Category Archives: Movies The Ultimate Escape

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BRAD’S STATUS

BRAD’S STATUS is a quirky little dramedy that is one of Ben Stiller’s best performances and decent movies in awhile. It is also screenwriter’s Mike White’s best film in awhile too, considering that I hated the film that he wrote earlier this year called Beatriz at Dinner. In fact I related to this film quite a bit, not that I’m having a mid life crisis or anything. But the movie gives certain thoughts to, what is it to be successful? Does money make us successful or is it who we are, or a little bit of both? What do we truly value? Granted many films have done this, and to judge a film like this now you would have to consider the journey and the way the film tells the message. And for the most part it does a really good job.

I’m not saying this film is a masterpiece, far from it, but it is a very very good Netflix watch. The film is about a dad, played by Stiller, who takes his 17 year old son to college campus’s including Harvard, seeing where his musical prodigy son would like to go. Along the way he has a minor mid life crisis, finding out who is really is, what friendship truly is, and what is his purpose. The film, throughout the whole thing, has a very calm and insightful narration by Ben Stiller that really drives the movie. If it didn’t have it I don’t know if the movie would’ve been as good. The conversations that Stiller has with his wife, son, himself, and others feel real, and feel like we could be having them with the people we know, which is always a good thing in any movie.

Throughout the film, Stiller wonders why he isn’t as successful as his successful and rich friends played by Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson, Mike White, and Jermaine Clement. All of these roles are mostly glorified cameos, but each does a good job with what they are given, especially Luke Wilson who has displayed more emotion in a phone call with Stiller than he has in his last 5 films. The one that gets the short straw is Jenna Fischer, however not because of her performance, which I have a feeling that if it were expanded she’d be the most interesting character in the film, it’s because she isn’t given that much to do. Which is a shame because I really like Pam and think she could do great things beyond The Office.

The films is short, just over 95 minutes, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It doesn’t try to wrap everything up in a nice bow either, which I usually always appreciate. I wouldn’t buy this at all, however I would put it as background noise again, or watch it again with someone that actually is having a mid life crisis, and whose life isn’t so bad as they think it is. So the status of this film for me? Good. And sometimes good is all you need.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE

The first thirty minutes of THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE plays out like The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie. Zany fun, with some dry humor, huge sight and sound gags, and very smart storytelling. Then when that thirty minutes is over, it skids into a tad boring film that is less about ninjas and what they do into a cliched parent neglect and redemption story. A story you’ve seen a thousand times before done by better films. If the Lego humor was still there, it could’ve worked, but ultimately, it was a little disappointing. I think if it would’ve entirely focused on Ninjas with an actual Ninja like storyline, instead of the father son thing while trying to take over a city, it might’ve been another Lego hit. Instead, it is my least favorite of the Lego movies, and one that will probably never enter the Blu ray player again. But I have a kid now so I might have just eaten my words in three years.

The voice acting in this is incredible though. Dave Franco and his team of Ninjas played by the likes of Abba Jacobson and Kumail Nanjiani, all do great work in this. So does Olivia Munn as Lloyd’s mom and Jackie Chan (who is in the flesh here as well and is just as charming as ever) as their Ninja master. But it is the villain, Garmadon, voiced by Justin Theoroux, who steals absolutely every scene he is in, making the best Lego villain yet, unfortunately in a film that doesn’t equal the characters potential. It is the voice acting and the first 30 minutes, especially with a awesome cat gag, that save this movie from ultimately being completely boring and unwatchable.

When a movie is called Ninjago, I expected an awesome Ninja storyline with Ninja sights, sounds, and gags filling every minute of the screen. They still could’ve put the dad and son storyline in the movie, but it be a Plot B type of thing while have a Ninja quest plot A. ┬áBut it focuses too much on the dad and son storyline, and I knew how it was going to end, and even the journey to get there was not inventive enough, leaving me unimpressed. Plus, this needed more Jackie Chan. The Lego animation is still incredible here, but the humor after the first 30 minutes kind of disappears and the movie plays it too straight. It should be 100% zany Lego fun. Not 35%.

Hopefully this is just a misfire all the franchises have and they take their time making The Lego Movie 2. I feel like Ninjago might’ve been a rushed product after the success of the original first movie, and rushed it into production without much of a script. Since the first two movies were so enjoyable, I can let this one slide. But if the next movie almost puts me to sleep, there could be fast franchise fatigue on Lego’s hands. The saddest part of this film? I probably would’ve rather watched a kid play an hour and 30 minutes with his Lego’s than have ever watched this. This should not happen.

 

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: KINGSMAN – THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

Did mother! leave a lot of bad tastes in critics mouths where the toxic waste from the film last week carried over into their screening of KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE? I mean, these reviews from mainstream “critics” are confusing to say the least. Not that they truly hated it but a lot of people are automatically giving this thing sequelitis and calling it ‘meh.’ I personally loved it. I thought it was fun, entertaining, and has extreme rewatch value, just like the first movie. Is it better than the first movie? Of course not, but just like 22 Jump Street, it came extremely close. You can’t go wrong if you are looking for an adult action entertaining romp where its long 2 hour and 20 minute runtime is done within a snap of your fingers.

Not that I don’t have some complaints about the film. For instance, Matthew Vaughn tries too hard to duplicate the church scene from the first film in every single action scene in this one. A lot of the CGI location shot look kind of phony and some of the scenes go so over to the top bordering on cartoonish. And the fact that they bring back Colin Firth from the dead was a little bit weird and wrong. Colin Firth dying in the first film was a huge shocker that took the movie in an unexpected direction and this movie undoing his death to me was sort of a cheat. Granted they do make up for it by doing multiple expected deaths in this film, but none of them truly hit home like the first one did. But Colin Firth is so good in this series and the reason why he is still alive makes sense in the bigger picture so all that was completely forgiven quickly.

Especially since this sequel was so much fun. Taron Egerton as Eggsy is as great as ever, I can’t believe he isn’t a big star yet. I loved the fact that he and the anal Princess from the first film were still together in a very committed relationship. Their story arc was really cute here. Mark Strong, just like Colin Firth, is the heart of the series here too. Even though Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges aren’t in the film all that much they are really good here. Hopefully we see Tatum in the third film more. Halle Berry was good. And a lot of critics didn’t like her, but I loved Julianne Moore as the villain Poppy. I thought she played it to her strengths making the character quirky, weird, yet ruthless. And I loved her evil lair. Definitely as memorable as Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine from the first film. Unfortunately she doesn’t have a memorable sidekick like Sofia Boutella was with her sword legs in the previous film.

And uh, yeah singer Elton John is in this film and he is the funniest and best part about it. Just something about a celebrity you don’t see cursing much, cursing is hilarious to me. I don’t know why. The action I thought was kinetic, and even though each scene tried to replicate the church scene from the first, I was highly entertained and was never bored with it. The plot is better left unsaid, but while highly predictable was also unique and fun.

I really loved Kingsman 2. Just like the first film I feel like I could watch this over and over again. Was highly entertained and that’s really all I ask sometimes with the movies that I go and see. There is a balance to the force in movies I think. You get really really really shitty film like mother! (yes, I’m still on that, the whole damn movie was do you get it? No? Well let me shove you obvious bullshit in your face for you to get it) and then movies like this come out the next or same week where it completely lets you just get lost in what you came to see. Where mother! is the disease, Kingsman The Golden Circle was definitely the cure.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MOTHER!

REVISED: Wrote this review originally last weekend but website was down. Thought about the movie even more (I guess that was the point?) and have added just a few more coherent thought about why all the allegory, symbolism, ideals stuff didn’t work for me

I saw mother! yesterday and have had more time to think about the film with all its allegory cocktails, symbolism surprises, and imagery ice cream sundaes, and I still fucking hate the movie. Sorry, it just isn’t for me. If you like bullshit by Terrence Malick or Paul Thomas Anderson, this film is right up your alley. Now if this was a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, you’d be reading this saying, “well no shit Sherlock, the only thing you marginally have liked of his was Boogie Nights, you are completely biased.” Well yes, to him I am. I think PTA ruins everything he touches. *shrugs* But this is Darren Aronofsky, and I have liked every single one of this films (yes, including Pi), except for The Fountain, which I didn’t really hate, but I thought it was an ambitious failed attempt at creating something artistic and unique while also catering to my cinematic senses. mother! is just bullshit at every twist and turn. It’s one of those many, what I like to call “artsy fartsy” films, that fail to grab me narratively, coherently, or sanely but at the same time it is beautifully shot and acted. Beautiful nasty, garbage that completely falls out of its stinky bin and all over the pavement and your shoes in it’s bizarre third act. An insane twisted sadistic third act where a truly messed up event happens that effected me personally, where I just wanted to get up and leave the theater. But I implore you, it wasn’t the last string cut to make me hate the film, it was just severely beating and maiming a dead horse that I had already hated about 40 minutes earlier.
****minor spoiler hint alert**** If you are about to have a baby or have just had a baby, I encourage you to not see this film until time has passed a bit. It is still jarring, this scene, but it might not make you as upset as it did for me ****end of minor spoiler hint alert**** This movie is completely polarizing. You are either going to like it, or extremely loathe the existence it lives on. I am not trying to convince you at all not to see this movie. I think you should see each and every movie you are interested in. I’m just here to give my opinion on what I thought. And I just hated, hated, HATED this movie. And I got everything in it when I saw it. I don’t need a second viewing to “get it.” There is this great article that I posted on my Facebook page that explains everything about mother! and what this and that means. I got it from the very, very beginning of the film that is kind of a spoiler in itself. And I still hated this film. I think narratively and sanely it could’ve portrayed everything it was trying to tell in a more satisfying manner, not to the point where the film is so boring or jarring that it gives you a headache and you just want to take a pen and stab your eyes out from ever having to see one more frame of it.

The symbolism and allegory stuff didn’t work for me. I don’t think it did it in a very original way. This movie was about the allegories, instead of being a unique story that happened to contain some semblance of symbolism. Since every single one of the people have symbolism, allegory, something something religious behind it, I couldn’t really identify with any of the characters or cared about them. And instead of trying to be very sneaky and trying to hide a lot of the references or make people think about the movie harder to get them. EVERYTHING IS IN YOUR FACE. It is like Aronofsky is screaming, “SEE?! DO YOU GET IT?! DO YOU GET IT?!” on everything that hits the screen. It wasn’t subtle, I was being spoon fed every piece of the garbage, and I was full of it from minute 15.

Yeah, I’m still being harsh. But I do not hate Darren Aronofsky, even though he is dating Jennifer Lawrence, which makes me upset. I just think he’s…misguided. I think mostly he is what Paul Thomas Anderson is so trying desperately to be…but horror-wise. I loved Black Swan, I loved Requiem for a Dream, both movies you could consider to be horror. And what he was trying to tell absolutely worked in both of those films on so many levels, it was mesmerizing. To me, mother! does not work on one single level other than the acting and cinematography. You are probably waiting for me to tell you what this movie is about, but honestly, I really can’t. To tell you what it is about, you would not believe me, think I’m nuts, or you wouldn’t get it. I can tell you the basic set up is a man and woman live in this abandoned home that she is trying to rebuild from ashes…and they start getting guests, played by Ed Harris, Michelle Phieffer, Domnahall Gleeson, and Kristen Wiig, that starts to rock their very existence. Even then, that isn’t want the movie is about, if you ever see this, you’ll know what I am talking about.

Everyone in here acts in aces. Jennifer Lawrence is incredible as always. Javier Bardem is incredible as always. Ed Harris….incredible as always. A much missed Michelle Phieffer…incredible as always. The only person that took me out of the film would happen to be Kristen Wiig, who I just can’t take seriously, other than the film The Skeleton Twins. And the shots in this thing are beautiful. For most of the film Darren Aronofsky follows Jennifer Lawrence is long takes around the house, where she is going from one room to another to figure out what is going on and to find a little bit of sanity, and those long shots work and are very impressive.

But I hated this film. It is the worst film of the year for me (beating out contenders 9/11 and Fifty Shades Darker) and it is one of the worst films I have ever seen (just behind Halloween II ((Rob Zombie version)) and Dude, Where’s My Car?). If you like it, that’s fine, there is nothing wrong with you, it’s just that what the film brought to the table, it worked for you, and you played with it, where as what I saw on the table, made me kick it over and set it on fire. It’s a huge misstep for writer/director Darren Aronofsky, and if he keeps going in this direction, which for the love of God I hope he doesn’t, probably won’t be his last. I wish I could get 2 hours of my life back.