Category: Uncategorized

Joe Bell

Movies that are just the name of someone need to carry some sort of weight. Are they someone famous, like the movie Gandhi? Are they interesting sounding names, like Erin Brockovich? Or are they basic as fuck, like Joe Bell?

Joe Bell, as a film name, holds absolutely no weight. If it is a real person, you likely don’t know his name enough to remember him. If it is a made up person, then why does his name warrant the title of the film and not something more creative?

Well, it turns out the movie has this terrible title because Joe Bell is a real dude. He was a dad who decided he would walk across America, ending at NYC, to speak up and out against bullying. Because his own son committed suicide in high school due to bullying and other factors.

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The other factors being things like Joe Goddamn Randy Macho Man Savage Bell.

Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) is a bearded man who likes the sports and the ladies and working hard. He is married (Connie Britton) and has two kids (Reid Miller, Maxwell Jenkins) so he is doing alright. But then his oldest, Jadin, had to come out as gay. Joe said he accepted him and loved him, but you can tell he was still probably annoyed by this news.

After all, they are in a small town, people have their thoughts and opinions, and now Joe Bell might be judged on his own masculinity due to his son. His son being a cheerleader? Oh heck naww.

So Joe ain’t the best, but he is doing that walk thing yeah? Yeah, I guess. But he isn’t the best, and it doesn’t start out too great. He really has to fucking grow up if he is going to make this thing worth his time. Can’t just walk off your guilts.

Also starring Gary Sinise and Morgan Lily.

dadcop
You can’t walk off past due speeding tickets either.

I will be honest here, I may have spoiled part of the story. The way it is described to me when I heard about this movie, is that it is that guy who walked across the US due to his son’s suicide. But films need things like that to be a secret I guess. It takes a whole third of the way through the film before they let out the knowledge that his son wasn’t alive anymore, to get a timed and prepared emotional reaction because it was haven’t trouble getting them at other points in the movie.

I am starting off really harsh there, but things like this bug me. The story is due to his son’s suicide, not just because of bullying. And as the movie let’s us know, his home life wasn’t necessarily great at all, and the movie about Joe Bell goes to great lengths to show that Joe Bell the person kind of really sucked.

It turns out there are more secrets and surprises to this story too. I wasn’t prepared for the ending, and it made me tear up as well. The film itself is broken down into flashbacks of home life, including the eventual suicide of the son. I did find the parts about the walk a bit more interesting, as it was dealing with grief, and Joe Bell was so bad at doing these talks and still figuring out how to do the right thing.

Wahlberg’s acting was fine. Britton was once reduced to a role of “wife of main character” and didn’t have a lot to work with there. Miller, as the boy in question was okay, but he was also limited on his screen time.

Honestly, this is one of those situations where you have to wonder where the priorities are at. They want to tell Joe Bell’s story, the dad’s? Not the son’s story? I mean, it gets told here as well, by telling the dad’s, but it still is just another example of making things through a straight white male hetero lens that is pretty damn frustrating for people who want more for their stories.

Joe Bell will leave you sad, aggravated, and not really loving the person Joe Bell.

2 out of 4.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

If you were a fan of Anthony Bourdain before his death, you likely knew him from his show Parts Unknown. Somewhat of a cooking and food show. Somewhat of a travel show. A show that Anthony was able to make, thanks to some successful book writing, where he was able to explore and discover the world on his own terms (sort of), and experience life to what he thought would be the fullest.

But was his life just traveling through countries, some peaceful, some war torn? What about his home life. Did he have a stable home life, with a spouse, lover, or kids? Did he have a place where he could unwind and be himself and not be his public persona?

That is what the documentary on his life is set to tell us, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, because of his travel heavy life the last decade or more. And maybe it will seek to find naswers to other questions that are on everyone’s mind. Why did he decide to take his own life?

tony
I don’t know where the fuck this was taken, but at least it is pretty. 

Don’t worry, the documentary doesn’t dare make the assumption on why he took his life, but it does talk about his suicide early on and throughout it, so if that is a topic you don’t want to hear, you might not be interested in this documentary. After all, it is filled with family and friends, who talk about their lives together, the good, the bad, their shock at the events, whether it made sense to them or not, if they felt they could have changed it at all. Some heavy topics, interwoven with the life of Bourdain.

I can go and say I knew of Bourdain as a celebrity chef/travel guy, but I had never once seen his show or read his works. The closest I had to watching something of his was his scene in The Big Short where he explains CDO’s. And yet I knew his death would affect a lot of my own friends, who were fans of his work and on their own journey’s through life with their own struggles, and I did have worries it would bring them down.

I think this documentary does a great job of giving a realistic view of his life. It is certainly not glamourous nor is it slanderous. The only drama that comes from it is that apparently some of the dialogue was done by an AI company where he was reading things he wrote, but they didn’t have him say on camera. Honestly, it is not something any of us would have noticed, and doesn’t do much to actually change the documentary in any way, so I don’t care about the controversy. The people close to him can be upset if they weren’t told, but it also actively does no harm in this scenario.

Realistically, this documentary is made for people who knew of Bourdain through the TV or in real life. It is a way that can provide closure. For those who had almost no interaction with him in their sphere, it is fine as a standalone piece, but likely won’t get a full resonation that it is going for.

3 out of 4.

The Tomorrow War

When do you all wanna go? Tomorrow? Sure. Tomorrow will never be here, so that works, I am a fan of procrastinating war.

Unfortunately, The Tomorrow War has nothing to do with procrastination, although it uses something procrastinators wish they have.

See, this is a war that takes place somewhere in the future, not the present. You know, like the concept of tomorrow! So this is a war with time travel, but it shouldn’t be anything like whatever the fuck was going on in Tenet.

Back to procrastinators. Don’t you wish you had a time machine to go back and slap yourself into doing something before a project got overwhelming? Hells yeah.

soldiers
I said slap, not shoot, what the fuck dudes. 

It was a day like any other day. People were doing sports watching on the TV, and then…and then…a large portal appeared from nowhere. A human lady came out and so did a lot of soldiers. They had a message. They were in a war in the future, against aliens. And they were definitely losing that war. A war that was going to kill every remaining soldier. So they needed help, recruits from the past, so that they could have more people for fighting. Oh shit.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is just a science teacher during all this, but sure, he was in the military before. But retired now. The war first asked for the actual armies around the war, and then volunteers, and then sure enough, drafts happened. Not everyone was eligible to go to the future. They had to be scanned and matched with the history of the future, to make sure bringing that person to the future (and them potentially dying) wouldn’t alter the future in a way that ruins everything.

Dan has a wife (Betty Gilpin) and little girl (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) but sure enough, draft bells still came to his doorstep, and he was enlisted. Each term is only meant to be a week long, after about a week of training. If they survive, they get automatically sent back to their time line, richer, and won’t be picked again. But in Dan’s group, everything gets messy. They are sent to the future without full training, so it is up to him and one other to keep his team of mostly untrained people slightly together to help out the best they can, and they are thrown right into the fray.

Can they save the future?…By fixing the past? And stuff?

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Sam Richardson, Jasmine Matthews, Edwin Hodge, Keith Powers, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Mike Mitchel.

ages
It is like we are glancing at the strangest Parks and Rec and Chuck crossover ever.

A sci-fi action movie has a lot of easy potential to just turn into a generic action flick with stranger weapons or people being killed. A lot of films have done it. The movie has to say something, or offer some nice twist. Give me something good to eat, a famous children’s rhyme once said.

To break down this film, I would say I did enjoy the beginning, the first arrival, the draft, the logic, the training. And even when they were first sent to the future. But real quick after that first sort of mission, it went real hard into generic pewpews for me. There were some plot scenes that mattered, but for a film that is 140 minutes, a not so insignificant chunk of it it doesn’t do a lot for me. However, the ending? I did enjoy the ending/final act/set piece of the movie. It took it away from the plot of the rest of the film, settings changed, and it gave me a fresh look on the action and the events and by then, it featured mostly just characters I could care about.

The ending saved the whole thing for me, that was trending pretty average in the middle, almost towards bad. But at this point, I think The Tomorrow War is actually a movie I could imagine watching (shock) a second time!

Pratt has perfected his twist of an action star on us, although I still prefer him to be a bit more goofy. I haven’t seen Strahovski in awhile, and I am bit disappointed that Gilpin was just given a generic house wife role. More importantly, with the time travel element, it never became confusing. The rules were pretty straight forward, and I don’t believe they broke any of them in getting to the end of the story.

We haven’t had a big rush of new sci-fi action films lately, or at least ones that were big enough for people to notice (I saw a few indie sci-fi action duds). Is this thing on par with films like The Thing or Starship Troopers? Nah. But it has a straightforward enough message and is entertaining in its own rights, so it is by far a passable entry into this genre.

3 out of 4.

Zola

Do you want to hear the story about how Zola fell out with this white bitch?

Well, good news, you have multiple options now. The first, is the twitter thread from October, 2015. A whole lot of tweets tells the entire story. 148 of them in fact. All in a row, it went viral, I believe they were deleted, but this is the internet and nothing can leave the internet. Here, go for it. This is a compilation on Imgur, you can read the entire screenplay here.

Just kidding, but also not really. As told here is basically the story we get in the movie, the second way to hear the story about Zola and that bitch fell out. A story of sex work, coercion, and a wild ride to Florida between strangers who became besties and anti-besties in a short amount of time.

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Is this the beginning of a new franchise stripper battles?

Depending on who you heard the story from first might cloud your judgement, but lets take it from Zola (Taylour Paige) since she started this whole story off. Zola was a dancer and a waitress at Hooters. She also had a boyfriend (Ari’el Stachel) and was generally okay with life. She knew she looked good, so she made money using her body while she good, just stripping, none of that sex stuff.

Well, while at her waitressing job, she meets Stefani (Riley Keough) and her friend (Colman Domingo). Zola hits it off with Stefani, they do a lot of talking given how they want the waitresses to act at Hooters, and they find out they are both dancers and more and exchange numbers. And then like the next day, Stefani asks if Zola is down to a road trip to Florida to do some dancing. Zola has made good money in Florida dancing in the past, and well, fuck it. Sure let’s go.

Unfortunately, Florida doesn’t feel like a land of sunshine and rainbows on their visit. Zola finds herself in situations where she is expected to sleep with people instead, and with her life and home being threatened by this friend (well, pimp). This is not what she signed up for, and she really doesn’t know who to trust, but Zola is gonna make sure she gets out of this as untouched as possible.

Also starring Nicholas Braun, Nasir Rashim, and Jason Mitchell.

ride
If there was ever a “bitch you crazy” screenshot, here it is.

Have you read the original tweet thread? Why not, it is worth it, it is interesting, and it is full of emotion. I certainly would recommend it and it is pretty obvious why it took off like it did. And did you know, that the other girl in the story, also posted her own account of this same trip? Here it is on Reddit. They are very, very, very, very different stories. Freakishly differently. Almost nothing is similar, so who is lying?!

I guess we will believe Zola, this is her story, and I think some comment sleuthing on that reddit thread is able to find some arrest records in relation to that story, so it makes Zola the more believable person here. Which is good, because her story is more fantastic.

Like I said earlier, the movie itself is very similar to the tweet thread. We have a few less characters in the film, some names are changed, and not all of the events are used, but most of them to tell the same story. And technically, yes, I would say the tweet thread is better. I know, I have fallen into one of those traps that I try to avoid as a reviewer, not comparing something to the “book” it is based on. The story of Zola is fine as a movie, but based on the hype of the thread and the advertising, I did expect a lot more to happen in that weekend.

The leads do a wonderful job with their characters and the predicament they find themselves in, I will give that to Paige and Keough. The cinematography makes some interesting choices throughout it, which is a surprise given the type of story this tells. And, fun fact, you can see a whole lot of penises in this movie. I think at least five unique dicks, and some butts. This is good news for those who are clamoring more for more dicks in movies.

Zola as a film will serve as a good story to get people invested in what is now a six year old twitter thread with very little updates to worry about. It is a little bit of escapism and a strange funny yet dark tale. It is certainly not a film meant for everyone, however, so clearly watch at your own risk.

2 out of 4.

Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It

Growing up, at some point, my parents watched West Side Story, and although I never watched the whole movie (still true to this day)  from start to finish, I have seen all parts of it at various points of time, also while growing up. Some parts I liked more than others as a kid. Namely, Officer Krupke, Tonight, and of course, America.

Such high energy, early on, led by Rita Moreno, a name I didn’t know in my youth, but would grow to know later on in life.

Still to this day, this is the only song from the soundtrack that will randomly get in my head is America (and never re-watching it in the last 20 years will do that. I should see it again before the remake later this year). But other than that song, I didn’t know much about her life, what else she has done, or looked into her career ever. I knew she won an Oscar for that role, and that is it.

Needless to say, this was actually a great subject for a documentary for me, because I had a lot of information to learn about Moreno, and a decent amount of interest in finding this information out. Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It, tell me how you went for it.

rita moreno
Oh what’s that? That is the name of the movie!

Moreno has been in a whole lot of films, and got her start really early. She was in musicals and films for a whole decade before West Side Story, including big ones like Singin’ In The Rain and The King and I. And of course she did a lot after that, despite not being super popular after her win. Usually actors/actresses go up in stock after an Oscar, but she seemed to hit a drought.

Throughout the decades she has had roles or not had them. She earned the EGOT, and did continue to kick ass, as a singer, dancer, and an actor. She even had a big recurring role on Oz that I definitely didn’t know when I saw the show (well, I knew the character was there, but WHO it was) and the voice of Carmen Sandiego in the 90’s. Honestly, this feels like finding a treasure that was always in front of my eyes, and realizing how deep those roots actually go.

And shockingly enough, by the end of the documentary, I felt such joy and full of hope, that I did cry as well. Crying during a documentary is incredibly rare, and if it happens, it is likely due to already being deeply in touch with the subject, and not just really learning about it deeply for the first time. A strange experience, but a welcome one.

Out of celebrities from the past, Moreno is definitely one of those who deserves it the most. Also features some words from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eva Longoria, Whoopi Goldberg, and Morgan Freeman.

4 out of 4.

The Sparks Brothers

WHO ARE THE SPARKS BROTHERS?

A question I had to ask myself, and likely you did too. But it turns out, there are no The Sparks Brothers. There is a band though. It is called Sparks. And yes, the two main members of the band are indeed brothers. But they don’t go by the term The Sparks Brothers, that is some media shit.

Ron Mael and Russell Mael, the real life American brothers, saw The Beatles live in the 1960’s, and the rest was history. A history no one knows about.

Before we get into this story, I want to point out that this documentary is directed by Edgar Wright. Yes, that Edgar Wright. A dude who definitely loves music, we know that from films like Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and the fact that he has directed music videos before. But this is his first documentary, and it is over two hours long. I can only imagine the reasoning behind this film, not knowing who’s idea it was, had to partially be because Wright loved Sparks and wanted to give them a documentary they deserved based on his own nostalgia or music tastes.

mysterious
Who are these mysterious masked figures?!

The band actually started as Halfnelson and had an album produced by Todd Rundgren, but it did bad. So they changed labels and names, Sparks. It was supposed to be a play on words like the Marx Brothers and the Sparks Brothers, because they liked film and comedy, but the brothers didn’t want brothers in their name, damn it. Whether the media listened to them or not is nothing they can control.

This tells the story of them leaving America to go to Great Britain, to seem like a British Rock Band to be cooler, and it kind of working. To helping lead a synthetic revolution of music, they were one of the trend setters with a very unique sound. They got some amount of famous in the late 70’s and 80’s, changing their genre style a few times. They went into more obscurity for awhile, before coming back in the 90’s with some hits and picking up steam. Then they also did a collaboration album with Franz Ferdinand in the 2000’s, yes, that Franz Ferdinand. No, the band, not the dead guy. The album is called FFS which is a great title. And then bringing us to today, where they are still working on music, and also were working on a musical film that has been their dream from some time, Annette.

Wait, hold the biscuits. Annette? The musical coming out THIS YEAR with Adam Driver was made with music by Sparks? Oh fuck yeah. Is this documentary just another form of advertisement for Annette? Because I was already excited to see Adam Driver in a musical, no question about that.

These dudes have done it all. But this documentary, goes into the details of the ups and downs, their humor plays out as they narrate large chunks. We get to hear from former band members, managers, collaborators. We get to hear from a lot of musical and acting celebrities who liked the band growing up and have a bit to say in it too. There is a huge production behind a band you likely never heard about before, but who helped influence a ton of musicians. How can someone so popular be somehow be forgotten from pop culture consciousness? That is the question…

I never heard about Sparks before, but I like them now, at least as people, if not some of their songs. They definitely have to grow on you. This is a musician documentary I can get behind,

3 out of 4.

Occupation: Rainfall

See my interview with the director/writer of the movie here!

A couple of years ago, a film called Occupation released out of Australia. It starred Australian actors, was directed and produced by Australians, and hell, surprisingly, was shot and set in Australia. It was so Australian, a rugby match played a pivotal part of the film. Mmmm, non American sports.

Well, it was hit with relatively big success for an independent film about an alien invasion and a small community coming together to fight the scary aliens away.

And now we have the sequel, set a few years later, starring the same people, and also coming out a few years later. Hey, it is wonderful when that works out like that. Occupation: Rainfall is updating us on the war, years later, with more explosions and pew pews.

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Posing before shooting is the coolest thing you could ever do. 
For real though, aliens invaded, but they aren’t like, that much better than humans. Yes, their guns and ships are better, but they weren’t able to take over the entire world. Last time was saw one community stand up really well on their own against them (and probably had a small force to try and take them out, they weren’t Sydney). But it turns out, a lot of places in the world were able to shoot them and take them down.

So where do we find our heroes now? Well, still in Australia, still working together, but with more tech. And hey, they got some alien deflectors now. They got aliens who are giving them intel and helping them strike back and go for bigger and badder tactics. And they all have responsibilities over larger amounts of people. It is nice they didn’t get fully swept up in the bureaucracy of defending their planet.

Before their issues were about just finding loves ones, but now we have to worry about the survival of the species. And hey, we got some other countries people helping us this time! Will this be the end of the alien scum, will our heroes finally lose, or will neither happen and will we get a third film?

Starring Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison, Daniel Gillies, Lawrence Makoare, Mark Coles Smith, and Jet Tranter. Also featuring some newer bigger names like Ken Jeong and Jason Isaacs.

space
Yep, looks like they got all the lasers and pew pews right here.

The first Occupation film, from my point of view, was surprisingly well done. This was based on my already low expecatations however of an indie film trying to recreate a bigger budget film with clearly not the names or budget behind a normal big budget movie. It was solid, but it did stall out and feel a bit generic in action department by the end. So with the sequel, they are given some bigger names, the same cast and crew, and a lot more money to do the bigger bangs, more aliens, more ships.

And does the sequel deliver on that front? Yes for sure, they amp up everything in this franchise being made from the ground up.

However, with that being said, and with real tactical things being done in the movie, and betrayals and twists and action, it will be great for those who want that in a movie. But I always want something more in my action film and this one doesn’t seem to deliver it to me on that level. It is, unfortunately, chock full of the sort of action that would put me to sleep. The tension created didn’t transfer over to me or put me on the edge of my seat in any way. I did care a little bit about the story elements, and whether some would live or die, but that wasn’t enough for me to fully care about the final results.

I won’t take away the technical achievements this movie has made though. With a bigger budget, it still wasn’t astronomical, and they did a lot with what they had, just like the first film. And the crisp new cameras really help you get immersive in the final polished piece. But from start to finish, I couldn’t tell you after the fact what action scenes happened in this or the first film, and I would describe them all relatively similar because unfortunately none would stick with me.

2 out of 4.

Cruella

I often talk about bias and my attempts to avoid it completely, by avoiding the source material, or you know, letting you know if I have a bias. Like my hatred towards Luc Besson.

With Cruella, ever since it was announced it met me with confusion. But why? Why would anyone want to make a story about the origins of Cruella? The dog killer? I understand they did this same bullshit with Maleficent, someone in the original cartoon who was said to be the biggest evil thing ever, but in Sleeping Beauty, she didn’t do that many bad things. She never attempted to kill puppies. (And, author’s opinion of course, Maleficent was a bad movie, and the sequel was worse, so not worth going down that path too many times).

But in 101 Dalmatians, we can see why she is the bad guy. She wanted to kill dalmatians to make fashion. How the fuck are you gonna redeem that? The only way that could be redeemed would be if you decide to just ignore it…or just say it was a misunderstand and a lie. Neither feel like really strong arguments to run with because there wasn’t really any grey area in 101 Dalmatians for us to see a misunderstanding.

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Based on this hair in the photo, we could have had 101 Cliffords.

Just as a heads up, this shouldn’t be considered a spoiler, as it happens very early on, but this next paragraph has someone people might want to see happen and not know why.

Because this is an origin story, we are going to start with  Cruella’s birth, except her name is Estella and she has that black/white hair out of the womb for some reason. Growing up, she was interested in fashion, and getting revenge on bullies. She got into trouble, all of that. Her mom (Emily Beecham) tried to help her out and encourage her dreams, but they were poor. Then one day, at a fancy party which they weren’t invited too, Estella snuck in to find her mom and the host. Some dalmations were chasing her, and sure enough, they actually ended up pushing her mom off a cliff and she died. Oh boy. See. There you have it. There is an angle. Instead of becoming Dalmatian Lady, she set off to kill them all right? Wrong.

Now Estella is an orphan, but she meets two other orphan pick pockets and they end up living together to run the streets. Now years later, Estella (Emma Stone), Jasper (Joel Fry), and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), do a lot of criming. They steal, they plan crime, they dress up in outfits, and they get by. What fun, what fun. But Estella wants something more. Jasper sees that, and lies on a resume for her to get her an in job at a fashion store!

And well, a lot more happens. But Estella is going to have a rise to power eventually, change her name, and have reasons to take down the head fashionista (Emma Thompson) in London, with a few balls, robberies, and shenanigans along the way.

Also starring Mark Strong, Kayvan Novak, and John McCrea.

dress
“There’s no way that could be the same woman with the red hair. There is different hair!”

I really wanted to get it out of my head, but the nagging feeling remained throughout. This lady wants to kill dogs eventually. They didn’t try to paint Cruella as the nicest woman around. She obviously still is a criminal, who steals, vandalizes, and is some punkrock incarnation of fashion in London in the 1970’s. Will they get to the dalmatian part at all? Because Maleficent did deal with Aurora growing up and the curse. The answer is no. This film ends before 101 Dalmatians begins, but it introduces us to those characters, which will at least mean in the future, when they inevitably make a sequel, maybe that one will be the film that will explain why Cruella isn’t all that bad and is misunderstood.

But for this film, it doesn’t get there. There is a reference to killing dogs for their fur, but it doesn’t happen in this movie, and again, it all takes place before the one we know about her. This is a bit of a cop out. I would assume most people are going into this movie to see how they can see how trying to kill puppies is redeemable, but we never get that far into the story, and we just get some strange fashion based Oliver Twist story of revenge.

This tale has twists, music, shenanigans, and more, but I continually wanted it to get to the point, and frankly, I feel like it never reached it. Now, it is not like the movie makers said they would explain why Cruella wants to kill puppies for fashion, just her background, so we got a background, and now I have nothing to do with this information. Again, there will likely be a sequel, and the sequel will be the story I am most curious about given the reference information we were all given over the last 50 years of living in a world with 101 Dalmatians.

The film itself is pretty standard. The look and feel is exactly what I would expect based on recent Disney productions. I put this film down as a drama, but I guess it is labeled as a comedy. Honestly, it is all over the place in terms of tone and plot. It was hard figuring out exactly what I was meant to write about in that section. Cruella I am sure will have an audience somewhere, and although not inherently bad, it is still very messy.

And you know. How they gonna try and redeem a would-be puppy killer?

2 out of 4.

Army of the Dead

Zachary Theodore Snyder, you have been in the news a lot lately you have.

What, with your cuts of movies, and your…well, family problems that are very sad and that sucks. But you have been mostly in the news because of other properties that aren’t your actual doing. Sure, Justice League did suck, but don’t worry, the Zack Snyder’s Justice League still wasn’t that great either, and much longer in mediocrity.

What happened to the Zack Snyder I used to know ,the one who did his own work? (Technically, I never knew that Snyder. I learned about him with 300, so I have only known him as someone who adapted graphic novels/comics to film, and I liked them. Heck, I liked Sucker Punch, which was basically his only original film at that time, not based on another property.

So I am here for a chance for Army of the Dead. His own Zombie flick, not a sequel like his Dawn of the Dead, which I most definitely did not ever watch.

gun
Should I go back and watch all the classic zombie films? Nah, let’s just shoot them from my memory.

Shit! Zombies!

They actually use the word in this movie, and that is nice, because a lot of films with zombies don’t. Anyways. Some Area 51 army dudes are transporting secret cargo between facilities, and have a stupid little accident that flips their vehicle and opens it up. And what is inside? A zombie! A smart, strong, fast zombie (Richard Cetrone), who kills the guards, makes a few zombies, and sets his sight for the place with the lights in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas baby!

This film takes place a few weeks after these events, with the city not only completely overrun with Zombies, but thankfully also walled off from the outside. There are communities outside the city, a lot of lost lives, and America might go and just Nuke it to deal with this threat before it gets out.

But one casino owner (Hiroyuki Sanada) wants his money out of there. So he hires a team to get his money, offering them a lot. They just have to go get in, hack a safe, get the money, and repair a helicopter in the city to fly out of there. And he picks Scott (Dave Bautista), a man who survived Vegas already and has shown capabilities. So he gets a team, including his daughter (Ella Purnell) accidentally.

Also starring Tig Notaro, Matthias Schweighöfer, Raúl Castillo, Samantha Win, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt, Nora Arnezeder, Theo Rossi, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, and Michael Cassidy.

zombie queen
Oh you are so lovely, my zombie queen, and so…slightly blurry. 

Army of the Dead has a lot of zombies in it. Not the most zombies I have ever seen in a film. Shit, did you see World War Z? There were a bunch of zombies in that one shot. But we got types of zombies! Regular zombies, dehydrated zombies, smart/armored zombies, maybe robot zombies, shit we got a Tiger Zombie. Zombies for days, and all breeds. I am not some Zombie purist who thinks the only good type of zombie is one that shambles and is brain dead. It doesn’t really matter to me, because zombies are made up so who cares what anyone does with them?

This is a strange opinion for me to take, given the whole film critic thing, but despite having some plot issues and strange edits, the interesting take of zombies in an interesting scenario won me over in the end, as an entertaining flick.

The film has a lot of strange additions to the plot, and hints about what is to come, and not all of them take hold. For example, the piles of zombies who just need rain to be rejuvenated. Does this film feature rain at all? Hell no. And frankly, the ending is extremely insulting, with the sequel set up, purely based on the time the character has during it, compared to what we already know about zombies earlier in the film. It doesn’t make sense in the context of this film, but it could probably make sense with even more backstory or science behind it, which likely future ones would work on doing.

That doesn’t mean things are okay! But also, some of these things are red herrings and mysterious at the same time. The ending is incredibly clunky, and a lot of that is probably attributed to the fact that Tig Notaro replaced Chris D’Elia entirely after the film had been shot, due to his sexual assault/harassment history. I can’t remember exactly what, but it wasn’t that good. Given the problems with that, a lot of this is better than anticipated.

This world created had a lot of potential, and the moments that I enjoyed far outweighed the slower moments, the ending, and any plot awkwardness.

Bring on more smart zombies, I say.

3 out of 4.

Percy vs. Goliath

Percy vs. Goliath came out some time ago, and it is only called this title in America. In Canada, where the film takes place, and other parts of the world, it is just called Percy.

I don’t pretend to know anything about market research, but I guess that vs. Goliath tagline is to appeal to those fundamental Christians to get them to watch this movie. They might think Percy, in America, is like Percy Jackson, and those people are heretics!

Yep, that is the only reason I can come up with for why there needs to be a different movie title. 

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Walken Hard: The Christopher Walken Cowboy Story. 

Percy Schmeiser (Christopher Walken) surely does sound like a made up name, but this one is a true story. Set in Canada! So you know it is true in spirit and true in heart.

Ahem. Percy is a farmer. He is really old. He has been farming for a long time, with his wife (Roberta Maxwell), and he thinks he does a good job. He has used his own seeds the whole time, never going into that corporate stuff that claim to have better growing seeds for a price. And he does what every farmer does. He saves his strongest and best crops to harvest those seeds so that he can plant them the next year, so his crops can be as strong as possible.

However, things aren’t as they seem. A company who makes GMO seeds claims he has been using their seeds illegally for years for profit, without paying them ever, so they are bringing the lawsuits. And they have proof. Proof on the DNA level, where their patents on their modified strains show up in his crops.

Percy has never bought from them, and the likely story is that they were planted in his farm thanks to the wind from neighbor farms in the past. But is that enough for them to claim royalties, when he is using a product through no fault of his own? Looks like he is going to have to take this battle to court, even though the corporations have money and technically the law on their side. And now Percy is like a folk hero for all of these individual farmers, trying to stand up to the corporate man. That’s a lot of pressure.

Also starring Adam Beach, Christina Ricci, Luke Kirby, Martin Donovan, and Zach Braff.

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Braff, if you lose this case, you will feel really, really, really, sorry

Walken hasn’t had a good acting job since he was in the music video for Weapon of Choice, by Fatboy Slim. That is a fact. He is in movies I like over the last two decades, but he is often one of the worst parts. Like Hairspray, I like it, but by far Walken drags it down. He drags them all down, and some of these films he seems to be playing just a strange parody of himself with his word choice. I blame the cowbells skit. 

And for this movie? Well, it is more of the same. I can’t possibly say it is well acted, because Walken seems lost the whole film. He is playing a man over his head, sure, but it doesn’t help if he is seemingly acting like his normal self the whole time as well. That isn’t acting. That is just reading lines. 

This film is weak on a lot of fronts. The acting is a big one. The plot is another. The courtroom drama is pretty tame, and only a small portion of it. I came for kick ass legal case courtroom proceedings, like I would for most films that deal with trials, and it just treated it like it was no big deal, despite being a very big deal. Maybe it had the chill Canadian energy going on throughout it. None of the fun theatrics. 

Percy wins, by the way, as you would expect based on the title and it is history. He wins, at a cost, but he wins. And corporations learned their lesson and never messed with the poor little farmers again. Right? Well…

1 out of 4.