Category Archives: Movie Review

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD doesn’t come out till next Friday, August 18th, but I got to see it yesterday and I have to say that it was a nice, funny and fun, pleasant, late summer surprise. Earlier in Ryan Reynold’s career he was mostly hit and miss. Waiting, The Proposal, Safe House, Van Wilder, and Smokin’ Aces being his hits, and then everything else plus Green Lantern being huge misses. After Deadpool, I have a feeling he is being a little careful about picking his projects. Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of Life but he was good for the little time he was in it. And now there is this film, which is like Smokin’ Aces mixed with Midnight Run mixed with about any buddy cop movie you have ever seen. And it works. It’s heavy on violence and language, but it is also light and very funny. August is sometimes considered a dumping ground for end of Summer movies, but sometimes we get a nice little treat snuck in there, and this is it.

The joke with Samuel L. Jackson being in every movie ever made is almost no longer a joke. How many movies has he been in this year alone? But you have to praise a movie that has Samuel L. Jackson say “motherfucker” more than any other movie he has ever been in combined. Make no mistake, the film uses its R rating to its advantage, throwing most of the punches except for nudity (which the film did not need). Obviously, the plot is simple to make way for the laughs. Samuel L. Jackson is a hit man that has some very damning evidence again a former Russian country president that is currently on trial for his wicked ways. So far all of the witnesses for this trial have been killed or discredited. They make a deal with Samuel L. Jackson that if he testifies they will free his wife, played by Salma Hayek (who steals every scene she’s in here). All Interpol has to do is get Jackson to the trial…with a bunch of bad guys/assassins/what have you in between them to stop them at any costs. Enter Ryan Reynolds as a former elite bodyguard trying to comeback from disgrace for a botched protection job a few years earlier…and hilarity, non stop action, and “motherfuckers” ensue.

This film is almost two hours, and some probably could’ve been shaved off, but I liked that the film took its time. We get to know the characters throughout the whole movie and they aren’t one dimensional and are well rounded. The way Ryan Reynolds enters the picture to protect Jackson is hilarious while still being a bit cliched obvious. But like I’ve said in some past reviews, sometimes it isn’t about the plot or destination. It is about the journey. And it is one hell of a journey. The director of this has certainly come back into my good graces, having previously directed the abysmal Expendables 3, with good hard hitting action, good direction, and earned laughs. Now while some of the action effects are a bit shaky, particularly towards the end, all is forgiven as it doesn’t lose the fun at the same time.

I could watch Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds argue in a room for two hours. Without them, the movie wouldn’t have been near that good. Selma Hayek hasn’t been this funny since Dogma. And for some reason Gary Oldman is in this (paycheck) but even with a limited amount to do (he is locked up the entire time) he still brings his A game. If you are looking for a complicated plot with this film, don’t, as you’ll be highly disappointed. It is very simple and very cliched. It has almost every action cliche in the book and uses the age old foreshadowing with dialogue and what not. But it doesn’t lose any fun. If you are looking for a “buddy cop hitman assassin bodyguard action packed road trip movie” to bask in at the end of summer, you can do no wrong going to see this.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE DARK TOWER

**warning no spoilers will be given, but I have read all 8 books**

Let’s pretend this book adaptation is a fictional cake replica making contest. In front of Sony executives is two tables, one already has a beautiful, majestic, gorgeous, 8 tiered tower Dark Black Wedding Cake . The other table is empty but next to it is a kitchen filled with every single ingredient you need to try and replicate that cake to the best of your abilities. You have about a decade to replicate this cake. And go! Instead of even going into the kitchen, the Sony executives walk up to the empty table, take their dicks out, and flop them menacingly on the table, and shout, “Here is your cake assholes!” That, ladies and gentlemen, is THE DARK TOWER film adaptation.

I have read all 8 Stephen King novels that have The Dark Tower in the title or relates directly to it. I have read every single Stephen King novel in existence, all the ones that indirectly reference The Dark Tower in some way. So you may say there was no way to please me, especially since I know every nook and cranny of Stephen King’s fictional universe. That isn’t necessarily true. There are plenty of books that are very nice companions with their movies: Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings, Angels & Demons to name a few. Even the worst adaptations, like Percy Jackson, every single Twilight film, etc. have some light in the shitty mess of a darkness that plagues my mind to no end. With The Dark Tower film, there isn’t even a shred of light, it is completely devoid of soul.

And I even had half my mind set away to view the movie as a film lover who had never read any of the novels, let alone a Stephen King book, and even then I thought the film had no soul. The film is a 95 minute circle jerk where too many powers at be were arguing on what the adaptation should contain and should not contain. Should we cater to an audience who has never read any of the books or should this book be fan service? Even though I think The Dark Tower series is unfilmable and should just be a movie in a constant readers mind, I do feel that there was a way to do both. Nope, all that is tossed completely out the window for a new story that completely strips away most elements of the novels and takes only a handful of service thing to speak to a general audience in general terms.

Thinking like everyone else, this should’ve been a HBO or Showtime series, doing each book in a 8 to 10 episode arc, for seven to eight seasons, and then walk away. You can’t do The Dark Tower in 95 minutes. It is impossible. Even as a movie for a general audience, the film is soulless and rushed. There is no character development, no time to develop relationships. The journey is too compact, with no time to breathe. They say that this new film is supposed to be a sequel to the books (don’t worry, I don’t reveal much here just speak in briskly in code), with Roland possessing the Horn of Eld at the beginning of the film. Okay, that’s fine…WHERE IS THE FUCKING HORN? Oh, is that a horn on Roland’s backpack? Okay…thanks for barely showing it to us…

The only thing that is good about the film is the casting. Idris Elba (even though Roland is supposed to be white in the books, because his race is a plot point in later novels with a character that was not introduced here, but like Johnny Storm in rebooted Fantastic Four, I could honestly care less) is a good (could’ve been great if they dialogue was not shitty) Roland, Matthew McConahalright alright alright was a pretty good Men In Black (would’ve been great with a better screenplay) and the kid that plays Jake Chambers was good as well.  They aren’t even much of characters though, because like I said, the compacted 95 minutes lets no time for the movie to find any kind of footing. The acting is the best thing about the film, everything else is complete and utter garbage.

The film feels like a cheap Sci-Fi Channel made for television movie. The effects suck, the production design sucks, the direction and action sucks, just a big bowl of What The Fuck soup. I could nitpick the differences between series and film adaptations all day (such as the portal doors being too futuristic and not just a cool little wooden door in the middle of nowhere) but I’m not going to do that here because my review would be novel size long. But there is one thing that I want to talk about, because it effects my dislike for the film the most. The fact that they take the center of attention of the story away from Roland and put it on Jake Chambers. The Dark Tower is and was always supposed to be Roland’s story with supporting characters helping him along the way. Taking it away from him (Idris doesn’t even show up until 15 minutes into the film) is a crime beyond all imagination. They could’ve still told their new awful story with Jake still being a side character, but nope, general audience are likely to connect with a kid and not Roland (not true if you’ve read the books.)

Why am I still writing? What I really should be doing is starting to re read all 8 novels and form my own perfect movie in my mind and forget this abomination ever exists. I pray that Stephen King’s IT adaptation is better (the R rating and 2 hr 15 minutes runtime helps, and the fact that it is only part 1 of 2; Dark Tower is a shitty PG-13) but now I’m going to enter IT being cautiously optimistic after this apocalypse. This is literally a shit cake, with barely some sprinkles of fan service on top, where the sprinkles ultimately get sucked into the shit frosting, never to be seen again. The Dark Tower is one of the worst films of the year and the worst adaptation of Stephen King’s work, even Maximum Overdrive. Good riddance.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: KIDNAP

We will get to the travesty of The Dark Tower in a moment, but my real first question is what happened to Halle Berry’s career? She won an Oscar for Monster’s Ball, and had some minor success as Storm in the X-Men films, but she went off and did Catwoman, Gothika, The Call, Perfect Stranger, Movie 43, and you see what I’m getting at now don’t ya? I actually think she is quite a talented actress. And she’s really the only really really bright spot in KIDNAP, a movie that was filmed 3 years ago and should’ve been a Netflix original. It feels like a Netflix film, with low production value, a quick runtime, and just enough cheese to not warrant a theatrical release, but here it is. It’s a decent Netflix watch, but a very mediocre way to spend your box office bucks. At least I enjoyed it more than The Dark Tower.

Also, why in the fucking fuck is this film Rated R? I just used two F words to prove a point. I have now said fuck twice more now than the movie used, and the film has less violence than 10 seconds in one episode of The Walking Dead. Maybe they thought they would have a bunch of teenagers having heart attacks in the theater if they rated it PG-13? No clue, but this isn’t rated R at all, in fact, there were 10 to 16 year olds in the theater asking the same questions once the movie let out.

Plot? Kidnappers kidnap Halle Berry’s child and she witnesses it and as a determined mother she actually goes after the kidnappers before she loses sight of them. That’s it. There are no plot twists (they try and sneak a stupid meaningless one at the very end) an the criminals are dumb, cut and dry, country over the top redneck, and unmemorable. At least the movie doesn’t really waste anytime getting everything moving, but a lot of the movie is Halle Berry sitting in a car looking worried and stressed out, which she does very well.

The criminals make dumb decisions, Halle Berry makes dumb decisions, the filmmakers make dumb decisions, the action is cheap and hackneyed. Look, you’ve seen this film a million times, and done a million different better ways. It isn’t unwatchable, in fact it kept my attention, but this film isn’t anything special and you’ll forget it exists in 3 days. But why is Halle Berry choosing these scripts? She is so much better than this material, we’ve seen it, and we see it here. She looks like she is still in her 30s (she’s 50) and can act her way out of a paper bag, is it that Hollywood doesn’t want to give her anything else? Is she hard to work with? *shrugs*

The film didn’t kidnap my time. I don’t regret watching it, I just wish I had on Netflix and not spent what I pay for Netflix in a month in a 82 minute period. It doesn’t waste anytime at least and there aren’t any slow parts. Honestly, I would probably be shitting all over this film if it weren’t for having to sit through an adaptation of one of my favorite books royally shit on. Netflix only, don’t spend your money.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DETROIT

Just like Dunkirk, I have a feeling that DETROIT will be nominated for Best Picture come next year, and it completely deserves it. It is a masterful, harrowing tale of true events that is so realistic at times it is very hard to watch. The direction by master filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow is nothing less than perfect, the acting is above and beyond what half of movies come up with these days, and everything coming off the screen, you want to look away, but you can’t. And although the third act dips just slightly (some people have said that the third act completely stops the movie, I don’t quite agree), it is a film whose reality at the time parallels our own, and it is…fucking…scary. One of the year’s best films indeed.

The film depicts the tragic events that happened at the Algiers Hotel during the emotional and racially charged 12th street Riots in July of 1967. But it doesn’t just depict that tragic event, it depicts the start of the riots and takes about 20 minutes to actually get to the hotel. This helps the film tremendously in building tension and letting the audience know how desperate and hectic the situation was. Once we get to the actual incident at the hotel, our nails have already ripped out the fabric of the theater seats, and we haven’t even gotten to the worst parts yet. The camera work uses slight realistic shaky cam, but it doesn’t get to the point of Paul Greengrass where it makes you sick. It is basically almost shot documentary style, adding to the realism.

The film has multiple points of views. The film shows the point of view of the racist cops that did some very bad things that night. The film shows the point of view of a security guard (played by John Boyega of The Force Awakens) who happens to be swept up into a situation where he doesn’t belong. And then there is the point of view of the victims, namely a band member and his buddy and a couple of people they just meet that night, including a cook and a couple of white girls. The incident is set off when the black cook decides to use a toy race starter pistol and shoot it out the window to scare the shit out of the police across the way that are already on edge dealing with the riots. Of course, the police follow the sound, and end up at the hotel, and the police are not so nice, and some really fucked up bad shit happens.

I don’t want to ruin the movie, so I’m not going to say exactly what happens, but it is very, very, very, very bad. At times shocking, and a lot of the time, very hard to watch. And it has a ending that you will not enjoy one bit. All the performances are top notch. John Boyega is mostly an quiet but determined outsider looking in, and then accidentally gets tragically swept up in everything. Anthony Mackie plays one of the victims, who is a war vet. But the real performance goes to Will Poulter (We’re The Millers) as one of the racist cops. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets nominated for supporting by when voting comes up. He’s a character that you despicably hate, and the only reason because of that is his performance is masterful.

Everything from the beginning of the riots, to the actual incident, is some masterful stuff. But then after the incident, and the shortened trial, maybe the last 20 to 25 minutes of the film, kind of dips a little bit in value. And that is mainly because of John Krasinski (Jim from The Office) who plays a lawyer trying to defend the racist cops, and I just didn’t believe his performance. It felt like Jim was pulling a joke on Dwight. But I believe showing some of the aftermath was necessary and would’ve felt cheated if it had just showed some title cards depicting what happened next, so I’m giving the very last little extended epilogue act the benefit of the doubt. I think it was necessary for the whole thing to come together.

The real winner in this is director Kathryn Bigelow, who has won a best director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, will sure to be nominated here again, and screenwriter Mark Boal, again, won an Oscar, will probably be nominated here as well. This is a master collision course in terms of filmmaking and sending a message about race relations, then and now. Although hard to watch, I could watch this film over and over again, it’s a breathtaking piece of cinema. Go see it. A very important film.