Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: My Ranking Of THE FAST SAGA

Hello again! Since big big movies are finally starting to slowly trickle their way back into movie theaters, I am here to let you know that I am still only doing mainly smaller 3-4 sentence Background reviews that I am posting on my Facebook page Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews, on my Instagram @zachszanymoviereviews, and my newly relaunched Twitter @zachzanyreviews. BUT…every now and then, like the Friends Reunion review about two weeks ago, I’d like to do something special, like now, and do a ranking of THE FAST SAGA before F9 is released on June 25th, and then I will update the list shortly after I see the film. I just rewatched all 8 previous movies + Hobbs & Shaw, so I’d like to think that this list is final in a way. Anyway, my rankings from lowest to highest are before you, with a little explanation on why I put them where I put them!

9. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT

You thought it was going to be 2 Fast 2 Furious or Fast & Furious here huh? Nope. I’m going with Tokyo Drift. My last choice is a very controversial one to fans of the franchise, as this entry has gotten more love over the years. But when I watched it again a week or two ago, I realized that I didn’t give a shit about any other character in the movie other than Han, who isn’t really in the film all that much anyway (**spoiler alert** especially because he *dies* a little over midway thru the movie, and we now know the death is bullshit based on his character just magically showing up unscathed in F9 trailers and tv spots). I don’t like Lucas Black’s character, Lil’ Bow Wow’s character, and I can’t even tell you the name of the love interest’s character or the name of the actress that plays her (nor do I really want to look it up). Other than a mildly interesting opening car race and climatic giant hill drift race, the rest of the movie, other than Han’s character few lines of wisdom (let’s face it, nobody really paid his character any attention until the incredible Fast Five), is very dull, boring, and frankly, stupid. Visually the movie looks nice but there is almost no substance here to hold on too. How director Justin Lin got the job to direct four more movies (2 of them some of the best) in the franchise and it not sizzle out there is astonishingly shocking.

8. 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS

The only thing that keeps 2 Fast 2 Furious above water from time to time is the chemistry between Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson. I also like the race to win better cars for their mission midway through the film. Eva Mendes also is hot as hell in the movie. Other than that, ho-hum at best. I don’t even know if Vin Diesel being a part of the story would’ve helped matters, as the standard “bust the bad guy” plot is very, very dull, boring, and stupid. Again, visually, the movie looks nice and bright but other than the camaraderie between the two leads, again…no substance. John Singleton should’ve said no to directing.

7. FAST & FURIOUS

The really only thing that is noble about the 4th entry in the Fast & Furious franchise is that it brings back all the original central players in a bridge movie that no one new would lead to one of the greatest sequels of all time. Their chemistry and being back into the swing of things is the only slight notch this film has over the last two movies on this list. The last three could easily be shuffled over re watches but will always be the last three, unless F9 sucks a big dick. “Killing” off Letty (we didn’t know at the time that it would turn out to be bullshit when F6 came along) was lazy, stupid shock value writing at its worst. Mia just gives herself to Brian after only one scene of being pissed at him, and the climatic cave race to the death is so fucking fake looking you wonder why Justin Lin even agreed to return as director. This movie is usually at the bottom of all lists because of how fake everything looks and the ho-hum bridge to a better movie story, but for me, it’s slightly above the bottom just because the movie’s producers got the band back together again. P.S. Vin Diesel saying “pussy” to a bad guy as his one liner at the end of the film is almost unforgivable.

6. THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

This and #5 could be switched around if I ever…ever come back to giving these yet another rewatch, but The Fate of the Furious gets the short end of the stick here because none of the action is memorable other than Dwayne Johnson steering a submarine torpedo off course with his arm, hanging off the side of his vehicle in a massively overdone ice chase. You don’t cast Charlize Theron as the villain and have her behind a desk the entire film. And whenever Johnson and Vin Diesel have scenes together, it feels so off kilter because you know that behind the scenes drama led to them not really having any scenes together, it’s all just blatantly edited movie magic…because egos. And changing Jason Statham from a villain to an anti-hero just because the franchise is afraid of killing anyone off that famous is stupid and then when you put that together with the Luke Evans’ cameo, where he ends up saving the life of **spoiler alert** Vin Diesel’s love child, changing his villain character from part 6 into an anti-hero as well (not to mention being out of a coma so suddenly) is just down right God damn abysmal. The very beginning of the movie where they do another street race is a strong opening highlight, but the rest of the action sequences look too CGI’y and I just didn’t care about the stakes. I get that making a “Diesel versus his team” movie was too irresistible to ignore…but separating the group like that just doesn’t work (whether that plot turn was because Johnson and Diesel still hated each other around that time is anyone’s guess). I guess now they know huh? So why isn’t this lower the the last three on this list? Because even though the action isn’t memorable, it is watchable. The other movies the action isn’t really that watchable.

5. FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW

Or the movie Vin Diesel doesn’t want existing in the franchise and doesn’t want YOU to see! Hobbs & Shaw is only okay, and that’s only because the chemistry between Johnson and Statham is electrifying and I love me any kind of Idris Elba, even if his “Black Superman” villain is really not all that menacing or memorable. The action was a little too goofy here for me even though it was all watchable and mildly entertaining. Even though the action was too goofy, all of the sequences, from the climax, to the elevator chase, when put together, beat out any of the action sequences from my #6 pick, to my bottom pick, combined. Would I have preferred that this movie didn’t exist as well so that Statham and Johnson could’ve been in an already too packed F9? Yeah, actually. Unless a Hobbs & Shaw 2 is so overwhelmingly good, this movie could’ve honestly not been made and the only thing I would’ve missed was any Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham screen time.

4. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS

Okay, so by the end of June there will be 10 movies on this list? If F9 is any good whatsoever, that will mean that The Fast Saga has half excellent to good movies, and half okay to downright blah ones. So until that movie comes out and I can give a true verdict of its value, that means that The Fast Saga has more misses than hits…yikes. Well, the first “hit” on my list is the original. The most grounded (obviously) of all the Fast and Furious movies. The one that made both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker household names. Where it was nothing but street races, vandalism, grand theft auto, and small high speed heists for a bunch of (now) low-tech electronic equipment. But just watching it again recently, the film still holds up because of the characters and the opening street race still gives me chills, especially, after having lost the race, Brian points at Dom and says, “dude, I almost had you” with a smile on his face, even though he just lost his car. It’s the simple things really, and since this movie is so simple, it still has that nice sheen and shine to it that is unlikely to become tarnished anytime in the years to come.

3. FURIOUS 7

I had a really hard time with ranking my 2 and 3 picks. On the one hand, Furious 7 has a lovingly, if you don’t tear up during it you have no soul, tribute to the late Paul Walker, who tragically died in a car wreck (he was not the driver) when the cast was on a break from filming during Thanksgiving. On the other hand, Fast and Furious 6 has Paul Walker’s final completed performance, and almost any scene that blatantly isn’t Paul Walker in this movie is very noticeable and distracting as fuck. On a third hand, they did the absolute best with what they had already filmed with him, and the movie magic they were given (which included uses Paul’s brothers as body doubles and CGI’ing his face onto them) to give his character closure. And Jason Statham is fucking BAD ASS in this movie. And the cars parachuting from a plane and the subsequent long ass chase action scene in the middle of the movie is superb. And even though the climax is poorly edited with hardly any real Paul Walker footage, it is faced paced, entertaining and exciting. But I still have to give 6 the edge because of Walker’s completed performance and the three main action sequences…

2. FAST AND FURIOUS 6

which are almost perfectly filmed, edited, and executed. You have the near beginning chase sequence with the short, tiny, yet oddly personable and satisfying villain vehicles that can fling bigger vehicles up and over them, you have the breath taking climax with the never ending runway and the plane that the team doesn’t want to take off, and you have the extremely memorable, and laugh out loud (in a good way) action sequence in the middle of the film involving not only a tank, but a death and gravity defying mid way highway overpass life saving catch involving two of the main characters. It’s that goofy yet great, and even though the previous movie is the masterpiece that got the franchise back on track, this one was almost near perfect in replicating that sheer “I can’t believe this is a down the line sequel that is better than anything that came before it” joy that I can experience in a theater. This and my #1 pick shows why Justin Lin, when given the correct material, can make great action movie spectacles.

  1. FAST FIVE

If you don’t have FAST FIVE at #1 or #2 on your ranking of The Fast Saga list, something is seriously wrong with you. They flipped a franchise, that was essentially only about which engines in which car was better mixed with testosterone, and turned it into an action heist mission series. Unbelievable how perfect this movie is. The opening train heist sequence? Masterful. The sequence mid way through the film running through the streets of Rio de Janiero? Masterful. The climax of the safe heist, where two cars are pulling a giant safe down the busy streets of Rio de Janiero? Masterful on top of masterful and easily the best action sequence the entire saga has to offer. I’ve seen Fast Five the most out of any film in the saga, and I honestly think it gets better every time I watch it. The movie is perfectly paced, plotted, and executed. I don’t think they could ever make a better entry. If you want a solid trilogy out of the 9 films thus far, Fast Five, Fast and Furious 6, and Furious 7 fit the bill, and it even somewhat has a beginning, middle and end if you wanted to JUST WATCH THOSE THREE AND FORGET THE REST. My top three picks are the reason why I end up loving this franchise, even if all 9 parts together only really get me a decent Hyundai.

Zach’s Zany FINAL Top 20 Films Of 2020

Hello again so soon! You probably saw this longer post coming though, as I had posted little mini blurbs for my final shittiest films of 2020 list last week. If you are a long time follower of my reviews, best of/worst of lists, what not, you’ll know that my final picks, on both lists, are very rare right before the start of the new year. Usually I will post my worst of list a week or two into January, and then my best of list the last week of January. This is because some 2020 films that qualify for the Oscars are only released in New York and LA right before the end of the year and aren’t available to the little people like me until mid January. As as we all know, this year has been quite strange because of the virus that shall not be named. There are a lot of “Best of 2020” films on mainstream critics list that you won’t see on here and you wouldn’t have seen me review the past couple of months either…mainly because they don’t release to the general public until late next month, or fuck, even late February because of the minor delay in not only the Golden Globes telecast, but the Academy Awards extending 2020 eligibility until late February this oh so special shitty year. I made the decision early on that you won’t see films like Pieces of a Woman, Nomadland, One Night In Miami, and French Exit on my lists because I don’t want to give you a best of 2020 list in late February. Because of the virus that shall not be named, you can’t even see the once blurry line separating one year’s films to the next anymore.

So from now on, even after this whole bullshit virus that shall not be named situation has went away, I will be counting films that I see that are released each year between January 1st 12:01 am and December 31st 11:59 pm central standard time on my lists. If I see a movie that was released between that ‘EXACTLY A YEAR’ period AFTER THAT PERIOD, I will still review them, but not put them on any lists because I don’t feel like pulling my hair out changing them. There are some movies that I don’t want to push off my lists even for other that are better or worse at that point. For example, I plan to see Monster Hunter with my good friend Josh on January 1st. It came out December 18th. So even if it is a giant piece of shit, the shittiest shit I have ever seen, it will not be on my 2020 or 2021 worst list. It’s just a shitty movie I’ve seen stuck in between the blur of all the other shitty movies I’ve seen in my life time that is one giant blur in itself. Another example for a potential great movie, when Nomadland eventually releases in February, and if I actually love the film, it will now be counted on my 2021 best of list. Not 2020. Because of this stupid fucking release schedule. Because these movies MUST be shown in theaters apparently and not just released on streaming for shitty, selfish, and greedy reasons. Everyone has had to adapt this year, and so am I, but on MY TERMS. Anyway, what am I doing still yapping about my rules? You’ve come to read my stupid little blurbs on movies that I’ve done reviews on already earlier in the year. Little blurbs explaining why these films are in my FINAL Top 20 of 2020 list. I promise you that I will not overstay my welcome on most of my small explanations. This is just backing up the list that you saw published a day or so ago on Facebook and Instagram with paperwork.

BLACKJACK 21: BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIE FILM and THE WRETCHED

So instead of a giant, long honorable mentions list, each year I do a “BLACKJACK 21” where, just like a Blackjack perfect 2 card hand, I pick 2 movies that I felt horrible for kicking off my Top 20 list that I would still like to give praise to.

When I first watched BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIE FILM, I laughed my fucking ass off and wanted to sing the praises of the performance that Maria Bokolova made as Borat’s daughter. And it was on my top 20 list for the last two months. Unfortunately for it, and other comedies of its kind, in subsequent viewings, the movie doesn’t quite hold up as well as it did on that first hilarious outing. You start to see the cracks in the film, such as Borat doesn’t really trick that many real people into saying really horrible shit this time around. And finding out that some sequences were staged more than you thought they were doesn’t help either. But, Maria Bokolova’s performance and the character arc of Borat accepting and loving his daughter even though she is a woman, worked better as a story than it did in the original, even though the original’s pranks and laughs still hold up and are much stronger than this sequel’s is. But I still wanted to give Sascha Baron Cohen some praise for making me laugh really hard initially in this shitty shitty year.

And now THE WRETCHED or “The little low budget horror film that could that made a boat load of money in drive-in theaters when regular theaters were closed due to the virus that shall not be named.” It’s actually a decent film and the reason why I mainly wanted to sing it’s praises even though it’s not on my top twenty list, is because after subsequent viewings, the movie is still scary and creepy as fuck, and THAT TWIST ENDING. The twist at the end makes the whole movie, as I hadn’t ever seen a twist like that before and the little tiny clues hinting at it throughout are wonderful to catch after multiple viewings. Quite brilliant. If my list were to extend, The Wretched would probably be #21 and Borat 2 would be #22. I think though they make a perfect movie Blackjack hand for a year where it seemed like the house always won. In this case, the house is the virus that shall not be named.

20. THE HUNT

Let’s call this film the little political commentary that could, shall we? This film has somehow managed to survive my list, even though it came out all the way back in March (then again there are 5 others that have as well, a couple even before March). It also was one of the last couple of films to hit theaters right before the virus that shall not be named shut them all down. When I first saw it, in a theater thankfully, I thought it was good, but not great. But after 3 or 4 subsequent viewings, viewing it each time with a new audience by my side, and getting all the little tidbits and jokes that I somehow didn’t catch before, it turned into a great 90 minute thrill ride.

19. BAD EDUCATION

The only movie on my list that probably should be considered a made for television movie (it was nominated for Emmy’s and not Oscar’s after all). It premiered on HBO exclusively, but you know what? Fuck it, it’s THAT type of year, and I decided that I enjoyed it so, so much (Hugh Jackman gives one of the best performances of his career), and the fact that it was once initially supposed to go to theaters but I think was bought by HBO even before the pandemic, that I’m including it on my list here. It’s a very enjoyable dramedy that is better watched if you don’t know anything about the real life event it is depicting.

18. BIRDS OF PREY: HARLEY QUINN

Yeah, I could spell out the whole title, but 2020 has made me lazy, so fuck it, you know what movie I’m talking about. This movie is one of those to hit theaters a little bit before the shut down that managed to survive my list (this pick used to be Bad Boys For Life, but after subsequent viewings of both, Birds of Prey easily holds up better). Margot Robbie IS HARLEY QUINN. And the more realistic and smaller, more down to Earth, story/vibe that takes place in the bigger DCEU is a delight to behold. And the plot revolving around the catalyst and need for the perfect breakfast egg sandwich? Brilliant.

17. THE LODGE

I’ll put this simply, if you love or hate mostly psychological horror movies like Hereditary and/or Midsommar, you will love or hate The Lodge. If Ari Aster had made this, it would’ve been a perfect horror seasonal trilogy. For right now it is a spiritual horror seasonal trilogy until Ari Aster’s third film comes out. A dark and brooding horror in the winter time with an insane twist.

16. FATMAN

Mel Gibson plays Santa Claus in a realistic down to Earth dark world where a little shit spoiled rich child hires a hitman, played by Walton Goggins, to bring him Santa’s head because he’s pissed he got a lump of coal in his stocking for Christmas. THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR WHY THIS MOVIE IS ON MY LIST.

15. FREAKY

A entertaining as fuck new spin on the body switch movie by turning it into a Friday the 13th like horror film. It also holds a fantastic performance by Vince Vaughn, and one of the few movies to be released in theaters after they re opened up after shut down. Easy-peasy why this film is on my list.

14. LOVE AND MONSTERS

This was supposed to release Feb 2021, but Paramount upped the date and put it on streaming so they could cash in on people being bored at home. They made the right decision. The movie is entertaining as hell and probably got more eyes on it than if it would have premiered in theaters this next uncertain 2021. I loved every minute of it. Fantastic creature effects.

13. LET HIM GO

Close in its release date to Freaky, Let Him Go also managed to push past the storm and release in theaters after they reopened after the shut down. A modern day Western drama and part thriller that tells a simple story of a couple of grandparents loving their grandson so much that they want to get him away from the dangerous family he’s currently living with ( their son died and his wife married an abusive asshole). This filmed touched my soul because of my parents everlasting love to my son, their grandson, Grayson. The whole movie reminded me of them. It also had some stand up and cheer kill moments in the third act that made me emotional as well.

12. THE GENTLEMEN

The earliest released film of 2020 that is on this list, Guy Ritchie has easily made his best gangster film and general film since Snatch and made up for the very shitty Disney Aladdin remake he had his hand in in 2019. ‘Nuff said.

11. PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

The first of three very recently released movies on this list, Promising Young Woman also braved the theaters during these hard times and managed to turn the comedic revenge drama on its head with not only a powerful performance by Carey Mulligan but a gut punch of a twist ending that you won’t see coming. It will make you or break you, and since it is on this list, it obviously made me.

10. THE INVISIBLE MAN

Another film that hit theaters a little bit before everything shut down. Leigh Whannell managed to give us his best combo written and directed film yet with some expert camera shots, a slap in the face twist scene in the middle of the film that you won’t see coming, and an expertly written ending. Oh, and another wonderful performance by Elizabeth Moss.

9. THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME

This film is either really great for some people, or really meh to the rest. I’m in the great category. This film reminded me of some fantastic dramas of the 90s like Sleepers and The Shawhsank Redemption. One of Netflix’s best original films ever released for sure.

8. SYNCHRONIC

A film that not only braved the storm and released in theaters after reopening, but doubled down by not simultaneously releasing on streaming, in fact, as of this writing, there is no place to watch it (it comes out to buy, rent and stream finally January 12th). But please do watch it eventually, and don’t let anyone ruin the story for you, even though as a hint of what it’s about, it has a tiny tiny….VERY VERY TINY bit in common with my #1 pick on this list. They both do different things with their similar concepts is all I will say.

7. SPONTANEOUS

The best romantic drama of 2020 that has all along tried to be labeled as a romantic comedy, even though it’s story is about a group of students in the same year class at a high school that spontaneously combust into bloody explosions for no reason. A very well written and smart film that I guess you could also label as the best film of 2020 that has a pandemic like plot structure, even though it was made WAYYYYYY before the pandemic in 2019. Excellent performance by 13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford as well.

6. WONDER WOMAN 1984

Fuck the haters, I love this film. If you are one of the ones bashing it to death, then you ARE A FUCKING SIMPLETON. I don’t care, I said it. You want to be one of those little assholes that only like your superhero films with clear cut good guys and bad guys in an all out brawl at the end of the film? Be my God damn guest. I want something different, and this “Monkey’s Paw/Wish Upon A Wonder Woman” story fit that bill for me. I’m tired of the same ol’ same ol’ action sequence upon action sequence trying to save the world from a giant baddie story. It’s been done to death. Fuck some of you simpletons. Seriously.

5. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

An Aaron Sorkin written and directed fantastic dialogue court room drama about a startling event in our nation’s history. You can ALWAYS sign me up for that stuff.

4. SOUL

If there is a clear cut winner this year of film releases, it really isn’t the writer and director of my #1 pick, it’s Disney/Pixar. That’s because, spoiler alert for my list: my #3 pick is also Disney/Pixar. They managed to release two soulful (pun intended) animated films that hit me in the feels with every single frame and made me choke up and bawl with happiness in their climaxes (not to mention Disney basically won my heart already with the 2nd near perfect season of The Mandalorian). One movie asks the question: what is our purpose in life? The other is about family and brotherly love. The latter wins because it made me think of my brothers and my son Grayson and I haven’t cried like that during a film since the end of E.T. I cried just a little at the end of this one though. They are really tied with how well made and thought provoking they are.

3. ONWARD

This came out right before theaters shut down as well. And it didn’t make that much money it’s opening weekend because of the giant fear the virus that will not be named was starting to invoke with people. Fuck that shit, I still saw it in theaters and if you want to know the reason why it is #3 on my list, read my description of #4 again. I love you Disney/Pixar. Always have, always will.

2. PALM SPRINGS

Who fucking knew that a ANDY SAMBERG starring film, one that was also released as a HULU AND NOT NETFLIX ORIGINAL would be #2 on my best of list? Seriously, not even I could’ve predicted that. This films plays with the Groundhog Day formula the best I’ve seen since that original Bill Murray film. It’s funny, touching, smart, funny, well acted, emotional, funny, hilarious, hilarious, hilarious, fun, and did I already mention funny? It’s everything that one needs in a comedy. And it holds up perfectly on multiple repeating viewings.

  1. TENET

Which brings us to my #1 pick, the most non-shocking pick of them all if you even know me well at all…Christopher Nolan’s new time concept thriller. The man loves to play with time. Memento, Interstellar, my favorite film of all time; Inception. He’s a master of the ‘What If Time Were Like This’ concepts. Here is no different. Just like my #6 pick, fuck the haters on this one too. You fucking simpletons either didn’t like it and gave it a bad review for one of several stupid reasons:

a. you were pissed that Christopher Nolan said fuck the pandemic, didn’t have his film release delayed any more and just put it out into theaters even though they were still shut down in New York and California (FUCK YOU CUOMO AND NEWSOM, I HOPE YOU CONTRACT THE VIRUS AND DIE). EVEN THOUGH NOT ONE OUTBREAK OF THE VIRUS HAS BEEN LINKED TO A REOPENED THEATER AND THEIR SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND CLEANLINESS HAVE BEEN TOP NOTCH EVER SINCE THEY REOPENED IN LATE JUNE. AGAIN, FUCK YOU ALL.

b. you didn’t understand the film, because you are a stupid motherfucking dumb ass simpleton. Yeah, again, I said it. Fuck you.

c. again, you are just that stupid and petty

Granted the sound editing and mixing could’ve been better in theaters, but this movie is still a masterpiece in my mind. I’ve seen it multiple times now and I still don’t get bored with any second of it. The regular editing of this film is perfect, the fact that there are less than 300 special effect shots in this is astonishing, almost all practical effects…just wow. That’s all I have left to say: WOW.

If you aren’t one of the simpletons mentioned above, thanks for reading. I’m just going to end it there. Saying anything about how 2021 should be is a jinx in itself. Just keep watching those movies, no matter how they are released…as long as they are released! NO. MORE. DELAYS!

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: FATMAN

After all the controversial things that Mel Gibson has been up to between the years of 2000 to 2010, ranging from that infamous 2006 anti-Semitic rant after being pulled over by a cop for a DUI to screaming at his then girlfriend back in 2010 using racist remarks and even the n-word to homophobic comments, how does this Academy Award winner still have a career after multiple falls from grace? Even after the 2017 #MeToo movement? Well, first of all, his talent is undeniable, he’s an Oscar winning director and he’s an actor that can more than exceptionally pull off any character in any genre. Secondly, he still has a deep bench of Hollywood supporters, ranging from people still in the industry such as Jodie Foster, Robert Downey, Jr. and Whoopi Goldberg. Finally, current Hollywood producers attribute his past misdeeds mostly due to alcoholism, pointing out that he has never been accused of sexual assault, alcoholism is a disease, and that he’s not the person he is made out to be in the headlines. In a 2016 and recent interview, Mel Gibson has stated that he is currently many years sober and finds it annoying that people keep bringing up his past shit, not willing to give him a second chance…or would that really be a 4th or 5th chance Mel? Anyway, Mr. Gibson is still in the movie making game, still attached to direct the big remake of The Wild Bunch, and still starring in some movies, albeit low budget ones, like Force Of Nature, Last Looks, Dragged Across Concrete, Boss Level, and a semi-budgeted one…bet you didn’t remember that he was in Daddy’s Home 2, did you? This leads us to FATMAN…one of 2020’s best little surprises of the year, where Gibson plays Santa Claus and per IMDB, “must contend with a hitman sent from a disappointed child.” Yes, I assure you that this is a real movie.

When I heard of FATMAN only several months ago, I thought it was a joke. Turns out it wasn’t, as just several days later, to my surprise, I found out that the movie had already been filmed and a trailer dropped. I watched the trailer, and was immediately intrigued. This wasn’t just a schlocky bullshit turn like his roles in The Expendables 3 and Machete Kills. This was a movie meant to be taken very seriously (even though the film has genuine and earned humor). He plays Santa Claus straight, as a very old, tired and weary man still doing his job even though the world has gotten dark around him. It turns out, every year there is less and less good kids to deliver toys to and it’s gotten so bad, to make up for lost money from the government (that’s right, the government pays him to do his thing once every year because it is a giant money maker), he accepts a military contract that has his elves make something…a little bit different than children’s toys. Currently, most of the kids in this cinematic Earth (could be argued that it’s truer to our world than you might imagine) are naughty little assholes that get their just desserts by receiving lumps of coal from him. One particular little shit (one of the movies expertly crafted jokes has this little shit listed as “Little Shit” in the hitman’s list of contacts on his iPhone), is a sociopath son of a bitch, manipulating school science contests, stealing money from his grandmother and of course, sending said hitman after Santa’s head once he gets a lump of coal for Christmas. What I love about the movie is that it tries to bring the audience a down to Earth type Santa Claus. You know how Man of Steel was supposed to be a tale of Superman but in today’s time? A more realistic Superman? Whether or not you think Zack Snyder and co. pulled it off is a different story. Basically, Fatman asks the question: what if Santa were really real? In today’s world? And I think this film pulls off that idea in spades.

And the reason it does that so successfully, in my opinion, is probably because of the low budget and what little it shows the viewers on screen. We don’t get Mel Gibson walking around in a red Santa suit and travelling the world. We don’t see the sleigh or reindeer fly. We almost don’t see any magic whatsoever where you’d have to suspend your belief for the world that the movie takes place in. It only hints at all of that stuff, which I thought was the right direction to go, and was quite fucking brilliant. The acting here is top notch, the little bastard that plays the “Little Shit” is pitch perfect by not going too over the top, just enough to make him a character you love to hate. Justified and The Unicorn’s Walton Goggins plays the hitman, with his own anger and obsession with the big red fatman. It’s also a great role that has more meat to it than you might think in a movie like this. But the movie is the Mel Gibson show, and he shows that he wants to be there. He acts HIS ASS off. He has tears in his eyes convincingly when he needs to, the chemistry between him and Mrs. Claus, played perfectly by Marianne Jean-Baptiste is undeniably great, and the silent moments where he is by himself looking at something are convincingly masterful. He is so serious, that near the final showdown with the hitman, which is one of the best Mel Gibson final 1-on-1 show downs in quite a long time, where he is shirtless and getting his guns and weapons ready to go outside, I just laughed out of pure joy to what was transpiring on screen. I am not familiar with the films writers/directors/brothers, Ian Nelms and Eshom Nelms, but they sure do know how to make a high, yet low concept movie. I hope they make more stuff in a similar vein. If I had any complaints is that I wish they would’ve shown blood and other stuff, shown more of the violence in the scenes before the final big showdown at the military compound. They cut away when a bullet fires or Goggins kills someone before that, and I think the movie would’ve had more of an impact if it didn’t cut away. But boy does that bloody showdown make up for it. Anyway, if you like demented adult Christmas movies such as Bad Santa, Better Watch Out, Gremlins, the original Black Christmas, Christmas Vacation, then you are going to LOVE Fatman.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: RUN (Hulu)

RUN is yet another film that was supposed to debut in theaters earlier this year but got postponed because of you know what, Hulu ended up buying the rights back in August, and now here we are. It was originally supposed to come out Mother’s Day weekend in May, which if it would have made that release date, without revealing anything it would’ve been quite fitting and ironic. Let me start off by saying that Run is a good movie. It is tension filled with some incredible white knuckle suspense sequences and masterful acting from both veteran Sarah Paulson and newcomer Kiera Allen. What prevents it from becoming a great film is the fact that the twists and reveals were way too predictable. I know that I’m a good guesser, but if my wife comes into the living room near the beginning of a movie, watches only two minutes, and ends up going, “well this is obviously that and also that is obviously this,” then YOUR MOVIE IS WAY TOO PREDICTABLE. My wife doesn’t really like horror films or thrillers of this nature and if she can come in and guess the reveals to something she can’t stand and doesn’t have a whole lot of knowledge of (even putting into consideration she has learned from the best for 11 years now), that doesn’t bode too well. And she wasn’t even present when the movie got to the reveals an hour later to get the credit she so well deserved (this review is about to be published sweetie, to give you credit where it is due). But, the movie is still too good with every other aspect in its film making to not give it a recommendation. This is one of Hulu’s better originals to be sure.

IMDB describes Run with the following: “A homeschooled teenager begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her.” To give you a bit more background on the movie, without you having to watch a trailer (trust me, don’t watch the trailer), the teenager can’t walk or run, she’s in a wheelchair, and has a bunch of other medical problems, basically preventing her from being on her own outside the house, if at all. Surely you are putting two and two together? If not, watch the very first scene in the movie, which is about 2 to 3 minutes long (the movie is a tight and short hour and 30), and the full puzzle should be glued and/or cemented together for you. It isn’t hard. I was hoping that I was wrong and that the movie was trying to successfully pull a double red herring on me, alas, it wasn’t. What you end up thinking is going on, you’re probably right. Let’s not go too deep into this criticism of predictability anymore, let’s talk about the good stuff. Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen could teach a master class of acting with this one movie alone. Both are incredible, Paulson proving that she deserves to be put on that pedestal so many of her fans put her on, and Kiera Allen proving that she deserves to be put in more projects. This is set in stone especially after the reveals if you weren’t already convinced. Other than their acting, the real reason to watch this movie is some of the incredible, white-knuckle, emotional, tension-filled “action” scenes. To not spoil anything, I won’t give you much context, let’s just say there is a scene where a character scales a roof that is perfect in its execution, and the climax in general was also perfect in its execution along with the character arc conclusion. That’s all I’ll say. The co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty, who directed the laptop thriller Searching, proves with Run that he has the skills to direct more Hitchcockian thriller things like this and someday even become a household name. While Run on the whole isn’t a blast off, story wise, start in a race against other thrillers with less predictability, it’s a huge head start in terms of effectively executing tension and thrills.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE PRINCESS SWITCH: SWITCHED AGAIN (Netflix)

Were they even trying with the sequel title or is it supposed to be an homage to Die Hard 2: Die Harder? Doesn’t matter. I’m just going to be blunt, THE PRINCESS SWITCH: SWITCHED AGAIN aka The Princess Switch 2 suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkssss. Awful. Abysmal. About a billion lazy story/script choices, the fake CGI snow is fucking distracting, Vanessa Hudgens new 3rd character is on the spectrum bad, and many other nitpicks that would make this review about 5 pages long. Not going to do that. This movie doesn’t deserve to be talked about that much. This is one of the most unnecessary sequels of all time and nobody involved in this movie is trying to hide that this was a blatant greedy cash grab. I never reviewed the first movie on this Word Press blog, and while it wasn’t the greatest little take on The Prince and the Pauper story that I’ve seen, it was cute enough and serviceable, mainly because of Vanessa Hudgens performance. When she plays wholesome characters, her acting shines…and that’s mainly because she isn’t so wholesome in real life…just look at her almost NSFW social media pages…especially Instagram. Also do you remember earlier this year when COVID-19 started spreading and killing people? Do you remember that she was caught on an Instagram story saying, “well like…people die, ya know?” and a bunch of other questionable comments about the state of the world at that time? I ‘member. But this critique is not going to go into how much of an attention whore, sleazy sexual person and kind of dummy that Ms. Hudgens (and her sister Stella) seem to be in real life, this critique is all about this abomination of a sequel that she got a producer credit on, because “Look at me! I funded money to a project! Look at me! LOOK AT MY GOD DAMN NAME IN THE CREDITS BECAUSE I WANT GOD DAMN CREDIT AND ATTENTION!!!”

IMDB describes the movie with the following: “When Duchess Margaret unexpectedly inherits the throne to Montenaro and hits a rough patch with Kevin, it’s up to her double Stacy to save the day before a new lookalike, party girl Fiona foils their plans.” To take that into context, let’s go ahead and see what IMDB described the first movie as, since I never reviewed it: “Competing in a Christmas baking competition in Belgravia, a Chicago baker bumps into the prince’s fiancée–who looks just like her. They switch lives for two days.” As you can tell, this stretches the Prince and the Pauper story line past the point of it being coherent anymore. I get sequel prospects but did we really need Hudgens getting more money to play a third character, one that I have a feeling acts like she does in real life? The only thing nice I have to say about it is that the shots of two or all three Hudgens in the same frame were decent. And the set decoration is nice. But really? They couldn’t get a fucking snow machine for the outside shots and instead every fucking flake of God forsaken snow is CGI, with barely any of it actually hitting said actors on screen and if a flake happens to “land” on one of the characters, it slowly CGI melts off? Come on, that’s just lazy bullshit film making. Hudgens is a producer now, make her cough up the extra cash for a physical snow maker. Other than Hudgens, who does actually seem to be trying and seems like she wants to be there, (I’ll even give her props for having a dialect coach on set every step of the way to help her with her accents, which are considerably better and less cringe worthy than the first film) every other actor/actress looks like they want to kill themselves for being in this sequel, or they don’t care and over act to just get the shit over with and grab a paycheck at the end.

And then we come to my biggest nit pick with the whole movie: the screenwriters didn’t have anything for the Prince, that ends up marrying Stacy at the end of the first movie, to do so they blatantly don’t tell his character about the new switch for three reasons:

  1. If they told him the switch was going to happen, the rest of the dumb movie probably wouldn’t have happened. THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO LOGICAL REASON NOT TO TELL HIM!
  2. They needed more scenes of the Prince’s character, and the little girl Olivia character (Kevin’s daughter) because the actor and actress were probably paid a good sum of money for the sequel and they didn’t want to waste the both of them. (Olivia knows about the switch but this little girl is tasked to make sure that this PRINCE OF AN ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY doesn’t find out. How does he just travel with her with no God damn body guards, does that even make a lick of fucking sense?)
  3. To reiterate 1st reason: BECAUSE MOVIE NEEDED TO HAPPEN.

Speaking of Olivia, the young actress from the first movie was replaced even though the movie takes place two years after the events of the first movie and the first movie is only two years old. There couldn’t have been an aging concern then, so I’m guessing the original young actress knew what a stinker this one was going to be and hi-tailed it out of there. Smart move kid. The plot of this movie is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. The climax and outcome is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. And the 3rd character that Hudgens plays is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. I mean, need I say more? My recommendation is that if you’ve watched the first movie, do not even think about giving this piece of shit a try, instead, switch gears and maybe pick up a book and read The Prince and the Pauper. Your brain will thank you for it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MIDNIGHT AT THE MAGNOLIA (Netflix)

Why did I watch MIDNIGHT AT THE MAGNOLIA? Mainly because my last several reviews have been Christmas/Holiday related, I thought it would be cool to post a bunch of new holiday themed movie reviews in a row, and I needed a quick break from my re-binge of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (of which I’m about to be on the 6th season’s very special Christmas episode). Also, Natalie Hall is the main female lead in this and while almost everything I’ve seen her in she’s only had bit parts, I have always found her extremely beautiful. So I thought, “what the fuck, why not?” “Well, how was it, you ask? If I was in ANY other type of mood, I would rip it a new mistletoe. However, since I went in expecting predictable Christmas-y, New Years-y, romantic schlock, it was serviceable. A lot of people that eat up shit like this that don’t know any better will love this film to death. To warn you all meticulously, this is only about half a notch from being a Lifetime TV Holiday movie of the week. A half a notch, so that’s why it is on Netflix, HAHA! Technically since it is a 2020 movie, presto, here is my review of it. If watching a romantic film like this is your thing, where ALL of the acting is over exaggerated and toeing the line of over the top overacting, you can predict what the ending will be minute five, the whole thing looks like it was shot on a $50,000 budget, but it ends up having a sweet message and a good heart, well you are in for a festive treat. But if you are a film Grinch like me, stay far far away unless you had one of those “random boring moods” such as I described above. Per IMDB, it describes Midnight At The Magnolia with the following: “Longtime friends and local radio hosts Maggie and Jack fake it as a couple for their families and listeners from the day after Christmas till New Year’s in hopes of getting their show syndicated.”

 Yes, some of you probably groaned as I did when you read two of those words. A boy and a girl “longtime friends”? There is no way that this happens. There is no way that two people like that in the real world haven’t accidentally had a night of regrettable but hot fucking by mistake. Especially when they have known each other since they were little. You can’t tell me that there wasn’t an intentional boob or penis graze and a drunken tryst of making out a couple of times. The most believable thing in this movie is that the two are radio hosts. Lead actors Natalie Hall and Evan Williams have the voices for radio and the camaraderie friendship depicted in the movie necessary for a real gig like that, where you end up wondering why those two don’t just maybe give up their day jobs and go into that profession. The acting is decent for what it is. Both Williams and Hall and all the other supporting characters match each other in terms of just how close to the ”over-the-top” line of overacting they can get without completely crossing it. And both Williams and Hall have a couple of scenes where they show that they are better than the material that is being written for them. I would’ve rather watched a movie of the two of them hosting their radio morning show for an hour and 27 minutes (the length of the movie). Alas, it was not meant to be. BUT…the movie is upbeat, quick, and moves at an entertaining pace, there is some silly banter between characters that worked. Evan Williams twisted some of the dialogue to work better and added some funny facial expressions to make the part his own, which is always appreciated. I believed in their friendship, even with over 75% of it being very clunky dialogue. Also, even with the short run time, I believed in them eventually falling in love. If you just got mad because I spoiled the movie for you, that’s your problem, and you are a dumbass if you thought it would’ve ended any differently. It has a 6.1 rating on IMDB from 951 reviews, which is not half bad for that website. It just goes to show you, sometimes I can stick my opinions up my own chimney. (PSSST…if you didn’t get that metaphor, by ‘chimney’ I meant my asshole.

Zach’s Zany SPECIAL Reviews: THE LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL (Disney+)

Obviously the first thing I did after watching Disney+’s THE LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL was search the net to see if Lucasfilm would consider this special canon. Well, apparently anything that is an officially licensed product, i.e. Lego, is NOT considered canon, although some of the ideas represented in them could become canon down the line as long as they are not in this kind of format. It is and it isn’t a bit of a let down, considering this special takes place AFTER the events of The Rise Of Skywalker, the last film in the franchise and the last established Star Wars linear timeline, and starts with Rey training Finn to become a Jedi. The filmmakers are kind of ‘wink-winking’ to the audience, them knowing we were sort of let down by Rise as a whole, and them trying to wrap up that stupid side plot of Finn never finishing his sentence of, “Rey, I’ve always wanted to tell you…” before he thought they were going to die in that sand pit. They took John Boyega’s answer of, “Well, J.J. told me he was going to tell Rey that he was Force Sensitive, it just never took fruition in the movie,” and made it come true (personally I think they should’ve had a Rey/Finn romance that was hinted at in The Force Awakens, but whatever). Whoa, I’ve gotten way off track, but that’s the Star Wars canon nerd in me. This special is basically the same as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, where a bunch of time traveling shenanigans happen but in the end no event in the Star Wars timeline has ultimately been changed. So it could be goofy canon I guess. IMDB describes it with the following, “Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she sets off on an adventure to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious temple, she is hurled into a cross-timeline adventure. Will she make it back in time for Life Day?” But overall, it’s just supposed to be a fun and funny little adventure that pokes fun at some of the most eye-rolling scenes in the franchise, and with that in mind, it exceeds expectations.

If you take it in as canon, you will be disappointed. And even though I did enjoy this special, I was a bit disappointed that they couldn’t REALLY make up for that shitty Star Wars Special in the 70s and get the new cast together for one last mini-canonical adventure (written by The Mandalorian’s Jon Favreau of course), but who am I kidding? That new cast is DONE right now with Star Wars, and I don’t blame them, after 5 years of toxic fan harassment, I would be too. But this Lego special suffices. It’s a nice and tight 45 minutes with no filler, excellent pacing, fun scenarios, with a sweet and kind message, something we need right now for sure. The only people from the new cast to come back were Billy Dee Williams as Lando and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose (the latter they asked back probably as the first part of Disney’s two part apology of how her character was handled in Rise of Skywalker, the 2nd part being making Tran the lead voice actor in next years Raya and the Last Dragon). Even with a handful of people coming back to voice their animated counterparts, they still only have a handful of lines and do nothing worth writing home about save for a Lando cape/It’s A Trap zinger. The other voice actors they pick and chose from people that were both in the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series and all the voice acting works for what it is. This is just a goofy, action packed, joke a minute special that is trying to make up for the shitty 70’s one that George Lucas had no involvement in that was also about their universe celebration known as Life Day. It also tries to make up a little bit the mild disappointment a lot of us had the way J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio ended the saga. But here’s the rub, I think even George Lucas would approve of this one and wouldn’t even both trying to destroy every copy of it that exists out there.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: JINGLE JANGLE – A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY (Netflix)

Move over Christmas Chronicles, Netflix now has a new (and better) Christmas movie for families to watch together every year, JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY. I doubt that the Christmas Chronicles sequel, which releases next week, will over take this one for me, considering that the first movie is…only okay….sorry Kurt Russell. And if you have a problem with me saying that this is a ‘Christmas’ movie and not using the word ‘holiday’…well, not to mince words, but you can shove it up your butt hurt triggered 2020 asshole chimney. While the movie is shot, cinematography wise, like a television movie, and my wife and I discussed mid way through how this could easily be turned into a Broadway stage play in the future, the rest of the production is top notch. It has a wonderful production design, half way decent CGI for what it is, the musical song and dance numbers were fun and memorable, none of the actors phoned it in, including one of Forest Whitaker’s best performances in quite awhile…it has the Christmas works. Per IMDB, it describes Jingle Jangle with the following: “An imaginary world comes to life in a holiday tale of an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention that has the power to change their lives forever.” While the story ends up being a bit familiar (you know, the whole love, loss, redemption one audiences has seen a thousand times), and I would also say the movie is about 15 minutes too long (it’s a heavy 2 hrs and 2 minutes), the rest of the film was joyfully jolly and jovial enough to forgive it’s trespasses and go along with it for the rest of its wonderful journey.

Forest Whitaker is first billed here, and I’m glad that he wasn’t just playing himself in this one, as his character has some quirks to be kinked out, and his performance here earned the believability of his redemption arc. But he is not the true star of the show. That would be newcomer Madalen Mills, who plays his grandaughter, Journey. If it wasn’t for her pure of heart and delightful performance, Jingle Jangle simply couldn’t be what it ultimately is: very lovely. Ricky Martin voices a cute yet suspicious little CGI figurine come to life, whose MacGuffin-ness I dare not spoil here. There is a cute robot named Buddy 3000 that shows up halfway through the film that people are calling the next ‘Baby Yoda’, and although it is cute and made me smile, I think anyone who says that it is in the same ballpark of cultural impact that the new Star Wars character has, is just kidding themselves. The one actor that I felt got short changed in this movie is the other half of Key & Peele, the one that hasn’t won an Oscar, Keegan-Michael Key. He plays a wonderful little villain and has some great chops and can dance spectacularly with the choreography given, but other than his first big musical song and dance number, he isn’t in the film all that much. The climax of his character in the climax of the film is a bit anti-climatic as well, and although the movie had a bunch of very early set ups that were paid off during this scene, it just felt like Mr. Key was shortchanged a bit with his role. But maybe this could be an audition for bigger things for him. I hope it is. Anyway, if you want a decent streaming new Christmas movie because you won’t go to the theater and you’re are finally tired of watching the same Christmas stuff because the walls are finally starting to cave in on your 2020 bubble, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is here to blow some air into it to keep it from completely collapsing.