All posts by Zach A.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN

I really was looking forward to this movie. I mean, the real life story of the origin of Wonder Woman combined with themes of sexuality, identity, and freedom? Sounds like a winning combo right? Then why is this movie so tame (especially considering its R rating)? Not lame, this movie is anything but, but it is extremely tame in its storytelling, which made the film uneven, tiresome, and missed the mark on an emotional climax for me. The film doesn’t really truly pick up until the last third where Wonder Woman is actually being created. It also picks up on the themes mentioned above, but due to the chop-chop-choppiness of the first two thirds, I didn’t walk out of the theater feeling as I should, which should have been wonderful. Instead, I was weathered to the point of not caring.

PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN could’ve been one of those movies that truly defined that era between the 20’s to the 40’s where you had to hold yourself to a certain standard even if that truly wasn’t who you were. You had to hide or be banished. You couldn’t express yourself as freely as you do today (well, we could argue how freely you can express yourself in the Butthurt era of today, but I digress). This movie asked those questions and then asks how you deal with them when those that deem themselves normal find out and lash out. But the movie never answers them. There are some quick snippets of people being disgusted, mad, loathing, you name it, at the Marston clan, but those snippets are faster than a locomotive.

If you haven’t seen a trailer, it is mainly about a professor, his wife, and the college student that they hire as a sort of intern, and eventually all three of them invest themselves in each other emotionally and physically as a threesome of a couple. It all eventually, in a very naturalistic way, leads to the creation of Wonder Woman. But that is a footnote compared to what it is truly about. What it’s about is how are they to live in this world where the rest of it would balk and shame behavior like this? What does it mean to truly love another human being and can you love more than one person? Like I said, all of these question are fantastic to ask. But instead of looking your in the eye, answering them with a fierce determination, and telling you how it is, no holds barred, no censorship what so ever, the movie looks down at the floor, shuffles its feet and mumbles something that is almost unintelligible.

Carol is a movie with similar themes that is much, much, much better at answering those questions. In fact there are a ton of movies that answer those questions with pride and fearlessness. This movie kind of shies away from them with a costume and behind a curtain, and only peeks out very quickly once in a while but then hides again. The acting from Luke Evans (always thought he was underrated), Rebecca Hall, and Bella Heathecote are all good here, even though some of the dialogue is a little iffy. Their chemistry works in spades and it is really the only thing that is holding the movie together. That and the cool things inspired in real life that went into the pages of Wonder Woman, like the lie detector being invented that was an inspiration to the golden lasso of truth, or the dominatrix type imagery and symbolism in the comic book.

The rest of the movie is unremarkable and not so wonderful. Nothing special about any of the camera shots, way of storytelling, the screenplay is choppy (this film should’ve been about 30 minutes longer to flesh everything out), it seems as though a film student could’ve made this. Nothing remarkable whatsoever. Did they rush this to time it to the same year release as Wonder Woman? If they spent a little more time, take that R rating to heart, and show the true hardships of living a life of lies during that time, this could have been something really special. It could’ve been a true companion piece to the fantastic film we saw earlier this year. Instead, just like a superhero having a secret identity, this will get lost in the crowd.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CULT OF CHUCKY (aka Child’s Play 7) (video on demand, Netflix, buy/rent)

I make no apologizes when I say that the Child’s Play/Chucky series is my second all time favorite horror/Halloween franchise (Scream is a first with Final Destination being third). The original Child’s Play still holds up as the second best horror film ever made for me (right behind scream and right in front of the original Final Destination), and I get surprised how much into it I get even though I’ve seen it about a dozen times. Now the sequels is where we get tricky. Child’s Play 2 is…okay with some great moments (mostly at the climatic factory), Child’s Play 3 is dumb as fuck taking place at a military complex, Bride of Chucky is not bad considering Katherine Heigl is in it, and Seed of Chucky only works if you don’t take the movie seriously. But I still love him, and with 4 out of 7 decent films, that ain’t bad. Plus, I love the idea of a doll coming alive to terrorize people. That notion has always been intriguing.

But, for Curse of Chucky, aka Child’s Play 6, creator Don Mancini decided to go back to what made Chucky great, being fucking serious and scary with a few humorous moments. It worked. Curse of Chucky was the best film since the original. And now we have CULT OF CHUCKY, aka Child’s Play 7, and when it came out, I was just praying that Don Mancini kept it up and wouldn’t go back to the antics that Bride started and Seed completely absorbed. Thank God he didn’t. Cult of Chucky has some of the best kills in the entire series, and is now the best film since the original for me. The story is good, the twists are good, the kills as I’ve said are amazing, the acting is actually very fucking decent for a straight to video title, and heck the atmosphere is creepy as fuck.

Nica, one of the only survivors from Curse of Chucky, is in a mental ward in this one, having been convinced she was the one that murdered her entire family, not a living doll. Soon though, another Chucky doll is sent to the hospital to help in her therapy. But then soon enough, people start dying. Is Chucky back? Or could this possibly still be all in Nica’s head? Or is something even more sinister afoot? Meanwhile, Andy (the original kid from the first three Child’s Play films and a small cameo in Curse, now as an adult), can’t seem to have a normal life, when he sees that Nica is in trouble in the local paper, he rushes to try and help save her.

If I say anything more, or reveal any more plot points, I should be shot. There are more twists in this than any Chucky film, and the twists are quite good. The film also adds to the mythology in that universe, so much so that I have no idea what the hell they are going to do if there is a Chucky 8. The ending is absolutely brilliant and bonkers.

Fiona Dourif is honestly the best actress that any of the Chucky movies has had to offer. I have no idea why, maybe because her father is an actor and always brings his A-game to the voice of Chucky. If there are any reason to watch these movies, it is just to hear Brad Dourif’s voice as Chucky. Anyone else’s or a sly copycat just couldn’t cut it. As long as he is here for the voice and Mancini is here to write I will be along for the right.

Quick note, if you watch the version on Netflix, you don’t get the unrated version and you don’t get the cool little after credits scene. I highly recommend you find some way to watch the unrated. The kills deserve the unrated version and for fan of Child’s Play 2, you’ll really want to check out the after credits scene. I was going to spoil a couple of the kills in this, but I think I’ll end my review here. With Chucky movies, there is no middle ground, you are either on or off the fence. You are either disgusted, knowing you will never ever watch a Chucky movie, or you know you will have a killer time.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BLADE RUNNER 2049 (completely spoiler free)

BLADE RUNNER 2049 is one of the best sequels ever made and the best film of the year so far, eclipsing Dunkirk on my list. A science fiction masterpiece, that on my level, is far superior than the original science fiction classic. It has taken me a couple of days to write this review because I wanted the movie to completely sink in. Make sure that I didn’t have some kind of false movie high while watching it. Making sure that I couldn’t stop thinking about the film after I have seen it. Sure enough, it is not a fluke and the film has completely been on the forefront of my movie train of thought since seeing it Saturday morning. It is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen, with the best cinematography since Inception, and if Roger Deakins doesn’t win an Oscar for best cinematography this year, after being nominated 13 times for other films and never winning, something is truly off with the Academy Awards.

I am not surprised this film didn’t make all that much money this weekend. I don’t think a lot of people truly “get” Blade Runner and that while it is a simple story with very little action on the surface, underneath it has layers upon layers of thoughts and questions such as “what does it mean to be human?” or “what is real?” It mixes these questions with fantastic digital imagery and a very dark noir detective tale that makes it seems like you are reading a very dark comic book from the 50s and 60s. It’s completely masterful. If only viewing this movie on the surface, you are going to be confused why so many non mainstream critics and people are completely bonkers over this film. This is a film that requires multiple viewings and your complete undivided attention. Which might be hard for a lot of you, considering the movie is 2 hours and 40 minutes long.

Would I say that the original Blade Runner is required viewing before watching this? Abso-fucking-lutely. In fact, you might even need to watch the three short films that are available online and youtube for free that take place between the original and the sequel. If you watch all of these, you will be completely ready for this experience. And the funny thing about all of this? I think the original Blade Runner is a very good film, but not a masterful science fiction noir masterpiece like some critics are claiming. The original Blade Runner is a technological achievement to be sure, has all the questions and symbolism right there for you to decipher, but narratively, it just doesn’t work for me. There isn’t that much detective work, and things seems to happen just to happen and people seem to run into each other and not really meet. There is a part in the original film where Harrison Ford uses this really weird accent and way of talking, where he didn’t really need to be doing it. It was just there, and narratively it suffers.

But all that is solved here. 2049 has a fantastic story. I loved that you think you know where it is going at a certain point, but it pulls the plug on that and goes in a different direction. It uses symbolism, imagery, and everything that the movie mother! tried to do, it does it correctly and not so in your face here. And the movie doesn’t try and over do it either. Usually with sequels you do the “more is better” way of filmmaking or completely change the genre of the film (which most of the time doesn’t work, but sometimes works to great effect, see: Aliens). Here, the imagery is just as masterful yet subtle and not all in your face like it was in the original. While the trailers make this look like an action film, which would completely change the context of Blade Runner, it is not an action film. It has a couple of action beats, but it only lasts a second and is pivotal to the story and doesn’t get in the way of anything else.

I’ve always thought Ryan Gosling is a great actor, and in here, he shines as well playing a Blade Runner named K. Harrison Ford is back too, playing the gruff guy he usually plays now, but there are a couple of scenes where he inhabits Deckard again, and we are reminded why Ford was deemed an incredible actor several decades ago. Just don’t expect him in the movie the entire 2 hours and 40 minutes. Which I loved about this film as well. They don’t just put Deckard in there to have a familiar face, he only comes in when he is pivotal to the story. Jared Leto is actually fine here as well, and Robin Wright has a small role as K’s commanding officer, but acting wise, the true standout is formal model Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, basically an assassin replicant meant to get in K’s way. She completely dominates the screen in every scene she is in, and is one of the most menacing henchmen I have seen in decades.

I can’t tell you the plot of Blade Runner 2049. To tell you any of it, is a spoiler in general, and you would honestly thank me after seeing it for not saying a word. If you want to go into it without seeing the original, just know that there are being calls replicants which are bioengineered human beings meant to be a slave labor force, and there are cops called Blade Runners that hunt them down when those replicants turn on their masters and go rogue. Anything else would ruin the movie for you.

I thought everything about this film was perfect, and even at 2 hours and 40 minutes, I can’t wait to view this film multiple times like I have Inception. I was enthralled the entire film. I was sucked in and wasn’t let go until the end credits rolled. I was surprised, in a good way, by a lot of choices made in the film. It is one of the most beautiful works of art visually I have ever seen. This movie must be seen in a theater with a good screen and perfect sound. Anything else would be a disservice. I am in love with this movie.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: Netflix’s GERALD’S GAME

Many people that know me personally know that Stephen King is my favorite author. He should be, considering that I have read everything he has written, even non fiction. That being said, combined with my absolute love of the cinema, if a Stephen King adaptation hits the big screen, you know I am going to go over that piece with a fine tooth comb. This year has been the year for Stephen King adaptations, and I believe there is still one more to go on Netflix later this month with 1922. The Dark Tower was absolute shit, but IT was an absolute delight. GERALD’S GAME is more towards It than The Dark Tower, but there are a couple of things that truly slow down the film that turn it from being great, to just pretty good.

HOWEVER, that is not the director or screenwriters fault. It really is King’s, because this film is basically a page by page adaptation of the novel. And I do like the novel, although the one aspect keeping me from loving the novel, is the one aspect in here that keeps me from loving the Netflix movie. I am not not recommending it though. It is a really good watch and any avid Stephen King fan or horror fan in general I think will enjoy it. But the epilogue, while not killing the movie, certainly slows things down, and the epilogue deals with the one quick aspect earlier in the film that I didn’t particularly like, so I did not enjoy the epilogue. But director Mike Flanagan set out to make a adaptation of Gerald’s Game, and he went by the book, so I have to praise him for that.

I wish I could tell you the one aspect I didn’t like, but that gets into a little spoiler territory. So let me try and be vague while also explaining what I didn’t like about the novel or film. The epilogue deals with two characters in a court room basically. And one of these characters seems a little…how do I describe it….this character doesn’t seem to fit the film. Seems a little weird and odd. This aspect could’ve stayed in the film, but they could’ve made the character with the same kind of weirdness but his/her appearance more…normal? That’s all I’ll get into. It’s in the book as well, and the book could’ve kept the aspect without going a little too unbelievably weird looking. But I digress, this is King’s story and it is how he wanted to tell it.

If you haven’t even seen a preview for Gerald’s Game, I should probably give you a quick plot set up to see if you are even interested. A husband and wife go to this place to get away from it all and have really intense sexual role playing adventures. Gerald hand cuff his wife, arms up Jesus on the cross style to the bed frame, and he ends up having a heart attack and dying. With no one knowing that they are there she has to do anything to survive and get out of there, all while a man-eating dog, a possible stranger, and her own delusions try to get the better of her.

The great Carla Gugino stars as Gerald’s wife Jessie, and Bruce Greenwood co-stars as Gerald. It is basically a two person show with flashbacks into Jessie’s childhood that hints at why she is the way she is now. Gerald, even dead, doesn’t leave the picture as her delusions get the better of her and she imagines him still walking around and talking to her. It’s a great mind fuck of a picture, trying not to just overcome physical aspects but mental aspects as well to survive, and Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood are perfect casting here.

The is one WTF moment, very disturbing, and cringe worthy hard to read part of the novel, and the movie takes that part to a whole other level, which I loved (you’ll know it when you see it). Director Mike Flanagan is a great horror director in my eyes, having rescued Ouija by bringing a stellar sequel/prequel into the fold and I love his other stuff as well such as Oculus. Can’t wait to see what he brings us next.

Anyway, that’s basically all I can say without going into spoilers. This film is based on a novel by the mind of Stephen King so when you watch it you know what you are getting yourself into. And through no fault of the director or adaptation writer, it’s only a pretty good film, but not a great one. And it’s because of that one aspect I can’t reveal. It just seems so out of place in that movie and novel universe we were given during the film. I think you’ll know what I am talking about when you see it to. So if you’ve seen it and you are hungry for more King adaptations, you can’t go wrong watching this.