Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SPIES IN DISGUISE (no spoilers, and I go off topic quite a bit)

I thought I’d counteract my bitchiness and grouchiness of Joker receiving an undeserving 11 Academy Award nominations today by quickly reviewing a movie that I saw with my family this weekend, one that actually surprised me with how much fun it was, SPIES IN DISGUISE. And by quickly reviewing this, I mean that it has already been out for about three weeks, so you either have a. Already Seen It or b. Want To See It But Waiting For Rental. If you were waiting for my review, why? A lot of you that have seen the Joker disagree with my merits of it being completely overrated. But then again, I ask if you’ve seen Taxi Driver, and you ask me what exactly that is. Ok, casual moviegoer. Ok, DC Comics biased. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, ok, well Spies In Disguise is a family film delight filled with great voice acting by Will Smith (yes, he was himself, but you can tell he was having so much fun with it) & Tom Holland, many fun action gadget sequences, and feel good message about non-violence. Yes, it really does have that in there and it doesn’t try to slam you over the head with it either! It has a solid pace, and is an overall solid adventure that even young kids will follow. It will certainly make your day-day (you won’t get my reference here until you’ve seen the movie, and until your kid repeats the phrase day-day over and over several hours after the movie is over).

I also said that I was going to review Just Mercy, please have some mercy on me as I am not going to review it anymore. I had a ticket to it, twice in fact, but then I kept returning it because I kept saying to myself, “am I really interested in seeing this film that a. I know the outcome to and b. just another court room drama with a message?” And the answer was no, switched to a maybe if it got any Academy Award noms, but since it didn’t today, the answer switched back to no, deal with it. What is there to say about Spies In Disguise other than my recommendation in that it is a lot of fun and that it is a movie the whole family can enjoy…hmmmm…well I laughed a ton and while walking out of the theater I realized the marketing for one didn’t do it any favors. When I saw trailers and TV spots for this, I just knew it was about Will Smith as a spy that turns into a pigeon for most of the film, because of a dorky young geek tech adult voiced by Tom Holland. What those trailers didn’t reflect was the grand adventure it takes Will Smith’s pigeon and Tom Holland’s geeky side kick. In the marketing there is no indicator that the story is about a spy being framed and on the run, his run in with other hilarious pigeons while a pigeon himself, and the laugh out loud, fun action sequences they all get into together. And the fact that Tom Holland is a gadget techie that is very “non-violent” due to the fact this his mom was a cop and died tragically when he was younger. The studio just marketed the fact that Will Smith and Tom Holland are the voices, and didn’t have any confidence in the fun and zany plot. Very odd.

It’s just a fun, yet probably forgettable down the line, solid hour and 40 minute family kids film. Looking at the Academy Award nominations and last weekends Golden Globes win, I happened to also check out another animated film that won over Toy Story 4 last weekend, and got a nomination today, called Missing Link, LAIKA studios new movie. And while the animation in it was amazing (LAIKA stop motion animation will never be anything short of dazzling), I thought the film to be really sub par, meh, and boring. Probably because this is coming off their best film (one that will be pretty hard to ever beat), Kubo And The Two Strings. I just didn’t care about any of the characters in the movie, including Susan the Sasquatch, and the two bits in it that sparked my brief attention was a fantastically staged boat hallway chase scene, and a bridge collapsing climax, weren’t enough to change my mind about it. The rest of the film is just weird boring backstories that don’t really go anywhere, and it felt like Hugh Jackman and Zack Gilifinakis were just reading the dialogue without really any finesse. Zoe Saldana seemed to be the only one that cared that she had that job and wanted to be there, trying hard to make her character more than one dimensional (even though the script did nobody any arc favors whatsoever). I don’t get all the Academy and Golden Globes love on that one at all. I am now cheering for Toy Story 4, but secretly hope that Netflix’s Klaus steals it from them all. If you haven’t seen Klaus…DO IT NOW. Another perfect holiday family animated film. Honestly, Spies In Disguise probably should’ve taken that nomination spot. Loads better than that boring drivel.

I mean, there is nothing more to say about Spies In Disguise other than that you will be pleasantly surprised. That’s it, and being pleasantly surprised always means a good recommendation from me. I think I’ve just had it with Joker overrated-ness and it is effecting my day. Which it shouldn’t be. Hopefully it wears off before I go see Bad Boys For Life this Friday and I can write a focused review on that, instead of going off topic a thousand times like I did for this one (did I seriously just review three other films in my previous paragraphs?) But I really liked this film, my wife really liked it and was surprised that she did as well, and it grabbed most of my son’s undivided attention (especially once Smith becomes a pigeon). It made my Saturday with my family absolutely delightful, especially in light of the shitty weather we got the night before and how cold it was that morning. Usually there is a wide opening family film each holiday season, that is normally released on Christmas day, and usually that film is usually a piece of shit in disguise. Who knew this would turn out to be a half-way decent surprise in disguise?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GEMINI MAN (seen in XD, 3D, High Frame Rate, 2K)(no spoilers)

GEMINI MAN is one of the best action films of 1997. 22 years later though…it doesn’t hold up. At all. Now that statement might confuse you. Because there are a lot of great action films in the late 90s that still hold up today. Face/Off, Broken Arrow, Con Air to name a few, but what I was really trying to say is that this film feels like it should’ve come out twenty something years ago. Not surprising when you learn that this script has been in development hell for precisely that long. Even then it probably would’ve only just been half way decent but ultimately forgettable. And while the fight scenes between Will Smith and his younger self might’ve been praised as something revolutionary back then, I doubt that they could’ve been done as effectively. For the most part, they only did it half well in this (more on that later). And seeing as though they only got it half right in 2019…it leads one to think that the movie might’ve been a disaster back then too. Ultimately, in present day, Gemini Man is a huge disappointment save for a couple of small bright spots, as the movie itself has some of the worst acting, dialogue, jarring action sequences and visuals from a format that should’ve died with The Hobbit Trilogy, and a cliched dull plot that has been cloned one too many times to care anymore.

Now I did try and see Gemini Man as close as director Ang Lee intended. Going to Cinemark West Plano, I saw the film in XD, 3D, and high frame rate. The only thing stopping me from seeing it exactly how he wanted, is that the version I saw was in 2K, and not 4. That being said, I’m telling you right now, if you see this on a plain ‘ol movie screen, you are going to think this is the dullest thing since un-buttered stale popcorn. If you see it as close as possible to how the director intended, you might get some small bright spots of really great technical wizardry. The 3D in this movie is utterly fucking fantastic, easily the best since Avatar, since this was actually shot in 3D and not converted. The best scenes with 3D are easily whenever there is an action sequence (particularly the cycle chase), anytime the film is a water level or below water, and where there is a lot of space and large depth of field. Basically, the 3D is near perfect, and if it were a masterpiece of a movie, it might even get 3D to have another spike in popularity. Unfortunately we will have to wait for Avatar 2 for that possibility. The large screen is nice because that combined with some great sound makes the film at least watchable. The real problem is some sequences with the stupid High Frame Rate format that needs to fucking die a quick and painless death.

I’m not going to explain what the whole High Frame Rate thing is, you can find plenty of articles online discussing it in this and more detailed in anybody that saw any of The Hobbit trilogy with it. Needless to say, some, emphasis on SOME sequences it feels nice and fluid and it is supposed to make you feel like you are actually there with all the action and characters, a sense of realism if you will. The parts that are really fucking jarring are some of the action beats in the action sequences. For example, some parts of the cycle chase are really nice to look and and very fluid with high frame rate, combine it with the 3D and I felt I was there in some shots. But then when the younger Will Smith is trying to kill the older one by punching, kicking, or trying to crush him with a bike, the action is too fast, making them look like Wilde E. Coyote and the Road Runner going at it. Then they fist fight later, and the action is so jarring it’s like taking a real boxing match on television and just hitting the fast forward button and watching it that way. When the camera is static and the scenes take their time, the High Frame Rate works. But what works isn’t near enough to keep the format. The one positive thing to come out of this movie is that I hope filmmakers never ever try to bring it out of hibernation again, it is truly overrated.

Here’s the synopsis for the very lame ass plot, which is basically if Looper and The 6th Day fucked and had a baby. Old assassin decides to retire, some of his former colleagues don’t want that happening while also finding out this old assassin has stumbled onto a conspiracy they are a part of, these associates send some other assassins to kill him, one of which is a cloned younger version of himself. That’s it, that’s all you need to know. And maybe that the older assassin discovers this clone oddly quickly after the first attempt to kill him by said clone and doesn’t want him dead because he knows there is a good and decent person somewhere inside him. Blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda, you can guess the outcome from just the few sentences I’ve given you. Let’s quickly talk about the only two really good things about the movie: Will Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Now while Will Smith is now 0 for 2 with movies he’s been in 2019, his acting was at least the best parts of each. You can tell that Smith is enjoying the work, and really wants to be there, which is admirable. Mary Elizabeth Winstead REALLY wants to be there, as she is the best performance in the whole movie, and is a real bad ass in it. I would like a regular action film with just her character, not relating to the events in this film, but with how poorly this film is doing at the box office, we’ll never get it.

Now let’s welcome the rest of the suck. Clive Owen is a Jason Garrett robot in this film, and looked like he wanted to kill himself during filming. One of the worst villains of 2019, if not the worst. The dialogue is really, really, really, really fucking bad.You could even make a checklist of the shittiest cliched dialogue you have ever heard in an action movie and it would probably check every single box. And the entire story and narrative is just playyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyed. So played. That’s not surprising though when you look at the screenwriting credits. David Benioff co-wrote the film. Ring any bells? It should, he is one of the two men that are responsible for ruining the last season and the end of Game of Thrones to a lot of people. Whenever he can’t write scripts based off previous material, he just completely falters with coming up with anything half way coherent. Here, he was asked to spruce up a script that was put together in the 90s. If you give a mediocre writer a mediocre script to spruce up, you aren’t going to change anything. Honestly, the whole thing should’ve just been shredded and the file deleted off the computer and started from scratch. This thing should’ve never been made. Speaking of never been made, there is this really really really really stupid little last minute eye rolling twist that was almost vomit inducing.

It’s not one of the worst films of the year, but it is one of the most forgettable. And if you really, really, really don’t give a shit about my review and want to see it anyway, might I suggest shelling out the extra few bucks to try and see it as close as director Ang Lee intended. I know telling you to spend more money on a lame film is weird but if you just see this in a plain old theater, your just going to end up truly wasting your time. Make it at least mean something with some extra visual flair. Ever since Life of Pi, Ang Lee’s career has been in a sharp decline, with this and that other piece of shit that is actually worse than this, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Maybe he’ll be smarter with his next project and pick up the pieces, we shall see. He doesn’t have some talent with some of his older films, I will give him that. Real quick comment on the de-aging of Will Smith into a younger clone. In the dark, the visual effects look freaking fantastic. But when this clone is in the light, especially the very last time you see him, it is so jarring I was rubbing my eyes to make sure I wasn’t hallucinated. Especially the last time you see the clone, fucking God damn awful. Maybe they ran out of money. 2019 is not the year for a Will Smith comeback. He’s got one more film left, an animated film called Spies In Disguise, but even if it is a masterpiece (it looks only okay), it will in no way make up for this or the shitty live action remake of Aladdin. Maybe 2020 will be more his speed, where we get to see the third and hopefully final Bad Boys movie. But oh shit, it’s being released in dump month January…yet…it is more likely to be better than this film as cloning his chemistry with Martin Lawrence is probably much, much easier.