Category Archives: Movie Review

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE WALL

I’m conflicted. I really really really really liked this movie. Except for the ending. But I have to recognize that the ending was bold, out of the norm, inventive, and very “not Hollywood.” If I had to compare it to another ending, I would compare it to the little seen 2010 film Buried starring Ryan Reynolds. I know people that were absolutely pissed off by the ending. I thought the ending made sense. Here, it made sense too, but I guess I was more reluctant to like it because it involves our military and I cared more about the characters here behind a wall way more than I did Ryan Reynolds in a box. People in the military are going to hate the ending of this film. In fact, I walked out of the theater with a vet that absolutely was so pissed off at the ending his face was red. So yeah, if you are military, you might want to cut the film off before the ending arrives.

I’m not going to spoil the ending here and I’m not going to talk about it anymore, so let’s talk about what made this film a little awesome. The plot and performances mainly. Basically if you had to compare this film to others, it’s Phone Booth meets (insert war film here). A U.S. Sniper (John Cena) and his spotter (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are on a mission responding to a report that contractors were killed while building a pipeline in Iraq. When they get there, they are trapped by an Iraqi sniper, wanting to talk and play games. All they have is this one wall for protection, radio shot out by the sniper, and have no idea where the sniper is.

My past review I commented on how The Dinner was way too long, that it should’ve been a quick 90 minute little tension bot boiler, not two hour. Well the run time of this film was what made it great. It is a quick 90 minutes, and makes the film tight and in control. Within those 90 minutes, are two fantastic performances, both from wrestler (the next best one since Dwayne Johnson) John Cena and Kick Ass’s Aaron-Taylor Johnson. Especiall Johnson, who has given us a one two punch with his performances in this and his award winner performance in Nocturnal Animals. 50% of this film is relied on their performances and they both give 110% of themselves into this flick. You can feel their desperation, their panic, their worries; it reaches out of the screen and onto you, hoping that they will make it out of there alive.

The Kiefer Sutherland sniper part is voice by Laith Nakli, and although he does not even compare to Kiefer Sutherland’s tremendous scary voice in Phone Booth, the trick that his character has up his sleeve is not only smart and brilliant, but diabolical. For 90 minutes I was on the edge of my seat. I love a good sniper film, and this is the best since Phone Booth, Jarhead and Enemy at the Gates.

Unfortunately there is not much more to say about this film without getting into heavy spoilers and ruining all the tricks this movie has up it’s sleeve. If any people in the military read my review and see this movie, I would love to know your thoughts on it, particularly the strategy and inventiveness behind it. Also, I would like to know your anger with the ending. This movie would be a masterpiece if the ending didn’t upset me so much. But maybe that was the whole point of it, to grab at my heartstrings? If so, good job, but I’m still a little mad at you. This movie is borderline masterpiece with just a dash of frustration, but 100% recommendable in seeing this at a point in your life.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE DINNER

THE DINNER has such a great, high concept of a pot boiler plot, that it pains me to say that this is one of the year’s worst films. This film was 2 hours when it didn’t need to be, it could’ve gotten rid of all the flashbacks except for a very important few, completely overhauled the stupid ending, stayed at the dinner between the four main characters more, and had been a very, very tight incredible 90 minutes. Instead we get a bunch of flashbacks, that not only completely murder the film, but that really don’t have to do with shit other than the fact that the writer is trying to over explain things that had already been shown to us. The performances are fantastic, but not even close to want to come back for another course.

If you didn’t know, The Dinner is about 4 people, two of them are brothers with their wives, whose kids have done such a horrible crime, and due to some circumstances haven’t been identified yet, that they have dinner at a really fucking expensive, posh, fancy, restaurant to discuss what to do about it. Sounds like a great dialogue film with utter dread and tension right? Yeah, well maybe it would’ve been with more of maybe only 20 minutes of being at the restaurant in the entire film that has a run time of two hours. Right before the ending, we get a great just tense as fuck ten minutes that I could’ve watched for another 80. Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall, and Steve Coogan just going at it.

But no, we get flashbacks, too many of them, one of them one of the dumbest and boring sequences I have seen in all my 30 years on this Earth. Now a couple of these flashbacks are very, very important, such as what their kids ended up doing, those completely needed to stay in the film. But flashbacks dealing with some of the couple’s past relationships, mental health history, and other jibberish really didn’t need to be shown. It could’ve been told to us some in the dialogue, it could’ve shown us the mental health stuff with Steve Coogan’s incredible acting in this. And it did during the dinner, but just kept hitting the nail on the head in flashbacks that I didn’t really need to see and were just plain unnecessary.

What I really want to talk about in this review is this 10 to 15 minute flashback sequence that has to be THE MOST unnecessary, bullshit, pointless, boring, God awful thing I have ever seen in cinema. It is just Richard Gere and Steve Coogan, a flashback trying to portray Coogan’s collapsing mental health, going through a memorial of the Battle of Gettysburg, and then dissolves into almost ten minutes of Stephen Lang just talking about the Battle of Gettysburg like a history show. It was one of the most boring scenes I have ever been put through and complete horseshit. Was this scene in the novel it was based on or did the director have awful choices about what to do in this film.

The direction in this film is another part of the problem. It’s awful. All these choices the director makes is just awkwardly awkward. It’s like director Oren Moverman is trying to make a mainstream thriller with an avant-garde film. And it doesn’t work. At all. Imagine if you will watching an Avengers movie and then halfway into the film the camera just focuses on the American Flag while reading out our Bill of Rights. Yeah, that random and awkward. Just…ugh…pointless and made me hate the film more than I already did with the other stupid flashbacks. Oh, and the ending sucks. It abruptly ends with hardly any resolution.

I wanted to see The Dinner, not The Flashbacks with Dinner, or Visions during Dinner. I wanted to see the conversation taking place in present day during dinner. I wanted 80 minutes of that, with a ten minute flashback to see what the children did. Performances do not make a movie, I have said that time and time again. You need a combo of performances, plot, cinematography, scene significance, direction, all of it in one big melting pot. And if one of those things doesn’t work at least 90% of the time, you don’t have a film. This film has performances and maybe 10% of a plot. There was no direction and absolutely no scene significance. You had 10% of a good movie, and usually, on my radar, if you go under 30%, you get one of the worst films of the year. And here I serve you one of the worst on a giant platter full of shit.

 

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

Well it is officially here. Summer movie season has started. You smell it. I smell it. It can either smell great, like Captain America Civil War, or it can smell kind of schtinky, like Iron Man 2. What does my groundhog nose smell this season? No more weeks of spring. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is (pardon my constant French) fucking awesome. It is everything I hoped it would be and is at least as great as the first film, and in some parts (like the sountrack) is even better. It is entertaining, funny, cute, emotional, action packed, awe-inspiring, gleefully contagious, basically everything you want in a movie, comic book movie, Marvel movie. It is just pure fun. And that’s all we want in a movie isn’t it?

The opening scene sets things early. And just like the opening credits to the first movie, this opening is a masterpiece and dare I say it, even better. The soundtrack all together is perfect scene by scene and mixes together with what is happening on screen beautifully. All the characters gets a fully fledged arc and some characters are given even more screentime and even more fleshed out. Baby Groot and Yondu steal the show in this. Easily. Just like a puppy, there will be some sort of Baby Groot toy or contraption in every home this summer. Michael Rooker plays Yondu with even more depth and has a great musical action scene and some one liners that will have you bawling with laughter.

The special effects, again, are fantastic. All the action sequences are fun, thrilling, and go along with the story. You might not think the movie has a story the first two thirds of the film. But I slowly new what director James Gunn was cooking up, and when the story does reveal itself, you realize that everything you thought was random prior wasn’t random at all, but was perfectly placed for the big reveals at the end. Also, this might be the first time that Marvel is getting out of their “villain problem” they’ve been having. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the villain of the film has some acting chops once revealed and it seems that maybe villains from now on (like Michael Keaton in the new Spider-Man or Cate Blanchett in the new Thor) will be a little more menacing and fully fleshed out.

Kurt Russell is all kinds of cool as Ego the Living Planet/Peter’s father, and those kind of skeptical about him being Peter’s father, don’t worry, it will make sense to you this story choice. Dave Bautista gets cool moments and great laughs as well and the always underrated Zoe Saldana is again great as Gamora. Karen Gillam gets a lot more screentime this time around and a new character, Mantis, seems like a welcome addition to the team. Also, I can’t imagine anyone voicing Rocket or Groot from now on as Cooper and Diesel make those roles theirs.

I’m not going to spoil any more of this movie. Just go see it. You know you want to and you know you already going too. Marvel can do almost no wrong, something that DC needs to quickly learn (hopefully Wonder Woman is fun).  This is another welcome addition to the Marvel canon, it’s just that great and anyone that spoils anything for you should be kicked in the head. And of course, stay through the credits, as some of the scenes are funny and essential. If I had any complaints the movie is just a tad too long (at 2 hours and 17 minutes) and it doesn’t really set anything up for Infinity War, but honestly does it really matter? Guardians was always meant to be it’s own thing and here it’s its own thing again. I even loved the way it felt like a true continuation to the first movie. Just so much fun. Definitely one of the best of the year. Now let me go buy the soundtrack before it sells out everywhere.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SLEIGHT

And finally, my fourth review for the one movie I saw this weekend that happens to be my favorite of the bunch and the one I would only truly recommend making time out of your way to check it out: SLEIGHT. Some critics are calling it Chronicle meets Iron Man or The Prestige meet Chronicle or Juice/any urban gang film meets Chronicle or some other bullshit hybrid film combo that will take the place of an unqiue worded review about the film itself, which is it’s own thing. Slap me shocked that this didn’t get more marketing and more theaters because it is one heck of an entertaining film that plays by its own rules and is smart as fuck. Not surprised that this was brought to us by one of the producers of Get Out.

If I could describe the film I would call it a thriller with a urban magical technological twist. Yep, that descriptive. I don’t want to go too much into spoilers because the trailers for this film are a bit misleading and for good reason. If you’ve seen the trailer it looks like it is about a drug dealer by night, magician/street performer by day, but one that has superpowers. Well it is and it isn’t, but one thing is for sure, this film IS NOT Chronicle. There is more to his “powers” that meets the eye, so much so in fact that I was prepared to be disappointed if the kid actually did have supernatural powers that helped him with his magician tricks and his pickle in his drug dealings that he gets into. But it’s not, it has a down to Earth type explanation that I won’t describe for you here. Safe to say that I was impressed.

This is the tightest 90 minute little thriller that I have seen in quite some time and I enjoyed ever millisecond of it. A great storytelling movie like this can only be heightened by its performances, and that is exactly what Sleight does. The performances are freaking amazing. Jacob Lattimore as Bo, the lead, is compelling and has such a clear arc and different approaches to his character for each twist and turn it blew me away. There is this one scene where he is talking about a trick he saw from a magician as a kid, so mesmerizing because Lattimore just knocks it out of the park. But there is another performance that impressed me even more and that was from Dule Hill, who plays Bo’s drug dealing boss Angelo.

Don’t know who Dule Hill is by name, okay, how about the guy that played Gus on Psych, Shawn’s best friend and co-lead? Yep, that guy. Can’t imagine seeing Gus with a gun, playing a bad ass drug lord throwing out F-bombs left and right and hitting and killing people? Neither did I until I saw this film. I am hoping this film catches on and maybe he’ll get more projects other than playing the “aw shucks partner” in films and television shows. Here he is intoxicating, masterful, and filled with so much suspense I was on the edge of my seat every time he was on screen.

The movie also sticks the landing at the end, not going out on an all out magical techno brawl action sequence but a finale that is down to Earth, just the right amount of action, and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. This film just has a good story, you get a urban thriller, a romance subplot, a family subplot, all with a cool little twist to make it it’s own. Please do find a theater it is playing in and go see it. I thought it was very smart take on what it was trying to do without ripping something off like Chronicle. I repeat: this film is not Chronicle. Go see it.