Category Archives: Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE BAD BATCH

THE BAD BATCH is a weird little film by newcomer writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour. She was responsible for the becoming a cult classic gem that I have not seen, A Girl Walks Alone At Night. This film, critic wise, is going both ways. Some are calling it a boring overlong interesting mess, others are calling it a an independent modern masterpiece. Me? I’m somewhere in the middle, closer to the spectrum of masterpiece though then a mess. In fact, I actually thought The Bad Batch was pretty good. While the story was a little lacking, it is gorgeously shot and has a hell of an interesting premise with some good/weird performances. I mean, Jim Carrey is almost uncredited in this as a silent good-natured hermit, bringing one of his best performance since The Truman Show and Man on the Moon. How can you not like a movie like that?

If the trailer is somewhat confusing on what this is about, let me spell it out a little without ruining anything. Apparently, this takes place in the future, where if you are part of “The Bad Batch,” you are actually a prisoner, where you are taken to a gate on the edge of Texas, and are free to roam a land where the American law and way of life no longer applies. Are you are a land full of cannibals, criminals, and scary looking motherfuckers, and the one place of solace this scary desert un-topia has is a place called Comfort that is run by a head honcho named The Dream (played cool and collected by Keanu Reeves). How weird is this film? Well all the ladies that are in The Dream’s home are pregnant and are wearing t-shirts that says “I Have The Dream Inside Me.” Am I right?

Well anyway, this one girl gets sentenced to this place, and right away she is taken by cannibals who eat one of her arms and one of her legs. She still manages to escape and tries to find Comfort.  Jason Mamoa also stars as a man who you don’t quite know who his allegiance lies with. Like I said, the film is really really gorgeously shot. Ms. Amirpour knows her way behind a camera and brings a beautiful landscape to an otherwise haunting and scary open prison system.

I guess the weirdness of this film stuck with me throughout the entire runtime because I was never bored and my eyes were always glued to the screen wondering what was going to happen next. I loved how this world was explained to the audience not by telling us what was going on but by showing us. That’s what I always admire in a film, when it shows and not tells. It’s possible that the weirdness was too good for it’s own good because if a couple of things were tweaked this could’ve been a masterpiece and one of the year’s best films. The story should’ve been tweaked a couple of times (even though I did like the ending). Some of the characters decisions didn’t make much sense when clearly there were plenty of other options (hard to explain without getting into spoilers). I also loved Keanu Reeves as a kind of savior/bad guy and wish they would’ve developed his character a bit more.

And the film does have that main problem: character development. We don’t know much about the main girl, named Arlen, and only find out bits and pieces with nothing big enough or the glue not strong enough to put together. Same goes with Jason Mamoa’s character known only as Miami Man because of the tattoo across his chest. But the best character I really wanted to get to know was Jim Carrey’s Hermit character. Arguably one of Carrey’s best performances he doesn’t say one word, just a desert wanderer that mostly keeps to himself except for when people are in trouble. I could’ve watched a whole movie on just that character alone, and is the reason why I like the movie more than I should.

Ugh, the more I think about the movie the more of a recommendation I want to give it. As of right now, I think the movie borders on good/great territory, but far from a masterpiece and no where near the mess that people think it is. This is definitely a film though that I’d like to revisit at a time and maybe see something new in it that I didn’t catch the first time. Anyway, if you like weird films, or anything avant garde, this is totally the film for you. But if you are a modern audience participant, this film will most likely confuse the shit out of you and you will hate it’s guts. I liked it and would like to study it some more.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DESPICABLE ME 3

The best thing I can tell you about this film is that this one is at least better than the awful 2nd film and the ho-hum Minions film. What has happened to this franchise? The first film is a lovable tale with a good story that everyone fell in love with. But then people fell too in love with the Minions, and the franchise became a product placement like all the Cars films are. I can’t even remember the 2nd film, only that the Minions stole the show and Gru met Kristen Wiig’s characters, and there was some Mexican bad guy. This film has a more memorable villain, thanks to the comedic voice talents of South Park’s Trey Parker, but even he can’t even save the film from having too many subplots, too much slapstick humor and not enough smart original jokes, and and uninspired main plot. The minions fortunately or unfortunately however you want to look at it, of course steal the show entirely.

Yeah, the two funniest bits in the film are the minions accidentally interrupting a singing competition and the minions life in jail after they leave Gru because “he’s not villainous enough.” So that’s one plot point, let’s count all the other in a 90 minute film. 2. Kristen Wiig’s character wanting to be a good new mother. 3. Agnes wanting to find a real unicorn (the middle child doesn’t get a subplot surprisingly. 4. The older daughter having to ward away this young Danish boy who she took a bite of cheese from (I know, lame, and it’s solved pretty damn quickly that it isn’t even really much of a subplot). 5. Gru dealing with his new long lost brother Dru. 6. Trey Parker’s Balthazar Bratt becoming insane after the cancellation of his tv show and having no reason to take over the world other than he wants to be his character that was on the show and be an excellent “bad boy.” 7. Gru and Kristen Wiig (I don’t care enough to know her characters name) getting fired from the saving the world league they were in and trying to get back in. Jesus.

7 plots and subplots all in the span of 90 minutes. And you could feel it too. The film is way too overstuffed. They could come up with one or two main plots and make a loving, sweet, and coeherant story. Instead they basically ignore the children (which their plot made the first film so sweet, and the children are completely ignored in the second film) and instead focus on slapstick humor between Gru and his brother, and of course, the Minions. Didn’t the Minions get their own movie so they could concentrate on trying to tell an actual story in this third outing? At least that’s what the filmmakers told us when this started getting made. Maybe halfway through they couldn’t come up with any ideas, said “fuck it,” and threw everything out the window.

This film has hardly any original jokes. Everything feels borrowed from other films and most of the jokes are just people falling and getting hurt kind of humor, tons of overused slapstick. The writing here is the laziest since…well, I guess Cars 3, haha. I mean, they couldn’t have come up with another main story featuring the girls mainly, combine that with the good mother thing from Wiig, get rid of the other brother angle, keep Trey Parker (who is the best part of this film by the way and seems like he is happy to be doing something else other than South Park), and it be at least half way decent? It’s been several years since the 2nd one, and you would’ve thought they would’ve learned from their mistakes, but I guess not. Maybe it is time to hire some new writers as well.

There is a but to all this. The but is that kids will enjoy it no matter what. They will love the slapstick stuff, love the minions, love another unicorn story with Agnes, love the ending with the bubble gum town and ripping off the end of Age of Ultron. They will love every second of this film, because kids do not know any better. Which is fine, I’m going to experience all that stuff in several years when my child grows up. But if you are going to make a movie for kids, and ones that adults will need to take their kids too, at least make it decent for the adults as well and not insult their intelligence. The voice work is still great from everyone, even Carrell, who I thought always has done fantastic work in these, but the substance does not match up to style here. At least I can say it was better than 2, but that again isn’t saying all that much. It’s despicable I couldn’t like this film better.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE BEGUILED

I think after THE BEGUILED, I’m officially considering writer/director Sofia Coppola a one-hit wonder. And this isn’t even the hit, that would belong to Lost in Translation. The Beguiled is almost everything bad I could say about a film at this moment. Pacing is bad, original (that’s right, it’s a remake) is much better, editing is choppy, acting is ho-hum, character development was awful, direction was one-note, none of the feelings were believable, characters made weird decisions too quickly and it was an absolute snooze fest. Gee Zach, tell me what you really thought about it? Well, I just did, but I guess I could go into some more detail…

The only thing that was good about this film was the dreary mood and the cinematography. It was a pretty looking film. That’s about all the praise you’ll hear from me. Sofia Coppola has directed a bunch of stinkers. I can’t stand Somewhere, The Virgin Suicides, The Bling Ring, and Marie Antoinette. I don’t know why I love Lost In Translation so much. Maybe I need to watch it again to find out if the film still holds up. Sofia Coppola was known for her terrible acting as Corleone’s daughter in Godfather Part III, but I also think she is a terrible writer. Not so much director as she is not bad at all at some camera work, but her screenplays are absolutely dreadful, weird, and just plain Jane.

I mean, I’ve seen the original with Clint Eastwood, and I guess they remade it to make it seem more dreary and dreadful, because while the actions of the characters make sense in the original, they don’t make sense here at all. In fact, I think this movie could’ve been BETTER with about 30 minutes added onto it (it’s only 90) with some more character development. For instance, Colin Farrell talks to Kirsten Dunst’s character ONCE and stares at her in a couple of scenes, he says “I love you,” to her in the next scene, and then is trying to get in Elle Fannings pants less than a minute later. Makes absolutely zero sense. The film only starts to pick up once Colin Farrell re breaks his leg, but the film only has 20 minutes left. The ending is the same as it was in the original, but here it feels less earned.

Farrell is nice one minute and awful the next with no subtext. Even Nicole Kidman’s character, who is icy to him the entire time at one point almost kisses him. There was absolutely no basis for any of the characters actions. No motive. It was complete drivel. Did Sofia Coppola actually watch the original film or did she just skip through it and go, “I think I’ll just make it more dreary and with less substance, that’ll make a good film!”

How Sofia Coppola won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival for this is beyond me. I’m puzzled unless the other films weren’t that great as well or if the judges were in a weird mood. Just like The Bling Ring, Somewhere, and Marie Antoinette, this is going to be on my worst list at the end of the year. Sofia Coppola needs to direct from someone else’s script, because she needs to quit writing.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE BIG SICK

Thank the movie Gods, looks like maybe the Summer movie season is really starting to kick in. After the wonderful Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it’s been a ho-hum shit kind of summer with big stinkers such as Transformers 5 million, All Eyez On Me, 47 Meters Down, Beatriz At Dinner, Cars 3, It Comes At Night, some would put The Mummy in there, Baywatch. The only other excellent movie we’ve gotten in between all that crap was Wonder Woman. But now, we got Baby Driver, and this Friday, you can experience the wonderful hilarious romantic joy that is THE BIG SICK.

If you don’t know what The Big Sick is, well that baffles me because they’ve been promoting the shit out of it. It’s based on a true story with Kumail Nanjiani, playing himself of course, where he meets his current wife Emily and after being together awhile and shortly after a break up, she ends up in a medically induced coma. The doctors don’t know what is wrong with her, and Kumail meets and hangs around Emily’s parents, waiting to see if Emily will recover and if maybe this whole experience changes him in a way.

Even if this wasn’t a true tale, and the real husband and wife duo just wrote this as a mere piece of fiction, this is still one of the better romantic dramedies to come out in recent years. In fact, this is what Funny People really should have been. What’s funny is that the two correlate very well with the whole stand up comedians and sickness type plot scenario. But what makes this film truly special, and a whole lot better than Funny People ever was, is that it is a true story, this movie feels real even though Kumail is the only one playing himself, and this movie is actually hilarious.

Some would say the movie is too long, running at almost 2 hours. However, I would strongly disagree. The film’s pacing and plot structure are perfect. If the movie was cut any further, I might not have believed the love between Kumail and Emily was real and wasn’t rooting for them to end up together in the end (even though I know they get married in real life). It gets to the sickness gradually, and then when she is in a medically induced coma, his relationship with her parents has perfect progression as well. In fact, in the whole movie I don’t see one scene that could’ve been cut or trimmed. Everything feels necessary. Even the extended scenes with Kumail’s family wanting him to meet and marry a Pakistani girl and their disapproval with his life.

Now let’s get to the acting real quick. I love Kumail Nanjiani on Silicon Valley, but here, even playing himself, he is absolutely fantastic. His Silicon Valley character is completely gone, and here he is, just him, making me have a lump in my throat in one scene where he is completely bombing a stand up comedic act to talk about how he can’t do comedy when the girl that he loves is in a coma. Holly Hunter is great here too, and Zoe Kazan is adorable as Emily, so adorable I wonder if she did the real Emily justice. But the real standout here, as a friend of mine mentioned, is Ray Romano. Ray Romano gives his best performance to date. Better than any episode of Everybody Loves Raymond could ever have given you. He gives Emily’s dad words and story arc life, and he ends up being the most likable character in the movie. If there is only one reason for this film being worth the price of admission, it’s Romano’s performance.

Go see The Big Sick as soon as you can (comes out Friday). Bring a date, see it with friends and family. It is that type of movie. Even being rated R, it is a movie any family would enjoy (if your kids are at least age 13 and up). I don’t think I’m being hasty to call this the best romantic comedy of the year, and that it will end up on my top ten – fifteen list by January 2018. It really is that lovable, wholesome, and good. The two hours flew by, and I wanted to see more of Kumail and Emily’s life, even if it didn’t have a plot too it. This romantic comedy should be the standard when it comes to those types of films. Near perfect, and you definitely won’t get sick of it.