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

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


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Previous Episodes

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


Joe DiMaggio of the Slide Rule

We return to bad 1950s science fiction for our latest Rocket Surgery installment, which features 1959’s “The Cosmic Man.” There’s a UFO the likes of which we’ve never seen, in the form of a ping-pong ball in a canyon. Army men and a world-famous scientist that even little kids recognize joust over whether the UFO should be used as a weapon or to benefit all of humanity. And meanwhile, there’s John Carradine checking in to a mountain lodge in an outfit that is not at all like what an alien would wear his first time on Earth.

Title Card

Baseball Card

Jason Snell with Jean MacDonald, Steve Lutz, Philip Michaels and Monty Ashley


This Movie Ends, Right?

Time for 1997’s “Batman & Robin”, featuring George Clooney as Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. At least we can laugh about it now… to keep from crying.

(Part two of two.)

Jason Snell with Tony Sindelar, Moisés Chiullan, Steve Lutz, David J. Loehr, Monty Ashley and Joe Rosensteel


Batman! Aaaaaa!

So when Batman won our Summer Superhero Spectacular, we embarked on a quest to talk about all the Batman movies. Which leads us to the unfortunate spectacle of us watching both “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.” This week, it’s the Val Kilmer Era, so let’s go back to 1995 and marvel at Jim Carrey’s understated performance as the Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’s equally subtle performance as Two-Face. We are so, so sorry.

(Part one of two.)

Jason Snell with Steve Lutz, Joe Rosensteel, Moisés Chiullan, David J. Loehr, Tony Sindelar and Monty Ashley


A Dwarf Named Elwood

Settle back with a bagel or two and get ready for a film that fails to bring all the excitement and world-building of fantasy roleplaying to life! Our brave panelists watch 2000’s “Dungeons & Dragons”, which features dungeons, dragons, a horribly unbalanced party, an infuriating lack of connection to the game, a set of polar-opposite performances by Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch, a six-foot-tall “dwarf”, political theater even more boring than The Phantom Menace, generous garnishes of racism and sexism, and a villain who wears blue lipstick. Oh, and did we mention that TV’s Doctor Who is in it as an exposition elf? Join us as we watch until the end and finally say, “Ugh, WTF?”

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Monty Ashley, David J. Loehr, Tony Sindelar and Steve Lutz


Might As Well Keep Going

Our survey of terrible movies from various decades returns with a stop in the 60s, to visit 1965’s low-budget spectacle, “The Wizard of Mars,” featuring John Carradine in the title role as one of the horrors of the red planet. How many parallels are there between this film and “The Wizard of Oz”, really? Why are caves on Mars so peaceful? How much oxygen does it take to stay alive on Mars? Join us as we laugh to keep from crying—we’ve come all this way, there’s no reason to turn back now!

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley and David J. Loehr


The Power! The Power! The Power!

Our rocket surgeons take on 1981’s “Frankenstein Island,” Jason’s go-to bad movie from his high school days. What do balloons have to do with Frankenstein? What’s that brain doing in that tupperware container? Why are there zombies dressed like longshoremen? What is John Carradine doing? How did Jocko lose the eye? There are so many questions, but so few answers.

Jason Snell with Tony Sindelar, Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley, Brian Hamilton, Glenn Fleishman and David J. Loehr


A Cyborg Dolphin

Our Rocket Surgery series returns to the heady days of the ’90s, home of questionable cyberpunk movies, to watch Keanu Reeves in “Johnny Mnemonic.” How can a movie written by the godfather of cyberpunk, William Gibson, be such a disaster? We’ll fax you the answer.

Jason Snell with Monty Ashley, Joe Rosensteel and David J. Loehr


Mascot Hands

Our Rocket Surgery panel attempts to apply logic to “Cool Cat Saves the Kids,” an inexplicable educational film featuring a couple of people in animal suits, some music videos, parade footage, and many questionable lessons for children. But there are cameos by Erik Estrada and Vivica A. Fox! Anyway, our logic slides right off.

Jason Snell with Steve Lutz, Philip Michaels, Monty Ashley and Brian Hamilton


Science Is Never Frightening!

Our survey of questionable science fiction films moves to the 1950s for “GOG,” a story featuring a secret nuclear base, a couple of “robuts,” a shifty Swiss scientist, a neglected Coke machine, a whole lot of science lectures, and then many dead scientists.

Jason Snell with Glenn Fleishman, Steve Lutz, Brian Hamilton and David J. Loehr


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The Incomparable