Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FROZEN II

Have any of you watched any ‘making of’ docs or featurettes on Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom? If you have, after seeing FROZEN II, you might be already getting the point I’m about to make, but if you haven’t, let me clue you in a little on the big reveal from those little insights into the darkest chapter of the Indiana Jones franchise. It is revealed from Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, and even Lucas himself that most of Temple of Doom is just jumbled up unused ideas, themes, and scenes left on the cutting room floor from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The beginning at Club Obi-Wan through the jumping out of an airplane on an inflatable raft scene to the fast and furious mine cart chase near the climax of the film, all little unused ideas. Probably the reason why I don’t re-watch that film quite as much as the others (don’t worry, I still think Crystal Skull is still the worst of the four). What I’m trying to get at is that FROZEN II felt the exact same way for me, a bunch of unused messages, themes, and ideas that they probably had for the first movie but had to not include due to it not working with the flow of the first film. This film only feels like a half realized idea. In my opinion, the film is also way too dark and depressing for children, the songs aren’t memorable at all, the adults won’t get into the story and may even be bored by it, and they should’ve just left everything about the first movie alone. This didn’t need a sequel.

The film isn’t terrible, I just found it boring and unnecessary. After watching it and being ultimately disappointed by what I saw, and then went and did some research about when the first one came out (6 years ago) and how long they took to make it (a year and a half to come up with the story, much longer to create each and every animated frame), I came up with a personal (yet arguable conclusion): Disney forced the filmmakers to make this sequel when they didn’t have any solid story ideas or any justifiable reason for doing another adventure other than Disney just wanted more box office bucks and licensing to sell more toys. I bet you anything that the filmmakers had other original ideas up their sleeves, but when brought to Disney, they didn’t even take a look, they just shook their heads, tapped their watches, and asked when they would develop a sequel to one of their most successful animated films of all time. The creators probably didn’t want to do it, but Disney kept adding those 0s to their contracts, and after the last and final no, Disney exclaimed, “okay, if you won’t make it, someone else will.” It is then that the filmmakers didn’t want anybody else in control of their “baby,” and finally said yes, even though their hearts weren’t truly into it like they were with the first one. Not only truly into it, but they felt rushed to get a completed project out into the world by a certain date. Now keep in mind that this is just my heavy duty conjecture just to give the creators an excuse of why I was personally let down by this sequel. Because if none of that is true, and their hearts were completely into it and they had more than enough time with their songs and ideas and didn’t feel rushed at all…then that just makes this film worse in my mind.

I know a lot of people find the first film overrated, but that is because they didn’t watch until long after the crazed hype it received right after it was released. I personally still love the first movie, not just because I saw it the first night it came out before the casual moviegoer obsession began but also because I’ve watched it a thousand times with my young one, who gives his undivided attention to each and every viewing, and points and shouts with glee every time he sees one of the characters outside of home. To give a point of reference to my screening that I had over the weekend, I took my young one with my wife to a Camp Cinemark showing of the sequel, which kids are allowed to talk a little and move around a little (or a lot with both in some cases); a screening that die hard fans and non interrupted folk should stay far away from. With my son, I’ve learned to tolerate the distractions, and wasn’t really upset with my screening, and was confident coming out of it that I didn’t miss any of the movie. My son was the perfect little moviegoer during his screening, making me wish we had just went to a regular one as he leaned his head on my arm and paid attention to most of the entire thing. But I’m glad I ended up going to that show in the long run, because with my new found powers of heightened peripheral vision, hearing and side attention techniques I developed having having my first child, I was able to read the room with what they thought of the sequel as well, and it wasn’t good.

Kids barely paid attention to it, several of them saying out loud that they were bored or wanted to watch the original again, others screamed or cried during the really dark or sad parts of the movie, I heard adults whispering to themselves that they weren’t enjoying the sequel at all and that the songs weren’t very good, looking at their phone clocks to see how much time they had left in that miserable experience. When the film was over, there was not a clap of enjoyment, not even from my 2 year old son who claps when the credits roll on ANYTHING, and only a handful of people stayed for the songs during the credits or to even witness a half way decent after credits scene. To summarize: children and adults, at least in my screening, weren’t having it. And please believe me, I TRIED to give this sequel a chance, but after the first song I was like…”uh oh.” During the first movie, I had each and every song already stuck in my head before the next one played across the screen, already knowing and humming the words as I left the theater into the many days and weeks and years after to present day. I know the whole damn first movie by heart because of my son’s love for the film (not a bad thing.) I knew that there was no way a sequel could top or maybe even getting close to the magic of the first film, but I was hoping upon hope that I could be proven wrong. Alas, 3/4ths into the film, into the incredibly dark and depressing third act, I had given my hopes up.

Telling you any of the story would probably be considered spoilers, but I’m going to try so I can get my point of disappointment across. The first thing you should know is that the grand adventure advertised in the trailers and tv spots is nowhere to be found. Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven find this small, magical, closed off place in the forest and spend some time in there dealing with past shit, all the while Kristoff is trying to find a time and place to propose marriage to Anna. Not much happens, but that’s all I can really say without spoiling the film. The “not much happens “parts, to be very vague, are just messages and themes already explored in the first film that just felt repetitive all combined in the giant melting pot of a ‘reparations’ story line we’ve seen time and again from other and much, much better films. There are new characters in the film, but none of them get much screen time, leading to each and every single one of them feeling one note, the characterization all surface level, nothing deep. They only learn and change their attitudes instantly with several lines of dialogue the main characters give them at the drop of a hat. The center and arguably single stage only allows Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf to have character development, but instead of learning more about their inner selves like the script should’ve done, they only learn more about their untold surrounding history. All of this leads to revelations and fates they already experienced or should have experienced in the first film. The very, very ending fate of one of the main characters that happens in this sequel I had predicted would happen at the end of the first film while watching it for the first time, but was wrong. It happening in this film is part of the feeling I had about recycled or unused ideas I mentioned in my first paragraph.

None of the songs are memorable except for Kristoff’s funny love ballad, but that is mostly due to the visuals and the reindeer. But even with that song I wasn’t humming it nor was it stuck in my had afterward. None of them were, I can’t only remember the title of the song ‘Into The Unknown,’ because those three words were repeating over and over and over and over and over again for most of the song. To go even one step further with my complaints, some of the songs seems to borrow too much not only visually, but narratively from the first film. One song, ‘Show Yourself,’ copies almost verbatim visually from when Elsa belted out ‘Let It Go’ from the first one, all the way down to when she makes herself a new outfit using her powers. Then something happens to her that was narratively verbatim to what happened to a different character in the first film. It all just felt like unused or recycled shit, but in new gift wrapping, with a new pretty bow. Make no mistake, this film is visually, very, very well done. Everything looks gorgeous, some parts even breathtakingly beautiful. But special effects do not make a film. You should know that already because of Michael Bay and Transformers. Or James Cameron’s Avatar.

And the voice acting of course is still great. Everybody involved, Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, and even with little to do, Sterling K. Brown, Even Rachel Wood, and Alfred Molina, all do a fantastic job. The singing, sound mixing, sound editing, score, all perfect, it’s just packaged in a story I could never quite get invested in. And since I didn’t care about the story, or the songs, I didn’t care about the characters, which made me just not really care for the entire product. And if their heart wasn’t it in, they didn’t try hard enough, but if their heart was, then they tried way too hard. Sometimes with sequels, even though you want to do something drastically different, if its a kids movie, you can still do it, but you have to keep it simple. The story, themes, and sad parts in this film I feel are wayyyy too dark and depressing for the target audience that Disney was intending. They shouldn’t be making a movie for the ones that enjoyed the original film six years ago, they needed to make it for the ages of what all of us were (young and older) back then. A sequel to bring in a new audience but still fun, light, and bright like the original. It tried to mature way too much. Disney has always been able to ride that fine line (tightrope) between a kid movie and an adult movie, so precise in fact that it gives a film for everyone to enjoy. This film tripped over itself too much into the adult category, much like Ralph Breaks The Internet did (although I enjoyed that sequel so much more than this one, the story and character development were very strong and kept my undivided attention.)

All of this ends with someone asking me, “did you like Frozen 2?” and I answer with a crunched up meh face, a shake of my head and a shrug of my shoulders. It’s not something I’m going to get upset over if people really like it and think I’m wrong (I’m already tapped out of that after Joker). And if your kids like it, wonderful, I hope it brings them hours of repeat joy in the future. I have one more nitpick about the movie, but it goes vastly into spoiler territory, and it also just happens to be some bullshit I’m probably pulling out of my ass because it’s politically related, and I’m just tired of seeing that influence in films that don’t need to have those kinds of messages in them. Scroll way down for me just running my mouth. I just personally didn’t really like the movie, I think its a very mediocre sequel, and I think once the people that really like it give it enough time, the flaws will start to seep through the cracks. Especially when what happens when the second one hits home video and you’ve watched the first one a thousand times, put the sequel in, only get about halfway through it only to eject and put the first one on a thousand more times. There is way too much hardship in this movie. Ultimately, Frozen II tries too hard to be what The Empire Strikes Back did for Star Wars and instead it should’ve been something more akin to the Ewok sequences in Return of the Jedi.

**one spoiler paragraph warning** Okay, so this nitpick I’m pulling out of my ass as I probably read too much into films these days as seeing all these articles about movies containing references to today’s political climate or supporting social justice warrior’s agendas and all that crap. So take what I theorize with a grain of salt. It reveals in the film that this small place in the forest cut off from everyone so long ago has two group of people trapped within its magical borders: old Arendelle soldiers and magic Nomad people. t\They all hate each other because of Anna and Elsa’s grandfather, who basically was a fucking asshole bigot (Trump anyone?). For the two groups of people to get out of this purgatory-like place and break the magic spell trapping all of them there not able to leave, not only do they have to like and respect each other, but there is a dam that, if destroyed, will break the spell and let everyone escape. But also to destroy this dam would also completely flood and destroy Arendelle in the process. As Anna finds out that her parents were basically the Romeo and Juliet of these two groups, Anna also realizes the dam must be destroyed as a reparation of sorts for the sins of their grandfather and what he did to these spiritual magical nomads long ago (killed them). She gets these magic rock giant beings to throw giant boulders at it to break open the dam, but Elsa comes in on a horse (quite literally) and saves Arendelle from being destroyed anyway. The whole time I was just thinking, “Oh God, is this an anti-Trump, anti-Trump border wall movie? Are you fucking kidding me?” I don’t like Trump as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong, I’m just tired of seeing these type of messages taken from our political climate put inside a kids movie. They need to not do that. Now if that wasn’t the intention of the filmmakers, I apologize for trying to tie threads together that don’t exist and instead of trying to read too hard for these kinds of messages in these movies, I need to just….let it go. But if our politics today influenced this story at all in any way, and I’m right about some of my theories, shame on you filmmakers, come up with something more original and less preachy next time please. Thanks. **end of spoiler paragraph and the real end of the review**

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: NOELLE (Disney +)

As you can probably tell, when Disney+ debuted yesterday, I ate that shit up. Watched the first episode of The Mandalorian, watched the new live action remake of Lady And The Tramp, tried the first episode of The World According to Jeff Goldblum but couldn’t get through it as it was shockingly had too much Goldblum zaniness (I know, right?), and this other Disney+ original holiday movie available at launch, NOELLE. Or as I really want to call it: Elf 2 – A SJW Santa Story. I’ll get to the reasons for my alternate title a little later, but needless to say, this is the kind of movie you’d find premiering on ABC or the Disney Channel 25-30 years ago, on a weekend night. It works for what it is meant for, a small scale television movie. It isn’t going to be the next holiday classic like Elf was at the time, and there are a lot of problems with the film itself other than the “social justice warrior” angle (which I’ll get to as well) but I am giving it a slight recommendation as I did laugh out loud several times throughout it and also mostly due to the quirkiness and lively performance from Anna Kendrick, who always brings her charming A-game, even if the game of said movie is not up to snuff.

The reason why this movie is so close to Elf is that it is about a fictional holiday character, in this case, Santa’s sister, having a fish out of water journey, as she has lived her entire life at the North Pole. Noelle, always really into Christmas and its spirit, has to leave her home and go to Phoenix, Arizona in search of her brother, who has gone on vacation due to the stress of it being his first Christmas taking over the Santa mantel from the recent passing of their father. The movie largely consists of updated technological fish out of water jokes (a lot of advancements in tech and our way of life with them have been invented since 2003’s Elf) and also jokes consisting of the fact that she has lived in a very cold place on Earth all her life and just quickly transitions to a hot one. With any other actress, I don’t think these jokes would’ve landed as well as they did because of Anna Kendrick going all in with each and every single one. And the holiday spirit messages such as being with family, being a good person, giving not receiving, thinking about others, yada yada yada, are all in there too and they mostly work even though we’ve seen it all before.

There are other famous actors/actresses in this as well, such as the funny Bill Hader, Shirley McClaine, and the mostly annoying and loud Billy Eichtner (here he is fine though), but they don’t have much screen time, and completely take a back seat to Kendrick’s quirkiness, especially Hader. His involvement in this film seemed like a real missed opportunity. There are some glaring problems with the movie, for one, the CGI is shoddy as fuck. The reindeer look remarkably fake and weird, and it seemed like a lot of scenes had a green screen backdrop behind them, even when it is in Phoenix, Arizona, making everything seem like it was filmed inside a cheap studio, with cheap sets, cheap everything. With a heftier budget, this project could’ve looked a lot more livelier than it had. But I realize that this project was probably made for Disney+ from the get-go and not theatrical distribution, so I guess all of that is forgiven. If this had premiered in theaters, all of it would’ve been completely unacceptable.

The movie was written and directed by Marc Lawrence, a name you may have heard as he is responsible for one of the most watched and quoted rom-coms of all time, Miss Congeniality. And his film Music & Lyrics I enjoyed. But the bulk of his work, which includes Two Weeks Notice and Did You Hear About The Morgans?, is mostly unfunny comedy drivel. I have a feeling this script was written awhile ago, and again, whoever is in charge of Disney+ digged this script out of development hell and said, “oh this could be cheap and easy to make to debut on the platform!” Yep, it all shows. (side note: I actually looked at some rumored trivia for this film and found out that filming at supposedly started in 2017 but then was postponed a little to debut on the service, take that rumor for what you will). The biggest thing that had me rolling me eyes during the movie was the social justice warrior angle of the film. If read my description of the plot, you probably can predict how the movie solves all of the conflict. I don’t want to spoil what actually happens in the movie but I want to take a direct quote/thing that happens from the movie to prove my point, so consider this a **spoiler warning**. One male character shouts out during a meeting, “A woman can’t be Santa Claus!” and a woman in the audience scoffs and yells, “Hey!” **end of spoiler**. I don’t mind some of those messages as our way of life has undoubtedly changed over the years, but there is a more subtle approach to be had, and dialogue like this in the film gives off too much of a social justice warrior vibe. There, I said it.

But anyway, I do end up recommending Noelle, as I can see people, families, what have you, queue-ing it up every other holiday or so to enjoy a nice and serviceable Christmas movie together with a fantastic re-watchable performance by Anna Kendrick. I can’t bash shit like this too hard, as I will eventually come out as an Ebenezer Scrooge myself. Know this: I really and truly try to give each and every film the time of day, even if I’m not looking forward to them. I was looking forward to this, mainly for the acting talent involved, and while I wish there was much more from Hader, Anna Kendrick elevated the mediocre material and shoddy production value, and made the film slightly work. As long as those head honchos at Disney+ know that this kind of straight to platform film will only work for so long, as with the streaming battle about to come out to a full on war, they’ll need to elevate their material to ultimately get and keep people’s attention (I have no doubt that the Marvel shows will end up doing this). But I’ll give this one a ho-ho-hopeful review for the time being.

Zach Zany Movie Reviews: DUMBO (2019) (A Hate Rap Poem)

This one is dedicated to Dustin Bade:

DUMBO 2019 (A HATE RAP POEM) By Zach Alexander

Who the fuck was this movie made for?

It can’t be for older people, who will instantly snore,

Not for younglings, scared back behind a door,

For tweens, they’ll think it’s a chore,

Yet it’s another loser for Tim Burton,

Hopin’ to raise the curtain, for certain,

His career, since Returns it’s been a hurtin’

An awful green screen CGI crap fest,

Live action stress test, ends up being a pest,

Hurts our childhood hearts, makes a mess of our chest

The acting, all distracting, spewing lines instead of reacting,

Detracting from a story that’s too abstracting, compacting

Cliched and no emotions impacting, redacting

From the heart of the story, a small elephant

Ehren Kruger’s script quite arrogant,

Danny DeVito borrowed from It’s Always Sunny set,

As Mac’s mom is there too as an asset, blasted,

Colin Farrell looks like he wants to kill himself,

His career on a dusty shelf, Eva Green, herself

Burton’s muse, adds nothing, it’s crushing

Michael Keaton rushing and busting,

His performance, more a gay Batman

Than a thespian with a plan, all panned,

Tried to make the movie too grand,

Instead it gives a backhand, to the Disney brand,

Finding single parent angle too bland,

Darker themes children won’t understand,

Made for no one, no fun hun,

Not surprised it didn’t gross a ton,

Remakes now shunned, wish they were undone,

Taken out to pasture with a shotgun, anyone?

Someone please slap me with some hard leather,

Or tether me to a tree, hang together, with shitty weather,

I wondered whether,

An elephant could be better,

Than new Aladdin or Lion King, be on top to blether

But Dumbo just asked them to hold his feather.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ALADDIN (2019) (I’m going to spoil the $#!^ out of this piece of $#!^)

I think that other than O Brother Where Art Thou?, this is the latest I’ve ever seen a movie in its first run in theaters. And now I wish I hadn’t gone at all. **opens eyes** Shit, well I must not have a genie if I’m still writing this review. ALADDIN (2019) is the most abysmal live action remake since Mr. Magoo with Leslie Nielsen. It feels like a half-assed Disney Channel adaptation they would’ve made for the station in the late 90s. Except for two people involved in this production, everything about it offends me as a movie lover. It breaks almost every rule of Film Making 101 and everything about it screams lazy three times over. How could Disney have even dared to released such a product? Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I get it. Disney was distracted. You see, it was so preoccupied sucking its dick while counting its cash it didn’t know what giant turd it was releasing upon the world. This is easily one of the worst films of 2019.

Do I ever need to explain the story to you? No. Because if you are reading this, have seen the new Aladdin but never saw the classic cartoon with Robin Williams, I hate to break it to you, but you are a fucking idiot. I’m guessing you are here because you have seen both, maybe wondering and maybe even confused about what exactly you thought you saw when watching this travesty and maybe I can break it down to have a more clear understanding of everything. Well, I guess that is what I’m here for. Here is the main problem with the new Aladdin. This film is 28 minutes longer than the cartoon, and yet all of it feels so rushed. Even the cartoon, with it’s short 90 minute run time, took a minute or two to let the characters just breathe. Here, they abandoned characterization entirely on some minor characters to make way for Will Smith’s ego. Eh, that’s being a little too harsh. I mentioned in the first paragraph there was only two people involved in this production that actually fared well in the movie, and one of them is Will Smith.

Let’s face it, no one will ever ever ever ever ever ever ever come close to even matching the genius of Robin Williams’ Genie. In fact, if they had given Oscar’s out for voice acting back in 1992, he surely would’ve won one. Will Smith at least tries to make Genie is own (even with all the same old songs and shit) and he at least looks like he wants to be there. Iago isn’t a character in this. He says maybe 4 complete sentences, with Alan Tudyk replacing the great Gilbert Gottfried, and is only there to turn into a giant evil parrot at the end to try and make a really out of left field last act magic carpet chase scene work. The fat old chubby but lovable Sultan is replaced by some random guy with a beard that looks like he wants to hang himself from the palace balcony for even agreeing to be in the movie. Even Abu I feel was short changed except for one or two “aw shucks” looks into the camera and don’t even get started on the magic carpet. 5 seconds in the old cartoon gave more characterization to that fabric than this whole film did.

But who’s the worst culprit? You thought I was going to say Aladdin didn’t you? But no. While I think Mena Massoud looks the part, and has one or two charming moments, I honestly think he’s rather dull. But that I don’t blame on his acting, I blame on the direction given to him and the hackneyed screenplay he had to read from. No, the worst character in here is Jafar. Jafar in the cartoon was the bad ass of bad assery. He was pure evil and when he walked into the room, everyone knew it. For a drawing, it was one of the most confident villains I have ever seen in any kind of animated film. Here….Jafar who? Like, who was he? If I could describe him best, he felt like a whinier Anakin Skywalker from Attack of the Clones. He got high pitched and just cried and scream to people about power and shit. He wasn’t intimidating at all, and I was wondering why most of the film someone didn’t just walk up to him and kick him straight in the nuts to shut the fuck up. He seemed THAT fragile.

Other than characterization, the screenplay is a giant mess. For some reason they decided to combine Aladdin’s ‘One Jump’ song ALONG with meeting Jasmine. They took two separate character moments that set up who these people were and tried to combine it just to get to the Genie a little bit faster. In all the scenes that everything needed to take a breather, it felt rushed, and all the scenes that needed to be cut for dragging, was dragged out as long as possible. There were two scenes of Jafar and the Sultan where I was looking at my watch, clocking how much longer that scene would go on. It was insulting as a film goer. And the awesome climax in the original cartoon, where the stakes were raised and Jafar turns into a giant bad ass snake? Completely gone. The climax to this feels like the climax to the novel version of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, where opposing characters are just one opposite sides of the room from one another trying to out talk and maneuver the other one.

The only other person that walked away from this garbage that was actually really good and look like she wanted to be there was Naomi Scott as Jasmine. She was the confident, brave, bold, and smart heroine that she needed to be. I never considered in the cartoon her to be a damsel in distress (even though there were a couple of scenes to argue that notion) and in this film, THE ONLY THING IT DOES RIGHT, is too completely strip away that stereotype and make her the bad ass princess that we know and love. Naomi Scott is a good singer, and her voice is lovely to hear on screen, but that new solo song they gave her, ‘Speechless,’ felt wayyyyy out of place and didn’t match the rest of the film, and in fact, slowed it down. In the climax, where things are supposed to amp up, she breaks out to the rest of the song she started earlier in the film, and it just felt sloppy. The whole controversial thing of the film making her Sultan at the end that’s getting a lot of flack for Disney trying to be ‘woke’ or whatever it is called? Probably the LEAST controversial thing about the film, and in fact, was one of the few changes that worked.

Oh, I guess two more points I could say that I liked, but they are just fleeting praises, like finding a tiny speck of gold in a pile of shit. I think the “Whole New World” sequence was done well and I liked that they kind of gave the Genie more of a definitive sweet and sappy ending (although Nasim Pedrad, who was a part of that ending, was wayyy under used). And that’s it. The Cave of Wonders scenes, including the journey to the lamp and trying to escape were rushed, boring, and editing poorly. The CGI in almost every frame looked like shit, including the Blue Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Agrabah just looks like every film that has a old boring palace in the middle of a desert location. I could go on and on, but it’s too tiring too. Director Guy Ritchie should be ashamed of himself. He obviously didn’t have any of his trademark directing in the film, because The Mouse was busy forcing his hand to do its bidding. This film opened up a whole new can of worms to seriously getting me to start hating live action remakes. Disney will never have a friend like me if they continue churning out this assembly lined bantha poo doo.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: TOY STORY 4 (no spoilers)

TOY STORY 4 or what I am calling it, Woody’s Epilogue, is actually a pretty great…well..epilogue. Let’s face it, we all know that Toy Story 3 provided mostly all of the toys we’ve come to grow up with a satisfying conclusion to the “Andy Saga.” However, in the third movie, Bo Peep was no where to be found with one line of dialogue and one frowny face basically explaining that she was just gone, and not with them anymore. Well, this 4th movie is basically a Bo Peep RetCon. And it’s really, really good. I think I even enjoyed it more than the 3rd one. I’m going to be the controversial one by saying that I didn’t find Toy Story 3 all that memorable other than them about to be fried in that furnace and then the tear jerking ending of Andy giving his toys to a new little girl, Bonnie. And I’ll even double down on the shock value and tell you that #2 blew me away when I saw it in theaters and is still my favorite of the franchise to this day. Now is the time though, when all childish things must come to an end, and hopefully, even though this was great, it is definitely the last film.

And yes, I know that they introduce a new character named Forky (voice by the great Tony Hale), and I know that he’s getting his own Disney + series (hard pass), I’m meaning as far as theatrical films go, I hope this is the last one. And yes, I will even admit to you that this movie was unnecessary. But look at Pixar and their cash cow. They made three completely unnecessary films about Cars that were either too boring or too wacky. It was even revealed in a recent article that they started planning and writing Toy Story 4 before 3 even hit theaters, and that was 9 God damn years ago. But given that the recent article said that Pixar will be focusing on original films going forward and there won’t be many sequels anymore, and the Forky series, I have a feeling that this will be the last one. Because after the mid credits scene roles, there is literally no more story left to tell, even with Bonnie, because it was just be recycling Andy growing up all over again. You’ve had the toys almost get lost and die a thousand times, you’ve gotten the story line of what if some of the toys were collector’s items, and you’ve all had one dimensional villains that either want to destroy everything or keep the depressing status quo.

Which is why I liked this film quite a bit, because of Gabby Gabby, the first true villain of the franchise that actually had an arc (Sid, the Prospector, and the Giant Purple Bear weren’t all that interesting to be honest). They took her to a place I didn’t think they would go, and was very grateful to get something different. And the reason why I’m really calling this film “Woody (and Bo’s) Epilogue” is because, other than those two and a few new characters, all of the other ones get the shaft. And I get it, Toy Story 3 was their ending, and this is Woody and Bo’s, but this film has Buzz Lightyear featured the very least in any of the film in the franchise. Other than one ‘inner voice’ joke, that was actually hilarious and a lot of fun, I’d say Buzz is in the movie for less than 20 minutes, with that joke being the brunt of it. I guess I could forgive it, seeing that the film opens 9 years prior to show how Bo really went away and Woody seemingly giving her one last goodbye, but there had to have been some way to feature Buzz more in this film. Consider that my biggest criticism of the film.

The rest is fantastic though. I loved that the film took place mainly in an RV, at a fair, and one of my favorite locales in the whole franchise, an antique shop. I loved Gabby Gabby’s really creepy ventriloquist henchmen (provided some weird dark comedy). I loved the new characters, like Forky mentioned earlier, a pair of duck and bunny stuff prize dolls voiced by Key and Peele, and especially Duke Caboom voice by none other than, the celebrity getting the most love he’s ever gotten in his career this year, Keanu Reeves. He completely steals the show, and the film even (stay thru the mid credits!) gets Reeves to do his one signature line we’ve made fun of him for, but also praised him for, and have been doing homages ever since. I found myself laughing out loud in the theater quite a bit too, which just gives the movie even more brownie points. If you are a kid film made for kids, but you get adults to laugh out loud and smile along, you know you are a special film.

And obviously, since we’ve had this franchise since the mid 90s, this is the most visually striking of all the films. They manage look crisper and more detailed every outing, and that is very much appreciated (although for the love of God don’t run out of ideas and then George Lucas everything by remastering the first three films with better digital effects). The voice acting is all there, with Hanks and Potts almost making me cry with their interactions. It’s a very, very solid Pixar movie in general. And was so, so, so, so much better than the kind of okay sequel we got last year with Incredibles 2. I’m very, very happy and excited for the future of Disney/Pixar after this film, and the fact that they said they are going to focus on original tales from now on. But this needs to be the last Toy Story theatrical film. There is no where left to go. And I swear to God, someone needs to hand me a poison vial or shoot me in the face if they ever announce a Cars 4.

My Rank Of Toy Story Films:

  1. Toy Story 2
  2. Toy Story
  3. Toy Story 4
  4. Toy Story 3

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CAPTAIN MARVEL (no spoilers)

DISCLAIMER: (because I have to do this with the butthurters nowadays with a film like this) Any criticisms I give to the following film CAPTAIN MARVEL in my review, are in no way, shape, or form, have to do with the fact in that this is the MCU’s first female superhero led film. In fact, I think we should get more female driven superhero films, as long as they are made correctly. I am not a misogynist, I am married and have a loving and awesome wife, and ANY CRITICISMS WHATSOEVER I HAVE WITH THIS FILM HAVE TO DO WITH A STORYTELLING OR SCRIPT LEVEL AND DOES NOT HAVE TO DO WITH BRIE LARSON OR ANY FEMALE LED SUPERHERO FILM. Jesus Christ, it’s sad that I have to do that eh? Let’s get down to brass taxes and first go with my summary of Captain Marvel as a whole: I quite enjoyed it, however, in the whole spectrum of all 21 MCU films we have gotten to date, it is not one of the higher tier ones, like the first Iron Man, the first Avengers, the first Guardians, or Infinity War, yet it is not one of the lower tier ones like Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, or The Incredible Hulk. It is somewhere in the middle, resting its good not great addition to the universe head along with its buddies such as Black Panther, Ant-Man, Guardians 2, or Doctor Strange.

I will star this off by saying that contrary to reports that Brie Larson is wooden in the Captain Marvel role (I think some people are just trolling and saying it even when they haven’t seen it yet), I assure you, she is not. She is very likable in this and in fact I think she knew that the script itself had some problems (there are 3 screenwriters, and 5 people get a story by credit) and she added her own cute little quirks and mannerisms to the role. I think with the right script and a more focused characterization Brie Larson could be a masterful superhero. But she is quite good with what she was given. In fact, everyone is good. Jude Law is good. Samuel L. Jackson is the man. Ben Mendelsohn nearly steals the movie. The very lackluster trailers and tv spots don’t showcase the good film that Disney/Marvel have on their hands here. In fact, if you look at all the other trailers, they don’t really sell their films anymore. They might need to hire better people that can cut a decent marketing campaign.

I was never once bored and looked at my cell phone clock with this movie, I was entertained throughout the whole thing. But the movie does have several issues and it all boils down to one notion, something that I knew was coming a long time ago, but is finally starting to seek through the cracks: Marvel’s Origin Story formula is starting to shake and if they aren’t careful, will soon crumble and fall like half of the DCEU’s slate. The entire movie is 200% predictable. It’s “twists” are 200% predictable (it does one “oh it was really this/him/her the whole time gimmick we’ve seen done in 100,000 movies before it). You can probably even fucking guess what the mid and end credits scenes are, that’s how predictable this thing is. Here’s a true, in my opinion, fact: Captain Marvel should’ve been introduced in Phase 1 or 2 of the MCU, should’ve already had one sequel by now with that story showing what happened with what she does at the end of this movie, and it wouldn’t have felt like this was shoe horned in right before Avengers: Endgame.

Because it is. Because you can feel it. Because everything feels rushed. Obviously you’ve seen from the trailers that Brie Larson has amnesia and is starting to remember things of where she may have had a life on Earth before becoming a Kree. The film feels too fast paced that, when she eventually remembers some stuff and comes face to face with some long lost family and friends, I didn’t feel anything. Like the confrontations that she is thrust into should’ve had more power, brevity, and levity. And it didn’t. It’s just like, “oh hi, don’t know you much, I know that I used to and we used to be two peas in a pod, well, I’m back, nice to meet ya.” Films need to have a giant emotional impact. If the film had focused on her amnesia stuff maybe just a few minutes longer, like 10 to 15, those scenes would’ve felt earned, not forced. The main issue is that there is just wayyy too much story stuffed into a medium box of 2 hrs, just in service to quickly get an origin story out of the way so she can be a bad ass motherfucker in Avengers: Endgame.

The movies got the Kree, old characters you saw in Guardians 1, a strange cat named Goose, amnesia problems, long gestating wars, witty banter, reunions, betrayals, double crosses, triple crosses, just too much that the script is a little shaky on its foundation and bounced off the wall too much at times. And near the end, kind of like the problem Black Panther had, its CGI is a little troublesome. And while the action is fun, but not that memorable. Oh, and one more AND to the million I have said already, the movie has still has got the Marvel villain problem (you’ll see). While the movie was wayyyy too late in the making, its just fortunate that it wasn’t a disaster, is watchable, and is enjoyable. The real star of the movie is the de-ageing effects on one Samuel L. Jackson. Fucking seemless, I couldn’t believe it, he actually looks like he just stepped out of his role in the 90s film The Negotiator (from which they based his de-ageing on) and hasn’t skipped a beat.

So anyway, in summation, Captain Marvel is a solid, good, yet not great addition to the MCU. I did enjoy myself sitting in the theater experiencing it. And none of it has to do with the fact that it is a female driven superhero film. All the problems are in the script, the story, and two directors who have directed a handful of episodes of Billions and The Affair, and two indie features films (Half Nelson and It’s Kind of A Funny Story) that I thought were way out of their element here. If we could get a solid script and better directors, and a focused pace, we could get a sequel that is truly special. A true sequel, not just Avengers: Endgame. Oh, btw, if the opening Marvel logo/credits don’t make you tear up and want to applaud, you aren’t human.