All posts by Zach A.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (super spoiler heavy)

Ok, my thoughts on SORRY TO BOTHER YOU is going to be one of the only times I do a super spoiler heavy review because I have sat here, and thought and thought and thought on how to write my review, yet find someway to express how I feel about the third act without spoiling everything. I have given up. So, if you really really really really want to see this movie, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW. I’m not going to mark a paragraph spoiler alert or anything, I am going to jump in and out at anytime, wherever my mind takes me when I want to talk about it. If you’ve already seen the movie or for some weird reason you are a weirdo about spoilers and don’t care if you read them or not, then I suggest to keep going. Because I’m going to spoil the entire third act in my first sentence of the next paragraph. You ready? You sure? Last warning:

The entire third act reveal deals with turning humans into horses with giant cocks so that way a companies’ ‘slave’ labor has faster and better production results. You read that sentence again didn’t you? You are either wondering if I am pulling your leg or if they actually show these horses with giant cocks. Well…I shit you not. They show these horses…that were turned from human using a cocaine like substance…and these horses…they have giant cocks. Ok, we have gotten that out of the way. Now if you are still here and haven’t even heard of this movie, go and watch the trailer to it. I’ll wait. Ok, welcome back. Now, humans turning into horses with giant cocks is not even hinted at in that trailer right? Correct. The marketing on this film is so good that really the whole ‘African-American rising through the ranks of a telemarketing company using a Caucasian man’s voice’ is only really the tip of the iceberg to what this movie is truly about. The movie has multiple messages up the wahzoo, and anybody that really really really likes this film could probably view this film multiple times and still find something new that it is talking about.

I am unfortunately not one of those people that really really really really like this film. Is it because of the third act? Partially. Some people are saying that the third act reveal will either make or break the film for the modern audience member. They’re right. But as a film lover and wannabe critic, I fall somewhere right in the middle. See, I don’t think the film is terrible. In fact, the movie has some pretty damn good performances, especially from Lakieth Stanfield and Tessa Thompson. And the movies’ messages, while more of a hit or miss affair, when the messages hit, they hit hard, but when they miss, they miss hard. The whole white voice thing that is so funny in the trailers? Those are all the funny parts right there, completely laid out in front of you, and then the white voice thing gets really old, really fast. In fact, almost all the funny bits are in the trailer except for the use of the word Debauchery and the ‘Have A Coke Bitch Wig Hat” bit. Some parts of the movie weren’t funny at all, were boring, and almost had me falling asleep. The movie itself goes on about 10-15 minutes too long, and ten whole minutes that could’ve been cut deals with Tessa Thompson during one of her art shows where they throw cell phones at her and balloons filled with some kind of mammal pig blood, while she stands there almost naked with leather gloves covering her private bits. Yes, I’m still not shitting you by the way.

What is this movie about anyway and how does the third act fit in? Glad you asked. Where as the trailers seem like it is going to be a character piece about this African-American guy rising up the ranks of a company using a white man voice (if it stuck to this plot alone, the movie would’ve been quite predictable and maybe not have the impact it now has, see while I am not recommending this movie, I will remember it for quite some time, maybe that was the point) the whole movie is really a giant message about where the world is going as a society and where certain horrible shit going on just happens to be accepted by everyone because of media influence. When the main character played by Stanfield uncovers this human horse cock plot and releases it to the media, the media makes it out like it is no big deal, and the company that he works for (their boss played hilariously by Armie Hammer), their stock prices skyrocket. And there are more messages like that in this film. There are messages upon messages upon messages, but if I got into all of it, this review would be too long (it already is) and you would just skip to the end (which you are probably doing now). You should know by now that I don’t think that just a message makes a movie.

The movie, at times, can be very interesting, because while this certainly takes place in the near future, we don’t know how near, and that is the scary part. There is this company called WorryFree in the film that promises work and living quarters for the rest of your meaningless life, and as you can guess, it is basically slave labor. The top television show on air is, “I Got The Shit Kicked Out of Me,” where it does what it says and then dumps you in a vat of poo. I’m still not kidding. The question is, will this work for you? Because a lot of critics, in fact, I think it’s 95% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, the whole movie did work for them, 3rd act horse cock and all. But only 67% of audiences liked it. And I know Rotten Tomatoes isn’t the be all end all of statistic existence, but it gives you a general overview. In the end, the movie didn’t work for me, and I am not even sure on multiple viewing if it would. The third act was just too bizarre, and everything before it, that would lead to this humans as horses with giant cocks pay off, I don’t think was organized very well. The uneven plot and story structure combined with some of the editing and unnecessary fat in unnecessary scenes probably did this. If writer/director Boots Riley had trimmed the fat, cut about 15 minutes off of the film, and the whole structure reorganized, the third act would’ve worked in spades and he would’ve had a potential masterpiece. Plus more laughs. It definitely needed more laughs. And while this movie was not for me, I have to say, seeing that as this is Boots Riley’s first feature film, and that before this he was a rapper and music producer, it shows potential, and maybe down the line he will make something that I find spectacular. Sorry, but this film did bother me a little.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SKYSCRAPER (no spoilers)

The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, we all probably already know, is this generation’s Arnold Scharzenegger. He is mostly (if not all) in action films, and while he has a handful of big successes (like the Fast and Furious films and Jumanji 2), he does every know and then have a minor or major dud (Baywatch and Rampage). While SKYSCRAPER isn’t as terrible as some critics are making it out to be, it isn’t very good. So it is definitely closer to his duds even though it doesn’t quite get to their lows And this has been said by everyone, but I do want to confirm that it really is a giant Die Hard wannabe rip off that has absolutely no substance that made Die Hard the classic that it is. It doesn’t even come to the heights of wannabe rip off funchessy-ness that even the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Sudden Death had. This movie takes itself wayyyyy too seriously for what it is. I mean, the gimmick in this one is Dwayne Johnson has a prosthetic leg in this, and the movie only uses that gimmick in one scene, and it doesn’t even make it funny.

The only thing it had going for it is that I was extremely tired before sitting down to watch it, and it kept my attention the entire time, and the fact that the movie actually had the balls to cast the delightful Sydney Prescott…err, I mean Neve Campbell in a role. What is really funny is she is the best actor/actress in this entire film and in the end seems a little too good to actually be in this even with her Screamography. She actually made us believe someone like Dwayne Johnson would marry her. I unintentionally laughed a lot in this, mainly because all of the foreshadowing details are all too in your face, and when they pay off later in the movie, the movie treats these developments as serious as a tough job interview. Everything that is unique about this building and stands out visually, you know that The Rock is going to have to go there and rescue or fight or debug something electronically at some point. Why couldn’t the movie had been a minor satire and had poked fun at itself with several scenes or lines of dialogue commenting about how ridiculous everything is? Instead it is, “a need to go here, and do this, and fast, or everyone will die,” with a poker face that could win tournaments. If the movie had played with these actions tropes, it could’ve been a much better, more memorable ride. But everything is so straight laced, it is hard to really enjoy ones self while watching it.

And the one leg thing. Come on. In the trailers it made it seem like the whole plot of the movie would be based on how a strong military type man could do all of these amazing action rescue things and fighting off bad guys with this one small handicap. And while I knew Dwayne Johnson’s character having a prosthetic leg in this was something to make his character seem more human and down to Earth than the big toughie he has been in all these other films, the movie still didn’t play to how ridiculous a situation that leg could put him in. It’s gimmick comes and goes in one scene, and this scene is in the trailers and television spots. Other than the very beginning, the rest of the film barely shows or even mentions his prosthetic leg, and The Rock is just bouncing, running, and leaping like normal. If you are going to put that type of thing in a movie, it needs to be near the center, if not THE center. Otherwise, it seems like screenplay writing afterthought, like the first draft was written without the fake leg, The Rock was cast, and the producers told you to put something in it to distinguish it from other Die Hard rip offs, so the writer said, “oh hey, a peg leg!”

And the whole reason why this building is being attacked, while setting it up as some kind of mystery in the trailers and tv spots, the revelation is definitely a ho hum let down. Instead of something brilliant and never done before, it has the McGuffin of where so many of these films have gone, with maybe a small twist to try to distinguish itself. It doesn’t work. And the final showdown/climatic finale is a CGI green screen fest shit show. And I knew, I FUCKING KNEW, that when they showed this area in the movie that it was going to be where the final showdown took place, and I knew that it was going to look awful an hour and 10 minutes before it happened. I was praying (btw, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it), that this little building gimmick would somehow make the final fight not look stupid and cheesy and cliched, but nope, it did it anyway, and it wasn’t even winking at the audience.

Does Skyscraper still sound like something you want to see? To actually enjoy your time, might I recommend that you just watch Die Hard for the umpteenth time, because you really aren’t missing anything here, unless you are a Dwayne Johnson completest. There are worse films out there, like this won’t even be near my worst of list by the end of the year, and thankfully, audiences actually made a smart decision here and knew mediocrity when they saw it and it didn’t really make that much this weekend box office wise. My point is, these filmmakers can’t just keep saying, “well, at least it isn’t the worst thing out there.” They need to look harder at these scripts, and decide if these are truly worth even making. I know if I was a producer or owned a studio and saw this script, it would’ve been easily a hard pass. What makes these things get greenlit? Just the star power alone? No, I actually have an answer, these movies make much more money overseas, and this movie is under the Legendary banner, which mostly collaborates with films overseas to get made. I just wish the rest of the world would also notice this mediocre so we can get something done about it. Until then, when do you think the next building under siege/hostage and only one hero to save everyone will come out?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 – SUMMER VACATION (no spoilers)

If there is one thing you have to give HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 and the entire series in general, is that at least it combines several ideas and storylines that could’ve been stretched out into two or three more films and just gets it out of the way with only 3 quick and harmless 90 minute films. If you are in love with the series, and your children is in love with this series, then my review isn’t going to do really anything for you. To catch you up, I thought the first one was mildly amusing and harmless, I thought the second one was less mildly amusing and harmless, and I think the third is even less amusing and borderline annoying, yet still harmless. All three movies are completely harmless. There aren’t any questionable jokes for children (there is one fart joke in this, and yet while it is cute, it is very tame), and the gags are literally a handful a minute. The voice cast doesn’t seem to be phoning it in, and the filmmakers try their best to bring entertainment to children.

Basically while I am saying I didn’t like the film too much, I’m recommend it for those that find some enjoyment in it, but more importantly, love watching it with their kids. My son isn’t old enough to watch and enjoy stuff like this quite yet, but when he gets there, I’m sure I’ll enjoy movies like this a little bit more. Right now, I’m reviewing it based on a screening I saw with my wife, who loves the screenings. To give you her opinion, I think she’s in the same league as me (comment if I am correct if you read this Diane), where each film is considerably not as good as the last, however, she likes them a boatload more than me. Except for this one, where we both agree that the handful of gags each minute got kind of exhausting this go around. We had just watch the previous two in the last two days to kind of catch up before this, and the gags weren’t as frequent and in your face. It seems like the filmmakers were trying way too hard this time around to make sure kids aren’t bored for a straight 5 seconds. This movie is the ultimate cure if you have a kid suffering from ADHD.

What else is there to say about the voice cast other than that they are still good and don’t phone it in, which is saying something considering that these movies are co-produced by Happy Madison (I think every single freaking one of Sandler’s friends voices someone who it or whatever in this), whose films on Netflix right now suck more than anything that has ever sucked before. Adam Sandler actually seems alive in these films than the ones where he is actually physically on camera. And that is probably because he already got the giant check from the giant contract from Netflix that gives to him for his giant foray into mediocrity, so he shows that he doesn’t give a shit.

While the first film dealt with Dracula’s daughter falling in love with a human and Dracula trying to hide that human while also dealing with the relationship with humans and monsters, and the second one deals with Dracula’s daughter having a kid with that human, Dracula trying to have the kid turn into a monster before he is five, while also dealing with his really old father played my Mel Brooks trying to accept the human and monster integration…………..*lets out long breath* Hold on, I’ll finish in a sec, but do you see where you have to hand it to this film for several stories that normally would’ve been played out in several direct to video sequels just getting them out of the way? Points for something, am I right? This one deals with Dracula finding love on his own, while on vacation, with the daughter of Van Helsing, who is still alive, both plotting to kill him. I think they are finally out of ideas, because it wraps everything up here nicely, but with sequelitis and everybody wanting more now, I wouldn’t put it past them there being a 4th one. Oh dear me, I hope they try harder next time, because the series is finally showing its age.

Anyway, while I don’t recommend this as a personal view, with your kids, you can find worse things in theaters and on television. And with your kids you might even have some fun.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (no spoilers)

While ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is definitely a better film than the first, it certainly is not Marvel’s best. It’s right there in the middle with Doctor Strange and GOTG Vol. 2 meaning, “good, but maybe not as memorable down the line.” It’s a good, half way decent little treat and a fun summer escapist adventure that is pretty funny at times and isn’t as dark and serious like recent fare we’ve gotten with Avengers Infinity War and most of Black Panther. Have you ever been to one of those taste tasting experiences? Where they have the cracker and water to cleanse your palette before the next food item? While it’s a little refreshing, you definitely won’t remember that cracker and water later? That is this film. It’s a more personal story and the stakes aren’t that high, probably because they can’t be considering the stakes at the end of Infinity War. But that’s okay, because I didn’t need the stakes to be that high to enjoy this film. I mean, it looks like Citizen Kane next to The First Purge and Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom. I don’t think I could’ve asked or considered getting much more than that.

I’m not going to get into the plot of the film other than to say the reason why Scott Lang isn’t with the Avengers in Infinity War is that he’s been under house arrest for two years for violating the Socovia Accords. He only has a few days left and is trying to have those days come and go peacefully, but a couple of weird visions he has and the return of Hope and Hank might make things a bit complicated for him. While I am recommending this film wholeheartedly, it does have some problems, so let me get those out of the way before I get to the praising parts. While the film is very funny at times, there were about a handful of joke beats and some humor that really didn’t work, like they were trying to force a couple of laughs. It didn’t come off too well and you will know the humor when it comes, because you’ll be making that half smile face you make when a friend makes a lame joke and you just want them to move on. Next, while Marvel was beginning to solve its villain problem with their past couple of films, this definitely felt like a step backward. I didn’t expect this Ghost to be more intriguing or elegant than Thanos or Erik Killmonger, but I expected a little more of the villains’ plight and a bit more screen time that didn’t involve fighting or trying to kick Ant-Man and the Wasps ass. And I know that while you see that Walton Goggins is part of the cast, and while he is sort of a villain and Goggins always brings his A game, he’s more of a side ordinary human villain that really isn’t going to be memorable that down the line. Come on Marvel, if you get Walton Goggins, use him for something fantastic where he can bring his ultimately A+ game in scene chewery! Also, you might see Michelle Phieffer in the promotional material for the film but she is more of a MacGuffin than a character and it is really just a glorified cameo. Even though I did say this movie is better than the original, the only thing the original did better was its villain in Yellowjacket.

Phew, ok, got my criticisms out of the way. Let’s get to the good and fun stuff for why I really do like and recommend this film. I mentioned some of the humor not working earlier, however, when it does work, it works like gold. You can thank Paul Rudd and Michael Pena for that. Michael Pena completely steals every scene he is in. He has another one of those “stories” like in the original where it flashes back and his voice takes over all of the other characters. The one in this was definitely the funniest and the best. I’ve always loved Michael Pena, and we always need more of him. Paul Rudd does his Paul Rudd funny schtick most of the film, and he is as hilarious and heartwarming here as in every other comedy you’ve seen him in. I really like that he loves being in the Marvel Universe and loves being Scott Lang. It shows. Michael Douglas gets a shit load of more screen time in this film than the last one, and it is certainly a welcome addition of minutes as he adds to the emotional story a great deal more than you would think. But the real hero of this film is easily Evangeline Lilly. I always loved her on Lost, and I really liked the limited amount of screen time she had in the first film, but in here, she rocks the socks off everything she does. She’s finally free reign to combine her acting chops with her action skills, and she’s absolutely incredible. Now, in the previous paragraph I did complain about the Marvel villain problem taking a step back. However, the praise I do want to give Ghost is that her motivations aren’t just another grab at having too much power, taking over the world, or destroying it. It was more of a personal physical gain and I appreciated that the film, while certainly giving her more screen time would’ve helped, didn’t just give her another stupid eye rolling “not again” motivation we have gotten in previous Marvel and DC films.

Also, the action and special effects in this film are very good. The last 30 minutes of the film is this rock and sock ’em sort of chase scene that thrills, excites, and keeps your attention. All in all, the entire film shines when it uses the whole superpower idea of dramatic size change and abilities. It makes for intriguing action and some very funny sight gags. Scott Lang visiting his daughter at school is a huge sight gag laugh that worked tremendously well. Director Payton Reed is not an action director, and in the first film it kind of showed a lot, but in this, he seems to have honed in his skills a little bit and is getting better, even though there is always room for improvement.

While we shall see if this installment is ultimately really more memorable down the line in several years and Marvel films to come, for right now, it gets the job done. Marvel thankfully usually always gets the job done, they have a proven movie making formula working and they just keep on keepin’ on. If you are groaning because I said it is better than the original but still is in the middle of the pack with all these other Marvel Universe films, just remember, while it may not reach the heights of Civil War, Infinity War, the first Avengers, Black Panther, or even the first Guardians films…at least it is no where near the fire ant bite or poisonous wasp sting that was Thor The Dark World or Iron Man 2. And for that, we should be grateful. OH, WAIT! ONE MORE THING! STAY THRU AT LEAST THE MID CREDITS SCENE (if you’ve seen the trailers you’ve partly seen the very end credits scene and it doesn’t much matter). The Mid Credits scene had one of the best reactions I’ve ever seen from an audience. And while you can predict what it is, it still doesn’t make it that less astonishing to see.