Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: A QUIET PLACE (NO SPOILERS!)

A QUIET PLACE is one of the best horror/thrillers of the year, if not already THE best. Every year, horror/thrillers come and go by the way side, with maybe a max of three making the “great” cut, and one of those three making the “masterpiece” of the cut. In my gut, this is already the “masterpiece” of 2018. This movie is very scary. Every jump scare is earned, no tricks and no making the audience feel like morons and cheated out. Oh and uh, I absolutely LOVE this film mainly because it is the first movie in a long long while that REQUIRES you to shut the fuck up during the movie. If you are a movie talker (or texter) and have no respect for the people you don’t know trying to watch the movie around you, I already think you are a piece of shit. But if you try to pull that crap during this film, you are going to have others possibly beat the shit out of you if you open your mouth.

There are possibly less than 10 lines of dialogue in this movie. And maybe about 20 to 25 sentences are sign language with subtitles for the audience. The rest is pure score, albeit used very sporadically, and the rest is dead fucking silence. You cough in the theater, you are going to be noticed. The movie takes its title literally. The theater, which was sold out by the way, was so quiet, I could hear the end credits of Ready Player One playing in the other theater. All the silence, noises where they need to be, and the score coming on where it needs to, completely amplifies your experience where you feel like you are actually there. It’s incredible.

Most of you know that real life married couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are in this film, but few of you probably know that Krasinski co-wrote this film, and also completely directed it. Yeah, Jim from The Office directed a horror movie. You have to hand it to the guy, I wouldn’t want to be known for playing one character my entire life. He tried to play something different at the end of Detroit, which didn’t work out really well, and the other films he co wrote (Promised Land) and directed (The Hollars) were ok, but he was basically Jim in those. Except for 13 Hours Michael Bay film, he definitely wasn’t Jim in that. And with this, and if he keeps on doing pieces of art like this, he is going to break completely free. He hardly speaks in this movie at all, and yes I was like “oh hey Jim, long time no see, how’s Dwight?” at the beginning, but less than a minute in, I knew he was a different survivalist type character, and Jim completely vanished. He could either do roles like that, or get out of acting and go completely behind a pen or completely behind the camera. Time will tell.

After a very emotional opening, the movie is about a family living secluded in the year 2021-2022, where most of the human population is dead. See there are these alien/creatures that are blind and can hunt you down like a motherfucker if you make any sound, so you have to be completely quiet and not make any sound above a dull whisper. The family is getting ready to have a child and (according to the billboard the survivalist dad has in the basement of the house to monitor these alien/creature sons of bitches) three are confirmed in the area. That is all I will tell you. If you hope to get a complete origin story about the aliens/creatures that are killing off the human race, prepare to be disappointed. But if you are easter egg lover like me and pay attention to the movie and look very carefully, there origin is completely spelled out in ink. Just look closely.

What’s really funny about the family getting ready for the birth of a child is that having the child is really only the dumb horror movie mistake that this family could have made (there is one other at the beginning but I won’t spoil it). And that’s another thing I love about this movie, the rest of the actions in the movie of the family are just and sound and not stupid. In fact, they are put into situations by outside influences, not their actions, and have to retool what they do in order to survive these new impending situations. I was never slapping my forehead wondering why a character as being so stupid. I was slapping my forehead because this family keeps getting the shaft and it really isn’t their fault at all.

The movie has done a good job in the marketing of keeping the full view of the creatures/aliens out of the promotional material. Good, these things are fucking frightening, and I am not going to ruin their look by describing it on here. Let’s just say whoever design them did a hell of a fucking job. Every human actor, what few there are, is great in this, Krasinski and Blunt bring their A game, but the show is completely stolen by their oldest daughter who is deaf herself (she’s deaf in real life too). Her performance here is amazing and show stopping whenever she is featured on the screen.

The movie runs a really really tight 95 minutes. There is no fat, no filler. Everything on screen is important and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, never bored. The movie ends right when it needs to. In my mind I was shouting, please end here, if you end here, you will be a near perfect movie. And it ended there. I almost even teared up. A Quiet Place is required viewing in the theater if you can respect those around you. It is an exhilerating experience seeing it with a sold out crowd and nobody making a sound except when the jump scares (again, all earned) frighten them. If you can’t shut the fuck up or not take out your phone during the movie, then don’t go. You won’t like it at home as much I think, but come on, it’s only 95 minutes. Can you not have ADD, shut off your fucking phone, and close your fucking mouth? It isn’t that hard. Damn. Sorry. Yeah, go see A Quiet Place. It’s a quiet masterpiece.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ISLE OF DOGS (spoiler free)

Either your love Wes Anderson or you hate him. Actually, I believe there is a secret third category: where you accept him. I’m in that category. By accepting that all of his films from now on are going to contain that symmetry diorama signature style of his, I can now decide whether or not I enjoy the story and characters and sometimes animation (in this case) to say whether I love or hate one of his films. Out of all of Wes Anderson’s filmography, I only can’t stand three of his films. I didn’t care much for The Darjeering Limited. I didn’t care much for Bottle Rocket. And I can’t fucking stand The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Since Darjeering and Life Aquatic came out one after the other with each other, there was a point where I thought he was losing his touch, going the way of M. Night Shyamalan.

But then Fantastic Mr. Fox came out and all was forgiven. My top three favorite films of his are Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. ISLE OF DOGS is my very, very strong 4th favorite. (Don’t worry Andersonites, I still have an affinity for Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, a strong 5th and 6th). Isle of Dogs only proves beyond a reasonable doubt that after 2 live actions films he should always come back to stop motion animation and give us all a quirky tale with wonderful visual talent. Isle of Dogs story is simple. A dog flu epidemic has hit globally, all dogs have been shipped to this deserted trash island in order for them to live out the rest of the sad days and once they are all dead the virus is gone. A little boy pilot, named Atari Kobayashi hijacks a small personal craft and flies to the island in search of his dog Spots. Once landing, he doesn’t find Spots right off the bat but meets this alpha male dog pack led by Chief, voiced brilliantly by Bryan Cranston. There, Chief and the pack go in search for spots. Meanwhile, on the mainland, Mayor Kobayashi (he is the uncle to small boy), doesn’t want any of the dogs back ever again, even if a cure is found.

If you are a huge Wes Anderson fan and expect that very dry, weird and quirky humor you know all too well from him. It is here and it is here in spades. No disappointment on that front. Also, of course, so is his symmetrical shots and diorama like cinematography. However, while I have come to accept his style over the past several years, sometimes it still annoys me. But with Isle of Dogs, his style only enhances what is on the screen. The stop motion animation is simply beautiful, and Anderson makes sure you are too caught up with the story and characters for any of his visual style to truly take you out of the film (I think his visual style only really took me out of Life Aquatic, Darjeering limited, and parts of Grant Budapest, very small parts of that film).

The voice work, story, and characters here win the day. There are too many famous people and too many characters to list here, but Bryan Cranston, Liev Schriber, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, and Edward Norton steal the show. The story takes a few nice twists and turns to keep everything lively and the audience on their toes. Is it a family film? With a couple of “bitches” said throughout the film, maybe. But if you are offended by the Peter Rabbit poisoning that human and part of that #ButtHurt brigade, this film isn’t for you. People die and animals die. But it’s the closest family film that Wes Anderson has made yet.

If I get anymore into the film I’m going to spoil it. Let’s just say, if you are a huge Wes Anderson fan and love stop motion animation, with charming characters and a good story. Don’t miss this. I wouldn’t say it is theater essential, but it is a definite much watch for you at some point. One thing is for certain, Wes Anderson is a very talented filmmaker. The only catch is that you have to truly understand him to understand his movies. I came around several years ago and have enjoyed the ride since. If you have never gotten on the ride, this is not likely to change your mind. If you are on the ride, this is a nice big fun roller coaster type exhilarating dip that makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and cheer.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: READY PLAYER ONE (minor book vs. film spoilers, very minor)

Steven Spielberg is the only director that could’ve made the film version READY PLAYER ONE as great as it is. Although there are many, many fans of the book, there are detractors out there (you know who you are) that thinks the book is nothing but pop culture reference after pop culture reference with not much characterization, story, or any other kind substance. I for one, love the book, love it. I also though can see why the haters of the book don’t like it very much. They have some valid criticisms. Absolutely they do. That’s why Spielberg, and screenwriters Zak Penn and the author himself Ernest Cline, change not the core idea or overall story, but they do change most of the novel. Did…did you cringe there? Are you a fan of the book and want a shot by shot adaptation? Well, you don’t get one. But guess what? That is a great thing. Because Steven Spielberg has done it again. He managed the rare feat of taking a novel, and making the film version much, much better. That’s right, one of my favorite fun novels of all time has been turned into a film adaptation that is even better.

He’s done it several times already (aka Jaws & Jurassic Park), so I trust The Beard. But I can say that the marketing of this film isn’t really helping. The marketing is completely fooling you. It makes it seem like it’s going to be an exhausting ride of “oh look! There’s an Overwatch character, oh look! The Joker, oh look! A Gremlin!” And yes, some of that is in there, especially an in your face sequence that was my favorite part in the movie (I’ll get to that later). But instead of just being a Easter Egg movie where it’s just nostalgia knocking at your front door, the movie changes a bunch of things, where now a lot of the references serve the characters and the story, and the ones that really don’t are more subtle. And yes, I’ll admit, there are times where I was like “OH MAN! LOOK! IT’S THE WINNEBAGO FROM SPACEBALLS!” but fortunately the characters and story pulled me out of my hunting phase and had me focus on everything the movie truly had to offer: the story, the great great fix of characterization in this, and of course Spielberg’s fantastic camera work and special effects.

Let’s get to that fix in characterization. A lot of the people that think the book is a one trick pony feel like the novels focuses way too much on Wade Watts (which it does, but he’s the protagonist so get over it) and not enough with Artemis, Aech (all of the High Five in general), and especially the villain Nolan Sorrento. This is the main thing the film fixes. But that requires some change, because if you’ve read the novel, you know that *spoiler alert* Wade doesn’t really meet the real life Artemis until the very end of the novel *end spoiler* Because of that, you really don’t feel like Wade and Artemis fell in love and are smitten on each other, that it feels forced. Well, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve probably been wondering, “wait, why is the human Artemis (played exquisitely here by Olivia Cooke) in the trailers and tv spots so much?” Well, easy, there is a twist that makes her character come much much earlier into the real world fold, and it now makes the audience believe now that these two characters could fall in love. Especially with Tye Sheridan (Wade) and Olivia Cooke having great chemistry on screen with each other.

Also, you know that Nolan Sorrento is basically a faceless villain in the novel. In the novel, he’s just an over arching presence that is scary but since he’s the head of a major competing corporation, and is trying to actually kill people from getting the Easter Egg and control of the Oasis, he stays out of the spotlight. Not here. Here is he played to perfection by the great Ben Mendolsohn. He makes Nolan Sorrento is true villain, being in most of the film and hamming it up acting wise. I actually felt like Wade actually had a pretty good nemesis in this, where in the book it felt like Wade could pretty much beat anybody no matter how big or small. Also, the character of James Halliday (basically the Willy Wonka of the novel, where if you find his keys and Easter Egg, you win control of his creation) is greatly expanded here as well. In the novel, he’s more of a jolly little Willy Wonka type figure that is more in the background, and you only read about him a couple of times in news articles or dialogue from other characters. Here, he is in the film quite a bit with archival “flashbacks” and near the very end, where he has a fantastic conversation pay off with Wade. Also, there is a character named I-Rok that is maybe two pages in the novel, he’s throughout the whole movie here and is played menacingly yet hilariously by T.J. Miller. I could talk about this all day, but I don’t want to get too deep into spoilers, so to sum it up, if you didn’t like the novels treatment of them, might want to give the film a try.

This movie is Spielberg coming back to just make a fun blockbuster for his audience. He isn’t trying to make a masterpiece or perfect film (even though yes, I do unashamedly admit I find this film a masterpiece), he’s trying to entertain, while also not selling out, while also trying to change and make a film that audience of all ages will enjoy. In fact, I know the references in the novel are mainly from the 80s, but Spielberg does plug in a lot of references in the decades forward, just to make sure people born way after the fact can appreciate some of the ol’ Spielbergian magic without having to know everything about the past they didn’t grow up in. The acting in this is top notch. Tye Sheridan inhabits a perfect Wade Watts but it is Olivia Cooke as Artemis and Ben Mendolsohn that steal the show. Whether the characters in the Oasis were motion capture or not, everything flowed smoothly, with all the actors voice over work being exquisite to say the least.

And the action sequences in this are amazing. The beginning race (which isn’t in the novel at all) is fantastically shot by Spielberg. It isn’t Michael Bay type shit where you can’t tell what the fuck is going on, and it doesn’t slow down to try to spoon feed the audience either. Spielberg just knows how to shoot an action scene, where it is fast and furious in real time, but you can see every hit, slam, or explosion. He’s 71 and his direction in films haven’t lost a step. Also, the final battle is pretty fucking sweet too, especially a hilarious bit from a little horror icon you may or may not be familiar with. But my favorite sequence takes place in the middle of the film. Now, minor spoilers from the book here, but you know that Wade’s path to one of the keys involves basically reciting line for line of the movie WarGames right? And you are probably thinking, how the fuck is Spielberg going to shoot something like that and actually make it entertaining for his audience to watch? Well, he doesn’t do WarGames, he does something with another movie, and he makes it more of a tiny scavenger hunt within the movie more than having Wade or any of the other characters recite line for line. Also, remember how Wade in the novel has to play Joust for one of the keys? Yeah, you can’t really film that unless Spielberg and company made Joust with like updated graphics with 3D and shit, and not just some character that plays the original 2D game until he beats it. That’s what the race near the beginning of the film replaces. Don’t worry there is a 2D game moment where a character or two or three is playing very old Atari games, but it doesn’t drag on, and Spielberg twists it in a way that makes it completely intrigal to the story and not just a, “oh look, here this is!” Reference.

Now, let’s talk about the Oasis. Everyone reading the book has in their head what the Oasis looks like. From Ernest Cline’s description, everything is supposed to look very, very much real life, but with characters and shit from all of the pop culture experiences from the past several decades. When seeing footage from this film, you are probably scratching your head, because the Oasis looks more like a video game than it does with Cline’s description. Honestly, if Spielberg had tried to do exactly what Cline described, it probably wouldn’t have worked on screen. So yes, in the Oasis, it looks like a really really really fantastically graphically made video game, but it completely works. I was sucked into the Oasis. But here’s the even greater thing: you know how in the novel when you were with Wade in the real world you would keep reading just so you could go back into the Oasis? Not here, both the Oasis and the real world protions of the film are exciting to behold. Spielberg changes some of the aspects and adds twists to the story to make the real world seem more of a character and a central figure.

Two quick other things: John Williams was busy doing The Post for Spielberg at the time so Alan Silvestri does it here. And he does an amazing job. He makes Ready Player One musically his own, and doesn’t just blow up the score with giant rip off of other musical scores from other films, it is completely original with a little beat or two referencing another film every now and then, but not too noticeable. Also, I loved how Spielberg only has one direct reference to one of his films in the movie. The guy really is that humble. He didn’t even want to have the T-Rex in the film but finally succumbed because it made one cool obstacle in the race at the very beginning. Give this film to a guy like fucking Michael Bay, and he’d just over load it with references to The Rock or Bad Boys 1 and 2. By the way the race is the best highway/street race since Bad Boys 2.

Which brings me to this and it is a complaint I happen to agree with. The ending of the novel kind of clashes with what Ernest Cline I think was trying to get at with his novel. That while escaping reality can be loads of fun, it could be dangerous and you need to get off your phones, gaming devices and enjoy the real world once in awhile. The ending kind of muddles it because nothing really happens with the Oasis, it still exists and people still play and earn their living off of it. Spielberg, I guess you can say, kind of, fixes this problem near the end of the film. He actually changes just a couple of lines of dialogue and aspects of the ending where Cline’s message comes across a little better. Granted, it doesn’t fix the entire message, in some ways both the book and the movie could’ve focused on the message that “technology isn’t everything and in actuality can be dangerous and cut you off from your life” a little better, but what Spielberg minor fixes wise does help. I don’t think it fixes it majorly because if it did, I think the entire novel and story in general would have to be changed, but the ending in this is much better than the novel.

And so, with this review being a novel itself, we get to my concluding paragraph. If you want to have a rational discussion with me and disagree with me on the film but in a polite way, I’m more than happy to discuss more of it on social media with you in a private message. There is loads of stuff to talk about with this film, what I’ve talked about isn’t even the tip of the ice berg. But in conclusion, yes, I loved this movie. LOVED it. It is currently at the top of my list (yes, past both Game Night and Black Panther) for my favorite film of 2018 so far, and even though I don’t think it will be #1, it will stay on this list. Steven Spielberg rarely has ever disappointed me, so I knew he wouldn’t here, I just didn’t know how much they would change the novel and with all of his signature story telling devices, how much I would love another Spielberg film this much. Probably since Minority Report. Ready Player One is essential viewing in the largest screen possible with the best sound (3D was actually pretty damn decent here as well). But even when watching at home, Ready Player One is an adventure I would happily and am already ready to watch over and over again.

Diane’s?! Zany Movie Reviews: MIDNIGHT SUN (spoilers)

Hello there! This is your normal zany reviewer Zach, doing a short intro for my wife. Diane, who will  be reviewing the few films in the theater this year (and from now on) that I refuse to see, such as Mamma Mia 2, Overboard, and this film for which you are about to read, Midnight Sun. I did not not write this review, this is completely her, but I feel like she has a pretty good taste in movies (I married her didn’t I?) so trust me when I say that I believe whatever she has to say about a film. So here is her review below (future reviews will not have intro’s, just this one, and I will just replace my name with my wife’s):

MIDNIGHT SUN is a cute romantic movie that would be appreciated by sappy teenagers. If you do not like romance movies this is not the film for you. I hear others are comparing it to A Walk to Remember and that is very true. Almost exactly.

One of the good things is Rob Riggle. His performance is so great. You just want him to be your Dad. Patrick Schwarzenegger did well, he is a much better actor than his father. You can see that he takes after his mother. Bell Thorne was great once she started dying. Before that, her portrayal of a teen was just not believable. She was just too pretty and poised to play the awkward home schooled girl.

Of course if you look too closely at the movie you could tear it apart. There is no way the main character gets drunk at her first party and just walks casually into the house without a confrontation with her father. There is also no way that the boyfriend would not have found out somehow what her deal/disease was.  Teenagers talk too much for that not to have happened.  If she didn’t tell him, he would have asked around and found out from another source.

If all you want a mind numbing cliche romantic teenage movie, Midnight Sun is perfect. Just as long as you don’t look too closely and are ready for a good cry. Ultimately, I’d give it a C-, but as a romantic movie, a C+.  It’s nowhere near The Notebook or Rachel McAdams territory, and it will make you long for a better life altering movie romance that changes your world.