Category Archives: Movies The Ultimate Escape

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ONLY THE BRAVE

ONLY THE BRAVE is incredible. If made 20 years ago, between 1995 and 1999 (which is impossible because this true story tragedy happened in 2013), it would’ve been a massive blockbuster hit, with a lot of possible award nominations. Instead, due to this insane movie culture we have now that is obsessed with superhero films, reboots, remakes, franchises, and all that stuff, this film is more than likely going to be lost in the shuffle. But hey, there is still such a thing as being a cult classic or successful when it hits video right? Which is a shame. It is easily the best firefighter movie since Backdraft, has incredible acting and in the 90s Josh Brolin certainly would’ve been nominated for an award as well as Jennifer Connolly, and pretty fantastic special effects. I really loved this film.

Do you know why I mainly loved it? Because the film took its time. In a good way. Some films, when they take their time, tests the audiences patience, and in the end, the payoff isn’t worth the journey, and you end up being bored. Only The Brave accomplishes the rare feet of taking its time AND being incredibly entertaining. We get to know the characters very, very, very well. In fact, I would like to nominate this film as probably the best character development I have seen all year. We get to know the characters so well that, well, I won’t spoil anything but you can easily find out what happened to the Granite Mountain Hotshots if you go on Wikipedia, but suffice to say, when characters are in dangers, it stings like a motherfucker.

I was surprised to find out that this film was directed by Joseph Kosinski, who also directed Oblivion with Tom Cruise and Tron: Legacy, a cult classic to some of my friends (but I feel is highly overrated). This is easily his best film to date. The films climax doesn’t go into avoiding fire action movie territory, the climax is swift, brutal, and realistic with what was happening. All the characters seem like they truly do know and care about each other in real life. We get to know them several layers deep. It contains the best performance from Taylor Kitsch that I have seen. It also contains another Miles Teller fantastic performance as well playing a junkie that the hotshots take in.

The fire spreading and killing everything in its path in this is scary and real. Everything about it seems real. We see the firefighters actually work to take care of the fires, doing some things that I haven’t seen them do in movies. Usually its just a quick montage and everything is taken care of. Thankfully, not in this. It isn’t just about the Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013, we go back plenty of years before that and see how the team actually got certified as a team. Its engrossing from minute one. Josh Brolin and Jennifer Connolly share some scenes that any year in the 90s would’ve gotten them supporting actor and supporting actress performances.

The ending of this is so powerful, I teared up. Usually on this biographical dramas, I don’t tear up because I don’t care enough about the characters to actually feel their plight. This one I felt to my very soul, and that was all due to direction, the chemistry of the actors, and the screenplay actually taking its time to flesh everything out. If you read this review, and if you normally only see one movie a week or one every two weeks, try and put this one into your schedule. It’s incredible and I promise you it doesn’t waste your time.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE SNOWMAN

THE SNOWMAN is one of the most poorly edited and unfinished films I have ever seen. How can I say it is unfinished? This article my friends: http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/tomas-alfredson-says-he-was-unable-to-shoot-10-15-of-the-snowman-146 . 10-15%?!?!? To me it was more like 20-25%. I could tell that large chunks of this movie was missing, and the film is still two hours long?!?!? How a studio can allow a film to go into rushed production and then not even really have a finished project before releasing it into theatres is mind boggling. This is one of the rare times where I’ll say the movie might have benefit if an extra hour had been tacked onto the run time. Everything about this movie sucks except for the hint of genius performances barely peeking their ways out of the frames. The Snowman is definitely one of the worst films of the year. And has the worst use of Val Kilmer I have ever seen.

Michael Fassbender must’ve read a tremendous script if he wanted to shoot this movie. Because he seems like he wants to be there. So does Rebecca Ferguson, so does J.K. Simmons. They all glimmer a little in their parts. Somewhere in this giant mess of a film, shoot schedule, and screenplay must’ve been a fantastic noir type serial killer thriller. When the credits rolled, I was confused as to what the film even really wanted to truly be? Tonally it is all over the fucking place, with not a shred of dread like there was supposed to be. The film is so poorly edited that one scene completely reveals the killer although I don’t think it was meant to be the case when shooting it. (the killer isn’t that hard to guess in the first place, the film sticks to one red herring and doesn’t let go until the last possible minute, and other than that there weren’t too many suspects).

And Val Kilmer in this. Sheesh, what the fuck happened to Val Kilmer. The guy in his personal life kept denying that he had cancer, but with this film, you can tell he completely had it. THEY DUB OVER HIS ENTIRE VOICE WITH THE FEW SCENES THAT HE HAS. His voice does not match his lips and you know that isn’t Val Kilmer talking. Why didn’t they just reshoot with another actor? Probably the rushed production mentioned above.

If you don’t know the plot or even care, it’s based on a series of novels with a character named Detective Henry Hole. In this novel, he is after a killer that kills women, lops their heads off and puts them on snowmen. The women that are being targeted are women that come from damaged families, are unhappy and unfaithful. You can tell that the production was rushed from the first scene, which uses CGI so terribly you know they weren’t actually filming where they were supposed to be and the editing is so choppy is never lets up.

I consider The Snowman an incomplete picture. In fact, I would like for director Tomas Alfredson to maybe try to get money from the studio, do reshoots, finish the picture and release a director’s cut and maybe I’ll try it again to see if I feel any differently. But this is one of the messiest films I have ever seen. And no, I haven’t read the book, but I want to, I feel that reading the words will get the bad taste out of my eyes and ears.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE FOREIGNER

THE FOREIGNER easily contains both Jackie Chan AND Pierce Brosnan’s best performances…ever. But what I was also surprised to discover is that this movie wasn’t just another Taken or solely just another revenge plot film. It is actually a stunningly great political thriller at its forefront with that zesty revenge side dish that we all know so well. It was breathtaking and fresh to witness a film where, going into it, I thought it would just be all Jackie Chan butt-kicking action but in an R rating setting. Boy was I wrong. There is action, but not too much to the point of ridiculousness, but the film has more of a political terrorist plot that had me hypnotized throughout the 2 hour run time. With all those ingredients in this pot, this is a film you definitely do not want to miss.

Simple set up: Chan’s daughter is killed when a bomb outside a shopping center in London blows up, almost taking out Chan as well. Chan wants the police to catch the bombers first, but is impatient and decides he is going to find them and kill them himself. He targets a former IRA leader who is now an Irish Deputy Minister, played by Pierce Brosnan, because the bombers claim there are from the IRA. Hence without going into any spoilers, it becomes a large political terrorist plot with cat and mouse like proportions. Chan is trying to find the bombers that killed his daughter, and Brosnan is trying to find that bombers to get Chan off his back, while trying to keep his political power, but also downplaying that he was himself a terrorist way back when.

The movie is fantastically entertaining and resonant. The entire two hours kept me after the fact that I realized that the film wasn’t going to be “just another Taken” movie. I enjoyed the unraveling of the plot and while some things took me by surprise yet some didn’t, the journey kept at it to make me completely satisfied. The action, used sparingly is excellent, and Chan is finally showing his age, very convincing that the butt-kicking he is inducing now takes a toll on him too and not just his enemies. His acting is great here too, you can feel the anguish over losing his daughter and the authorities or anyone else taking him seriously. I would like to see more of this Jackie Chan in theaters. And don’t tell me to watch the remake of The Karate Kid, yes he is good in that (especially that one crying scene) but this is on a whole other level, in a better made film.

Pierce Brosnan is masterful here too. Giving his best performance to date, and his best since the underrated The Matador. I like that he had a complicated villain plot. He wasn’t necessarily the villain, but the fact that he was a terrorist in his earlier days and then gets to be in a high standing political position was disheartening. The movie plays off that and his arc is one that I truly found convincing and scary.

Some of the credit needs to go to Martin Campbell, who is one I admire greatly who has done some fantastic work, like Goldeneye and Casino Royale, but has had a few huge misfires (Green Lantern anyone)? Here, his talents as a director are brought back into the fold, very precise camera work and great takes. This goes along with hit hits for sure. But any Jackie Chan fan out there really needs to see The Foreigner. Especially those looking for a great story to go along with it. This isn’t a Rush Hour or Taken film, where it is all action and just has Jackie Chan doing a Charlie Chaplin martial arts like performance. This is bold, hard hitting, and deep. And I can’t wait to watch it again when it comes to video.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: Netflix’s THE BABYSITTER

Now here is a cool, quirky Netflix film I can get behind, THE BABYSITTER, and no, not the trash that starred Alicia Silverstone in the 90s. This is the new film directed by McG, yes the Charlie’s Angel’s reboot McG, about a hot as hell babysitter and her friends dong some pretty shady shit as the kid being babysat tries to stop them. In the vein of the recent film I reviewed Better Watch Out, it is best not to watch a trailer for this film. Just start playing it and enjoy. It’s a quick 85 minute, bloody, hilarious,  thrill ride with some really, really cool deaths and some great bloody practical effects. It’s also funny that it is McG’s best film as well.

What happened to McG? The Charlie’s Angels reboots were halfway decent but then he failed with Terminator Salvation and hit a nail in the coffin after This Means War. I saw a little talent in him then and thankfully, here he finally releases everything full throttle (did you get the Charlie’s Angels jokes…did you get it?) This movie is just pure fun and what will be a huge star making turn for the girl that plays the babysitter Bee, Samara Weaving (Hugo Weaving is her uncle). She is incredible in this this, her acting chops on full display and her chemistry while “babysitting” Cole is one with humor, thrills and heartbreak.

Just like my review for Better Watch Out, I am not going to explain the plot all that much. Bee has always babysat Cole, and he has a huge crush on her. One of Cole’s friends tells Cole that he should stay up this time instead of going to bed, to see if Bee has sex with her boyfriend, steals stuff, trashes the house etc. Cole decides to do it…and what he discovers is more frightening than anything he could have imagined. I explained earlier that there is some great gore practical effects and some great deaths, so you might get the sense of where the film goes. Needless to say, it is almost in the same vein as Better Watch Out, but it is actually very different.

You have other people in this that are Bee’s friends as well, such as Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, and that weird Asian chick from Pitch Perfect. They are all hilarious and great as Bee’s friends, and I even liked Bella Thorne in this, even though I think she is very very strange in real life, the few scenes she has in this, she really shines. But everything in this film belongs to Samara Weaving. She’s incredible and worth the price of one month of Netflix alone to check this film out.

McG’s quirky direction is fully developed in this film, where it inhabits its environment and takes it to the next level as it should. The use of music in here is delightful as well, especially Queen at the end. The acting all around is almost stepping into the over-the-top category, but thanks to a good script, it calls for it, sort of like the acting in a Quentin Tarantino film. That’s it, I’m done talking. Go check out The Babysitter, you won’t regret it.