Friday, October 09, 2015


The Coen Bros back in 1940s Hollywood mode?

George Clooney as a hack leading-man blithering through a costume epic?

Scarlett Johansson as an Esther Williams analog?

To paraphrase Mr. Oswalt: What god did I please???

Thursday, October 08, 2015

TV RECAP: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 3 - Episode 2: "The Purpose in The Machine"

First things first: "Purpose in The Machine" introduces Agent May's father. As he turns out to be (played by) the legendary James Hong - one of our all-time greatest character actors - it is now automatically the most important episode of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D that has ever aired or likely will ever air.


By now I've come to terms with the fact that a lot of the reasons I've come to genuinely enjoy AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D are probably the same things that both the series' creators and other audiences find the most frustrating - in particular its tendency to change-up tone, direction, story-arcs, character roles and general narrative flow on a whim. Yes, I'm aware it's more a function of Marvel TV and Marvel Film not really being on the same page a lot of the time, but what works works. Case in point: "Purpose" opting to (seemingly) resolve what easily could've been a season-long plot thread (Agent Simmons, believed dead by everyone but Fitz, is stranded on an alien planet) in the season's second episode. Did not expect that.

Video Review: THE MARTIAN

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


Note: Video review is in-production alongside several other projects, but I know people have gotten tired of waiting so for now here is a text version - as ever, content like this is possible in part through The MovieBob Patreon.


HOLY FUCKING SHIT does it feel good to love a Ridley Scott movie again!

Alright, alright, look. I know people have been asking me about dialing back the profanity on these things, but, I’m sorry – it’s been a long time since one of our undisputed greatest filmmakers actually MADE a great film, and I’m excited about it! This hasn’t happened since the Director’s Cut of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, and that was in 2005… and since he’s already announced that he’s going to follow this one up with another FUCKING “Prometheus” movie, it probably isn’t gonna happen again for awhile. So how about you get off my ass and enjoy a rare unabashedly positive review, huh?

Friday, October 02, 2015

Lost Age

Colin Hanks, following in his dad's footsteps as a friendly chronicler of history/pop-Americana:

This is gonna kick my ass, I can already tell.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

RECAP: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 3 - Episode 1: "Laws of Nature"

NOTE: This piece and others like it are possible in part thanks to contributions to The MovieBob Patreon.

And we're back.

One thing is for certain: Whenever AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D (and yes, I'm going to be the one pedant who insists on still typing out the periods on that) eventually wraps up, it's going to be fascinating to unpack. Popular culture in general will likely be chewing over the particulars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for decades in terms of its substantial place in the evolution of mass-entertainment - specifically, the rise of continuity-drive cross-media storytelling - but AGENTS feels like it's always going to remain its own strange animal: Tasked with expanding and setting-up the concurrent movies but denied access to the most notable "toys" while also telling its own story, it's effectively been three different shows across three seasons with characters and relationships turning on that same absurd axis.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Dark Knight Fades (Retrospective)

NOTE: The writing and publication of this piece were made possible in part by The MovieBob Patreon.

THE DARK KNIGHT FADES: On the Striking Non-Impact of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-Masterpiece.

By Bob Chipman

What happens when the movie that’s supposed to change everything… doesn’t?

Every filmmaker probably hopes, however secretly, that their movie will change the world; even if the change is limited to one new recognizable box occupying shelf-space on the DVD racks (or iTunes queue, for you fancy Millennial tablet-swipers.) Bigger, more substantial cultural-landmark stature is a rarer achievement; and when it happens it’s seldom predictable. “No one ever sees The Big Ones coming!,” Old Hollywood logic will tell you, gesturing to the yellowing first-run posters for JAWS and LOVE STORY always posted hypothetically nearby.

Except when they do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review: STONEWALL (2015)

And here's one of those not-great misfires of a movie that will probably wind up with a (slightly) better reputation than it deserves (later) largely because the initial response will be seen (by some) as much more negative (perhaps even "unfairly" so) than was warranted. So much of modern film-discourse is built around pre-reactions, space-filling hypothetical "analysis" (read: guessing) and hot-takes that this becomes a recurring issue - the transformation of "bad" movies into "better than expected" by hyped-up early condemnation.

Fair or not, the knives seemed to have been out for Roland Emmerich's STONEWALL pretty-much since it was announced; first based on the idea that a blockbuster/action-specialist shouldn't be tackling a historical drama about gay activism (that the ID4 and DAY AFTER TOMORROW director is himself a gay activist was evidently not as widely known as I'd thought), later based on the version of the story he had chosen to tell: Namely an "eyewitness to history" historical-fiction approach wherein the events of the infamous riots popularly-cited as the "birth" of the modern gay-rights movement are presented to the audience from the perspective of a fictional character rather than any of the real figures who participated in the real thing; the final straw being that said audience-avatar was to be a strapping, classically-handsome Midwestern teen-heartthrob type (Jeremy Irvine) whose journey to accepting his own gay self-identity occurs in-tandem with the events leading up to the riots.

SPOILERS after the jump:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

So That Happened

If you follow my social media (which I assume most reading this blog must, as it's updated exponentially more often) you may have noticed me pulling back or posting cryptically over the last two days. There are a few reasons for that, but the main one is that I'd been waiting to hear back on some test-results from my doctor (newly-acquired, along with my new health insurance). The tests came back today, and... well, it wasn't great news.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


So. You're probably waking up to hear about a particularly-bright, science/engineering inclined 14 year-old boy in Texas who was arrested, detained, taken from his school and interrogated about "terrorism" by police. Why? Because his name is Ahmed Mohamed, and someone thought the homemade clock he'd brought to school looked like a bomb.

Here is the kid explaining what went down. Saddest part: He had already taken pains while designing the clock to make it not look suspicious - which means that, at 14, this child has already had to internalize "adjust your behavior so you don't make anyone whose already made a racist assumption about you uncomfortable."

As this was hitting the news overnight, I tweeted spontaneously about it and now I see those tweets getting shared around a lot, so I figured I'd copy said tweets into proper paragraphs. You can hit the jump to see them:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

REVIEW: "The Vist"

UPDATE: Here's the pretty-pictures version:

Prepare For Trouble.

Everyone expected that Nintendo would make their first major push into Mobile gaming POKEMON-related. That's just good branding.

But I don't think anyone was expecting... this:

"The money. We'll take all of it."

Sunday, September 06, 2015

State of The Blog 9/6/2015


So, I haven't posted anything in about a week. There are some personal/time-constraint reasons for that which are neither here nor there, but it was mainly an effect of not a terrible amount "going on" of late that I felt compelled to comment on. That part will change as we head into the "busy season" of movie screenings and conventions, but something else will likely be changing too.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Exactly 1/2 of F. Gary Gray's STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is thrilling, top-tier musical/biopic entertainment. It crackles with near-literal electricity from the first scenes of Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) dodging likely-impending death in a drug deal gone bad only "thanks" to the arrival of an even more fearsome LAPD right up through the formation, creation and pop-explosion of N.W.A and climaxes with a blowout setpiece where a live performance of "Fuck tha Police" in Detroit (which local cops had warned them not to perform) erupts into a riot that ends with N.W.A arrested yet symbolically victorious.

It's some of the coolest, most assured "mythic history" filmmaking of the year, alive with righteous anger, the thrill of creative inspiration and authentic-feeling early-90s Los Angeles milieu... and then that rapturous Detroit sequence concludes and the whole production slips back down to just "decent" territory - clearly unable to find a natural ending other than speeding through an at once over-sanitized and over-cranked highlight reel - focused mainly on contract disputes and paperwork, no less - to reach Eazy's AIDS death in 1995.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Monday, August 17, 2015

IN BOB WE TRUST: "Fantastic Four Sucks ...Now What?"

The first episode of our now-official full-series pickup through 2016 with ScrewAttack!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Six Months Later, I Am Alive

So. Today is exactly six months to the day that I was abruptly, without forewarning (rudely and rather unprofessionally, actually, now that I reflect on it) informed that my near-decade (8 years!) of tenure at The Escapist was at an end - just like that.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Incomplete Thoughts on STONEWALL

This piece and others like it are made possible by The MovieBob Patreon. Please take a moment and consider becoming a Patron.

One has to imagine that Roland Emmerich is genuinely surprised to be catching "friendly fire" over his gay rights historical drama STONEWALL. Sure, controversy was probably something he considered innevitable - even welcome, given the film's clear "Hey, awards season: Look at me!!!" Fall release and low-key hype machine - but surely the long-time "out" gay filmmaker and activist didn't expect to find himself under fire from elements within the LGBTQ community itself. To the degree that Emmerich self-identifies with the heroes of films, it's not hard to imagine that he feels a bit like an alternate-universe version of Bill Pullman's President Whitmore from INDEPENDENCE DAY: One who, upon delivering The Greatest Battle Speech Ever, found himself facing not applause but a chorus of indifference and even outrage: "Stuff your battle-plan, man!" "Who says we WANT to fight the aliens!?" "Since when are YOU in charge!?"

Now, as a straight white guy, I have just about the least authority imaginable about what anyone else should be upset about. But, since I am a film writer who recently released an entire video that (partly) deals with Emmerich as a political filmmaker and will almost certainly end up reviewing/covering STONEWALL a month or so from now, I think it's at least worth putting some (pre-viewing) thoughts on the matter down while we're all still considering what's to be made of this one.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Monday, August 03, 2015

Life Goals

What's this? Oh, nothing - just a write-up about/interview-with yours truly in THE NEW YORKER - only one of the most respected publications... pretty much ever, really.

Do I feel good about this? You bet your ass I do. But I feel even better about THIS passage making it into print:

"Donald Trump, for instance, gives ranters a bad name. "Fuck that guy,” Chipman said."

My work here is done.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Review: VACATION (2015)

This review made possible in part by The MovieBob Patreon.

Despite the knowing self-mockery already displayed in the trailers, I feel like a certain amount of the new VACATION's success is going to depend on how audiences (in the U.S. at least) feel about its relationship to the VACATION franchise - not in terms of "continuity," but in terms of a vague sense of tonal-rightness: Of the now five "canonical" films in the series, on the first and third are in regular rotation, but they cast a long shadow over 80s and 90s comedy. People who've never even seen a VACATION movie feel they "know" what one is and/or should be, and I wonder if the "danger" for this continuation is that it's aiming squarely for the darker, more mean-spirited original... which I've long suspected has been deposed as the defining entry in the series by the more sentimentally-michevious CHRISTMAS VACATION.

The question of whether or not this new VACATION is any good or not, apart from whether audiences will actually embrace it, is a more complicated matter...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Because YOU demanded it!

P.S. "The MovieBob Patreon" - maybe you've heard of it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Michael Bay's BENGHAZI Movie. Yes, For Real.

This piece made possible in part by The MovieBob Patreon

For my international readers: American politics is still currently consumed by conspiracy theories surrounding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. The event (which resulted in the deaths of multiple CIA operatives and at least two longtime American diplomats) is universally regarded as a tragedy, but differences in accounts of the day re: why relief was not deployed earlier and on whose authority have lead to widespread speculation and theories, most settling on a displacement of blame ("Someone important fucked up and their incompetence is being covered up"); but for a particular brand of unhinged paranoiac (read: The Republican voting-base) it's another insidious betrayal by President Evil - aka Barack Obama.

So goes some of the more popular lunacy: Obama and Hillary Clinton, in order to placate their respective Black Panther and Feminazi foot-soldiers (who are, for some reason, aligned with Islamic Fundamentalism in this scenario) "allowed" the Americans stationed there to die as some sort of sacrifice to either Al Qaeda, Gaia, or both. Or neither. Maybe they're just so evil it doesn't matter. Anyway, for obvious reasons it's not an issue that Democrats or "mainstream" Republicans are particularly hot to discuss (bringing it up during the last election led to one of Mitt Romney's most embarassing public gaffes), so the only time you really hear about it is when some hot-air escapes the right-wing talk radio echo-chamber.

In any case, you can see why this is fodder for a movie Hollywood would be desperate to make but almost no one would want to lend their name to: It's a more topical BLACK HAWK DOWN, with the potential to draw major box-office on curiosity alone... but it's also almost-certain to become co-opted by GOP/Tea-Party types and wind up bearing some super-ugly stigma. You'd basically need a major director who lives and breathes action, has a comfortable relationship with the "security community," desperately wants attention (and awards) as a Serious Filmmaker but also doesn't give a fuck about a bad media image.

Commissioner... get to the roof and light The BAY Signal...


Because you demanded it, here (after the jump) a text version of my now-famous PIXELS review. And hey, while you're here, maybe consider visiting The MovieBob Patreon?