Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: UNICORN STORE (Netflix)

Let’s set the record straight here. For those of you that think Brie Larson got this Netflix deal to direct and star in this movie, UNICORN STORE, because of Captain Marvel, you are sorely mistaken. She was offered this after she won her Oscar several years ago for Room, and it actually had its premiere at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) back in 2017. So it’s been in the can for awhile…and you know how Netflix will pick up stuff even if its the last player on a team to be picked. Unicorn Store relies on its colorful whimsical premise and off beat humor. It relies a lot of suspension of belief and performances to get you through the short 90 minute run time. And I guess the end result is…okay?

I honestly don’t know what to think of this film. I haven’t even really let it sink in due to the fact that I just finished it 20 minutes ago on my phone on my lunch at work. It was a watchable film. It had a plot, it had characters, and it had an overlaying arc. But did it have purpose? I guess you could say its sole purpose was to be another one of those films with the “hit you over the head” message: It’s never too late to discover yourself and you can discover yourself by failing at things as much as you can achieving them. How many movies have had this message? I’d be dead by the time I finished if I started doing research and starting to count. If you need to know the premise, it’s about a woman that has an early life crisis after being kicked out of art school…I guess for being too experimental and zany? Anyway, she finds a temp job really quickly at this PR firm where it doubles as an ad agency…I guess? Why am I asking these questions? When watching this film I guarantee you are going to be constantly asking yourself…”wait, what?” She then gets a card on the stoop of her house (but she misses seeing it) and then she gets a card at her work telling her to come to some store, the store that has everything she needs. It is run by a whimsical and weird Samuel L. Jackson (hence why I think this was film around the exact same time as Marvel). He has a minor afro and colorful strings and glitter in his hair and he offers her what she has wanted her whole life. A unicorn. There are stipulations to get this unicorn, aka build it a stable, be financial stable, etc. And she wants this unicorn, and goes to make her life right to be able to own one…maybe?

Basically its like a weird Garden State vibe kind of whimsical weirdly-toned dramedy. Brie Larson’s character, Kit, hires a guy to build this unicorn stable and they eventually bond, and that’s the best part of the movie, were their scenes together. The man is played by Mamoudou Athie, who was a stand out in the movie Patti Cakes. The only part of Unicorn Store I believed in was their budding friendship and romance. Unfortunately the movie was too short to show more of that, as all of its focus was Kit discovering herself and whether or not she would get a unicorn and whether or not her ad for a vacuum would be picked up by a really creepy #Metoo type weirdo boss. I’ll give it one other thing: Brie Larson is a better actor in this than she was in Captain Marvel. And honestly, that is probably because the character of Captain Marvel was written a little wooden and directed by two people way in over their head that hadn’t directed a big feature before.

Brie Larson directed this. And for the most part it is good. She knows how to direct people. She knows how to direct herself. She knows how to frame a scene (the standout being her pitch to the vacuum ad), the only thing I didn’t like is that some parts of the film had an unnecessary shaky cam like presence that had no point. Thankfully it didn’t do that the whole time. She moves back in with her parents at the beginning of the film, played in small roles by Bradley Whitford and Joan Cusack, but their characters are ones we’ve seen too many times before. Weirdos, with weirdo jobs (they go on hikes with damaged teens/young adults with truth circles), and they invade her space but eventually show that they are actually sane and know a thing or two about life.

I just…like I said, I don’t know what to think of this film. Would I ever watch it again? Probably not. Would I recommend it? Only maybe to people that have a high tolerance for weird ass tales in kin with movies like Garden State (a much better film). Did I feel like I wasted my time? No, I mean, I like Brie Larson as an actress a lot (although she has been foot in mouth recently with her interviews and press tour for Captain Marvel), and I really think if she was given a chance to direct more and better projects she could be a pretty decent director overall. The ultimate problem is: who is this movie really for? Who is it marketed toward? What is this movies audience? The answer is: I have no fucking idea. Maybe that is the reason why Netflix picked it up?

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PET SEMATARY (2019)

Sometimes no adaptation at all is better. Sometimes no remakes are better. Sometimes books are better. Well, actually, on that last one, it is most of the time isn’t it? I’m going to warn you now. I have read Pet Sematary, the novel, twice. I have seen the original 1989 movie and the 90s sequel with young John Connor. I’m going to make reference to the giant change that the marketing people decided to spoil in the trailers (they really shouldn’t have) and spoil some things the book has that the movie doesn’t. I WILL NOT SPOIL the absolutely brand new ending that isn’t in any of the previous adaptations. So if you want to go into this blind, don’t watch any of the trailers (the first teaser one should’ve been the only one released). Also, if you want to go into this really blind and maybe enjoy yourself, don’t watch the other two movies or read the book either. And certainly, don’t read this review. However, if any of you ever actually listen and agree with most of my reviews and are going to read my critique anyway, let me give you some advice. Just read the book. The book is a masterpiece on sorrow, grief, tragedy, with elements of the supernatural sprinkled about in it. It’s essentially a drama. It just happens to have horror and supernatural shit in it (kind of like Indiana Jones is mainly adventure film with some relgious and sci-fi undertones). It is one of Stephen King’s best books. This new movie, is a cookie cutter fast food cheap jump scare bullshit hollow entity that doesn’t have any of the substance or subtext the book or hell, even the original movie had, and is the first big disappointment of 2019 and one of the year’s worst films.

I guess if you are a dumb younger millennial and enjoy the stupid ookie-spooky “what’s that sound?” kind of shit, where they just put in a giant, loud, obnoxious music cue to incite you to jump in your chair a quarter of an inch…well, then this movie is right up your alley! I hope not, I hope you are smarter than that. I hope that when a movie adapts something beloved to you that, when you watch said movie, you make sure to look for and find all the instances that made the book great. And I’m not talking about every single little freaking piece of dialogue, or even all the scenes, just what is necessary to take the message, subtext, substance, themes, etc. etc. and translate it to the screen well. And I’ll admit it first, yes, I was about to boycott this movie because the 2nd and final trailer reveal that a certain characters demise in this is actually switched with another character, and I personally felt that would take out all the grief and sorrow themes the book handled so damn well. Well…that twist…is the least of the movie’s fucking problems.

And the switcheroo have ultimately been a problem if it had been done well. The movie is only 100 minutes (including credits) and there just wasn’t enough time to establish or set up characters and relationships, and when the tragedy strikes, there are no payoffs filled with grief, sorrow, or tragedy. I have said it time and again: set ups must have payoffs. If the set ups aren’t done correctly, your payoffs aren’t going to work either. The movie rush, rush, rushes everything just to get to that next cheap jump scare to make dumb people that fall for that crap feel like they spent their box office dollars well. It doesn’t work on someone like me that has grown up from that cheap horror crap and wants a frightening film with fucking God damn themes and subtext, like Hereditary or Us. I didn’t care about the characters here. I didn’t feel the love between the father and his son and daughter, the mothers relationship with her children is barely there if even at all, the Jud and Louis relationship that is done so well in the novel, isn’t even there. So when characters get hurt or die, I just didn’t care. I didn’t get choked up. Movies that do tragedy and grief well make you think about your own loved ones while you are watching the movie, and if the movie invests your time for you get to know the characters, you should care if they bite the dust.

I didn’t here at all. In fact, the main accident/tragedy in the book is done like a dumb Fast and Furious bait and switch action scene. It might’ve been more effective if I didn’t already know about the different fate of two of the characters. If the marketing team had just left it at that one teaser trailer…maybe the incident would’ve shocked me to my core, had my jaw drop, and intrigued me to want to watch further on why they had made that switch. But I already knew about it, and so the accident ended up looking like a CGI Vin Diesel crap fest. Even then, while I might’ve been shocked, the rest of the movie, before and after that incident, didn’t establish anything well enough for me to care about what happened. There are a BUNCH of things from the book that are missing from this movie that would’ve helped the movie become something more than just a cheap jump scare shit fest. For my Pet Sematary fans out there that have read the novel , here is what is missing I consider pivotal: Jud’s wife, more of Jud and Louis’s budding friendship, the backstory of the Indian Burial Ground, the relationship between Louis Creed and his in-laws (hell, you can even consider the relationship between him and his wife barely even there here), and the very pivotal funeral confrontation scene.

Oh…and the cat, Church, is completely mishandled here. In the book, he comes back different and weird, and he kills birds and squirrels and shit and brings them in, but he doesn’t attack humans and doesn’t feel like a huge threat. That’s why Jud recommends burying the cat there in the first place, because he know it won’t do any harm. The cat just feels off but won’t kill you. In the movie, he’s scratching and biting and just vicious and mean from the get go. They even make it look like Church plans to kill Gage at one point. Didn’t make much sense that Jud would recommend bringing it back to life considering that later in the movie he fucking admits that when he brought his dog back it was as mean as ever and they put it down soon after (in the book he reveals his dog ultimately died again at a much older age). Also, putting random creepy kids wearing creepy masks with an awkward unusual procession of a dead dog, doesn’t automatically make your movie creepy. It makes it awkward and makes you look like you are throwing in creepy for creepy-sakes. Make you look like bad filmmakers. The only thing I can truly give praise to is the acting. Especially John Lithgow as Jud. All the casting was quite good, they just didn’t have a decent screenplay or direction to bring it all together.

And the movies ending. Let’s talk about it as much as a can without spoiling a God damn thing. The book’s ending is pretty much perfect, in my opinion. Doesn’t wrap up everything in a nice neat bow, but is chilling, sad, and haunting. Makes you wonder what happens next. In fact, shit doesn’t really go down until the last 30 – 40 pages of the novel. All of that is gone here. Not even a trace. They trade it in for a horror action type scene that is just insulting to Stephen King and the fans of his novel. The last little thing before it cuts to black is extremely stupid as well. I can’t believe Stephen King is endorsing this film. If I was him, I’d hate it even more than he does with Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation to The Shining. And I know that Stephen King thinks his books is depressing and that the only reason why it was published was to get out of a dumb contract that a book company had him in. But over the years, it has become one of his most timely novels, depressing, but with a haunting message, and the best words and prose I’ve ever seen dealing with grief. This screenplay was written by one asshole, and directed by two assholes just trying to trick people into giving them their money. And I fell for it.

But please, please, please don’t you fall for it. If you really want to watch a film adaptation of Pet Sematary, just watch the 1989 version. Even though it really isn’t the best, it doesn’t hold a candle to how awful this film is. If you really want to do right by the story, just read the book. I know, who reads anymore these days right? But it is a fantastic read that I can’t recommend enough. This movie is dull. This movie is cheap. This movie doesn’t try to make you think. It tries to steal your money and your time. If you like your horror movies like you like McDonald’s or Taco Bell; buried in some greasy, ugly, unhealthy shit that you might enjoy after that 2 am buzz but will regret it with your anus in the morning, then this movie is for you. If you love the book, or hell, if you love the 1989 film, a fan of Stephen King novels in general, or if you like horror movies like you would love eating at an expensive, fancy, and delicious steak house, feeling alive again with all the trimmings, look else where. This movie was DOA and needs to be buried and never brought back to life again. I wish it could be erased from existence. Sometimes Thanos’ Snap Is Better.

Zach’s Zany TV BINGE Reviews: The Twilight Zone (2019) The Comedian & Nightmare at 30,000 Feet

Since I am seeing less movies and want to keep writing up reviews, I think I am going to start writing up two episodes at a time for the new reiteration of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Why? Because I remember watching episodes sometimes when they had marathons on sci-fi with my dad. And if I remember something like that fondly it must’ve been an important part of a great childhood I had. Anyway, so I’m signed up for CBS Access for two months and will review two episodes at a time. So 5 reviews since there are only ten episodes this first season.

Now to review Jordan Peele’s narration separately real quick. He’s the real deal. The best since Rod Serling. But if you take that into account I guess there wasn’t much competition when it came to Twilight Zone’s hosts. Serling was the only one in the original series. There was only narration in the first revival, and then Forest Whitaker in front of a shitty green screen in the second revival. Peele here does it kind of like Serling, mostly on set or in a different shot as part of the set. His diction and prose is too perfection, and whenever he welcomes us to The Twilight Zone, opening and closing, I get goosebumps. Whoever gave it a bad review saying there isn’t enough Peele can go fuck himself. Peele has projects up his sleeve and they are lucky to even be getting these small snippets of him introducing these fascinating twisty stories.

The Comedian (Episode 1)

If The Comedian is my least favorite episode of the entire 10 episode run, then call this revival an absolute success. While I probably would’ve gone with Nightmare for the first episode and The Comedian be a little bit of a sophomore slump then a gradual rise, I think they went with this to ease the audience into it more. The Comedian stars The Big Sick and Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani as a comedian that doesn’t get a lot of laughs because he tries to get political with his jokes. None of them come from the heart. After his set one night he runs into J.C. Wheeler, played by Tracy Morgan, who gets some advice (makes a deal with) that he needs to get more personal with his act, or he’ll never be successful. So Nanjiani does this, but what he doesn’t realize is, that whoever he puts in his act, disappears from existence.

This episode is a little bit of a slow burn and maybe a tad bit too long. But there is a lot to like. The cinematography, tone, and mood set within the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The music is wonderful as well. This is probably the best acting I’ve seen from Kumail Nanjiani, and I really liked him in The Big Sick. But what the episode actually did, which I thought nothing could ever do, was for the first time not make me look at Tracy Morgan in an annoying as shit light. I’m sorry, I’ve never found him funny. I feel sorry for that terrible accident he was in, but I’ve always considered him overrated on his comedy. But here, he’s a creepy older more famous comedian, and the very limited screen time he is in, he’s actually pretty fucking good.

The episode though does have some problems slowing it down. The jokes from the comedians aren’t really jokes per say, they are more just lashing out truths, and they aren’t funny. Maybe that was the point? But I would’ve liked to see a few really good comedic jokes when an episode is called The Comedian. I didn’t understand what the audience thought was funny. Also, it is predictable. I bet you can just guess the ending from what I said. However, the pros edge out the cons, and I still enjoyed watching a new episode of The Twilight Zone. In time, a lot might not be too kind on this episode, but I have a feeling it was a small, un-filling appetizer before we get to the delicious main course.

Rating: 3/5

Nightmare at 30,000 Feet (Episode 2)

A play on the classic episode, and the only good remade segment in The Twilight Zone movie: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. Now this isn’t a sequel just because the plane might be 10,000 Feet higher (although there is a blink and you’ll miss it nod to the classic Gremlin “THERE’S SOMEONE ON THE WING…SOME…THING!” segment). This is a totally different beast and story and no monster eating a plane wing. It plays on paranoia, self-fulfilling prophecies, and civility. It’s a heavy reflection on what has happened since 9/11. It stars Parks & Recreations Adam Scott, a journalist going to Tel Aviv for a job after he laid low for awhile seeing some heinous shit elsewhere. He finds a little device behind his seat that has a podcast on it. He plays it, and it’s a podcast episode detailing how the plane on which he’s a passenger will disappear in an hour.

Pretty cool concept right? Kind of a mix of Final Destination’s fate themes and Non-Stop’s detective investigation work. Adam Scott gets up from his seat, going about the cabin, trying to listen to the clues in the podcast and stop whatever bad thing is going to happen, from happening. This film has multiple twists in it. I saw the first one coming from a mile away. But the film doesn’t stop there, it has another gut wrenching twist, which was just the cherry on the suspenseful, really entertaining episode that I just witnessed. Some are harping on that second twist, however, if you re watch the episode and just focus on the themes, it is brilliant and totally makes sense. Never take anything for face value with The Twilight Zone.

Like The Comedian, everything technical is there. The cinematography, tone, lighting, music, fucking masterful. The acting is top notch as well, with Adam Scott and Chris Diamantopoulos giving some of their best performances of their career. I love that it was a tight 37 minutes. It wasn’t too short, and it didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a fast paced thriller sure to keep you on the edge of your toes. This is one episode I’d watch over and over, so many layers to peel back, and once you think your done, you have several more.

Rating: 4/5

Zach’s Zany TV BINGE Reviews: Santa Clarita Diet Season 3; Arrested Development All of Season 5; and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt All of Season 4

SANTA CLARITA DIET Season 3

How in the hell is each season of this better than the last? This show is better than it has any right to be. The first season is okay but showed potential. The second season took that potential, found its stride and kept pushing, with hilarious results. I am happy to report, in my opinion of course, and after having a couple of days to digest it all (I watched all ten episodes in one day), SANTA CLARITA DIET Season 3 is the best so far. They kept on their stride without losing any footing, and I laughed out loud more times than I can remember. My favorite moments have to be a text gone wrong, Timothy Olyphant’s character filming himself on a tryout for a cult, and every situation where “God dammit” is muttered to unique perfection.


While Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore were okay in Season 1 (they are pretty bad in the first episode), I think that with Season 2 and beyond, they know what kind of humore and zaniness that this series is trying to pull off. Especially Olyphant. The first time we see his face in Season 3, I muttered to myself, “yep, this is going to be a fun ride.” That one facial expression, you know that he has finally figured out the weirdness of this show, and just embrace it. To the brilliant over use of profanity, to the situations that just keep piling up and piling up on them, and the solutions they have to try and figure out. Amazing.


But let’s not forget the daughter played by Liv Hewson and her (maybe/maybe not) love interest played by Skyler Gisondo. Liv Hewson has much more to do this season which makes her performance much juicier and she seems to have found her stride. But the MVP of this series is Gisondo, and he just proves yet again this season why he is the best thing about this weird zombie tale. I thought they might over use him after all the praise he got form season 1 and season 2, but they don’t. They use him just enough and perfectly yet again. Yes, this season has another cliffhanger, yet a really good one one that will push the story yet again next season, and I for one cannot wait until 2020 (assuming that it gets renewed, which it should).


ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Season 5

Can we all agree that ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT really only has two great seasons and an okay third? Can we maybe pretend that Season 4 and 5 don’t exist and is one giant April Fool’s Day joke? Just like Season 4, Season 5 is God damn terrible. I didn’t laugh once and I kept rolling my eyes when you could completely tell that they couldn’t get a bunch of the actors on the same set so they shot them separately and edited them together to make you think they are all there (it is done so terrible it took me out of it every time they did it, which was a least 3 or more times per episode). If you can’t get them all together, why fucking even do it in the first place? And Portia Di Rossi is credited throughout all 16 episodes, but shows up only twice, and for less than 5 minutes each. The story continues from season 4, which was a bad decision all by itself. That story sucked, so the suck-age continues and doesn’t stop until the final minutes of the last episode.

I can only give Season 5 two minor praises. Everybody working on this thing seems to (finally) think that their time is up, and they basically wrapped everything up into a little bow, and gave us the ending we thought how it would end back in Season 1 (if you don’t know what that is, especially what Jason Bateman keeps repeating what he ultimately wants in Season 1, you aren’t a Arrested Development fan) and the MVP of this season is again Alia Shawkat, and her disguise as an older woman throughout most of the episodes. She brought mild amusement to the dreadful 16 episodes a just binge watched (but notice no laughs).

Yeah, stick a fork in them, they are done. I really really hope they don’t come back. Not even with better writers. They wrote an ending, the ending really is the only thing that worked, it’s over. What was once a fantastic Emmy Award winning series has been utterly destroyed by Netflix. Imagine watching Dexter Season 8 twice in a row. That is what Arrested Development Season 4 and 5 are.

UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHIMDT Season 4

To be honest, I’m glad this was the final season. UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHIMDT was a literal roller coaster of productivity and amusement. The first season is fantastic (and still it’s best). The second season was fucking awful. The third season almost got back to its first season roots if not quite reaching its heights. The first half of season 4 was fucking awful (the first 6 episodes were released last year). The second half, while a bit funnier and zanier than the first half, still was a utter disappointment. The wrap up felt forced and stupid, and we get an hour episode on a “what if Kimmy never got kidnapped type of scenario.” I HATE those kinds of episodes. Just like I hated when Friends did it. If it didn’t happen, then who fucking cares? We don’t need to see an ultimate reality in anything (I’ll give a minor pass to things like the Star Trek 2009 reboot) let alone comedies.

When the show (and first and third seasons) focused on Elle Kemper and her character of Kimmy Schmidt, it was excellent. That’s why the first season was so great. And those little bits of Titus Andromedon were perfect too. But then starting in season 2 and beyond, the side characters were way too point of focus. And they started using Titus too much to the point of annoyance. I hated Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski’s characters. And every season, we just got more bullshit with them and the show failed, in my opinion, in doing so. In fact, I think the secondary characters were used the most in this current season. I really felt like they reduced Kimmy to a side character, because I don’t remember seeing her all that much throughout the 12 new episodes (possibly because she was pregnant in real life? I don’t know). She was the best thing about that show, and it is sad they really under utilized her talent in Season 2 and now this Season. BTW, they wrap up her story line too fast, and too stupidly.

Anyway, yeah, this season, while not the worst, was a disappointing conclusion to a so-so series. This whole thing could have made one great one run limited series. Instead it stretched its concept thin, and got too fucking zany. So much weird shit happens this season it was hard to keep up with. We do get a couple of funny bits with some guest stars, such as Greg Kinnear, and Zachary Quinto stole the whole second half of the season with the two episodes he is in. But, yeah…I’m glad this show has ended (I heard their might be a Netflix movie but God I hope not), yet I probably won’t ever, ever revisit it.

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

Wes Craven, John Carpenter, James Wan, Alfred Hitchcock, George Romero, David Cronenberg……Jordan Peele. After only two horror/thriller films, you can already add Peele’s name to the list of famous directors of the genre that will stand the test of time. US is a near-perfect horror masterpiece. Better than Get Out, in my opinion. It’s perfectly paced. It’s scary as fuck. It has humor at the perfect moments (no unintentional laughter like Hereditary). It has a thought provoking message. It’s a film that will resonate with you long after you leave the theater. It gives you just enough context clues to figure out and put together in your head what is really going on without it being explained to you for 20 minutes. It has scenes and moments set up at the beginning of the film and the rest of the movie is nothing but great pay off, after great pay off, after great pay off. And if you are arguing why Peele’s name should already be added to the list I mentioned above, do I need to remind you who has actually won an Oscar?

The less you know going into US, the more I think you will enjoy it. So if you are reading this non spoiler-y review before you see it….stop. I already complemented it in my beginning paragraph, that should be enough to kick you over if you are still on the fence. But if you have seen it, and didn’t too much care for it, I encourage you to keep reading to understand why I loved it, and perhaps why I looked into the film more deeply than Jordan Peele probably intended for me to. Because the film plays it almost straight forward until the last act. You know where Jordan Peele basically shined that social commentary through your eyes throughout the whole run time of Get Out? (some of you had a problem with that, I don’t know why) Well in this, he saves it for the last act of the film, making you want to re watch the thing through a whole different point of view. That’s how brilliant this movie is. And while yes, there is a twist, and one that I saw coming a billion miles away (yet still enjoyed it because its payoff was set up almost perfectly well), that twist doesn’t just rely on itself to make the movie. Everything else around it makes you question your loyalty as a viewer, and makes you take a deep breath and try to put the puzzle pieces together.

I’m not going to explain the plot. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know its a family on vacation that gets home invaded by people that look exactly like them (dopplegangers). Obviously, there’s a little more too it, but that is better experienced in the theater. But I encourage you to watch closely. Usually I say twists work best if you aren’t thinking too hard, but with this film, I encourage you to watch carefully from the beginning, so that you understand most of what is going on. You’ll see the twist coming but so what? You need to understand the messages more. What does it mean to have a soul? What does it mean to be human? These messages have been told time and again in countless movies, but this one does it so uniquely you’ll think the idea is wholly original again. It’s quite brilliant, and I have a feeling the more I re watch this film, the more I’m going to love it. It literally has everything a horror/thriller fan could want in a movie.

It’s too early in the year to really predict this, but I say give a nomination to Lupita Nyong’o at next years Academy Awards. She obviously plays dual roles due to the doppleganger plot, but she plays them so distinctively well that she might’ve pulled off one of the greatest horror performances of all time. She is THAT FUCKING GOOD in it. I know she has already won a supporting actress Oscar for 12 Years A Slave, but this performance is about a billion times better than that one that I wouldn’t mind her winning another award. Everybody else is good too. Her children have some of the best horror acting you could ask for. Her husband played by Black Panther’s Winston Duke is good and brings the perfect amount of comic relief you are needing with a film like this. And even Elizabeth Moss gets a small yet juicy part. The acting is there, the thrills are there, the scares are there, the camera work is there, the cinematography is there, the direction is there. It is near perfect. Oh forgot to mention the use of music. Brilliant, especially in the “final fight” scene. The new rendition of “I’ve Got Five On It” will be stuck in my brain for weeks.

My one complaint from the whole film being perfect? I thought that one of the doppleganger’s monologue at the end explained a little too much of what was going on. Half way through her short speech I was sinking in my chair praying, “Please stop talking…” The film had already given me a bunch of context clues to piece together what was happening. I didn’t need an explanation trying to make things a bit clearer. Thankfully, the monologue didn’t last long, and I breathed out a sigh of relief, knowing that I could still piece together what happened after I left the theater (which I have). If you are one of those people that needs everything handed to you on a silver platter explanation wise, this movie isn’t for you. If you like piecing together shit with ambigious context clues, this movie is an awesome mind trip. I can’t believe Jordan Peele has done it again. And to think he said that he is going to stick to the horror genre for the time being. That should excite us.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: TRIPLE FRONTIER (Netflix)

TRIPLE FRONTIER is a movie that would’ve killed it in theaters in the mid 90s, it probably would’ve been a Jerry Bruckheimer production, and Nicolas Cage, Sylvester Stallong, Arnold Swarzenegger, Jean Clean Van Damme, and (insert any name I forgot here) probably would’ve been on the team. However, it is now a Netflix film, a pretty solid one at that, and it stars our generation of actors with the likes of Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garret Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal. This movie has been in the making since 2010, since a bunch of stars names have come and gone when production kept getting delayed and delayed. But now it’s here, and instead of risking itself to be lost in the crowd of countless unoriginal remakes, sequels, and superhero films, Netflix has decided to drop it on their platform, and I think that will be the best decision the filmmakers ever had.

When it comes to Netflix, their television productions I have always found 80/20 solid, but with their original films, I’ve always felt the exact opposite. Other than Roma, Mudbound, and maybe Pumpkin and When We First Met, name me another solid Netflix film. Go head. We’ve gotten clunkers like Mute and The Cloverfield Paradox, and countless others I haven’t even tried because the reviews on them have been mediocre to worse. Thankfully Triple Frontier is a step in the right direction. With more films like this, Netflix has a chance to really one up the ‘Spielbergs’ of the world and prove that their platform is not something to mess with. Countless people could stay at home and be able to enjoy a movie in the comfort of their own home without having to deal with the idiot nimrods that talk, text, and do other annoying shit in theaters. While Triple Frontier would be just as enjoyable in a theater, I loved that I got to watch it on release at home with a big TV and decent sound system. But that’s probably a debate that won’t be settled anytime soon so let’s get to the actual movie.

While Triple Frontier is referring to the tri-border area along the junction of Brazil, Argentina and Paraquay, where the Iguazu and Parana rivers meet, the movie is about 5 men retired from the military that go find a drug lord there, steal his money in a heist type scenario, kill just him with no other casualties, and make it out alive. Needless to say I don’t need to say much more in terms of plot, other than their plan obviously doesn’t go that smoothly. I found the movie to be quite unpredictable, namely who ends up dying or surviving and possible betrayals, but every step of the way the movie went in another direction, and I appreciated the journey into the unknown and unseen. I guess you could call this an action movie, but there is only action where it needs to be, spread out appropriately and not every two minutes like a Michael Bay film for the sake of extending screen time or providing the audience with eye popping cool CGI bukake.

The acting is all there, with everyone bringing everything to the table, with Affleck even looking like he was wanting to be there, his first sign of a heartbeat since he honestly tried his best in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. And at this point I’m pretty sure Oscar Isaac can act in anything that he God damn wants to. He is very versatile. The movie has a solid two hour run time, very entertaining, and like I said earlier, unpredictable. You feel for these characters as they are trying to get out of a hot zone, and every step that they make you either wince or yell in triumph. The movie is also very nice to look at, since they shot on actual locations and I couldn’t detect one screen screen shot in the entire run time. The movie is nicely directed by J.C. Chandor, whose other three films, Margin Call, A Most Violent Year, and All Is Lost, are all pretty solid themselves.

Your enjoyment and viewing experience might depend on how you watch this film. Definitely don’t watch it on a phone or really small television. Those theatrical enthusiasts could probably argue that this movie is best seen in a theater, and while I would agree with them, I think if you have a decent sized television and a half way decent sound coming out of it, you will probably find it as enjoyable as I did. Triple Frontier is a good old fashioned action/thriller that is better than average due to its unpredictability and realistic storytelling choices. What more do you want? An even better question, why can’t we get more stuff like this?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CAPTAIN MARVEL (no spoilers)

DISCLAIMER: (because I have to do this with the butthurters nowadays with a film like this) Any criticisms I give to the following film CAPTAIN MARVEL in my review, are in no way, shape, or form, have to do with the fact in that this is the MCU’s first female superhero led film. In fact, I think we should get more female driven superhero films, as long as they are made correctly. I am not a misogynist, I am married and have a loving and awesome wife, and ANY CRITICISMS WHATSOEVER I HAVE WITH THIS FILM HAVE TO DO WITH A STORYTELLING OR SCRIPT LEVEL AND DOES NOT HAVE TO DO WITH BRIE LARSON OR ANY FEMALE LED SUPERHERO FILM. Jesus Christ, it’s sad that I have to do that eh? Let’s get down to brass taxes and first go with my summary of Captain Marvel as a whole: I quite enjoyed it, however, in the whole spectrum of all 21 MCU films we have gotten to date, it is not one of the higher tier ones, like the first Iron Man, the first Avengers, the first Guardians, or Infinity War, yet it is not one of the lower tier ones like Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, or The Incredible Hulk. It is somewhere in the middle, resting its good not great addition to the universe head along with its buddies such as Black Panther, Ant-Man, Guardians 2, or Doctor Strange.

I will star this off by saying that contrary to reports that Brie Larson is wooden in the Captain Marvel role (I think some people are just trolling and saying it even when they haven’t seen it yet), I assure you, she is not. She is very likable in this and in fact I think she knew that the script itself had some problems (there are 3 screenwriters, and 5 people get a story by credit) and she added her own cute little quirks and mannerisms to the role. I think with the right script and a more focused characterization Brie Larson could be a masterful superhero. But she is quite good with what she was given. In fact, everyone is good. Jude Law is good. Samuel L. Jackson is the man. Ben Mendelsohn nearly steals the movie. The very lackluster trailers and tv spots don’t showcase the good film that Disney/Marvel have on their hands here. In fact, if you look at all the other trailers, they don’t really sell their films anymore. They might need to hire better people that can cut a decent marketing campaign.

I was never once bored and looked at my cell phone clock with this movie, I was entertained throughout the whole thing. But the movie does have several issues and it all boils down to one notion, something that I knew was coming a long time ago, but is finally starting to seek through the cracks: Marvel’s Origin Story formula is starting to shake and if they aren’t careful, will soon crumble and fall like half of the DCEU’s slate. The entire movie is 200% predictable. It’s “twists” are 200% predictable (it does one “oh it was really this/him/her the whole time gimmick we’ve seen done in 100,000 movies before it). You can probably even fucking guess what the mid and end credits scenes are, that’s how predictable this thing is. Here’s a true, in my opinion, fact: Captain Marvel should’ve been introduced in Phase 1 or 2 of the MCU, should’ve already had one sequel by now with that story showing what happened with what she does at the end of this movie, and it wouldn’t have felt like this was shoe horned in right before Avengers: Endgame.

Because it is. Because you can feel it. Because everything feels rushed. Obviously you’ve seen from the trailers that Brie Larson has amnesia and is starting to remember things of where she may have had a life on Earth before becoming a Kree. The film feels too fast paced that, when she eventually remembers some stuff and comes face to face with some long lost family and friends, I didn’t feel anything. Like the confrontations that she is thrust into should’ve had more power, brevity, and levity. And it didn’t. It’s just like, “oh hi, don’t know you much, I know that I used to and we used to be two peas in a pod, well, I’m back, nice to meet ya.” Films need to have a giant emotional impact. If the film had focused on her amnesia stuff maybe just a few minutes longer, like 10 to 15, those scenes would’ve felt earned, not forced. The main issue is that there is just wayyy too much story stuffed into a medium box of 2 hrs, just in service to quickly get an origin story out of the way so she can be a bad ass motherfucker in Avengers: Endgame.

The movies got the Kree, old characters you saw in Guardians 1, a strange cat named Goose, amnesia problems, long gestating wars, witty banter, reunions, betrayals, double crosses, triple crosses, just too much that the script is a little shaky on its foundation and bounced off the wall too much at times. And near the end, kind of like the problem Black Panther had, its CGI is a little troublesome. And while the action is fun, but not that memorable. Oh, and one more AND to the million I have said already, the movie has still has got the Marvel villain problem (you’ll see). While the movie was wayyyy too late in the making, its just fortunate that it wasn’t a disaster, is watchable, and is enjoyable. The real star of the movie is the de-ageing effects on one Samuel L. Jackson. Fucking seemless, I couldn’t believe it, he actually looks like he just stepped out of his role in the 90s film The Negotiator (from which they based his de-ageing on) and hasn’t skipped a beat.

So anyway, in summation, Captain Marvel is a solid, good, yet not great addition to the MCU. I did enjoy myself sitting in the theater experiencing it. And none of it has to do with the fact that it is a female driven superhero film. All the problems are in the script, the story, and two directors who have directed a handful of episodes of Billions and The Affair, and two indie features films (Half Nelson and It’s Kind of A Funny Story) that I thought were way out of their element here. If we could get a solid script and better directors, and a focused pace, we could get a sequel that is truly special. A true sequel, not just Avengers: Endgame. Oh, btw, if the opening Marvel logo/credits don’t make you tear up and want to applaud, you aren’t human.