An Injured Guy’s Weekend Media Extravaganza

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By: Scott Muller

On the Thursday before Labor Day, I injured myself playing basketball. I pulled something in my calf that had me on the couch resting while applying ice and heat in equal amounts. Since I was couch-bound for a majority of the weekend, I got to peruse my various on-demand movie services. I decided that I would watch some out-of-the-box movies, especially since my wife wasn’t around to tell me how horrible they were.

As a service to you, dear reader and fellow nerd, I watched the following movies (and one series) and will review them for you. In some cases, I can wholeheartedly recommend these movies, but in others, I’m going to save you 90 minutes or so of your life that you wouldn’t be able to get back. Now, without further ado, the movies I watched while confined to the couch.

Cruel World (2005)



How I Watched It
Amazon Prime

What I Thought of It
Ugh.

What I Would Rate It (Out of Five Stars)
1.5 stars

My Thoughts About It

Not to be mistaken for the Lana Del Rey song of the same name, the execs who greenlit this movie probably said, “Reality television is huge right now. Horror movies are huge right now. Edward Furlong is probably stoned out of his mind right now and will work for next to nothing…let’s see what we can do here.”

Honestly, though, I don’t want to make light of Mr. Furlong’s drug problems. Hell, he was in some pretty huge movies before he had his problems. Unfortunately, in this movie, he seems like a bit of a mess, playing the “lead,” Philip Markham, a pretty messed up dude that got bounced from a very Bachelorette-esque show by Catherine Anderson (played by Jaime Pressly). To tell the honest truth, the only reason I watched this was because Jaime Pressly was in the graphic for the movie and I have a bit of a crush on her. After watching this movie, I no longer have a crush on her…damn you, Jaime Pressly, for ruining nearly two hours of my life.

The movie is basically every cliché jammed into a movie with a, “reality television is stupid,” wrapper enveloping it. The cast is a parade of stupid clichés: the slut, the jock, the shy Asian, the tough girl, the “aw-shucks” Southerner, the over-the-top gay guy, and the obvious survivor. Seriously, if you can’t figure out who’s going to live through this movie in about five minutes you would probably fired from an M&M factory from throwing away Ws.

Anyway, Philip has called this group of one-dimensional stereotypes to a mansion for what they believe is a run-of-the-mill reality show when, in reality, all he wants to do is MURDER THEM ALL! MUWAH HA HA! I realize that some of you masochists might want to track this movie down, so I won’t ruin this piece of cinematic gristle by giving away any more of the plot.

Truly, this movie is terrible in pretty much every sense of the word. Furlong seems drunk or wasted (or both) and it shows in his performance, and the plot is so clichéd it physically hurt to watch. Some of the “contestants” (such as Sanoe Lake as the “tough chick” Ruby and Nicole Bilderback of Bring It On fame as Mikko) don’t do a bad job given that the script they’ve been given is garbage and the role they’ve been asked to play is as deep as a kiddie pool and as clichéd as it gets. For example, in one scene, Mikko goes from timid college girl to karate-knowing badass in the course of a few seconds because, you know, she’s Asian! Ugh.

Overall, I truly wish I had avoided this movie, but it wasn’t going to deter me from consuming more schlocky movies, because my second choice was…

A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)




How I Watched It
Amazon Prime

What I Thought of It
This is one of those movies that was so bad it was good. While I realize I wasn’t watching Citizen Kane, I did have a good time with this movie.

What I Would Rate It (Out of Five Stars)
3 stars

My Thoughts About It
I’m a post-apocalyptic fiend, so this movie had been in my “gotta give it a try” file for a while. Every time I slowed down for it while looking for something to watch, my wife would make a face, so I waited until she left for the weekend and gave it a shot. I wasn’t blown away, but I did enjoy myself.

Ben, Carter, and Augie have been friends (and fellow scouts) forever. Now, however, they’re going to be juniors in high school and being scouts isn’t exactly something cool kids do. It also doesn’t help that Ben has a crush on Carter’s sister, and she’s one of the cool kids. Unfortunately, since Augie’s dad died, he’s thrown himself into scouting, so his two friends stick it out with him. After Ben and Carter plan to ditch Augie (and scouting, in general) for a senior party, all hell breaks loose. An escaped patient that’s infected with something (that’s never identified) escapes from a DOD facility, bites a couple unlucky folks, and within the span of a day, a majority of the town’s infected. The trio teams with a cocktail waitress, Denise, to try to save the folks at the senior party (that Carter’s sister is attending) and escape the town.

The cast of this movie is mostly barely-known folks (with the exception of Tye Sheridan, who plays Ben, who’s probably best known as the non-James Marsden version of Cyclops in the X-Men movies; David Koechner, one of those actors in the Eugene Levy “I Never Turn Down a Script” Club, plays the boys’ scout leader; and Cloris Leachman, who’s about 100 at this point, as Carter’s mean cat lady next door neighbor). Sarah Dumont, who plays badass cocktail waitress Denise, does a great job with a script that isn’t exactly Hamlet, while the three titular scouts all play their roles (the likeable lead, the horn-dog best buddy, and the loveable dork) well enough.

This movie is essentially a dorkier, raunchier Shaun of the Dead that isn’t as clever or well-written and made for teens. I found it amusing, and a silly way to spend 90 minutes or so. If you’re a fan of the zombie genre, but don’t mind your zombie movies too serious, give this a watch. It’s free on Amazon Prime, so the price is right.

Silver Streak (1976)



How I Watched It
Netflix

What I Thought of It
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor are typically a can’t-miss duo…this movie sorta misses.

What I Would Rate It (Out of Five Stars)
2.5 stars

My Thoughts About It
See No Evil, Hear No Evil is one of my favorite movies and these two typically turn in pretty good performances, so I decided to go old school with my third movie choice. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t really do either of the two leads any justice.
In this movie, Gene Wilder plays book editor George Caldwell. George is a little stressed out and has decided to take a cross-country trip on the titular Silver Streak train. During the ride, George meets the lovely Hilly, played by Jill Clayburgh. Hijinks ensue when George gets tangled up in a plot centered around some art guy trying to steal evidence from Hilly’s boss that will make the art guy look like an idiot. The plot’s a little more complicated than a movie like this deserves, and really does nothing to showcase Wilder’s talent for going from calm everyman to crazy-eyed goofball. The worst part is that Richard Pryor doesn’t even pop into the movie until almost halfway through.

This movie isn’t bad, but it isn’t particularly funny, Wilder and Pryor are underutilized (but have great chemistry when on screen together), and it’s almost impossible to believe Wilder as a lady’s man…Hilly falls head over heels for him after just one meal. Come on…it’s Willy Wonka for crying out loud.

Anyway, I didn’t hate this movie, but I didn’t love it either. The high point of the movie was seeing Richard Kiel as a Jaws-esque villain (He even has bad teeth in this movie!) and Scatman Crothers as one of the train conductors. For some of you younger folks, Scatman Crothers has one of the finest voices in the history of Hollywood and was in such classics as The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Transformers: The Movie (He was the voice of Jazz on the original cartoon). Unfortunately, these great casting choices couldn’t pull this movie into above average range.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)



How I Watched It
I actually got up and went to my local theater.

What I Thought of It
Despite the fact that this movie tosses out a lot of what I know about Spider-Man, this movie wasn’t too bad.

What I Would Rate It (Out of Five Stars)
3.5 stars

My Thoughts About It

After sitting on the couch most of Friday and a majority of Saturday morning, I decided to limp my way to the car and head to the local theater to see this. Since the end-of-summer movie selection was insanely weak, I decided to final watch this movie. I was a tad confused, but not disappointed.

This reboot of the Spider-Man franchise was more of a rewind than a reboot, because we don’t go all the way back to the beginning. Uncle Ben is already gone and Peter has already been bitten by the radioactive spider that granted him his powers. Other than that, a lot has changed from the Spider-Man I’ve known since elementary school.

First and foremost, Aunt May is the absolutely gorgeous Marisa Tomei. It made me feel creepy crushing on Aunt May, considering I’ve always known her as old lady…but it appears she has Benjamin Button disease, since she was played by Sally Field in the last iteration of Spider-Man, and now she’s gotten 18 years younger and become Marisa Tomei. Whatever.

Next, more goofy casting choices. The same person who cast Topher Grace as Eddie Brock must have decided that Tony Revolori would make a good Flash Thomspon. Revolori looks like he weighs 95 pounds soaking wet and is nothing like the muscle-bound jock he’s always been in the books I read. Lastly, I won’t even get into the casting of Mary Jane. Ugh.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind casting as far as it comes to race, religion, sex, or creed…but when they don’t even really get the essence of the character right, I get a little cheesed. For example, the casting choice for who they’re teasing for The Scorpion was formerly portrayed by a dumpy white guy, but they went off the rails a little in this version…but they still got a guy I could see becoming The Scorpion.

Anyway, other than some weird casting choices (except for Tom Holland and Michael Keaton, who is amazing as The Vulture), I really enjoyed this movie. It was cool to see Spider-Man as a 15-year-old kid coming into his own, actually experiencing some growing pains unlike other superheroes, who seem to gain a command of their powers after a quick montage. I will, say, however, that while “learning” how to use his powers, Peter Parker probably causes 50 million dollars or so worth of collateral damage. I’m hoping he gets a decent part-time job to cover those losses.

Having Iron Man/Tony Stark as a mentor helped give the typically on-his-own Spider-Man someone to quip with…as did Ned (Jacob Batalon). Ned and Peter’s exchanges were some of the best in the movie.

On a final note, as I mentioned earlier, I really did enjoy Michael Keaton as The Vulture. I hated the “modernization” of The Rhino and Electro in the previous Spider-Man movie (which I couldn’t even watch all the way through). This version of The Vulture had a nice little backstory and Keaton played him with a relatable sympathetic vibe.

This is the second movie of the four I’d seen that I can recommend.

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)



How I Watched It
I rented it on my XBOX One.

What I Thought of It
Eh. I didn’t like it as much as The Lego Movie, but it wasn’t as bad as Batman and Robin (the 1997 movie with George Clooney).

What I Would Rate It (Out of Five Stars)
2.5 stars

My Thoughts About It

I’m not going to go on for very long about this movie. It was about as average as it could get. I thought about the whole undertone of goofing on Batman’s “dark vigilante” persona was pretty funny, but a tad overplayed. The scene where he doesn’t get invited to the Justice League’s party is a high point, but after the 100th joke about it, I was starting to roll my eyes.

As far as what else I liked…I thought having every goofball villain (including the likes of Crazy Quilt and Calendar Man) was funny, despite the fact that none of them really did anything; I liked the inclusion of villains from other properties; and I really enjoyed Michael Cera as Robin. The plot underlying all of the goofiness was also pretty clever.

As far as what I didn’t like, there was quite a bit. Having a bunch of villains was funny, but they were all pretty much visual fodder. I guess essentially this went toward goofing on Batman for never actually killing his enemies, so there are now a ton of stupid costumed villains running around Gotham City, but it would’ve been nice to give them a scene where they’re talking about hating Batman or something. I also got a little bit of sensory overload at one point. The Lego aesthetic was cool for a while, but in a couple scenes, my eyeballs and brain started to go crazy. I realize this is a movie for kids, but I don’t know how anyone can watch certain parts of this movie without having at least a small seizure; there was a lot going on. Lastly, Zach Galifanakis is a terrible Joker. Sorry, Z.G. fans, I just wasn’t feeling it.

Anyway, if you need to see a movie with Legos, rent The Lego Movie. If you need to see a Batman movie, re-watch The Dark Knight. Heck, even Gotham ranks a little higher than this. I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t watch it again.

The Free State of Jones (2016)



How I Watched It
I rented it from a Redbox.

What I Thought of It
I liked it just fine. If you liked The Patriot (with Mel Gibson), but thought it wasn’t serious or depressing enough, this movie is for you!

What I Would Rate It (Out of Five Stars)
4 stars

My Thoughts About It

Matthew McConaughey is a pretty darned good actor. Not only that, he’s one of those actors that I can watch without saying, “Hey, that’s just [insert actor’s name] playing a [insert occupation/role]!” For example, World War Z was just Brad Pitt fighting zombies.

This movie sees McConaughey as Newton Knight, a Civil War deserter who’s sick of fighting for rich plantation owners who get to sit at home and reap the rewards if the South is successful in the war. After Newton is forced to flee his home, he joins up with a group of escaped slaves, who he eventually convinces to fight back after the Confederate army chases them down.

This movie is uncomfortable. I actually felt that way through a lot of it. It’s amazing how African-American people (slaves and free men) were treated even after the Civil War. The dialog and the acting were just amazing, and the fact that I felt so uncomfortable was a testament to that fact.

When it comes to recommending this movie, it’s tough to do that. It falls right between entertainment and historical commentary. I’m sure people on each side will find fault with the film, but I thought it did just enough well without going too far to either side. I’m sure some people would also find this movie a little depressing, and I won’t disagree with that. If you’re looking for a fun-loving comedic romp, a heartwarming love story, or a psychological thriller, this isn’t it. It is, however, a well-acted movie that focuses on a sad time in our country. I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a decent movie at Redbox.

The Tick (2017)



How I Watched It
Amazon Prime

What I Thought of It
I thought this series of six episodes was pretty funny. It wasn’t anything great, but I was entertained.

What I Would Rate It (Out of Five Stars)
3 stars

My Thoughts About It

By this point in my weekend, I was going a little stir crazy sitting on the couch. I was trying to get up and test out my injured leg, so I didn’t want to sit and watch another two-hour movie, so I gave this series a try. I never watched the original The Tick series (from 2001, starring Patrick Warburton) and I’ve never read the comic book, but I decided to give this reboot a try.

All in all, this six-episode half season (I’m assuming it’s only a half season) was pretty entertaining. Essentially, for the uninitiated, The Tick is a superhero in a world where superheroes are a common occurrence. Arthur Everest loves superheroes, especially the Flag Five. Unfortunately, within the first few minutes of the first episode, the Flag Five are killed off by The Terror and his henchmen. Even more unfortunately, the Flag Five’s ship crashed into Arthur’s dad. ver since that day, Arthur’s mission in life is to find The Terror, who was recently killed off by mysterious hero Superian. Arthur, however, doesn’t think The Terror is dead, and is instead controlling the city behind the scenes.

Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman are both perfect as The Tick and Arthur, and the absolutely lovely Valorie Curry is perfect as Dot, Arthur’s sister. Yara Martinez is especially funny as the frustrated Ms. Lint. I’ll let you discover why she’s called that. All of the casting is pretty on point, which leads to the quality of the show.

So far, there are a handful of questions I’m hoping the showrunners answer, including why the heck The Tick is so seemingly dense…imagine Captain America minus 40 IQ points. In fact, that’s one of the sub-plots of the movie: where The Tick came from and why he fights crime. I’m hoping we find out more about him.

All in all, I’m liking the show so far. I get the same vibe from this that I did from The Office when it originally aired. However, I dropped out of The Office after season six because I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Hopefully, this show will stay interesting…actually, I’m hoping that they make more episodes. The original series didn’t last more than one season. Fingers crossed.

Conclusion


Well, that’s how I spent my Labor Day weekend. Hopefully, these reviews/recaps help you make some selections when it comes to determining how to spend your couch time. Unfortunately, none of the movies or shows I watched were life-altering, but a few of them were worth a watch. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy one or two of them…if not, my humble apologies.


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