Any streaming service should know that you might have a problem with about 75% of your original movies, when two of the best ones in that 25% include evil babysitters, cult group sacrifices, blood, guts, gore…and Bella Thorne. The Babysitter was a huge sleeper surprise hit back in 2017 for Netflix. No one ever thought that writer/director McG would make his best film on a streaming platform known for it’s 3/4ths of mediocrity, sometimes just plain bullshit. But that film is an absolute blast, and you could tell McG was having a grand ol’ time having fun and not trying to be too serious but letting his creative juices flow at the same time. Instead of ending up with something like Charlie’s Angels and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, which felt like he tried too hard with too many quick shots, cuts, fast edits and manic energy all over the place, he realized with a streaming service not breathing down his back to just breathe and take his time a little. There’s still manic energy in that film, but it’s focused, works to the films’ advantage, but most importantly, it lets some scenes breathe. For being less than an hour and 30 minutes, it still felt like we got to know all the characters and it let scenes take their time when they needed to, and not when they didn’t. The movie even put Samara Weaving (who played the titular babysitter) on the map. THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN, with director McG returning but also dipping his hand in the screenplay this time, is not only as good as the original, but even better in some parts, narrative wise, than its predecessor. It’s just plain fun. Definitely the pick me up I’m betting the $30 Mulan on Disney+ Premiere couldn’t provide.

If you are interested in this movie, and haven’t seen the first one, try to not watch any trailers for either film, just expect a hard Rated R film with a bunch of blood, shocks, and surprises, and you are good to go. The trailer for the first film shows a little too much, and the trailer for the second film shows a little too much as well, even if it is revealing things more in between the lines than outright and is a bit better at hiding its secrets. Just read these two IMDB descriptions of the first two films, and you are good to go to just press play: The first film – “The events of one evening take an unexpected turn for the worst for a young boy trying to spy on his babysitter” and the second film – “Two years after Cole survived a satanic blood cult, he’s living another nightmare: high school. And the demons from his past? Still making his life hell.” Pretty much almost everybody comes back from the previous movie, and the way the movie eventually gets to the typical sequel formula, that is possibly killing these demons one by one in the most gruesome way possible, isn’t so typical. In fact, there are two big story shockers in the movie that I didn’t see coming. This sequel blindsides you with the fact that you didn’t really know any of the characters that much in the first film, and expands upon them a little, with development choices that completely make sense in context to what we knew, or didn’t know, previously. You’ll see what I’m talking about when it happens. At first you’ll be confused and say: “wait, what?” And then with about two minutes of thinking it’ll turn into: “holy shit, it makes sense, can’t believe they pulled that off!”

Combine that with the more of the quippy dialogue that references pop culture and different movies that we got from the first film. Combine that with more of that zany energy and laugh out loud moments/jokes that we got from the first movie. And combine that with (Randy from Scream 2 would be proud) more gore, more kills, more carnage candy that us core audience just expects from a sequel, and you get something just as good if not better in some ways than the first. It’s not Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, or Terminator 2 kind of superior, in some ways its better and some ways its the same, the perfect double feature if you will. Judah Lewis is back as Cole, and even though he looks much, much older than he did the first time, in the almost 3 year gap since the first one (only two years later in the movie for high school purposes) he hasn’t lost any of the geeky heroic-ness mannerisms he had. Emily Alyn Lind gets much, much more screen time in this film, and it certainly doesn’t go to waste. Jenna Ortega is the film’s fresh face, and her performance in this is a warm welcome considering she just signed on to play a lead in Scream 5. The supporting demons still haven’t lost a step. Hana Mae Lee, the silent girl in the Pitch Perfect films, is as cool and weird as ever, Andrew Bachelor gets more screen time here to full effect (the movie even pokes fun at itself that he does get more screentime), and the Robbie Amell shirtless jokes here definitely hit harder and are more belly ache laughter inducing than the first one.

The weakest link is…no surprise…Bella Thorne. I think she is very limited as an actress in general, and having one film high up on my worst list of this year, Infamous, I wasn’t expecting her to win me over here. But I thought that since she was decent in the first movie and that McG gets the best out of his actors, that she would be decent in this one again. However, I think social media fame has gotten the best of her as she has some weird line delivery issues in the sequel, but thankfully she’s not in the film that long. Not all of her line delivery is weird though, just a couple of moments that could’ve used another take or two. Then again, Ken Marino is in this again too and has a different movie high up on my worst list this year, The Sleepover, but here he’s fine and not that annoying. **********MAJOR SPOILER WARNING FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH, SKIP TO NEXT ONE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE OR THE TRAILER************************************************ Let’s get to the elephant in the room for those that have watched the trailer or heard news about this sequel when it started filming. Where is Samara Weaving? It showed she survived the first film in a mid credits sequence, but in the promotional materials and the casting call sheet about a year ago, her name is no where to be found. Luckily, not to worry. The end of the trailer teased her return, and the film delivers. And even though it is more of a glorified extended cameo, she’s still a very important part of the story it turns out, and I’m glad that getting famous off of the film Ready or Not didn’t go to her head and she didn’t just abandon the franchise she was known for being the true star of. ********************************END OF MAJOR SPOILERS************************************

Like I said, The Babysitter: Killer Queen is a whole lot of just plain fun. Something I and many other people might truly need right now. I’m surprised that this sequel wasn’t more heavily promoted. Were they afraid it wasn’t good and just more of the same, but not as good in its execution? Granted you have 4 writers compared to the first’s one, but they managed to come together to deliver something just as entertaining, and didn’t treat us like sequel idiots that so many sequels tend to do. McG definitely didn’t slack on this one either. He treats it like a rip roaring, actually fun and adventurous reunion of sorts even though it’s only been 3 years and not 10 like some lame high school ones tend to be (I didn’t go to mine, that’s how lame it sounded). The movie starts strong, doesn’t lag and doesn’t let up until the end credits. Speaking of end credits, make sure you stay through just the mid credits, as just like last time, there is another short scene that possibly teases a third film. Even though if they just ended it here, it would be fine. But if they do make a third one, hopefully they have more tricks up their sleeve and introduce another unique and realistic way to continue the story and still have Cole just battling his same demons all over again. Last time, it all took place in a house, here it is mostly a rocky and watery terrain in the middle of nowhere. Maybe shakes things up and the next one be at the high school or even college campus? The possibilities are endless. Thankfully with this spectacular sequel, if everybody does come back again a third time around, both cast and crew, the trilogy could still end up being…killer.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE SLEEPOVER (Netflix)

Kid’s movies, for me, are judged and critiqued on a pretty small spectrum. Only about three areas/categories to put them in, although that can be debated and changed in time. Your kid film can be in the middle of the spectrum and toe the line at having just the right amount of goofy fun without it being too over the top. In the end, it’s a good/decent (but not great) time to be had by all. This includes films such as: most of Dreamworks Animation, some live action ones from Disney like Blank Check or Magic Camp or some live action ones from different studios like Rookie of The Year or Spy Kids. You can be on the brightest side of the spectrum, and have masterpieces of utter brilliance such as: insert Pixar movie here, most of Disney other animated ones, some Disney live action ones like National Treasure and Heavyweights, and the occasional live action one from a different studio, such as The Sandlot. And then there’s the shit side of the spectrum, kids movies that treat every single member of its audience as if they were morons, it’s too over-the-top, poorly written, Razzie Award worthy, awful, awful, awful garbage. This includes most of Netflix’s kids live action offerings, such as The Main Event and now…THE SLEEPOVER. The Sleepover is awful. There are so many curse words I could yell at it, so many metaphors and analogies that I could bash over its tiny, tiny pea sized plot brain, but this time, I’m just going to simply say that it’s simply awful…wait, no…fuck that. This movie deserves to be torn a new one. Imagine Spy Kids stripped down to nothing. There are no gadgets, the acting is way over-the-top, annoying, and God awful, there are no likable characters, the plot is bare bones, uninteresting bullshit, and every single joke falls flat on its face. The Sleepover is one of the very few kids films I wish that were UNMADE.

I should have known, as IMDB’s log line summary is bland and basic: “When two siblings discover their seemingly normal mom is a former thief in witness protection who has been forced to pull one last job, they team up to rescue her over the course of an action-packed night.” What I correctly predicted and got out of that brief description of the film is that they paid as much as a small budget would allow for some recognizable names such as Malin Akerman, Karla Souza, Ken Marino and Joe Manganiello, but then cost effectively limited their screen time to a handful of cheap bland sets, including a very unexciting main stairway action set piece, the action so bad and so fake looking, you have to see it to believe. The majority of the screen time goes to 4 uninteresting kids that basically follow a map of really dumb and not very well hidden clues to find their parents, and then somehow, without much effort, stupidly save the day. Add that a stupid, stupid twist you can seem coming from half way around the world. The jokes are relegated to a grown man baby’s finger strength in order to knead dough for his bakery, old time-y costume changes, food poisoning barf and fart jokes, and Ken Marino desperately trying to improve an insane over-the-top amount just to get a cheap and unearned laugh out of you. Come Razzie nomination time, Ken Marino would be on the short list of receiving worst supporting actor of the year. He is so clueless and annoying in this movie, I had to plug my ears several times just to be able to get to the next scene he isn’t in. He plays the dumbass husband to Malin Akerman’s character, of which they have absolutely no chemistry with each other, and the uninspired screenplay doesn’t help matters one bit.

But I’ll give Ken Marino one little caveat of praise, just one: at least he tried even though he failed miserably. Mr. Maganiello’s performance screams paycheck and he only seems to perk up in a few dialogue exchanges with Ms. Akerman. The film’s only tiny spark are their small amount of ten second scenes of chemistry, but the bold-less screenplay forcefully gets in the way of the little that works to make sure that Ken Marino’s character comes out victorious. Speaking of Malin Akerman, she looks absolutely bored in this movie and her constant phoned in line delivery, terrible make up, and bed head makes me think she woke up quick, left her trailer in a hurry, did her scenes as fast as possible, then went back and fell asleep until they needed her again. Even the main kids in the movie knew what kind of crap fest they were hired for, as they look like they are desperate to quickly get through production, as their roles are all very plain and lifeless. This is a cheaply made film from some screenplay a Netflix exec probably found in the rejected pile, because the approved pile is probably lacking or nowhere to be found. The director, Trish Sie, directed the abysmal sequel Pitch Perfect 3, and that’s about it, so that’s all you need to know in terms of quality. The writer Sarah Rothschild is even more to blame here, as how did anybody green light someone’s very first screenplay that was probably written in Screenplay 101 class at a shitty college no one has ever heard of? Imagine the worst possible sleepover over you’ve ever been to, whether somebody peed or shit the bed overnight, and/or awkwardly saw or touched something that they were never meant to see or touch. Do I really need to end this review by saying how much worse than that this film is?

Zach’s Zany Movie Review: THE KISSING BOOTH 1 & 2 (Netflix)

So I usually only write movie reviews on either the year they come out or a month or two after the new year has started. The latter reason is because they either weren’t available because of how limited they were released in the first place or that and they were also Oscar bait films (these movies probably only released last minute December in only New York and LA). Because of COVID-19 in 2020, new content hasn’t been released in theaters for months and I’ve been writing these reviews long after Jan or Feb because I need stuff to review because it’s all I have left to save my sanity and my blog. Now with my television reviews, which I started doing more of this year, I will only review that season that ended this year, but I’ll also combine it saying a little somethin’ somethin’ about the series as a whole. I have to do this in order to be able to explain my feelings about the current season well. This is my first movie review, where I’m needing to briefly talk about a Netflix film that released in 2018 so I can accurately review its sequel, which just came out this weekend. I never watched THE KISSING BOOTH back in 2018 because at that point in time I was relying mostly on theatrical reviews and didn’t have time to watch all this dumb yet harmless teen rom-com crap. Needless to say in years prior, I skipped a shit ton Netflix original films. But when I heard THE KISSING BOOTH 2 was releasing this weekend, and knew if I just watched the original real quick, I could watch and review the sequel, just to have new contend on my blog. How were they? Well, I already gave you a hint of what I thought when I used the words “dumb yet harmless” two sentences ago, but let me be a bit more clear: Just like To All The Boys I’ve Love Before and it’s sequel, both Booth movies are almost exactly carbon copies of each other, both sequels are unnecessary because the characters end up in the exact same place they were at at the end of the first movie, but both make up a lack for the dumbness by having everyone in its cast have great chemistry with each other. They also look like they are having a ton of fun making it, and the movie doesn’t treat its target audience as if they were idiots for liking the movie either.

Noticed I said ‘target audience’ just there. I AM NOT THESE MOVIES TARGET AUDIENCE! To me, they were harmless one time watches, maybe only watching the first one again sometime with my wife because its much shorter and a little more fun than its sequel. Any other guy watching this, especially single, would probably want to gouge their eyes out during either film and would be bored to tears. Per IMDB it describes the first Kissing Booth movie as: “A high school student is forced to confront her secret crush at a kissing booth.” IMDB describes the second Kissing Booth movie as: “High school senior Elle juggles a long-distance relationship with her dreamy boyfriend Noah, college applications, and a new friendship with a handsome classmate that could change everything.” Sound familiar? That’s because both Booth movies are basically both To All The Boys I Loved Before Movies, all four almost have the exact same plot and narrative structures. It is very, very bizarre. The real difference is that the To All The Boys movies take itself a bit more seriously than the Booth movies, where its just goofy fun teen angst stuff with just a little pinch of drama here and there. To get a little more into the Booth movies, Elle secret crush in the first oned is her boyfriend in the second movie, Noah, and Noah is the older brother of her best-est best friend in the world, Lee, who just happened to have been born the exact same day and time as Elle and they’ve been inseparable ever since, because their mothers were inseparable in high school. They have these list of rules of how best-est best friends should behave and act around each other and rule number #9 or something is you can’t date the spouses of your best friend. Needless to say it all gets complicated in the first film and everything happens and ends up exactly the way you could easily predict it would.

I’m just glad that the first movie didn’t end with Elle and Lee realizing they should now be more than friends with sexual feelings for each other…an ending plot point that has been done in too many rom-com’s we’ve already seen before. No, I can happily say that they don’t become more in either film, and they just remain truly best-est best friends, with no feelings of sexual love at any point whatsoever. He just doesn’t want her dating his older brother. Now the sequel, since Noah and her are together, you can guess how the first movie ends. So to stir up the pot this time and go somewhere different, albeit eerily very familiar when you think about the To All The Boys movies, it has Noah go off to college, and a new handsome boy comes to their school for senior year named Marco. Elle tries to get this Marco to do not only do their school kissing booth fundraiser that year, because he’s so hot and he could make them a ton of money, but also partners up with him in this Dance Dance Revolution competition for money so that she could possibly have enough money to pay for Harvard if she applies. IF she gets accepted, she could end up going to the same college as Noah next year after she graduates. You can basically see how all that predictably plays out can’t you? It’s all very, very predictable and ultimately very, very unnecessary. So now you might be asking me: “Zach, if you are saying all these negative things about it, why are you ultimately giving this film a pass for its target audience instead ripping it a new asshole?” The answer to your question is simple: the chemistry of all the actors together is fun and refreshing, and unlike other rom-coms, where it looks like people are suffering throughout filming just to get it done, everyone here looks like they are having fun and seem as though they want to be there.

And when the cast and crew look to be having fun, that fun was a tiny bit contagious for me. Joey King is just fun, innocent, and so damn delightful in these movies (her real life sister, Hunter King, who is not in this, is an absolute babe, my perverted self just had to mention that). Her chemistry with Joel Courtney, who plays her platonic best-est best friend, is refreshing to watch, knowing that it doesn’t become more than that. In the first movie at least, her chemistry with Noah, played by Jacob Elordi, is fantastic and felt real, and even though in the sequel he isn’t in it as much because he is off to college, when they do end up sharing the screen in scenes that are few and far between, their chemistry at least hasn’t missed a beat. And even though the kissing booth is questionable, ethics wise, in the first movie (it doesn’t really address homosexual people being left out), it at least made up for it in the sequel. In the end, I do end up preferring the first film, mainly because it is only an hour and 45 minutes long, where as the sequel tries to be this epic rom-com we didn’t need at 2 hrs and 12 minutes long. TOO. LONG. FOR. A. MOVIE. LIKE. THIS. This isn’t fucking Shakespeare In Love. Things that were supposed to happen in the third act happened in the second with still an hour left in the movie. Thankfully the films are frantically fast paced enough and not too complicated camera work or dialogue wise to get through it. Look, it’s this simple, you know who this movie is for. If it’s for you, it’s for you, don’t be ashamed about being interested in it, and don’t let my sometimes harsh critique get in the way of your enjoyment of it. I am ultimately recommending it to you, if you are its target audience. It’s harmless, teen angst fun. If it were teen angst for the sake of being teen angst added with too much bullshit drama, then that’s another story. Let’s just say, that if this movie itself were a real kissing booth, I’d buy YOU a ticket to go and kiss the man/girl of your dreams, and I would happily support you at a distance.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CLEMENCY

Let’s get another two quick reviews out today shall we? Next up is CLEMENCY, which is probably the last film that toed the December 2019/January 2020 release date line that I will give my critique on (and it’s also the last one I truly know about). It was released very limited wise, in just two theaters (NY & LA) on December 27th 2019 to try and get a campaign going for Alfre Woodard for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. I don’t think it had much of a wider expansion, it definitely didn’t play at a theater near me around January, and I think it was just dumped on VOD a month or two ago. While this movie is in the 90 percentile on Rotten Tomatoes and there is giant praise of Alfre Woodard’s performance, I myself am going to say, in my own opinion of course, all of that is a bit exaggerated. Clemency is one of those one time watch factors for me, not because it is a bad film (although it has some major flaws), it is half way decent to be sure, but it was just too God damn depressing for me. And while Alfre Woodard’s performance was good, I didn’t think it was Oscar worthy (she for sure though made up for her weird performance in the Luke Cage Netflix TV series here, IMO). And while the story is supposed to show how an extreme career, specifically this one being a warden to a prison that also carries out executions, effects not only your outside life but also wrecks havoc on your personal demons, a lot of the examples used have been done before. You’ve seen them before too: getting drunk to temporarily make the pain go away, fighting with your spouse, crying at moments when you are supposed to show remorselessness and/or strength. It’s because of all this familiarity why I didn’t like it as much as I probably should have.

That’s not to say I didn’t like it. It’s a very well made film with very good acting, it’s just that I felt like it could’ve dug deeper into the personal demons motifs more. Per IMDB’s log line, it describes Clemency as: “As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.” The main problem with this film being able to dig deeper into those issues is the problem with its focus. At first, it focuses solely on Alfre Woodward character, as it should, she is the lead, but juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust after it seems like it gets past all the personal demons we’ve seen before in better films and will go even further…it shifts focus to the inmate that is soon going to be executed. Which is completely fine by the way, but when I say it shifts focus, it COMPLETELY SHIFTS focus. At that point into the film, if it wanted to more accurately and more emotionally portray both Woodard and the inmate’s inner demons, they needed to interact with each other more than they ultimately ended up doing. They have only a couple of brief interactions with each other, all of which have him refusing to talk to her. Most of his interactions don’t involve her, and is just the inmate, played wonderfully by The Invisible Man’s Aldis Hodge by the way, interacting with a lost love, his lawyer, etc. But in order for the movie to have earned MY emotional investment, Woodard and Hodge needed more scenes and scenarios together. And when it failed to bring me that, it failed to garner the same praise from me that it had other critics.

This feels like two movies cobbled and edited into an hour and 50 minute movie. One movie where a prison warden starts to get too emotionally attached to those inmates being executed and another movie where an innocent inmate is on death row, hoping upon hope that the governor’s office will either grant him clemency at the last moment or his appeal goes through. That’s another thing I didn’t like a little about the movie. I think the movie should’ve challenged the viewer more, playing with the audience of whether this “cop killer” truly did the crime or not. However, there is one scene of the warden driving to work, and the inmate’s lawyer is doing some kind of radio interview, and the lawyer lays out all the evidence out of why he’s innocent. Why they gave all that info in a compacted two minutes instead of spread throughout the entire film is beyond me. And if all of that evidence was there in real life, it is really hard to believe that he would’ve been denied an appeal and not given a retrial. I don’t know, I can’t say anything about it because I’m white, and the character was black, and there is some awful racial injustice happening around the world right now that I couldn’t even begin to explain let alone comprehend. My point is I think the movie should’ve made it unclear whether he did it or not, to try to have the audience just invest with the character because he is being put to death against his will. If you can make a human being care and feel for a person being put to death, even if it is unclear whether the inmate did do the crime or not, that is some powerful, powerful cinema. On the other hand if you are going to go the route of, “this person is being denied appeals and put to death just because he’s black and he really is innocent,” you need to MAKE the movie about racial injustice. This movie wasn’t about that at all, hence why this whole film felt very unfocused for me.

Wow, this review is longer than I meant it to be as it feels like I’m trying to defend myself from calling this film “only okay.” I guess I am. But here’s the thing, two movies about inmate’s being put to death came out around the exact same time, and I would definitely recommend Just Mercy over this because that film had fantastic focus. It focused on two things: racial injustice and the relationship between Michael B. Jordan, and the inmate on death row played by Jamie Foxx. If that film, halfway through, had completely shifted focus to Brie Larson’s characters efforts, or another inmate perhaps, and then eventually got back to Jordan and Foxx, I would’ve said the exact same thing about that film as I am this one. It has all the ingredients there, writer and director Chinonye Chukwu just needed to punch up and strengthen the script. Moved some things around a little, added a little here and there, or taken a couple of things out. That’s all. The atmosphere in this film is perfect, the camera work is perfect, and the acting would’ve been perfect if it hadn’t had shifted attention to detail mid way through the film. It’s just frustrating for me, because right now and certainly while watching it, I could imagine the perfect film that Clemency could have been. But in the end, I have to stick to my movie loving instincts and I just can’t grant it clemency from being “only okay.”

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: TROOP ZERO (Amazon Prime)

TROOP ZERO gets a slight one time watch recommendation from me, considering this film should’ve been made and released in the 90s, and is literally, LITERALLY, nothing you haven’t seen before. It apparently is a mixture of Troop Beverly Hills (haven’t seen it), The Little Rascals Movie and Heavyweights, but take out all the crude humor and add about ten extra doses of charming. It is no wonder that it was just released last weekend on Amazon Prime, because if it was released in the theaters it definitely wouldn’t have made any money whatsoever. The only reason why this film gets a slight pass from me is because of the acting, and makes me very excited for Mckenna Grace’s role in the upcoming Ghosbusters: Afterlife. And some good ol’ scene chewery from veteran actors Viola Davis, Jim Gaffigan, and Allison Janney. This movie just is another proof that the streaming revolution is really at hand. These platforms getting, producing and releasing movies that wouldn’t have their time of day in the theater anymore, instead hoping for a mass consumption of people wanting to stay at home, safe, to watch something half way decent, without having to go out and deal with the rest of the human race. Because the rest of the human race sucks as watching movies in a public place. I’m sorry, but most of you ruin it nowadays….fuck you!

With that little rant over, I’m just going to borrow Wikipedia’s log line for the film as I would make everything confusing trying to put it into my own words: “In rural Georgia in 1977, a group of elementary-school misfits led by spunky outcast Christmas Flint join forces to infiltrate the high-and-mighty Birdie Scouts youth group in order to win a talent show. The winning Birdies will earn the right to have their voices included on the Voyager Golden Record, which Christmas believes will be heard by her deceased mother – if they can just win the show.” As you can see by that description, the character of Christmas Flint must be quirky and weird, yet charming and able to win over the hearts of friends and family, and Mckenna Grace’s performance, the best in the film, pulls that off in spades. Jim Gaffigan plays her quirky dad, and even though I wished he was more in the film (he’s gone in a flash at the beginning but gets more stuff to do toward the end), he is pretty great in the scenes he is in. And Viola Davis and Alison Janney, we already know they are master class in acting, both having won Oscars in the past several years, and they are in the movie quite a bit, Davis playing a reluctant yet loving mother figure that ends up being their troop leader, and Janney playing the obligatory rival troop leader that leads the best and most famous troop and will do anything to stop the girls from winning the talent show. Their acting elevates the one dimensional written roles into a little bit of something more.

The one aspect that makes this film watchable and charming are the parts where the girls are trying to get their badges, and the ending talent show and the films entire message really hits its mark. The problem is that it is everything you’ve seen before. It adds nothing new to the quirky independent film dramedy, but then again, maybe it was never meant to? It is a film for parents to maybe put on for their young kids while they do some chores in the background. Forgettably charming, nothing more, nothing less. I’m surprised that Disney+ plus didn’t snatch this up, as it seems like it was tailor made for the platform, but then again maybe they were put off by the couple of curse words such as ass and damn? But that wouldn’t make sense since there are a shit ton of old 20th Century Fox projects on their now that do and say much worse. But it doesn’t surprise me that this premiered at Sundance last year and went straight to platform. Many other camp/scout films have done a better job with what this films does, and those are now considered classics. You can’t just be a copy cat, you gotta do something special. And while this isn’t special, it’s just fine, and could’ve been much worse. It will eventually be lost in time…like tears…in rain. By the way, now that I think about it, is it too late to start a petition to get Judd Apatow to produce, write, and direct a sequel to Heavyweights? Or have the past couple of woke, triggered, offended, butthurt years ruined that possibility? Let me know.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019)

I don’t normally get offended very easily while watching movies. If I ever do get offended, it’s normally because a film is trying to pass itself off as something completely original and instead is just a scene by scene rip off mash up of other, better films in the same genre. Those definitely do not put a smile on this face. BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019) is one of the only handful of films that have offended me in a different way. This is the first one to offend me as a man. Do know this: I do not mind or hate #metoo, feminist, girl power, gender equality films at all. In fact, some of those films are absolutely fantastic, from guilty pleasures all the way to being some of the best films ever made and on my list of personal favorite films of all time. Black Christmas takes its message, one that could have been better portrayed by different filmmakers, puts it on top of a sledgehammer and just beats you to death with it. Let me rephrase: HATEFULLY beats you to death with it. This film is the most anti-man, hardcore feminist, man hating film I have ever seen. It basically just yells in your face that ALL men are rude, obnoxious, women hating rape monsters. We are all terrible pigs and we want all the power and we want women to always be behind us and never have any power of their own. And we want to kill all the women that stand in our way. This film is just one giant hate filled message that a. isn’t subtle or clever, b. only one sided, and probably the worst part about it is that c. it isn’t scary at all.

If you didn’t know, this Black Christmas is the 2nd remake of a 1974 horror classic. Do us all a favor and just watch that one. Not this one, and definitely not the 2006 mess either. Anyway, while those two films are very related to each other story wise, this Black Christmas is a remake that’s by name only and the only other connection is a location link in that they all take place on a college campus with fraternities and sororities. This story is about a girl named Riley, who is still trying to recover after being raped by a fraternity (named AKO) president named Brian, who was not convicted by the police but forced to leave the campus just the same. He is in town visiting and is in the audience when the girls participate in the AKO talent show and they utterly humiliate the fraternity brothers by changing the lyrics to a Christmas song and turning it into a song about male toxicity and rape culture (the only funny and clever part of the film and its message). Soon, sorority sisters are being killed off one by one by a cloaked figure in a mask. And then the rest of the film is just the girls talking about how all men are awful (even the phase “oh no you didn’t just ‘not all man’ me”) and then the climax of the film helps, in a ridiculous and non realistic fashion, stab that message into your blood stream, over and over again. Of course, this film being a dumb-downed PG-13 horror film, you don’t get any blood, you don’t get any kills on screen, and all you get are cheap, unearned jump scares.

The whole time while I was watching the movie I was thinking, “this has a good idea somewhere in its soul that could bring a good conversation to the table about male toxicity and rape culture…but this is all just so one-sided and hateful to be it.” It would’ve helped if there was more than just one…one and a half small role male sympathetic characters in the movie. Hell, it might’ve even helped if those two roles were a little beefed up, instead of both being either a. easily corrupted or b. killed off very quickly. The one really sympathetic male character in the film, Landon, seemed like he was a last minute addition to the film, where the studio went, “whoa hey, uhhhh yeah, you need to have a sympathetic male in the film, no matter how small the role, or people aren’t going to take your message seriously.” They were right about that. Every piece of dialogue in this film is just a hateful message that I couldn’t take seriously because of its bias. The script, in my opinion, needed a large overhaul, with a carefully calculated plan of action, with more subtlety and cleverness than just spewing hatred out of its mouth the entire time. I get it, sometimes people won’t listen unless you scream right into their ear. I don’t think you can do that with movies though, because then you just seem like a raging Michael Moore whose only opinions you care about are your own.

But let’s steer away from the man hating agenda and get to the most offensive thing about this film: it’s not scary. This is supposed to be a horror film about female empowerment yet the filmmakers decided to dumb everything down with a “play it safe” PG-13 movie with no blood, no gore, and no scares. Just cheap unearned jump ones. One of the “frights” even completely rips off one of the greatest scares of all time in Exorcist III. That doesn’t work in general. In fact, it might’ve even helped the message if the film was Rated R, had some more blood and gore to make the killings of these sorority sisters more horrifying to watch and thus become very sympathetic to their cause. But the cutaways are laughable, the off screen deaths just felt cheap, too quick and random to be earned, and the “twist” to what is really going on at the campus is so unbelievably stupid that it renders pointless anything the filmmakers were ultimately trying to say with the film. Without spoiling too much, the film tries to switch genres in the third act and nothing that came before it transitions that switch well. At all. It just comes out of left field, just beats the dead horse “all men are awful” message, and ultimately just falls flat on its face when the movie just abruptly ends.

This whole thing just seemed like a very rushed project in order to release the film by Christmas time. If the filmmakers had been given another year of rewrites, retooling, making a hard cord R rated Christmas horror film and some re-title-ing, this film could’ve worked. Its very frustrating knowing that it could’ve worked well. The only thing decent in the film is the acting. Well, to be more specific. The female acting. Imogen Poots plays the lead with a lot of unknowns and they actually do a pretty good job screaming in terror but then becoming empowered and not afraid anymore and fighting back. All the male characters in this, since they were underdeveloped, the acting turned out to be abysmal. Especially from Cary Elwes, who seems to just ham it up with weird accents that make his characters too over the top nowadays. The whole thing reminded me of that awful new Twilight Zone episode called “Not All Men” from earlier this year. And I thought that episode was hateful…this one takes the candy cane.

I’m not familiar with the other works of writer April Wolfe and writer/director Sophia Takal, but even though I did not like this film one bit, their future project or collaborations I could see have some true potential. They have something to say, it just needs to be more focused, clever, and subtle, and less murdering you right in the face with it. Needless to say, if you hate men, or are a hardcore feminist, or are easily very biased, you are probably going to love this film. If you love the 1974 Black Christmas and hated the 2006 remake, you are probably going to think the 2006 one is a masterpiece after seeing this garbage. It’s a very mediocre bordering on abysmal horror film with a blurry message that not only spoon feds it to its audience, but takes that spoon, and about a dozen other bigger ones, and shoves them all down your throat at once, making you choke to death.

P.S. the trailer has the line “Ho, Ho, Ho Bitch” in it, something I was really looking forward to one of the females saying to the toxic males in the climax. FALSE ADVERTISING! That line in the trailer was nowhere to be found in this film. Also, re watching the trailer, it shows you the whole movie, with almost all the spoilers…the whole thing needed better marketing.

My FINAL Predictions for STAR WARS EPISODE IX: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (possible MAJOR spoilers if I’m correct)

Hey there, I’m here again with my final prediction for what might happen in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker. If you are a long time reader of my bullshit, you’ll know I did this for Force Awakens and Last Jedi (but not Rogue One or Solo because those being prequels, I didn’t both because prequels are much, much easier to predict). Right off the bat, you need to know that I’m pretty damn good at guessing most of the outcome of movies (Knives Out struck me for a loop though) so if you are afraid I’m going to be right on some of my guessing, I would STOP READING NOW. Just know, that I know absolutely NOTHING outside of the trailers, television spots, the toys, Funko pops, marketing, everything that has been released to the public. My guesses are going to be a deep dive into The Rise of Skywalker, not broad generalizations that any non-geek John or Jane Schmo might be able to come up with on their own. This is just going to be a list (will at least go to 20-25) and after the movie comes out, I’ll tally what was right and what was wrong and give myself a letter grade (I’ve gotten a B+ with both Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, fyi if you are still on the fence about reading my guesses). So yeah, here we go!

  1. Leia is going to die near the beginning of the Rise of Skywalker and we will see her as a Force Ghost. It will also reveal she has her own lightsaber. Cause of death will either be complications to what happened to her in The Last Jedi or she “gives herself” to the Force. This wasn’t a hard guess to come up with. Look at the facts: it has been released to the public that they are using Carrie Fisher’s unused footage from both Force Awakens and Last Jedi and they are structuring that unused footage around the other actors to make it look authentic and believable. We also know that there is only a total of 8 minutes of Leia footage in Rise of Skywalker. And the only footage we’ve seen with her is with Rey on a grassy planet while Rey trains with a lightsaber that kind of looks like Luke’s but not exactly. The footage we’ve seen of Fisher, at one point, she is hugging Rey and Rey is tearing up/crying. I’m guessing she’s telling Rey she’s about to go. And then we’ll see her later with Force Ghost Luke as being a Force ghost is the easiest way of being with people without actually being there. Footage wise. As with the lightsaber, all the books and comics I have read that are supposed to take place between Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker, Rey does not have a lightsaber. My guess on Leia having one is that she reveals she has one and gives it to Rey. Or Rey simply fixes Luke’s, but that wouldn’t make sense as it revealed that Kylo Ren I think has the broken lightsaber near the end of The Last Jedi? Like I said, this is all just conjecture.
  2. Snoke will be revealed to have just been a patsy or a fucked up rejected clone of Snoke? I know Rian Johnson’s intent with The Last Jedi was basically, “fuck this guy, this story is about Kylo Ren,” but since Kathleen Kennedy wants to make all these fanboy theorizers happy, I expect J.J. Abrams and co. will retcon him and make him a little bit more important than he actually really was. If so, he’ll have to be one of the two or both. Expect this to be a quick scene explanation, not some deep dive in the film, so that way all the events leading to Palpatine move on.
  3. The title, The Rise of Skywalker, will NOT be related to calling Jedi’s Skywalkers, but will actually pertain to Rey herself, as at the end of the film, she will take on the last name of Skywalker. If you do some detective work, you’ll realize each and every Episode title from 7-9 is about Rey. The Force Awakens: yeah, the force awakened in Rey, Kylo Ren already had it at the start of the film. The Last Jedi: Luke tells Kylo, “And I will not be the last Jedi.” The camera then cuts to Rey, and then as we all know, Luke succumbs to the Force, so Rey was The Last Jedi by the end of the film. And it revealed she kept all the sacred texts, so she won’t be the last Jedi either, but for the purpose of the movie, she was. That can only mean that this title refers to her. And since her parents were “nobodies” (J.J. will retcon this slightly, skip to the next guess for my guess) and she has no last name, she will take on the last name of Skywalker to carry on not just the name, but the legacy.
  4. It is going to be revealed that Rey is the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. I don’t know how it is going to connect those dots, all I know is that in the trailers for Rise of Skywalker, it has shown the exact same ship that was in the Force Awakens, leaving Rey as a tiny kid on Jakku. And again, since Kathleen Kennedy wants to amend for the whiny fanboys that weren’t happy with the “her parents were “nobodies”” answer, expect J.J. Abrams to pull off more of that retcon magic. Kylo Ren will have said they were nobodies because he believed it to be so, he believed he was telling Rey the truth. My guess is that the son or daughter of Palpatine (how it is going to reveal this shit I have no idea) didn’t know of their lineage, learned of it later in life, and then saw that Rey had force powers, got scared and dropped her off for “drinking money”. Rey being a descendant from Palpatine I admit is a stretch. But she can’t be a blood lineage Skywalker or a blood lineage Organa and Solo based off the past two movies events, and Luke sensed some darkness in her in The Last Jedi and was scarred of her too loud and too fast force powers, so my guess is a descendant of the big bad Sith lord. It would explain how Rey was so powerful with the Force from the get go, and will make those dumbass fan boys happy. If not Palpatine, expect her to have some significant lineage reveal.
  5. Ewoks will be in the film. But maybe a blink and you’ll miss them cameo. I am not going to guess anything about Palpatine really showing up, because of course he will, Ian McDiarmid’s name is on the damn poster. If he doesn’t show up, that would be the biggest blue balls to fans since Episode I finally hitting theaters and it underwhelming everyone. Since it shows our heroes approaching the remnants of what I can only assume is Death Star II (the original would make absolutely no sense), I’m guessing that it crash landed on Endor or on another one of its moons. Hell, it might even be Wicket.
  6. That new girl, Naomi Ackie, who plays the character of “Jannah,” will be revealed to be Lando Calrissian’s daughter, because why not? Everybody has some famous Star Wars lineage right?
  7. I’m going to double down on that bet and say Finn is revealed to be Lando Calrissian’s son and that he and Jannah are brother and sister. Because why the fuck not? Blame the all too coincidental Star Wars lineage again.
  8. C-3P0, who says in the trailers, “I’m taking one last look at my friends,” doesn’t “die” in the movie per say. I’m guessing with the red eyes and shit they have to erase his memory so that they can read some kind of data file that relates to the Sith maybe? Anyway, whatever happens, C-3P0 will be out of commission for the rest of the film, but then it will reveal that R2-D2 has back up memory for him, so all that emotional good bye is just a red herring
  9. Character surviving fates: I’m going to group some together and say that Chewbacca, R2-D2, BB-8, Poe, Lando, Jannah and Finn all survive at the end of the film. Rey will live obviously.
  10. Character death fates: Emperor Palpatine (for good this time), General Hux and Kylo Ren will die. I also think that Rose Tico is going to die. She will sacrifice herself for the Resistance sometime during the film (don’t know when). She has hardly been in the promotion material, and a lot of people didn’t like her character. Abrams will kill her off, but she will be smarter in this movie and go down in a blaze of glory. General Hux I think will be killed by Kylo Ren for betrayal or something. That would spin the complete dynamic of Hux and Kylo Ren full circle, as they both hate the shit out of each other. Could I see Hux giving the resistance information? Oh hell yeah, especially with how much his hatred of Ren grows. Kylo is likely to be killed by Palpatine, and Palpatine likely to be killed by Rey. Force lightening will be used.
  11. Speaking of Kylo Ren, I have a feeling he is going to succumb to the “light side” and sacrifice himself so that Rey can defeat Palpatine. Don’t know how, but Palpatine will kill him. But then Rey will kill Palpatine.
  12. We will see Keri Russell’s face at one point during the movie, don’t expect her new character Zorii Bliss to not take her helmet off. She isn’t a Mandalorian.
  13. CHARACTER CAMEO: Expect Harrison Ford to make a cameo as Han Solo as a vision (NOT a Force Ghost) to Kylo Ren, maybe even at the end that helps Kylo see the ‘light.’ In Last Jedi, Luke told Kylo, “strike me down and I’ll always be with you, just like your father,” that implies that Solo might’ve already been in a vision of Ben’s off screen. Abrams had said this isn’t just a conclusion to this trilogy, but of all three trilogies. He’s got Mark Hamill, and he has unused footage of Fisher, and we know from interviews that Harrison and Abrams got along and were buddy buddy on the set of Force Awakens, I’m sure Abrams made a call and I’m 100% certain that call was answered.
  14. I don’t see Darth Plagieus being involved at all in this. I know that everything about Palpatine’s mysterious master has been wiped out of canon when Disney bought Lucasfilm, all except for what was said in Revenge of the Sith, but I think that if he were to ever pop up again, it’ll be in books or comics, or even a future prequel Jedi/Sith movie. But I don’t think his name will be mentioned, nor will it turn out that Snoke was Plagieus either. Palpatine’s the big baddie, and he will stay that way.
  15. Rey and Finn will be romantically involved by the end of the film. And a kiss shared. I think them getting together was always the intention of J.J. Abrams, and their dialogue and chemistry were unmatched in Force Awakens, so expect Abrams to follow through with that shit.
  16. All these Sith Troopers and Sith Jet Troopers (all the ones in red) won’t show up until the final big battle at the end. All of them have been training far past the outer rim in the unknown regions, waiting for Palpatine to return. Are they clones? More kidnapped children? Who the fuck knows. But they won’t be a presence until the end of the film, and they will be dispatched just as quickly.
  17. The good guys will win. I want to at least be right on one of these guesses. So here is a “FUCKING DUH!!!” guess. I’ll combine it with another to not make it so easy: The Knights of Ren will be underwhelming. We are expecting them to be these ultimate mythological warriors and I have a feeling J.J. Abrams meant to explore them more in his story treatment for Episode 8. Since he’s shoving everything plus the kitchen sink in this, I think they’ll be explained off in a line or two of dialogue and then dispatched by him just as quickly.
  18. Other than Luke and Leia, expect NO OTHER FORCE GHOSTS in the film. The Emperor will be real and have somehow survived his plunge in Death Star II (it will reveal how he survived with probably a line of dialogue too). That’s right, I think the only time that Yoda will have appeared was unfortunately in The Last Jedi. And no, I don’t think Hayden Christiansen will show up either. That would just be fucking dumb fan service. Maybe expect their voices though….but voice cameos are different from actually showing up in the flesh.
  19. Expect voice cameos again like you heard very faintly in The Force Awakens, maybe this time, not so faintly. Possibly of Yoda, Obi-Wan, maybe even Anakin.
  20. Because Abrams can’t help himself, those Star Destroyers you see coming out of an icy like ocean/ravine whatever the fuck. I bet they all have Death Star lasers on them. He couldn’t get away with another planet, but he has been on record saying with some choices he literally said, “fuck it” and did it anyway, so him probably wanting to have some kind of rhyming scheme with Return of the Jedi, ALL the Star Destroyers have Death Star lasers, because why the fuck not? Multiple, endless death weapons. Plus, in the trailers, remember, we see some giant ass laser hit the surface of a planet again. I highly doubt that is a flashback to Starkiller Base.
  21. Darth Vader’s helmet will come back into play, this is another fairly obvious guess considering it looks as though Kylo and Rey team up to possibly destroy it (I’m guessing that’s what the giant black object and stand is) in the final trailer that was released.
  22. The story probably has to do with Sith artifacts that all add up to Palpatine’s plan this entire time after we thought he died at the end of Return of the Jedi. Notice that weird knife that Rey is holding in the trailer when her and Kylo look like they are destroying Vader’s helmet together.
  23. Maz Kanata will most likely not reveal how she ended up with Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber after Luke’s hand was cut off by Vader on Cloud City and it went just tumbling down. That will probably be a future book or comic reveal.
  24. Here’s another easy guess to get at least three right: BABY YODA WILL NOT SHOW UP IN THIS MOVIE. His fate will be probably only tied to the Mandalorian TV show…for now.
  25. There will be absolutely NO TIME TRAVEL in this movie. That would be dumb, stupid, and time travel has sort of already been explained in the show Star Wars Rebels, and in that episode that inner sanctum that had time travel like capabilities was closed off and destroyed at the end. So I think that’s the end of that story telling element. Come on Abrams…this isn’t STAR TREK!!!

Aaaaaaaand, that’s it, that’s all I got. Feel free to guess what YOU think might happen and comment on here, or on Facebook, or on Twitter. Whatever you’d like! If you actually know shit and could actually spoil it for others…PLEASE DON’T!!! Thank you for reading and may the force be with you!!!

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE KING (Netflix)

How come nobody is talking more about this historical drama epic of Henry V, Prince of Whales, that was just released on Netflix this past weekend? Another question: why isn’t anyone talking about Robert Pattinson’s over the top deliciously awesome off the wall bonkers supporting performance as The Dauphin of France in this? If you haven’t check out THE KING on Netflix yet, do so. Yes, it is 2 hrs and 20 minutes long (minus about 8-9 minutes of end credits) but you don’t feel the length at all. It is probably the most watchable medieval epic of it’s kind since Kingdom of Heaven (THE DIRECTOR’S CUT, not that awful theatrical garbage version). With these kind of period piece epic films, it usually only takes me 10-15 to know whether I am going to come out loving/liking it to being 100% absolutely bored. I knew in 5 minutes that I was hooked. The film tries not to be overly complicated on its audience, a very smart move indeed. It is entertaining as hell, has a great score, and has some supremely masterful sequences. Just another film that shows that Netflix maybe starting to take things seriously with this whole streaming wars coming to fruition.

The movie is based on several plays from William Shakespeare’s “Henriad”, which chronicles Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V, of which I am not familiar. This film chronicles the origin of Henry V and his invasion of France. Timothe Chalamet stars as the titular hero, one who doesn’t want the crown at first, but after his father dies, assumes leadership and very quickly has to get it together for England and its people. considering he disagreed with many of his fathers decisions. The ruler of France keeps taunting and threatening Henry V, and while he doesn’t want to go to war at first, the escalation goes quickly out of hand to where it no longer can be ignored. Henry, or “Hal” to his close friends, feels like there isn’t that many people to trust, and he has to navigate the new world given to him without getting manipulated or killed in the process. Usually a film to this degree would be about 3 hours, with the droning on and on of politics. The King says “fuck you” to that by getting down to business early on and never letting up. The film doesn’t have much flashy dialogue that would make it hard for audiences to get into, but it does have solid dialogue, makes the viewer understand what is going on and not make one decipher every sentence like they probably had to do in English class during high school.

There are some spectacular sequences in this too. My favorite would have to be when Henry V and his army reaching the castle of Harfluer and then seizing it by throwing endless balls of fire at it using trebuchets. Another sequences, very late into the film, showing Henry V going into a giant battle, and all in this one take, showing him killing the enemy while almost being killed himself, in a sea of armored clad men with no faces. There is even a Raiders of the Lost Ark comedy duel late in the game that I won’t ruin for spoiler reasons, but needless to say, a lot of movies have tried to copy this classic Spielberg scene, but none have done so hilariously while still be executed a bit differently. There are more than just those three, but needless to say the cinematography in this is quite good considering it is Netflix that financed the film. Like I said above, the movie doesn’t feel its length. There is enough interesting battles, conversations, treasons, and scene stealing acting to get you through it rather quickly.

Let’s talk about the acting. Timothe Chalamet is a great actor, let me just point to his incredible performance in Call Me By Your Name. He also looks like he is going to do a great job later this year in Little Women. And he is good here too (and has an excellent before battle speech), but the movie is completely stolen from him by two supporting roles: that of the always reliable Joel Egerton, who plays Falstaff, a once drunkard warrior who becomes Henry V right hand man, and Robert Pattinson, who plays The Dauphin. Egerton has the more meatier role, spouting off military strategies but also handing out life lessons to those around him, fascinating even when not a word is spoken from him. But I really want to talk about Robert Pattinson. Now while I didn’t care for The Lighthouse when I saw it last week, Pattinson is fucking fantastic in it, and even though all you naysayers that can’t get him out of your head as Edward from Twilight or Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter, you need to give that film and especially the movie Good Time a chance, to know that he will make a fantastic Batman/Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves’ upcoming one-off Batman film.

If those two movies didn’t say your thoughts of him, I guarantee you this one will. His character, The Dauphin, doesn’t show up until over halfway of the movie being over, and Pattinson is really only in the film for maybe about 10 minutes total if you spliced his scenes together, but his introduction is one to be marveled at. He plays this French son of a king so ruthlessly and maliciously over the top, I smiled every time he opened his mouth spewing heated disses to Henry V with a deliciously vile French accent. And it 100% works. At first I was afraid that his performance would be just written off as a good French Heath Ledger Joker, but Pattinson truly makes it his own, and the 10 minutes he is in the film is worth it just to watch the whole thing alone. There are other supporting parts such as Ben Mendolsohn as King Henry IV (less screentime than Pattinson) and Lily Rose Depp (Johnny Depp’s daughter) as Catherine (even less screen time than both Mendolsohn and Pattinson) and while they are good, they aren’t very memorable because of their lack of a huge presence. Sean Harris (the main villain in the last two Mission: Impossible film) seems like he’s getting the short end of the stick with his character, but towards the end you realized that it was necessary all along.

Yeah, so what the fuck are you doing? If you like epics such as this, this one is right up your alley and ranks along the greats. But I mean, would this kind of film make money if it was in the theater anymore? Probably not, but Netflix knows that there is this certain niche of people at there that need their fix for these kinds of films, and smartly swiped this up and debut it on their streaming platform. I have a feeling it is going to get more praise in the coming weeks, I just wish it was getting it now. I have a feeling it is being drowned out by Dolemite Is My Name and other things about to hit the giant service, but that is okay right now as Netflix is truly trying to merge as a competitor before things truly get ugly next week as Disney+ debut and then in January when HBO Max tries to reign supreme. Maybe my little review here could get some of you to hit that play button on your remotes and spread the word so that way it comes out of being drowned in the mud and muck. It doesn’t deserve that, especially when I will definitely be checking this out a time or two in the coming years.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SHAZAM! (no spoilers)

While Aquaman was a small step in the right direction for the DCEU, SHAZAM! is a giant motherfucking step even more forward. In fact, I’m trying to figure out if it is my favorite DCEU film, above even Wonder Woman. Maybe they’ll switch in time for me, but that doesn’t negate the fact that I thought this film was an absolute delight. It’s entertaining, it’s comedic where it needs to be, and it is dark when it needs to be (some of the sequences may get a too dark for kids, IMO). It rides that fine line with its tone, but it absolutely, and metaphorically, makes it from one building to the other flawlessly. I know that it is basically the movie Big but with superheroes, but considering that I’m sick of origin movies in general, and I really didn’t have many complaints other than some minor villain and CGI issues, consider this a slam dunk for Warner Bros. and DC.

In fact, if I had to compare Shazam! to anything else origin story wise, I would compare it to the first Iron Man. Different comic book companies, but hear me out, as the first Iron Man and this film actually have a lot in common. For example? It takes its time telling its origin story. Zachary Levi probably doesn’t show up on the screen until maybe 30-40 minutes into the movie, and that is a good thing. Both films also use action sparingly, and only when necessary. Some of the DCEU films, and I won’t name names, use action too much of its run time, and when it is done, it doesn’t serve the story any better, it is just there to be there. Both also care and establish their characters with full arcs, even the minor ones. Too many origin movies nowadays try to set up something quick and go almost straight to the action, because producers feel that is what the audience wants, just Michael Bayified endless mind-numbing action. But that just isn’t true. Yes, I know that some dumb younger folk that don’t know any better will eat what they consider the sweet stuff, even with a shit covered spoon. The producers don’t want to admit this, but there are more people that appreciate a well made movie more than a stupid loud action shit fest. Just look at the nice box office numbers this film made this past weekend…and then think about how that money was with a lesser known DC comic book character!

The movie has almost perfect narrative structure. It doesn’t sacrifice anything just to bring you action you’ve never seen before. It’s a smartly written movie, and very comedic. I think this is the most I’ve laughed in a comic book film since the first Guardians of the Galaxy or Spider-Man Homecoming. Zachary Levi is an absolute treat in this. I’ve always liked him, and have known about him since his great turn on a little Television series you might know: Chuck. Here, he has the charm and personality to pull off a child like wonder performance, considering that Shazam! is an adult superhero that is actually a 14 year old boy with God like powers. The real person that steals the movie from everyone however is Jack Dylan Glazer (you might know him as Eddie from It: Chapter One) Every line of dialogue he delivers is rapid fire and it is delivered with a strong, hilarious, comedic throat punch. Any sequel must include both him and Levi. Although one could argue that everything in the movie is very, very predictable, especially the star studded ending, all of that is easily forgiveable just based on the way the journey and rest of the story is handled.

I’m not going to get into the story much, just know that there is more to what you have seen in the trailers. All you need to know is that a 14 year old orphan kid gets turned into an adult with God like powers, but still with that 14 year old frame of mind. And obviously a bad guy wants those powers. The film has a good message on family and what it is to be a hero. If I had any complaints is that some of the CGI when superheroes are flying are a little shaky, and that I wish Mark Strong was a little bit more in it. He was menacing as fuck as the bad guy and better than half of the MCU villains that have come and gone in a snap. The film does a good job establishing him though, and he has one big memorable terrifying office scene. I know the movie was already 2 hours and 12 minutes long, but maybe five more minutes with him would’ve made all the difference. There is though praise I want to give that counters that minor complaint. The bad guy has these creatures within him that represent the Seven Deadly Sins, and when they are out and about wrecking havoc, and not even saying a word, all of them have more substance and were more menacing than Justice League’s Steppenwolf. Sorry, I had to get it in there. Steppenwolf was been the worst DCEU villain and possibly even worst comic book villain to date.

But anyway, go see Shazam! and see it with friends and family. Sure, there are a couple of dark sequences where a young kid might get a little scared, but those scenes are perfectly balanced with enough heart and whimsy to get them through it easily. It is just a fun, fun, fun, fun movie. I’m starting to think that with Aquaman, the tide really has turned for DCEU and DC in general. We get the incredible looking Joker with Joaquin Phoenix in October (a DC film but not a DCEU one), and then next year we get Wonder Woman 1984, which from everything I’ve seen so far, looks like it might be another winner. I know there are some Zack Snyder defenders out there, I’m one of them in some aspects, and I would like to see a Snyder cut of Justice League, but maybe it is a good thing he is not involved with this property anymore. It is sad to see that he might’ve been the problem, but wouldn’t you rather that it be rooted out than just get more years and years of end products like Suicide Squad or Justice League? You tell me.

My Rank of DCEU Films:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Shazam!
  3. Man of Steel
  4. Aquaman
  5. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
  6. Justice League
  7. Suicide Squad