We place less-loved science fiction films from the past under our microscope and try to understand what went wrong.

We’re Gonna Be Good CEOs

As we prepare to exit the Summer of Spielberg, things have taken a bit of a turn. We’ve taken out our surgical tools to diagnose just what went wrong with “Ready Player One,” in which a director who is much more interested in movies than video games and who himself deeply influenced 80s culture is put in charge of a too-faithful adaptation of a book about video games and 80s culture. We spent a lot of our time imagining a much better movie that could have been made instead of this one.

Jason Snell with Brian Hamilton, Erika Ensign, Annette Wierstra, Moisés Chiullan and Chip Sudderth


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Previous Episodes

Lackeys Don’t Wear Khakis

After years of Monty telling us we should watch it, we’ve given in. It’s time to discuss 1981 South African karate movie “Kill and Kill Again,” a film featuring many middle-aged men kicking people, as well as a James Bond-style plot about a madman who wants to take over the world via an unusual application of potatoes. We cover strange ties to “CSI: Miami” and “The A-Team,” introduce you to the wonders of Hot Dog and his bag of tricks, weigh the movie’s knowing sexism against its unflinching racism, and contemplate Villanous Operations and how they are named. Also, Jason has a tight five about t-shirts.

Jason Snell with Monty Ashley, Steve Lutz, Annette Wierstra, Moisés Chiullan and Tony Sindelar


I Want to Go to Dog Heaven

Merry Kilmas! We begin our seasonal celebration of actor Val Kilmer with one of his most mysterious works, 1996’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” You’ll go in wanting to see Marlon Brando and David Thewlis, but you’ll exit talking about Goat Man and Dog Butler and why the last half hour of the film makes no sense at all. It’s a legendary disaster of a movie, and maybe that’s what Kilmas is all about!

Jason Snell with Annette Wierstra, Jean MacDonald, Steve Lutz, Tony Sindelar and David J. Loehr


Words Aren’t Cool

It’s not 🧠🧑🏻‍🔬⚛️, it’s 🚀🧑🏻‍⚕️🔪. Emojipedia’s own Jeremy Burge joins our crew to watch the heck out of 2017’s “The Emoji Movie,” a very 😑 movie in which Patrick Stewart plays 💩 and we’re told that 🍆 belongs in the Loser Lounge.

Jason Snell with Jeremy Burge, Glenn Fleishman, Kathy Campbell, Steve Lutz and Monty Ashley


Lucky Crime Shirt

The Summer of Spider-Man concludes with 2007’s “Spider-Man 3”, a controversial sequel that’s packed full with villains (Sandman, Venom, and Extreme Sports Goblin) battling the increasingly unpleasant emo version of Peter Parker. Sandman’s daughter is very ill. Eddie Brock is an awfully unpleasant person. And at long last, the greatest character in the franchise—Bernard the Butler—gets his due. We watched it so you don’t have to!

Jason Snell with Steve Lutz, Jean MacDonald and Moisés Chiullan


Futterwacken Hats

Our Rocket Surgery crew returns to the current decade to discuss Tim Burton’s billion-dollar 3-D smash hit, “Alice In Wonderland.” What if everything you remember fondly from Lewis Carroll was turned into a catchphrase? Why so much eye stabbing? Who is the Jabberwocky and what has it done with the Jabberwock? What does Johnny Depp bring to his role of a mild hat enthusiast? When did Monty give up and start reading IMDB trivia? Nobody mention how big the Red Queen’s head is!

Jason Snell with Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley and Shannon Sudderth


Lord of Board and Sword

If we told you that there was a 1990s movie starring Martin Sheen’s brother featuring a post-apocalyptic world of skateboarding, sword-wielding Jedi dudes, would you believe us? Well, you shouldn’t, because we made it up on the spot. Concluding our trilogy of improvised “Rocket Surgery” episodes, this is “Last Dance of the Devil’s”, a film so bad that its title is mispunctuated.

Moisés Chiullan with Annette Wierstra, John McCoy and Cicero Holmes


Dracula’s Home Alone

We’re all out seeing “Avengers: Endgame”, so here’s something completely different to tide you over. A while ago we all were talking about how our Rocket Surgery selections are so weird and obscure that we could just make up an entire movie and nobody would be able to tell the difference. So we did that. As with episode 453, here’s a Rocket Surgery about a movie you won’t find on IMDB or YouTube, because it totally doesn’t exist. We made it up on the spot, plot point by plot point. It’s 1963’s “The Howling Horror of Dracula.”

Jason Snell with David J. Loehr, Don Melton, Jean MacDonald, Mikah Sargent and Kathy Campbell


Turn Left at the Asteroid

It’s the Rocket Surgery Film Festival! In this episode, we’re watching something that proves that computer-game film adaptations were a bad idea from the very beginning! Based on a late 1970s Atari game, it’s the ill-fated “Star Raiders.” There’s a not-dashing star pilot, a sullen space princess, an annoying robot, and is that Sheriff Lobo in a tight-fitting jumpsuit? If you’re looking for a cross between “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, are you in for some disappointment. Once again, we watched the movie so you don’t have to.

Correction: Due to a clerical error, none of these movies actually exist. This episode was entirely improvised.

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Dan Moren, Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley and Philip Michaels


All Wormholes Go to Heaven

Jason chose Disney’s “The Black Hole” for this edition of Rocket Surgery, and after viewing it, he’s pretty confident in his decision. But there is dissention in the ranks! Some panelists will stick up for Disney’s strange 1979 horror-as-sci-fi film, which features ranting scientists, robot ESP, laser contests, a giant rolling gumball on fire, a down-home robot prospector, and one hell of a chandelier. Oh, and did we mention there’s a black hole?

Jason Snell with Antony Johnston, Erika Ensign, James Thomson, Philip Michaels, Kathy Campbell, Monty Ashley and Steve Lutz


Up to the Puppies

After “The Matrix” was a hit, we got the inevitable plague of Matrix-like tales of ultraviolent dark pop philosophy. Of these, 2002’s “Equilibrium”… was one. At the pleading of Dan Moren, our Rocket Surgery team disassembles this tale of totalitarianism and gun-based martial arts starring Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Taye Diggs, and Sean Bean. It’s a movie that thinks it’s very, very smart when it’s actually really dumb. Be sure to take your Prozium, or the Grammaton Clerics will set you on fire!

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, Erika Ensign, Jean MacDonald, Moisés Chiullan, Monty Ashley and Steve Lutz


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