Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: EL CAMINO – A BREAKING BAD MOVIE (infinity% NO SPOILERS)

The first thing that probably popped into Breaking Bad fans’ head when there were rumblings of a follow up movie possibly being made is: “Oh God, why in the fuck would they mess with perfection?” Breaking Bad is one of the best television shows ever made. Hell, one could argue, probably the best. My youngest brother got me to watch it, and I finally decided to do so really late to the party. I binge watched the shit out of it on Netflix and got caught up to watch the final six episodes live. And I got to watch that oh so perfect finale live. How many television shows can you name that had a perfect, or shit, even near perfect finale? I can’t even count on one hand. Seinfeld, nope. The X-Files? Yeah, hell no. Lost? Don’t make me or anyone else laugh. Not even one of my other favorite series, 24, had that great of a finale. Shit, they even brought it back for another round of episodes and that finale wasn’t that fantastic either. I heard The Americans is perfect, near perfect, but I can’t say anything as I haven’t watched that show. And even though I didn’t watch The Sopranos, we all know what kind of divisive finale that had. I really only thought the series finale of Friends was near perfect, but for the life of me I can’t really name another. The point I’m trying to get across is, if you have a perfect finale like Breaking Bad did, why would you gamble to possibly fuck it all up?

But what you don’t realize is that Breaking Bad already made that gamble four years ago (BB has been off the air for six). They gambled making a prequel show that focused on Saul Goodman, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s criminal lawyer. But guess what? Better Call Saul is at times almost as perfect as Breaking Bad was. The final verdict has yet to be written on that show, because it’s last episode has yet to air. That prequel show at the time was a huge risk, because Breaking Bad was still fresh from being considered one of the greatest television shows and finales ever made, and many were wondering if Vince Gilligan and co. were just making this prequel series to try and keep the money train a movin’. But looking at it now, it seems like it wasn’t the money train they wanted to keep chuggin along, but the creative thinking train. So in essence, this movie really is ANOTHER huge gamble. They went to Vegas, won against the house, bet it all on black, won again, and with this movie, it’s like they are going back again and betting it all on white now, so to speak, pun intended. When it was confirmed that Vince Gilligan and co. filmed a Breaking Bad Movie in secret, and that it was going to air on Netflix and some theaters, later aired on AMC, I was still a bit skeptical (I mean, who wouldn’t be right), but since Better Call Saul didn’t lose a beat, I couldn’t help but be cautiously optimistic. The trailers and tv spots made me even more optimistic. So ladies and gentlemen, did they beat the house a third time? EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE is not only Netflix’s easily best film released to date, it is one of the best films of 2019 in general. It does not ruin any of what Breaking Bad brought to television, nor Better Call Saul. It is a perfectly crafted epilogue for Jesse Pinkman. Bravo, Vince Gilligan. Bravo.

Sorry for the two paragraph introduction, but as I have promised not to reveal anything spoiler-rific, and make this seem like an actual thought out review and not just me rambling incoherent bullshit for 5 to 6 paragraphs, I thought it was necessary. First thing I can plainly tell you without giving anything away is if you haven’t watched ALL of Breaking Bad (you could take or leave Better Call Saul with this, however, I still highly recommend watching it at one point), then DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. While Netflix gives the briefest of brief recaps (you have the option to hit skip recap), the movie just goes right into it, assuming you are already a fan and know everything there is to know about the beloved show, and for the rest of you, it gives you a giant middle finger. If you’ve watched any of the brief trailers or tv spots that don’t give anything away really at all, you probably can tell by context clues is that the movie starts off right after Jesse drives off into the night, right after Walter White ‘saved’ him from the White Supremacist gang that had him tied up for some time, making Jesse cook that sweet baby blue meth for them to sell.

The movie answers the question: what happened after Jesse just drove off into the night, screaming to the hilltops how happy he was to finally be free? Did he get caught? Where did he go if he didn’t? Because it seemed like the police arrived pretty damn fast to the White Supremacists complex, making viewers wonder if Jesse really had enough time to get away. How it answers that question is just wonderfully and surprisingly, tense, twisty, and felt real to the Breaking Bad world we already know and love. You know how Harry Potter and the Cursed Child didn’t really ruin anything the 7 books and 8 movies established for it in that universe? Basically like a fun little epilogue that didn’t say “fuck you.” El Camino is the Cursed Child of the Breaking Bad story. A better Toy Story 4 if you will. This movie is not unnecessary, not in the slightest. It is one of the first thing’s on Netflix that I have watched all the way through, no pausing, no bathroom breaks, no rewinds, no looking at my phone and/or laptop. It captivated me every single second of its nice and tight two hour run time. And it actually looks and feels like a movie, and not a television movie, thank the fucking universe.

I am not going to reveal if the movie has any great cameos and/or if those cameos feel unnecessarily unnecessary. Just know that NONE of this movie felt forced. There are great set ups and there are great pay offs. That’s all I can really say. I can tell you that it is sometimes tense as fuck. And I can also tell you that it only took me about a minute to get adjusted to what I was watching and relax, knowing that I was in good hands, feeling like I was apart of the Breaking Bad universe once again. Vince Gilligan had a finely crafted and tuned tale that he wanted to bring to the world. Again, none of them are doing this for a quick cash grab. I think if Aaron Paul read the script, and he thought it was going to fuck everything up, that he wouldn’t have agreed to be a part of it. But he must’ve read it, liked what he read, and combined with envisioning what Gilligan was going to do with it cinematic wise, knew no doubt that the journey didn’t need to be stopped before it started. With performances, EVERYONE does a great job, but to not spoil anything, I’ll just talk about Paul’s performance. Again, Aaron Paul brings a humanity to Jesse Pinkman that I don’t think any actor could’ve done as well if given the chance. Vince Gilligan knew he had something special when casting him originally in Breaking Bad, and then deciding not to kill his character at the end of season one to see where Paul took him. One of the wisest decision’s Gilligan ever made. Paul continues to deliver not just for fans of the show, but for Gilligan as well, for this excellent, excellent, excellent epilogue.

Do I have any complaints with the movie? A little thing here or there, mainly to do with the physical appearance of a character, but with six years after Breaking Bad ended, what are you gonna do, ya know? Any complaint I have with this film is very minor. The real question you might ask me is: do I think this movie is unnecessary? Yes and no. Yes because Breaking Bad ended so perfectly. Now no because of how much I liked dipping my toe back into this world, even though we do each year anyway because Better Call Saul is still going on. I think any die hard Breaking Bad fan will absolutely love this film, while a minor portion of them might have some minor issues. Nobody is going to outright hate this film though, because even if you aren’t a fan of the show, and watch it without context, it is still a well made pot boiler. What I love most about the movie is that you don’t know quite where it is going to go. I tried to guess several times where the movie would go to next, but then literally 3 seconds after my guess the writing subverted my expectations and I kept being getting surprised. After mid way through the movie (arguably the best parts in the film) I just learned to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Well, that’s all I can really say other than that if you are a huge fan and are caught up with Breaking Bad (and also love Better Call Saul), you are in for a huge treat. Honestly I can’t really see any fan of Breaking Bad not loving this movie. It’s a perfect slow burn, not a pointless shitty surface level one that Joker brought to naive idiots last week in theaters. This film earns every payoff that it ingeniously sets up. You know how both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul take their time with episodes and well…time in general. How it lingers on moments and locations, even it it might take up close to half the episodes run time. Same thing here. The movie beautifully takes its time, not one second too rushed or wasted. It makes you feel at home again, at home again, eating one of your favorite dishes your mom or dad used to make you as a child. And for that, all I have left to say, is “Yeah, bitch!”

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BETWEEN TWO FERNS – THE MOVIE (Netflix)

The only way any of you should watch BETWEEN TWO FERNS: THE MOVIE on Netflix is fast forward to the staged awkward celebrity interviews, and then maybe play the Chrissy Teigan non interview part as well because that has to do with an interview that takes place shortly there after (halfway thru the film), and then watch the hilarious outtakes during the end credits, and you’ll be done in about 15-20 mins. I’m telling you this to try and save an hour of your life, because the other hour is absolute garbage and I think foreshadows Netflix’s ultimate doom. To be clear, this is not one of the worst films of the year. I can’t manage to say it, because the very few bright bits that are in this thing, made me lose it in laughter (especially the end credit outtakes). This movie is utterly pointless. This is the same thing that Saturday Night Live did with stretching some of their really funny skits into movies in the 90s (excluding Wayne’s World and A Night At The Roxbury), and then making them not funny anymore. It should’ve just stuck to the couple of minutes that FunnyorDie.com would give it every one in awhile.

Or if Netflix really wanted something feature length so badly to have to do with that fake show, they should’ve had Zach Galifianakis just shoot 85 minutes worth of just those awkward staged interviews. Instead, they tried to write some sort of fucking meandering abysmal plot where not one second of it is actually even chuckle worthy. Basically because of a plumbing problem, an interview with Matthew McConaughey goes haywire and destroys the set on the cable access program. Will Ferrell as a asshole diva version of himself (painfully unfunny to watch) then gives Zack an ultimatum: Give Ferrell ten new interviews within a couple of weeks and not only will he be able to keep his job but he’ll let him have his own late night national talk show. Zack then takes his show on the road to get any celebrity willing to be “interviewed.” The hour that is absolute garbage is pretty much everything but the staged interviews. Zach Galifianakis co-wrote this film with its director Scott Aukerman, clearly focusing on the hilarious fake interview questions and not knowing what to do with the forced plot around it all.

I mean, it’s as though they didn’t even fucking try. Like there is this small bit where his secretary keeps not taking care of the original ferns so she just keeps going out and buying new ones, trying to make the audience laugh by him measuring the length of each and calculating its moisture and then asking if those ferns are the same plants as the interview before. None of it works. He develops friendships with his co-workers on the road trip that is unfunny and feels forced, then the movie does that “nothing to lose” bit where the character is about to give up but ultimately doesn’t, all correlating in a climax you’ve seen in about a million different other films, and they can’t even manage the satire on that shit correctly. Other than the awkward staged interviews, this film is a giant fucking mess.

There are a shit ton of cameos from A-list celebrities in l here, and I’m not going to list all of them as it would ruin the fun. I did though particularly laugh at questions asked to Chance The Rapper, Hailee Steinfeld, Paul Rudd, Keanu Reeves, and a few others, with Chance and Rudd really making me have a laughing fit for about a minute. And then there are the outtakes during the end credits, which had me in tears with laughter. Honestly you could probably just get away with watching those and come out feeling you got a decent 2-3 minutes out of the program. But for the love of God, don’t watch the whole thing, I’m begging you. It really is dreadfully, painfully, egotistically unfunny. Someone filming me getting kicked in the nuts is funnier than the majority of this movie. Here is one of the only funny bits, and if you don’t laugh at this, then this movie is DEFINITELY not for you:

(Zack is interviewing Chance The Rapper):

Zach: “Why did your parents name you Chance The Rapper?”

Chance: “My parents didn’t name me that.”

Zach: “Do you have any siblings?”

Chance: I have a brother.

Zach: “And what does he do?”

Chance: “He also raps.”

Zach: “Did your parents name him Community Chest The Rapper?”

This is just another example of why I think that, in two to three years, once all these other streaming services are up and running, that Netflix will be kaput, unless they lower their prices to compete with the others and also stop trying to buy every single thing out there that is available. We need more stuff like Triple Fronteir, I Am Mother, The Irishman (I haven’t seen it I’m just assuming since it is Scorcese it’s going to be great) and Roma, and not crap like Sextuplets, The Last Laugh, The Silence, this movie, and the countless other shit films I haven’t even bothered with giving a chance. Television show wise all they’ve really got is Stranger Things. I mean, they did fuck up House of Cards, and while I still like it, there is a shit ton of people who hate 13 Reasons Why. This is the perfect opportunity for Netflix to create new jobs. They hire people with an actual brain to scan and research the content presented to them before they buy and air it. Don’t just throw money at people and take these mystery boxes. Cut the fucking fat. This movie was basically only had one or two good bites, the rest too tough to chew.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: 13 REASONS WHY SEASON 3 (MAJOR SPOILERS!!!)

Before I start reviewing and getting down to the nitty gritty on 13 REASONS WHY SEASON 3, I’m going to warn you of two things. First of all, I am going to go into major spoilers, and yes, I’m going to reveal who killed Bryce Walker, so if you just want a summation, just finish this paragraph and then read the concluding paragraph. I promise not to spoil anything in those. Secondly, I will NOT be diving into my opinions and/or experiences with suicide and what I really think of this whole controversy with some individuals thinking that this show “glorifies suicide.” I will only be delving into what I think the show did to improve upon its image. That being said: 13 Reasons Why Season 3 does the rare “Daredevil Netflix” thing and is the best season of the show thus far. Those put off by the first two seasons, especially the mediocre 2nd one, will be pleased to know that by turning the show into a who-dun-it and tackling more issues in better ways that it completely redeems itself. I say that those naysayers may want to give it one more chance (you don’t have to though, I understand, truly).

And this is coming from someone who thought the first season was masterful (didn’t like the 2nd one that much). I don’t want this to be a terribly long review, so where should I start? Ah, yes. The main focus of the season. As you know, Season 1 dealt with Hannah Baker and her 13 tapes to people on why she committed suicide. Season 2 dealt with the fallout of those people receiving those tapes, and the trial of rapist Bryce Walker. Like both previous seasons, Season 3 plays with time. It starts with taking place 8 months after Season 2, but then switches back and forth between the present, after what happened with Tyler and how he almost shot up Liberty High School at Spring Fling and something that went wrong during Homecoming (revealed much later in the season) and…the murder of Bryce Walker. Yes, one of the worst villains in television history is killed off almost immediately in the first couple of episodes of the season (he’s missing almost right at the beginning).

Changing the show from being a look into why someone committed suicide and the aftermath of a rapist on trial, to a who-dun-it murder mystery, yyet filled with teen angst, issues, and hardship, was definitely the right AND ONLY direction the show could’ve taken (although I do support those that said it should’ve only been a one off miniseries, I can agree with some points of view on that). When Bryce only got 3 months probation this past season for his rape crimes, I didn’t know if I wanted to see what kind of story a Season 3 could tell. But then when I heard that Katherine Langford and co. were done with the character Hannah Baker (she is only referenced several times, there is no past footage of her really, and her mother is only in one episode, Season 2 stretched out her character wayyyyy too much) and then just several weeks ago when the trailer dropped with the tagline: “Who Killed Bryce Walker?” the show immediately caught my interest again. I thought, “oh shit, are they trying to make up for all the anger and frustration of season 2 and they are probably giving this asshole his just desserts, right? Well, yes, and maybe/maybe not.

When I say yes, I mean that yes, they completely make up for their past narrative flaws for season two, and they also make up for the controversial aspects of season 1 by being really careful and handling all the solutions to all the teen problems that are presented throughout this season. The maybe is a bit trickier. With Bryce’s death, they present a question that is asked throughout all the episodes that they resolve by thankfully not having a definitive answer: can people change for the better? When we get to all of these flashbacks of Bryce throughout the season, some of the flashbacks revert to him and his shitty attitude towards life and women, but then, in many instances, it shows that before he died, he might’ve really tried to change for the better…but that the world wouldn’t let him change. It’s a very tricky topic for the writers to put into this season, but then again, if they would’ve had a definitive answer, “did Bryce get his just desserts?”, people would’ve gotten angry at either a yes or a no. They got smart, and instead answered, maybe…but maybe not. It’s up to you.

Now, when starting the season, I immediately noticed that, during the opening credits, there is a separate piece of evidence of Bryce Walker’s murder for each of the thirteen episodes. And then boom!, holy shit, Clay Jensen isn’t the voice of reason this season! Instead, everything is told from the perspective of Amorowat Anysia Achola, or “Ani’ for short, a new student at Liberty High that quickly befriends Clay. Her and her mother also happen care for Bryce Walker’s asshole grandfather, who is sick and mostly resides in bed. So yeah, Ani kind of lives with Bryce. Now some people have had a huge problem with her, especially when you get to episode 7 and it reveals that she slept with Bryce Walker, several times, by not judging him by his past and also revealing the fact that he was actually nice to her. People also love Clay Jensen’s narration as he is the voice of reason for the series and maybe the only almost flawless character.

I’m going to go on the defensive for Ani here, for several reasons. First of all, we need a new voice. I love Clay, in fact I see a lot of myself in him, but in order for him to be a main main suspect in Bryce Walker’s murder, we can’t have him as the narrator this season (I have a feeling they are going to switch back to him for the final season anyway) as it would ruin a lot of the mystery. Also, in order to give some people reason to doubt that Bryce Walker deserved to be murdered, Ani’s point of view is absolutely essential, because without those scenes, the question is answered definitively, and definitely solving some hard questions has been the knife to the throat for the series in the past. But don’t worry, Clay is still a bigger presence than most and has the most screen time. I wasn’t liking what the writers were doing on episode 7 with him, but then episode 8 and 9, they show us their reasons for doing so, and I was completely satisfied with their choices. Clay not being the narrator I feel made him grow as a character this season as well.

The one thing that has been completely constant throughout all three seasons is the incredible acting by the entire cast. Three seasons in and every single person on the show, no matter how part big or small, have all made their character multi-layered, not just one dimensional, to the point where it feels like you might know them in real life. The two standouts though are of course Dylan Minnette, who plays Clay, and surprisingly David Druid, who plays Tyler. As you know, Tyler almost went on a school shooting spree at the end of season 2, and I was surprised how carefully the fallout of that was handled (except for one of the final scenes of the season, where everything could come back to bite him in the ass anyway). Obviously, they hinted that they were going to help him out and intervened before he started shooting up people, but the resolution on how no one found out and how they handle his behavior going forward was pretty realistic and inspirational.

That surprised me because I thought I might have to suspend some belief at the beginning of the explanation but as time went on, that route taken proved to be more than efficient storytelling. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but there is a scene between Clay and Tyler toward the latter half of the season that almost made me tear up. You’ll know which one it is, and in any other dimension, both Dylan and David would get Emmy nominations. Also, I know people don’t like Ani, but newcomer Grace Saif I thought did an adequate job in being our new narrator, and I think she’ll get the chance to maker her character more well rounded and likable next season. And I know everyone loves to hate Bryce, but Justin Prentice gives us his best performance this season, showing a side to Bryce we didn’t even know was there.

Going back to answering questions and having resolutions on many of the trials and tribulations of these teens, this season manages to provide some kind of exploration of a solution instead of definitive answers, which completely works in the shows advantage. There is great tension building with multiple extravagant payoffs that just strengthen the season and series as a whole. I could get into it one by one, but there is even a moment of looking at suicide a way the show hasn’t presented before, with two characters that manage to overcome it and try to get help to make their lives seem better. If there are a couple of episodes that are going to incite controversy this time around those would be episode 2, 7, and the finale, 13. Episode 2 because it tackles abortion, episode 7 I already mentioned that Ani sleeps with Bryce Walker, knowing full well what he had done in life to be the person he is today, and the last episode, maybe, because of how they wrap up “Who Killed Bryce Walker?”

Okay, now is that paragraph where I’m going to reveal the who, what, where, when, and why and how the situation seems to be handled right now (I have a feeling there will be lingering ramifications in Season 4 before the kids graduate), so if you’ve been reading and haven’t gotten to the reveal of who murdered Bryce Walker, and don’t want that spoiled, stop reading and go to the last paragraph. The season tries to trick you multiple times, as everyone has multiple reasons for wanting Bryce dead. In fact, Zach reveals that he beat the shit out of Bryce on the pier, and turns himself in because he doesn’t want Clay, who is innocent btw, taking the rap. Turns out though, after Zach beat the shit out of him, he left him conscious, and records show that Bryce got water in his lungs before he died, and someone comes to the scene right after Zach leaves. Who is it? Alex…with Jessica in tow. Bryce had told Jessica initially that he wanted to meet her on the pier because he had something to give her, and Alex came for back up. Bryce wanted to give her a tape, confessing all his rapes and apologizing for everything, and he wanted to tell her that she could use the tape as she saw fit.

He was claiming he was trying to get better, but as Alex tried to help him up (both of Bryce’s legs were broken by Zach), Bryce unfortunately screamed out that he was going to kill Zach for what he done. Alex took this as meaning Bryce was never going to change, and pushed him over the bridge and watched him drown, as one arm and both legs were broken so he couldn’t swim. And the resolution to all this? Alex gets away with it. The students banded together to frame Monty (the sadistic fuck character that sadomized Tyler with a broom stick last season, the reason Tyler was about to do a mass shooting) after Monty was arrested because Tyler finally went to the police about what Monty did to him. Monty is conveniently killed in prison (I was afraid they were going to show that scene, stirring up more controversy, but again, wise decision by the writers, they didn’t). Alex’s dad is a cop, and put two and two together and knew his son really did it, but accepts the Monty evidence as true. So basically it’s all resolved as a “dead bury the dead” (the title of the last episode ) kind of thing, and cased closed.

Even though there are little hints and clues where the frame up of Monty might not hold up and likely Alex gets his penance for killing Bryce in season 4, I actually really loved the resolutions. Even though it showed a little more of where Monty was coming from with his monster of an attitude in every season (hence asking the question if Monty deserved it, but not giving a concrete resolution), I think the sadistic fuck deserved what was coming him. In many ways, he was worse than Bryce and probably would’ve caused much more harm in the future than Bryce, who was possibly trying to get better. And Monty technically didn’t get killed because of the frame up, he went into prison because of what he did to Tyler, and while we weren’t told what he did to get himself killed, it infers that he probably had an attitude with one of the inmates who didn’t take shit.

Yes, what Alex did was wrong, and he’ll probably end up not getting totally away with it by the time the final season comes to pass, but that’s the whole message the season is trying to ask, “what do we ultimately deserve for our actions?” It also tries to prove that not everything can be tied up in a pretty bow, and I ultimately loved where they went with it. I do want to know what happens in the last season and will eagerly await its release probably about a year or more from now. As Clay says in one of the final scenes, they all maybe deserve some bit of happiness in the future, as the past year or so has been grim and dark as fuck. I really do hope the writers find some way, some logical way, to bring the series to a close with each of the characters, some more than others, finding their happiness. Some of them truly deserve it, I believe. Anyway, discuss with me via FB messenger or in person if you’d like to talk about it further as I just looked to see how fucking long this review was and realize I need to wrap it the fuck up.

In short, I loved 13 REASONS WHY SEASON 3 and could talk all day about why I think it is the best season of the three and how the show has redeemed itself from the awkward storytelling and decisions of season 2 and some of the controversial moments of season one. You can tell I really like a season/series if I’m reviewing it literally the weekend after it was released. It really did strike a great chord with me, and I hope the momentum that writers seemed to have possessed this year just keeps on going and we get a fantastic 4th and final season. I was ultimately surprised on how they managed to not let the story drag, it being still thirteen episodes and not a shorter season like other series have recently done. I’m guessing we will still get thirteen episodes the final season, being that 13 is in the series title for crying out loud, I just hope that these characters find that state of melancholy, they’ve been through some traumatizing shit.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: VERONICA MARS (Season 4) **MAJOR SPOILERS**

It’s been out for a month now, and even though my headline says “binge watchin'” it actually took me a month to finally finish VERONICA MARS SEASON 4, which says a lot, as I am a huge Veronica Mars fan. Yes, I am going to get to THAT spoiler, THAT ending, but this season has a whole mess of problems other than THAT gut wrenching twist. To start, I feel like I need to reveal something about my knowledge of Season 4 before you read the rest of this review, my own little stupid twist if you will. After watching the first episode without knowing shit, I went ahead and took a peek at what happens at the end, including the who dun it, and the death of one of the main characters that has gotten fans up in arms, claiming they will not watch another season if it happens to be made (it probably will, and I call bullshit, you’ll watch it). Knowing what was going to happen, combined with having to wait to watch it with my wife, combined with my 2 year old always being around (this series definitely not suitable for him) are all factors why it took so long to watch. Thinking back on everything though, had I binge watched it all in a day, not knowing what would’ve happened before then, I would’ve still come to the same conclusion. Veronica Mars Season 4 is the worst thing to happen to Veronica Mars.

Yes, that includes the very mixed Season 3. For me, the first two seasons of Veronica Mars are masterful, and the movie is pretty decent. Season 3 has some greatness in it, but the main problem with it is that I just didn’t really much care for the overarching plots of the series, the Hearst college rapist and then figuring out who was Dean O’Dell’s killer. The greatness came from the non-overlapping story arcs. The individual cases. All these television shows nowadays mostly consist of individual episodes that solve one mystery/murder/what have you every 42 minute segment, but then the whole season has one big overlapping narrative that is usually a question posed in the season opener and then answered/resolved by the season finale. And here in lies the main problem with Veronica Mars Season 4, it ONLY has a overlapping narrative. In the 8 episodes that were all made available on Hulu the same day, there are NO INDIVIDUAL/MULTIPLE cases for Veronica Mars and co. to solve, it’s just one, and it is dragged out for SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNG, and ultimately is a disappointment, because I guessed the culprit in the first episode before I spoiled myself, and I was guessed correctly (TBH, I was 3/4th’s right).

The one and only main plot of these 8 episodes asks the question “who is the Neptune Spring Break bomber?” In the first episode, a local hotel/motel called The Sea Sprite is bombed, and then throughout the rest of the episodes more places and people are bombed. Who is doing it and why? Let me answer that with another question, who cares? Who is ultimately doing it and why (there in the end being two answers and two whys) comes off as a big disappointment. I put major spoilers in the title because I’m only going to reveal the last minute twist that has die hard fans stark raving mad. Let’s just say that the reasons behind everything are ho-hum at best, and have been done countless times before across countless movies/tv shows. If you want a hint, think of I Know What You Did Last Summer mixed with elements of the bad guys’ scheme in The Brady Bunch Movie and you have your answer. Overdone, over played, and the fact that all 8 of these episode are dedicated to this plot and this plot only, and that the episodes stretch from 50 minutes to one hour, and you can see how frustratingly long it all feels.

If this main plot was filled out over a course of a regular season of Veronica Mars back when it was on WB/CW, but with non-related individual cases each episode, it maybe could’ve fared better. Key word is MAYBE. But with all the information that is gathered during the course of the season, I could’ve even seen this bomb plot played out and solved in one or two regular individual episodes. There really isn’t that much too it. Sure, there are B and C plots that involve congressmen, bar owners, and the Mexican Cartel out for revenge for someone who was killed/injured in the main explosion, but ALL OF IT surrounds the bombings, and it just wasn’t that interesting to me. I didn’t care. The difference between me and the regular hard core base of Veronica Mars fans is that I honestly think they enjoyed most of the season and that the only thing that ruined it was the very last minute, stupid, bullshit, dumb, lazy, idiotic, written only for the purpose of being shocking and not at all to help advance realistic character development, twist that had all of them screaming their vile language and hatred toward creator Rob Thomas: The Death of Logan Echolls.

That’s right, Logan Echolls (a character from the first episode of the first season, the ultimate love of Veronica’s life) dies at the very, very end of Veronica Mars Season 4. There are no take backs. It’s true that we don’t see a body and we only see the explosion, but there is no question about it: he is dead (if it ever turns out Rob Thomas was joshing everyone and in Season 5 it tries to pull off the “Alias Season 5 Michael Vaughn faking his death” twist to protect him and everyone else all along, all of Thomas’s credibility as a storyteller will go straight out the window). But we are all pretty certain Logan is dead as there is a long enough epilogue that mentions a funeral, a sweet endearing voice message from him to Veronica, and then her leaving Neptune for good to help others because she just can’t take that city that has caused her so much pain anymore. And then there is also Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell doing multiple interviews explaining why Logan Echolls had to die. It was to keep the noir-ness of Veronica Mars intact and that they couldn’t imagine writing more stories of her solving more mysteries while she had a boyfriend or husband waiting back home. BULL and SHIT.

You are telling me that they couldn’t have maybe had some team ups and him and Veronica solve some mysteries together? Fucking please. Rob Thomas’ explanation makes zero lick of sense and I think he just wrote Logan Echolls death just to be shocking because he probably realized that the rest of the season sucked and wanted to go out with a literal bang. If his death was hinted at throughout all 8 episodes and planned better, maybe it would’ve made sense. But there are literally little to no foreshadowing hints, until about 10 minutes before it happens. And the fact that Echolls gets blown up right after Veronica and him get married was just soap opera cliched drama bullshit. It’s all a farce. He is essentially saying that Veronica Mars can’t have a happy ending doing what she does. I don’t think that is necessarily true. I agree it has to be true for a character like Jack Bauer, who defends the country from terrorists and a whole other bunch of violence each season, but not Veronica Mars. I think Veronica can have a happy life and ending but also solve these noir-like mysteries. I think that maybe Rob Thomas has finally lost touch with one of his characters/franchises. It’s really sad.

It would’ve made more sense if maybe Enrico Colantoni exploded in the car instead of Logan, as the whole season pointed to him becoming too frail and absent minded to continue being a private investigator, but nope, at the end it reveals he was getting frail because of a bad combination of prescribed meds, but it’s all fixed and he’s perfectly okay. Then it should’ve/could’ve went boom, he gets killed in the car explosion anyway, fate claiming its final victim for the season as that grim fate was foreshadowed all season long. But nope, Rob Thomas doesn’t know how to connect the dots. It’s a Game of Thrones type shame. But as I was saying, Logan Echolls’ death wasn’t the worst thing to happen to the season, but it will be the only thing fans will painstakingly remember. What everyone should be focused on was that the main mystery narrative was overlong, stretched way too far out, boring, and predictable, ultimately leading to no one really wanting to ever revisit it again, and just stop at the end of the movie, and consider the story done.

Man, I make it sound like there was nothing good to come of this season. That’s not necessarily true. Before that final death, all of the character development was spot on from seasons past with that little lessons that they learned from previous interactions sneaking its way into their personalities. The dialogue is as original, crisp and witty as ever, making that and the character interactions the only things that made this season even watchable. The fan service was nice, seeing characters from the past show up in little tiny arcs/conclusions here and there (I won’t spoil those), I just wish that maybe Percy, who was Veronica’s right hand man in the first several seasons, had more to do, but his reason for not being in the game anymore are completely legit. Then you have new characters played by Patton Oswalt and the great J.K. Simmons, who I kind of felt were wasted given their talents, especially Simmons. Oswalt had a little more meat to his role, but his character, Penn, could’ve still been written better.

I can’t just be one to write off Season 4 as fan fiction and non canon. It happened. We wanted more Veronica Mars, and we got more, just not the more we were deserving or expecting. Maybe Rob Thomas can course correct if there is ever a Season 5 or another movie. And I don’t mean course correct by bringing Logan Echolls magically back to life, I mean go back to the basics: have one overarching mystery with little hints and bits of narrative development in each episode, but then each episode has its own self-contained case to solve. If it is a movie, have a non-cliched, cool kind of mysterious caper, like the first movie was but just make the sequel bigger and better. Basically: Make Veronica Mars Fun Again or Make Veronica Mars Mysterious Again, whatever your fan slogan might be, it’s probably the right one. This season was too gritty, predictable, and the narrative was fucking abysmally lazy. It wasn’t mysterious and it wasn’t fun. Those are the only two ingredients needed to make those sweet, sweet Marshmallows reappear for another course.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: STRANGER THINGS SEASON 3 (major spoilers)

It’s my birthday, and lately I’ve been getting a lot of notifications on messenger asking me about my in depth thoughts for STRANGER THINGS SEASON 3 (other than my short little tiny paragraph of my summation earlier this week), so here is an in depth review! A present from me to you…on my own fuckin’ birthday. Jk, jk, I love writing these things. But be warned, I’m just going to start running my mouth, and since a lot of people have finished the entire short 8 episode season by now, there’s no telling what I’ll start spouting out, so major spoiler warning from here on out. The third season of Stranger Things is a vast, vast, vast improvement on the very kind of….I don’t know….just there second season which felt like just a retread of Season 1 (even though I still liked it). It doesn’t however beat the glorious first season, and there are reasons for that, which I’ll get to in a bit. But needless to say, I really really really enjoyed Season 3, I just wished that it didn’t have any minor problems where it could’ve completely blown the first season out of the water.

I loved the whole Starcourt Mall, The Meat Monster, Scoops Ahoy, the Russian Commie Thread, Alexei, Billy being possessed, all the new elements that were brought to the table. When Will started getting goosebumps at the back of his neck again when they snuck into see Day of the Dead I was rolling my eyes, hoping that they weren’t going to do him possessed thing all over again a la season 2. Thankfully he just has a ‘sense’ now since he was in the Upside Down for so long and is not the actual entity. Making Billy that entity (who was already established as an asshole last season) and then having a minor little arc of redemption felt a little refreshing. The whole thing is like a giant 8 hour summer, retro horror/thriller, fun for the whole family movie where the first 2 episodes are all set up and the last 6 are fast paced pay offs. The only problem with this is that the whole thing feels a little rushed (although I’d rather it be rushed than strung out into 13 episodes with a bunch of needless filler) and that character development is sacrificed for plot the majority of the time. Let me explain.

Remember the scene in the last episode where Dustin is trying to get that number from his girlfriend Suzie (the joke is that she might not be real), this mathmatical number that will unlock the place where Hopper and Joyce need to get into to turn those keys and close the gate the Russians kept trying to keep open, probably hoping to weaponize the creatures and attack America? Where Dustin had to prove his loyalty to Suzie before she would give him this number by singing with her the theme song to The NeverEnding Story? Made you get all goosebumpy and all memberberry inside right? THAT SCENE IS A GOD DAMN JOKE AND COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS. It was a waste of time for all characters involved and if she would’ve just given him the number and then they could’ve sang it to each other, the gate could’ve been closed much faster, it could’ve served both story and character development at the same time, and Hopper might not have ‘died.’ I’m putting ‘died’ like that because, like everyone with a brain, I don’t think they would kill off one of their best and complicated characters. David Harbour is a master in the role, and like I always say, “no body, not dead.” Unfortunately I’m afraid they are just going to resolve the situation like they did with Eleven in season 1 and 2 where she ‘died’ but really just ended up back in the Upside Down place.

Other character development problems: Max and Lucas, who got together near the end of season 2, have virtually no character development between the two this season, they are together the whole time, barely an argument. She has a small arc with her brother Billy but it is completely rushed and half-assed. Eleven and Mike break up for the stupidest reasons other than to get some funny scenes between her and Max. All he had to say was, “Hopper told me to spend less time with you,” and everything would’ve been solved. The relationship between Eleven and Hopper, the father/daughter angle, is good in the first two episodes, and then they are separated the rest of the time, everything meaning to tie together in a sappy yet sweet letter at the end. If there was anything that season 2 got completely right, it was the relationship with those two. The Jonathan/Nancy lover thing, that was again, done better in Season Two, is kind of like the Max and Lucas thing here, they have a couple of arguments, but ultimately love each other and everything is okay. Thank goodness the acting all around, especially from Millie Bobby Brown, is top notch, other wise all these problems would’ve bothered me more.

Fortunately, there are some very, very good character moments that about evens everything up developmental wise. Hopper and Joyce’s relationship is the best it has ever been this season and has a pretty solid arc. And remember that last minute Steve and Dustin friendship near the end of season 2? Here, it is full blown brilliant and is even combined with a great arc between Steven and a new character named Robin (played by Maya Hawke, who looks just like her mom, Uma Thurman) that works with him at Scoops Ahoy (I want to work there). Even though they are in the mall (and the secret Russian underground base) basically the entire 8 episodes, every scene with all of them together work perfectly, including when Lucas’ sister joins the fray later in the season. Also that weird conspiracy theorist dude from season 2 that helped Nancy and Jonathan get together gets a cute, little, but strong and effective arc with a Russian turncoat, a scientist nerd by the name of Alexei, who loves Cherry Slurpees and Burger King but is empathetic with the American’s plight. Also, the CGI and special effects this season are amazing. The Meat Monster is the greatest horror to come out of this series, even more enjoyable than the original Demogorgan.

So basically because of some character development problems and that the 8 episodes went by way too fast, it did not beat Season 1 for me, but at times it came incredibly close. Blew Season Two out of the water, but to be fair, I still do like that season, and love this series. With Season 3, The Duffer Brothers have finally found their groove with the series, relying less on just nostalgia references and more on story and group dynamics. And when there are references, it isn’t just to say, “hey look! Remember this!” anymore, but is often introduced to be a foreshadowing plot point or a joke that hits hard and is immersed in the overall story. And it’s just fucking fun as hell. The 8 episodes went by fast because I completely gave myself to that world and everything in it. I would complain about that long wait times between seasons (it was almost two years! Oct 2017 – July 2019) but if that’s how long it takes to tinker it, and give us a great, almost greatest, season like this one, everyone involved can take all the time they need. Now all they need to do is just end it all next season, or at the most, Season 5, so the whole thing doesn’t become stale. *coughlikeHouseOfCardscough*

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…