Category Archives: Movies The Ultimate Escape

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DEATH WISH (2018)

You know what? I enjoyed the new remake of DEATH WISH. I also think it is Eli Roth’s best film. So sue me. And yes, I’ve seen all of Eli Roth’s films, and I’ve seen the original Death Wish and I’ve also seen The Brave One, which was a halfassed attempt at trying to say a movie was not a remake of Death Wish by giving it a different title and casting Jodie Foster in the vigilante role. And if you’ve read the original novel, you know that the original Death Wish isn’t even a faithful adaptation. I’m going to throw an even more controversial ember into this fire I’m creating. I don’t even think the original is that much of a classic outside of Charles Bronson’s performance. There I said it. In the original, *spoiler warning*, he doesn’t even go after or find the original killers that killed his wife and hurt his daughter. So needless to say, this Death Wish is completely different from both the novel, the original film, and the hidden remake of The Brave One. And this is the one I enjoyed the most.

And I know, most critics that have seen it haven’t enjoyed it, but I think that is mostly due to the fact that they think the film is ill timed, which it sort of is but that didn’t get in the way of my movie watching experience. The movie has a lot to say actually on how stupidly easy it is to buy a gun in America. One whole scene is a joke about it. And there is a shit load of gun violence, commentary on the police and their lack of response, commentary on being a vigilante, etc. And I know what happened three weeks ago and thinking about it saddens me but this movie was originally was supposed to be released in late November near Thanksgiving, but they moved it because that weekend was already overcrowded with 6 other films. This weekend its only competition is another R rated movie Red Sparrow (review on Sunday). So I pushed all that to the side, and let’s push that out of the way and get to my real review.

I thought the movie was a lot of fun, well directed by Roth, and Bruce Willis gives his best performance since Looper, basically because it looks like he actually wanted to film this. Bruce Willis breaks down in tears two to three times in this movie, with one emotional scene with Vincent O’Donofrio, who plays his brother, and I was mouthing, “Oh My God, is this what is feels like to watch Bruce Willis actually try giving a damn and acting?” He was quite good. At the beginning of the film, I was nervous because he seemed to be bringing with him his phoned in VOD performances of the last couple of years, but then once his family is gunned down his performance goes completely 180, and he actually plays a grieving widowed doctor with vengeance in his heart. I think that might have been director Eli Roth’s intention. Let’s make them think Bruce Willis will phone it in, and then about 20 minutes into the film punch them in the nuts. If that’s the case, it worked.

Seeing Bruce Willis be the good guy and take the law into his own hands and shoot and kill and cut open and torture really bad people was just fun to watch. Eli Roth knows his audience and who comes to see his films, so there is a little horror blood and gore here and there just to wink and satisfy his fans. A scene where Willis is cutting open a major nerve to torture a bad guy is very cringe worthy and hard to watch but the payoff visuals are beautiful. Eli Roth also directs a club shoot out really really well. It seems like he wanted to make this film and took his time actually planning what he was going to shoot and how to shoot it. Good for him. Because like I said earlier, it is easily his best film.

The acting is good all around. I already talked about Willis giving a wanting to be there and trying performance. Vincent O’Donofrio playing his brother was actually quite good here too and the best thing I’ve seen him in since Netflix’s The Punisher. Elizabeth Shue plays the scared and tortured and eventually killed (not a spoiler, it’s in the trailers) wife really well and the girl that plays the daughter is good in the scenes she is in. Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise play two detectives trying to help solve everything, and even though Norris gave off his Breaking Bad character vibe, he was still good to watch as well.

To me, even though I thought it was better, for those that hold the original near to their hearts, it is a harmless remake. It is completely different, and the only thing that stands the same between the two is Brosnan and Willis doing that finger pistol thing they do at the end of the films. This is a more personal movie as Willis is actually trying to find the people that did this to his family while also being a vigilante. It was different enough to be enjoyable. It isn’t one of the years best films, and won’t be by a long shot. Just a guilty pleasure, with much much worse films and much much worse remakes and reboots out there.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GAME NIGHT (no spoilers!)

Actor Jesse Plemmons is worth the price of admission alone for this, and he isn’t even a main character. Ah yes, now I finally get to review my favorite film of this past weekend, and favorite film so far this year (yes, that’s right, I liked this more than both Black Panther and Annihilation), GAME NIGHT. Game Night is hilariously wonderful and a completely entertaining comedy that is a laugh a riot from minute one all the way to its end credits. For any kind of comedy, that is a rare and major feat. Usually comedies will be hilarious for the first 30 minutes, get muddled in the middle, but have a hilarious conclusion. No, not this film. I laughed throughout the entire hour and 40 minutes and didn’t find any lag periods. This is a film I could watch over and over and over and over and over again and enjoy it each time.

From the writers of Horrible Bosses and the revamped Vacation movie, this is easily their best comedy effort so far (they sort of co wrote Spider-Man Homecoming but that is a different animal altogether). For this film, you have probably already seen the trailer to it, but if not, DO NOT WATCH IT. Just go see this film. The trailer doesn’t give most of the film away, as there are several really cool 3rd act surprises I wasn’t expecting, but not seeing the trailer may enhance your enjoyment. But for a quick little synopsis, it is about this couple, played by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, that have a weekly game night that they host for friends. Jason Bateman’s brother, played by the great Kyle Chandler, comes into down and want’s to beef up Game Night. No boards, no dice, no pieces, someone from their group is going to be taken, and they have the night to solve it, and the winner gets his awesome new sporty classy vehicle that he drove to the get together.

Well, it turns out, everything is not what it seems, because right when the ‘someone’ is taken begins, something is off and weird, and the brother is trying to scream that “this isn’t part of the game.” And I am going to leave it there. All six of the players go on wacky side quests and adventures to find out what is really going on but trying to win the game at the same time. I would consider it a dark comedy, seeing that it goes in some violence and zany places at times, but not too dark, just that right amount to keep it from completely losing its audience. There are twists and turns and revelations, and all of it comes together in a nice and tight film that didn’t need any trimming or anything added onto it.

As for the acting, I know that Jason Bateman plays basically the same character in every film. He does have range, and if you watch projects such as Ozark, The Change Up, and The Gift, you’ll see that he is capable of playing somebody other than the dead pan normal everyday schemo. But I think he loves playing that guy and he does it so fucking well. As for Rachel McAdams, this is the best she has been since Spotlight and Mean Girls. She is fantastic in this and that is because it looks as if she is having so much fun making the film. Another great thing about this movie is that even though they are the two leads, the other four players in this movie get their moments and time to shine, giving them some pretty hilarious character arcs. New Girls’ Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury’s marriage is put to the test when she reveals during a drinking game that she may have slept with a celebrity when they were on a break before they got married. Billy Magnussen plays a tolken jock good looking blonde dummy that finally brings an older not dumb blonde not supermodel date, Sharon Horgan, that maybe give him a run for his own intelligence.

Everything in this comedy comes together so well. The zany, wacky adventures are just that, zany and wacky and fun. Like they are supposed to be in comedies. It didn’t feel that the filmmakers were trying too hard for genuine laughs, as about 95% of the jokes stick the landing, and even the 5% that aren’t are still chuckle worthy. The greatest thing in this film though is Jesse Plemmons (who you may know from Breaking Bad, Fargo Season 2, The Post, etc.), who plays a police officer neighbor to Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams’ married couple. He is so God damn creepy and awkward in this movie it is so pitch perfect, I will not tell you anything more about him so I don’t spoil any surprises, but needless to say, he is envious of Game Night ever since his wife left him and they don’t really invite him over anymore.

I loved this film. Love, love, love it, and can’t wait until it hits blu ray so I can watch it several more times. I really liked it that much and I may be over hyping it for you. But I don’t really give a shit. I really enjoyed myself and the sold out audience at my showing seemed to love it as well. Even the end credits are pretty enjoyable. The films has some pretty cool insane cameos as well. What’s really funny is that I know some people that actually have game night’s themselves. This movie seems to be better and funnier than the real thing. See this with anyone, it is a crowd pleasure to be sure.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MUTE (NETFLIX) ((minor spoilers!)

Ok, so when I watched Duncan Jones’s new movie MUTE on Netflix Saturday, I had heard a little bit of the bad buzz behind it, but I didn’t dare go on Rotten Tomatoes or read any full length reviews to make sure I went into it a little fresh. I pretty much watched the movie straight through with my son sleeping on my chest, and after it was over, I really felt like I hadn’t really watched anything at all but a beautiful moving screensaver that happened to have fantastic visuals but really didn’t have any substance. When I was done, I went to Rotten Tomatoes and read other legitimate critics reviews, and they all thought exactly the same thing. Mute has wonderful, wonderful visuals and it seems to have an expansive world, and the acting is fantastic, but the story isn’t there, and what is there is muddled, has cliched story beats, and doesn’t really pick up until the final 30 minutes.

Also, the movie needed to be trimmed about about 20 to 25 minutes as well. The entire film is one big red herring, and I knew that from the very beginning when certain characters were introduced and started talking. I was thinking, “ok, this is what happened, so and so is going to think this, but is going to get some last minute evidence where it is really this, showdown, the end.” And believe me, I was hoping and praying that I was wrong. I was really really wanting for the story to take me in a different direction where I thought it might not go. I had the same feeling in Blade Runner 2049, but Blade Runner managed to surprise me and actually trick me into thinking one thing but the reality is that it is something completely different. Mute tries it and fails…hard. The film keeps screaming at you, “LOOK AT ME DAMMIT, I’M A BAD GUY AND I WORK FOR A GANG AND PROBABLY HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND’S DISAPPEARANCE! HERE, HERE IS A USELESS 45 MINUTES WHERE YOU GO DOWN MY PATH ONLY TO REALIZE…BAZINGA MOTHERFUCKER!”

The entire film is one big red herring, and I knew that it was, and the film just ended up not being for me. If you need to know what it is about, the film stars Alexander Sarsgaard, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theoroux. Sarsgaard stars as a man in his 30s, who is Amish, who happens to be a mute because of a boating accident that happened when he was a kid. He has this girlfriend that he loves where they both work at a bar and she seems to be hiding something from him while trying to make a lot of money to do something with it, maybe run away perhaps? Anyway, she goes missing, and even though he is mute, he goes out and does detective work to try and find her. Paul Rudd, and Justin Theoroux also star in subplot B as two Army/Navy surgeons who went AWOL and are working as surgeons for the mob so that if anyone in the mob gets shot or injured, they don’t have to go to the hospital where they will report it. They are also kind of lovers even though they are bi sexual as well. Paul Rudd also has a little girl that he seems to drag everything, even though he seems to be a loving father.

I think in the paragraph above I have given you all the context clues to figure out what is really going on. And if you can’t, good for you, you don’t have an obsessive movie acute brain like I do. It is a blessing but in this case it was a curse. Maybe it was also the fact that even though it bills Paul Rudd and Justin Theoreux behind Sarsgaard, they are more co-leads than anything else, and the movie spends a little too much time with them, leaving the audience to likely guess what is going on in their story too. Time is taken away from Sarsgaard, who when the climax does hit, I still didn’t feel so much for, and not because he is mute the entire movie, its just I don’t think we got to spend enough time with him to feel his rage and determination. His detective work is shoddy and boring at best. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredible actors and all three of them, especially Rudd and Theroux, Theroux being almost unrecognizable, show range they haven’t shown before.

And while I thought the movie was ‘really really meh’ at first, the more I’ve thought about it, it isn’t THAT bad, but it could’ve used a lot of trimming and tightening. I think I was more upset that Duncan Jones decided to try and pull an M. Night Shyamalan and Split, putting in a character’s sort of epilogue to one of his previous film as an easter egg throughout the entire 2 hr 10 minute run time. It makes the far superior film subjected to a universe of a ‘ehhhh’ sort of side-quel. I am not listing the film on here but if you look at writer/director Duncan Jones’ filmography, it isn’t hard to figure out what movie it is and what actor makes a cameo in this.

Oh, the visuals are amazing in this btw. The visuals and the acting are maybe really the only two things that make this film even half way decently watchable. It is definitely a universe I would like to dive back into, but with a much much better non-cliched, non muddled story. And I think it can be done, especially if maybe done by another filmmaker or if Duncan Jones can fix some of his own film making techniques. He has two great films under his belt, Moon and Source Code (haven’t seen Warcraft), so I know the man is capable of making another fantastic film, and this is a bold try, but it ends up falling just short of the finish line. Netflix needs to step of its game in its original film content, and not just be a dumping ground for films that would fail spectacularly if released in theaters. Why can’t we get more stuff like Mudbound?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: LOVESICK (2014) ((movie, not the Netflix series)) (((and spoiler free!)))

Ok, I got three movie reviews to write while I have this work “internet down” break at work so let’s get to it (if you must know I am writing these on Microsoft Word and will post them when the internet is back up). If I ever watch something on Netflix, Hulu, what have you from now on and I haven’t seen it before and if it’s not a recent release, I still am going to start to review them. However, maybe not as long as my other reviews since the movies are older and you have probably already seen them. So I caught a film I had heard of for a little bit called LOVESICK starring Friends’ Matt LeBlanc and Final Destination’s Ali Larter. I was interested, but it left quickly from my mind until I saw it on Netflix this weekend, and since I was taking care of Grayson alone and he was asleep on my chest I decided “what the hell?” and hit play.

When Lovesick was first released, it was direct to video/rent, and usually those films are subpar or even worse, terrible. Well, Lovesick is a little better than subpar (but just a little bit, it isn’t Better Watch Out greatness far that should’ve been in the theater), and the reason for that being it is a concept that hasn’t been truly explored up to the max. I think with a bigger budget, a little bit of a longer run time, some more bankable stars, and some more zany shit happening and this could’ve been easily a theatrical release. But I would definitely recommend it when you are surfing through Netflix on a boring afternoon.

A real quick synopsis is that Matt LeBlanc plays Charlie Darby, a principal at a school. He is a really nice guy and all the teachers and students love him and couldn’t wish for a better principal. There is just one problem, he is really, really unlucky in love. And the reason for that being, that even though he is a nice guy, once a relationship starts, he goes fucking psychotic with jealousy. To him, everything is a clue to infidelity and he goes to extremes to prove his theories (even though they are false). Which of course, makes the women that he’s dating not want to be with him. So after recently just being dumped, he swears he is going to date women that don’t interest him. That lasts really, really short, as the next day he meets Molly Kingston (Larter), who he finds an immediate connection with, after meeting her and finding out that her nephew goes to his school.

The first date is fantastic, but then ever so slightly and then straight to the extreme, his jealousy rage kicks into full gear, with him wondering who an XL sweater is for when she gets a souvenir on a vacation they get together, or trying to figure out if she is really visiting her sick grandmother in Vegas, etc.. The lengths he goes to are absolutely multiple forehead slap worthy, and sometimes I could barely still look at the screen with what he was doing. Matt LeBlanc actually does a great job here of trying to shed his “Joey” image that will be with him unfortunately forever. He plays the nice guy very well and when he goes into jealousy mode, he does a great full 180 with his acting. The scenes where he tries to get Ali Larter’s nephew basically spy on her are cringe worthy. I just wish there was more zany shit and maybe another 15 minutes added to the film, could’ve been so much more bat shit crazy.

Ali Larter is okay, but this isn’t really her showcase. She unfortunately has the role of “ahhh shucks the jealousy thing is bothering me but I like you too much to leave you” role. It doesn’t really challenge her as an actress, but with a better script it could have. But she is fine with what she was given.  I also would’ve liked to see the guy that plays Matt LeBlanc’s friend (Adam Rodriguez) that narrates the movie and knows his best friend is crazy have a little bit more to the with the grand scheme of things. Like I said, a tighter and more meaty screenplay could’ve solved on that.

One more thing, Chevy Chase is in this for three short scenes, and his role could’ve completely been cut and they added more stuff for Larter or Adam Rodriguez to do. It’s like they picked him up off the street and asked him to be in this to get more “star” recognition. Do they not realize that Chevy Chase hasn’t been bankable since the 80s? This review is already too long. So I’ll end it by saying it is a barely passable watch on Netflix, still deserves to be in that direct to video category, but it is better than a lot of garbage that is in the same ballpark.