Category Archives: The Cubicle Escapee

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE EQUALIZER 2 (no spoilers)

I’m going to make my review for THE EQUALIZER 2 very simple, I’m going to make a short, non-spoiler list of pros and cons, with a conclusion paragraph to summarize everything up. Cool? Something a little different to spice things up. If you just want to know one sentence that pertain to my thoughts here goes: There are some solid things, there are some sloppy things, and it all ‘equals’ itself out, meaning that if you liked the decent 1st film, you’ll likely like this one too.

PROS:

1. DENZEL, ALWAYS DENZEL
2. The Final Act Set Piece: I won’t ruin what it is, but if a lot of it was CGI special effects and smokescreen (I figure it had to be), I couldn’t tell. Liked it better than the Home Depot finale from the 1st film.
3. The quick little snippets of action, this isn’t a action film and the film doesn’t bog down the story. What we got was just the right amount.
4. I liked how the story was a little more personal this go around with Robert McCall. You don’t really know anything about him after the first film, you get a few snippets of detail in this, but they still keep him a mysterious figure.
5. I like how they flip the creepy Lyft/Uber driver stories you hear upside down by making Robert McCall be somewhat of a hero Lyft driver that helps people in need.

CONS:
1. The bad guys’ identity and ultimate end game is wayyy too predictable. Remember how easy it was pointing out who the villain was in Incredibles 2? This is easier.
2. Characters, both good and bad, make the stupidest decisions in the movie, right after they have done something extremely clever. Really uneven decision making. Especially a decision made by a artist kid near the end of the movie that Denzel is looking after. Characters making stupid decisions out of left field in the movie just to move the plot along is bad screenwriting.
3. The movie might’ve been too much of a slow burn at times.
4. Pedro Pascal’s acting was sort of wooden in this. My first real disappointment from him.
5. The stop watch thing before Robert McCall beats someone down real fast has become too much of a gimmick.

5 and 5. See? All equal. But that didn’t make the movie mediocre. It kept my attention and I enjoyed myself. However, will it be memorable in a year or two? Probably not, hard to say. What I do say is to make one more, make the series a trilogy and then end it before it overstays its welcome. If you liked the first one, you’ll like the second. It’s that simple.

VIPKID DIARIES- My first 1000 classes

I am starting to realize my story is vastly different than a lot of people on social media.  I have joined quite a few VIPKID facebook pages for tips and advice and I am learning that the number one topic is…

How do I get more bookings?

When I see these posts I never comment because even though I have a great schedule I really don’t know the answer.  I also don’t really want to say I worked 148 classes last week.  I feel like that is rude when people are really upset about their lack of bookings.

I really don’t know why I have been successful and I know that it can change at any time but I am going to continue to give 110% every class and build my base.   I am hoping that I stay busy and that I can save a lot of money doing this.

I am currently working over night all Summer.  My current schedule is anywhere from 90-150 classes a week and I am not closing any spots.    Once Summer is over I will share my thoughts on working the crazy China Summer schedule but I can sum it up with one word… intense.

But for now, what have I learned about teaching ESL in my first 1000 classes?

I can act out any animal.

TPR (Total Physical Response) can be a workout but necessary to teach online you truly can get your point across with TPR… my street game abroad is going to be stepped up now thanks to VIPKID.

Chinese Education is insane and very regimented.

Introverted children need a calmer more relaxed class vs the over the top videos you might see on YouTube.

You need to be able to read a student’s personality in the first few minutes of class or you will never see them again.

Some parents just might not like your style and you absolutely have to accept that.

ADHD exists in China.

You need to know math to teach English at VIPKID lol

Having fun is so important.

Really while some of these are joking (well actually I am not joking about any of them) the most important thing you have to have is a positive attitude.    I also think part of my success is I am very update to date about Chinese education.  I read articles, I learn about their standardized tests.  I understand what school is like for them and I think that matters.    I read so many comments on the groups from people who have ABSOLUTELY no clue about the culture they are teaching and yes I 100% think it affects their bookings. Without a doubt.

I believe to be successful in any job you must understand who you are dealing with whether it be business on wall street or children in China.   I really think parents come back to me because I try to teach to their expectations and not my own.   (I would have never made it in China… seriously they have homework over the Summer… that they are expected to know BEFORE they go back to school)

I absolutely love my job and it is perfect because it let’s me dive right into a culture every single day.   I look into lives of a culture that is vastly different than my own but at the same time very much the same because at the end of the day we are just people.   I love that.  I love everything about my job and even though I am working 90 hours a week right now I would not change it for a single thing!

For every thing I have written about VIPKID, click here.

 

 

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (super spoiler heavy)

Ok, my thoughts on SORRY TO BOTHER YOU is going to be one of the only times I do a super spoiler heavy review because I have sat here, and thought and thought and thought on how to write my review, yet find someway to express how I feel about the third act without spoiling everything. I have given up. So, if you really really really really want to see this movie, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW. I’m not going to mark a paragraph spoiler alert or anything, I am going to jump in and out at anytime, wherever my mind takes me when I want to talk about it. If you’ve already seen the movie or for some weird reason you are a weirdo about spoilers and don’t care if you read them or not, then I suggest to keep going. Because I’m going to spoil the entire third act in my first sentence of the next paragraph. You ready? You sure? Last warning:

The entire third act reveal deals with turning humans into horses with giant cocks so that way a companies’ ‘slave’ labor has faster and better production results. You read that sentence again didn’t you? You are either wondering if I am pulling your leg or if they actually show these horses with giant cocks. Well…I shit you not. They show these horses…that were turned from human using a cocaine like substance…and these horses…they have giant cocks. Ok, we have gotten that out of the way. Now if you are still here and haven’t even heard of this movie, go and watch the trailer to it. I’ll wait. Ok, welcome back. Now, humans turning into horses with giant cocks is not even hinted at in that trailer right? Correct. The marketing on this film is so good that really the whole ‘African-American rising through the ranks of a telemarketing company using a Caucasian man’s voice’ is only really the tip of the iceberg to what this movie is truly about. The movie has multiple messages up the wahzoo, and anybody that really really really likes this film could probably view this film multiple times and still find something new that it is talking about.

I am unfortunately not one of those people that really really really really like this film. Is it because of the third act? Partially. Some people are saying that the third act reveal will either make or break the film for the modern audience member. They’re right. But as a film lover and wannabe critic, I fall somewhere right in the middle. See, I don’t think the film is terrible. In fact, the movie has some pretty damn good performances, especially from Lakieth Stanfield and Tessa Thompson. And the movies’ messages, while more of a hit or miss affair, when the messages hit, they hit hard, but when they miss, they miss hard. The whole white voice thing that is so funny in the trailers? Those are all the funny parts right there, completely laid out in front of you, and then the white voice thing gets really old, really fast. In fact, almost all the funny bits are in the trailer except for the use of the word Debauchery and the ‘Have A Coke Bitch Wig Hat” bit. Some parts of the movie weren’t funny at all, were boring, and almost had me falling asleep. The movie itself goes on about 10-15 minutes too long, and ten whole minutes that could’ve been cut deals with Tessa Thompson during one of her art shows where they throw cell phones at her and balloons filled with some kind of mammal pig blood, while she stands there almost naked with leather gloves covering her private bits. Yes, I’m still not shitting you by the way.

What is this movie about anyway and how does the third act fit in? Glad you asked. Where as the trailers seem like it is going to be a character piece about this African-American guy rising up the ranks of a company using a white man voice (if it stuck to this plot alone, the movie would’ve been quite predictable and maybe not have the impact it now has, see while I am not recommending this movie, I will remember it for quite some time, maybe that was the point) the whole movie is really a giant message about where the world is going as a society and where certain horrible shit going on just happens to be accepted by everyone because of media influence. When the main character played by Stanfield uncovers this human horse cock plot and releases it to the media, the media makes it out like it is no big deal, and the company that he works for (their boss played hilariously by Armie Hammer), their stock prices skyrocket. And there are more messages like that in this film. There are messages upon messages upon messages, but if I got into all of it, this review would be too long (it already is) and you would just skip to the end (which you are probably doing now). You should know by now that I don’t think that just a message makes a movie.

The movie, at times, can be very interesting, because while this certainly takes place in the near future, we don’t know how near, and that is the scary part. There is this company called WorryFree in the film that promises work and living quarters for the rest of your meaningless life, and as you can guess, it is basically slave labor. The top television show on air is, “I Got The Shit Kicked Out of Me,” where it does what it says and then dumps you in a vat of poo. I’m still not kidding. The question is, will this work for you? Because a lot of critics, in fact, I think it’s 95% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, the whole movie did work for them, 3rd act horse cock and all. But only 67% of audiences liked it. And I know Rotten Tomatoes isn’t the be all end all of statistic existence, but it gives you a general overview. In the end, the movie didn’t work for me, and I am not even sure on multiple viewing if it would. The third act was just too bizarre, and everything before it, that would lead to this humans as horses with giant cocks pay off, I don’t think was organized very well. The uneven plot and story structure combined with some of the editing and unnecessary fat in unnecessary scenes probably did this. If writer/director Boots Riley had trimmed the fat, cut about 15 minutes off of the film, and the whole structure reorganized, the third act would’ve worked in spades and he would’ve had a potential masterpiece. Plus more laughs. It definitely needed more laughs. And while this movie was not for me, I have to say, seeing that as this is Boots Riley’s first feature film, and that before this he was a rapper and music producer, it shows potential, and maybe down the line he will make something that I find spectacular. Sorry, but this film did bother me a little.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SKYSCRAPER (no spoilers)

The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, we all probably already know, is this generation’s Arnold Scharzenegger. He is mostly (if not all) in action films, and while he has a handful of big successes (like the Fast and Furious films and Jumanji 2), he does every know and then have a minor or major dud (Baywatch and Rampage). While SKYSCRAPER isn’t as terrible as some critics are making it out to be, it isn’t very good. So it is definitely closer to his duds even though it doesn’t quite get to their lows And this has been said by everyone, but I do want to confirm that it really is a giant Die Hard wannabe rip off that has absolutely no substance that made Die Hard the classic that it is. It doesn’t even come to the heights of wannabe rip off funchessy-ness that even the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Sudden Death had. This movie takes itself wayyyyy too seriously for what it is. I mean, the gimmick in this one is Dwayne Johnson has a prosthetic leg in this, and the movie only uses that gimmick in one scene, and it doesn’t even make it funny.

The only thing it had going for it is that I was extremely tired before sitting down to watch it, and it kept my attention the entire time, and the fact that the movie actually had the balls to cast the delightful Sydney Prescott…err, I mean Neve Campbell in a role. What is really funny is she is the best actor/actress in this entire film and in the end seems a little too good to actually be in this even with her Screamography. She actually made us believe someone like Dwayne Johnson would marry her. I unintentionally laughed a lot in this, mainly because all of the foreshadowing details are all too in your face, and when they pay off later in the movie, the movie treats these developments as serious as a tough job interview. Everything that is unique about this building and stands out visually, you know that The Rock is going to have to go there and rescue or fight or debug something electronically at some point. Why couldn’t the movie had been a minor satire and had poked fun at itself with several scenes or lines of dialogue commenting about how ridiculous everything is? Instead it is, “a need to go here, and do this, and fast, or everyone will die,” with a poker face that could win tournaments. If the movie had played with these actions tropes, it could’ve been a much better, more memorable ride. But everything is so straight laced, it is hard to really enjoy ones self while watching it.

And the one leg thing. Come on. In the trailers it made it seem like the whole plot of the movie would be based on how a strong military type man could do all of these amazing action rescue things and fighting off bad guys with this one small handicap. And while I knew Dwayne Johnson’s character having a prosthetic leg in this was something to make his character seem more human and down to Earth than the big toughie he has been in all these other films, the movie still didn’t play to how ridiculous a situation that leg could put him in. It’s gimmick comes and goes in one scene, and this scene is in the trailers and television spots. Other than the very beginning, the rest of the film barely shows or even mentions his prosthetic leg, and The Rock is just bouncing, running, and leaping like normal. If you are going to put that type of thing in a movie, it needs to be near the center, if not THE center. Otherwise, it seems like screenplay writing afterthought, like the first draft was written without the fake leg, The Rock was cast, and the producers told you to put something in it to distinguish it from other Die Hard rip offs, so the writer said, “oh hey, a peg leg!”

And the whole reason why this building is being attacked, while setting it up as some kind of mystery in the trailers and tv spots, the revelation is definitely a ho hum let down. Instead of something brilliant and never done before, it has the McGuffin of where so many of these films have gone, with maybe a small twist to try to distinguish itself. It doesn’t work. And the final showdown/climatic finale is a CGI green screen fest shit show. And I knew, I FUCKING KNEW, that when they showed this area in the movie that it was going to be where the final showdown took place, and I knew that it was going to look awful an hour and 10 minutes before it happened. I was praying (btw, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it), that this little building gimmick would somehow make the final fight not look stupid and cheesy and cliched, but nope, it did it anyway, and it wasn’t even winking at the audience.

Does Skyscraper still sound like something you want to see? To actually enjoy your time, might I recommend that you just watch Die Hard for the umpteenth time, because you really aren’t missing anything here, unless you are a Dwayne Johnson completest. There are worse films out there, like this won’t even be near my worst of list by the end of the year, and thankfully, audiences actually made a smart decision here and knew mediocrity when they saw it and it didn’t really make that much this weekend box office wise. My point is, these filmmakers can’t just keep saying, “well, at least it isn’t the worst thing out there.” They need to look harder at these scripts, and decide if these are truly worth even making. I know if I was a producer or owned a studio and saw this script, it would’ve been easily a hard pass. What makes these things get greenlit? Just the star power alone? No, I actually have an answer, these movies make much more money overseas, and this movie is under the Legendary banner, which mostly collaborates with films overseas to get made. I just wish the rest of the world would also notice this mediocre so we can get something done about it. Until then, when do you think the next building under siege/hostage and only one hero to save everyone will come out?