Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: DUMMY & DIE HART (Quibi)

Maybe I should add the word mean on the title of my WordPress Blog & Facebook page because when something is really bad and I’m in the state that I’m in right now, I just feel like tearing it a new asshole. Since I did a little research on QUIBI they count all of their programming on their app ‘television episodes’ or ‘webisodes’ and so even though I reviewed The Fugitive, Most Dangerous Game, and The Strangers as movies, from now on I’m just bumping everything offered by Quibi down to TV Binge Watchin’ ones since they’ve been nominated for Emmy’s, which is a television award. I watched a couple of more Quibi offerings over the weekend, both DUMMY and DIE HART, and I figured that I’d maybe double up with some Quibi reviews from now on since the comedies aren’t as long as the drama/thrillers are. Both Dummy and Die Hart are 10 episodes, ranging from 5 minutes to 9 minutes each, but not over or under. If they were movies, the max runtime they would be are about 90 minutes, minimum 50, but since each episode briefly, around 30 seconds, recaps the episode previously, and considering that every episode doesn’t max out at 9 minutes, they both definitely require less attention from you than if you were to see a regular comedy in the theater. I would say both Dummy and Die Hart range from an 1 hour and 10 minutes to an hour and 20, maybe, the minimum at least a little over an hour for each.

What I’ve also discovered from Quibi is that they have what is called ‘rotating’ technology. That means that no matter how you look at your phone screen, this app is limited to mobile only surprisingly, the image will center on what you need to be focused on if you are holding your phone vertically. Me? I prefer to watch everything widescreen to get the most out of the image possible, but I’ve noticed sometimes that when flipping vertically, that if the widescreen cuts off at the torso, the vertical view will show legs and feet, albeit on the person talking, instead of seeing two characters both in the same shot if you were to just stick to widescreen. Anyway, let’s get past this semi-interesting Quibi trivia and actually review these things shall we? From my intro, you could’ve probably predicted that both Dummy and Die Hart are my two least favorite offerings from Quibi thus far, the latter being truly terribly awful because of one of the actors I can’t stand involved. DUMMY stars Anna Kendrick and Donal Logue and IMDB describes it in the following: “An aspiring writer befriends her boyfriend’s sex doll and the two take on the world together.” Die Hart stars Kevin Hart, Nathalie Emmanuel, Josh Hartnett, and John Travolta and IMDB describes it in the following: “Kevin Hart plays a fictionalized version of himself on a quest to land the action-movie role of a lifetime.” If either of the premises make you scrunch up your face in a “really?” type expression, I can confirm you are likely to keep that scrunched up face the whole time if you watch one or both of these.

Dummy, with Anna Kendrick, is definitely the better of the two, even though I didn’t care for it. It is the better of the two because Kendrick is a pretty decent actress (and I’ve always found her to be a weird kind of sexy) during all of the ten episodes, and I like how Donal Logue is actually playing the creator of Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon. It’s just that the sex doll being able to communicate with Kendrick, and it just ends up saying a bunch of dirty jokes and naughty words gest old very, very fast. And the dirty jokes and naughty words completely only make up the anatomy of what a sex doll has on it and what men can do to it. Crusty sperm, body type, worn out prosthetic vagina, you name it, this show has an unoriginal joke for it that doesn’t even get in the ballpark of smart writing. The plot is semi interesting because Kenrick’s character is trying to write this pilot and the doll actually helps her form a new idea and get the ball rolling instead of constantly having writers block. The conclusion of the story is very weird though, but maybe it was meant to be a cliffhanger since these are technically TV episodes right? The creator of this show, Cody Heller, is actually really engaged to Rick and Morty’s Dan Harmon, and to have him in this story, albeit played by a professional actor, is pretty cool, but Donal Logue doesn’t really act like Dan Harmon. I’ve seen interviews with Dan Harmon, as I’ve been a fan of him since Community, and he is much weirder than Logue portrays him. Gun to your head, if you have to watch either of these, choose this one, as you might chuckle a little like I did.

Where I didn’t chuckle at all (alright fine, maybe once or twice only in webisode 7 of 10) was Die Hart. Truly fucking stupid and truly fucking awful. It would’ve been kind of cool if this premise was meant to be taken seriously and Kevin Hart was really trying to become an action star. But it’s just Kevin Hart being Hart as usual, and to me, usual for him is just screaming all of his fucking lines for laughs with no jokes, and acting like he doesn’t have a clue. John Travolta of course over acts in this (interestingly this role was written for Bruce Willis as himself but he turned it down, Travolta plays an original character) and they get the most screen time, so you can probably imagine what a slog this was to get through. Especially when the webisodes play up the “is this really happening or is this all scripted and planned by Travolta in his characters world?” type scenario. A really odd scene with Jean Reno near the end of one of the first batch of webisodes cooks the shows’ goose really fast (why didn’t they save that for an end reveal), and it is very easy to predict exactly how it was going to end. So during the journey to get to that predictable ending, I was constantly rolling my eyes. The only two celebrities in this that are going to be unscathed are Nathalie Emmanuel and Josh Hartnett. Josh Hartnett plays a fictionalized version of himself, and his bits are the only couple of things, in one out of 10 webisodes mind you, that made me chuckle (and also a blink and you’ll miss it reference back to him at the very end of the series). He wasn’t afraid to poke fun at some of his ‘action’ career and there was a pretty great Hollywood Homicide joke that made me chuckle pretty hard. Nathalie Emmanuel, while she acted like she wanted to be in this and did the best job she could with a very under written character, she’s unscathed for me here…well because she’s just so damn fine to look at. Only reason why I didn’t quit the series. From Game of Thrones to some of the Fast and Furious movies, to this, she is very, very easy on the eyes. Absolutely beautiful. She was the very tiny gold nugget you would find if you were to sift through all 10 shitty episodes in one sitting. I hope Die Hart doesn’t get renewed for a second season and dies fast.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MOST DANGEROUS GAME (Quibi)

Unlike the shit show last night during the debate, Quibi’s MOST DANGEROUS GAME is certainly not a shit show. In fact, it takes The Stranger’s place as being my favorite thing I’ve watched on this quirky little app to date. I’m starting to come around on Quibi as I’m finding more and more things on there that peak my interest. Thank God it’s free or I never would’ve discovered it. And no, I’m not a fucking shill, it’s just that all three webisode series I’ve watched, I’ve been constantly entertained, even when the content was only okay (The Fugitive). Sometimes much more entertaining than a lot of the stuff Netflix just sputters out every day. Yes, yet again I’m reviewing this as a movie than a webisode TV series. Especially Most Dangerous Game, as it is easily the best shot, best looking, best acted, and most cinematic of the three that I’ve blazed through. It has a fantastic performance by Christoph Waltz, who was nominated for a supporting Emmy for this (when doesn’t he get nominated though?), and probably the best performance of Liam Hemsworth’s career, yes, he can do more than just look wooden during The Hunger Games (even though this is similar to those movies, kind of, he even cries in this and is believable!). I was unbelievably entertained by this and would even watch it again down the line, presuming that Quibi is still here in six months and my free subscription doesn’t completely go to waste.

I’m not telling you to get Quibi to watch this shit, I’m just saying if you happen to have it, you might want to give these webisodes a shot. Most Dangerous Game is basically a modern version of The Most Dangerous Game with several twists. Per IMDB, it describes these webisodes as: “Desperate to take care of his pregnant wife before a terminal illness can take his life, Dodge Maynard accepts an offer to participate in a deadly game where he soon discovers that he’s not the hunter – but the prey.” He has to survive a full 24 hours, stay in Detroit, and follow a whole list of rules that could get him disqualified. Money is deposited into his bank account every hour, and if he survives the whole night, he gets 24.5 million. If this were a movie that actually debuted in theaters, it would’ve been a wonderful little treat. And not that expensive as well. For as low budget as these Quibi webisodes are…they are wonderfully cinematic in scope sometimes (not so much The Fugitive). They all play out like a very enjoyable 90 minute to 2 hr film when put all together. Maybe if Quibi is sold whoever buys it up will release them as films? That remains to be seen. But this one was a true winner. It was tense as fuck, the action was half way decent, the acting was serious yet fun, and it was also fun trying to identify the 5 hunters after Hemsworth, even though they were easily identifiable.

Christoph Waltz is in this much more than you would think and while we’ve seen him excellently play a villain and excellently play a sympathetic character (he won Oscars for both), here we get to see him play a morally grey one, which he of course pulls off in spades. Everybody here seemed like they wanted to be in this, and not just for a paycheck. The 5 hunters, who I won’t spoil who they are but one or two of them might have a recognizable face to you, are quirky yet dangerous. I really enjoyed the big warehouse climax yet also enjoyed the smaller and more intimate moments. Sarah Gadon, who plays Hemsworth’s wife in this, isn’t just a ignorant character, but actually goes about to try and find her husband in the correct ways once he disappears. It’s just a well made tight thriller, the only thing hampering it from its true potential are ad breaks and the cuts to black after each ‘webisode.’ This one was also created by Nick Santora, who did The Fugitive (review was posted yesterday), but you could tell his heart was more into this one, as it shows in the meticulous quality of the production. I would like to see more of these “hunt” games with Christoph Waltz coming back to play the host, but let’s face it, Quibi’s in trouble and there probably won’t be any follow ups to this. But maybe that is a good thing as more of the same could screw up the charm that this one has. It’s sad that the most dangerous game for Quibi is getting more subscribers…but you can’t win them all. At least it has a winner or two on the inside.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE FUGITIVE (Quibi)

Yet another Quibi mini webisode television series that if put all together would be a 90 minute to 2 hr movie (closer to 1 hr 45 here). So that means yet another review from me treating it as a movie and not a webisode series. I didn’t think I’d watch anything else on my free 6 month subscription, however I forgot about this little remake that stars Kiefer Sutherland basically playing a toned down Jack Bauer with an in and out southern accent. Which is kind of funny because most of this plays out in real time. It’s like Quibi almost got the rights to 24, but then it slipped through their fingers at the last minute (evidence of this later)? But the real question should be: Do we honestly need yet ANOTHER iteration of The Fugitive? I mean, if you popped the Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones classic into your media player nowadays it still holds up tremendously (it was rightfully nominated for Best Picture as well back in 1993). And didn’t we have a remake tv series not too long ago that stumbled and fell right out of the gate? So why again? Because Quibi needed some kind of content and everyone is out of original ideas? That’s probably always going to be my go to answer for the rest of 2020: that everyone is out of original ideas but when Christopher Nolan comes along and makes a unique blockbuster spy adventure everyone is scared to go to a theater because of a dumb virus that 99% of the world’s population survives even if exposed to said virus. Pfffft. This remake remake remake shit is all on some of you cowards (ranting again I know, I’m just passionate about movie theaters).

Anyway, is this reiteration of The Fugitive any good? Kind of. Yes and no. Do the mini webisodes with constant ads, starts and stops, stop it from being decently good? Absolutely. Does calling this ‘The Fugitive also stop it from being decently good? Abso-fucking-lutely. If this were a movie with no stops and recurring ads of any kind, it would be a very decent one time watch. Other than that it is entirely forgettable, The Stranger on the same service being more worth your time (I reviewed that last week). I guess you could call this go around more relatable to our times as both Kiefer Sutherland’s police squad and the news rush to conclusions and put out ‘fake’ news about our main protagonists character, instead of taking a breather to analyse all the facts. Per IMDB, it describes this The Fugitive iteration as: “With the city in a state of panic and misinformation traveling at the speed of social media, Mike’s life and family hang in the balance as he becomes – The Fugitive.” The city of Los Angeles is in a state of panic because a bomb just exploded in the rail system, and cameras happened to record this Mike character on his phone in a black hoodie while exiting (the real bomber is wearing a black hoodie just like his coincidentally). The reason they jump to this Mike so fast is because he got out of jail 6 months ago because he was involved in a DUI accident that left two people dead…but of course the movie reveals all is not what it seems. This was just so that Mike can be a very, very innocent character everyone can relate to. You can’t have any dark spots character guy, it’s either you are completely innocent after 2017 #MeToo or you are guilty for life! Boyd Holbrook (Logan, The Predator) does his best as Mike, the totally innocent man on the run, but I mean, how hard is it to look exasperated and talk in frantic tones while you are running?

What we really need to talk about here is my theory that this was supposed to be a 24 sequel/prequel but Quibi couldn’t get the rights. Kiefer Sutherland’s character works for the CTB here, Counter Terrorist Bureau, instead of the Counter Terrorist Unit, which was what it was called on the program he is most famous for. He yells the way Jack Bauer does when stressed here, but add on more realistic curse words and a comes-and-goes southern accent just so that Fox/Disney wouldn’t sue. Most of the events play out in real time. His wife in this is said to have been killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11…Teri Bauer was killed at the end of season one of 24 by a terrorist, which coincidentally, the show premiered in 2001. The director of this entire series, Stephen Hopkins, was executive producer and even directed episodes of…you guessed it…24. The numbers add up. I just ended up pretending he was Jack Bauer and that he had somehow escaped his capture from Russia, headed back to the US under a different guise or went into witness protection and somehow still got a job working for the new organization CTB that rose from the ashes of CTU. The only thing that was really missing here was a mole, ha! (inside TV series joke). If they had gotten the right this could’ve been called 24: Fugitive or something like that. Anyway, the acting is fine for what it is, and this movie/webisode show somehow didn’t just keep hitting you over the head with fake news/police incompetence messages, it was more subtle than just yelling in your face of how and why this show is timely. And anything that has Glenn Howerton, Dennis from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, in it gets a pass in my book, especially if he isn’t playing his character from his show. Which he wasn’t.

You get your cheese-y one liners here, Jack Bauer…err I mean, Kiefer’s characters has this whole dorky thing of getting his fellow officers below him to say, “Copy, sir!” which in turn, too many times to be honest, he replies with, “Music to my ears.” The action and running are fine for what it is, the direction is adequate, and to be honest, I was entertained for the short 14, 7 to 9 minute, “webisodes.” This would’ve worked better as a television movie no doubt. Other than calling this show The Fugitive, my one other complaint is that it seems like the real villain comes off as really stupid all at once, as Mike puts together what he saw when trying to help victims after the bombing before he was chased off by the police, combined with the fact that the villain stupidly reveals himself to Mike when if he would’ve just stayed silent it he would’ve gotten away with it. And then at one point Mike leads the cops to the real villain’s house and the evidence of the bombing is just laid out all on the table. A little too many plot conveniences just to move the story along wouldn’t you say? But hey, people get caught all the time for stupid shit that they do in the real world so who am I to say? None of this surprises me seeing as the main writer and creator of this revitalization is Nick Santora, who is executive producer and writer on other plot convenience shows (yet I still watched them and love them still to this day) such as Prison Break, Vegas, Law & Order, and Breakout Kings. He’s just going by formula and when a paycheck comes your way once you get that formula still going like clockwork, can you really blame the guy? So, before I’m caught ranting again, I’ll run out of this review by saying this is a half way decent entertaining one time watch, but forgettable as convicted small time con artists.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE STRANGER (Quibi)

Well, today’s news explains a lot. My cellular service is T-Mobile and on their T-Mobile Tuesday App, every…you guessed it, Tuesday, has some cool little deals that you can tap and get, just for being a T-Mobile customer. Last Tuesday, a FREE 6 Month Subscription to Quibi was offered. Right when I saw that, I chuckled and predicted, “wow, they really must be desperate.” And yesterday, Quibi announced that they don’t have many subscribers at all, around only 77,000, and are looking to “explore strategic options” including a possible sale. Yikes. Anyway, I did take T-Mobile Tuesday up on their offer knowing that I can cancel before it renews, but let’s face it, it sounds like my free subscription won’t even last six months at this point. But I took it knowing that there was one, just one Quibi “show” that I wanted to check out ever since I saw who the filmmaker was that was making it, the two stars of it, and the subject matter: THE STRANGER. Now, the reason why I’m counting this as a movie review and not a “webisodes” one is that if you put all of these 13 episodes together, each being about 6 to 9 minutes long, you have yourself a feature length film, somewhere between an hour and 15 minutes and an hour an 47 minutes (I’d guess this is around 90-95 minutes). Since the whole story takes place over one night and all the events string together, no matter how long or short the episode, if you were to cut out the cut to black parts, you’d have a movie. And I really wish this was a movie, one that played in theaters, because I quite enjoyed it.

It’s tense, it doesn’t waste anyone’s time, it’s very enjoyable, well directed, shot, and the performances are top notch. Maika Monroe (always underrated to me even since her star turning performance in It Follows), Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, unfortunately Amazing Spider-Man 2 probably botched his career a bit), and Avan Jogia (Zombieland 2) star in what IMDB describes as: “An unassuming young rideshare driver (Monroe) is thrown into her worst nightmare when a mysterious Hollywood Hills passenger (DeHaan) enters her car.” The movie doesn’t waste any time getting into what is essentially a cat and mouse chase movie intertwined with a strong message about how our online presence make us very vulnerable. (this, The Social Network, and The Social Dilemma would make for a very interesting triple feature). Veena Sud wrote and directed all of these “webisodes” and when seeing a small preview for this I recognized her name immediately because she was the show runner on a great show that lasted several of seasons on AMC before being uncanceled twice and the last season being bought and aired on Netflix: The Killing. After that and this, I consider her already a great master of tone in dark realistic tales, because The Killing was depressing and somber as fuck, and The Stranger has a pitch perfect dreadful tension to it.

Somehow the tension never lets up and you gradually get to know about the characters back stories in realistic and unforced ways. The only complaint I have that keeps this movie/these “webisodes” from being perfect is that it has kind of the hammy, unrealistic, awkward ending. Even though some of it was set up near midway through, “they” probably shouldn’t have been brought back at the end even though it was brutal karma for one of the characters. That’s all I’ll say without getting into spoilers. The rest of it, is very solid. The film doesn’t hold any punches as no one in the cast is safe, there are some fantastic bait and switches, solid set ups with some solid pay offs, and the despair never lets up until it cuts to black on webisode 13. Maika Monroe is fantastic as the mouse and Dane DeHaan is masterful as the cat in this very tight and brisk chase. I’ve always liked both of them as actors and I wish that they’d get more projects that would showcase their talents and not have one smudge spot on their careers (Monroe’s is Independence Day 2). But the true star of this, again, is writer/director Veena Sud. I wish she’d get some big theatrical dark noir type project. She’s an incredible storyteller and filmmaker. The Stranger might be the only thing I watch with my six month free subscription to Quibi…and if it is…that’s not too shabby.