Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: STAR WARS – THE CLONE WARS FINAL 7th SEASON (Ranking The Series As A Whole)

Happy May The 4th Everyone! This morning before heading to work I watched the 12th and final episode of Season 7 of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, which happens to be the final episode of the show…ever. If you are out of the loop, The Clone Wars began with an awful animated feature film in August 2008, proceeding by the actual television series which ran for 5 seasons between 2008 and 2013. Then the Disney merger happened and Clone Wars was cancelled, which led to a shortened Season 6 being released all at once on Netflix in 2014 (these were episodes that were finished before The Clone Wars was announced as being cancelled). Then somewhere in between all of this we got the animated Star Wars Rebels for four fabulous seasons, two awful animated seasons of Star Wars Resistance, we got comics, books, and other small releases trying to tie up some of the stories that The Clone Wars couldn’t finish, and then finally the announcement that Disney was letting creator Dave Filoni go back and do 12 more and final episodes of Clone Wars. They wanted to give the fans a wrap up to all the stories and go out on its own terms. They announced it I think a little over a year ago and that it would all debut on a weekly basis on Disney+. The season started back in February, and now here we are. The end. Was it a fantastic last season? No, but it had a perfect final four episodes, a perfect series finale, which more than made up for the so-so 8 episodes that came before (I’ll get to reasons why they were a little meh in a minute). I still prefer Rebels, but in the end, The Clone Wars animated television series was a billion times better than what the prequel movies had to offer and they actually made the prequel movies better if you can believe that. And the last four episodes made me want to go back and check out Revenge Of The Sith again. They are THAT epic.

Let’s get talking about the entirety of the series out of the way. Every Star Wars fan knows that the animated Clone Wars feature film and Season 1 are a slog to get through (they suck Jar Jar’s Balls to be precise), and those I would say are the only terrible things in all of the Clone Wars series. If we are talking all of animated Star Wars though…Resistance is definitely the worst thing ever. You could have a gun to my head and I’d pick the Clone Wars feature film every time than having to watch a even a minute of that “really” made for kids series. Even worse than the prequels. Just…just don’t ever watch that show. Starting with Season 2, the Clone Wars just keeps getting better and better in a roller coaster ride type fashion. The main interconnected stories that brought new characters, new mythology, and other new things we didn’t know about our favorite galaxy are masterful…and then there are the single episodes spread out here and there, that most likely either involved Jar Jar, Padme, C-3P0 and R2-D2, that were meant to cleanse the palate…they just being ho-hum forgettable side adventures. Your attention may linger a bit, but trust me, you only have to go through a handful of those spaced out in order to get to the juicy parts. You’ll know it when you see it, and you’ll feel it when you see it, but there is a “The Chosen One Prophecy” 3 episode arc in Season Three that is truly masterful storytelling (reason why season 3 is ranked low is because there isn’t that much that masterful in that season other than that arc). There really is no way to describe some of the fantastic and epic story telling, especially in 4, 5, and 6, (those will explain why Darth Maul just shows up in Solo: A Star Wars Story alive, so will Rebels) you just have to experience it for yourself in order to prove my stance that it makes the prequel movies better.

Now let’s get to season 7. In the latter half of its run, Clone Wars dedicated 3 to 5 episodes on one continuous main storytelling arc, which is why the latter seasons are ranked so high, is because they mostly got rid of the ridiculous one offs. If you look at my ranking after my review, the reason why Season 7 in kind of in the middle and not higher up, is because a. Anakin and especially Obi-Wan, are barely in any of the 12 episodes, b. The first 4 episodes tell the story of a “Bad Batch” of clones (not meaning they are bad guys, but defects that have some roguish type personalities and behaviors) and while the story is entertaining and well paced, if you are a true Star Wars fan, you’ve already seen all four episodes. Because at the time when Dave Filona and company didn’t think they were going to finish the series, these were the next batch of episodes that were going to be completely finished, animated, and aired, but they didn’t get time to finish them before they were shoved away from their work spaces. Thus on the blu-ray extras (and released on YouTube), those unpolished four episodes were already released. Granted these new ones are more watchable now that they have updated animation and special effects, are the story beats and dialogue are the same. Which kind of leads me to my hypothesis was that Dave Filoni pitched he really only needs to completely make 8 new episodes to wrap up the series, and save a whole shit load of money just by polishing these almost finished ones and releasing those into official canon. I mean, come one, there had to have been one catch as to why Disney granted them one last season. Cost cutting is always on the Mouse’s agenda.

The next batch of four episodes were original but they focused entirely on Ahsoka and what she did right after she left the Jedi order. Even though a novel that was released several years ago puts into perspective what she did with her time leading to her surprise appearance on Rebels. And while the story was at a break neck pace, and interesting as it ultimately had some ties to Solo: A Star Wars Story, it was ultimately a disappointed because I feel like we’ve seen that kind of story before. You know, the one where a loner befriends a group of people that don’t like her kind (Jedi) but they all come out alright in the end, even after figuring out her identity? Yeah, so not entirely original. But those 4 episodes are set up to the last 4, which are also Ahsoka centric, but also Darth Maul centric (finishing his unfinished storyline from Season 5 + the Son of Dathromir comics that tie that season and 7 together), and it also does the unthinkably bold. When everyone thought that when Clone Wars ended, it would end right up to the events of Revenge of the Sith, so that you can just pop in that movie to continue the adventure when you were done…nope, these last four episodes, EPIC, EPIC, episodes take place at the same time as Revenge of the Sith. I won’t reveal more much than that, but it fits in seamless with that movie, and the Ahsoka/Maul final duel in the second of the last four episodes are masterful. And the final episode’s final five minutes, with no dialogue, and a chilling yet required cameo, close out the series in epic style. So if you are a Star Wars fan, or you consider yourself to be one of high order, and you haven’t watched this series, then you really aren’t one of high order. But you could be. Anyway, the last season was pretty good, with a perfect final four episodes, and if the other 8 weren’t just recycled stories and had a little more umph to them the whole season would be higher, but I think you’ll agree in the middle is where it belongs. So if you haven’t started this series, but plan to, well…I hope you have some mythological discovery fun…and of course…May The Force Be With You.

All of Clone Wars Ranked:

  1. Season 5
  2. Season 6
  3. Season 4
  4. Season 7
  5. Season 2
  6. Season 3
  7. Season 1
  8. The Feature Film

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: NEVER HAVE I EVER (Season 1, Netflix)

It’s really not that much of a revelation that I don’t like Mindy Kaling very much…as an actress. She’s an incredible fucking writer. She’s written some of the best episodes of The Office, The Mindy Kaling Project, and I really liked the Amazon Original Movie Late Night. She has an incredible ear for dialogue, character, plot, and story. So when I heard she co-created, co-wrote, sometimes even solo wrote many of the ten episodes of the new series NEVER HAVE I EVER, and especially when I found out that she doesn’t even make an appearance in it, I knew I wanted to watch it. No offense to Mindy Kaling as an actress, she has the personality of one, I just think she plays the same person in whatever she does, basically…she just plays herself, and she’s loud, too crude sometimes, and crass, and I just don’t care for it. Anything written by her though, I can’t wait to read or watch. Never Have I Ever is no exception. I fucking loved every minute of this short comedy series and my only problem is that there weren’t more episodes to watch and we’ll probably have to wait a long time for season 2 because of butthold COVID-19. In all the repeated bullshit of television, this really quick and wonderful binge was definitely a breath of fresh air. It’s funny, well acted, the dialogue is snappy and quirky, the characters are all nicely layered, even the supporting ones. It’s just a wonderful show and you should stop reading my review, not because of spoilers, I promise not to give any, but you just need to watch it for yourself. It’s that good.

Per Netflix and IMDB.com the series is about “the complicated life of a modern-day first generation Indian American teenage girl, inspired (not directly based) by Kaling’s own childhood.” That teenage girl is played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and I was really surprised to look her career up, and this is her very first acting credit…ever. She does a phenomenal job for this being her first gig. Phenomenal. Other than two very recognizable narrators (one is just for a special episode dedicated its focus on a different character) who I will not spoil for the fun of it all, the cast is mostly filled with unknowns. And not only is all of their acting great, but all of their characters big and small have fantastic development and arcs and by the end of the ten episode first season one, they feel like a well established television family that I got to know very well and want to spend more time with. This series could’ve played on a regular network like ABC, NBC, FOX, etc. but due to the nature of some of the content (Devi, the main character, wants to lose her virginity to a hot guy and constantly talks about sex) and some well timed choice, yet not overused language, I’m very happy that it isn’t censored and not on Netflix. Makes the entire narrative and situations more relatable. And even though it is a coming of age sitcom, it feels more honest and realistic than most, and that is due to the excellent writing of creators Mindy Kaling, Lang Fisher, & their team. I hope they all stay on for a second season (which is 100% at this point as it’s been in the top ten of Netflix for days now, this series was released last Monday).

Even though I predicted a lot of the things that were going to happen, the show brought them on in a way that kept me interested and wondering how a season two will play out. This season has a well established arc, and you think you know what it is going into the season, but doesn’t really show its true cards near the end. It’s a very strong message about family, and it completely sticks the landing. I’m just also amazed by how much the series subverts your expectations on some of the supporting characters. One character named Ben goes from a completely despicable asshole and morphs into one of the best characters. Another character, Kamala, the cousin of Devi, seems like she’s going to be a stereotypical good looking Indian woman that is too much into her looks, boys, fashion, but again, the show goes in the opposite direction and makes her a very smart and compelling character, another one of the best of the supporting ones. Every character is great here, even the jock the Devi ultimately wants to hook up with. By the time you are done with all ten episodes, you’ll feel like you are at home with the world within the show. It just sucks it’s only ten episodes right now and we might have to wait awhile for Season 2, but I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. The good thing about these 10 episodes is that they are definitely re watchable, over and over until we get a new batch of episodes. When a comedy get re-watchable episodes for me right off the bat, sort of like Seinfeld, Friends, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, etc….that is really saying something. Highly recommend. Never have I ever fallen in love this fast with a comedy series right off the bat. Check it out immediately.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ALL NIGHT AND A DAY (Netflix)

With ALL NIGHT AND A DAY being the last new Netflix film for a couple of weeks, I’m very relieved that it was a very decent one. More than decent, actually pretty good. Written by the guy that co-wrote Black Panther, which surprised me. I’m going to actually borrow the log line of Netflix first before going into my own description because it’s the best way to describe this film: “As soft-spoken Jahkor (Ashton Sanders) struggles to keep his dream of rapping alive amidst a gang war in Oakland, his ill-fated life and real-world responsibilities drive him further and further across the line of right and wrong with tragic consequences. Landing in prison beside his father, J.D. (Jeffrey Wright) whom he never wanted to be like, Jahkor embarks on an unlikely journey of self-discovery, exploring the events that unite them, in hopes of helping his newborn son break a cycle that feels unavoidable.” Now to add a couple of story details in my own words, this film sort of plays out like a murder mystery. Not the who, but the why. Not really getting into spoilers, Jahkor murders two people right at the beginning of the movie, and the film jumps his time to three places in his life: in prison after the murder, 13 months before the murder, and some scenes of him when he was a young boy in middle school. The film plays with that time really well, no jarring editing, always knowing where it is. The film is very dark and depressing, yet with a hopeful message that no matter where you are at in life, it is still possible to make a change.

To fore warn you all, the movie is very bleak, violent, and uses the N word a ton, but if you can get past all that, it tells a great story. The thing I was afraid for the most was that the movie was going to end the way many a tale like this has ended. But it subverted my expectations, the ending even boosting the plot from what came before. I was afraid the why of the murder mystery would end up being disappointing, but it wasn’t at all, and it even added a few twists during the lead up that I didn’t see coming at all. This is a hard life and gangster film through and through, but it felt realistic in the sense that this wasn’t based on a true story and they all became moderately rich and famous like Straight Outta Compton ended (great film too and recommend that highly if you haven’t seen it). The acting is great here, even the new Candyman and Black Manta in Aquaman Yahya Abdul-Mateen II gets a couple of scenes to shine. Jeffrey Wright (Bernard in Westworld; also in the Daniel Craig Bond movies) shows us in a light I’ve never seen him before, as a hard knocks father, and he passes all of it with flying colors. Ashton Sanders as Jahkor carries the film, and his facial expressions pave the way for the emotional journey that is to come, he is great in this as well.

The film is well written and shot, Joe Robert Cole (who also co-wrote Black Panther) managed to craft a dark film that manages to show a tiny bit of light at the end of the very, very murky tunnel, and I appreciate that he went in that direction instead of just going down the route of everyone just dying tragically, which if the film had gone that way, I wouldn’t be recommending it to you now. The film is perfectly paced and flies by even with it’s maybe 10-15 minute too long of a run time of 2 hours. But let’s face facts, this kind of movie wouldn’t get any kind of theater attention today (maybe a small chance at one theater in L.A. and/or New York), so a streaming platform is the best place for it, and really only Netflix fits that bill. Although I could’ve seen HBO pick this up as well, but it would’ve been too soon after the excellent Bad Education. The one masterful excellent part of this film is a several minute tracking shot a little under an hour into the film that deals with Jahkor and his lady walking through a party that features both sides of the gang war going on in the streets, with cars squealing and doing round about tricks, very impressive camera work. Love to see when directors try something a little different than pointing and shooting. But overall, solid Netflix movie. Might not get any recognition other than it being a decent film, but when you are swimming in Netflix shit and once in awhile get a life raft, you got to jump on.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE HALF OF IT (Netflix)

I hate it when that “confrontational” cliched climax almost potentially ruins a other wise very good little twist on the triangle romance film you’ve all seen before. THE HALF OF IT is that movie where a girl helps a boy write a letter/improve his image/etc. etc. etc. to get the other girl of his dreams. You know how those end. The boy ends up falling for the girl that is helping him and they live happily ever after. Or vice versa. You know you’ve seen it. Well in this new Netflix movie that came out this weekend, the girl actually likes the girl. But this isn’t really a lesbian story, it’s a story about the start of a beautiful yet unexpected platonic friendship between the boy and the girl helping him. And it all feels realistic except for a couple of the comedic moments and part of the bombastic cliched final act, going into “oh brother…” territory with confessions in front of a large group of people and some cringe worthy dialogue. But then it goes right back into what made it good before the end credits, so I really can’t fault a film for one scene when it didn’t ruin what it was ultimately about. That would just be me being really, really petty, on the level of me ripping apart a movie for absolutely no reason. And while you’ve seen that half of me before, I try to only do it to movies that deserve it.

IMDB.com describes The Half of It with the following: “When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn’t expect to become his friend – or fall for his crush.” The thing to stay for here is the camaraderie between the “jock”, whose name is Paul, and Ellie. The scenes between them, the crux of the movie and there are many, are fantastic and worth the watch alone. One of the scenes where he is on a date with her crush (Ellie is there observing), whose name is Aster, is laugh out loud funny and uses texting in a way I hadn’t seen in a movie before and was really charming the way the whole thing played out. Listen to me, calling texting ‘charming’. Like I said, I really like the realistic feel of the movie and the dialogue between all the characters is great. Ellen ends up hanging out with Aster alone during one scene and I appreciate that the movie didn’t go down roads that other movies had before. All of it was very refreshing. I’m sure you can see some of the ending coming, but there are parts that did surely surprise. There is even a good little side plot with Ellie and her father that almost brought a tear to my eye near the end. Without trying to ruin anything, the film does contain a final confession confrontation scene that seemed a little out of place in the movie that it is in, and seemed like it should’ve been in some comedy in the 90’s/early 2000’s.

There is even a punch line of dialogue from a background character when this scene ends (it involves a church, a hint if you are a casual movie theater and get to the end credits and have no idea what the fuck I was talking about), and it made me cringe and I still wonder why this part didn’t go through a few drafts, it felt very amateurish. But I mean, the rest of the movie is solid, so again, I can’t hate an entire movie for one scene, especially if that one scene doesn’t ruin the end end, so just take it as I was really nitpicking there. This movie was written and directed by a woman, Alice Wu, that hadn’t written or directed anything since 2004, this is only her second feature film. That’s a damn shame, as she does have a great eye for the camera here, the cinematography is very decent for a small film like this, and she has a real knack for dialogue and scenes playing out originally (except for just the one that I previously discussed). I would like to see more from her and I hope it doesn’t take another 16 years to make it happen. The film is filled with a bunch of unknown actors, but no that everyone does a solid job. Now while this film probably won’t hit my top 20 of the year, it is still a decent one time watch when you compare it to the other crap on the streaming service and the fact that more than half of my worst list this year is filled with movies from Netflix. You don’t know the half of trying to find a decent film on Netflix. I’ll take them wherever I can get them.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DANGEROUS LIES (Netflix)

“If the Lifetime channel says no to a trashy movie…then it must be pretty bad.” – Zach Alexander. Yes, I’m going to trademark my own quote, because it has described a lot of the filth I’ve watched on Netflix and other streaming platforms. Films that probably should’ve been on the Lifetime channel, but an actual entertainment star or two prevent it from airing there. DANGEROUS LIES is the ultimate new Netflix film that honestly probably should’ve been the ultimate new Lifetime film, as all of its cliched plotting, forced and terrible acting, dumb cheap non-surprising twists, eye rolling romance, overacting, predictable plot, and the overall general cheesy cheese of it all is a staple of Lifetime, where Netflix has more of a “meh” or “just a bad” film type vibe. This movie is all kinds of cheesy awful, but here’s the thing, it’s so bad that I was actually paying attention to it the whole time rather than paying attention to other things. That isn’t to say this is a “so bad its good” movie, because I would never ever watch this piece of shit again, but I was laughing at the whole project and didn’t want to miss a chuckle, while trying to piece together the puzzle on why Dangerous Lies was even made. The real mystery, and I kind of want to e-mail them on this, is whether or not Lifetime really said no to this. Because if they did, and Netflix is just going to be a ‘Yes Man’ during this whole 2020 streaming wars quarantine COVID-19 butt fuck type of year…then we are all in serious, serious trouble.

Dangerous Lies stars Riverdale’s Camila Mendes and her eyebrows, along with Jesse T. Usher, and then a bunch of what I’d call mere extended cameos from Elliott Gould, Sasha Alexander, Cam Gigandet and Jamie Chung. All of them should look at their check or direct deposit from this movie in shame. Per me being lazy and quoting IMDB.com: “When a wealthy elderly man dies and unexpectedly leaves his estate to his new caregiver, she’s drawn into a web of deception and murder. If she’s going to survive, she’ll have to question everyone’s motives – even the people she loves.” Doesn’t that sound like a fucking Lifetime movie?!? Here’s the thing though, there shouldn’t be any questioning in this, what is really going on is really nothing that shocking or twisty. Anybody watching this should be easily able to figure out everything by the end of Act I. It doesn’t even try to come up with a dozen red herrings to try and confuse the shit out of you. There is one red herring, and it flashes bright red in your face the entire time. And the acting in this is God awful. I know that Riverdale is supposed to be a dark soap opera based on the Archie comics, so Camila Mendes’ acting in that is appropriate, but here, it’s overacting and cringe worthy. In fact, every time any character says a really cliched, lazy piece of dialogue, you can see the actors about to almost cringe from it coming out of their mouths, even while saying it they know they can’t try and save the line. They are just trying to grin and bear it, which makes their performances hard to watch.

Every single person acting in this screams paycheck. You can tell this was a quick and easy shoot, probably done in one or two weeks, as the plotting and dialogue is very lazy and simple. Who tries the least? Easily Cam Gigandet. Every scene he is in he looks like he took a valium right before the director cries “action!” You knows he’s thinking, “I was the main bad guy in the first Twilight movie and a bunch of other shit like Burlesque when it came out and now I’m relegated to cheesy awful Netflix movies that Lifetime didn’t even want?!?” It’s all bad, even Elliott Gould is acting like he’s Jack Gellar on Friends but more senile. Camila Mendes’ character is the most badly written of the bunch. She’s one of those “nice and honest” characters that is always like, “maybe we shouldn’t do this” one second, but then two seconds later she is doing it and then talking out loud how much regrets her decision. And in this movie, those lines of character dialogue repeat every five minutes with her. So in an hour and 35 minute run time, you do the math of how many times you want to smack your forehead. The fast foward in time ending is one of the worst yet funniest thing I’ve seen all year, I had to pause the film and make sure I was actually on Netflix and not watching a soap opera in the morning on CBS after The Price Is Right.

I’ve been saving the funniest thing for last. The only compliment I can give this film is that its framed really well and the director knows how to work a camera. There are some nice static and dolly shots in that film. Would you like to know the director’s name? MICHAEL SCOTT. I shit you not. And this guy has directed, let’s see, MOVIES ON THE HALLMARK CHANNEL AND LIFETIME!!! HOLY SHIT!!! His whole career is shitty television movies. Unfortunately, the other real Michael Scott’s movie, Threat Level Midnight, is probably better than any of them. (If you are not getting any of my The Office jokes, you should probably quarantine binge that series next, but stop when Steve Carell leaves the show). Dangerous Lies can be easily missed, it’s one of the worst things on Netflix this year, but if you really want to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, you might get something out of it while it is on in the background with a glass of wine and some girl friends over. That I cannot lie admitting.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE ASSISTANT

Finally, a #MeToo film that:

A. doesn’t proclaim every man is a terrible human being

B. Is very subtle and simplistic in its message which in turn speaks more than volumes

C. Always shows without overtly showing and tells without overtly telling (trust me this makes sense)

&

D. Doesn’t bang you over the head with it’s message every few seconds to make sure you can “see”

This is a wonderful little independent film that came out earlier this year, right around when the Harvey Weinstein was going to trial (how coincidental). Critic Richard Roper describes it best “No blood is shed. No bodies turn up. And yet The Assistant is one seriously chilling monster movie.” I would say a very tense horror/thriller without any of the jump scares as well. The movie itself is about, and borrowing from IMDB.com here: “Jane (played wonderfully and masterfully by Ozark’s Julia Garner, who most recently won a well deserved supporting Emmy for that show) a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, recently landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul. Her day is much like any other assistant’s – making coffee, changing the paper in the copy machine, ordering lunch, arranging travel, taking phone messages, onboarding a new hire. But as Jane follows her daily routine, she, and we, grow increasingly aware of the abuse that insidiously colors every aspect of her work day.” In clearer terms, she has a boss that is doing the Weinstein thing, praying on young aspiring actress women, or making them his personal assistants, while meeting them at the hotel’s he puts them up at or is sure to close or lock his door if one of them comes into his office. The way writer/director Kitty Green displays and let’s loose all this information is nothing short than masterful. It is only a little bit at a time and the subtle-ness of the details where anyone outside looking in would think nothing of it.

And the best thing the film does about Jane’s boss? You never see him the entire film. You sort of hear bits and pieces of his raspy and commanding voice over the phone, but you never physically see him. If this were a true monster/horror/thriller movie, he’d be the final entity that the protagonist has to face at the end in order to get out of their ordeal alive. And Jane’s co workers, they would be his minions. But in this case, in this kind of movie, the minions (mainly the two other guy assistants near her desk that also work for this creepo asshole) don’t portray the same behavior as the boss. They don’t sexually harass Jane at all, yet those two and everyone that works for the company acknowledges yet ignores this boss’ behavior, and those actions, or in actions if you will, get in the way of the protagonists goal to be able to conduct business in a safe and secure work environment. If you are reading this, haven’t seen the movie yet, and are interested in this already because of my review, please stop and do yourself a favor and rent it and see what I am talking about for yourself. I’m trying to help make you understand how I feel with my words but I don’t feel like I’m getting my point across and instead you just need some first hand experience so that you can re read my review and relate to it afterwards. This movie is so subtle and simple, yet each frame, each clue of the shady business practices of this companies that is shown to you, is worth a thousand words. It’s quite ingenious and brilliant, and will make you believe how Weinstein got away with his gross and criminal behavior all these years before he was finally outed. Jennifer Lawrence thanking him for her Oscar basically for Silver Linings Playbook in her acceptance speech…you wonder if she ended up…no, no, I can’t think that about her, I just can’t.

Julia Garner is a revelation here. Just like the clues and details in the film, her performance is subtle and simple, yet isn’t. Her facial expression and little mannerisms throughout the film speak a thousand words, it’s pretty much a perfect performance. There is no other proof you need except halfway through the movie when she goes to HR to try and discuss her concerns about her boss’s behavior and the way HR fires back at her (you probably already suspect how that goes). But instead of a grandiose speech that just tries to hit you over the head with its message, it isn’t. There are just hints, clues, and shrug offs, everything about this movie’s execution is subtly brilliant. I can’t explain it better than that. The cinematography in this film is also gorgeous, it’s kind of dark and moody and looks kind of like the cinematography from The Social Network, but with it’s own brand of creative style, and more quiet and calm, unlike the in your face loudness of David Fincher’s film. Writer/director Kitty Green did a phenomenal job with this film, and hope that because of this she gets to direct even more ambitious films in her future. While we have had plenty of #MeToo movies these past 3 years, none of them even compare to how well made, written and acted The Assistant is. Not even close. I wish this was considered the high standard of #MeToo movies, but I’m afraid that a lot of casual moviegoers won’t get what this film achieves, or they will, and just like the minions in this movie, will choose to ignore it.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: HOMELAND SEASON 8 (The Final Season & I talk about the series as a whole)

Thank God HOMELAND SEASON 8 stuck the landing in their series finale last night. I was dreadfully afraid it was going to be another Dexter or Ray Donovan series finale fuck up of epic proportions. To be fair, the makers of Ray Donovan didn’t know their last episode was a series finale, I’m just pissed I invested so much time in a television show (7 seasons) that didn’t have an ending…yet (I hope maybe they wrap shit up in a TV movie or be brought back from the dead in a final really short, maybe only 4 or 5 episode season?). Anyway, the reason I was dreadfully afraid of a terrible series ender was because the 8th and final season of Homeland was okay, with some decent parts and the same can be said for Dexter’s final 8th season as well. But then Showtime gave us that final episode, you know the one where Dexter, a serial killer who kills serial killers/bad guys, becomes a mute lumberjack at the end, that is now the staple of bad endings whenever and wherever television series endings are discussed. Dexter’s first two seasons were great, the 4th it’s best, the 3rd only okay with a couple of juicy moments, and the fifth was better than average with what could’ve been a decent ending. Seasons 6, 7, and 8 (especially after the ending of the latter) are all tedious, uninspired, and boring.

To be fair, out of 8 seasons, there has only really been one terrible season of Homeland, that being Season 3 and how awfully boring it was and the way they handled Brody’s arc. I’d say season 1, 2, 6, 4, and 5 were great although all but the 1st had their minor share of problems (that red neck massacre with that conspiracy theory nut in Season 6…what the fuck was that?). Season 1 to me is perfect as Season 1 and 5 were to 24 (same creators and writers if you didn’t know). And then when we get to the final two seasons of this show season 7 and 8, they were only okay really. I’m just glad this last one, didn’t massacre the ending, and makes me look back at the entire thing with fondness and maybe even one day revisit binge wise. When I look at my complete series set of Dexter, I cringe when I think about revisiting it and then going past season 5. Anyway, if you don’t know what Homeland is, or the only thing about Homeland you know is that it is from the creators and writers of 24 and both television shows are similar, it is about a highly skilled CIA agent named Carrie Matheson (played brilliantly by Claire Danes) who is very intelligent, there is just one problem, she is mentally unstable dealing with being bi polar and a bit schizophrenic. The first season deals with an American soldier prisoner of war being turned by Islamic terrorists and then the seasons get different from there. At the heart though has been Carrie all along, and her CIA handler/confidant Saul Berenson played to perfection by the great Mandy Patinkin.

To me, Homeland was a much more serious, much more realistic, much more political version of 24, even though I loved the latter show much much better as Jack Bauer was much more of a bad ass than Carrie Matheson was, and 24 got really really dark really fast and had much better action. But I still like Homeland, I could see Jack Bauer’s character living somewhere in that universe, waiting to come out of the shadows. But enough about 24. Homeland was an engaging show throughout its 8 seasons on the air. The political intrigue, the stakes, the acting, the plot threads, the spy game, all must watch television. If you are looking something to pass the time during quarantine season and have already gone through Breaking Bad, El Camino, and Better Call Saul, 24, and The Americans (up next for me), Homeland is a great title to add to this list. There are a bunch of twists you don’t see coming, memorable villians, the future Supergirl naked, naked little older Inara, the works. This season’s final thread had America being in peace talks with the Middle East, and then going almost straight to hell with a devastating tragedy, only for Carrie to go out and prove that this tragedy was just a mistake. It was very simple, which is probably why I found it to be a bit tedious and a little boring. Without getting into spoilers, Carrie Matheson had to go after this device that proved what really happened with this tragedy, and all the plot threads from it seemed a bit of a copycat from the latter half of season 4 of 24.

And I was afraid that with the ending, basically a “Carrie vs. Saul” type of ordeal, that the show would jump the shark the first time since the terrible season 3, but instead smartly side stepped what I thought was the inevitable, and contained a conclusion that was smart, bittersweet, and made sense. And no, Carrie does not become a lumberjack thank God. The acting here is all top notch, with a few noticeable exceptions. Hugh Dancy, who is Claire Danes’ husband in real life, plays a villainous advisor to the President of the United States. This role was not a stretch for him as he’s done that a lot recently since Hannibal being cancelled. And the wonderful Beau Bridges is wasted as the current President of the United States in that universe. Without spoiling anything, he isn’t in this season that much which is a shame. But really, this last season was all about Carrie and Saul, which it had to be. The crux of the show, the heart of it, was their friendship and relationship as mentor and apprentice. Throughout all 8 seasons, Saul was grooming Carrie to not only be the person that he could trust the most in the world, but be a terrific CIA agent. And this last episode even goes back to Season 1 to tie up some themes (mainly one asking the question: Could Carrie ever betray her country and why?) but mostly has a good farewell to their awesomely platonic relationship. If you like international espionage and political intrigue type shows, that even though it tries to keep it as realistic as possible it manages to still keep some sort of sense of fantasy for your entertainment enjoyment, you can do no better than Homeland.

My Homeland Season Ranking

  1. Season 1
  2. Season 2
  3. Season 6
  4. Season 4
  5. Season 5
  6. Season 7
  7. Season 8
  8. Season 3 (again, really the only terrible season)