Jul 13, 2017

Podcast Portal: Cracked Movie Club

Welcome to Podcast Portal: a spontaneous column that will highlight podcasts of all genres that are lesser known or new shows that are worth giving a listen. With the medium continuing to grow, it is hard to acknowledge all of them. However, I am going to try and find as many noteworthy titles as possible to share and hopefully expand your mind to the greatest growing medium out there. If you have any podcast that you feel is worth adding to the Podcast Portal, please make sure to inform me whether through the comments or through an e-mail (information in sidebar). 

SHOW: Cracked Movie Club
HOSTS:  Tom Reimann, Abe Epperson
NETWORK: Earwolf
EPISODE BEING DISCUSSED: "Raiders of the Lost Ark"

There have been few podcasts that mix information with humor quite like The Cracked Podcast. One of their favorite topics has been movie history and trivia. It only makes sense then that they would have an official spin-off dedicated to these topics. While The Cracked Movie Club doesn't have the central players of The Cracked Podcast, it does feature voices that are familiar to the website. Tom Reimann and Abe Epperson enjoy looking at the interesting side of movies by dissecting each film in detail. In the case of this series, they will not be recapping the plot, but instead exploring the history of the film as well as various trivia facts that make the medium into something far more interesting.

It seems fitting then that their first month is being dedicated to the work of Steven Spielberg. The iconic director pretty much made July into a summer movie blockbuster month with Jaws, and has only gone on to make some of the greatest cinematic experiences of the last 50 years. Audiences stare in awe as he works the movie magic and captures why people go to the theaters in the first place. He's also not short on options for genuine entertainment. While they released two episodes for their premiere week, Raiders of the Lost Ark feels like a strong place to start, if just because it's the only franchise that he's been the sole director of for decades now.
So, what is there really to learn from Raiders of the Lost Ark? Reimann and Epperson at very least have a passion for behind the scenes stories. They revel in how each detail came to be, including some embarrassing mishaps on set. Those who turn to podcasts looking to learn something, then this show will give you a deeper appreciation for Indiana Jones, originally named Indiana Smith. What was with the name change? You'll have to listen to find out. Beyond that, there's plenty of discussion as to why Spielberg and George Lucas stuck tons of Star Wars imagery into their 1980's movies. It's a fascinating journey that proves that, at very least, cinema has a curious history that is just as interesting when considering what isn't on screen. This show will help you recontextualize certain aspects of the film, and it does so with the familiar Cracked humor. Thankfully they're very smart too.
On the sillier side, the duo explore their own secret desires about the film. As much as the show works because it is a look into its history, it's also fun to listen to the final half where they get into personal gripes. There's a few segments dedicated to noticing bizarre plot points along with what scenes they wish existed, and (in one of the more odd turns) a question as to whether they would show these films to aliens. What seems like the stupidest question in a fairly smart show turns out to be a compelling philosophical debate about what is craft and what could be seen more for its caustic themes. Considering that Spielberg has dealt heavily with aliens, this is a topic that's probably only going to get more interesting if they tackle E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
All of this could theoretically happen by this time next week. After all, this is a month dedicated to Spielberg movies. There's going to be the obvious heavy weights that have to be discussed (Jaws, E.T., etc.), which will make for an intriguing debut month. The only caution is that this show is likely to be interesting based on film or filmmaker, so it's hard to give a solid recommendation. While I'm at least looking forward to the Spielberg films, I am curious to see what they do when they branch out and try other movies from other eras. Will they be as good? The worst that can be said is that they're entertaining primers for the films discussed and could be useful if you're doing research. How much more value you get out of them will be up for debate.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5
WORTH A SECOND GO?: Considering that they also released an episode on Jurassic Park (which is actually more entertaining and explores comparisons to the book), I think that this is a series that would benefit from how interested you are in the topic. Still, Cracked continues to do excellent work, and this is a welcomed entry to their podcast series.

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