This week Zach and Ryan take a break from talking about what's going on in the news, to talk about something that's going on in their lives. Plus they talk about the new movies Suburbicon and 1922.
Thor: Ragnarok Reviewed
When the newest Thor movie was announced, I had a lukewarm reaction. While Marvel has made some of the best blockbuster movies to come out over the past decade, the Thor series has been bland at best. Sure I would watch the first movie any time it came on FX, but the only redeeming part of the two prior movies was Loki (the Dark Elves? Come on guys). But thanks to the success of Guardians of the Galaxy the Marvel studio figured out it was okay to get silly. Thank Odin they did, because Thor: Ragnarok was a fun movie.
As you may remember, the last time we saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was in Age of Ultron. He missed all the fighting in Civil War because he was looking for the Infinity Stones, but to no avail. Then Thor's sister, Hela, (Cate Blanchett) shows up and wants to rule Asgard. She essentially kicks both Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor’s asses and sends them to the planet Sakaar. While on Sakaar, Thor gets captured and forced to fight in a gladiator battle to the death against their toughest opponent.
Director Taika Waititi deserves a lot of the credit for taking the Norse Thunder God and not making his story so stiff. All the previous Thor movies were basically a story of good vs. evil and done to advance the overall plot of the Marvel movie series. While Ragnarok does do a bunch to set up for the upcoming Infinity Wars during the middle parts of the movie, the story is there to entertain.
A big part of that came from the decision to finally let Chris Hemsworth be Chris Hemsworth. He has leading man good looks and with those looks come a lot of parts where he plays an honest, noble protagonist, but that leads to the character being milquetoast. In Ragnarok they let the goofy parts of his personality come out. From the opening scene, we see the Hemsworth we saw in Ghostbusters and the Vacation reboots. His awkward stylings add to a lot to the jokes in the movie.
But he's not the only one. Hulk was one of the best parts of the Avenger movies and in this movie they let Hulk speak in full sentences, which makes him even more delightful. They also cast Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster so that he could do his thing – and he is peak Goldblum. Also great in the movie is director Taika Waititi, who plays Korg the rock monster. Not only is his character there to guide Thor through the gladiator games, but he is another piece of comic relief - and my favorite character in the movie.
This is the best Thor movie of the three, but is it the funniest Marvel movie? The edge probably still goes to Guardians of the Galaxy because it came out of nowhere. This time, from the trailers Marvel let us know we were getting something sillier, and they delivered.
This should go without saying, but in order to enjoy this movie, you have to like superhero movies. While the movie is funny and has good fighting scenes - if you don't like the Marvel series then no matter how weird Goldblum gets you will still be left counting the minutes. For fans of the Marvel Universe let’s count our blessings that they decided to stop taking Thor so seriously. Strip away all the jokes and this would be a convoluted mess, but thanks to the colors, comedy, and the CGI Thor: Ragnarok is a good time at the movies.
Episode 3: Billy Joel Is A New Dad
68-year-old Billy Joel just had his third child with his 35-year-old wife Alexis. Zach and Ryan talk about having a kid in your sixties and Zach expresses some concern over the situation. They also talk about "Only The Brave" and "The Babysitter" and the Dutch Destroyer.
I was debating whether to see Suburbicon or Jigsaw this weekend. When I looked at their Rotten Tomato score they were both under 50%, with Jigsaw getting the better rating. I also knew that more people would want to see Jigsaw. Not only is it Halloween weekend, but generally people seem to like watching scary movies with a large group of people in a dark room. That being said I went to Suburbicon, because what could I really say about the eighth installment of the Saw series?
Maybe I should have gone to see Jigsaw.
Suburbicon opens up in a quiet, idyllic town in 1959, but things become chaotic when the Mayers, a black family, are the first African-Americans to move into town. If I never saw the trailer or knew the premise of the movie, I’d assume it was going to be about this family, as it seems like a compelling story to tell. That is not what the movie is about. The movie is about Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon), his family, and his dealings in the seedy underbelly of society. Gardner Lodge never even speaks to his new neighbors. So why does the movie open on the Mayers? A fair question.
After doing some research, I discovered that this movie came from two different ideas. The Coen Brothers wrote a script about a family who gets involved with some hired goons, and those circumstances then spiraling out of control. George Clooney wanted to do a movie based on true events of a black family moving into an all-white neighborhood in Levittown, PA. So rather than make two different movies, he decided to roll them into one big story. If you are thinking to yourself these two ideas seem too different to combine into one movie, you would be correct.
Besides the differing plot lines, Suburbicon grapples with different tones for each family, which don’t blend together. In one scene the director wants the audience laugh a little at the cop thinking Matt Damon is Jewish. Moments later we are supposed to feel ashamed about an incident in a grocery store that no doubt happened thousands of times in our recent past. These stories are not created equal. More emphasis is put on Matt Damon and the Lodge family, while I would be surprised if Mr. Mayers had even one line of dialogue in the entire movie.
Matt Damon and Julianne Moore both do well in the movie, as you would expect Oscar winners to do. But the best actor in the movie is Oscar Isaac, playing an insurance agent. He seems to be the only one who knows he is in a black comedy written by the Coen brothers and acts accordingly. The other actors all try to walk a tightrope between straight-laced serious and mischievously funny that doesn't balance out.
It is possible Clooney is trying to send a message about race relations in America. That if the majority of the country stays fixated on the color of someone's skin, then they may not be able to see the actual evil things that are happening right next door. And that is a worthwhile message to send. Unfortunately, that message gets lost in the movie's confused tone, because, as I said before, these two stories don't belong in the same movie. You can't do a murder mystery, dark comedy and then ask us to have a serious look inward at race relations. Well, you could, if Suburbicon was made by a more surefooted director.
EPISODE 2: GIRLS CAN NOW JOIN THE BOY SCOUTS
In the second episode of 'There's A Movie For That' Zach Stone and Ryan Berger talk about the Boy Scouts finally deciding to admit girls into their organization and one group or people who are not happy about it. They also talk about the new movie Happy Death Day, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Patton Oswalt: Annihilation
Happy Death Day Reviwed
We are in a renaissance of horror movies and most of that credit belongs to Blumhouse Productions. The company allows their directors to do whatever they want, as long as the budget is under $5 million. For that trust in their directors’ visions we have seen movies like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, Split and Get Out. The latest addition to their string of horror movies is Happy Death Day, and not only was it another box office success but it was a good movie as well.
Happy Death Day is basically a horror movie version of Groundhog’s Day. Director Christopher Landon is well aware of that, even making a reference to the classic Bill Murray movie near the end. The story revolves around Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) a college student who is killed on her birthday only to wake up and relive the same day again and again until she finds her killer and saves herself.
While the movie belongs in the horror genre, the best part about Happy Death Day isn’t the scares, it’s the laughs. Don’t mistake that for me saying there aren’t any scary moments in the story. The person I was sitting next to used her popcorn to cover her eyes several times. The first third of the movie is made especially tense by the audience knowing our protagonist is going to die. But once Tree understands what is happening, writer Scott Lobdell shakes off the rules of the genre and reviles in its similarities to a comedy classic. Each death, and the moments surrounding it, becomes weirder and sillier.
Happy Death Day also does right by the mystery genre, as from the get-go the story is begging the audience to try and figure out who the killer is. What helps with the confusion is that Tree starts out the movie as such a horrible person that you genuinely believe there are at least a dozen people who would want to kill her. And for a movie with such a simple premise, Lobdell does a good job with misdirection and left me surprised multiple times.
Jessica Ross is quite good in the lead role. Over the course of the 96-minute movie, she changes from a bitchy, blonde sorority girl who we enjoy watching die in new and interesting ways, to someone we're rooting for. By the end I wanted her to live long enough to get a happily ever after with her own Andie MacDowell. Not only that, but Ross is pretty funny and wasn't afraid to let herself go for some of the moments that called for more physical comedy.
Happy Death Day has its scary moments, but that's not why the movie is good. The movie works due to its uncomplicated premise and light-hearted nature. The most disappointing part is that 'In Da Club' by 50 Cent isn’t her ringtone.
Episode 1: NFL Players Kneeling
In the very first episode of 'There's A Movie For That' Zach Stone and Ryan Berger talk about NFL player kneeling during the anthem along with the movies and movie characters who could help or better handle the situation. They also discuss the new movies 'Blade Runner 2049', 'Cult of Chucky', and the show 'Big Mouth'
Blade Runner 2049 Reviewed
It’s kind of hard to believe that Blade Runner is getting a sequel, but even more surprising that I was initially excited. When the first movie was released it was considered a bomb – and justifiably so –over the entire theatrical run it made $26 million, $2 million less than the budget. It wasn’t until the director’s cut came out that it became a cult classic. I saw the director’s cut while I was working overnights at a radio station and that movie is SLLLLLOOOOOWWWWWW. My job at the station was to stay awake and make sure the radio station didn’t collapse and Ridley Scott did not make it easy that night. The movie looks good, but there are a lot of low-lit shots of Harrison Ford looking at something that leaves you wondering, “Did I turn off the lights before I left the house?” So when I saw that the new movie clocked in at two hours and forty minutes I got scared.
Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years after the events of the original movie. The LAPD are still hunting escaped replicants in order to retire them from the population. At the start of the movie, Officer K (Ryan Gosling) finds himself after one replicant (Dave Bautista) and what he discovers at the scene leads him on his narrative path for the rest of the movie.
The best thing about Blade Runner 2049 is the look of the movie. Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins perfect the world Ridley Scott created 35 years ago. This was an important factor to get because the style of the original is what helped propel it to its revered status. In fact, this movie looks better thanks in part to modern day technology and because all the scenes aren't covered with shadows. It’s dystopian without everyone walking into unlit rooms.
This is also a better story than the original. The plot is much more engaging and makes more sense. Obviously, there is a catch-22, as the movie doesn't work without the original. You would be okay going into this movie without seeing the first, as this is an independent story. However, you will lose some of the importance of the narrative without having lived in this world before.
But it wouldn't be a Blade Runner movie if it didn't drag in the middle, and man does it drag in the middle. There are an easy 20 minutes in the second act that can be cut out, or least done more efficiently. However, when creating a story in this universe, the tone is just as important as the story, so maybe don't buy the large Coke before going into the theater.
Ryan Gosling is great in this movie; the man can easily pull off the brooding and grimy look while still looking sexy. He's also perfect for this part because he kind of feels like the modern day Harrison Ford—handsome, serious, but with a softer side that you know would be up for watching a fire on the couch while you both sit under a blanket. Speaking of, if you’re expecting to see Harrison Ford, then strap in because he doesn't show up until about 90 minutes into the movie. But this may be for the better because, honestly, Gosling is much more engaging and less rapey than Deckard was in the original.
In order to like this movie, you’re really going to have to like the noir genre and I don't know that many people who do. Most viewers don't want to sit through a nearly three-hour movie; they got shit to do. But if you like the original and can forgive the runtime, you will like this one better, as Denis Villeneuve and Ryan Gosling are better in Blade Runner world than Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford.
It's my last week in Ohio before moving back to Philadelphia. So I thought I would commemorate the time with a post about the best 5 movies that take place in Ohio.
Honorable Mention: The Last 5 Years
The movie is just as much about New York, but it felt a little too perfect to not include on the list. Cathy is worried about spending her summers in Ohio just east of Cincinnati, while Jamie stays in New York with a successful book career. The story works better for me on the stage, as the structure doesn't transition to film well, but the performances are fantastic and the story is poignant enough to still give you the feels. Plus, as a self-realized Cathy, I can proudly say, as I move on to the next part of my life, I'm just happy to be a part of that.
5) Little Giants
If I didn't put this on the list I'd be worried what all the Becky "The Icebox" supporters would have done to me. Based in the small town of Urbania, Ohio, the movie is a battle of two brothers played by Rick Moranis and Ed O'Neil. Little Giants has a lot of silly moments, not the least of which include John Madden's bus breaking down with Emmitt Smith and a slew of big time NFL players all on it for some reason. The annexation of Puerto Rico stands as an all-time great moment in sports movie history. And don’t forget about Junior. He's so dreamy.
4) The Faculty
A criminally underrated movie, this film marks the debut of Jordana Brewster and Usher, along with a masterful performance by Jon Stewart. The theory behind this movie makes sense when Elijah Wood's character asks, "Would you blow up the White House 'Independence Day' style, or sneak in through the back door?" The movie makes a lot of timely references, which do date the story, but with an Invasion of the Body Snatchers feel, it's not without some still-scary moments, like when the kids doubt who they can trust. I don't know if younger people would like this movie but I am confident it prepared Frodo for the dangers he would face when traveling across Middle Earth.
3) A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Faculty is good but Freddy Kruger is iconic. The series is based in the town of Springwood, Ohio and is about a dead man who kills teenagers in their dreams. If you saw this movie as a youngster I imagine it was difficult to go to bed after that. While it is similar to other low-budget horror movies in some respects, director Wes Craven adapted it to the times and made small changes that left a big impact, including not giving his killer a mask so he could talk with his victims. The franchise is credited with building New Line Cinema; it was the first movie the studio ever made and with a $1.8 million budget it made $25 million in the U.S. alone, and that's just the first movie. Freddy is one of the greatest movie villains of all time and one of Ohio's most notorious residents.
2) Rain Man
This was the highest grossing movie of 1988 and also won several Oscars including Best Director, Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman, and Best Picture. When Charlie Babbitt finds out his father has died, he goes to Cincinnati to settle his father's estate. While in Cincy not only does he get the shits from eating Skyline Chili (probably) he also finds out that the bulk of his father's three million dollar estate went to his brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) who has savant syndrome. While Dustin Hoffman gets most of the praise for the movie, and no doubt he should, Tom Cruise may be even more important to the narrative. Raymond is the more memorable role, but if Cruise didn't draw you into feeling his frustration with his brother then all the emotion at the end of the movie would be lost. Rain Man is almost 30 years old, so if you haven't seen the movie it may seem like homework but it’s worth a viewing.
1) Tommy Boy
That's right; a fat guy in a little coat beat out a movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture. But which movie had more of a cultural impact? Sure it's close, but this movie helped propel Chris Farley and David Spade past Saturday Night Live and would have made Farley a superstar had it not been for his untimely death two years later. While Tommy is traveling all across the Midwest to sell brake pads, his heart is in Sandusky, Ohio, where his family's factory is located. This movie is side-splitting funny and one I am comfortable saying everyone should see. Farley is one of the best slapstick performers maybe ever, and this movie stands the test of time.
The Dark Tower Reviewed
Fans of The Dark Tower have been eagerly waiting for a promised film adaptation of what Stephen King calls his magnum opus. Initially, both J. J. Abrams and Ron Howard were attached to the movie but they each backed out, finding the task too daunting. How do you take a beloved book series from a renowned author and do justice to the fans and people who have never read the series? Turns out it's really hard to do.
The Dark Tower is about an 11-year-old boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) who is suffering from recurring dreams about an evil man using children to bring down a large black tower, and the cowboy trying to stop him. It turns out the dream is real and Jake joins the last Gunslinger (Idris Elba) in Mid-World to stop The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) from bringing about the end of the universe.
If that sounds unnecessarily complex, it is. While I never read the novels because it seemed too daunting a task, I imagine part of the pleasure of the books is that King can expand on these details and themes to create a fully-realized world. Here, they try to squeeze as many details as possible into the first half of a 95-minute movie, which leads to the movie's biggest problem–pacing. The beginning of the movie is drawn out with long exposition, including many seemingly important details never mentioned again. Then suddenly we're at the final face-off between good and evil. The entire second act of the story is nowhere to be seen.
I’m willing to bet readers and fans of The Dark Tower series are going to be pissed. The movie feels more like the start of an action series than something to honor the source material. Part of the confusion in the narrative may be explained by the fact that the film is meant to be a sequel to the final book, not a direct adaptation. While this may explain the truncated story arc, it will probably have readers denouncing the over-simplification of a beloved series.
I liked Matthew McConaughey in this movie; he’s been preparing for the role of the Man in Black for a while now. He plays it as a mix of Rust from True Detective and whatever he is doing in those Lincoln commercials. Is he mugging for the camera a little bit? Sure. But I think his portrayal of the character works for the movie that was made—mysterious, slick, and for some reason magical.
Idris Elba is always cool, but his character doesn't seem fleshed out enough, which is puzzling given that most of the $6 million spent on reshoots were done to give The Gunslinger more depth. Then there is Tom Taylor, who plays the young boy; he does a fine job as the protagonist but doesn't add anything special to the role. He also doesn't detract from the movie, which is sometimes the best you can hope for with a child actor. But when he's the central character you would hope for something more.
The Dark Tower was supposed to be the beginning of a movie franchise and television series. But if this is the tone we can expect going forward, I’d guess that will be put to an abrupt halt. I don’t even quite understand how they would continue to adapt the series if this movie is supposed to be a sequel to the last book. That confusion is probably on par with how the audience will feel walking out of the theater. D