Tag Archives: movies


Netflix IMDb
Robin Williams falls into and out of the jungle world of Jumanji, fights a merciless killer, and realizes what it means to become a man (at least the standing-up-to-your-fears part; not so much the winkie-and-hoo-ha part). Join me as I deconstruct the movie’s theme of game-as-rite-of-passage and the Alan vs Van Pelt conflict; plan to make contingency plans for bad special effects if I write a screenplay; and laugh at the slow rhino. I also analyze the minor character roles, pick apart the rule that someone has to roll a 5 or 8 when there’s only one player left to roll the dice, and try to think of a reason to bury a really cool box full of something really cool so children can eventually find it.

Start the commentary after the Tristar logo fades out, on the countdown. (47 MB)

Iron Man

Netflix IMDb
Robert Downey, Jr. is Tony Stark! Tony Stark is Iron Man! Join me as I join The Doctor from Speakeasy Commentaries for the second time for a transoceanic fan commentary from two ridiculous movie/comic book geeks. The Doctor proves to be more of a comic book geek, as he explains the back story and history of Iron Man in the comic books (the storyline “Demon in a Bottle” is the one where Tony confronts his alcoholism). I prove to be more of the movie and music geek, as I explain the plot of A Christmas Story (Ralphie appears as a scientist) and the connection to Ozzy Osbourne (Ozzy sang for Black Sabbath and did the song “Iron Man”). We discuss Robert Downey, Jr. and Jon Favreau’s other work and arrest records. We get off track in a discussion of national health care. The Doctor claims they’ve never shown Gilligan’s Island in England. And I claim to be excited by the prospect of a Scarlet Witch movie. However, we are both very excited by the prospect of Iron Man 2 as well as an Avengers movie, especially with Samuel L Jackson.

Momentary explicit language, at least when discussing Samuel “MFer” Jackson.

Start the commentary after the Paramount logo fades out, on the countdown. (62 MB)

Back to the Future

Netflix IMDb
Michael J Fox leaps into the past in a nuclear-powered Delorean in Steven Spielberg’s Robert Zemeckis’s 1985 time travel movie to end all time travel movies (except for the two sequels and the cartoon series). I discuss the nature of time travel, point out the links to other films (like 1960’s The Time Machine), and blather on at some length about the cars and the history of rock and roll from 1951 to 1955.

Start the commentary when the Universal logo fades, on my countdown. (55 MB)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Temple of DoomNetflix IMDb
Indy is back… uhh… pre-back… back earlier… whatever—in a prequel adventure set one year earlier in Asia, land of mystery and peril! (Before it became the land of cheap toys and tech support.) I compare it to the first and third movies and try to ignore the fourth. I discuss my surprising affection for both Short Round and Willie. I marvel at Lucas and Spielberg’s ability to get child torture into a teen adventure film. (The secret: have a child do the torturing!)

I deconstruct the episodic nature of the film and reveal the dullness of the middle part where they’re just trudging thru jungle, playing cards, and getting slightly scared by animals. I discuss the problem of stacking all the action at the end, which of course is related. And I point out which characters are actually of no real value.

Start the commentary when the Paramount logo fades, on my countdown.


ThunderballNetflix IMDb
James Bond has returned in his fourth adventure, this time facing his deadliest foe yet: Spectre, headed by Blofeld, who wants to hold the world ransom for (pinky to lip) one hundred million dollars! I take the story apart, questioning why no one else notices the clues in the photos all the double-0 agents get, how weird and kind of pointless it is that Bond had a fight with the guy Blofeld hired to deliver his audio taped demands, and how weird and kind of pointless it is that Largo hooked up with the sister of the guy he recruited to steal the nuclear bombs. I marvel as Bond dances on a leg with a bleeding gunshot wound. I blither as nameless, faceless men stab each other under water. And I compare the film to the book and somewhat to the later non-Eon remake Never Say Never Again.

Start the film after the MGM lion on my countdown. (62 MB)

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus

Mega Shark vs Giant OctopusNetflix IMDb
Avast and ahoy, matey! There be monsters here! Deborah Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas arise out of the ’80s to attack a defenseless mega shark and an innocent giant octopus with submarines. Join me as I watch this SyFy channel video nasty for the very first time and marvel at the fake buttons, Ed Wood sets, and hot scientist-on-scientist action. I sing a little Debbie Gibson and call Lorenzo Lamas “Fernando Lamas” a couple of times (they’re father and son).

Also, I misquote Jaws* and Jerry Maguire** somewhat.

* “The thing about a shark… he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes.”
** “D’you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds? … D’you know that my next door neighbor has three rabbits?”

Die Hard

Die HardNetflix IMDb
Join me as I take on the greatest ’80s action movie of all. Bruce Willis gets the crap beaten out of him as New York cop John McClane. Alan Rickman is terrorist* criminal genius Hans Gruber. Bonnie Bedelia is a big-haired, shoulder-padded chess piece. That one bad guy from The Goonies is one of the incompetent FBI guys that we need more of. That vice-principal guy from The Breakfast Club is one of many, many incompetent cops. Reginald Van Gleason Reginald VelJohnson is the guy who eats the Twinkies and is also an incompetent cop.

I discuss the film as a chess match and compare it to the other Die Hard films and other action films of the era and the eras before and after. I examine why parts of the film are terrible despite the whole being a work of unparalleled genius. And I mock the Eurotrash bad guys from time to time and attempt to straighten out the “Shoot the glass” thing.

* Who said they were terrorists?

Start the film with the countdown. (62 MB)

I, Robot – 50th commentary extravaganza

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I, RobotNetflix IMDb
Will Smith and a colorless, odorless, brunette battle the evil that is slightly buggy computer programming in this thrilling adaptation of none of Isaac Asimov’s thought-provoking works. For this, the big 50th Tysto audio commentary, I am joined by Scott of Speakeasy Commentaries, a big fan of Asimov’s work and an expert on science fiction in general. We stumble thru the introductions and then get right to the heart of mocking the product placement and the idea that this robot-filled, self-driving-car, Lake-Michigan-landfill world is only 31 years in the future of 2004. We explore sci-fi in general and Asimov in specific, as well as how terrible a driver Detective Spooner is and whether or not Doctor Lanning’s cat is a robot, as well as making some Fresh Prince of Bel-Air jokes.

Momentary explicit language, at least when discussing how sh** gets real in Will Smith movies.

This is the 34th regular commentary, plus the La Dolce Vita experimental one, plus the 15 commentaries for Firefly. That equals 50 total.

Wait for my countdown to start the film just after the 20th Century Fox logo. (55 MB)

The rise and fall of the ’80s action genre

The definitive "wunza" movie: one's a cop; one's a con
The definitive "wunza" movie: one's a cop; one's a con

The 1980s was a time when action movies crashed noisily into American culture and seemed to take it over. They created a kind of film that had hardly been seen before; films where cops—for the most part—wreaked holy hell upon bad guys in the name of justice and then made snarky jokes about it.

Previously, action movies had mainly been dime-a-dozen westerns that gradually evolved into thoughtful essays on man’s propensity for violence and loneliness. From the invention of cinema to the early-’70s, you could find them any time you wanted to buy a ticket.
Continue reading The rise and fall of the ’80s action genre

*Tysto film commentaries

I love movies and I especially love commentaries. So I got myself a microphone and produced some of my own. I do commentaries alone (and occasionally in collaboration with the Doctor of Speakeasy, my little niece, or my dog Jet Jackson, Space Dog) and post the results in MP3 format with a bit rate of 64 (higher, for collaborations with the Doctor).

UPDATE 2014: I now do commentaries with several collaborators, including John Pavlich of Sofa Dogs, Drew from Trek.fm, Soulless Minions, the Film Bin crew, and guys from the Friends in Your Head forum, as well as the Dr. and Lynch from Speakeasy. My niece (and nephew, who helped on Star Wars) are 11 now, and we still watch movies together every few weeks. Sadly, Jet is gone, and his replacement, Dame Katherine Foxwell (a.k.a. Kit Foxy) doesn’t come down to the theater, but her playful barks can sometimes be heard in the background.

As a movie lover in general, I try to call out the similarities and differences in the film I’m commenting on to other films in the same genre. I try not to spoil those other films, but you never know. I’ll try to warn you first.

Tysto Theater
Tysto International Studios

For other commentaries, I recommend our sister site: Zarban’s House of Commentaries.

If you wonder about microphones, I used a Logitech USB desk mike for the first bunch of these, but since Vanishing Point (#36) I use a Samson CO3U, which has better bass response and consistently captures cleaner sound.

I’ve used a variety of methods to help you keep in sync. My early commentaries include occasional time codes, which I realized are useless if you watch the movie in a different format from mine. Starting with Frankenstein (#37), I began to use my exclusive “EchoSync” technology, which involves me speaking dialog (with moderate reverb) at the same time as the characters. That turned out to be fun but laborious, so now I often just read subtitles as they are displayed and try to make direct references to what is going on on-screen.