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*

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Zach’s Zany TV Binge Reviews: THE TWILIGHT ZONE (2019) Part 5 of 5 – The Blue Scorpion and Blurryman

Two weeks ago I started Part 4 of 5 with a **sigh** but thankfully I’m starting this one with a **whew**. Two weeks ago brought us two of the worst Twilight Zone episodes of not only this revival run, but of all time. They were ham-fisted with over the top social commentary which dragged the episodes into the gutter. I was crossing my fingers that these last two episodes were saved for last because everyone there knew that they were something special and wouldn’t disappoint. And thankfully, they were right. They are the two best episodes right under Replay, my favorite episode this season. Especially the very last episode, which I really can’t tell you anything about, as the trailer for it doesn’t ruin a damn thing. And neither will I. So until next year, let us enter one last time into my review of the reboot of…The Twilight Zone.

The Blue Scorpion

Thankfully, The Blue Scorpion really doesn’t have any kind of social commentary to it. And the episode is very straight forward with an ending I didn’t really expect. All of this worked in its favor. The tale is simple: a man named Jeff (played by the great Chris O’Dowd) inherits a rare and mysterious gun from his father, who had just killed himself with it. A special bullet comes with the gun, and on the bullet a name is inscribed, his own, Jeff. The gun also comes with a set of rules with how to handle it, weird rules, one of which being, don’t ever keep it in darkness as the gun is scared of the dark. Also in the middle of a nasty divorce, Jeff now has to navigate through this hard time in his life with a gun that seems to be speaking to him with Jeff becoming obsessed with it every moment it is in his possession.

Like I said, the story is pretty straightforward, and the episode is brought to life by Chris O’Dowd’s performance, which other than Sanaa Lathan, is probably the best performance in this new run of 10 Zone episodes. He has to display grief, obsession, compassion, fear, any emotion you can think of he goes through it here, and pulls it off in spades. I was also surprised by the end of the episode. I thought for sure I knew what direction it was going to go in, but the episode slapped my face in the end, and went in a completely different, more thought provoking direction. I kind of loved that my expectations were subverted in this instance.

The rest of the episode is pretty great too. I’ve said it a dozen times times, but the one constant great thing in these episode is the cinematography. Every shot is wonderful to look at. This episode felt like it could’ve made a run with the classic Twilight Zone episodes of long ago. It felt like all the pieces of the puzzle were put together with no strain on trying to make pieces fit that wouldn’t. It is definitely an episode I would like to revisit down the line.

Blurryman

I really can’t talk about this episode all that much. I can only describe it by the log line on IMDB.com “A writer is haunted by a mysterious figure.” I can tell you that Seth Rogen and the great Zazie Beetz are in this episode, and I can also tell you that while I was worried about Seth Rogen’s acting at first, the episode pulls the rug out from under you very early in where you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Have I said too much? I don’t think so. The real star of the episode is Zazie Beetz, who other than being in Atlanta and playing Domino in Deadpool 2, is fantastic and needs to be in more things in general.

My third paragraph I’m going to describe how they can make season 2 of The Twilight Zone better, as I don’t know what to say anymore about this episode. I guess I can say the writer of this wrote the so-so episode The Comedian and this is definitely an improvement. This episode was also directed by Simon Kinberg, who next week makes his theatrical directorial debut with Dark Phoenix. He did a pretty good job and everything about the episode looked and felt cool. But yeah, I could tell you to expect the unexpected in this episode but my jaw was almost on the floor and my interest piqued less than 5 minutes into it. The last thing I will say is that if you think you’ve gone meta before in different television shows, this episode brings a whole new meaning to that word. But yeah, I ranked it high on the list of new episodes because Blurryman did something different, which I appreciated. The only thing that took away from it was the horror element that didn’t really work in the middle of the episode.

Anyway, we already know that Twilight Zone has been renewed for a second season. But where do we go from here? Another clue I can give you is the last episode might put a wrench into things…maybe. Whether it is a good wrench or bad wrench remains to be seen. Will they take it in a new direction after certain revelations are brought to light. I do hope that Jordan Peele comes back, and that maybe he even has time to write and direct his own episode. We’ll see…will he come back? That’s a question I hope is answered soon. My advice for season 2? Get better writers. The directors and actors are notch but a lot of the stories and scripts could use some work. Out of ten episodes, only 3 are great, 3 are good, 1 is so-so, and 3 are absolutely terrible. It needs a better batting record, and maybe have no terrible episodes next season. Bringing back a beloved series is always going to have a bumpy start, but with careful consideration and care, it could rise up back to greatness. In The Twilight Zone, anything is possible.

Ranking of Episodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL, AND VILE (Netflix)

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WUNDERKIND

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

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

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

Rating: 1/5

Six Degrees of Freedom

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

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

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

Rating: 4.5/5

Ranking of New Episodes

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

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

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

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

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

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