Category Archives: Movies The Ultimate Escape

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: A GHOST STORY

Sometimes I just don’t get movies. And that’s just me. I do appreciate all different types of genres and never shy away from terrible looking films. And sometimes I am too harsh on films. In fact, I need to take back several things I have said about what I like to call “avante garde artsy-fartsy films.” I have once called Paul Thomas Anderson a hack, and I need to take that back. He’s not, a hack would be director Uwe Boll. I guess I just don’t understand or appreciate Paul Thomas Anderson films how I’m supposed to. I really only half way like three of his films (Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, Boogey Nights), but a lot of his other stuff, like The Master, Inherent Vice, and Magnolia, I just don’t get. They are very well made films, I have also called them beautiful garbage, which I would like to take back as well. I also can’t stand Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life or anything he has made after that. But he isn’t a hack either. He makes beautiful films that I just don’t care for but they are very, very beautiful. And I know take back what I said about Sofia Coppola several weeks ago with The Beguiled as well. She isn’t a hack either, just a well made, beautiful film I didn’t care for.  I do appreciate the occasional weird film, like Lost In Translation. But in retrospect, I think the “avante garde artsy-fartsy films” is my least favorite genre. So from here on out if I don’t like one of this films, I am not going to rip on it, or rip on the writer/director, because they almost all are beautiful pieces of work. But I am certainly going to tell you I didn’t care for it.

And I didn’t care for A GHOST STORY. It is a beautiful film, with a fantastic score, and a deep meaningful message. I was just bored, thought that other films have done this message better, and thought that whole film could’ve been used a bit more substance. I get why there is a 8-9 minute scene of Rooney Mara grief eating thru a chocolate pie because she is upset her husband just died. But I really didn’t want to watch it. I was bored, waiting for her to get up and go to the bathroom to vomit it all out. The scene just didn’t seem necessary. There is hardly any dialogue in this film, and there are a bunch of very long, very slow takes, a lot of them making me wonder why the take was so long when I got the message being conveyed in 10 seconds or less. One of the long take scenes that actually almost make me give the film a sort of recommendation was a long dialogue scene performed by Will Oldham where he talks about humanity’s legacy on Earth. It was a deep, rich dialogue, that I wish the film had more of.

If you don’t know what the film is about it’s basically Casey Affleck until a white sheet with two holes as a ghost (and honestly, was Casey under that sheet the whole time? I could argue that he probably wasn’t) as he looks upon his widow played by Rooney Mara after he dies and past that into the future and other peoples lives, not being able to move on. Out of an hour and 30 minutes, the film maybe has 10 minutes or less of dialogue. The rest is long takes, emotion filled faces, a breathtaking haunting score, and a couple of subtitles. To like this film, you have to love those really weird artsy-fartsy films, and you have to have a lot of patience.

I will admit that the film picks up about halfway through, starting with the dialogue by Will Oldham, and it almost picked up enough for me to give it a small recommendation. But after leaving the theater, I asked myself if I would ever watch it again, and the answer was a resounding “no.” It’s not a terrible film, but it’s just not my cup of tea. Just like the beautiful films of Sofia Coppola, Terrence Malik, and Paul Thomas Anderson, it’s a film I don’t get, don’t want to take the time to get, and will probably never revisit again. If you like those films, you are sure to probably love this one too. Acting wise, I’d say Rooney Mara (even though she isn’t in it that much) is the better of the two here, as Casey Affleck kind of mumbles the lines he does have and just moves around under the sheet (which I feel might not have been him at times).

That dialogue though by Will Oldham, if they could cut out that scene and put it on YouTube, just like the beginning of the news room with Jeff Daniels proving how America isn’t the greatest country in the world anymore, that shit will get a ton of views and a lot of philisophical discussion. In fact, maybe just rent the movie and skip to that part, because it is fantastic. But the rest of the movie is just ho-hum meh for me. But it is beautiful ho-hum meh, and will be appreciated by people probably much more into film and into that type of stuff than I am. Also, don’t go into this thinking it is a horror film by the poster alone, someone at the theater did and was shocked but what it was about, and looked like a dumbass. Do some research.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

Never in my life has a film franchise (well, I guess in this case it would be rebooted but I digress) had a good first film, an even better second film, and a third film been an absolute cinematic masterpiece. I don’t count Lord of the Rings either because I always liked Fellowship of the Ring more than The Two Towers (so sue me). Improving upon a previous feature is a very hard feat, unless you are in your 25th picture like the 007 franchise. But somehow, these new Planet of the Apes movies have improve upon themselves. And not improved by tiny steps either, giant massive Mammoth size steps. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is not only a cinematic masterpiece, but it is one of the year’s best films (just like Dawn was a couple of years ago) and one of the best special effects films I have seen that don’t sacrifice story or tone to achieve it either.

If you haven’t seen RISE or DAWN yet…what in the fuck are you doing? Go watch them now and then go see this in theaters. Everything about it is precise filmmaking to a tee. Andy Serkis deserves some kind of supporting nomination or maybe a lifetime achievement award for all that he has done for motion capture performances. This is his best. Easily. He gives Caesar humanity and grace in motion capture that a lot of actors that can’t act worth shit could ever hope to achieve playing human beings. The special effects in this are absolutely seamless and at some points I really thought that Caesar and his family could be real.

To ruin any of this film would be a felony. The trailers do such a great job to thwart expectations and I only hope that future TV spots can do the same. All that the trailers let on is that a Colonel played by Woody Harrelson is after Caesar and his fellow apes. But there is so much more to the story. In fact, there are several twists and interesting story telling devices that kept me guessing while also trying its best to connect to the original Planet of the Apes films with Charlton Heston. Very interesting. And while some people like my friend Josh (you dummy if you are reading this) will think there is going to be an all out endless 30 minute War at the end of the film (honestly, that would be boring, like the Transformers film) the climax is actually smart, unexpected, thought provoking, and righteous. The whole film is amazing, from beginning to end. Not one single scene needed to be left out.

And Woody Harrelson makes one of the most interesting villains I have seen in cinema in awhile. He is ruthless, and merciless, while completely believe he is doing the right thing without any doubt in his mind. He doesn’t think he’s evil and doesn’t think he’s a monster, and he plays it absolutely convincingly. The movie doesn’t have a lot of dialogue, Caesar speaks, but most of the apes still use the sign language. I like that. If I had to complain about one thing in the film it’s on one scene where the apes seem like they are following Harrelson’s army way too close and it’s hard to believe they didn’t see them. Seems like that logic was sacrificed for a cool beach sun setting scene. But whatever, it was forgiven in a second.

I don’t want to talk much more about this film. Other than to say I liked Steve Zahn’s “Bad Ape” and he brought a lot of comic relief much needed in this sense of dread. It’s an amazing film, and if you don’t see it, you don’t know the power of an astonishing cinematic experience. Michael Giacchino provides one of his best scores. I’m still humming it at this moment. The cinematography is perfect. Everything is perfect. I don’t know where to rank it on my list, but it will be near the top. I can’t ape to watch it again. I’m in love with this picture.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: WISH UPON

WISH UPON is the very definition of why PG-13 horror movies don’t work anymore. Except for those few rare occasions (such as the first Insidious or the first Ring) they just don’t work. Can you scare people or freak them out anymore with cut away deaths and a millisecond flash of gore? No. You have to rub the audiences’ face in it to get them to fear. I get that you cut it or make it PG-13 to get a wider audience and more box office bucks, but I don’t think these geniuses realize that you are actually doing the exact opposite. And it’s not like R rated horror doesn’t work. Look at The Conjuring movies. Look at Saw back in it’s prime. They worked, and brought in the dough. Wish Upon isn’t terrible by any means, in fact, it’s a lazy half way decent lazy afternoon on Netflix. But the fact that it could’ve been so much more is infuriating, making me wish that sometimes PG-13 didn’t exist.

The main problem with Wish Upon is that it cuts away from EVERY SINGLE DEATH either right when it happens or right before. We see the guts of a dog and a few blood splotches on Joey King’s sweater, and that is it. And there were some cool deaths in this movie, a la Final Destination style. But where as Final Destination wasn’t afraid to have the audience see a sharp bottom of a latter go through someone’s eye, this one doesn’t want to show a female being impaled through the head by a bull statue. It doesn’t want to show a chainsaw decapitating someone. It should want to show shards of glass going through someone as an elevator leads a character to certain doom. It doesn’t want to show a scalp being ripped off. And I’m so mad because you can tell this was shot for an R rating and the little studio douches had their way with it to get the PG-13 rating, hoping that people went flocking to the theaters.

The premise had me flocking to the theater, but the execution makes me not want to recommend it to anyone. It just feels like a lazy production. The actors in this deserved better. Joey King actually gives a pretty good damn performance in this, as does Barb from Stranger Things, Ryan Philieppe and others. And an extreme horror variation on Monkey’s Paw and Button, Button is quite intriguing, but when you get a product like this you just want to pick up a novella and read the short stories again. The editing is so choppy it is nauseating, the deaths and who is going to die is extremely predictable, the ending is extremely predictable too, and they waste a mid credit scene by going with the obvious except for the 1,265 ways that would’ve made a stinger more interesting and at least thinking about a decent sequel.

Some of the characters motivations puzzled me a bit, and the way to overcome and beat this evil wishing box is actually not that hard. I figured out several scenarios in ways that a wish couldn’t ultimately make the box not exist, but then their wouldn’t be a movie right? Well at least there could’ve been a smart and cool ending. The director on this film previously did Annabelle, the first one, which sucked too, so I don’t know why I am going to give this guy a chance anymore. If this thing has a director’s/unrated cut, I might watch it one more time to see if there is any cool gory shots and see if the tension is ramp’d up a little bit.

But that is ‘wishful’ thinking. See what I did there? Like I said, the movie isn’t terrible, it is quite watchable, and someone asked me to give it a rating and I said a solid C, which is better than a lot of D and F’s I’ve given other horror crap this year. This movie could’ve been so much more. It could’ve revitalized The Omen, Final Destination Rube Goldberg plot kills and maybe even brought those franchises back with a vengeance. Instead, horror films are still going to be searching for what “it” genre factor they are going to be for awhile. They can’t decide. In the 90s we had slasher, then in early 2000s we had torture porn, then later 2000s we had supernatural ghost/exorcism phenomenon’s and now horror movies just don’t know where to go anymore. I don’t wish I hadn’t seen this movie, I just wish I had seen a little more effort.



Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is the BEST Spider-Man film. Period. That’s right, better than the classic Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. Tom Holland is both the best Spider-Man and Peter Parker that has ever been displayed on screen thus far and just like Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark or Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, nobody will probably ever take that mantle from him. This movie is perfectly paced, funny, charming, smart, action-packed, a great coming of age story, all fitting well within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Along with the first Avengers, the first Iron Man, and both Guardians, this is one of the best Marvel Universe films ever, and definitely one of the best films of 2017.

What makes this film the perfect Spider-Man film is that it takes everything they got right with the original Spider-Man trilogy and Amazing Spider-Man 2 films, and leaves out all of the bad. No Emo Spider-Man. No too many villians or shitty looking costumes. Spider-Man 2 is great and all but if you really look at the film hard, kind of like The Dark Knight Rises, Spider-Man is not really in the film all that much. This film has the perfect blend of Peter Parker in and out of the costume. It feels like a Spider-Man comic mixed with the awesome animated Spider-Man show we grew up watching as kids. It has a lot of zany and hilarious fun, but also doesn’t go all Batman & Robin on us, while adding some realism and seriousness to the matter. It’s a comedy comic book movie, and it works extremely well as both.

Marvel still doesn’t have the villain problem completely solved…but they are getting pretty damn close. Michael Keaton as The Vulture is the most memorable villain since Loki. Keaton gives humanity to The Vulture, and while he is a bad guy he is not necessarily a bad guy. We get conflicted throughout the film, as conflicted as we got at the end of The Dark Knight with Harvey Dent. I loved the way he becomes the Vulture by what happens during the aftermath of the Battle of New York with the Chitari technology. There is also another two other villains (kind of) that they add in this, but I won’t ruin it here. And there are also nods to other possibly upcomin6 villains as well. If I have to nitpick on one thing here, which I will because it is always good to give constructive criticism, they pull a Cumberbatch/Waltz here, and now we can call it pullling a Cumberbatch/Waltz/Zendaya. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, look it up.

There is so much to say about this film without making this review overly long. I loved everything about it. I love Parker’s best friend Ned, hilarious. I liked Zendaya’s very dry but witty “Michelle.” They pulled a neat twist at the end of the film I didn’t see coming at all. The 2nd post credit sequence (stay all the way through!) was one of the hilarious and best ones yet. Every single action sequence was thrilling, memorable, exciting, and remarkable, I can’t even name my favorite sequence (quite possibly the Washington monument, but the ending plane sequence is great too). I loved all the comedy and jokes, it felt like Peter Parker/Spider-Man from the comic books.

I also really liked that they didn’t overload the film with Robert Downey Jr. either. They really treat him like he is an “and” at the end of the credits on a poster. More than an extended cameo, but not quite a full fledged supporting actor. They give Jon Favareu a more extended role as Happy Hogan, and he is just perfect in the role.  And Marisa Tomei makes a cooler, younger Aunt May. I love that Peter is only 15 in this and even though a 19 year old is playing him, he pulls off the age and can see him in this role for years to come. I loved all the Spidey moves and gadgets. Even the end credits (without the scenes) are fun. This whole film is the definition of fun.

This is one of those rare films I could watch over and over and over again and never be bored. It’s the reason why we go to movies in the first place. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Wonder Woman too, but this completely blows it out of the water (Sorry Brett.) And to think that this is Jon Watts second feature film as a director, and first major one, and that he pulled this big tentpole film this well is astonishing.

There is really nothing more to say. Go freaking see it. It’s amazing and I wish the film was an hour longer, because I just wanted to hang with Peter. It’s the best Spider-Man film ever made and I doubt any could be better. A masterpiece.