Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GREENLAND

GREENLAND, a movie that was supposed to release in theaters just several weeks after Tenet in the United States back in September, ended up being pulled because of Tenet’s poor box office performance in this country. Instead, it going to be available to rent for $19.99 Premium Video On Demand on December 18th, with it hitting HBO Max for free several months later at the beginning of Spring 2021. I’m here to tell you that if you are really interested in this movie, and have HBO Max, to just wait it out. Don’t spend $19.99 on this for 48 hrs, don’t buy it, either wait for HBO Max or get one of your tech friends to download it so you can somehow watch it for free. Disaster and survival movies haven’t been the same since the 90s. Films like 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and this either try to be too serious or end up being too cheesy, and never sustain the balance of both tones that movies like the first Independence Day, Deep Impact, Titanic, Dante’s Peak, Daylight, Volcano, Hard Rain, Twister or Armageddon did back in the day. Greenland is the former. It is way too depressingly serious, and is basically a 2 hour survival movie with it’s main message that says, in the end, no matter who is running the government, they are all probably a bunch of uncaring, devious, and unsympathetic assholes. I don’t want to ruin any of the decisions/actions that our government makes when they realize a giant ass comet that was thought to just closely pass us by instead decides to drop in for a more permanent visit, but needless to say, in the state of the world we are in, I thought, “yep, seems about right.” Disaster movies are supposed to be fun little escapes for a couple of hours time, not depressing tales that hit too close to home that still manage to use too many eye rolling cliches that have already been done before. Of course Gerard Butler’s kid in the movie has diabetes!

IMDB describes this movie quite simply, it’s a simple disaster movie: “A family struggles for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.” Nothing more, nothing less, other than showing us how shitty people can be when the chips are down. The acting’s not the problem. Gerard Butler plays the strong everyday family man well like he has in a bunch of other movies. Morena Beccarin has unfortunately been typecast as the damsel and/or mom in distress, and she’s solid as she’s been playing the same role all these years. The problem isn’t even the special effects. The extinction level event depicted in the film is realistic and when the spaced out comet hitting ground action does occur, it’s draw dropping and realistic (even though that the way it keeps happening to just this family you’ll have to really suspend your belief). Which brings us to my problem with the film. It is too deadly serious. That would be okay if it was ORIGINAL, while being too deadly serious. But disaster movie cliches piled on even more disaster movie cliches took me out of the film every five minutes. Whether it was using Butler’s son’s diabetes and insulin numerous eye rolling times just to move the plot forward to genuine nice good samaritans that suddenly become as evil as Hitler to that one old family member that is content with dying in a few short hours to other civilians doing stupid shit to stop the main characters from getting to certain destinations, nothing original happens. Except for the ways our government would end up handling a crisis like this. That’s not to say that this is a bad movie. It’s watchable and entertaining at points, and the destruction of some parts of the world were a bewildering sight to see. It just added nothing new, and the cliched stuff that was there kept taking me out of the movie. It’s just okay, and if that just okay with you, then Greenland is your comet ride away from our Earth for two hours.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANGEL HAS FALLEN (no spoilers)

The “Has Fallen/Mike Banning” trilogy, most of you must admit, is just a poor man’s Die Hard/John McClane. You take all the aspects of what made the Die Hard trilogy great, you half ass them, and boom, there you have it. ANGEL HAS FALLEN is no different, it is really just the poor man’s Die Hard With A Vengeance. You see, when just comparing the John McClane films to themselves, as a trilogy (forget Live Free and Good Day exist for a second), I would literally rank them in quality as: the original, then With A Vengeance, and finally Die Harder. Olympus Has Fallen is actually kind of great if you think about it, especially when that abysmal White House Down released later that same year. Olympus had that cheesy, one-man take down charm. Yet it is still no Die Hard. London Has Fallen is…strange. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t terrible, it’s kind of just there. Yet it is still no Die Harder. Angel Has Fallen almost put me to sleep, but then when Nick Nolte showed up on screen, everything just got better and better till the movie ended, and it wound up being better than London. Yet, it is still no With A Vengeance.

In summation, the movie is better than what the critics would have you believe, but it is only a half way decent end to a half way decent trilogy. I could watch Olympus all day long, but I never have the urge to go back and check out London, and might only give Angel a couple of more views if I’m bored, and even then I would only start the film when Nick Nolte (who play’s Banning’s father) shows up. I say that, because the action scene that follows is one of the most laugh out loud hilarious ones since John Wick 3, and those 5 minutes are worth the price of admission alone. And then thankfully the film doesn’t let up until the credits roll. But then…that awkward comedic mid credit scene that caps off a trilogy…(don’t really want to talk about that because spoilers but…you’ll see…it doesn’t belong in that film). Anyway, I enjoy these movies mainly because of Gerard Butler, an action hero who’s the poor man’s Bruce Willis, Liam Neeson, what have you. Butler has that sarcastic charm that for some reason makes his movies better than they would be without him. Can you see anyone else as Leonidas in 300? That is no different with Angel, he definitely elevates all the mediocre storytelling that this narrative provides with snarky sarcastic one-liners (wish there was more of them though, like in Olympus).

I didn’t watch the full trailer to this film ever, I just saw the news that the film was greenlit, saw when they went into production, and then just saw a couple of TV spots that didn’t show much, and in the end, I never sought out any other trailers or clips. It wasn’t like I was trying to be completely surprised by all the “twists and turns” the movie had to provide. When I heard they were making a third one, and then saw mini advertisements for it, I just shrugged. London literally made me not care to see a trilogy finished. I remember caring for London when it was announced, because I liked Olympus a lot, and I guess the mediocrity of the 2nd one drowned out any excitement I had for a third. What I’m trying to say is, it is probably good I didn’t seek out any marketing or get ultra hyped about the movie, because I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the 2nd half as much. Also, the trailers (I ended up watching them after the movie last night) reveal almost the entire film. All I have to say is lower your expectations, and you’ll probably enjoy the ride.

The plot? Mike Banning saves President Alan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman, taking over duties from Aaron Eckhart, because Eckhart was probably tired from the franchise more than anyone) from a traitorous drone strike. They are knocked unconscious, and Mike Banning wakes up first to discover that someone has set him up to look like he was the one behind the assassination attempt. Of course, Banning escapes and has to find out who did this to him and clear his name. Yeah, yeah, I know, we’ve seen this plot before. One major problem with the film is that it is entirely 200% predictable. Since I didn’t really see much marketing for this, I didn’t know it reveals who one of the main villains are in the movie that are trying to set Banning up, but it didn’t matter that I didn’t know before hand, because I guessed it within two seconds, and then I guessed who was really behind it all in another two seconds. Sometimes unpredictability in action movies is key, and the film might’ve been better if it had a little more of it.

The acting? It was mostly acceptable but with a couple of cringe worthy moments. Like I said Butler always elevates his movies as he seems to have a good time making them. Oh and hey, him and Morgan Freeman actually share a couple of scenes together instead of them being shot separate and then edited together weird like their scenes in London Has Fallen. Although Morgan Freeman, who is fine in these, still just screams paycheck, no more so apparent than in this installment where he is either fishing or gets to lie down in a comfy hospital bed for the majority of the film. Though, John Huston and Tim Blake Nelson looked like they tried. Radha Mitchell also knew to bail on the franchise and so Banning’s wife is replaced by Piper Perabo, hotter and only three years younger! Does she have much to do in the film? Nope. Didn’t make a lick of difference who was cast. The main problem/cringe worthy-ness was Jada Pinkett Smith’s FBI agent. Jada Pinkett Smith is a one note actress, meaning that she has absolutely almost no range. In comedic roles, she is too serious and…well, in everything else she is too serious. No exception here. Although her character is involved in one of the things I didn’t see coming in the back half of the movie, still, she is wildly out of her element, even for a cheesy film like this.

The action, mostly all taking place in the second half of the film, is adequate enough, especially the grand finale. The first half though is filled with wayyyyyyy too much shaky cam and horrendous editing that I couldn’t tell what the fuck was going on. I don’t know if the director started calming the fuck down, or they “replaced” him half way through filming, but at least it got better. The grand finale was close to being awesome, and even had a shot at beating the Nick Nolte action sequence, but then some really really bad green screen and CGI came about when a building was falling down and that took me out of the film. I am not familiar with the director, Ric Roman Waugh, but if he directs future action films he needs to calm down and set up sequences more fluidly like he did with the second half. At the beginning, he was almost worse than Paul Greengrass. That’s all that really needs to be said about Angel Has Fallen. If you’ve enjoyed these half ass attempts at another Die Hard Trilogy, you are more than likely going to enjoy this one. If you didn’t or haven’t watched the other two films, you should probably stay far away. At least it was better than the second installment. But for the love of God I hope this trilogy is done and that they don’t green light a 4th installment. If they do, they need to title it Interest Has Fallen.

P.S. Do yourself a giant favor and go Ready Or Not this weekend instead. You will have a much better time.

My ranking of the “Has Fallen” Trilogy:

  1. Olympus Has Fallen
  2. Angel Has Fallen
  3. London Has Fallen