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

There is enough evidence to support the on going (probably now scientific) fact that there will never be a shark attack/thriller movie as masterful or better than Jaws. You know that meme of that guy with the table sipping coffee, with a sign in front that says, “blah blah blah is better/the best/equal to blah blah blah, change my mind?” Jaws can easily be on that sign, and I don’t think one person could come to the table and argue against it. Jaws itself had a awful production history if you look into it, the studio and even Spielberg himself worried it was going to be a disaster. You know how you don’t really get that many good looks at the shark, which turned the film into a “getting scared of the unknown rather than the known” type situation? That wasn’t supposed to happen. You were almost always supposed to see the shark. Well, now we have the technology to show the shark. Deep Blue Sea was one of the first movies to attempt using Hollywood’s upgraded technology to do another shark attack movie. And you have to give Renny Harlin and the screenwriters some balls for not just simply trying to remake Jaws. No, the story was self contained and tried to make the sharks smart and shit. The result? A movie I remember my dad taking me too when I was only the age of 13, and me loving every single damn minute of it. Watching it years later, to me, a lot of it still holds up. Mostly the animatronics, the acting, direction, shots, and mood hold up. The shark SFX do not. But honestly, that movie will always be remembered for Samuel L. Jackson’s mid movie speech alone. And isn’t that the points of most movies is? To be remembered?

Fuck, I haven’t even gotten to my review of THE MEG have I? Fear not, I am trying to make a point. With Jaws, being the masterpiece, and I had seen Jaws before Deep Blue Sea, when going into that theater with my father, I knew that I needed to shut my brain off to probably enjoy it. As a rule of a cinematic lovers thumb, in my book, a rule of a marathon of movies is 3 related but not directly related (aka sequels) together back to back to back, pauses for peeing and eating (although if you are smart enough you don’t even need those breaks).To look at the other side, a directly related marathon consists of 4 movies that are all sequels, prequels, what have you together. You could have a zombie marathon consisting of Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead, and Shaun of the Dead. A Swarzanegger marathon of Running Man, True Lies, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Alas, I have never had a shark marathon. It’s always just been a double feature consisting of Jaws and then Deep Blue Sea, or vise versa, depending on the mood. It’s true that I haven’t seen every single shark film, and if I would’ve pursue it I couldn’t found a different one that I liked. But I can’t stand Sharknado, Sharktopus, Open Water, Shark’s Tale, 47 Meters Down. I think the closest it has ever gotten has been Blake Lively in The Shallows, but the movie takes itself so seriously that when the ending is unapologetically goofy and physics wise doesn’t make sense, it ruined all that came before.

With The Meg, I finally have my shark attack marathon that I’ve been desperately wanting since 1999. As with Deep Blue Sea, The Meg mostly plays it straight although at points walks that fine line of sillyness (but doesn’t get to the extremes of any terrible SciFi made for television movie). Some of the SFX are fantastic while some aren’t as precise as if there was maybe a little more time spent on them. But the acting is very well done, especially from our always reliable go to tough man Mr. Jason Statham. I’m warning you though, if you go into this expecting Jaws like epic storytelling, just don’t go in. Turning off your brain during this is a must to enjoy, but enjoy it you will if you do.

I loved that the movie, like Jaws, took its time when showing the massive prehistoric shark and even after it is revealed doesn’t go all George Lucas Episode 1 filling it in the frame the entire time. The movie actually cares about its story, and only shows or brings back the shark when it serves it, nothing too obligatory (that stood out in my mind). The movie even had the balls to bring about a mid act twist that you can completely see coming if you ever saw the movie Lake Placid.

Jason Statham is of course perfect for his tough guy role and BingBing Lee is good (even though their relationship and chemistry seems a little force), and everybody else in the film, even Dwight Schrute himself Rainn Wilson, all get their moments to shine, although one of the best parts and jobs done in the film was Masi Oka (Hiro from Heroes) small part in the film.

Just like Deep Blue Sea, this movie is a blast seeing it with friends or family. It is also one of those films that when it hits home video you should see it with a group of people, point laugh, make fun of it, or get jumpy. It gets that good feeling late summer tone just right. If I had any complaints, is that is wish the movie would’ve doubled down on its box office bet and had just shot and kept it for an R rating. I have a feeling the R rating (with gratiouitous gore and Statham cursing a whole lot more) could’ve made the movie even better and more of a blast, where it could’ve even gotten close to my love of Deep Blue Sea territory. Also, the consistency with the size of the shark with each shot I would say is off but considering that we are dealing with SFX here, it’s very minor.

So, if you love Jaws and Deep Blue Sea and have been clamoring for that shark attack flick itch since 1999 (or if you hate Deep Blue Sea, totally understandable, and you’ve been waiting since 1975), The Meg should fit that bill. Go into it with low expectations and turn off your brain and I guarantee you won’t be turned off.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: EIGHTH GRADE (no spoilers)

Hopefully, we’ll see, this is going to be one of my shorter reviews because really even saying anything that happens in EIGHTH GRADE is a bit of a spoiler. Because the movie is a very tight and lean 90 minutes, and when looking back at the trailer, I feel that even it gives too much away. All you really need to know about this movie, is that its about a girl named Kayla that is one week from finishing eighth grade, that star Elsie Fisher (she’s not really a newcomer, she’s been in a couple of things and is the voice of Agnes in the Despicable Me movies) is a revelation, and that stand up comedian/actor Bo Burnham wrote and directed this. Yes, THAT Bo Burnham. The one that does all those jokes and shit while playing the piano. He was also recently in Rough Night and The Big Sick. His debut here is nothing short of astonishing.

Eighth Grade perfectly captures and depicts the school experience the most realistically that I have seen in any school film/television show/entertainment format that I can remember. Yes, even more realistic that 13 Reasons Why. And the realistic aspect that 13 Reasons Why even captured in Season 1 was almost completely thrown out the window in season 2. The entire time watching this film I was taken back to my very awkward and embarrassing middle school years. This film hit every right note I can think of to that experience, and it even goes one further and enhances it to our more tumultuous times as of recently, including sexual harassment and extreme bullying. I don’t know what actress Elsie Fisher is like in real life, but in this, she is extraordinary. I really don’t think she is playing herself, and if she isn’t, she is that good. Every like, uh, stumble in her speech felt completely real, that by near when the 90 minutes are over, when her and her dad are having what is basically a fire side chat, I had a lump in my throat, because I really felt for her character of Kayla.

Also, the father, played by Josh Hamilton (not of Texas Ranger fame), is also fantastic as the dad. His reactions and his speeches to his daughter felt so real and honest that he almost, ALMOST, pushed that lump in my throat to tears streaming down my face. This movie is fantastic, and if you haven’t heard of it (although that would be weird, it is being heavily marketed as the independent film of the summer), you need to skip watching the trailer and just find a movie theater near you that is playing it and trust me on this. It is better than seeing shitty unrealistic drivel and shit like The Spy Who Dumped Me. Bo Burnham’s eye for the camera and the dialogue in his script are breathtaking, and if he has to take a break from acting or doing his stand up routine to give us more films like this, I’ll embrace it with open arms.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (no spoilers, sneak preview)

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME really comes out this coming Friday, August 3rd, but it had a nationwide sneak preview Friday night. Sneak previews like this always mean one of two things. Either the movie is really really really good, but they don’t think the general public will be interested in it, so a sneak preview allows them to get some advanced word of mouth…or…the movie is so fucking bad that they hope the modern audience members who don’t know any better laugh at the stupid shit that might as well been written by immature 17 year old and then will falsely spread a false good of mouth to other modern audience members who don’t know any better, getting trapped in the mediocrity. So, if my second explanation on the “sneak preview” is longer than the first, where do you think my opinion lies? In reality, there is a secret option C that combines explanation #2 with the fact that one of the best films of the year to also out this weekend is also in the spy genre. So anybody seeing Fallout Thursday night or Friday during the day, needing more of a spy genre fix, go and see the sneak preview. Boy…how much of a mistake my wife and I made with that decision?

Mission Impossible Fallout is one of the best films of the year. The Spy Who Dumped Me is one of the worst. It is a hour and a half of unfunny stupid scenes upon really unfunny stupid scenes that basically just contain Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon screaming in a bunch of different weird ways, hoping one of them will make you laugh if they add the sentence, “what the fuck is going on?!” If you thought Kate McKinnon was weird in the Ghostbusters reboot/remake or unbearable in Rough Night, she takes the cake in this movie, and is the most Godly unfunny annoying character she has ever been. I’m wondering if she is really only funny on Saturday Night Live, and everything else she is in you kind of just want to chop your ears off and stab your eyes out. Even in the new episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, she doesn’t seem like she has an off switch, and was painfully unfunny in that as well. I still think she is very deserving of those Emmy’s she has won for SNL, and I find her funny and delightful on that show, so maybe it is just that the material on SNL is better than anything she has done so far movie wise, but she’s getting awfully close to how sick I was of Melissa McCarthy in the few projects she had after Bridesmaids.

In fact, speaking of Melissa McCarthy, this movie tries so hard to be Paul Feig’s SPY, but doesn’t even come close to any of the laughs that film had to offer. The movie is about Mila Kunis, who gets dumped by Justin Theroux, and her best friend Kate McKinnon tries to console her, so they decide to burn his personal items left over at her place. He is involved in this really dumb and terribly shot opening action sequence, and when he gets the text that she’s burning his shit, he calls her telling her not to (mainly because that McGuffin is one of those items), and he’ll come back and apologize and explain everything Two CIA agents, one played by that main guy from Outlander, explaining that he is a spy and he is involved on a dangerous mission and bad guys might be after her to. Then the bad guys do come after her, and both her and her friend are internationally on the run. Yada yada yada, Gillian Anderson is wasted as the CIA boss, yada yada yada, can’t trust anyone, yada yada yada, terrible fucking third act.

The plot is so stupid, and it seems like the writers of this and Skyscraper teamed up and somehow came up with the exact same ultimate McGuffin, both contained on a thumb drive. Only this movie tries to be funny and have the thumb drive being shoved up both of their vaginas to keep it away from the bad guys. Are we not past shoving shit up the butt and vagina jokes? The last funny one was maybe Girl’s Trip and only God knows the funny one before that. The movie is rated R, but honestly would have had the exact same effect if it were PG-13, and all of the F words were taken out and it didn’t show a really stupid sight gag of a male characters dick and balls. The exact same effect being not funny. Everything in the movie is highly predictable, and every single character in the movie is really really dumb and stupid.

Mila Kunis doesn’t play anyone new either, she’s as if Jackie from That 70s show was thrown in a shitty R rated comedy. Please for the love of God skip this movie when it comes out August 3rd. I normally am a wannabe critic that says to please still see whatever you want even if I give it a bad review, but like this year’s A Wrinkle In Time, this is just so bad that I can’t do that this time. If you were really looking forward to it and still really want to see it, wait for a Netflix drop of it or until it is rentable for only $1. You’ll only find this funny if you thought that I Feel Pretty or Life of the Party was funny. Just really unfunny writing, with unfunny performances, with people trying to scream at each other for laughs. Forget about having to dump this film, this wouldn’t even get a 2nd date.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (no spoilers)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT is my favorite film of 2018. So far. Yes, I know it’s only July and some sneaky little surprise could come lurking its way to me come December. And yes, I liked this more than Avengers: Infinity War. It is just unbelievable how this franchise is getting better and better (in a way even better than the Fast & Furious series) and hasn’t gone the way of series like Die Hard, and Alien, and Predator, and Terminator, and keep entering franchises here that have overstayed their welcome. Tom Cruise might be a crazy couch jumping Scientologist but disregarding his personal life, the man knows how to make a movie, and he has NEVER EVER EVER EVER phoned in a performance. I know I keep saying that in every Cruise review movie I do, but its true. The man really loves his job, and it shows. But the true star of this film, especially the past two has been writer/director Christopher McQuarrie. With this, Rogue Nation, Way of the Gun, and The Usual Suspects, the man knows how to make a pot boiler explode (in a good way). Fallout is just one of those good old fashioned action adventures that reminded me of those in the same genre in the mid 80’s/90s except cranked up to the nth degree.

The less you know going into this movie the better. Unfortunately since my brain works abnormally when I’m watching a movie, I was able to deduce several things that happened because of what I saw in the trailers and television spots. I guessed too easily too quickly the reveals of who the true bad guys are, the double, and even triple crosses. You might be able to figure it out easily as well, who knows? But all of that guessing didn’t bother me at all, because the journey to those revelations were witty, smart, and ingeniously written. There were a bunch of small surprises I didn’t see coming, and while I usually like it the other way around (I love big revelations), everything else, especially the action set pieces, stunned me into a movie lovers dream coma. So that being said, I am not going to describe the plot all that much. It involves Ethan Hunt once again trying to save the world with his usual teammates played by Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames (the latter having the most to do since the third movie). This time some plutonium is stolen and a faction of the group The Syndicate, who know call themselves The Apostles, with a mysterious new leader only known by the name of John Lark, want to blow up parts of the world because they think that “the greater the suffering, the greater the peace.” Anyway, the bad guy from Rogue Nation, Solomon Kane, is also involved, as well as Ilsa, the MI6 agent whose allegiances are still really unknown in this.

People keep asking me if they should watch all the other films before watching this one. Um, duh. Yes. Watching them all makes you appreciate how much greater the movies have gotten. If you are in a pinch though, you basically only need to watch 3, 4, and 5, but I implore you to take your time and check every one out if you haven’t already. The only ‘meh’ entry in the series is the 2nd one, which is basically just John Woo and Metallica pleasuring themselves in a circle jerk. The only reason to watch that one are Tom Cruise doing the stunts (especially the motorcycle finale), but the story is as mediocre and lazy as it gets. While John Woo action is cool, it is mostly fake action. In Fallout, every action set piece, looks and feels real. They even use the take where Cruise is jumping from one building to another, where he didn’t make it, broke his ankle, and the production shut down for a month so he could heal. The halo jump is awesome. The motorcycle chase in this is awesome. The helicopter chase in this is awesome. Everything in this movie bleeds awesome. See it on the biggest screen you can, with the best sound that you can.

I loved the entire cast in this one. Everybody gets something important to do, even if they don’t have that much screen time. Alec Baldwin is good, Angela Bassett is good, Vanessa Kirby is good. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are two of the best people in this entire series. Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust needs to be added to the list of characters that comes back every time (as long as it serves the story). Michelle Monoghan is back and even her character is tied perfectly into the story without it feeling forced. I didn’t like Sean Harris’ Solomon Kane in the last movie, his villainy felt kind of too relaxed, but in this film, he is much more dangerous and crazy, and I now completely relish him as a villain. And then we have Henry Cavill, Superman himself, who steals some of the scenes he is in, including a top notch bathroom fight early on in the film. But this show belongs to Cruise. His blood, sweat, yet probably no tears completely fuels this franchise engine. The dude is 56, still doing all his own stunts (I wish him and Keanu Reeves would do an action film together). And the even greater reason why this is his show is that his character of Ethan Hunt is the most fleshed out it has ever been in the series. And Cruise’s acting takes it beyond the level that it needs to be, bringing humanity in the couple of quieter moments the film has.

But yeah, don’t drink a soda while watching this film. It is two and a half hours, and there are no good parts to take a bathroom break. You will miss something important if you do. I know there are Cruise haters out there, but eveb if you don’t like Tom Cruise because of his personal life, try to set that aside and accept this mission. You’ll be glad you took the ride. This review will self destruct from your memory in 5 seconds.

Ranking of Mission movies:

1. Fallout
2. Ghost Protocol
3. Rogue Nation
4. M:i-1
5. M:i-3
6. M:i-2