniel Craig is the best James Bond since Sean Connery. I liked a few of the Roger Moore movies (For Your Eyes Only and The Spy Who Loved Me are both really good), but Craig really delivers the goods in a way no one has since Connery. I found Brosnan to be decent, but he really aged badly over the course of four movies. I’ve never been a big fan of Timothy Dalton’s two Bond films, and the less said about George Lazenby the better. For my money, it’s Connery followed by Craig on any day of the week.


Having said that, Spectre, Craig’s latest turn as James Bond, is a disappointing film. That doesn’t lie on Craig’s shoulders, however; he is great as James Bond, clearly comfortable in the role. He really picks up and continues from 2012’s fantastic Skyfall in a very comfortable and assured way. He was a terrific rookie agent in Casino Royale, and while I’m not a big fan of Quantum of Solace, it’s once again hard to blame him for that film’s failures. Spectre is disappointing as a film in almost every regard outside of acting. It is glacially paced, not particularly well directed or choreographed (nothing in the film stands up to the Shanghai scene in Skyfall), incredibly boring in stretches, and almost entirely plotless for the most part.

Spectre is a lot like Quantum of Solace – it’s a total mess with an incredibly weak villain. The most egregious thing about Spectre, however, is how it tries to tie all of the recent Bond movies into one “expanded universe” of James Bond films and fails spectacularly. It does not succeed at this at all. It’s almost as if John Logan, who I tend to like as a screenwriter, took the worst parts of Star Trek Into Darkness and the Marvel movies and shoehorned them into a film that didn’t need this kind of treatment at all. Bond is a strong enough brand to stand on its own. Why Sony and MGM thought to make a connected universe out of him in such a manner is confusing and questionable.

Of course, the attempt to tie Craig’s Bond films together goes back to Quantum of Solace, in which Bond attempts to find a quantum of solace after the death of Vesper Lynd, a turncoat spy who Bond was also in love with. Vesper’s ghost haunts Quantum of Solace and by extension Spectre. But Vesper died on screen nine years ago and Quantum is not particularly well remembered, so dwelling on her seems counterproductive and bogs the film down in its own mythology. Also featured needlessly in the film’s narrative are previous villains Le Chiffre (from Casino Royale), Mr. Greene (from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and also the least threatening villain in the history of James Bond), and Raoul Silva (from Skyfall). But it’s Vesper who continually haunts Bond. It’s just that, as a throughline from Casino Royale to now, it just doesn’t really work.

The big bad in this film is Oberhauser, played by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz. Waltz is a fantastic actor and theoretically he should be a phenomenal villain for James Bond to duel with. In practice however, he is absolutely terrible. Waltz isn’t particularly interesting in the underwritten role, and he’s about as menacing as the night manager at Staples. He seems somehow less threatening and intimidating than Mr. Greene, who as noted early was one of the worst villains in Bond history. Not much better is Dave Bautista (of WWE and Guardians of the Galaxy) as the seemingly mute Mr. Hinx. Hinx is apparently supposed to be a throwback to the days of Odd Job and Jaws. I’ll take either of them over him any day of the week. Though Hinx is visibly imposing, his character is almost treated as a total joke. Like Oberhauser, Hinx is incredibly underwritten. What is his motivation outside of pleasing Waltz’ character? There’s no reason at all to fear him other than that he’s 6’5”. He seems like he’s just going to be around long enough to slightly inconvenience Bond and that’s his entire character arc.

Speaking of no motivation, Spectre goes out of its way to create motivation for Waltz’ Oberhauser, but it just doesn’t work. As Nick pointed out in his review, connecting the Craig films the way this film attempts to do is a good idea on the surface, but it’s done so half-assedly that it negatively affects Waltz’ character. There’s no believable or credible threat to Bond in this movie at all. The most disturbing part of the film finds Bond in a torture chair, but I was never on the edge of my seat because I didn’t believe Oberhauser was credible enough to do anything menacing. And the plot to Spectre is also incredibly thin. Oberhauser has a man in the British government who wants to push world leaders towards using a worldwide surveillance system in order to …. accomplish something? It seems like Oberhauser doesn’t need the British government to do this at all. It really seems like he can just do it on his own – he could probably just cut out the middleman here.

Spectre does have its strong points, however. As noted earlier, Craig is great as Bond. I wouldn’t mind seeing him play the character a few more times. I really fear for the next guy to step into Bond’s shoes, because Craig kind of owns the character at this point. Sam Mendes did a better job handling Skyfall, but at least Spectre still looks good, and Nick is right about that tracking shot at the beginning. Speaking of which, the beginning is super rousing and interesting. I kind of wish the whole movie was just that opening scene. The supporting characters are good for the most part as well, particularly Naomie Harris (who gets a few big laughs) and Ralph Fiennes. I like what the film has done with the Moneypenny and M characters a lot. Bond girl Lea Seydoux is adequate, but doesn’t hold a candle to Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, the best Bond girl of the Craig era by far (sorry Olga Kurylenko).

On the whole, Spectre is kind of a mess. It isn’t nearly as interesting or engaging as it should be. In fact, I nearly fell asleep three times. The two-and-a-half hour running time is butt-numbingly interminable. It feels like a total slog, which is really disappointing considering how great the previous film in the series was. Even Quantum of Solace felt tighter as a film. Between Mendes, possible producer interference (rumor has it the big wigs at Sony were not happy with the script), and writer John Logan, I’m not entirely sure where the disconnect is. But Spectre ends up being wholly disappointing on almost every possible level. The film is just a huge letdown and the whole thing is kind of a mess.


ANCC: No Episode Tonight!

Due to some technical difficulties, there will not be an episode of All-New Culture Cast tonight.  But don’t worry, we plan to be back next week with an in-depth discussion on the 2014 horror/comedy WolfCop!

In the meantime, please check out some of our other episodes!  You can access the index here!


“Spectre” – The Nick Review


Spectre is a frustrating movie.  I want to like it – I love Bond films – and to an extent, I do.  The film has some great action (like all Bond films do), and Daniel Craig is perfect as James Bond – he seems so comfortable in the role and really has made it his own while incorporating the trademarks of the character.  However, the film has so many issues that I would find it tough, as a fan, to sit down and sit through it multiple times.

The skull mask has been used heavily in marketing even though it has only two or three minutes of inconsequential screentime.

The skull mask has been used heavily in marketing even though it has only two or three minutes of inconsequential screen time.

Much of the problem with Spectre is that the story is incredibly over-plotted and becomes a bit too convoluted for its own good.  I am still not 100% sure what the villain’s ultimate goal was.  I get the fact that the Spectre organization was trying to manipulate world governments into creating an uber-surveillance system which would then allow them to have access to it as well.  But for what reason?  What evil plot are they going to do with it?  It is incredibly muddled on what the endgame is here.

But, I suppose that is minor when it comes to the other element of Spectre’s main villain, Oberhauser (a much underutilized Chrisoph Waltz).  He isn’t really menacing (mostly due to unclear plans and goals), and the film ham-fistedly tries to make a personal connection between him and Bond.  This revelation comes two-thirds of the way though the film, and it doesn’t land.  At all.  There is no emotional resonance in the connection because the film does nothing of substance with it.

There is more I can talk about Oberhauser as a character and the direction he is taken in, but I don’t want to spoil the film.  I will spoil this: you know he’s evil because he wears shoes without socks.  Only criminal masterminds do this.

Spectre is really ambitious in that it tries to connect all the Daniel Craig Bond films together as one massive, story arc.  I like this idea – in theory.  It just doesn’t quite work because the film doesn’t give enough explanation behind it.  I’m all for not spoon-feeding an audience, but something like this needs to be better defined and cleared-up for an audience to really accept it.  I’ve read elsewhere that there were scenes exploring this further, but were cut for time.  That’s a shame, because I would really have liked to see this angle explored more.

Speaking of time, Spectre is incredibly long at nearly 2.5 hours.  You feel the length.  The first half has way too many breadcrumbs for Bond to follow to effectively set-up the story and by the finale climax, you are ready for it to be over.  I can’t help but wonder if the film could have been streamlined, some of the plot issues could have been ironed out.

I feel bad dumping on Spectre, because there is stuff to like.  I was entertained for the most part.  The action sequences are great.  They are fun and though it doesn’t break new ground, they are very Bond.  Additionally, everything is shot very nicely.  Spectre is a beautiful film, and I love how it opens with a prolonged continuous shot (I’m a sucker for those).

Daniel Craig is in perfect form as James Bond.  He really seems really comfortable as the secret agent, and the writing team were finally able to make Craig a bit wittier with the wisecracks.  Up until now, I feel he has kind of struggled with that.  I also love how the Bond series is expanding the roles of the supporting characters (M, Q, Moneypenny, and Tanner), and making them part of the action.

Spectre can be fun at times, and it is worth seeing the spectacle on the big screen.  That said, there have been better Bond films and there have been worse.  Spectre was ambitious and I appreciate that they tried to tie-up some of the remaining Quantum organization plot threads from the earlier Craig films.  It just doesn’t land as well it probably could (and likely should) have.


Idris Elba is Never Going to be James Bond. Get Over It.

I like Idris Elba. He’s a great, charming actor who really throws himself into his roles. He’s critically acclaimed and has range. He is fairly well known, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call him an A-List actor. He might get there one day, but I don’t think he’s quite there yet. He also seems like a genuinely nice guy.

I have never been disappointed in any of his performances, and I am really looking forward to seeing him as the antagonist in next year’s Star Trek Beyond. So, it might come as a surprise when I say that I am constantly irritated when I see the echo chamber of the internet rallying around the idea that he should succeed Daniel Craig as the next James Bond.

It isn’t going to happen, and people need to get over that.

Idris Elba from a GQ photo shoot.

Idris Elba from a GQ photo shoot.

Would Elba make a good James Bond? Of course he would. He’s attractive, charming, has that suave look that is equally deadly.  He can do edgy with a humorous twinkle.  He’s also from London – a bonus.  Am I saying this because he’s black?  Nope. It’s 2015.  That shouldn’t matter, especially for an English spy.  I have no doubts that one day we’ll have a black James Bond (maybe it’ll even be the next one).

The reason why he’ll never be Bond is that, at 43, Elba has aged out of the role.

What? How could I say that? Many other Bonds have been in their 40s? Surely that can’t count Elba out. Well, I’m afraid it does, and I have the math to prove it.

Spectre is Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as 007. According to his contract, he has at least one more film to go. Based in the production schedule of the previous Craig Bonds, Bond 25 won’t likely hit theaters until 2017 (at the absolute earliest) or, more likely, 2018. If that is his final film, Bond 26 (with a new actor) likely won’t hit theaters until 2020. Possibly not until 2021 as the production staff will need time to search for the new James Bond.

What I am getting at is that we won’t see any new Bond actor for at least 5 or 6 years. By then, Elba will be 48/49. No Bond actor has been that old when cast. EON Productions will likely want a multi-picture deal with the new actor that would likely last about a decade – meaning that Elba would be pushing 60 by the time he would retire from the role. One of the criticisms of Roger Moore’s Bond (who was 46 when cast) was that he became more unbelievable in the role as he aged. There is no way the Bond producers will go down the route again.

In the unlikely event that Spectre turns out to be Craig’s final time as Bond (as some media outlets are rumoring), by the time the next film rolls around, Elba would be past his mid-40s. Still too old to make it work or for the producers to take that risk.

Not to say that a Bond in his 50s wouldn’t work (I honestly believe that Pierce Brosnan had one more film in him); I just don’t see EON going down that route. It potentially strays too far from what they know works.

For Idris Elba to be Bond, he should be Bond now starring in Spectre. As much as it would be cool to see him as 007, it didn’t work out like that.

And while we are at it, Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman, Henry Cavill, and Michael Fassbender will never be Bond either (but for all different reasons).

Idris Elba may not be Bond, but I don’t see why he couldn’t still be in a Bond movie. Perhaps as a villain or ally (he’d make a terrific M). Unfortunately, the timing just wasn’t right for him to take on the role of the world’s most famous secret agent. It is a shame, but the reality of the situation.

Now watch.  In a few years from now, this actually happens.


Trek Tuesday: Series 6

Big news came out yesterday that a new Star Trek television is in production for a January 2017 launch date.  While that seems like it is a long time from now, considering the series is just now entering into development (no writer or showrunners are currently attached), about a year is a standard from announcement to start.  It is being produced by Alex Kurtzman, and the press release claims that the upcoming show will “[explore] the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception”.


This can be very exciting as it has been over ten years since Enterprise was canceled.  There have been rumors for a long time that a new series was in development since the current rebooted movie franchise has been a critical and financial success.  The previous thought was that CBS (who holds the Trek TV rights) and Paramount (who hold the movie rights) had a gentleman’s agreement that CBS wouldn’t move on a new Trek series until the movies finished its run.  Whether or not that is true, apparently the two companies were able to work something out since CBS is moving on a new series.

I am sure helping matters is that Kurtzman has a foot in both worlds.  Having produced and written the previous two films for Paramount and produced several TV series for CBS, Kurtzman was in the perfect place to be the guy to make this happen.  Oddly, Roberto Orci isn’t anywhere to be seen on this since he is pretty much in the same position that Kurtzman is.  Then again, Orci and Kurtzman have ended their creative partnerships and there seemed to be some falling out with Orci and Paramount.  That may have been a factor.

The real downside to this prospective series is that it will be released exclusively in the US on CBS All Access, CBS’s online streaming service.  This is a bit of a bummer for me as I don’t subscribe to this and have zero desire to.  I’m already have Hulu and Netflix, and I barely scratch the surface of what they offer.  Plunking down $6 a month for another service for one show is not likely something I am keen on doing  Maybe if the season drops all at once (like Netflix does for their original programming), I’ll get a subscription for a month before cancelling.  But this is all academic.  The show is over a year away.  Who knows what will happen between now and then?

That said, I do think it was wise of CBS to do something like this.  The likelihood of a Star Trek series to be successful on a mainstream network in today’s market is very low.  A streaming service is a smart move.  I can’t blame CBS for positioning a Star Trek show to launch their original content on their service.

But, who cares about any of that.  A new series is coming, and a true Star Trek fan needs to be doing one thing right now: wild speculation.  I remember when Enterprise was in the early developmental stage and rumors were running rampant on what it could be.  I look forward to that experience again, so let me throw my two cents in!

Warning: Pure Nerd Speculation!!

If I were to guess, the show will likely take place in the new continuity started in 2009’s Star Trek.  With Kurtzman involved, why wouldn’t it not be?  I suppose it could be its own thing, but the only real reason to do that would to have Kirk and Spock.  That would be redundant (especially since a 4th film in the series is already being planned).  Would it have a new cast of characters?  I guess that could happen, but Hollywood, more so today than ever before, wants name recognition.  Probably even more so since the series is supposed to make CBS All Access competitive.  Having a show just be Star Trek may not be enough of a hook to make people take notice.

As I was thinking about this last night, a thought suddenly occurred to me.  The show is launching in 2017.  Star Trek: The Next Generation began in 1987 – 30 years earlier.  Could the new series be a reboot of TNG in the universe established in the JJ Abrams films as a way to celebrate its anniversary?

I’d argue that the show is entrenched in pop-culture enough to bring that name recognition, and it would be able to be separate enough from the film series as to not step on its toes.  I don’t know.  I am just speculating.  But that would be wild.

I’m interested to see where this will go.  I’m sure I’ll be talking more and more about it as more information is released.  What an exciting time to be a Star Trek fan.


ANCC: The X-Files

Just in time for the show’s return, Nick and the Gorehound discuss the popular ’90s sci-fi drama, The X-Files!  Like aliens?  Government conspiracy?  Random abductions?  Increasingly convoluted backstory?  It has it all!  The truth is in this episode!

Click here or on the image to listen to the podcast!


Here is a special link/plug to The X-Files Files, a podcast hosted by Kumail Nanjian (Silicon Valley).

This is why it takes me forever to edit an episode.

ANCC: Horror Movies

Super-Sized Spooktacular Halloween Episode!

The Gorehound and Nick have a spirited discussion about horror, specifically what makes a good horror film, the evolution and trends of horror, the future of horror.  They also talk about leprechauns and why they like to hang out in the hood!

Click here or on the image to listen to the podcast!

Horror Movies

iTunes is still coming soon.  In November.  We promise!



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