Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ROCKETMAN

ROCKETMAN is a zany, guilty pleasure, new Disney classic for me. It stars Harland Williams as this idiot geek who actually gets his dream comes true and becomes an astronaut and gets to go on the first mission to Mars. Wait a minute, oh shit, wrong movie. Sorry, suddenly I was having good ol’ flashbacks to 1997. No, THIS Rocketman is a hard Rated R musical look at the crazy life of one of the best musicians to ever grace the world, Elton John. As you probably know because its been reported a dozen times, the director of this, Dexter Fletcher, directed the last two weeks of shoots on Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer went AWOL, so Rocketman is being compared, both fairly and unfairly, to that film. The question on everyone’s mind is, is it better than Bohemian Rhapsody, as reviews on Rotten Tomato, CinemaScore, etc. would allow you to believe? It is, but not by much. However, if you are one of those people that said “fuck the critics” and enjoyed the hell out of Bohemian Rhapsody, then you can basically tell me to fuck off, because you’ll probably love this.

And it’s not like I hated Bohemian Rhapsody. I just thought it was okay, elevated more than it should have been by Rami Malek’s incredible Oscar winning (and well deserved) performance. But just like Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman is your standard bio pic fare, only elevated by the fact that it is more of a musical than Rhapsody was, Taron Egerton gives an award worthy performance, and this also dives deeper into the sexuality of Elton John than Rhapsody did with Mercury. But that’s about it. If you seen one rock star/musician/singer bio pic, you’ve seen them all. Even with earlier this year’s The Dirt on Netflix, all of them are Rise To Stardom, Fall From Stardom because of drugs, sex, alcohol or a combination of the three, and then usually Rise Back To Stardom and in the end either that person dies of a tragedy, or they overcome their demons and lived and long and happy rest of their lives. Well, since most of us know that Elton John is still alive, how do you think the ending to this one plays out?

When the movie isn’t a musical, it drags considerably. It starts out well enough, in that it has a bunch of musical song and dance numbers at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle of the film I think the filmmakers forgot it was a musical and tried to turn it into a hardcore drama, and the musical numbers were few and far between, IMO of course. It just didn’t have that balance to make it a great film, and if you are telling a rock bio pic story that has been told a billion times before, you HAVE to be different and you HAVE to have that balance if you are trying to tell a story a different way but at the same time still having that same point A to point B narrative. And the movie has balance, but not enough for me to consider it a great film. The movie does do a good job of putting Elton John’s demons in the forefront of the film, and it explores his homosexuality a great deal more and a great deal better than the PG-13 Bohemian Rhapsody did. However, at one point in his life Elton John got married to a woman, and I thought the film would be a bit longer and delve into that relationship more, but alas, it was over in two seconds, with it just skipping about 5 years later, and not explaining the conflicting details. The movie was only about 2 hours, it could’ve went a little longer in that area to make it tighter.

I promise though, the movie isn’t terrible at all. I liked it well enough and that’s because I love Elton John’s music. They go through most of all of his hits and it was a joy to hear them on screen, much as it was a joy to hear Queen’s music on screen in Bohemian Rhapsody. Taron Egerton also gives a hell of a performance and it is elevated by the fact that he sings all the songs and actually sounds and moves like Elton John. If there is only one reason to see this movie, it is for Taron. While I hope that the movie doesn’t get a best picture nomination at the end of the year, I will be a little sad if Taron is forgotten and not recognized. And when the movie is a musical, all the song and dance numbers are fun and directed very well by Fletcher. It’s the quiet moments that needed a lot more work.

But anyway, seriously, if you loved Bohemian Rhapsody, fuck my luke-warm review. You’ll love Rocketman. It’s definitely better than Rhapsody in that it actually tries to do something a bit different. Uneven, but different. You’ll especially love this film if you love Elton John and his music. Oh shit, I forgot to mention the supporting cast. Richard Madden completely shed his Robb Stark image and was harrowing as Elton John’s dick manager/lover. Bryce Dallas Howard was good, and much better than the Jurassic World movies, as Elton’s mom, but the true standout with Jamie Bell as Elton’s song writing partner Bernie Taupin. Jamie Bell needs to be in more things and if he was possibly nominated for supporting at the end of the year I can see why. Anyway, now that we got three rock biopics within the span of half a year, it’s probably going to be a long long time before we see another one. And you could do worse than this film.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE (NETFLIX)

Thought this was going to be the Rocketman review didn’t you Sarah? Nope, first I want to talk about briefly the new Netflix Original film ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE that released on Netflix this weekend. And I don’t want to talk about it for the reasons you may think. Just to get it out there, the movie is okay. Not great, but not bad. It is your typical rom-com Netflix fare, with not being as terrible as the recent Someone Great, but not being as great as the recent The Perfect Date either. It stars Randall Park and Ali Wong. Randall Park you might know from Fresh Off The Boat, or as Kim Jong Un in The Interview, or even his great cameo in that episode of The Office where he pretended to be Jim to confuse Dwight. Ali Wong is the great stand up comedian who has some great stand up specials on Netflix and other platforms right now. If you really want to laugh and enjoy her in something, I would suggest to watch those specials, because she isn’t as outrageous in this as she is in those.

The set up is quite simple. They were best friends during their childhood growing up for a time, and then after Park’s characters mom tragically dies in an accident while they are in high school, she hits on him and in a vulnerable moment they have sex with each other. Right after they have sex he says some stupid shit and they stop talking and seeing each other for years. They then run into each other again when Park’s father and him end up installing air conditioning at Sasha’s new home. She’s just getting out of a relationship where her fiance dumped her because he never wanted to get married. They start hanging out again and start to develop their friendship and maybe more over a period of time, until they both end up getting someone else. And that’s where we get into the review where I don’t really talk about the rest of their story. Just know that it is cute yet predictable as hell.

If you haven’t watched the trailer to this film, and this sounds interesting to you, just watch it, as you won’t ruin a fantastic cameo that elevates the film from mediocre to actually decent. And if you are reading this I’m about to ruin the cameo so turn away or scroll to the last paragraph to read my final thoughts. **MAJOR SPOILER WARNING** Keanu Reeves shows up as Ali Wong’s beau about halfway into the film. He plays himself, but a hyper realized fictional version of himself where he is a weird self centered asshole that keeps mentioning his movies and career and likes to eat at weird places where you listen to animal sounds on headphones of the meat you are currently consuming (you’ll see). I’ve never thought of Keanu Reeves as a great actor (even though he tries to bring his A game to every role, here is no different) and even though he is completely over-the-top unbelievably cheesy in this, he is the best part of the film. I literally had a huge smile on my face for the 15 total minutes he is on screen and was wishing there was a spin off where he was playing this fictional asshole self of his. I won’t ruin anything else that happens during the meet and greet, but if he brings this insane energy to the next Bill & Ted film, we are in for a treat.

Anyway, there isn’t much else to say about the film. It’s sweet, and cute, yet completely predictable. The title more plays on the song, “Always Be My Baby” than it actually refers to him always being a maybe to be the man in her life, but that’s okay, it’s a unique title. Other than the cameo moments, I really didn’t laugh out loud that often, just chuckled and thought the film had some charming moments. Randall Park and Ali Wong are good and adorable in it though and have great chemistry and some sweet moments. It’s an easy 1 hr and 40 minutes to kill on Netflix if you are trying to waste some time on the weekend. It is neither offensive to watch or make you feel like you waste your time, but it isn’t the greatest end all be all best romantic comedy ever. It just exists, and isn’t harmful, and I guess with Netflix, sometimes that is the best we can hope for.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS (minor spoilers)

As human beings, we literally almost ruin everything. Even movies. Well, more specifically, large destruction and/or monster movies. Filmmakers should know that no matter how many times they try, the human element in these types of films is moot. Yes, I realize that we have to use us for set up to get these giant titans fighting, but once the set up is complete, we should get out of the fucking way and be just bystanders to the spectacle that is about to unfold in front of our eyes. All these recent American made monsters movies (this is the third movie in this American Monster Verse), Godzilla 2014, Kong Skull Island, and I’m even going to stretch my reach and even put Godzilla ’98 in there, all have one big major problem. We just don’t give a shit about the human characters. And you say, “well we just need better writers or hire additional ones to make changes, tighten their story, or do something different.” Eh, I don’t think so. With all these destruction movies, they have literally tried everything human wise. Family drama, long lost loves reunited, bad guys searching for power, military trying to stop the end of the world, these scenarios have been done dozens and dozens of times and haven’t worked. I could go on and on, but needless to say GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS suffers from the human element, and almost drags the movie down into mediocrity.

The keyword in that last sentence is almost. I still was entertained and some of the monster battles and shots are incredible, but I was a bit disappointed by this one. In fact, I’m almost willing to say that Godzilla 2014 and Kong Skull Island were better. And I’m going to get chastised for this, but in some ways, even Godzilla ’98 was more entertaining. But I digress, I need to warn you that I am going to spoil minor things in the movie, mainly about the human element, that almost completely killed this movie. I don’t reveal any deaths or what happens monster battles wise, but I have to throw in some concrete examples in order to get my disappointment across to you. Let’s start off with the actual set up/plot of the movie that instigated just so we could see all these titans wake up and start beating the shit out of each other. Basically Godzilla has been dormant for 5 years….since the last movie, but now that company Monarch, that is studying Godzilla and all these other creatures, have found about 17 more titan/monsters and counting and they are dealing with the government possibly shutting them down and just trying to kill all these creatures while they are hibernating.

Well, Norma Bates, after a tragedy shown at the beginning of the film where her and Coach Taylor lost their oldest son in the 2014 battle in San Francisco, develops this ‘ORCA’ machine that can somehow, whatever few throwaway lines of dialogue can explain it away, mimic the call of other monsters/titans which makes the humans can gain the upper hand on the creatures. She betrays her ex-husband and her only surviving daughter, Eleven, and teams up with Tywin Lannister to release all these monsters, because they both feel the world is overpopulated, and after releasing them the titans will fight, battle to the death, in their wake destroy half of the world, so that way the human race can be cleansed and we would have to start over from scratch. Also, they theorize that in the wake of their destruction, ecosystems will regrow and the Earth will eventually heal itself environment wise. UHHHHHHHHH, AVENGERS INFINITY WAR PLOT ANYONE? So already you have a problem with the plot being another, overpopulation/trying to cleanse the Earth bullshit type narrative we’ve seen a thousand times before. That’s already strike one in making me not care literally about any human being in the film.

Strike two is the dialogue and character choices. All the dialogue is just bland, stupid cliched stuff we’ve heard of before. The family drama is just cloned and replicated garbage that one could argue was just of a clone of boredom left over from the 2014 Godzilla AND Kong Skull Island. Eleven from Stranger Things is taken hostage for most of the movie by Tywin Lannister and his rogue army, but near the end of the film, for script convenience sake, she is able to steal the ‘Orca’ device everyone is circle jerking themselves over and just walk out the front door. I literally laughed out loud when that happened, combined with the fact that she travels pretty far and uses the damn device before anyone realizes she is gone. The film wastes one of my favorite actors right now O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube Jr.) in a military role that all he does is shoot a couple of things and say a couple of stupid one liners. Eleven, Norma Bates, Coach Taylor, and Tywin Lannister are all fine, not terrible actors at all in this, it is just the material that makes everything they do dumb and laughable. The only human saving grace in this is Ken Watanabe, a left over from the first film, that has that one scene I wish was in all the Homo Sapien scenes in this movie. You’ll know it when you see it, it is literally the only two minutes in the film where I actually cared about a human being.

Strike three would be having these gorgeous, wonderful shots of Godzilla, Mothra (who is the best damn monster in the whole thing and is VASTLY underused) and other fighting, but then right in the middle, cutting back to the human drama, cutting back to Eleven running with the device and trying not to be hit by debris, cutting back to the human element that I just don’t give a shit about. And like I said before, I get that you need set up, but once the device and freeing the Titans came into play, END THE HUMAN STORY, and just have them sitting on the sidelines, out of danger, watching all these monsters just beat the epic living shit out of each other. It would’ve worked well, I guarantee you that. Combined in my analysis of the movies third strike is the weird way they incapacitated Godzilla for a third of the movie. They basically rip a plot point out of the ’98 Godzilla, and the movie suffered for it. When your movie is called Godzilla King of the Monsters, don’t write something in the script to take him out of it for a third of the movie, that son of a bitch should be in the entire thing.

Now that my three strikes and complaints are out of the way, here are reasons why I still liked and enjoyed what I saw up on the giant action screen. The sound and soundtrack is fucking amazing. They even use the original Godzilla theme for several moments and all the musical cues and sound editing and mixing from the destruction gave me goosebumps the entire time. The cinematography and camera shots are absolutely gorgeous to look at and the CGI seemed pretty tight (although I’d like to see the monsters actually fight during the day, without being hidden by rain, storms, and darkness to see if the CGI still holds up, I have a feeling it wouldn’t). And the monster action and destruction was pretty impressive. Maybe only one or two holy shit moments, but those are one or two holy shit moments more than the 2014 Godzilla and say what you want about the ’98 Godzilla, but the holy shit schlock cheesy moments were through the roof in that movie. Not so much here.

So in the end, am I recommending Godzilla King of the Monsters? Yes. If you can ignore the bullshit human element and love Godzilla movies and want to just see carnage and destruction on a giant, loud, screen…this is definitely the typical summer blockbuster for you. If you are wanting something deep and meaningful, where you actually care about the human characters, I suggest looking far elsewhere. This is writer/director Michael Doughtery’s third film (direction wise), and while I consider it better than Trick Or Treat, it is in no way shape or form gets to the wonderful pedestal that Krampus was put on. He has an eye for destruction, weird little horror demon thing and monster/titan fighting to be sure, but his screenplay talent on human characters leaves much to be desired. And while he isn’t directing Kong Vs. Godzilla (that is already in the can and set to release March 2020) he did still co-write it, and seeing that some of the human cast in this was revealed to be in next year’s movie, doesn’t give me much hope. I have a feeling we will just end up seeing the same thing: Kong and Godzilla going at it in some epic fight sequences, but tied with another boring, cliched human/family/military/rogue story that I still couldn’t give two shits about. Is there no way to just make a Godzilla movie from his point of you and just completely wiping away Earth with no plot and absolutely no point of view from the human beings because we ruin a lot of good shit? That could be fun.

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: BOOKSMART

I don’t want to hear anymore whining. Especially from hypocrites. Could that hypocrite be you? Let’s see. Have you complained recently of Hollywood not having any original ideas for movies anymore? This weekend did you see either Aladdin, a live action remake of what is probably the far superior Disney Classic, or Brightburn, essentially just another superhero/villain origin story that rips off Man of Steel but just sprinkled with some horror elements? Did you see BOOKSMART this weekend or plan to see it while it is still in theaters? If any of your answers end with question #3 being yes, you are okay in my book. If you see remakes yet still go out and support and see original films, congrats, you aren’t a shit eating hypocrite. However…if your answers were, yes, yes, no…youuuuuuuuu can definitely go fuck yourself if you ever find yourself complaining about originality. And no, your answer to #3 cannot be, well, I’ll see it on video but not in theaters….FUUCCCCKKKK YOUUUUUUU.

Booksmart is not a just a rip off of Superbad but with girls, no matter how much it looks like it to you. Superbad, while I still love that movie to death, is a bit over-the-top with its situational comedy, and I will even admit that the script and story has some major problems midway through the film, with some pay offs feeling forced and not being set up very well. In fact, the movie almost grinds to a halt when our main characters end up at that weird redneck like adult party where one of them ends up putting alcohol in Tide Gallon jugs. The set up with that movie is that one guy wants to hook up with one girl, the other guy wants to hook up with a girl, and they think they can score if they bring alcohol to an underage party. Booksmart is so much more than that. Two girls about to graduate find out that while they stuck to the books and didn’t do much socializing, that the same people they thought were losers that socialized too much, are still going to the same colleges as they are. So the two set out to prove that they can be just a socially relevant in those inner circles, and get a little practice so they aren’t sticks in the mud with they eventually go to college.

These two girls are played by the wonderful Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein. Oddly enough Ms. Feldstein has a direct connection to Superbad herself, in that she’s Jonah Hill’s real life sister. Kaitlyn Dever has more of a filmography, and while you might know her for her weird loyalty to that awful Last Man Standing show starring Tim Allen, she has raised the roof in her roles on Justified, Detroit, Short Term 12, and Beautiful Boy. Their acting in this is what sets the movie apart from most teen comedies. Actually the acting in general feels more real than most. Booksmart has more than a dash of realism when it come to being compared against Superbad. You have zany characters in both, but in this for example, the motherfucking scene stealing son of a bitch Skyler Gisondo (the teenage love interest and best part of Santa Clarita Diet), while hamming it up in another memorable over-the-top role, has a few down to Earth moments that flesh out the entire movie. It isn’t like Superbad where the cops played by Bill Hader and Seth Rogen are all over-the-top and have absolutely no realistic substance as police officers, not even one little scene featuring a down to Earth moment.

All the ingredients for a great movie are right there, and fortunately for us, the one putting those ingredients together and serving us up an incredible dish is Olivia Wilde, in her directorial debut. Yes, THAT Olivia Wilde. The really really really really really really beautiful actress that has been in a TON of things (just look her up on IMDB), and as you probably know in her social life she is currently with and has kids with SNL alum Jason Sudeikis (who has a small yet, hilarious role in two scenes). What could’ve been just another point and shoot kind of affair, is completely elevated by Olivia Wilde’s stylistic choices and her unique eye for the camera. Her narrative construction for each scene is incredible. For example, there is a point where Kaitlyn Dever’s character swims under the surface of a pool to catch up to her possible love interest in the movie, and the way everything is framed and the music selection tells it’s own unique story in those 20 to 30 seconds that most directors wouldn’t think to do. Also, at one point the two friends are fighting and instead of them just arguing back and forth in a steady shot, Wilde uses the camera to go in and out of each opposing argument and even at one point cuts their argument off with music to play up another dramatic element in their year long friendship. It’s quite exhilarating to see a seasoned actor/actress knock it out of the park stylistically with their directorial debut.

However, on the flip side, it’s infuriating when something as good as this movie gets all the praise, yet gets none of the money it so rightly deserves. Especially when you look at other seasoned actor/actress directorial debuts getting all the money, AND getting all the award attention…for a fucking remake. One that had absolutely no unique eye or any unique narrative choices. I won’t name the movie, but it rhymes with A Scar Is Corn. The director, rhymes with Fadley Pooper, didn’t do anything behind the camera to elevate the material. Anyone could’ve made it. AND THAT IS A BELOVED AWARD CONTENDER?!? Please. Anyway, this movie flows through point A to point B to point C, introducing us to characters (including a fun and zany role played by the late Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourde) and situations that have great payoffs throughout the entire run time, not just the end. The two leads are focusing on getting to a specific party, but the detours along the away actually make sense and aren’t random due to forced narrative sake.

Anyway, Booksmart is the film you should’ve seen this weekend, not Bad Superman or The Fresh Prince Of ‘Woke; Agrabah. I hope for your sake that you discover it on your own in the next couple of weeks if you can. It is more charming than laugh out loud hilarious like Superbad was, but the several big laughs you get in this, are well earned and will have you laughing for minutes after the joke is already over. And it’s a comedy that has some emotional weight, that actually makes you feel for the characters due to its subjective realism, not telling you to shed a tear because Jonah Hill and Michael Cera happen to have a weird tender moment that wasn’t really earned in the first 2/3rds of the film. Booksmart is script-smart and director-smart, which is what we should be getting nowadays from Hollywood, not the same lame brain live action regurgitated Disney shit.

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