Category Archives: Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MOM AND DAD

Nicholas Cage has his moments. His moments are mainly the ones where he just doesn’t give a fuck about his performance and goes off the wall crazy ass bonkers. Those are his most entertaining roles. Add MOM AND DAD to the list of them. Mom and Dad is playing in few select theaters but you can rent or buy it on VOD right now. I am not a huge fan of direct to VOD, but this movie is an exception. It’s crazy premise, short tight run time, and Nic Cage make this one of the rare good ones. It’s from Brian Taylor, one of the duo of Neveldine/Taylor, who brought you such weird projects as Gamer, Crank, and Crank High Voltage. This is his solo outing, and if you’ve seen any of those fast paced, hyper edited, high premise films, you know what to expect. And you get exactly that.

There is only one thing you need to know about Mom and Dad. It is about some kind of signal that is making Mom and Dads everywhere have the uncontrollable urge to kill their kids, and just their kids, no one else’s. Which actually brought an interesting dynamic to the film. There are some scenes where parents are stopping other parents from killing their kids, but when they get home or see their kids, they go after them anyway with that blood thirsty rage. What I kind of like about the film is that even with that high premise, it is light on plot other than two kids, a brother and sister, trying to escape the clutches of their mom and dad, played by Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair. I’ve already sung the praises of Nicholas Cage here, but Selma Blair is also very exceptional, probably bringing what is her best performance ever, and definitely her best since Cruel Intentions.

If you are one of those ‘Losties” and are looking for answers to the who, what, where, when, and why of this signal and why it is happening, I’m just going to tell you right now to not expect many answers. There are context clues to make you figure everything out and the ending is sort of ambigouis, and not everything is tied up in a nice little bow. This is a movie to just sit back and enjoy the insanity of it. To see Nicholas Cage screaming and singing the Hokey Pokey while he is destroying a pool table with a sledgehammer or his crazy eyes and mannerisms as he runs after his kids. My favorite scene is when he and Selma Blair try to get their kids out of the locked basements by rigging their gas system and jerry-rigging it through a window in the basement.

There is a late and short appearance by Lance Hendrickson that I quite enjoyed as well, but saying anything about that would ruin a pretty good surprise the film has to offer. The movie mixtures horror, comedy, and disturbing very well, and while at some points it gets pretty close to crossing that ‘too far’ line, it doesn’t quite get there. The violence and gore isn’t too bad, as even though parents are killing their kids, we don’t get up close to any of the bloody murders, just shots of bloody knives, keys, and other objects, without actually seeing any of them hit and cut the human body.

Well that’s all I am going to say about this film because it is a short 85 minutes and if I say anything else it might ruin some of the fun. It’s a helluva ride and a return to form for Taylor, who I am still wanting to see a Crank 3 in theaters somewhere down the line. I would even like to see a sequel to this, not necessarily to get the origins of the signal explained, but maybe to expand the universe more and see another side to the mayhem. Hopefully it does well enough to do that. You could start by taking my recommendation and renting it to whatever VOD service you have on a compatible device. Oh, and don’t watch this with your kids. Just sayin’.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DEN OF THIEVES

If you glance at Gerard Butler’s filmography, you’ll tend to notice a pattern that emerges. To sum it off, the actor is THE definition of hit and miss. It seems like one movie is makes is meh or terrible, and then the next one is quite serviceable or solid while not quite being fantastic or a masterpiece (one could argue the closest he’s ever gotten to that would be 300). For example, in 2009 he had three movies, The Ugly Truth, Law Abiding Citizen, and Gamer. Shitty film, pretty decent, shitty film. Or how about lets go to 2006 to 2008 with 300, P.S. I love You, and RocknRolla. Very good film, shitty film, decently solid. You can do that all over with his career. Now let’s get to present from 2016 to now. You have London Has Fallen, Geostorm, and now DEN OF THIEVES. Not too bad if enjoyable sequel, shitty film, a very, very solid yet not grand heist/crime film. In other words, yes, I am recommending Den of Thieves even though at times it tries to hard to be Michael Mann’s Heat and in some parts, completely rips it off.

What the marketing does very well is not even remotely hint at the huge twist the film has at the end of it. I knew something fishy was going on, but the end result kind of had me stunned. That is all I’m going to say on that matter. The movie stars Gerard Butler as a leader of a Major Crimes Unit Task Force assigned to bring down L.A.’s most successful bank robbery crew. The crew contains a lot of unknowns like Pablo Schreiber, but you might recognize Curtis ’50’ Cent Jackson, who doesn’t really do all that much in the film, and Ice Cube’s clone…errr I mean son, O’shea Jackson Jr., who is becoming quite the figure in films just like his father did. But the movie mainly works because of Gerard Butler, who is so fucking good in this, I have rarely seen him better. This is probably his best performance and one alongside Leonidas and Mike Banning that I’ll probably remember forever. He sold me with his first scene, and just kept selling me and selling me each and every scene after that.

The film is actually pretty enjoyable, and at 2 hours and 20 minutes, I didn’t feel it at all. Sure, there were some unnecessary scenes that could’ve been trimmed. I really didn’t need Gerard Butler’s characters’ family life brought into this, all it did was kind of assure the audience that while he is good at his job and not dirty as a cop, he makes his life dirty by cheating on his wife, but then is really nice to his kids. Instead of unnecessary scenes that sort of dragged down the movie a bit, it could’ve been explained in one line of dialogue. Yeah, that’s 20 minutes right there that could’ve been cut. Although I did like the scene where he signs his wife’s divorce papers. I understand what they were trying to do, bring some humanity and flaws to his character, but they were too cliched and just really didn’t work.

Come to think of it, there really isn’t that much characterization in the film. There is one scene with the criminals family life that feels like a rip off of a better scene in Bad Boys II (you’ll know it when you see it). You see them with their family and that is it, that one little scene, and then you really don’t see them again, and why bring them into it if you aren’t going to show their reactions to the fates of some of the characters at the end of the film? What was the point of their scenes? The acting is good, just the writing in of some scenes to bring some background to the characters seemed really last minute, although O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s character gets a little bit interesting in the 2nd half of the film. Also, a lot of the scenes and interactions of the characters feel too much like Michael Mann’s film Heat and even comes close to completely ripping some of those scenes off.

Ok, this doesn’t seem like a recommendation review does it? Let’s get to the good stuff. The film is very entertaining. The last 40-45 minutes along where a heist takes place is so solid that I could just watch those 45 minutes as an amazing little action-y mini film. The tension is brought to a high level and I didn’t have a clue to what was going to happen next. The film made me think, “wait, weren’t they going to try and rob the federal reserve? what are they doing here?” Everything in those last 45 minutes comes together so beautifully, I was wondering why this film was dumped in January. Seems more like a decent late March or April film to me. Definitely not in the same league as 12 Strong or Insidious 4. After seeing the crap action in 12 Strong, it was refreshing to see a first time director, Christian Gudegast, take his experience from writing films and takes his vision and actually control the camera correctly and film some very strong action scenes.

That along with Gerard Butler, I am recommending this crazy little heist flick even though Rotten Tomatoes and a lot of critics really, really disagree with me. My friend Kim, who sees a lot of films with me, her “ass out to pass out” rule always in effect, she was on the edge of her seat the entire time, didn’t even nudge her ass out a little to the left or right once. Oh, and the twist, loved the twist. It’s definitely a film I plan on watching again, it is really that enjoyable and fun. And sometimes, fun is all I ask for.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: 12 STRONG

Let’s cut to the chase: 12 STRONG isn’t very good. In fact, it is the definition of a “January War Film.” What is that you might ask? It’s where everyone involved opens the 101 playbook entitled “How To Make A Barely Passable War Film That Will Please Studio Executives Enough For A Theatrical Release That Will Also Please Modern Audiences.” They take what is a great heroic story and completely Hollywood Bastardize it to the point of ‘meh.’ This is one of only a handful of war films where I’ve yawn several times throughout. The entire production is just plain lazy. Characterization, dialogue, even the action sequences are shot poorly. What is so damn frustrating is that there is a Academy Award nominated film somewhere in this true story. This film takes that away like Sophie’s choice.

In fact, this film could be lazy enough in my opinion as to be disrespectful to the soldiers that actually went through the mission. And I know when it says ‘Based On A True Story’ it means that a lot of what happened is going to be taken for granted, a lot of filler put in, and some false stuff that didn’t happen. This is more of ‘Hardly Based On A True Story If Told By A Lazy Michael Bay.’ By the way, yes Jerry Bruckheimer produced this but Michael Bay didn’t direct it. What is sad to say is that if he had, it might’ve been a better film. The action is just piss poor. How do I explain the action? You know that gag in The Naked Gun series, where Leslie Nielsen and a henchmen are both hiding behind a box shooting at each other, and then the camera pulls back to show the depth of field was that great and they are really right next to each other? That’s how the movie felt. Cut to American soldier shooting, cut to Taliban soldier shooting, show them kind of shooting up close, rinse, repeat. You can’t tell who is where and who is doing or shooting what, it is just kind of a hugely shot and edited mess. There are only two decent shots in the film, the Taliban firing off rockets, and Chris Hemworth shooting and his fallen horse getting up in a cool little sped up take. That’s it.

If you have no clue what the story is about the film tries to tell the tale about 12 American soldiers that group up with General Dotsum and his men, who is the leader of the alliance in Afganistan and is actually now the Vice President (so guess what? he doesn’t die!), and try to cut off the Taliban’s supply line. Like the trailers tell you, it’s the first great victory in the Afghan war right after 9/11, so the trailers kind of spoil you in how it is going to turn out, then again you could just go on Wikipedia and read about it. Which is the alternative I recommend than going to see this movie. Even though we have 12 American Soldiers and General Dotsum, there  isn’t that much characterization in the film. In fact, it is hard to distinguish who is who trait wise other than seeing a bunch of pretty actors who’s faces we recognize. The only personality that sort of shines is General Dotsum, but then he is bogged down in cliched dialogue saying, “this is much country, this is my army, this is my land, this is my honor, these are my morals” type speeches. He tell Chris Hemworth at the end, “I will always think of you as my brother,” however the movie didn’t fucking earn that emotional sentence for the audience at the end. The sentence was a plot convenience.

Other terrible dialogue too, with the soldiers trying to be funny, everything we’ve heard of before such as: “What are you trying to do so-and-so, get a tan?””The war has just started boys.””I promised my wife I would make it home.” So on and so forth, just plain lazy writing because the writers either don’t have the skill to write good dialogue or they were trying to meet a fast deadline. I’m guessing a little bit of both. While they’re dialogue is supposed to be funny the only humorous part of the movie is that Chris Hemworth’s real wife in real life plays his wife in this. That’s the only chuckle the movie got out of me.

The plot structure is an entire mess. For example, there is this whole five minute scene of Chris Hemsworth telling that a few of his men need to make this long and perilous journey through this valley with harsh conditions (no water, food etc.) so they can get to the other side of the Taliban undetected and cut off that part of the supply line while Chris Hemsworth and his men destroy the other side to box him in. 5 minutes of saying, “I can’t order you guys to do this so I need volunteers.” Michael Pena steps up and says, “yes you can sir, you can order us to do it.” So dramatic, he orders Michael Pena to go, he picks two guys, they say their cliched goodbyes. So you think we are going to see these three soldiers and some of the harshness right? Nope. One scene of them finding a guy and his goats and them trying to buy one of the goats for food. And that’s it, and they are where they need to be with only chapped lips. I mean come on? You set up a 5 minute dramatic scene, not wanting to order your soldiers to trek with these harsh conditions and you end up showing only one scene of them buying a goat? LAZY AS FUCK.

And don’t get me started how you have a great actor like Michael Shannon in this and relegate him to little more than a cameo. He is barely fucking in this picture, and he’s out of it due to his location or that he fucked up his back somehow. He is brought back near the very end and gets pretty injured but the movie doesn’t focus on him enough and give him some character for me to really care about him. When I read their journey in news stories or wikipedia, I care about the real soldiers. The movie should emulate that. It doesn’t. And if  you notice I haven’t played up the whole horse soldier angle. Because other than them riding the horses and shooting their guns while riding them, there are no scenes of them bonding with the horses and only one scene of them learning to kind of ride them real quick plays off as humorous. So yeah the whole marketing of horse soldiers doesn’t pay off either. So instead of making a joke that 12 Strong really should be called 12 Weak, or 12 Yawns, or 12 Naps or whatever, I’m just going to tell you to skip this movie and wait for the retelling that is one day going to happen because Hollywood doesn’t know how to tell a fresh narrative about 9/11 anymore.

Zach’s Zany Movie List: TOP TEN FILMS OF 2017…and 40 others because I can.

Ah yes! Finally! After seeing Phantom Thread this weekend I can now finalize and publish my TOP TEN FILMS OF 2017….well, and 40 others that I thought worth mentioning. But the reason it is my top ten list  is because I provide commentary on just those ten about why they are on my ten best of the 2017 list. So if you just want to read about my top ten, scroll really fast through these other 40 and you’ll see that I wrote a paragraph each on the top ones and why they are so special to me, enjoy!

50. The Babysitter

49. The Belko Experiment

48. Kong: Skull Island

47. Girls Trip

46. Mayhem

45. Alien: Covenant

44. The Fate of the Furious

43. Justice League

42. The Foreigner

41. American Assassin

40. Happy Death Day

39. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

38. I, Tonya

37. Darkest Hour

36. The Florida Project

35. Phantom Thread

34. Logan Lucky

33. The Greatest Showman

32. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

31. Detroit

30. The Shape of Water

29. The Disaster Artist

28. Only The brave

27. American Made

26. Wonder

25. Thor: Rognarok

24. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

23. Coco

22. Wind River

21. Mudbound

20. Lady Bird

19. Split

18. Better Watch Out

17. Get Out

16. The Big Sick

15. Good Time

14. War For The Planet of the Apes

13. Spider-Man: Homecoming

12. Baby Driver

11. Wonder Woman

AND FINALLY, MY TOP TEN WITH A TINY BIT OF COMMENTARY FOR EACH::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

10. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Probably the most original film of the year. Great script, great story, great ending, great dialogue, incredible acting, unpredictable. All the ingredients to make a more than memorable movie. Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand deserve the Oscars they are probably going to get for this. And Martin McDonough should win for Original Screenplay. I kept switching this and Wonder Woman for the ten spot, constantly, but I ultimately chose this because Wonder Woman’s ending is a little bit of a let down considering all that came before.

9. LOGAN

Easily the best comic book film of the year. I know a lot of you thought Wonder Woman was better but no, Hugh Jackman made this film. His best performance as Wolverine and one of his best performances period. A modern day comic book western that was a visual and mental feast from minute one until it ended. A rated R Wolverine film that everyone deserved. In a sane world, Patrick Stewart would be nominated for playing Professor X in this. But we don’t live in a sane world.

8. HOSTILES

I love Westerns, and even though we could argue that Logan is a true Western, Hostiles is the true western of the year, and the best western since Dances With Wolves. An incredible, unpredictable journey where Christian Bale I thought gave his best performance ever, or at least the best since American Psycho. It is a visual treat from beginning to end and I loved the way the film visited not the right or wrong, but the darkness of the grey of humanities choices. Masterful.

7. THE POST

I knew I was going to like this new Spielberg film but I didn’t know I was going to really really really really love it. I think this is the first Spielberg film I have had on my top ten list since Munich. And it is his best film since Munich. He could’ve just made this a point and shoot affair, but with a smart and snappy script about the Pentagon papers, and with incredible actors like Hanks and Streep, you can tell that Spielberg wanted to be behind the camera, for he shows us all his signature moves and adds a few new ones in the process.

6. IT

Hi ya Georgie! While I can now admit that the film isn’t all that scary, it still is a fantastic film that I can watch over and over due to the almost perfect story adaptation from Stephen King’s book, and the best child group acting in decades. Plus, that first scene with Georgie and Pennywise in the sewer is near perfection. This make the TV special that aired in 1990 look like it was made by film students. I’ve seen this about 4 times now and enjoy it more very time.

5. MOLLY’S GAME

Some of Aaron Sorkin’s best dialogue, and my favorite Jessica Chastain performance since The Help. The story switches back between past and present so seamlessly that it doesn’t treat the audience like they are idiots with stupid “this is whenever” title cards before each scene. For a film that is 2 hour and 20 minutes long, it felt like a crisp 90 minutes. And that is extremely hard to do with everyone being fidgety nowadays.

4. JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2

I honestly thought this was going to be a permanent number 2 on my list since February 2017, but the next three films blew me away even more than this one did. And this is one of the best action sequels every made and so much better than the first film. It does everything a sequel should do. It expands the story and the universe, it ups the action, and it is more fun. Keanu Reeves looks happy to be there and does all his own stunts. And it is honestly probably because he wants to be known for this series when he dies and not just Ted from Bill & Ted. With film #2, he’s already succeeded with that wish.

3. DUNKIRK

Another Christopher Nolan masterpiece. And it is probably because of Han Zimmer’s score. I never thought a PG-13 war film could work, but this one does. And yes, I saw it in 70 mm IMAX when it came out and watching it on video isn’t as breathtaking to be sure, but it is still a masterpiece, a masterful movie to watch over and over again. When the film starts, you grip your arm rests or whatever you have near you and don’t let go until the end credits. The most tense film of the year.

2. BLADE RUNNER 2049

Yes, the first film back in the 80s I believe is highly overrated. Harrison Ford plays a detective that doesn’t really do any detective work, and doesn’t really do much in the story. But this film is better and bigger in almost every single way. It’s a visual masterpiece for the mind, body, and soul, and it happens to accompany a pretty interesting story where Ryan Gosling actually does a shit ton of detective work. When I was in the theater I had just a sense of extreme awe the entire time and I can’t wait to revisit the film again when it comes out on Blu-Ray tomorrow.

  1. STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI

Look, I could defend this film until kingdom come. Oh, you didn’t like Luke’s story did you? Felt like it ruined his character and your childhood did it? Look, that was the only way the story and writer/director Rian Johnson could go after J.J. Abrams set everything up. If Luke hadn’t cut himself off from the force, he probably would’ve had a vision of Han being killed by Ben and would’ve went after him and saved him just like when he had that vision of Cloud City training with Yoda…ah ah ah, I’ll stop, if I don’t I’ll just keep going. This film is a masterpiece and the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. Everything about it is almost pitch perfect, because it does what Luke says, “this isn’t going to go the way you think.” None of it does. Who saw Snoke being killed in part two of the new trilogy? That fight scene with Rey and Ben fighting off his guards is one of the best action sequences in the entire series. The beginning space battle with the bombers to the First Order dreadnought is perfect. The humor did bother me a little bit at first, and the Leia Mary Poppins thing, but I’ve seen the film several times now, and I enjoy it more each time, and those parts don’t even phase me anymore. The ending with Luke and Ben and the “See you around kid” floors me every single time. I love everything about this film, even the journey to Canto Bight. So I don’t mind defending this film until kingdom come. I feel like a young excited kid every time I watch it, and tears well up in my eyes when it ends. It is that great of a film to me, and in the end, the over obnoxious “not my Star Wars” fanboys can go fuck themselves.

Thanks for reading and PEACE OUT!!!!