Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE CRAFT LEGACY

THE CRAFT: LEGACY is a solid 20 minutes surrounded by a cauldron full of black cat shit. It starts out as an eye rolling almost shot by shot remake, then does a 180 and turns into an interesting direct sequel to the far superior first film, but then crashes and burns with a terrible stand-off climax very similar to the ending of 2015’s awful Fantastic Four reboot. And then a “of course they did that” very last obligatory sequel shot. It’s mind boggling how much of a craptastic roller coaster ride this film is. There are so many plot holes and dangling threads in this movie I thought that the ride was going to fall to the ground long before it did. I mean…did we really need a sequel to The Craft let alone a soft/hard reboot? Rebootquel, as it were? If they were going to make a sequel to that movie, it should’ve been only a couple of years after the first one, which was released in 1996. Was Neve Campbell really that busy after Scream 2? I do know why a sequel wasn’t made then, it’s because the movie didn’t become really popular until years after it had been released. Then many years after that, Blumhouse comes along and gives small budgets to every talentless hack and their mom so that they can make a movie, no matter how shitty it is. And since the budgets are so low and tweens are that on the spectrum to eat that shit up, all of these shitty movies end up making a profit. So fans probably wrote or contacted Jason Blum at some point a couple of years ago about making a small budget sequel to a popular 90s film…and here we are. Except that this is one brew that didn’t even need to start being churned in the first place.

IMDB describes The Craft: Legacy with the following: “A group of high school students form a coven of witches. A sequel to the 1996 film, “The Craft”.” Jesus Christ, how generic was that? I’ll go a bit further this time myself for my constant readers. It starts out almost just like the first film, with a new girl named Lily with untapped powers moving into a new town and her future stepfather’s home (played by X-Files’ David Duchovny) with her mother (played by Michelle Monaghan). The future stepfather has three boys of his own and they are quick to mostly ignore her and make her an outcast of the new found family. In her new school, after a boy bully makes fun of Lily having a heavy period, in a scene more ripped off from Carrie rather than an homage, three other girls, who are witches looking for a fourth to complete their power circle, recruit her and together they discover their coven potential. Doesn’t that sound like a remake and not a sequel to you? And for the first forty five minutes out of a one hour and 36 minute movie which includes ten minutes of credits, that’s exactly what it is, an eye rolling, frustrating remake. One in which one of the witches, played by Gideon Adlon, is annoying and over acts in every scene she is in, David Duchovny looks like he’s depressed about where his career has ended up and wants to kill himself, with only the performance of Lily, played by Cailee Spaeny, barely holding everything together from being a giant dumpster fire. Then around the 45 minute mark, after a confession from one of the step brother’s friends from school (easily the best scene in the film and powerfully acted) the movie turns into something halfway decent, while also turning into a direct sequel that expands upon the mythology of the first film…but only for twenty minutes.

That expansion of the mythology is very short lived and is followed by a terrible CGI revelation, a terrible CGI stand off fight climax where the antagonist literally just stands in one spot the entire time while fighting other people with shitty CGI mystical powers…powers we really hadn’t seen these others do previously in the movie. Combine what I just described with terrible and choppy direction and editing. Then once that is over, the movie completely forgets about a dozen other characters that the antagonist was in cahoots with and turns it into an “everything’s fine now” giant plot hole. Even if it were meant to be a dangling thread, where these other characters went wasn’t explained at all. The fight is over, so let’s take the main character and shove her into a tacked on obligatory laughable sequel scene that had to be a last minute re shoot. Sorry if this is all very vague but I don’t want to spoil the movie for those still interested to watch it. My experience during this sequel sure wasn’t helped by the fact that I re watched the original just a week before. Then again, in this day and age, it isn’t too surprising for a 1996 movie to hold up better than a new rebootquel, isn’t it? Other than those 20 minutes of mythology expansion, the fact that it didn’t end up being a shot by shot remake after the halfway mark, and main protagonist Cailee Spaeny’s acting, this movie was DOA for me. Stick to the original, as I and they say. This is another one of those premium video on demand titles that was supposed to hit theaters around this time, but due to the pandemic, the studio decided to cut its losses and just dump it onto streaming, because they didn’t have any confidence in the movie. To give writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones the benefit of the doubt, this movie certainly isn’t trying to be lazy, it just comes across that way because of the budget and the editing…maybe a director’s cut is lurking somewhere in the shadows? If not, may this film mount a broomstick and fly into the moonlight, never to be seen again.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HOLIDATE (Netflix)

HOLIDATE is only serviceable because of its R rating. If anybody were to ask you what movies would have been complete shit if not for its R rating and crude humor, you could point to Holidate without any hesitation whatsoever. I can’t imagine this film being Emma Roberts’ Valentine’s Day PG-13…or even Vanessa Hudgens’ Netflix PG rated The Princess Switch, or Vanessa Hudgens’ Netflix PG rated The Knight Before Christmas…or Vanessa Hudgens’ Netflix PG rated upcoming The Princess Switch: Switched Again. Don’t worry, Vanessa Hudgens is not in this, but Emma Roberts is, and is probably the most likable she’s ever been in a film for me…well, except for most of Scream 4…sorry, I’m just randomly stating shit. I was totally ready for my first line of this review to be “gag me with a shit covered spoon” but I’m coming out saying “eh, I’d watch it again if someone put it on.” IMDB describes Holidate with the following: “Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) hate being single on holidays where they face constant judgment from their meddling families. So, when these two strangers meet, they pledge to be each other’s “holidate” for every festive occasion in the year ahead.” Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand you can probably guess how it ends. At least the movie had the balls to make fun of itself knowing how it was going to end. Holidate is the perfect movie for adult couples during these shitty pandemic holidays, but only perfect if you watch it together, like I did with my wife. If you watch it by yourself, you may pick at the pine needles so much that they will fall off fast from your tree of enjoyment.

Despite the rom-com wholesome title, this movie is far from family friendly. There is a shit ton of language, crude humor, and the only thing missing was full on nudity. The movie works because of Emma Roberts and NOT A HEMSWORTH Luke Bracey’s chemistry in the movie. They are fantastic together, making you want to shake the hand of the casting director. The movie also felt more authentic as a gross out romantic comedy with a woman’s voice because the movie was actually written by a woman! Much more realistic than the constant crude humor and profanity coming out of the actresses mouths in the recent American Pie: Girls’ Rules, which was written by two men. The directing could’ve used some work and the budget could’ve been given more umph, as the most impressive set designs and shots consisted of the interior of a mall for a couple of scenes, but the dialogue, jokes, and acting were impressive for a movie in its genre. The movie made me laugh the hardest with the most simplistic gross out joke, which I’m just going to say the line here. To give it some context: Emma Roberts comes upon her ex near the beginning of the movie, with his new girlfriend in tow. He mentions how him and Roberts used to be lovers and the new girlfriend proceeds with saying: “How lucky are you?! Isn’t he great in bed?! He’s like The Terminator only I’m the one that keeps on coming!” I rewound just to hear the joke again and the perfect line delivery by actress Nicola Peltz. Let’s wrap this up like a Christmas present shall we? Other than a few pacing and awkward moments near the end of the movie, I enjoyed it for what it was, more so because I watched it with my wife. It’s the perfect little Holiday one hour and 43 minute getaway treat from the shitty real world. And that’s far from a lump of coal that 2020 has given us every fucking day since March.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: OVER THE MOON (Netflix)

This review is going to be a bit biased, seeing how I called into work an extra day last week and my 3 year old sat by me, snuggled, and paid attention to the entire one hour and thirty five minute run time of this movie. Totally worth it. OVER THE MOON, if you watch it, might seem a little bit generic to you, and it is unless you are familiar with Chang’e, the Chinese Goddess of the Moon and her history in their culture’s folklore. It’s another one of those “learning acceptance to change” adventures, where a young girl, who lost her mother four years earlier to what I presume was cancer, is about to be integrated into another half family. The father fell in love with another woman after his wife’s death, and this woman has her own son she is going to bring into this new family. The young girl, who’s name is Fei Fei, gets upset and doesn’t want to accept this change or get over her mother’s death, so she builds her own rocket ship and blasts off to the moon (I presume this entire movie was in Fei Fei’s head), hoping to meet this Chang’e and prove that she is real. Fei Fei also hopes that she can help Chang’e (DO YOU GET IT YET?!? CHANGE!!!) with her romantic tragedy described in her folklore and in return maybe the goddess can help Fei Fei deal with the tragedy of her mother’s death. Tit for tat, if you will. The movie is a computer-animated musical adventure family dramedy, and it is a solid, albeit, very familiar film. Maybe because it has a lot of similar beats of another film produced by the same company, Abominable (my son’s first film in a movie theater). It’s a little fishy that Over The Moon is the only second film produced by Pearl Studios, yet it borrows (and sometimes blatantly rips off) their first produced film. This film has been getting some Oscar buzz for Best Animated Movie and the reason for that is that this is the last film written by storyteller Audrey Wells (she died of cancer in 2018), who brilliantly adapted the novel The Hate U Give into one of my favorite films of 2018. The film was directed by Glen Keane, who at age 66, and former supervising animator at Disney with classics on his resume such as Pete’s Dragon, The Rescuers, Aladdin, and Beauty In The Beast, gets his first gig directing an entire feature. These reasons were probably why Netflix was over the moon to produce and distribute this film…pun intended.

But the movie is good I promise. There are several great musical numbers, more so than the mediocre Frozen 2, and the film’s animation is bright and mesmerizing…at least to young children as my son kept saying “wow” throughout his experience. Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo, who was also recently in The Broken Hearts Gallery which was a good movie but didn’t really showcase any of her vocal talents, is in this, and uses her talents gloriously. She voices Chang’e, and her opening introductory number was a memorable enough song that I’m still humming it out loud randomly almost a week later. The voice acting is great all around here, with Ken Jeong playing a pangolin (funny if you consider the multiple stories of the origin of COVID-19) who is not introduced until an hour into the film for some odd reason, but it was just enough not to have Jeong over do it and become annoying. I tagged Sandra Oh and John Cho in this article, but don’t watch this based on just those two names alone as they have less than 15 lines between the two of them. It’s really the Phillipa Soo, Cathy Ang (Fei Fei), and Robert Chiu (stepbrother Chin) show as they are present for most of the run time, and they all voice act their hearts out. Soo and Chiu have a fun, musical, rhythmic ping pong tournament competing for a McGuffin prize, there is a hilariously fun motorcycle gang of antagonist biker ‘chicks’, and the ending, while predictable as all get out, will probably make your eyes release several pent up tears of emotion. The whole problem I had with the movie was the familiarity and predictable nature of it, so if that kind of plot beat for beat shit doesn’t bother you, then you will enjoy this movie even more so than I did. Netflix, from what I can tell, at least has an eye for their original animated films even though most of their live action ones are crap. I am over the moon that the streak isn’t broken…again…pun intended.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: YES, GOD, YES

YES, GOD, YES is a very, very short feature length film, without credits it’s only an hour and 11 minutes long, and IMDB describes it with the following: “After an innocent AOL chat turns racy, a Catholic teenager in the early 00s discovers masturbating and struggles to suppress her new urges in the face of eternal damnation.” It stars Natalie Dyer, who you may know more as Nancy on Stranger Things, Alisha Boe, who you may know more as Jessica on 13 Reasons Why, and Timothy Simons, who you may know more as Jonah Ryan on the political and fictional HBO TV series Veep. You’ve probably already guessed the message behind the movie, which is religions may take sexual awakenings a little too seriously and the more you try and suppress these feelings the more negative repercussions they may have later in life. These religions rules on sex also makes a shit ton of hypocrites. It’s a simple tale that isn’t particularly memorable, no more than a one time watch, has solid performances, especially from Ms. Dyer, says what it needs to say in two climax (pun intended…sort of) scenes, and then it just ends. Oh…right before it ends it has this great Titanic car sex scene joke, but it’s more of an inside one, as the main character reminds me of a friend that is obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio, so you might not find the scene as funny as I did. I’m at a loss for words as the movie wasn’t that long, I am not religious at all (I’m an Athiest) and I do believe that some religious sects put too much emphasis on sex being bad.

Yes, God, Yes combines perspectives on institutional hypocrisy and personal maturing, and does a fair job, although the film could’ve been a bit longer to hammer some of those points home. Far from a preachy or even aggressive attack on those it discredits, it’s a movie that’s heartfelt and tempered in its approach. The two scenes I talked about previously involved Dyer’s character escaping from this weekend church retreat she’s on, going to a bar and meeting a much older woman that was in a similar situation of hers years ago, and then a final “what did I learn on this retreat” speech that was subtle enough not to cause a ridiculous over the top comedic scene that a bunch of other straight laced comedies would’ve been lazy and just went for. The film is written and directed by Karen Maine from her 2017 short film of the same name. I never saw the short film, but I’m guessing that it probably didn’t need to be made into a feature length one, and it was probably just get distributed to a wider audience. The movie does set the mood and tone of the 2000’s perfectly, right down to the old Nokia cell phones where the only thing you could really do on them other than call people is to play the Snake game. It’s a fast watch, but I think this movie is geared more toward those kinds of individuals that dealt with something similar. For me it was only okay, I barely went to church growing up, and now when someone brings up going to an establishment, I speak of my believes, firmly planting my foot on the ground and say: No, God, No.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ON THE ROCKS (Apple TV+)

ON THE ROCKS is writer/director Sofia Coppola’s only second movie that I’ve liked and enjoyed, the rest of her filmography, I either haven’t seen, like The Virgin Suicides, or outright loathe, such as the remake of The Beguiled, Somewhere, Marie Antoinette, The Bling Ring, and A Very Murray Christmas. I think Lost In Translation is her true masterpiece that will never be beaten for me, although On The Rocks is still a very decent film with Bill Murray’s best performance since that 2003 gem. The reason why On The Rocks is the only other one of Sofia’s movies that I’ve enjoyed is probably because it is its most mainstream and relatable, her other films being too abstract, boring pieces of artsy fartsy garbage that were made just for the sake of being artsy fartsy and not having any true underlying meanings. IMDB describes this film with the following: “A young mother named Laura, reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father, named Felix, on an adventure through New York.” That adventure is following her husband, played nice and straight laced for once by overrated comedian Marlon Wayans, because both her and her father think he is cheating on her. During this journey they talk about how Laura used to be fun and not so insecure, how Felix is too secure, why the relationship and marriage with Laura’s mother failed, and how there is still very much love within the family. The movie is very predictable, including the conclusion of whether said husband is cheating on Laura or not, but the chemistry and charm of Jones and Murray is what got me through a quick ninety six minute runtime. Especially the genius of Bill Murray.

Murray will definitely get a nomination, or at least get close to one, for best supporting actor here. He is still Bill Murray, with his improv, dry wit humor, but he does play an actual character here: a concerned and loving father that is too secure with himself leading to his own social issues with women. I wouldn’t be too surprised if most of this movie isn’t scripted, because Murray’s performance always makes it feels like it IS scripted. Trust me, I know that that sentence contradicts itself but that sentence makes more sense than you know if you know Murray’s filmography. He is just really good with words and knows what to say on the fly. Plus his facial expressions are first rate. He made the first Ghostbusters movie what it was. He is and he isn’t playing himself here, and if you give the film a chance you will know exactly what I mean. He’s THAT much in top form here. Even though this movie is ‘The Bill Murray Show’, Rahsida Jones also gives the best performance of her career. So does Marlon Wayans believe it or not, I wish that he would quite writing, directing, and starring in bullshit that makes him look like a attention craving and starving assholes, like A Haunted House or Netflix’s Sextuplets. He’s better than that, and this movie proves it. Combine these performances with some of the best Sofia Coppola dialogue since Lost In Translation and you got yourself a good movie here, although it won’t be nominated for much else Award Season wise beyond Murray and it won’t be on my top twenty films of 2020 list. But I’d watch it again soon, along with Lost In Translation, just to hold me over until next summer where Bill Murray finally returns to the franchise (canon wise, that cameo in the 2016 piece of garbage doesn’t count) that permanently stuck him to the map that Saturday Night Live put him on. Sofia Coppola’s career isn’t so rocky for me anymore, hope she keeps it up from here.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BAD HAIR (Hulu)

You can not tell me that the premise for Hulu’s new original movie, BAD HAIR, doesn’t sound interesting: “In 1989 an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career may come at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own.” The movie is about a hair weave that kills people. Plain and simple. Brilliant. I have never seen a movie like that before. It pains me to say though that even though the script and the tone gets the late 80s right, with plenty of fantastic social commentary on the African-American woman and how her hair looks/how she looked in general at the time, the execution of the horror aspects are absolutely abysmal. Especially the editing and the CGI of the hair weave killing people. A. BYS. MAL. I think writer, director, producer, Justin Simien, was just completely out of his element here, directing wise. He’s known for the semi-satire movie and Netflix series, Dear White People, which those are little great features on their own, but he is in no way a horror director. Simply put, what needed to happen was that he needed his script polished by someone in the horror industry and the film needed to be directed by someone well versed in the horror industry. This could’ve been something really really special, but the hammy horror scenes, which aren’t meant to be hammy, I can 100% confirm that, are just plain awful. I would’ve understood and have been more into it if this had been a complete satire or commentary on African-American hair, but the horror aspects in this are completely meant to be taken seriously, they are just directed like a film student who doesn’t have a budget. The Chris Rock narrated documentary Good Hair was more of a horror film than this was.

This movie has some pretty recognizable faces in it: Usher, Jay Pharoah, Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe, James Van Der Beek, with Unsecured Elle Lorriane providing a strong lead performane as Anna, the young women who is trying to make it in the music television industry. They all give good performance, in fact, I would say that I really enjoyed the tone of the first half of the movie. It’s a very solid social and appearance commentary. But once the horror film takes over, it’s all down hill, and it’s all down hill fast. What are meant to be earned and creepy jump scares are shot and edited to shit, with embarrassing CGI that takes the realism out of everything. The mythology of why this particular hair weave kills people is interesting, but instead of there being an entire scene where the mythology is brought to light, in this case from a Folklore Story Book, that scene is chopped up and spread out, where the story being interrupted 2 to 3 times is a huge disadvantage for some viewers as they could’ve forgotten the information given to them 20 minutes ago. Considering what happens during the course of the movie, the ending is rushed and doesn’t make a lick of sense. I liked that it was visual story ending, a not telling but showing ending, with some obligatory sequel set ups, but a little explanation was required why certain people ended up getting away with certain things and weren’t caught and arrested. Hopefully you get my drift without me completely spoiling it. Bad Hair is half a good movie, but half a mostly bad one…ultimately disappointing with how much potential it squandered because of a likely budget, editing and directing issue. This tale was not woven together very carefully.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM (Amazon Prime)

Do not let anyone spoil any of the pranks that Sacha Baron Cohen pulls on people (mainly Republicans) in BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM, the new follow up to the 2006 comedy classic. The title is much longer than that, and goes through several hilarious changes throughout the sequel, but this is what Amazon Prime is calling the movie in order to market and promote it successfully. I also know that the Rudy Giuliani bit was spoiled for a lot of us a couple of days ago, but I assure you, that wasn’t even close to the funniest or shocking thing to happen in this movie. BORAT 2, for 96 minutes, made me forget what year it was. I also assure you that I will not spoil any of the pranks or the ending to the actual narrative thread this movie surprisingly has. I’m just going to let you know, in some obscure details, whether I:

A. Laughed my ass off

B. Laughed my fucking ass off

C. Laughed my motherfucking ass off

or

D. All of the motherfucking above.

This is a simple test. If you don’t correctly answer, you are as dumb as some of the people that pranks are pulled on in this movie.

IMDB describes Borat Subsequent Movie film perfectly: “A follow-up film to the 2006 comedy centering on the real-life adventures of a fictional Kazakh television journalist named Borat.” However, while the first one was mainly just a bunch of skits tied together with an “okay I guess” Borat wanting to bed and marry Pamela Anderson plot thread, the narrative here is so much more satisfying. Turns out Borat has a daughter, who he reluctantly takes along with him on his journey in America in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections. Borat’s mission? To deliver a famous smart Kazakstan monkey to Republican Vice President Mike Pence. If he has ‘GREAT SUCCESS’ in his mission, than his country will no longer see him as a disgrace for making their nation look embarrassing back in 2006. While the pranks on unsuspecting real life people is the main draw to watch most of Cohen’s films, the whole father/daughter heart of this movies’ plot was actually really satisfying here, and was an improvement over the unfocused, but still funny as fuck way the first movie was tied together. Funny wise, I say that both films are on par with each other, and make a great double feature…but a fantastic triple feature if paired with Bruno, still my favorite film of Cohen’s. Why is Bruno still my favorite? Because there is no way that 2009 film could be made today with how overly sensitive and pussified this nation has become. No way. And that’s why it still makes me laugh, no matter if its the 10th or 20th time I’ve seen it, because it’s offensive as hell. These Borat films won’t make me laugh as hard the 10th or 20th times I watch them, but they will at least get many a chuckle and one big guffaw.

Look, my review isn’t going to sway you one way or the other whether you are going to watch this film or not. You can’t be on the fence, because there is no fence. You’ve already decided. You are either going to watch it and laugh your ass off, or you aren’t going to watch it and be a pussy, then bitch and moan in a deep dark corner of your pathetic soul while the rest of us laughingly discuss it. Even though this movie is really one sided politically, a lot of die hard Republicans are not going to like it and possibly be offended, I still think that even if you are a conservative, and have a sense of humor in most things, that you’ll be able to get through it with ease. Yes, Jeremy, that was aimed at you. The young woman who plays Borat’s daughter in this, the actresses’ name is Maria Bakalova, is excellent in this and almost steals scenes out from under him. She was so funny and a delight to watch. I also liked that the way the movie handles the obvious elephant in the room: how do you prank unsuspecting people when Borat has become a famous household name? Simple, as Borat, Cohen dresses up in a disguise that already is already a disguise itself! What was also really amusing was that, from some of the stuff that happens in this movie (and calendars on the walls), that the movie was planned and was filming BEFORE the pandemic hit back in January. The COVID-19 massive spread mid filming just seemed to be a lucky happenstance for Cohen and company to get more out of the premise and story. It makes you wonder what other things would’ve been in it if COVID-19 and the pandemic had never come to pass. ESPECIALLY THE ENDING. Maybe Sacha could shed some light on it in future interviews or maybe even do a commentary for the film and add it to Amazon Prime later. Who knows? In the meantime, the answer to my multiple choice test question was D. as Borat 2 was…VERY NICE! But can we not wait so long next time for a third Borat…or (crossing fingers) a 2nd Bruno? Jak si mas!

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE WITCHES (2020 remake, HBO MAX)

I know the exact moment I uttered “Stick to the original” while watching the new Roald Dahl’s The Witches remake. It was about 30 minutes in when Anne Hathaway opened her mouth to speak for the first time and she was too over-the-top and sounded like Russian Borat. I know the exact moment I moaned “oh…no…” twice, once when it showed how jarringly awful the CGI animals and rodents looked and then when the witches reveal themselves for the first time in their overabundance of CGI glory and none of the practical effects from the 1990 classic. But…at least it wasn’t as offensive to me as watching the Rebecca remake that debuted on Netflix yesterday, certainly making everybody involved in that 1940 classic rolling over in their graves, Hitchcock probably a dozen times on repeat. Still, there are plenty of eye rolls to be had in this forgettable adaptation. This remake was originally supposed to come out this holiday season in theaters before being delayed to April 2021, but then HBO Max just last month, since they really don’t have that many original movies or new content in general, surprised announced that they were dumping it onto their streaming platform today so families could enjoy something in the comfort of their own homes. But again, why are we even remaking a film that is considered a classic by many in the first place? This film is completely unnecessary. And why did they get Robert Zemeckis to direct it? He adds literally none of his stylistic visual flare to this movie (it’s so standard point and shoot anyone could’ve directed it), and instead puts together a film that feels like it is just Tim Burton doing the same monotonous remake/adaptation crap on autopilot. Unfortunately this movie just proves my theory…that everything that was supposed to be released in theaters during the pandemic, if put on a streaming service for no extra charge (or an overcharge in the case of Mulan), is a giant waste of space and the studio didn’t have any confidence in the movie in the first place. I want to coin a two or three word phrase that explains exactly what I just said without having to spell it out in a run-on sentence everytime…maybe P.M.F? Pandemic Movie Formula.

Instead of candy that Hathaway and her coven offer to children in this movie, you’ll instead be craving three things by the end credits: 1. Angelica Huston 2. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Special Effects 3. The witches claws coming through your television screen, gouging your eyes out so you don’t have to ever endure watching this again. Almost forgot to give IMDB’s description of the film in case those of you living in your dumb pandemic bubbles have never heard of any iterations of this story: “Based on Roald Dahl’s 1983 classic book ‘The Witches’, the story tells the scary, funny and imaginative tale set in 1960s Alabama, an orphaned young boy stumbles across a conference of witches, while staying with his grandmother at a hotel, and gets transformed into a mouse by the Grand High Witch.” The descriptive words scary, funny, and imaginative I would use to describe the original novel (which I’ve read) and the 1990 film (which I’ve seen), but not this film. The three words I would use to describe are unimaginative, unnecessary, and uninspired. This is just another almost shot by shot remake with a couple of added things here and there to make it a small piece of cheese crumb worth of a difference. Roald Dahl has famously said that he doesn’t like the 1990 version of the film because they completely botch his darker and more bittersweet book ending (which they did, I’m not going to lie). One of the differences here is yet again the ending, but I don’t think Roald Dahl would be pleased with this one either. In fact, he’d probably would think it’s worse than 30 years ago. After watching the movie I’ve read a couple of the reviews of major well known critics and they keep repeating one after the other that this movie is too dark and scary for children. Pfffft, this wasn’t even close. The novel and 1990 film easily tell this film to hold their beers. This was laughably silly, and not in a fun or charming way either.

Another one of the differences from this adaptation to the rest is a race switch of the young boy and his grandmother (white to black), which explains why Black-ish creator Kenya Barris has a screenplay credit. But if you are going to do that, which I didn’t mind (in fact it’s the only part of this remake that works, I enjoyed the young actor and Octavia Spencer’s performances), why not have also something to say with it…even subtly, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT TAKES PLACE IN 1960s ALABAMA!!! But there are absolutely no racial identity messages in this and the movie has absolutely nothing to say about racism and how bad it is. This is where the movie could’ve stood out from the rest of the pack! If you are going to do a remake to something and hire someone like Kenya Barris to co-write the damn screenplay…YOU. MAKE. IT. DIFFERENT. ENOUGH. TO. REMEMBER. I’m not saying to bonk the audience on the head with “DO YOU GET IT?!” racial morals every five seconds, but I mean you got the creator of Black-ish to do a draft, where he created and once was the show runner to a television comedy, that in its prime, was filled with racial wit and subtlety (I’ve only seen a couple of early episodes). But no, it seems like he just re-wrote some of the dialogue and that’s about it. And how the fuck did Guillermo Del Toro get a screenplay credit in this? I’m betting he was simply attached to direct at some point, stepped down, and was just given a credit for his two second involvement before the production started filming. The third and last screenplay credit goes to director Robert Zemeckis himself, and based on his dull directing here, probably took the dull way out screenplay wise as well and just had a copy of the book and of the first adaptation’s screenplay and copied it almost word for word.

I hate to repeat another conclusive paragraph with another “I told you so” statement, but yet, my reviews wouldn’t be zany if I didn’t. Remakes, especially of classics or other beloved films, DO…NOT…WORK. Not only do they not work, they are unnecessary and the studios’ obvious cash grab intentions are exposed in direct sunlight. They already don’t look good right now, keep on keepin’ on delaying major theatrical releases, saying that their true intentions are to release them when they are “safe,” when we all fucking know that it’s because they are greedy and selfish. (**RANT WARNING** Someone needs to get it into their heads that if they keep delaying the releases, that there won’t be any theaters left to play their movies on when the dust settles. WE HAVE GOT TO START LIVING OUR LIVES, ALBEIT SAFELY. We can do it. It’s called compromise. At some point some movie, a more established franchise or series, MUST BE THE GUINEA PIG to see how they can get butts back in seats. It couldn’t be Tenet, an original film that makes modern movie audiences scratch their heads because they are too fucking on the spectrum to follow along. It’s gotta be something simple and easy going such as Wonder Woman or James Bond or Black Widow or Ghostbusters 3. ADAPT OR DIE movie studios, ADAPT OR DIE. **END OF RANT**) Instead these studios, letting some of their flicks go direct to streaming, avoiding theaters and thinking that they are doing us all a favor watching it at home…what they are really doing is just slapping us in the face even harder because their movies are mediocre or abysmal. But to try and bewitch us and “surprise” release forgettable, inferior REMAKES of all things, is more of a sledgehammer to the face than it is a hard slap.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: REBECCA (2020 remake, Netflix)

If you ever see me review a new film which is a remake from an established classic or even a decent enough original film, 99.999999999% of the time you might as well skip my review and just heed these words: “Stick to the original.” And with the new REBECCA movie, that just debuted today on Netflix, that is a remake of the 1940 Alfred Hithcock classic (which happened to win Best Picture that year), to which I have indeed seen, no surprise here but I’m also going to just say “Stick to the original.” And to just get my next review out of the way, tomorrow’s remake of The Witches on HBO Max, I’m betting I will be saying “Stick to the original” a third time, so why even read my reviews? I guess if you want to know in depth details of why the remake doesn’t even hold a candle to Hitchcock’s, then keep reading, as that is what I will mostly be doing in what is hopefully a short review. IMDB describes the Ben Wheatley, 2020 Rebecca with the following: “A young newlywed arrives at her husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy lives on in the house long after her death.” What confuses me is that in interviews with movie sites that I frequently visit, director Ben Wheatley has said that this is not a remake or retelling of Hitchcock’s Rebecca and that it is a different story that will stand out on its own. Ummmm…I hate to use any words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth but my viewing of this film warrants it…that’s fake news. This movie is almost a shot by shot remake, even having close to the same runtime as Hitchcock’s (two hours and 10 minutes.) Why you would go around touting in interviews that your film isn’t a remake of another movie with the same story and title, when surely you know that once critics watch it they are going to be calling you a liar? That is indeed a head scratcher. I’m guessing Netflix maybe put him up to it?

This film looks beautiful to be sure and is very well acted by everyone in it, but the mystery that is supposed to be the foundation of Rebecca is hardly there, and when it does come to light, the viewer will not care, as emphasis on what exactly is going on seems to be downplayed so that you only notice just how much money was spent on it’s glorious production design. When the movie ends the next image you will have in your mind is Hitchcock rolling over in his fucking grave. There isn’t an urgency to anything in this movie, wait, that’s not true, Lily James meets and gets married to Armie Hammer all in the span of ten minutes after he plays one game of “hiding his rich white penis in her poor white vagina” on the beach. Who cares about the mystery when you don’t even care that these two characters are together? The original 1940 Hitchcock film is one of the most romantic movies of all time. You completely buy the fact that Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine love each other. Every second of every minute here I believed Hammer was just after banging her and was simply keeping her as a sex trophy wife. The romance is where the film should’ve taken its time but instead, after the rushed meet and greet, the time is taken where it doesn’t need to be, in her wide eyed, amazed look at how rich he is and how her life is going to be so much better while being naive at the fact that the main family caretaker, played by Kirsten Scott Thomas, doesn’t care at all for her. It also spends so much time with Hammer being a complete asshole, we are left in bewilderment why the new missus doesn’t just pack up and leave the bullshit behind her.

The solution to the mystery and what exactly is going on? A little bit different but still ended up going back around to the same path to get to the same resolution as the original. And also in the end, both sides of the audience, those that have and have not seen the Hitchcock film, don’t care, because the rest of the movie didn’t care about its characters or any realism in the romance. It was too busy trying to nab award nominations in costumes, cinematography, and production design. Which begs the question? Why remake Rebecca? Unless you are going to update it to modern times with modern characters and call the film something generic as Becky and try to do what 10 Things I Hate About You did with Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew…Why. Remake. A. Classic. Movie. That. Won. An. Oscar. For. Best. Picture? Shouldn’t we be remaking films that sucked in the first place? Kind of like what You’ve Got Mail did with The Shop Around The Corner, or John Carptenter’s The Thing did with The Thing From Another World and the short story Who Goes There? Why are we remaking films that are already beloved by so many? It doesn’t even make sense, as the 1940 film STILL FUCKING HOLDS UP!!! Alfred Hitchcock paid attention to EVERYTHING in that movie. There is emphasis on the romance, there is emphasis on the mystery of Rebecca, there is emphasis on the tension where it needed to be. We cared about the characters and we cared what their ultimate fates were. I don’t want to watch a film where it’s trying to persuade me to take off my pants and start jerking off because of how great it looks. Go call Michael Bay, because I can’t be persuaded by that shit. Everything has to work in a movie, or at least almost everything, or nothing works. Nothing usually works when you try and re make a classic film…just ask (insert remake here).

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (Netflix)

Two words. One noun. Aaron. Sorkin. Along with Quentin Tarantino, I consider him one of the masters of dialogue. His dialogue alone makes THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, which was supposed to debut in theaters before coronavirus, but then Paramount sold it to Netflix because the filmmakers wanted it released before the election, the #2 film of 2020 for me, right behind Tenet. The dialogue in this, combined with the incredible cast that make the line deliveries seem effortless, is nothing sort of spectacular. When you also combine it with an inspirational but devastating story that is reminiscent to not only our current racial tensions in the world but also the political bullshit we are dealing with in our current major election, this film is masterful. To me, this is what pure, ingenious filmmaking is all about. Movies like this and Tenet are the reason why people like myself go to the theaters. And because of this asinine virus, I had to watch it at home, but the fact that I did not pick up my phone or get distracted once during the two hour and nine minute run time, says more than you will ever know. This is also required viewing. If you watch and do not like this movie, just stop watching movies and go back to your fucking on the spectrum sports that keeps on disappointing you week in and week out. And even though this is Aaron Sorkin’s only second time directing, he directs as if he was Spielberg, having already been doing it for years. Oh, and someone please give Bruno and Borat a Oscar nomination this awards season.

IMDB describes The Trial Of The Chicago 7 with the following, “The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.” To add more emphasis to that log line, prosecutors were trying to make an example of individuals and groups trying to rightfully and peacefully protest the Vietnam War by grouping them together in a conspiracy like domestic terrorism charge. It was bullshit. The things that the justice system tries to get away with during this event is going to make you fucking angry, I guarantee it, and again, if what happens doesn’t make you angry, you are probably a fucking Trump supporter. The incompetence of the judge, here played perfectly by veteran Frank Langella, and what he does to Black Panther Bobby Seale, played expertly by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, will make your jaw drop, face red for days after you’ve finished the movie. If you don’t know anything about the trial of the Chicago 7, I encourage you to not do any real research on it until AFTER you have watched this movie. You would think a film like this could get messy with the details, but Sorkin’s dialogue yet again gives the audience a master class in understanding what is going on, not getting confused in the slightest, while still entertaining you with witty words than just boringly stating the facts. Most of the movie takes place inside the court room, but the runtime still goes by in a flash, and in fact I could’ve watched an hour or two more of it.

There are a lot of well known A-list actors in this movie, so I’m not going to go one by one and rate their performances. I mentioned two highlights above, and others such as Eddie Redmayne, Michael Keaton, Mark Rylance, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt give solid performances, but the two that steal the movie completely out from everyone are Borat/Bruno’s Sasha Baron Cohen, and Succession’s Jeremy Strong, as two hippie leaders of students in the college system that want the Vietnam War to end. I could see either of these two guys getting an Oscar nomination in either lead or supporting for this film, more likely Cohen than Strong though. Cohen completely sheds his usual goofy character persona here to give his real life interpretation of Abbie Hoffman some bluster yet fragility that I never believed the actor could pull off until now. His performance is an amazing achievement and deserves to get him a serious career boost and not be overshadowed to his return to Borat next week in the Amazon Prime exclusive sequel. His relationship and rapport with Jeremy Strong’s Jerry Rubin is the best part of this film, one that will surely leave an impression on you once the movie is over, especially when you find out their ultimate fates in a title card sequence right before the end credits. There’s nothing more to say about this movie than has already been said in countless glowingly positive reviews from other more professional critics than I, leaving this film somewhere in the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes. This film will receive a whole bunch of nominations come Oscar award season (if that even happens because of this stupid fucking climate we are living in) and I will be rooting for it to win Best Picture, since a lot of dumbasses didn’t take to Tenet because it debuted in theaters at an “inappropriate time.” Fuck you who think that. Just go watch this movie. It’s an automatic ‘if you put money into a Vegas slot machine you get all 7’s the first time’ winner.