Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANIMAL CRACKERS (Netflix)

ANIMAL CRACKERS journey to make it to the big scr…well…any kind of screen is interesting in itself. I’ll get to that bit in a minute. I watched this movie last weekend with my kid (it premiered on Netflix this past Friday as well) and while the 2nd half is much better than the first (it lost both his and mine attention multiple times as it took a bit to get really into the movie), it ultimately succeeds because of the fantastic climax, the cool set of rules the magical box of cookies come with that reveals itself along the way and not all at once, and the superb voice acting. If only the beginning of the film had a little more focus to make the set up a little less confusing. It goes through several generations of family in the span of only a couple of minutes and it is hard to sort out who is who for several scenes and it also takes a tad too long to get to the animal crackers themselves. But then once those magical MacGuffin’s are introduced, the film blasts off at the speed of light. It is just a little disappointing because if the whole movie was as strong in both parts, it would’ve really been something special. Well, it already is because I loved watching my son pointing out all of the different animals, naming them at the top of his lungs and “ohhh” and “ahhhh”ing at the action. As a avid film goer and fanatic I might only make a couple of more trips to this wild circus of a movie before I start to just fast forward to the good stuff.

Per IMDB.com, it describes ANIMAL CRACKERS as: “A family must use a magical box of Animal Crackers to save a run-down circus from being taken over by their evil uncle Horatio P. Huntington.” This movie was originally intended to be released on April 27, 2017 by Relativity Media, before they went defunct. It then set to be released on September 1, 2017 by upstart film company Serafini Releasing before they also shut down. This movie was later acquired by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, but the producers have since come out from that deal.┬áThe film almost never came out because it was held up for almost a year due to a lawsuit by a Seattle fisherman named Rodger May who claimed he owned the copyright to the film. The lawsuit was eventually withdrawn. All records of the lawsuit are public and can be found by a search for “Mayday vs. Animal Crackers”. Eventually Netflix bought it and although it was finished in 2017, that copyright states 2019. And then it was just released this past weekend on the streaming platform. I recommend you take a deeper look into its history, it is quite interesting to say the least. More interesting than the first half. Anyway, the point is, it is out there now, which is good because I don’t think any project should be delayed that long to see the light of day…looking at you New Mutants! The voice acting in this is excellent, there are too many celebrities to list but you have Danny DeVito, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Ian McKellen, and Sylvester Stallone. They all do a fantastic job, Stallone’s Bullet-Man character making me laugh out loud several times.

The other two things that make me ultimately recommend this movie is that the action packed climax is perfectly executed combining perfect pacing with plot progression, and then the rules of the animal crackers themselves. To try and explain it to the best of my ability, there is this box of animal crackers passed down from generation to generation that magically never, ever run out. You eat one, it turns into the animal that you eat, and then to turn back into human, you have to find the human cracker of you in the box, and then once you eat that, you turn back to your normal self while the cookie of the animal you had just eaten reappears in the box. There are other new rules that you figure out along the way as well, but revealing any of those would be spoilers and it is best for you to experience the journey for yourselves if you have any interest in watching this thing with your kids and family. I like how it stuck to the rules, and that there were no bending or breaking of them, it was all quite clever, even though some twists at the end I saw coming from a mile away. Again, I just wish the first half was as good. In any kind of movie you just can’t have the interest bits come up when you finally introduce the MacGuffin’s. Your story and movie need to have a beginning hook, and I just found it to be boring plot set up that felt like I was watching a standard biography on a generation of a family. That’s just me though. The animation is nice and pleasing to the eye, and the second half will definitely grab you, it’s just that those first 30 minutes were almost too bland and stale. Key word is almost.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: RAMBO – LAST BLOOD

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD is such a clotty mess that it really is a shame that such an iconic character had to go out this way. The last Rambo movie, the 4th one, just titled…well, Rambo, had him killing the shit out of bad guys in the jungle but in the end going home, to a ranch, maybe to live the rest of his life with some kind of peace. And even though that movie was only okay, I liked that ending. It was a solid bookend and it gave a sense of hope. But then again so was Rocky Balboa, and then they scratch out that ending with Creed, and then yet again with Creed II, which thankfully, even though the entire universe odds were riding against it, was a fine ending to that character until the studio system decides to fuck it up again. Sylvester Stallone took that nice, hopeful Rambo IV ending…and ass raped it several times over with the sharpest machete one could find with this. The story is absolutely terrible. And cliche. And whatever negative thing you could say about it narrative wise. Even though the last 20 minutes are an action aficionados wet dream, the other hour and ten minutes are, and I know I use this term a lot, abysmal. ADRIANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!

At the start of the film, John Rambo is still at that ranch that he came to at the end of Rambo IV, and manages it with an old friend, Maria, and her granddaughter Gabrielle. Gabrielle graduated high school and is about to go off to college, when a shady friend that is right across the near border of Mexico, has found her dad that abandoned her and her mom when Gabrielle’s mom got cancer. Even though Rambo and her grandmother tell her not to, she goes anyway, and is kidnapped and sold into sex slavery, and John Rambo has to go find her and save her. All of it is cliched up the wazoo, except for one little plot point right before the 20-25 minutes of pure carnage I didn’t see coming, and normally I praise this kind of thing, but the twist was so fucking depressing that any hope the movie had left to give me completely flushed everything down the toilet. I mean, John Rambo can’t get the shaft his entire life, can he? Doesn’t he deserve some kind of happiness?

I can’t count the number of times I checked my watch during this film, I was so bored. This film makes Rambo III look like the best action film of all time. If you don’t know what I mean, I’m trying to say that this film is easily the worst of the five. The first two are really good and quite decent, the third is over-the-top looney tunes garbage, the 4th tries too hard to redeem itself, and this one is as disappointing a concluding chapter like the recent last season of Game of Thrones. I mean, the acting is fine, Sylvester Stallone still seems as if he’s taking all of his trips back to his iconic characters very seriously. Paz Vega is good here but wasted, but the grandmother and the girl who plays Gabriella do a fine job. It’s just that I didn’t care about the story. There has got to be some way that they could’ve taken a longer and more focused job trying to find the perfect story and script for Rambo’s swan song…right? I have a feeling the studio offered him money off the success of Creed and Creed II to come back to this character, but told him to hurry it the fuck up. It shows. Where is Cobra when you need him? Hell, where is Gabriel Walker when you need him?

Another terrible thing the film gets wrong is the villains. Once again, they are completely unmemorable and are just fodder for Rambo to maim and kill later. The do some heinous shit in this (the bad guys are brothers), but they barely have enough screen time to truly earn the audiences genuine disgust. The only thing the film gets right is the last 20 minutes when the brothers and their army go and raid Rambo’s ranch that is now set up with booby traps. Stallone gets to let that testosterone loss and just brutally kill people the most horrific and grab your own privates because it hurts to watch way possible. This would’ve been the perfect short film, just those 20 minutes, and should’ve maybe just been filmed initially for like a Rambo IV Special Blu-ray extra. I know that a lot of reviews are complaining about the film mainly because of the Mexican bad guy stereotypes. In this day and age of butthurt and cancel culture, those complaints should be the last things on everyone’s mind. I’m offended that the entire script was just garbage as a whole.

The guy that directed this? Adrian Grunberg, I think this was his first major thing, he directed Get The Gringo (never saw it) which was straight to video, and was assistant directed on a couple of things, but this was his first major theatrical release. Probably will be his last. And while I hope that, if in the off chance this does make a lot of money, and they still do one more, that maybe they take a little longer to get it right. But I say let’s have this all turn into one giant blood clot and that be the end of it. No more. We’ve now officially gotten to John McClane, A Good Day To Die Hard territory where they are one more film away from completely destroying the legacy of such a iconic character. If we ever want to remember Rambo fondly, let’s just watch the first two films and then maybe sneak in the 4th every once in awhile. Just to take the pain away. In Rambo: Last Blood, the pain isn’t just brought to the villains on screen…the audience also feels every hazardous blunt stab.