Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: 4 of 5 Nominated Animated Short Films (Oscar Catch Up Part 3)

Hello again! Below I very quickly review 4 out of the 5 Animated Short Films nominated for an Academy Award. ‘Weekends’ was not available for me to review, if you find it, send me a link, and if I watch it, I’ll update this with a review of it as well!!!

Animal Behaviour

This one is available on YouTube right now. It is basically animals that talk and do certain things like humans but still with their animal instincts. There is an ape, a praying mantis, a leech, a pig, and a bird all in this therapy group session led by a dog. The animation reminded me of Adventure Time for some reason, and a lot of the jokes had me laughing at loud. While definitely not the sweetest of the four I saw, it was very humorous and well written. Definitely not in the theme of the other following three…


You’ve probably seen this one if you saw Incredibles 2 in the theater and weren’t late or if you own the Incredibles 2 Blu-Ray/DVD (it’s on there). This is that Pixar short about the Chinese woman taking care of the dumpling that had turned alive. A very sweet take on children growing up, resenting their parents at times, and leaving the nest with great animation. This one almost brought me to tears as well. Most of these have the same theme this year, parents and their children aging.

Late Afternoon

This one is available on YouTube right now. It’s about an elderly woman with severe dementia and Alzheimer’s disease being taken care of by a care giver one afternoon. The animation style is that of Madeleine, if you’ve ever seen the books or have watched the short cartoons. The elderly lady goes back in the past and then back to the confusing present in her mind. This one almost brought me to tears as well. Brilliant

One Small Step

This one is available on YouTube as well and literally brought me to tears. It’s about a girl and her father and the girl’s dreams of astronomy and trying to make it her career in life. I was in tears halfway through this thing and bawling by the end. The animation is nice, sleek, and unique, brought to you by Taiko Animation. I won’t give anything else away. I would pick this one to win, but to tell you the truth, if any of these win it is well deserved.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GLASS (no spoilers)

Right off the bat, I want to just divulge that I think Unbreakable is M. Night Shyamalan’s best film, an underrated masterpiece if there ever was one. I do hold The Sixth Sense in high regard as a close second. I did think that Split was very good, only being several awkward scenes and some editing away from being a masterpiece itself. And I think Signs and The Village are very good too, we get to both half-hazard endings. And I think The Last Airbender, The Visit, The Happening, Lady In The Water, and After Earth are all great big piles of shit. I didn’t see GLASS until Sunday morning, so color me a bit shocked when it was released to bad reviews (even though it was a January film, yet again Split was released in January). A lot of folks were saying that instead of continuing to build upon the comeback he had with Split, he instead combined what he did best, with the worst of most of his career. After finally seeing it for myself, I’m going to keep my real feelings for the film in check, and say that I disagree with what the masses are saying. I actually kind of liked it.

Does the movie have its problems? Absolutely. It is definitely the weakest in the Eastrail 177 Trilogy and it does stumble a bit, especially the editing and style choice of the ending, but the whole thing never topples over like I was expecting it to. For those of you not in the know. Glass continues/concludes the story of Bruce Willis’ character David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson’s character Mr. Glass from Unbreakable along with James McAvoy’s multiple personality character Kevin from Split. I’m not really spoiling anything by saying the story concludes because Shyamalan has said that this is it, his original vision of a trilogy is finished and there is no going back in numerous interviews. And I thought it was actually a pretty good grounded into reality imaginative ending. A lot of people didn’t like certain character reveals, fates, twists, what have you, but I see very much into what kind of story Shyamalan was trying to tell and I thought that most of his choices felt real and bold.

In my opinion, the problem with the ending of the story, ideas, etc. wasn’t so much in the writing, but in the execution of the shots, pacing, editing, all the technical aspects. I for one was not like a lot of these critics and expecting a grand spectacle of epic proportions where Dunn and The Horde were going to ram each other into buildings and other objects with grace like camera work and explosions. I expected a realistic showdown with two men of extraordinary strength and one with a cunning mental wit, and that is exactly what I got. I expected better direction though. There are a lot of shots between the fights with Dunn and The Horde that were very questionable, such as some of the POV shots. They seemed a little lazy and that Shymalan knew that action scenes were out of his element (see: The Last Airbender) so he experimented with something else that still didn’t quite work. The pacing also seemed off where as all the action and reveals felt sluggish and not snappy like they were supposed to be.

The problem with the writing proponent in regards the ending, well, actually I guess you could say in parts of the entire film, was the over explanation of things. Shyamalan was trying to make a grounded, real life comic book hero flick, paying homage with a little bit of parodying, while still being very serious. Yet the dialogue, twists, reveals, explanations from all the characters go on entirely too long. We get it. A characters explains just a couple of sentences about something, and I, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the audience, completely gets what is going on. However Shyamalan can’t help himself, almost to the point where he might as well have had a bullhorn over every individuals ear watching the film and screaming, “DO YOU GET IT?!?!?” Kind of like what Darren Aronofsky did with mother! if you needed any comparison.

But the rest of the film is pretty good, bordering on great at times. Out of a 2 hour and 10 minute run time. The first hour and 40 minutes are quite solid. The last half hour is when Shyamalan’s ego gets in the way. Without revealing the fates of the characters, I felt that one of them was sold a bit short, and one went on way too long. I agree with all the fates and the entire ending idea of the trilogy, it just needed to be constructed better. The acting is top notch all over the place, even Bruce Willis seemed like he wanted to actually be there. People complained that for a film titled after Samuel L. Jackson’s character, that it took too long for him to appear in the film, but I’d argue that that was a fantastic story choice and it felt natural in the ultimately sway of things, plus Jackson again, is good here. Anya Taylor-Joy is good too, and while you might think her character is bordering on being “stockholm syndrome” here, you might want to re watch Split, as everything makes sense and was set up beautifully in regards to her character arc in that film. The real scene stealer is, of course, James McAvoy. If you’ve seen Split (why wouldn’t you? If you watch Glass without seeing Unbreakable or Split then you are a weirdo and need to get your priorities checked) you know what I am talking about here. He lights up the screen every moment he is in this film.

But yeah, I liked Glass and I’m arguing against the majority here, so sue me.
There are some things I will agree with, such as it is definitely the weakest of the M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy and that the ending stumbles a bit (although we disagree on how it stumbles), but it is not enough to completely topple the whole thing over. I think if another writer came in and polish M. Night’s screenplay, and if he had a couple of directors come in while he was shooting and gave him some pointers, it could have been a strong finish, as good as Split, or even better. But alas, Shyamalan basically financed the whole thing himself, and his ego got in the way. Critics are not giving it great reviews because they expected more but got less. For me, sometimes less is more. If only the ending would’ve been a little bit less…

My Zany Review of those Zany Golden Globe Awards Last Night…

Everybody hates the Golden Globes. If you look at the commentary on social media, Entertainment Review sites, and random blogs that happen to talk about the Hollywood Foreign Press…they think the entire ceremony is a joke. That it doesn’t predict what is going to happen on Oscar night (slightly not true). That it’s just a laid back awards show that gets a bunch of booze into those celebrities that clamor for it (slightly true). What do I think? The Golden Globes can go both ways. I think that they are slightly more serious now than when I was younger (like when The Tourist was nominated for Best Comedy…) but time and again they have those weird categories that certain films should never be in (aka The Martian as Best Comedy or A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsodies not being in the Best Musical Category). I do think however it does in a way show of what is to come. Mainly that people are finally starting to realize how overrated A Star Is Born truly is.

I think the A Star Is Born buzz came about because of millennials. On all these sites, some of these really dumb moviegoers are crying that it is “the best drama since Titanic.” But then when you tell them that the movie has been made three times before and this is the third remake, they look at you dumbfounded and just brush it off. If the Golden Globes proved anything last night is that the star that Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were certain they would fly across the sky on, is dwindling, and it is dwindling fast. And good riddance. I liked A Star Is Born, but I only liked it enough to the point that my fondness for it has been in further decline every time I hear someone say it is the end all be all of drama films. It’s not. Watch the first one from 1937 or the Judy Garland one from 1954. Those are classic renditions of the story line and characters. I don’t get the love for this Bradley Cooper version at all. Is it because Lady Gaga keeps repeating the same damn speech about “99 people that don’t believe in you, but then there is that one that does” over and over again?

Look, she’s going to win an Oscar for the song ‘Shallow.’ And even I’ll admit it will be well deserved. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t acknowledge that, for I hum and sing the song all the time in the damn shower. Point is, she is going to win an award FOR SOMETHING SHE IS QUALIFIED For. I’m not saying she is never going to be qualified as an actress, but to give her an Oscar for acting for her first ever role, when in my opinion, she was only okay in it, is ridiculous. There is only room for growth now. As for the film itself, the direction was no where near the caliber of where people are saying it is at. For Bradley Cooper, it is a solid debut effort. It isn’t Oscar worthy, and for me, it’s a little above mediocre point and shoot style mainly only due to the performances other than Gaga, including his own. Last night, the Best Director award went to the right person, Alfanso Cuaron for Roma. You can’t “boo” that decision until you’ve seen the film. There are some damn fine exquisite shots in there that I don’t think Cooper has the talent to pull off right now.

So I guess you could say in summation that I was very happy with the Golden Globes last night. Especially when A Star Is Born didn’t win best picture. Now I would’ve rather had Blackkklansman, or Black Panther or even If Beale Street Could talk win (all three of those films are above and beyond better than A Star Is Born), but honestly, I’ll take Bohemian Rhapsody since it did beat out A Star Is Born (Bohemian Rhapsody I also feel was above and beyond better than Cooper’s film). As for this Bohemian Rhapsody controversy? It’s stupid. Yes, Bryan Singer has been charged twice for being a pedophile a couple of years ago (one case was dismissed and the other was dropped altogether) and when news came he was fired off the set of Bohemian Rhapsody, there came yet another allegation of him fondling some 17 year old at a party a few years ago (we have yet to see what will come of that case). Singer was fired from the set due to constant bickering between him and star Rami Malek, and also that Singer was reportedly either always let to the shoots or sometimes didn’t even show up at all. Aka, he deserved to be fired if what I’ve heard is true.

This whole awards season, fuck, even the marketing for Bohemian Rhapsody has been trying as much as possible to not even make mention of Bryan Singers name. The ONLY reason why his directorial credit remains on that film, and not Dexter Fletcher’s, is because of guild rules and legal reasons. If a director shoots more than 50% of a movie, they get sole directorial credit, and Singer had shot all but two weeks left of the film. The posters did not have his name on it, his name was barely mentioned in interviews, Bryan Singer did not go on the marketing tour of the film, the only thing his name shows up on is the directed by, at the end of the movie, and even then, I think the movie was edited to get that in and out of the finished film faster than any other name shown in the credits. You can tell that the producers of the film would’ve put Fletcher’s name on their if they could, rules just wouldn’t permit them to. So they did what they had to do. Case in point, when Malek won last night and win the film one for Best Drama and producer Graham King accepted the Oscar, neither one even uttered Singer’s name, let alone thank him.

So to say that the movie winning is controversial because of one possible (not legally proved in court yet) pedophile’s semi involvement is the most idiot thing to utter from anyone’s breath. A movie is not the heart and soul of just one person. You know the Marvel movies, where you stay until the after credits scene, and you wait patiently for about 6 to 10 minutes, seeing all those names go by? Yeah, those people worked on the film too. And they worked hard. And I’m sure that even though the producer gets the award in the end, ANYONE in the thousands involved in the production last night had a grin ear to ear when they heard the film’s name as the winner last night. It was their hard work being recognized. Even saying it was controversial because most critics were split on the film is stupid. The film has made nearly $200 million domestic and is now the highest grossing musical biopic of all time, so obviously some people are really digging the film. Me personally? I thought it was only okay, and it would’ve been meh if it hadn’t been for Rami Malek. Out of the awards it one, there should be NO controversy that he won for his performance. He was out-fucking-standing in that role and deserves that Academy Award if he happens to win over Bale and Cooper on Oscar night. On Bohemian Rhapsody as a whole, it’s just a standard rise and fall biopic that you’ve seen many and many times before. If the story would’ve just focused on Mercury and dug a little deeper into his troubled private life, it could’ve been outstanding. It was only okay for me, but a lot of people seem to be loving it, and that is okay. At least this isn’t the 4th rendition of his story to hit the big screen.

As for all the other winners: perfectly happy with. Especially Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk. Amy Adams will get her statue one day, and probably for a film that is better than Vice, even though I personally loved it. Amy Adams is this generations’s Kate Winslet or Meryl Streep. Will eventually win a statue for something, but be constantly nominated and not win. Regina King owned that role on Beale Street, and I hope she wins. I’d be okay with Adams too. And I’m okay with Mahershala Ali even though he won a couple of years ago for Moonlight (Academy Awards wise, he didn’t win the Golden Globe). But I think the Oscar will go to Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me? He is God damn phenomenal in that film, so is McCarthy, and if you haven’t seen that film or Green Book you need to go out to the theater immediately and try to catch it.

Green Book was my favorite film of 2018, so I was thrilled when it won Best Comedy and took home the Screenplay award as well. I know some others weren’t thrilled and were hoping it went to The Favourite, but I thought that film was overrated as well and only okay, even though I thought Olivia Coleman definitely deserved that award. I have yet to see The Wife (I will Jan 29th), but when has Glenn Close phoned in a role? Seriously, when? Look at her entire career, even her performances in 101 Dalmations and Air Force One. Her complete A game in every single picture she as done. I’m sure she is nothing less than perfect in The Wife, and definitely deserved to win over Gaga, especially when you look at her entire career as a whole (Close has been nominated for 6 Oscars, never won, so don’t give it to newbie Gaga). Seriously, I’m done with A Star Is Born at this point. Oh, I almost forgot to mention…HELL YES to Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse winning best animated feature over the only okay Incredibles 2. I hope that the Oscars gets it right as well. A spectacular animated film!

So yeah, those are my thoughts on the winners in the movies category. Very pleased indeed. This is the part where I’d write about 10 more paragraphs on the Television categories, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t watch 95% of what was nominated, so who gives a fuck about my opinion on those? In summation, fine with all the winners there too. What were your thoughts on both the Movies and Television winners? I’d like to know! If you expected a review on the show in general, like Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh as hosts, look elsewhere. I’m very proud that Sandra Oh won for her role on Killing Eve, but her hosting skills, along with her jokes with Andy Samberg, were really hit or miss…mostly miss. I will review my thoughts on the SAG winners combined with whatever wins awards from the Directors Guild, Writers guild, Producers Guild, etc. in a separate mid awards season post, and then a final post after Oscars night. Until then, you still have time to try and catch up before Feb 24th! Don’t waste it!

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: VICE (no spoilers)

The only really spoiler in this review of VICE is that right after the review I am going to post an article from USA Today that fact checks the movie. It is quite astonishing. The whole damn movie is astonishing. What Dick Cheney got away with…no matter what your political leanings…will have your jaw dropped on the floor at some points in the film. And the film takes a fourth wall comical approach to it all. Not surprising that is this coming from the same writer and director (Adam McKay) that brought you The Big Short (this films breaks the fourth wall every minute, this movie is a bit more tame), but very surprising that McKay also brought you Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, Anchorman 1 & 2, and The Other Guys. The movie is written, filmed, and given to the audience in a way where it’s not just another biographical film on a famous political figure, its an experience that sucks you in and never even comes close to any sort of boring zone that you can think of.

And give Christian Bale the Oscar. Let’s skip finding a host for the Academy Awards and skip the ceremony altogether, and just send Bale the Oscar. He is Dick Cheney in this. And it isn’t just an actor mimicking and doing an impression of a famous figure type of performance. Bale becomes Cheney, absorbs him 150%, where there is literally no trace of Bale left to be found. We all know that Bale can act himself out of a paper bag, but after this, and looking back, what he has done with his entire career is beyond mere words. Expect him at a earlier late age to receive the lifetime achievement Oscar. But wait just a minute, lets give some props to Amy Adams as well, who gives us yet another mind bending and fantastically emotional supporting performance as Cheney’s wife Lynne, and we’ll see her name announcing her 6th Oscar nomination (no wins) come January.

The movie thankfully doesn’t go from birth to death (he’s not dead yet) with Cheney. It starts out with him getting yet another DUI in his college years, while dating Lynne at the time, at a point in time where his future wife gives him an ultimatum, which coincidentally was crossroads for the American people. The movie is 2 and a half hours of perfectly blended comedy, drama, and biographical context and subtext (be sure to stay for a mid credits scene). It harnesses the very important parts of Cheney’s life and career, and has no filler, the passage of time used sparingly and appropriately.

The comedy and the things that Cheney did during his career will have you glued to your seat in awe. Some of it is just pure madness, you don’t know how he and others got away with it all. The movie could easily have made it a hard drama, depicting everything with a true sense of horror, confusion, and sadness. But I can’t see the movie being made any other way than this, the comedy works very, very, very well. It pokes fun while also telling harsh truths with in your face warnings. The Big Short did this as well, and it was one of my top ten film of 2015. It is safe to say that this is too.

If I had any complaints, is that there wasn’t enough Sam Rockwell to warrant the Oscar buzz he is getting for playing George W. Bush. Don’t worry, he is actually pretty great in the scenes he is in, he just wasn’t in it enough to warrant all this praise. It should be going to Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, who is in the movie more, and plays it just as quietly sadistic as Bale does with Cheney. Anyway, to not keep rambling on, you MUST see this movie. Adam McKay did his research, and tried to make it as true a story as possible. No matter your political leanings, go see Vice. It’s not only a well made and very funny film, it’s well made, it’s informative, all while being entertaining as anything you’ve seen all year. Truly masterful. Here is the fact checking article I was talking about in the opening paragraph, please do not read it until after you’ve seen the movie:

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BEN IS BACK (no spoilers)

Now I’m going to tell you right off the bat that I’m not the biggest fan of Julia Roberts and that (other than Erin Brockovich and Steel Magnolias) I think she is a pretty one dimensional actress. So when I say that I really enjoyed BEN IS BACK and I think that it is her best performance in quite a long time and it might even be my favorite performance of hers, you know that I’m telling the truth. Ben Is Back is what Beautiful Boy should have been. A cautionary tale about drugs that actually elicits emotions from the audience, emotions that are well written, earned, and acted. And that fact that everything takes place during Christmas was just the cherry on top.

Ben Is Back is about a son (played by the incredible Lucas Hedges) that comes home to see his family after spending months in a rehab center. His sister and stepfather think it is way too soon, his half siblings are just glad to see him, but his mother (played by Julia Roberts) is so thrilled to see him that she doesn’t start questioning things until other family members tell her she should. What is he doing home so soon? Does he have ulterior motives? What is going to happen if he relapses at the house? What happens if someone sees that is back that shouldn’t? All good questions. Instead of taking him back to rehab, they let him stay 24 hours during Christmas, going back to rehab the same time the next day. Will they regret their decision? What I like about the film that even though it takes place all in the span of about 24 hours, everything that happens feels natural, and it doesn’t take it to over the top places that any other schlocky film could take it. I very was surprised on how tame the whole movie was. I was expecting each twist and turn to evolve into something completely outlandish, and it didn’t. It subverted my expectations, and everything had more of a “well, I could actually see this happening in this situation” type feel, and that is what I appreciated most.

I also love how the film didn’t have all these revelations about Ben, and how most of his shady past is merely hinted at. Sure, there are a couple of revelations, but even those are still limited to broader information, with the specifics and really terrible shit left for the audience’s imagination. Sure, there might be a moment or two that are set up conveniently to reveal a little info on the origin of Ben’s drug habits, for example how Hedges and Roberts run into his old doctor in the mall, but those couple of things are easily forgivable with the other tidbits of information we get. The movie also does a great job of playing with Ben’s intentions during the whole film. You think he’s doing one thing, but just several minutes later the movie subverts that theory a bit, and it just keeps going back and forth. You will literally be guessing what happens and being wrong up until the very end.

The performances in this are amazing, everyone does a great job, but the standouts are obviously Roberts and Hedges, and any other year, Hedges would get an Oscar nomination. The movie is written and directed by Peter Hedges, who wrote films you may know such as both the novel and screenplay to What is Eating Gilbert Grape, co-writer on About A Boy, Dan in Real Life, and did some script doctoring on Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur. I do like What Is Eating Gilbert Grape, but I think this is easily his finest work. And yes, he is Lucas Hedges father. Sometimes spouse or sibling or parental collaborations can easily crash and burn, but here it totally works. It seems like Peter let Lucas just do his thing, and the performance is that much better for it.

Anyway, I said earlier that this taking place during Christmas puts the cherry on top of the whole thing and it really does. The setting completely works here. If it is ever Christmas time and you happen to feel like a drug cautionary tale, but also want to watch a Christmas movie, this would easily fit the bill. The atmosphere of Christmas is all over the place, such as going to the mall with this mom, church festivities, and the cold and the snow play big parts in the film. The scene in the graveyard with Hedges and Roberts where she asks him where does he want her to bury him when he’s gone, the snow on the grave stones, the imagery is fantastic here and just elevates the whole scene. This review is getting too long, so as a Christmas present to you all, I’ll just end it by saying I really really liked this film, and it will probably be in my top 20 list when I finalize it soon.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MARY POPPINS RETURNS (mild spoilers, because it’s a remake)

I forget which exact episode of Friends it is, but there is a scene where Ross, Chandler, and Joey are having a Die Hard Marathon in Ross’s new apartment, and they just finished Die Hard and it’s time to put in the sequel. Here is the exact dialogue as follows:

Chandler: Die Hard, still great!
Joey: Hey, what do you say we make a double feature?
Ross: What else did you rent?
Joey: Die Hard 2!
Chandler: Joe, this is Die Hard 1 again.
Joey: Ohh..well if we watch it a second time then it’s Die Hard 2!
Ross: Joey we just saw it.
Joey: And?
Ross: And it would be cool to see it again!

I just summed up for you MARY POPPINS RETURNS in a nutshell. While I am still mildly recommending the movie as a whole for a couple of things I’ll get to in a bit, Disney just pulled “The Force Awakens Effect” yet again. “The Force Awakens Effect” for those of you not in the know, is basically claiming a that movie is a sequel, when it is almost beat by beat the same exact story and plot of the original film. But seriously…if you had complaints that The Force Awakens was beat by beat too close to A New Hope, Mary Poppins Returns is tapping your shoulder right now and asking you to hold its spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down. Mary Poppins returns to help out the children of the children she helped in the first movie, and instead of trying to make the now older Michael realize not to neglect his kids like his father was taught, she tries to make older Michael realize that home is wherever you make it if you have your family by your side, and to appreciate his kids more. Wait…what? It’s essentially the same thing, with a minor twist. Just like everything else is in this movie. It’s the closest thing that Disney can make a remake without calling it a remake.

Instead of a picture that Mary Poppins and the kids go into full of brilliant animation, it is now a ceramic bowl. Instead of a spoon full of sugar and Mary Poppins helping the kids tidy of their room, it is now just a different non memorable song with them taking a bath tidying up themselves. Instead of a chimney chim chim cha roo with some very talented chimney sweepers, it’s a new song called “Trip A Little Light Fantastic” and instead of chimney sweepers, its now lamp lighters, but it’s the same dark cinematography and matte imagery and intricate dance choreography. All of this is surrounded by Colin Firth trying his best to act like an asshole and the family has to find this certificate of shares that the children’s father left them or they lose the old house we know and love so well.

This movie is beat by beat by beat by plot point by plot point by plot point the exact same film as the original, with just some minor tweaks here and there from it being a shot by shot remake. It’s just Disney being safe. They know that safe works (see Force Awakens) and they know that going outside the box may not (see The Star Wars Prequels and I guess see some dumb fan boys’ view of The Last Jedi). They know that just bringing in an older version of the children from the first film, but now focuses on their children will give audience enough sweet sweet memberberries to chew on while watching the movie. It’s kind of sad that you could’ve even done something similar yet different of all new kids, in a all new setting, with a different plot, more attune with The Force Awakens, and yet they still didn’t go that route. And while the movie was entertaining and held my attention, I just felt kind of eh through the whole thing because I know I had seen it all before.

Okay, now let’s get to the good stuff where I’m actually giving this film a minor “thumbs up.” Emily Blunt is always amazing in my eyes, and here she is no different. She steals every scene. She is the only other person in my eyes I deem fit to play Mary Poppins other than Julie Andrews (Andrews was in her early 20s playing the role and Blunt is 35, yes, they do have an age joke or two). She can sing, dance, and do anything. She’ll win an Academy Award one day, but not for this. Let the Oscar be still with Julie Andrews for this character. And Lin Manuel Miranda (yes, he kind of raps at one point in this as expected) is great too here. Every since Hamilton he’s been on this rise, and even with this things will just keep getting better for him. Yes, Dick Van Dyke is in this for about 3 to 5 minutes, has a minor little dance number where my jaw was on the floor considering he is 93 years old.

I also appreciated when they went into that animated world we all knew she was going to take the kids into that they didn’t just cop out and try to make them interact with Pixar like animated characters. No, they go back to home grown, home spun 2D animation, and it was brilliant enough for me to crave a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? even though I hope they never make one and if they do that it isn’t just another soft reboot/remake like this one is. And yes, Meryl Streep is in this (she’s got to be in everything, ugh), however, she’s only in one scene, one musical number, and then she’s out for the rest of the picture, and she wasn’t annoying, and she was quite good).

Unfortunately, as I remember the kids quite fondly in the original movie, the kids in this aren’t memorable at all in the fact that I’ve already forgotten what they look like. And while this film is a musical, and there is a song and dance thing every ten minutes, they in no way even touch the classic songs of the original. In fact, I can only remember two songs being fantastic, “A Cover Is Not The Book” and “Nowhere To Go But Up” and the latter isn’t until the very very end of the film.

But the film is harmless, is entertaining, and in some parts even fun, even though it’s just a melting pot of the original film. I completely recommend this to people who haven’t even seen the first one or haven’t seen the first one in a long time. For God’s sake, don’t watch the original right before you go and see this or you are going to regret it. It’s a decent family film, what more could you ask around the holidays? Well, I could ask that Bumblebee never existed, but that’s like asking for a billion dollars…

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS (spoilers, because her life, real life inaccuracies)

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS is the most mis-marketed, bait and switch movie of 2018. Hands fucking down. It advertises in the trailers and tv spots that the film will portray “the ultimate rivalry” for rule between her and Queen Elizabeth, and that the movie is going to be about one giant power struggle. Nope. Wrong…Not. Even. Close. I made sure to brush up on some of the real history of Mary Stuart, and of all of her life they could’ve made the movie about (in fact, it could’ve just been one giant biography with 20 added minutes, with a lot of the fat trimmed out), they decided to make the movie about the least interesting part in her life, where she returns to Scotland. It is there the movie turns into a #MeToo type entity, where every single man character in the film is apparently a sadistic, mean, psychotic, asshole son of a bitch with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. This “rivalry” in the movie is barely even there. A couple of letters written between Mary and Elizabeth when Mary returns to Scotland, trying to make a deal with inheritance to eventually have one ruler over England and Scotland, and then only one final confrontation at the end of the movie. In a meeting that apparently is pure fiction and never takes place, they speak to each other for only 5 minutes, and then years of imprisonment/protection pass (which we do not see, nor do we hear about some of her cool escapes and escape attempts) and then Mary is sentenced to death for some letter Elizabeth has that we never see or hear anything about, other than that it might’ve been written in Mary’s hand about a plot to kill Elizabeth. Instead we are treated to 2 hours of Mary just dealing with dumb, mean men that completely ruin her life. Margot Robbie is in the movie for only about 10 to 12 minutes by the way, and in no way does she deserve a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

Saoirse Ronan on the other hand is utterly fantastic as Mary, and it would be well deserved if she was nominated, but at how much I completely dislike this film, I don’t care to see it get any nominations, as to send a message to the filmmakers this was the wrong way to go with the years and years of story that they could’ve told. What’s funny is that Saoirse doesn’t look a day over 18, (which is where we see her at the start of the film) and then she hasn’t aged a day, they didn’t even bother trying to do make up or use CGI, and is supposedly 44 when she gets executed. I know my movie review is all over the place, but if you think about it, I’m paying homage to the movie itself, which was the exact same thing. I currently have a couple of web pages next to the one I’m writing on and I’m scanning over the history of Mary and Elizabeth and I’m shocked at what is not in the film. There is some really juicy stuff such as Mary’s rule when she was younger before where the film starts, or some of her escape attempts and apparent plots to kill Queen Elizabeth, or they could’ve went full Rated R and actually shown how awful her execution was instead of it copping out with a fake to black end credits bullshit text update on what happened to the other characters kind of conclusion. Plus, even telling the story of Mary’s return to Scotland is riddled with inaccuracies, such as her marriage to Lord Darnley being a sham because he was gay and fucked her catholic private secretary Rizzio, when in actuality she was actually fucking him, or that she saw her son for the last time when he was clearly older than 1 or 2, when in actuality he was only 10 months, and again, if her and Elizabeth actually ever met. Also the conclusion of Lord Darnley’s character is very fictionalized and not at all how it really happened. If you are going to make an historical inaccurate film, and there have been many, they might as well have went full fiction and actually made the rivalry movie that was promised and marketed.

And the movie is quite boring. I was actually into it a little bit until it hit the 45 minute mark and I figured that the movie marketed to me and everyone else on Earth was a sham and it was something completely different. I kept looking at my watch, wondering when this rivalry/power struggle film was to begin, and it never did. I guess you could say the power struggle was within her own group of politicians that were supposed to be “loyal” to her but even that was uninteresting and too repetitive. It was basically males that seemed to just slap her around, control her and betray her, trying to turn a historical film into a platform that modern audiences can relate to, aka the #MeToo movement. I don’t know what really happened back then and couldn’t tell you anything unless I was standing there watching it all happen, but the movie seemed to make Mary too strong of a character, where when all this bad shit was happening to her, she should’ve just ordered the deaths of people around her to regain ultimate control, instead of just taking blow after blow without being able to do anything about it.

I’m just mad that I was scammed out of what could’ve been a very powerful movie about Mary Stuart, with a breathtaking performance from Saoirse Ronan. I had a similar complaint with Bohemian Rhapsody, in that they could’ve made a much better film than they did, with Rami Malek giving us a better powerful performance (don’t worry, he still owns the movie we got, but still) with elevated material. Is it possible someone could write something else in the next few years, maybe something about Mary’s entire interesting life and still get Saoirse back into the role? Now that I would give a chance and see. The look of the film was fine, the direction fine, some of the visuals fantastic, but the boredom, inaccuracies, and misdirection the movie ultimately told was too much of a distraction for me to even closely give some kind of recommendation. I guess if you love Saoirse Ronan, watch it for her performance, but that is about it. If you are going for Margot Robbie, be prepared to be overwhelmingly let down. It’s not one of the worst films of the year, but it is one of the worst disappointments.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: AQUAMAN (no spoilers)

I have to assume that when Warner Bros. and other fans of the very unstable foundation the DCEU was built on looks back and decides which movie was the make or break point of the franchise, they are going to look back to AQUAMAN. Shazam and Wonder Woman 1984 are still in development and will still release in theaters regardless of what this film does, but whether they put the breaks on everything I think will depend on how this well this film does both critically and financially. Critically, right now, the movie is doing better than most of the others, casual moviegoers an even more positive reaction. We’ll have to wait a month to see what it makes during the busy box office holiday season to whether the DCEU is truly going to be okay. For me? I went in with medium expectations. The last movie in the DCEU, Justice League, was not what it should have been, being more of a mix of really good scenes, with really bad scenes, all wrapped around stupid mother boxes and one of the worst CGI villains in cinematic history. But after the credits rolled on Aquaman (and be sure to just stay for one mid credits scene), I was surprised about how much I enjoyed it, how much it kept my attention the whole way through, and admired how the DCEU is trying to course correct itself.

Tone wise the movie is closer to Wonder Woman more than anything, with just a dash or two of more weirdness thrown in (and no, not copying Guardians of the Galaxy weirdness, this is its own thing). And I am proud to also report that this is in no way is a rip off of Black Panther that many were assuming it was when people watched the trailer. Aquaman is its own tone, its own product, its own entity, its own existence, its own thing. It isn’t really trying to set up other future DCEU movies (other than maybe a sequel to itself) and only connection to the other films is a quick throwaway line to Justice League and the fact that Amber Heard comes back for her 2 minute part in Justice League to play a much bigger, and better role.

Getting into plot details won’t help any one with this review. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the plot. Arthur Curry doesn’t really want to be king, he is more of a “land dweller” and just fights for what’s right. When Mera (Heard), comes to him, telling him that his half brother who he has never met before, is going to force all the sea kingdoms to unite and start a war with everyone on land, and the fate of all kind is in the balance, he reluctantly goes, eager to come back when all is said and done and not rule.

Really the only problem I had with this movie was some of the CGI, but I do realize the fact with a film that takes place underwater with real human beings talking, and interacting with sea creatures and other weird entities under the sea, the people involved did do the best job they could with the technology they had. So some of the very shaky CGI is forgivable if you think about it. But some of the CGI is pretty bad ass, especially the big battle near the end of the film, and a big action fight sequence with Aquaman, Mera, and Black Manta in Italy.

Jason Mamoa is a fantastic Aquaman. I know he really looks nothing like what he does in the comics, but Mamoa brings a cool slacker charm to the role, and can actually act when he needs to. Plus, you can tell he had so much fun making the film, and when you actually want to be there, your performance comes natural. And he’s a natural in this. What I was most surprised by was Amber Heard. Amber Heard has mostly been just eye candy in films that I’ve seen her in, but in this, she actually shines and shows she is so much more than that. Patrick Wilson actually makes for a pretty good villain as Ocean Master, just wish they’d develop his character a little bit more, Willem Dafoe as Vulko is good for the short amount of screen time he has, Nicole Kidman is fine but de-aged/under the knife as fuck, and Dolph Lundgren gives his best performance in the 10 minutes he’s in as Mera’s father. I know that Black Manta is in the film as well, and while I initially thought that his introduction and part was going to be wasted, in the end I was pleasantly surprised by his origin and his ultimate role in the film. Don’t want to give too much away on that.

Some of the dialogue is cringe-worthy, but I mean, have you ever read a comic book recently? And the actors saying that dialogue are good enough to make it work. The story beats are fast and furious, are all there and well managed, and click together perfectly. Director James Wan, who is known more for the Saw movies, the Conjuring films, and only directed Furious 7 in terms of not being stuck in the horror genre, does a good job here. He didn’t half ass anything and his vision went all in, which I appreciated. Just so you know, I don’t think I have ever read a solo Aquaman comic. I read some Justice League when I was younger, and from what I remember, Aquaman was kind of shoved to the side. But maybe the DCEU can finally give the character his due and bring him to the forefront as a serious, bad ass hero. As long as Warner Bros. isn’t stupid and signs Jason Mamoa to a bazillion more films.

Rank of DCEU Films:

1. Wonder Woman
2. Man of Steel
3. Aquaman
4. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
5. Justice League
6. Suicide Squad

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ROMA (Netflix, no spoilers)

If you are a casual movie goer yet still keep up with the reward circuit, you might be wondering what this ROMA movie is that is being nominated for all these awards and how to watch it. If you have Netflix, well I have some good news for you, it just premiered on the service yesterday! And if you are a dummy and already knew that, yet spend the amount on one ticket to see it in a theater that would pay for one whole month for Netflix, well…I already called you a dummy didn’t I? Roma is a pretty good movie, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who has directed some great films such as Gravity, Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, and Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Apparently this movie has been a passion project for him for years and years. And you can tell that every bit of love from his heart went into making this. The movie is set in 1970 and shows the year in the life of a live in housekeeper that works for this middle class family with a bunch of kids that have a mother that is oblivious to her husband not wanting to be around anymore. It is called Roma because it is referring to the Colonia Roma district of the city. The film is subtitled and black and white, and it is one of the most gorgeous films of 2018.

The cinematogrphy and shots are crisp, vibrant, and sharp. Definitely wouldn’t have looked as great if it were in color. Cuaron uses real locations to pull the viewer into the movie with his visuals. A lot of the shots consist of the camera panning from left to right or right to left, with careful choreography that feels natural. All of the actresses/actors are complete unknowns, but even with kids playing a big part in it, everything feels real with real emotions. Cleo, the films protagonist, especially great, with parts of her journey I don’t want spoil here, emotional enough to make me almost shed a couple of tears.

IF you are an award watcher completest, Roma is a must see. It is a lengthy 2 hrs and 15 minutes, but it kept my attention throughout the whole thing, mainly because of the visuals. The best sequence has to be Cleo shopping in the middle of the Corpus Christi Massacre, the camera work alone should get Alfonso Cuaron some kind of Oscar this year. If you don’t like reading subtitles or don’t like black and white films (how could you), this might not be your cup of tea. I enjoyed it though, always enjoy great film making.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SPIDER-MAN INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (no spoilers)

I did a short review yesterday, let’s see if I can replicate it. Because to really dig into the plot of SPIDER-MAN INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is to reveal a lot of what happens in the movie, aka spoilers, and this movie is so much fun in the discovery of what is happening that I don’t want to do that. The teaser trailer to this almost a year ago we knew that the movie would be about Miles Morales and that he was talking to a Peter Parker. The newer trailers/tv spots let on to the fact that there was so much more going on, more Spider people, and I wish I hadn’t have seen them. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a bunch of cool surprises in the film, but if they would’ve kept the fact that there are multiple Spider people that don’t belong in Miles Morales world more of a secret, it may have even had the chance to be my favorite Spider-Man movie. But don’t worry, still love it and it is pretty damn close, probably just under Homecoming and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 for me.

And even with the multiple Spider people in the movie, the film manages never to lose focus of Miles Morales journey and doesn’t make the same some of the other Spider-Man movies have made, aka, too many villains, or in this case, too many heroes. And even though there are multiple villains in this as well, the film still manages to keep its perfect balance. That is a rare feat. You could say the main boss is Kingpin, with The Prowler, Scorpion, and one surprise villain I dare not reveal here being sidekicks, but even the Kingpin is subdued to a supporting role, his part not over staying its welcome. Story wise all you need to know is what the trailers have shown you. This story is an origin tale about Miles Morales becoming a Spider person, but sort of flips that origin tale on its head, by coming up with a unique story that involves other Spider people from other dimensions. I’m not going to reveal how Kingpin or any of the other bad guys are involved and not going to reveal how the dimensions collide in the first place.

It’s amazing given how many people there are in this movie, how every one gets a complete well rounded character arc, shit, even Aunt May. (well…I guess maybe except for Scorpion, but that’s okay, he didn’t need one). And it still gives room for Miles Morales to have the most beefed up character arc of all. Some parts of the movie are pretty emotional, and the story earns those emotions. The look of the movie is unique as well, and it makes me want to go back and possibly watch it in 3D. This is a comic book movie that actually looks and feels like you are reading/watching an actual comic book. The textures, style, and colors of the animation are vibrant and fantastic, something I have never seen before. The movie also works with the voice acting. Everyone does a fantastic job, but I have to give props to Nicholas Cage as Noir Spider-Man. Now I just want a movie with that character with Nicholas Cage reading beautiful dialogue to me for two hours.

Anyway, this is where I am going to cut it short. This movie is fantastic and deserves to be seen on the big screen, possibly maybe even in 3D. It’s a really fun journey, and there is no way they could’ve made a live action version of this story to make it work. Keep on with the Tom Holland MCU sequels, but I want sequels to this as well. Now, about whether your young kids, younger than 6 should see this or not. It’s rated PG, but that’s for the cartoon like violence and fighting. There is no language whatsoever in this. Word of warning, there are two pretty emotional Mufasa like deaths early on in the film (one closer to the middle) that could rattle them up. But the rest of the movie is light, action packed and fun. So if they are huge Spider-Man fans, even at like 4 or 5, they might really dig this movie, and are sure to dig it even more once they get older. This is a fantastic, awesome, spectacular, any phrase from any dimension you want to use to describe a fucking awesome Spider-Man movie. Oh, and stay after the credits for one of the funniest post credits scenes in Marvel history.