Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM (Amazon Prime)

Do not let anyone spoil any of the pranks that Sacha Baron Cohen pulls on people (mainly Republicans) in BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM, the new follow up to the 2006 comedy classic. The title is much longer than that, and goes through several hilarious changes throughout the sequel, but this is what Amazon Prime is calling the movie in order to market and promote it successfully. I also know that the Rudy Giuliani bit was spoiled for a lot of us a couple of days ago, but I assure you, that wasn’t even close to the funniest or shocking thing to happen in this movie. BORAT 2, for 96 minutes, made me forget what year it was. I also assure you that I will not spoil any of the pranks or the ending to the actual narrative thread this movie surprisingly has. I’m just going to let you know, in some obscure details, whether I:

A. Laughed my ass off

B. Laughed my fucking ass off

C. Laughed my motherfucking ass off

or

D. All of the motherfucking above.

This is a simple test. If you don’t correctly answer, you are as dumb as some of the people that pranks are pulled on in this movie.

IMDB describes Borat Subsequent Movie film perfectly: “A follow-up film to the 2006 comedy centering on the real-life adventures of a fictional Kazakh television journalist named Borat.” However, while the first one was mainly just a bunch of skits tied together with an “okay I guess” Borat wanting to bed and marry Pamela Anderson plot thread, the narrative here is so much more satisfying. Turns out Borat has a daughter, who he reluctantly takes along with him on his journey in America in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections. Borat’s mission? To deliver a famous smart Kazakstan monkey to Republican Vice President Mike Pence. If he has ‘GREAT SUCCESS’ in his mission, than his country will no longer see him as a disgrace for making their nation look embarrassing back in 2006. While the pranks on unsuspecting real life people is the main draw to watch most of Cohen’s films, the whole father/daughter heart of this movies’ plot was actually really satisfying here, and was an improvement over the unfocused, but still funny as fuck way the first movie was tied together. Funny wise, I say that both films are on par with each other, and make a great double feature…but a fantastic triple feature if paired with Bruno, still my favorite film of Cohen’s. Why is Bruno still my favorite? Because there is no way that 2009 film could be made today with how overly sensitive and pussified this nation has become. No way. And that’s why it still makes me laugh, no matter if its the 10th or 20th time I’ve seen it, because it’s offensive as hell. These Borat films won’t make me laugh as hard the 10th or 20th times I watch them, but they will at least get many a chuckle and one big guffaw.

Look, my review isn’t going to sway you one way or the other whether you are going to watch this film or not. You can’t be on the fence, because there is no fence. You’ve already decided. You are either going to watch it and laugh your ass off, or you aren’t going to watch it and be a pussy, then bitch and moan in a deep dark corner of your pathetic soul while the rest of us laughingly discuss it. Even though this movie is really one sided politically, a lot of die hard Republicans are not going to like it and possibly be offended, I still think that even if you are a conservative, and have a sense of humor in most things, that you’ll be able to get through it with ease. Yes, Jeremy, that was aimed at you. The young woman who plays Borat’s daughter in this, the actresses’ name is Maria Bakalova, is excellent in this and almost steals scenes out from under him. She was so funny and a delight to watch. I also liked that the way the movie handles the obvious elephant in the room: how do you prank unsuspecting people when Borat has become a famous household name? Simple, as Borat, Cohen dresses up in a disguise that already is already a disguise itself! What was also really amusing was that, from some of the stuff that happens in this movie (and calendars on the walls), that the movie was planned and was filming BEFORE the pandemic hit back in January. The COVID-19 massive spread mid filming just seemed to be a lucky happenstance for Cohen and company to get more out of the premise and story. It makes you wonder what other things would’ve been in it if COVID-19 and the pandemic had never come to pass. ESPECIALLY THE ENDING. Maybe Sacha could shed some light on it in future interviews or maybe even do a commentary for the film and add it to Amazon Prime later. Who knows? In the meantime, the answer to my multiple choice test question was D. as Borat 2 was…VERY NICE! But can we not wait so long next time for a third Borat…or (crossing fingers) a 2nd Bruno? Jak si mas!

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: EVIL EYE (Amazon Prime)

Well, we have come to the end of the first month of 4 “Welcome To The Blumhouse” films exclusively for Amazon Prime, and to be honest, each one was worse than the last. Enough where I’m going to do something rare at the end of this review and give them all letter grades. Just cheap mass produced potato chips that we’ve tasted all before. Not stale, such as Blumhouse’s Into The Dark Hulu exclusive movies, but a taste we start to get bored and tired of quickly after only a few chips. EVIL EYE is easily the worst because just like Nocturne, it is a rip off of another movie. Namely, it’s a spiritual, supernatural, reincarnation, Indian male rip off of Fatal Attraction. Not only that, but the two lead female protagonists talk on the phone and think it is ‘acting’ for over half the short 90 minute run time and then only have two scenes physically together at the end where we are supposed to care what happens to them due to said phone conversations, especially because they are mother and daughter. Due to the cheapness of the film I doubt that those two actresses were really talking to each other and their scenes were of course filmed separately, causing me not to get invested in them. And yes, I know that there is a pretty good screenplay reason for why they only talk on the phone, the daughter lives in the States and the mother lives somewhere in India, but what the movie needed to do was have all the actors and actresses near the same location, I don’t care where, it just needed to happen. That way there could’ve been more physically there scenes with both the protagonists and the male antagonist, where more tension would’ve been built, more suspense, which would’ve made me invested in not only the story, but everything about it.

I guess you could say that my evil ‘film’ eye was being too harsh on the film and my attention waned. IMDB describes Evil Eye with the following: “A superstitious mother is convinced that her daughter’s new boyfriend is the reincarnation of a man who tried to kill her 30 years ago.” What the movie fails at considerably is the execution of whether or not said new boyfriend of the daughter is really the reincarnation of the mother’s abusive ex-fiancee. Kind of spoiler alert, but you know that he really is, because if he wasn’t, there wouldn’t be a fucking movie. The story then goes about the cliched route of everybody thinking that the mother is crazy and that she should see a doctor to get her paranoia and superstitious nature put to rest. And of course, just as she agrees to get help, is when the “big reveal” happens. Now I liked the reveal/revelation, especially what happens right after the mother likes a picture on her daughter’s Instagram before she discovers the half way decent McGuffin object in the photo. The reason why I wasn’t into what was happening when the movie wanted me to be is that all the mother’s interactions with the daughter and the antagonist fiancee were over the phone (and only one brief use of a split screen), and all those moments, all that dialogue and ‘acting’, which again, were half the movies run time, felt “phoned in.” Yes, pun intended.

When the mother, played by Sarita Choudhury, was off the phone and talking to her husband or others, her acting was quite solid, especially when she seemed to be going off the rails mentally and didn’t have a phone to her ear. The daughter, Sunita Mani, less so, as she seemed just a little too ignorant for what was happening all around her. And you just know there is going to be a scene where the daughter finds out who her fiancee really is, but the way it is handled is kind of awkward, as the male antagonist was very careful and precise up until then, and his slip ups to his discovery ended up feeling forced and a bit out of character. The movie is extremely predictable, chunks of dialogue from screenplay writer Madhuri Shekar, who hasn’t done much else (this movie was based off an Audible original, it probably should’ve been kept that way), felt clunky and inauthentic (especially the parts over the phone) and there was no visual flair from directors Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani, who I’m not familiar with either, as they have mostly done shorts. It felt like it should’ve been a Blumhouse Lifetime movie, not something exclusive to prime. It all felt fake. I also think I’m being extra super hard on this movie because Netflix already tried to rip off and do a reverse gender and race Fatal Attraction earlier this year with Fatal Affair, which currently is in my top twenty worst of the year list. This movie is much better than that one, due to that the movie did have something to say about Indian culture, love and marriage expectations, and what the ‘evil eye’ is to their people, but it was still disappointing because even with those factors, it was just another beat by beat rip off of other and better movies with no sense of unique style. I don’t know if my eye will be able to take more “Welcome To The Blumhouse” movies in the near future…will have to probably wait and see what other eyes think of them first before proceeding to give them a chance.

Amazon Prime’s “Blumhouse Presents” Film Ratings:

  1. The Lie: C+
  2. Black Box: C
  3. Nocturne: C-
  4. Evil Eye: D+

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: NOCTURNE (Amazon Prime)

NOCTURNE is just a rip off of Black Swan, just replace the ballerina horror aspects of the latter film with piano playing and you get the former. Blumhouse productions is very frustrating in general. Only one in twenty of their films produced by mastermind Jason Blum is worth anything to write home about, and that one in twenty usually debuts in a theater. The other nineteen are usually direct to streaming (with one or two somehow getting theatrical distribution), cheap little projects, and it shows. Most of these Blumhouse produced films range from being only okay to down right fucking abysmal. The Amazon Prime exclusive ones, these newly introduced ‘Welcome To The Blumhouse’ ones, where they will put out 4 films in one month every several months, are the only okay ones. The Hulu exclusive ones, the one film per month going on two years now, labeled the “Into The Dark’ series, are the abysmal ones. So it is really not that all surprising that Nocturne is in the only okay category. However, while it might be in the only okay category when talking about its overall execution, the thought of it being beat by beat (literally, even the ending) of a much superior film makes you want to fit it right next to the abysmal file. Don’t get me wrong, it is very admirable if you are able to green light and make a motion picture on a small budget, but if you are a production company that mass produces them to no end, kind of like how author James Patterson is able to release 10 books all in the span of a year (I stopped reading his schlock awhile ago), then most of your content is just going to be bland, no excitement or surprises. IMDB describes Nocturne with the following: “An incredibly gifted pianist makes a Faustian bargain to overtake her older sister at a prestigious institution for classical musicians.” Don’t get me wrong, the movie is certainly watchable, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre table.

The definition of nocturne is “is a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night.” Night equals dark. A dark movie usually doesn’t have a happy ending. Remember how I said this movie is a rip off of Black Swan? Has the dawn of light risen in your thoughts in what I’m trying to get you to see? Yeah, thought so. The movie is way too predictable and even if Black Swan hadn’t come before it, the very beginning of the film shows the entire story’s hand. There are several chances the film has to surprise viewers and flip all preconceived notions on their heads, but the film doesn’t take any of them. There are two things that are good in the movie, and only two: 1. The cinematography and shots are impressive and 2. The leads Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman give impressive performances. Although I would’ve like to see Sweeney play the sister and Iseman play the gifted pianist that made a Faustian bargain. Sydney Sweeney hasn’t really ever played (from what I’ve seen) the wholesome good girl, and while she is fine here, her transformation from a righteous yet shy girl into a jealous sort holding contempt for everyone wasn’t quite as day and night as I would’ve liked it to be. Madison Iseman has played both the good and bad girl (The Fuck It List/Jumanji) in different projects and I think maybe if they had switched roles, their character arcs would’ve been more clear. And don’t go in expecting a full on horror movie. There are absolutely no jump scares or tension, and it is definitely less artsy fartsy (the good kind for me) than Black Swan was. It’s more psychological. But due to the fact that there are no surprises in writer/director Zu Quirke‘s screenplay (she should maybe only stick to directing next time), the only deep rooted question you should be asking your id is why you decided to press play on this title in the first place.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: THE BOYS SEASON 2 (Amazon Prime)

If THE BOYS SEASON 2 made any mistakes from coming off an incredible first season is that they should’ve released all 8 episodes at once like they did last time, and not this “3 episodes the first week then one per week for five weeks” bullshit. Hey Amazon, we are used to binge watching, get with the program. We know why you did it, it’s to get more and more ratings and views each and every week. But enough is enough, next time, for Season 3, just release all the episodes at once, you’ll thank me later instead of bitching about being review bombed by trolls simply because you tried to take advantage of fans during a pandemic. That being said, I still thought the second season of The Boys was really good, just not as masterful as the first season, and that’s because instead of having all 8 fantastic and solid episodes like the first season had, this season only had 5, with three episodes where it didn’t seem like much was happening to advance the plot/story. But that may just be me. If you are living under a rock and don’t know what The Boys even is, it’s a very popular original television series on Amazon Prime, based on a popular comic book series, that IMDB describes with the following: “A group of vigilantes sets out to take down corrupt superheroes who abuse their superpowers.” In my other way of describing it, it’s the most realistic take on superheroes in our real world that I have ever seen. Even more realistic than Zack Snyder’s DCEU. Of course all superheroes wouldn’t be high and mighty like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. Some of them would be just as nasty, evil, psychotic, perverted and corrupt like some of our celebrities and politicians in modern day. It’s a delicious idea that is executed brilliantly here with over-the-top action and violence wrapped around a “supe-terrorists”, conspiracy, and revenge plot.

The main overall story is best described on Wikipedia, “The story follows a small squad, informally known as “The Boys”, led by Butcher and also consisting of Mother’s Milk, the Frenchman, the Female, and new addition “Wee” Hughie Campbell, who are charged with monitoring the superhero community, often leading to gruesome confrontations and dreadful results; in parallel, a key subplot follows Annie “Starlight” January, a young and naive superhero who joins the Seven, the most prestigious – and corrupted – superhero group in the world and The Boys’ most powerful enemies.” Without any spoilers there are some plot threads left over from Season 1 that trickle their way into Season 2, along with new threads and new characters such as the vicious Stormfront and a former asshole seeking redemption, Lamplighter. Speaking of the latter, when he eventually shows up (Episode 5), played magnificently by Fox’s X-Men Iceman Shawn Ashmore (gotta love the coincedence on this) that’s when The Boys Season 2 gets masterful and special. The solid episodes are easily 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Episodes 1, 2, and 4 are what are called ‘bridge episodes’ to get to the better content later in the season, but they can be kind of a drag with plenty of pacing issues where nothing really significant happens. Where I end up do loving where the story ends up going this season, with the end game finally revealed around the end of the 6th episode, the story and plot are easily upstaged and stolen by the acting from all involved and the gleefully fun, over-the-top, gory, and shocking violence. For example, a face is ripped off, people spontaneously combust, heads explode, and one of our “Boys” is almost choked to death by another super’s giant cock. Yeah, that scene is shockingly hilarious as you’d expect it to be.

Tip of the hat mainly to Anthony Starr as Homelander and Aya Cash as Stormfront this season. While everybody is solid, those two stand out from the pack, especially the former. I don’t understand why Starr wasn’t nominated for a supporting Emmy last season, but if he isn’t for this season, something is truly wrong with the television organization. Homelander is a character that you love to hate and Starr’s performance is so pitch perfect, insane, and bizarre that it would be really hard at this point to imagine anyone else in the role. He is THAT brilliant. I think I enjoyed this season finale more than Season 1. There are several shocking character twists that happen that don’t co-align with what happens in the comics (note: I have not read the comics but know the gist of what happens) and that is a good thing. While enthusiasts of the comic book series might scoff at the changes, I would like The Boys to be its own thing and be unpredictable. This season finale is certainly that. And I was screaming things at my television such as, “YES!” “HOLY FUCK!” “GOD DAMN FUCK YEAH!” and haven’t been that into an episode of television in quite awhile. It also uses The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” song perfectly, especially if you read between the lines with it when it comes to what certain characters will be without at the start of next season. The finale also felt like a series finale but then one last minute twist, that I didn’t see coming, hints at what is to come, and I’m very excited about Season 3 and where it will take us. I would just recommend the writers try not to make any bridge episodes and try to advance the plot, even just a little bit, in each and every episode like the first season. Even though the 2nd one didn’t quite match its predecessor, The Boys still very much fucking rocks, and was a nice distraction from this, what Billy Butcher would probably say, “Cunt year.”

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BLACK BOX (Amazon Prime)

You ever watched one of those movies where you guess what is going on and what will happen the rest of the movie about a third of the way into it? And then once ALL of your predictions start coming true, one by one, even though the movie is still a half way decent one time watch, you kind of zone out a bit and you emotionally lose investment in the characters and what is happening on screen? That’s BLACK BOX, which is basically just Get Out (funny, because it’s from Blumhouse, the producers of that movie too) but on a much smaller, more personal scale and absolutely no racial undertones (in fact I think there was only one white character in this and she has about two lines). Yeah, I probably just gave a clue to many twists and turns within this film, but there is really no way to describe how I feel without hinting to you why I lost interest, even though there was nothing wrong with the execution of the story, what was wrong is that it didn’t go anywhere that other movies haven’t been to before. SSDD, Same Shit, Different Day. Black Box is part of a Blumhouse set of four ‘Welcome To The Blumhouse’ movies that the first two, where this and The Lie (reviewed it yesterday) came out Tuesday, and then Nocturne and Evil Eye come out next Tuesday. IMDB describes the movie with the following: “After losing his wife and his memory in a car accident, a single father undergoes an agonizing experimental treatment that causes him to question who he really is.” What really kind of irks me about the whole thing is that it stars one of my top ten favorite rising actors, Mamoudou Athie, and he’s just not getting the more than solid projects that he is capable of being masterful in. I mean…maybe in another two years, as he apparently has a substantial role in Jurassic World: Dominion?

And you know you always got to get into a blockbuster movie before you are offered other and better roles I guess nowadays. He has starred in much more smaller fare throughout his whole career. He was in Underwater that came out in January of this year, but he was in the film no more than 10 minutes before getting killed off. I know him from and started gaining keen interest into his career from one of his first independent feature debuts, called Patti Cakes, where he plays the weird love interest. He was also the only good thing about Brie Larson’s directorial debut Unicorn Store, and his best film so far, was earlier this year on Netflix, called Uncorked. Highly recommend you check either the latter out or Patti Cakes. He’s good in Black Box too, probably the best thing about the movie as it does stretch his range as an actor, it’s just the script and story around him is very plain and dry, so much so that the plot could be used in a beat by beat example in a Screenwriting For Dummies 101 book. The movie basically slaps you in the face early on of what is going on before it is revealed midway through, and the clues definitely could’ve been more subtle. I hate it when movies scream in your face in order for you to “get it” once it shows you it’s hand after the river card. Then once all is revealed, I pointed at the screen and said, “okay now this character is going to do this and this and this and this, and this other character is eventually going to come into the fray and do this and this and this and this, and then redemption story arc complete, obligatory sequel scene, end credits.” And I was 100% on the mark.

The film also stars Clarie Huxtable herself, Phylicia Rashad, and as the doctor trying to help this man gain his memories back she was adequate, but then once some things come into the light, she seemed a little too low key and under qualified for the role. Though maybe it’s just me on that one. The acting is good all around other than that, and when he enters the black box, his memory like sequences that come back to the protagonist are nice and creepy like any Blumhouse movie should be, there just wasn’t enough of them. There are only two, when there should’ve been 4 or 5, and the movie also should’ve been a bit longer than an hr and 40 minutes, where they could’ve saved the big reveal a little bit more than just halfway into it. They hired that dude that can contort his body all around to be an evil entity in the memory sequences, Troy James (used him better in the Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark movie), there just wasn’t enough of him to make a creepy enough impact like he’s been in other movies. In summation, you’ve seen different iterations of this movie done plenty of times before, and done much better, which is probably why this film went straight to streaming instead of into theaters, regardless of the pandemic, in my opinion, it is where it needs to be. The film very much lags in the second half of the film when the protagonist goes to visit one of the people he sees in his unearthed memories. It was a 15 minute scene that needed to be about only half that. When you have a movie about trying to conjure up lost memories, you need just more than two for the audience to get emotionally invested with what is happening. Only two feels like a budgetary and screenwriting cop out, and for a movie titled Black Box, it was a little disappointing to open up and discover no surprises.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GET DUKED! (Amazon Prime)

I can almost guarantee you that you haven’t heard of this movie. GET DUKED! is the new critically acclaimed Amazon Prime Video original movie that per IMDB describes it as: “An anarchic, hip-hop inspired comedy that follows four city boys on a wilderness trek as they try to escape a mysterious huntsman.” Wikipedia has a little better of a description: “Deep in the Scottish Highlands on a camping trip competition, four city boys try to escape a mysterious huntsman while the police trail behind, failing to provide assistance” To describe it a little bit better, in my own way, in order for you completely get the gist of it, it’s a British comedy take on The Most Dangerous Game…in a way. It’s in the 90’s on Rotten Tomatoes right about now, but for me, that seems a little too high. Its current IMDB score of 6.7 is a little more of where I would put it. I just think it needed to be, and pardon me for using my blog name as a point of criticism here, zanier. It is zany though, as most of the comedy works…such as an accidental killing, a make shift bomb, rabbit shit pellets, insane drug trips, and a tense ritualistic sacrifice set to a funny original rap song. I just don’t think that the jokes landed as hard as they needed to. They made me chuckle but I wanted to really laugh out loud…is it possible all my laughs were already wasted for today after watching Hulu’s The Binge, and I should’ve maybe saved this for another day when I had time on my hands? Maybe.

But then again, British/English humor is hit or miss for me, it either hits lightly, or it’s a meh miss, it has never been truly awful nor has it ever been truly belly busting laugh worthy (with the rare exception of masterful films like Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy). So you could say, this isn’t a meh miss, it’s a brief “thumbs up” from afar hit. Just don’t expect me to get up off my fat ass and shower this film with praise up close.It’s a decent one time watch, nothing more, nothing less, and much better than what bullshit Netflix has been churning out so far this year. And I’m definitely not this films target audience. English and British people are. And that’s perfectly okay, Get Duked! should be that film for them. The only recognizable name in this would be English comedian Eddie Izzard, who plays the huntsman aka ‘The Duke’, and along with a woman apprentice, try to kill these four boys. He is fine here, although the mask he wears most of the movie distracts from any audience member being able to tell if he made a solid performance or not facially. The four boys do a solid acting job though, playing off each other really well, couldn’t even tell that some of it was probably improv. The last 30 minutes, other than that tense rap little sequence, is easily the best part of the movie. Which the first fifty something minutes of the movie would’ve been as strong. I think this is writer Ninian Doff’s first feature, because it doesn’t pull up much information about his career, and if so, it’s a fine first feature to have. It’s shot very well, and the drug trip sequences were fun and unqiue to watch. Just have the visual sight gags occur more and land harder. Watch some Edgar Wright movies, he knows how to film those with expert precision. Or watch the British film Attack The Block, that small sci-fi extravaganza blended tension and comedy EXTREMELY well. Your sophomore feature should improve upon this one, otherwise next time I might tell you to get fucked.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CHEMICAL HEARTS (Amazon Prime)

Good lord I can’t wait to go back to the theater tomorrow. If Unhinged is only half a percent better than Amazon Prime’s new original movie, CHEMICAL HEARTS, I’ll be relieved. This film is the definition of sappy depressing teen angst for the sake of being sappy depressing teen angst. It’s a simple story that doesn’t have any new real revelations and it has been done a ton of times in better, older films. It brings absolutely nothing new to the table. The acting is fine, yet when your movie’s best feature is the score and musical choices, you might have a problem. This is a teen romance drama that is adapted from a novel, of which I can guarantee you the novel has something deeper and more to say than this movie did. The film also has a few interesting things to say about the chemicals in our brain and body and the movie didn’t end the way I thought it was going to, but that was it. Everything else is just standard: boy is a virgin that hasn’t had anything exciting happen in his life; beautiful girl with a walking cane obviously has a damaged past and a couple of emotional secrets; she is resistant at first, they fall in love, yada yada yada, shit happens, some light at the end of the tunnel, the end. You. Have. Seen. It. All. Before. This film makes A Walk To Remember look like a masterpiece. Could the movie had been better if the novelist actually wrote a screenplay off her novel? Probably, but the director took a stab at it, and it feels like his heart wasn’t into it, the creative chemicals in his imagination on autopilot.

Does it mean anything when I say this is Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart’s best performance? Not really. She’s an okay actress, but she is too old to be still playing these high school characters. Especially after I saw her in Hustlers last year. Her and Austin Abrams, who plays the male protagonist, are the same age, but while he looks like he still has a year or two left of pulling off high school roles, she’s about two years too late. Per IMDB, it describes Chemical Hearts as: “A high school transfer student finds a new passion when she begins to work on the school’s newspaper.” That log line is a bit misleading as it is more about the boy’s story finding out her story than the whole movie being from her point of view. Either way, it is all just teen angst bullshit with cliched dialogue, other than the few lines about chemicals in our system, that you’ve seen and heard all before. It’s nothing new, so if you eat up that shit with each and every viewing, you are probably going to like this movie. Out of two movies about teen angst that release this weekend, the other, Words On Bathroom Walls, is much more worth your time. And the studio that is producing that movie knows that, as Words On Bathroom Walls is actually getting a theatrical release (even though it would’ve worked as a perfect video on demand release as well), while Chemical Hearts is just being dumped on Amazon Prime. This movie deserves that fate, as it wouldn’t have had any type of reaction if it had released theatrically like it originally intended to. It’s a poor man’s “insert another better romance drama here.” The thing is, I don’t know if it’s going to even have a good chemical reaction on Amazon’s streaming platform, as it is just a beaker of water really, with the burner set on low.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: RADIOACTIVE (Amazon Prime)

Is it just me, or is it odd that what is supposed to be a biography celebrating Nobel Peace prize winner Marie Curie and her findings, she discovered polonium and radium with her husband, turns out to be a scathing piece of how her discoveries hurt the world more than it helped? RADIOACTIVE doesn’t know what kind of tone it wants to have, completely nose diving in its second half narrative wise when the first half was somewhat enjoyable. The only constant this movie has is a wonderful performance by Rosamund Pike as Curie, probably her best performance since Gone Girl and A Private War. The film is mostly told in a linear fashion but is continuously disrupted by a flash forward to where her discoveries ended up costing the lives of millions, such as the bombing of Hiroshima and Chernobyl’s meltdown. To top it all off, when doing actual research into what really happened in Curie’s life versus what I witnessed play out on screen, a lot of it is very, very inaccurate. Not only inaccurate to her character/personality depiction, but also with historical and scientific events. What this all boils down to is that you can’t use this film an educational or biographical source. So then what can you use it as? A piece of entertainment? No, because the pacing and lack of focus in the second half of the film made me droopy eyed. Can you use it as a uplifting yet cautionary tale on science? No and that is why the movie ultimately doesn’t work, there are so many mixed messages in this that it ends up pointing to nothing.

Per IMDB, it describes Radioactive as: “Pioneer – Rebel – Genius. Radioactive is incredible, true-story of Marie Sklodowska-Curie and her Nobel Prize-winning work that changed the world.” After seeing this movie, doing some research and then reading the description, I scoffed and laughed when I got to the word ‘true.’ In the film, it depicts Curie as advising her daughter Irene (a minor background role wasting actress Anya Taylor-Joy’s talents) against a career in science, when in fact she encouraged her daughter in the subject, welcomed Irene into her laboratory, and even started an experimental school for her in which Curie ending up teaching lessons on physics. Also, in the film the both Curie and her future husband almost laughingly meet in a classic rom-com manner. Marie literally runs into him on the streets of Paris, and he notices what she’s reading. In reality, Marie and Pierre met when a Polish professor of physics introduced them, because he knew Marie was looking for laboratory space and thought Pierre would be able to provide it. Also in the movie she constantly blames her sickness on her studies in radiation when there is no historical proof that she ever really truly acknowledged the dangers of her career. Yeah…I don’t want to say it because I hate the man that coin phrased it…but this movie is in fact, “fake news.” That is just a few examples, but believe you me, this movie takes many, many liberties with what really went down during that time.

I understand that ‘true story’ films from Hollywood always take some liberties, it is just that this movie took several too many when it could’ve easily adhered to the facts and made the movie much more interesting in the process. Historical and personality inaccuracies aside, it’s the tone, messages, and pacing of the second half of the film that make it almost completely unwatchable. At one moment the film was trying to celebrate her life in how hard she worked to achieve her goals and make discoveries, and the next minute the film was like, “look what your findings ended up doing, you bitch!” It’s as if the movie was trying to do a very straight adaptation on the subject, and in the middle of it, while you are watching it at a theater, suddenly a Karen stands up, pauses the movie, and starts pointing and yelling at the screen about how much she is triggered by what she is witnessing. Disgracing the audience for feeling for Marie Curie and her family when her discoveries did more harm than good. The film couldn’t pick a tone, and it constantly had a bunch of time lapses that ended up being hard to keep track of. To sum it up, I got bored and I didn’t care what happened anymore about 55 minutes into this hour and 49 minute movie. Things get even more confusing right before the end credits with title cards detailing how great her discoveries were, with X-Rays during World War I and such. It didn’t know whether it wanted to praise or condemn her, and in doing both, muddled everything it was trying to say and gave its audience a surreal experience that I never want to take part in again.

I don’t blame director Marjane Satrapi, as the imagery and shots in this are better than average. The real person to blame is the screenwriter, Jack Thorne, who unsurprisingly also co-wrote the very historically inaccurate 2019 film The Aeronauts, whose first half was much better than its second as well. Maybe he needs to take lessons on how to better construct the second half of the stories that he writes. Maybe instead of taking liberties with the material he is trying to adapt, he should take lessons on how to accurately portray events and still make them interesting on screen, instead of making shit up, and still having the final product come out tire-some, boring, and sloppy. His too on-the-nose writing with characters ceremoniously announcing the film’s themes and their personal motivations as they go along, makes the film completely by-the-numbers drivel that will be forgotten about in one month’s time. It’s no wonder that Amazon Prime quickly snatched this up after its theatrical premiere was cancelled due to COVID-19. It was probably really cheap to do so as the studio probably had no faith in it. Only if you are a Rosamund Pike performance completist can I recommend this film to you. She’s stunning and really good and the only part of the film, save for some of the first half, that works. I’m going for the easy last sentence sum it up pun joke here, so forgive me, but just like radium itself, you should stay far away from Radioactive.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SEBERG (Amazon Prime)

In the manner of which Chandler says sarcastic comments on the television show Friends: “Could this movie BE any more boring?” SEBERG is super duper boring and it shouldn’t have been with the amount of content the filmmakers could’ve pulled from real life young starlet Jean Seberg’s crazy fast life that tragically ended when she was 40. But no, the movie focuses too much on only 3 years of it, and saves the most interesting aspects to happen either off screen or saved for dumb title cards right before it cuts to end credits. And it’s a shame, because Kristen Stewart gives a hell of a performance, arguably her best yet. And it’s even more of a shame considering that Kristen Stewart is acting like she finally wants to be there in the spotlight of Hollywood’s most prestige actors/actresses, she’s just picking the wrong films to try and have a resurgence in her career. After all, she’s had to apologize for the Twilight Saga multiple times the past several years. The real problem with the movie is that it tells and not shows. The movie jumps in time a little too much and we are told, through just a couple of sentences of dialogue, what has happened to her, and as a audience we are supposed to pick up and imagine those pieces to try and catch up to the present time of where these people are at. Yeah, never ever do that in your movie. Ever.

Always try and show, especially if you have the ability to. And they very much had the ability. This is an Amazon Prime original film, and it is also gorgeously shot, showing the glitz and glamour of Seberg’s home life, with decadent giant houses filled with nice looking amenities. They had to have had the budget or could’ve asked for more, to film these certain scenes we are just told that happened (I don’t want to give these scenes away as they are spoilers to Ms. Seberg’s life, but if you looked her up on Wikipedia and then watched the movie, you’d know what I’m talking about). But no, we are just told, which to me as a film critic, is very frustrating and always almost unforgivable save if you have a low budget and can’t do much, like Amazon Prime’s other recent original movie: The Vast Of Night. I’m reviewing this film because like Just Mercy and Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, the release date is kind of blurry between late 2019 and 2020. Couldn’t not find one theater to see it in when it was out, and then just dumped on Amazon Prime mid May. Well, there is a reason for the random dump, the film isn’t that great. The film is directed by Benedict Andrews, who I’m not familiar with, but when looking at his history, he is mostly a stage play director, which makes total sense, as the whole movie feels like it could be a stage play.

IMDB.com describes Seberg as: “Inspired by real events in the life of French New Wave icon Jean Seberg, the late 1960s, Hoover’s FBI targeted her because of her political and romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.” To elaborate further on IMDB.com’s description. Hakim Jamal was part of the Black Panther movement, which the FBI was deeply scared and paranoid would commit an act of domestic terrorism on white people at the time. The film has the paranoia down pat, and the FBI infiltrating her life is a little interesting, but other than that, it is a snooze fest, consisting of decent performances that are wasted on nothing to do. Anthony Mackie and Zazie Beetz are in this too, playing Hakim and his wife respectively, but Hakim and Seberg’s affair is kind of glossed over with two small throwaway scenes of Beetz telling Stewart/Seberg to back off. There is also a side B plot involving one of the FBI agents, played by Unbroken’s Jack O’ Connell, who actually begins to have sympathy for Seberg’s plight, unfortunately it feels like that sympathy is rushed and just shoved into the ending climax confrontation between him and Seberg. They should’ve just made a biography on her whole life, her rise and fall from fame, and made it a bit longer. This movie only clocks in at a little under an hr and 40 minutes, but it all feels really superficial. If that makes any sense to you. Reading up on her, her life was anything but superficial, and it’s a shame that this boring product is what we got from it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: 7500 (Amazon Prime)

Ryan Reynolds in a box. Colin Ferrell in a phone booth. And now Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a cockpit. That’s Buried, Phone Booth, and now 7500. What do these three movies have in common? Almost their entire run times take place in these little claustrophobic places and all three leading men are in some sort of predicament to get out of them. And while 7500, which debuted exclusively on Amazon Prime a couple of weeks ago, is probably my least favorite of the three, it is still a very effective little thriller, although some of the choices the screenwriters make are questionable. At first these “advance the plot” choices seem to be very realistic and bold, but then they have characters make really stupid decisions in order to make the movie longer. This movie is about 92 minutes, and 10 could’ve easily been cut out of it. I know that many filmmakers with short films try to get to that solid and tight common 90 minute mark, but if you don’t have the material, you don’t have the material. There is one choice that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character makes in the movie that will have you screaming your head off, shouting “why, why didn’t you do that?” over and over again. I can answer that question for all of us, it was strictly to extend the run time unnecessarily.

Per IMDB.com, it describes 7500 as: “When terrorists try to seize control of a Berlin-Paris flight, a soft-spoken young American co-pilot struggles to save the lives of the passengers and crew while forging a surprising connection with one of the hijackers.” A lot of the film is eerily realistic. The way the hijackers try to take over the plane is genius, especially in a world where it is near impossible to get guns, knives, or any other kind of weapon aboard a plane. A lot of the decisions they make and then the decisions that Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes in the process of these 90 minutes are hauntingly brilliant, except for one. Basically, without giving anything away, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a chance to kill one of the hijackers while he is knocked out, but instead just straps him into the dead head passenger seat. And it’s not really straps in more than it is buckling him up…where if JGL pays attention to the controls to try and find a way to land the plane safely, and then the terrorist wakes up…see what I’m getting at? Should’ve just killed that fucker. I would’ve. Other than that one really frustrating decision (I can think of plenty of ways to have advanced the plot to where it was without doing that), the rest of the movie is very solid.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt acts his ass off, and gives us one of his best performances ever. The film also takes some necessary risks. No character is safe in this, which is something I appreciated as well. The camera shots, angles, what have you, make the entire journey feel really claustrophobic to not just the characters, but to you on your couch at home. This isn’t a Hollywood-ized cockpit, where there is more room than necessary. They filmed inside a real cockpit, which as you know, doesn’t really have that much room. They way director Patrick Vollrath captured everything without cutting anything out of the frame at important times in the movie is unbelievable. Really good work on all sides. If I had one more complaint, is that I didn’t really care for Joseph Gordon-Levitt forging a surprising connection with one of the hijackers. If anything felt out of place in that movie, it was that and the dumb decision he made not to kill one of them early on. The acting when they were forging that connection seemed realistic and true enough, but I don’t know if I could see that happening in the situation that played out, seemed a little too convenient for me, but then again, that just could be me. Anyway, for a solid 92 minute film that mostly takes place in one location, it is a very tight and realistic thriller, just expect one or two moments of forced turbulence to take you off course for a couple of unneeded extra minutes.