Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM

Do I really need to review this film for you? I mean seriously, this review should just say “go see it” and you should want to escape to a theater for a little over two hours with Keanu Reeves. Just like Chapter 2, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM is one of the greatest actions sequels ever made, and probably one of the best action films ever made in general. It is the best of the three (only by a small margin though as I really think Chapter 2 is very special) and completes a rare reverse trilogy for me. A reverse trilogy is that the 3rd is the best, then the second, then the first, and it will remain a rare reverse trilogy until the inevitable 4th one comes out. And if you think it’s a spoiler saying that John Wick doesn’t die in this, you haven’t been paying attention. Like Die Hard, this is now a franchise, and as long as the same people come back, and as long as the movies don’t lose any steam, they are going to make more.

Keanu Reeves (son of a gun is 54 years old) is back as John Wick, the movie continuing mere moments after Chapter 2 left off (one could also argue that Chapter 2 does the same for the first one) where he as a one hour grace period before becoming ‘Excommunicado’ after breaking the assassin Hotel Continental’s rules and killing a newly appointed member of the high table on the grounds. He’s on the run with a $14 million dollar bounty on his head…trying to figure out a way out of all of this. Now if anything of what I said was confusing, then that means you haven’t watched any of the John Wick movies and need to do so now. They are all great films, with Chapter 2 and this being cinematic action masterpieces. I was afraid that with a third film there was no way that it could top the world building and action set pieces from the 2nd. Boy was I wrong.

It not only expands upon the awesome assassin world only hinted at in the first film, and touched a little more in the second, it really comes full circle and fills in almost all of the details (you gotta hold back for the 4th one though, am I right?). I LOVE THIS WORLD. I wish I could see spin off after spin off after spin off with an occasional John Wick original adventure every now and then. It is just that diverse and interesting and I think that the world could even find tune itself to the point of having a giant fictional book about the history of the Wick-verse. The first spin off I’d love to see is a movie with Halle Berry and her dogs. Even though she is in it not as much as I’d like, when she is, she steals the show. Every reservation you have had about her in other recent crappy movies is washed away in this. The film makes it known that she has her own story to tell, and even though I’m not a prequel fan, I would eat it up if they made one.

The action in this is nothing short of masterful. You will be talking about Keanu Reeves using a book to kill somebody and the knife fight, and the horse sequence, and the motorcycle sequence, and the climax sequence for days. You can almost feel each punch and shot done to somebody in any given sequence in your seat. The sound editing and mixing on this is the best I’ve seen since….well, I guess that would be Chapter 2 huh? Some of the sequences had the audience in Alamo Drafthouse screaming giant OOOOOHHHH and AHHHHS, laughing and clapping. It was a pretty unique experience. Everything technical about this film is done so well. I’m going to be a little pissed if the Academy doesn’t give this at least a nomination for Best Cinematography. The cities, the landscapes, look absolutely gorgeous on the big screen.

And then there is Keanu Reeves. While I will even admit his range is limited, at least he is known for characters other than just John Wick (don’t forget, you got Ted and Neo). Also, even with the limited emotional range he tries to bring his A game to EVERY film that he is in. Have you seen the training video they release of him for John Wick? (They just released a Halle Berry one which was awesome too). The guy is deeply compassionate for his craft and it shows. This movie has no stupid shaky cam or any editing tricks to try and pin point all the action. The camera is super steady and relentlessly fluid. All of this make the shots seem cinematically magical. You see that it is Reeves doing most if not all of his stunts and he is pretty fucking impressive ‘beating’ the shit out of people. These movies wouldn’t be this special without him.

While there was one or two action sequences that went on a bit too long, I didn’t really care because I was enjoying each and every second of it. The John Wick films are cinematic experiences you need to see on the big screen before watching on your big screen (hopefully) at home. They are great action films and are better than most of the other action films we get today (not too surprising since most of them are CGI garbage with no more practical effects). These films are better than they have any right to be. Please keep screenwriter Derek Kolstad on (even if he has to share the spotlight like he did in this film) and especially former stunt double for Reeves now director Chad Stahelski. Without those two these movies wouldn’t be what they are. I’m done talking about this masterpiece and would rather discuss it in person with those who know me. I’ll conclude with this ‘duh’ statement: John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum is the best film of 2019 so far…and I don’t even know if at this point Tarantino or Skywalker could dethrone it.

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Zach’s Zany TV Binge Reviews: THE TWILIGHT ZONE (2019) Part 4 of 5: NOT ALL MEN and POINT OF ORIGIN

**sigh** And the new series started off so well. At the worst I thought I was going to be reviewing one really good/great episode and one really mediocre/terrible one these last two reviews, but alas, I got two not so great ones for you. The only thing that separates them from being worse than the terrible episode The Wunderkind is the acting. Minus Six Degrees of Freedom, these last several episodes fail because of them not just for the eye rolling, hitting the present day social commentary nail on the head, but that it keeps hitting you on the head long after the nail is already in there. I really hope that the show runners know what they are doing and saving their best two for last (although I this point I highly question it). At least Jordan Peele’s intros are still fascinating to watch. I wish he was writing and directing episodes.

NOT ALL MEN

Like I mentioned in the above paragraph, the only thing that separates this one from being worse than The Wunderkind is the acting. Taissa Farmiga, Rhea Seehorn, and Ike Barinholtz bring out incredible performances, but the social commentary in this is so in your face, it makes the twist at the end even dumber, and I’m kind of surprised I haven’t heard anything about men being offended by this episode (Don’t worry, I’m not). The plot is basically after a meteor shower, the men in a town grow absolutely nuts and with psycho and animal like behavior. Taissa Farmiga and her sister Rhea Seehorn, try to navigate the strange and destructive behavior while trying to escape the town.

Clearly an episode inspired by #MeToo, it doesn’t work because it tries to hard to say, “do…do you get it?” Yes we do, after the first 5 minutes we get it, but instead of pushing forward the plot and doing something different, characters just keep explaining the same insane behavior just with different vocabulary. And then the twist at the end basically just gives the entire episode a WTF moment and you feel as though you wasted your time. Don’t worry, I’m not going to give away the twist on here, but I’ve given you context clues to figure out what is probably is. I can also say that at least the episode looked good as well and had the same gorgeous cinematography as the other ones.

I do appreciate an episode that actually made me fear Ike Barinholtz. Usually a funny man and one of the best performers on the old MadTV (haha, kind of get why he was cast now), he is absolutely ruthless in this. I’d like to see him play more psycho characters in the future. Rhea Seehorn has always been a good actress, like on Better Call Saul, and here she’s just as convincing as someone scared out of her fucking mind. The best acting goes to Taissa Farmiga though, who I thought was terrible in The Nun as I thought she was only good for wide eyed facial expressions and that is it. Here, she is completely convincing as the woman trying to escape the harsh environment of men just suddenly going mad. Great concept, terrible and horrible execution.

POINT OF ORIGIN

And with this episode, we get the nail on the head a billion more times with social commentary, this time on immigration. Okay Twilight Zone, go home, you’re drunk, we get it. You need to now take your social commentary episodes and scale them back a little bit. You need build everything up, maybe even mix several social commentaries in (but not so in your face) at the same time to have a meatier episode. Yes, immigration is a hot button issue, but you can only state the same issue so many times using different words, and in this case, dimensions (you’ll see what I mean).

I did catch that the mask that Ginnfer Goodwin wears in this is an exact copy of those of the ‘normal’ faced people in the classic episode “Eye of the Beholder.” That was a nice little homage to the old. And her and James Frain’s acting was really good. And yet again, the episodes visuals and everything technical looks good. It’s just the story isn’t there. Well it’s there, but it doesn’t go further to get where it needs to go. It just stays in one place and doesn’t take it to more interesting and thought provoking levels. The whole plot is that after a rich white woman’s Mexican housekeeper is detained by the U.S. Government for not being a legal citizen, that rich white woman is also taken, but for different reasons that I will not spoil.

But again, you can guess where it is all going based on the fact that I said the only commentary on this is immigration. Where is home, truly? Why can’t we escape a wretched place to live a better life and people just accept it and try and help? Aren’t we all technically immigrants? Why is the US being a fucking bully? All those questions are asked a billion different ways, but none of them are really answered. Just another one of those “be careful, because it can happen to you” episodes. Those episodes are long and gone, we are currently in 2019. You can’t just recycle old stories and do them the same, you gotta have a better hook, instead it is the same rusty one Hollywood has used to fish a billion times over. I won’t finish this sentence again but, you know, great concept…Replay

Ranking of Episodes

  1. Replay
  2. Six Degrees of Freedom
  3. A Visitor
  4. Nightmare at 30,000 Feet
  5. The Comedian
  6. Point of Origin
  7. Not All Men
  8. The Wunderkind

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: POKEMON – DETECTIVE PIKACHU

“It was WONdurFul!” – Kimberly Finke, 33 about to turn 34 year old enthusiastic kid at heart. She’s grew up with Pokemon though. I did too, but we will get to what I thought of it in a minute. The thing is this, if you know absolutely nothing about Pokemon, then POKEMON: DETECTIVE PIKACHU is going to fly over your head and you are probably not the least bit interested in watching this movie let alone reading my review for it. Not saying you will hate it, you might even find some parts entertaining (Ryan Reynold’s off the cuff jokes), but you just won’t get it. This movie has a specific target audience. Either you know and love Pokemon or you don’t. You will love the movie, or you will think it is okay and ultimately be baffled by it. Me? There are now three solid video game film adaptations of all time. Mortal Kombat, the new Tomb Raider with Alicia Vikander, and now this. But is that really saying much?

Like with the new Tomb Raider, I’m going to say what I said on that here: the video game movie curse isn’t broken quite yet, but its a helluva step in the right direction (and then will take one step back in the fall when Sonic comes out…). The film actually had a decent plot that wasn’t too contrived or one-note or hokey. I just wish it maybe had a few more twists and was a little more in depth was all. But I also realize you can’t do that with a kids film. So I’ll just brush off my complaint aside. If you were to look really, really closely, the film is basically a beat by beat remake of Ace Ventura: When Nature or a Japanese version of Disney’s Zootopia. Everything in this is very, very, very predictable, and when the movie thinks it is about to lose the interest of the young folk in the audience, it literally stands still for five minutes, telling you exactly what happened, so that they catch up to the adults in the audience that have already figured it out.

Let’s take a step back and I’ll tell you my experience with Pokemon. I was there at the start. I had the Gameboy with the Red and Blue versions, traded with friends using that pesky USB cord. Used my info to sync it up with Pokemon Stadium on the N64, watched the first season of the show, but then like Beanie Babies, after maybe about two years of massive hype, I fell out of it due to my age range, and look back on the experience like I do with POGS now: with a smile on my face and good memories in my head, but also asking the question, “what was I thinking?” I knew going into this that there are about 812 Pokemon now (correct me if I’m wrong) and not just 151. I figured though that with a target audience of fans now in their 30s that grew up with them and getting current fans all on the same page, that they would probably stick to the 151 we knew, with just splashes of the others in there as background noise and to teach the older generation on how everything has evolved into something bigger (I was correct). I also went into this really enjoying the trailers and tv spots so far, and loving the look of the Pokemon interacting with people in the real world (take note Sonic creators).

But did I love the movie and think it was WONdurFul? No. But, I thought it was cute, very well made, I was mildly entertained throughout the whole thing, even smiled when stuff came on screen that I recognized. Memberberries for sure. Would the movie have worked without Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu? Probably not. Even though one would argue that this is basically just Pikapool and a PG rated version of Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds still knocks it out of the park with his voice acting in this. I have a feeling he ad-libbed a shit ton, and that it was so good that they incorporated it into the movie even though it wasn’t in the script. Great decision by the filmmakers. Color me shocked when they threw in a sexual innuendo or two and even a cocaine joke. Subtle enough that young kids won’t get it though thankfully. Ryan Reynolds could make anybody laugh just reading War and Peace or Gone With The Wind on audio book, that’s how great he is.

As for the plot, do I really need to explain it? In a world where there are still a lot Pokemon in the wild yet there are cities where Pokemon and humans live in harmony, a late teen/early 20’s male who used want to be a Pokemon trainer who is now a insurance agent, gets called back into the fray when his father, a police detective that worked with Pokemon, goes missing and is presumed dead. His father’s Pokemon partner, a Pikachu, shows up at his father’s old place, and the two team up to discover what happened. Like I said, it is fairly easy early on to know what is really going on. Too simple for an adult film, but like I said, this is a film made for those in their 30s that grew up on Pokemon, and their children who might be into Pokemon now. My only other qualm other than the predictable plot and the obvious eye rolling 3rd act typical bad guy reveal is that they revolve it around a certain Pokemon that they have relied on too many times for story and plot devices. Surely there is a different Pokemon that could have some elaborate origin story and mystery. I won’t say which Pokemon that is, but it is very obvious which one in the trailer. Pokemon people now need more of a variety if this film spawns a sequel.

I also wanted more Pokemon battles. I know they didn’t really serve the plot other than one or two of sequences, but the few Pokemon battles in this film were very entertaining and well done. The director, Rob Letterman, didn’t go and do Goosebumps 2 for this film, and he very obviously made the right decision. The acting is good for a kids film too, as supporting characters such as the boy, played by Justice Smith, and an investigative reporter he teams up with, played by Kathryn Newton, made their characters believable enough that I was convinced they were actually talking to cute little monsters walking and talking beside them. Their character arcs, everyone’s character arcs, are one note though.

Wow, I’ve talked about this film haven’t I? Let’s get to the end. If you are one of those people that skip to my last paragraph after reading the first and power reading through the rest, I liked it. It wasn’t great, but it was good and is a very, very solid family film that people taking their kids to the theater would enjoy. Or if you are a woman-child at heart like my friend whose quote I mentioned in the first paragraph. But if you have no interest in Pokemon whatsoever, never have, and are completely befuddled on the hype, this film is not for you. Heck, if you are a kid that doesn’t get Pokemon or see what the fuss is about, this film isn’t for you. However, if you know what that hype was and even dipped a toe in it, and if your kids did or do as well, I can’t think of a better film to go to the theater together and spend sometime eating up some decent member berries. I mean it could be worse, you could’ve shared your love of Game of Thrones and have watched this last season together…

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE LAST SUMMER (Netflix)

Halston Sage left The Orville because apparently the shooting of this film THE LAST SUMMER, conflicted with her filming schedule of the very popular Fox show, and she decided that this was more important. Or you could believe the highly theorized and sort of proven explanation that what was really going on is that she was banging Writer/Star Seth McFarlane, they had a falling out, and since things were awkward, and he was the lead, Bobs your uncle. Either way, this movie was a completely bad decision on her part (she isn’t even the main, main lead). The first hour or so of this film is actually pretty decent, but then a very coincidental second act twist happens (a really really really dumb and unbelievable twist), and the films falls to all the cliched narrative devices for rom-com-dramedies that you can think of and slips past mediocre into oblivion.

I won’t reveal what that slight twist is, needless to say if you ever end up watching this you’ll know exactly what I meant when it happens. It’s eye roll inducing, very very poor writing just to move the plot along for convenience sake. Before we get to talking about how it completely sinks faster than the Titanic afterward, let’s start with the plot. It’s basically the #MeToo cautionary tale poor man’s version of Can’t Hardly Wait, except instead of stretching it out just one night with a very long party, it’s stretched out a whole summer, the last summer before high school kids go off to college. The main star is Riverdale’s KJ Apa, who is dealing with his iron wrought Dad and basically being forced into going to Columbia, his old man’s old college (She’s All That anyone?). He then runs into a former crush (Maia Mitchell), who is a film student going to a college near him, but she has problems opening up (every rom-com movie ever).

Then you have several more stories all going on at once and intertwined by certain people knowing other certain people. You have the couple (Halston Sage and Jacob Lattimore) that are eventually going to college’s really far away from each other, so they break up at the beginning of summer so they don’t have to deal with even worse heartache at the end of it. They end up finding other people really quickly, but they might not be what they bargained for. You have a girl (played by the wonderful Sosie Bacon, yes, that is Kevin Bacon’s daughter) that is trying to get into a college so she is taking care of a talented child that happens to have a cinema dream diva of a mother. You have a smoking hot looking dude making a sex wish list of girls he’d like to bang by the end of summer. And then you have two nerdy kids that try to make the most of their summer by doing adult things, so they dress up in business suits and go to a bar to try and get served without having to provide and ID, and they both end up with something much more.

Every story wraps up the way you basically think it will. Except for the two nerdy kids, that was an ending I was not expecting at all and glad the movie was able to subvert my expectations on their journey. But everything else is just cliched bullshit mish-mash that you’ve seen in every rom-com dramedy that has come before it. For one, it uses the most simple plot device you could imagine to get people out of their romantic situations so they can be with the person they were meant to be with: cheating. They use the “oh I thought you were special but you were actually cheating on me” card so many times in this film it made my head spin. Why can’t writers come up with a more natural way of splitting up two people with decent chemistry apart other than that one of them cheats on the other? Doesn’t make sense to me.

And then there is the twist with KJ Apa and Maia Mitchell’s plot. It is the most convenient twist I have ever seen come from one these movies in the past decade. I actually exclaimed, “are you seriously fucking kidding me?” when it was revealed. And I should’ve seen it coming too. Well, I kind of did, but was hoping and praying and trying to ignore my prediction thoughts, trying to give the movie the benefit of the doubt that the writers were smarter than that and wouldn’t go in that direction. Nope, they went there. The only saving grace of that twist is that KJ Apa has a dialogue with a different character late into the movie which actually felt real that tried to solve the predicament. Too little too late. My favorite story of the film was easily Sosie Bacon taking care of the younger girl over the summer. Even though that plot is probably the shortest of them all and the most predictable, Bacon’s acting elevates it in a way that it isn’t as bad as it could have been. I wish she was more of a star, she has this natural ability to come across extremely likable and realistic on screen.

The Last Summer isn’t a terrible film per say. The first half is actually decent. It’s just once that twist happens, everything else just falls into place on the cliched board of Hollywood Storytelling 101. It’s really really disappointing, especially when all the performances are good. This film would definitely not have worked in a theater and if it did somehow reach it, wouldn’t have made any money. That’s unfortunately what Netflix has become, the new direct to streaming service of films that nobody really wants to watch or looks forward to. I would recommend it to those just wanting to watching something mindless on a weekend afternoon, but other than that, I have a feeling this one will be another Netflix original lost in the crowd, and it certainly will not be the last one to achieve this status…

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL, AND VILE (Netflix)

Whether or not you like and enjoy EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL, AND VILE depends on what kind of movie you are expecting. If you are expecting for Zac Efron to go around and brutally kill women for two hours just to see what made the serial killer tick, you are going to be very, very disappointed. Or if you are smarter, like me, and go into it expecting a deep character study, sort of a personality mystery/thriller, while seeing Zac Efron takes his acting to the next level, then you are in for a treat. I happened to really like this film, and that’s because going into it I knew it didn’t go around just showing how he murdered women and got away with it. I knew that it was going to have kind of a “did he or didn’t he?” mystery vibe (even though we know how it all ends). Combine that narrative with an analysis of how this one deranged psychopath got away with everything because of the way he could talk and convince people (maybe even himself) that he was innocent. As the latter type of movie, it is one helluva character study.

The movie actually only shows one woman abduction and no kills at all. It’s quite bold and brilliant. It is more of a courtroom drama once Bundy actually gets caught near the beginning of the film because of a normal traffic stop, and then it shows how he tries to study up as a lawyer and try to talk his way out of jail time and even the death penalty. He even tries to manipulate his current girlfriend and convince her there is no way that he did those things. Oh, and he escapes from prison several times too. If anyone who didn’t know who the hell Ted Bundy was or didn’t have a clue that this was a real story, the movie could’ve successfully make that audience member confused whether or not he actually he did those unspeakable acts. But since the movie knows none of us are that stupid, it tries to make you think about Bundy’s personality, actions, and way with words/women so that it earns the narrative it is trying to tell: that monsters come in many manipulative forms. And because of Zac Efron’s incredible performance, it earns that slight doubt that could be formed in the back of your mind.

If there is only one thing to watch this movie for, it is because of Zac Efron. It is easily his best performance and I would probably stand up and cheer if I hear that he is nominated for an Oscar next year. He is just that damn good, and it isn’t just an impersonation. He embodies all of Ted’s ticks, mannerisms, and way with words so well that Efron basically became what I know of Bundy right before my very eyes. It is so frightening but the acting is so good you can’t take your eyes away from the screen. Lilly Collins is good too as the current girlfriend that can’t decide whether she truly believes Bundy is innocent or not, but Kaya Scodelario steals the female performance from under her as a former protege of Bundy’s that increasingly becomes obsessed with him and his innocence for all the wrong reasons. And the end reveal of Bundy just slightly showing Collins character who he really is, is a pretty powerful scene in itself. The movie alone is also worth watching between Zac Efron’s and John Malkovich’s banter between one another in the courtroom.

Would a movie that actually featured Ted Bundy committing all those horrible acts, maybe add thirty minutes onto the film to incorporate it, be that great and/or better than this film? I honestly don’t think so. I think if we got that movie people would’ve complained that it glorifies violence against women and it would’ve put itself in a public relations nightmare just to promote the film to get people to see it. The filmmakers made the right approach. How did those close and distant to Ted Bundy see him? How did he get away with all that horror for so long? Not how did he kill this girl and watch Zac Efron try to recreate murder events. Plus, if you want to dig deeper into the psychology of Ted Bundy, the director of this film also did that ‘Ted Bundy Tapes’ documentary series that is also on Netflix anyway. They make quite a marathon/double feature. Like I said, your appreciation of this films depends on what you’re expecting out of this. Expect a really good character study, and you’ll be out of the woods with a grin on your face and thoughts about it afterwards. Expect a re enactment of the murders, you will not have a killer time.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Reviews: THE TWILIGHT ZONE (2019) Part 3 of 5 – The Wunderkind and Six Degrees Of Freedom

In part 3 of 5 of my two episode at a time reviews (10 episodes this season), and unlike my glowing reviews of episodes 4 and 5, this time be going to opposite ends of the spectrum, with one episode being the worst one so far, and the new one one of its best, if not the best. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first:

THE WUNDERKIND

Great premise, sloppy execution. Wasted potential. How on Earth did this one not work? How did the script even get green lit before going through several drafts and major re writes. The ending should’ve been a knockout punch to the head, not several slow and dull shots to the stomach. Seriously, how do you ruin the premise of: what if a 11-year-old became President? Well, this episode manages to do that. I was so frustrated and bored by the episode that I had to go look who wrote it. And then I was not surprised with what I found: Andrew Guest, who wrote for 30 Rock, for which I hated.

The episode stars John Cho as a once hugely successful campaign manager that tries to come back into the spotlight by trying to get an 11-year-old (the great Jacom Tremblay) elected President after a video he makes fake campaigning goes viral. It sounds good right? It’s not. First of all, it focuses too much on the campaigning and not enough on what happens once Tremblay (it’s really not a spoiler to say he actually becomes President) gets elected. The campaigning stuff is bland and boring and wastes the talents of John Cho, who of course is good here. In fact, none of the acting is a problem as everyone gives it a good go in that department. Also, the way the episode was shot and directed was great too. It lines up with the atmosphere of the previous episodes and is gorgeous to look at, even though the events taking place are hard to pay attention to.

The is completely the screenwriters fault (and maybe the producers for not pushing the screenplay back to Mr. Guest and asking him to give it a rewrite or two). With politics being a hot button topic nowadays, this episode should’ve had much more to say about our current climate. In fact, this episode really doesn’t have anything to say other than, “this kid’s presidency reflects Trump’s, do….do you get it?” No matter what side of the political fence you are on, the episode doesn’t take it to the level it needs to send any other kind of better, more subtle message. The ending is predictable and really corny, uninspired, and stupid. I can think of a dozen other ways this story could’ve branched out, all better IMO of the one that we got. It feels like this episode was trying to kind of pay homage to the classic episode, “It’s A Good Life,” but it really is in no way in the same ballpark of the genius of that premise. It is really disappointing that over all the Twilight Zone episodes I’ve seen, past and present, this is one of the worst.

Rating: 1/5

Six Degrees of Freedom

Being able to watch more of the classic Twilight Zone episodes between these newer ones, I have finally discovered the trend: that each new episode is basically Force Awakening classic episodes. Meaning they are all soft reboots. Soft re-imaginings. Why I didn’t figure all this out by episode 2, I have no idea. The Comedian is a play on the episodes The Dummy and one from the 80s reboot Take My Life Please; Nightmare on 30,000 Feet is a play on Nightmare on 20,000 Feet; Replay is a play on Nick of Time; A Traveler is a play on the combination of the classics The Monster Are Due On Maple Street and Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up? So what episode does Six Degrees of Freedom try to re-imagine? Easy, that would be Five Characters in Search of An Exit. And a dash of the very first Twilight Zone episode, Where Is Everybody? The first episode I mention is about 5 random characters stuck in a metal cylinder, not knowing why they are there, trying to get out. They eventually have to work together to escape, only to come upon a very dark and depressing twist of fate. I will not reveal at all what Where Is Everybody? is about in lieu of spoilers.

This episode is quite a bit different but with the that moral compass of people helping each other out to reach a common goal. Five Astronauts are about to launch the first manned mission to Mars when they hear from their superiors over the radio that North Korea just launched nuclear missiles at the United States (the U.S. is retaliating of course) and that one of those nuclear missiles is set to get there in about 20 minutes. The captain (played by DeWanda Wise, who was one of the co-leads in the very underwhelming just released Netflix film Someone Great), makes the decision to override the control center and launch to Mars anyway, prolonging their deaths in a hope that their could be a solution when they get there. Tensions are weary and one of them starts asking questions. Whether they are right or wrong…can only be answered in….The Twilight Zone.

Sorry, wanted to do a dumb cheap narration of my own there. This is definitely one of the better episodes of the six aired so far, if not THE best, then right under Replay. I had a guess of where this whole thing was going to go, and my guess was addressed quite earlier than expected, which made me question it, and ultimately its twist ending. This episode also offers one of the few rays of hope than the other Twilight Zone episodes have. While I initially thought that Replay offered a few rays of hope the more I replay the very very end of that one in my mind, the more I realized that it might’ve supposed to been a downer as well. Anyhoo, this is definitely our most science-y science fiction tale of the bunch. The isolation of Alien mixed with the conspiratorial dread of The Thing and the short story it is based on, Who Goes There? The visuals are fantastic, the acting is fantastic, everything about it works. I’m not sure any of these episodes will be considered classic in the far far off future, but this and Replay have been the closest to tone of the original series thus far.

Rating: 4.5/5

Ranking of New Episodes

  1. Replay
  2. Six Degrees of Freedom
  3. A Visitor
  4. Nightmare at 30,000 Feet
  5. The Comedian
  6. The Wunderkind

Zach’s Zany…Broadway? Reviews: HAMILTON (yes, that one, no spoilers)

So the Broadway touring of HAMILTON is in Texas, and since is the most buzz I’ve heard about a play since The Book of Mormon, obviously it peaked my interest (the next one to do that might be Harry Potter and The Cursed Child). And since I’m seeing less movies in the theaters nowadays, I thought I could write a short review on my thoughts. Is it worth the hype and all the awards it has won? Absolutely. And now other than The Book of Mormon, it would definitely be a play I could see multiple times and neither feel bored and also like I got my money’s worth. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a masterpiece. Nothing short.

Hamilton is about the life of Alexander Hamilton. But everything is either sung or rapped, incorporates R&B, pop, soul, hip hop, show tunes, and also casts color-consciously of non-white actors as historical figures. The play songs through his early life as an orphan through the intro song and then we start out with him as an adult through his death. The play is in two acts, and I don’t think there is a word spoken that isn’t sung. But everything works so perfectly well. Apparently it took Miranda years to write it and do all the songs, and perfect every single note, and it shows. It is one of the most intricate things I’ve ever heard, so much so that, like Book of Mormon, might be finding and buying the CD to it. Every song is great and catchy, and there are absolutely no lag moments in the play. My favorite part? Probably like a lot of people, I do enjoy when King George III takes the stage.

The stage itself is pretty standard. It consists of a lot of wood and stairs and rope, and then some fake brick to look like old buildings. And it doesn’t change. Not that its a bad thing at all, in fact, I would be shocked if it was intricate as how long it took Miranda to write and perfect the whole damn thing. However, what is pretty cool about it is that the stage rotates in the middle constantly to convey movement, and is very impressive when mixed in with the choreography to song and dance numbers. As for the acting? It is all impressive. I didn’t take a Playbill from the April 28th, 2019 showing, but if you were one of the actors/dancers in the play, you did a tremendous job. Especially the leads like Hamilton and Burr, the way they could memorize all those songs, movements, and words and make it look like another walk in the part is nothing short of masterful.

So if you are on the fence about seeing this, why? Don’t be. It’s amazing and truly a thing that should be on your bucket list. Whether you are a history buff or even scoff at history, there is something in this play for everyone to enjoy. The play is 2 hours and 55 minutes (including a 15 minute intermission) but you could’ve fooled me, the time just whizzes by extremely fast and furious. If this is the one thing that Lin Manuel Miranda is remembered by, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. If there is real magic on the planet, this Broadway play, is the closest that it gets to seeing is believing.