A Quiet Place











Hey guys,

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, how could a man of such juvenile sensibilities refrain from headlining this review, Silent But Deadly.  Well guys, let me tell you, it was a struggle.  But alas, maybe leading with a fart joke is (finally) a thing of the past.

A Quiet Place is not the directorial debut of John (Is That The Guy From The Office) Krasinksi, but it is his directorial debut of a film anybody has seen.  Krasinski also stars alongside real life wife, Emily Blunt.  A Quiet Place is an excellent little horror film focused entirely on a family living in silence on a farm in upstate New York.  The basic premise is that humanity has been all but wiped out by sightless monsters who hunt based on sound.  The Abbott family has survived in large part because one of their children is deaf and they all speak sign language.

The film opens with one of the most effective horror movie hooks I’ve seen in a very long time.  It reminded me of a quieter (ha ha), smaller version of the Final Destination film openers.  After that opening scene, we jump ahead one year as we’re introduced to the nuts and bolts of how this family has survived.  Sand paths, clever lighting, surveillance, lines of defense, basic daily protocols, all the details that really sell a small scope story like this whose effectiveness relies almost entirely on the audience accepting the basic premise.

At this point I’d like to point out that eating popcorn while watching this movie is like standing on stage in your underwear.  It seems like all the attention is on you. So you chew long and slow, as quiet as you possibly can.  It’s pretty futile.  Thankfully, I got half the bowl down before the movie even started.


I would be remiss if I did not point out that there are some things about the middle of the film that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  The A-number 1 thing being, where are they getting power from?  It’s a big one.  They can’t use generators, which are loud as hell and would quickly serve as a dinner bell.  They make no mention of solar panels or wind turbines.  It’s a serious detail that requires addressing, but yet is ignored.

Otherwise, the 2nd act may prove a little slow for some, but it’s filled with nice character work by all the actors, including the young actress who plays their deaf daughter who is also deaf in real life.  Her story is fairly central to the film.  She feels responsible for a tragic turn of events early on and thinks her father doesn’t love her anymore as a result.  It’s handled subtly, believably and with confidence, a testament to her performance and Krasinski’s directorial skills.  There’s another parallel familial storyline going on concurrently that I am hesitant to specify.  It definitely brings this review into spoiler territory and I’d rather not ruin anything for you.  I’m going to skip over it… you’ll either buy it or you won’t.  I bought it, but wanted it to be fleshed out a bit more.  That’s all I’ll say.

As the second act winds down, the third act kicks off with a character accidentally injuring themselves in a way we can all relate to, which would serve as more of a nuisance than anything in the real world.  And from then on, A Quiet Place is a quiet freight train, moving forward with thrilling intensity.  There are some effective jump scares, but it’s the slow burn tension and restrained filmmaking techniques in the 3rd act that elevates the film beyond b-movie shlock.  It’s as exciting a game of cat and mouse as I’ve seen in recent memory, whose climax is as terrifying as it is moving.

There are several hints to a larger cinematic world within the running time of the film.  The most interesting of which is the innuendo that the Abbott family members are not the only survivors in the area.  Seems like fodder for a sequel to me.  A sequel I’d happily pay to see.  Quiet, confident and cerebral horror movies seem to be on the rise again after many years of found footage, torture porn and jump scares.  It’s a welcome re-evolution of the genre.

– cohan

p.s. If you have a movie theater in your area known for loud, chatty audiences, don’t see A Quiet Place there.  Inconsiderate theater douches are a tough obstacle to enjoying any movie, but for this one, they’re deadly.  Deadly Douches.  Sounds like a movie I’d also pay to see.  Actually, it sounds like a movie I’d make.  Ha, there’s hope for me yet.

My Star Wars Saga

Hey guys,

So here it is, as promised, my first non-movie review posting.  I can’t exactly say it isn’t movie-related given the title of the post.  But it is more movie licensing related.  Allow me to explain…

Last Christmas, my family gave me a Death Star popcorn popper for Christmas.   It was awesome as hell, but it didn’t work very well.  So, naturally I got in touch with the manufacturer.  I wrote them this:


Hello Uncanny Brands,

I recently received a Death Star Popcorn Maker as a Christmas gift.  I’m a Star Wars nut so I welcome all gifts from a galaxy far far away.  As long as they work.  And I’m sad to say this popcorn maker does not work correctly.  At all.  It spits out tons of unpopped kernels.  Little bastards fly all over the kitchen counter… some of them pop after they’ve been expelled and if those late popping kernels land in the bowl first, the pop shoots popcorn all over, not only the counter, but the floor too.  It’s makes a huge mess and leaves roughly 20% of the kernels unpopped.  I want to love this product, but frankly, it kinda sucks.  Too bad.  I guess I’ll go back to popping popcorn in oil on the stove top.

 But what I’d really like to know is if I can somehow get a refund for this turkey.  It’s in perfect condition having only been used once.  As I mentioned, I received it as a gift so I do not have a receipt and I do not know where it was purchased.  Which is why i’m contacting you.

 Any info you can provide would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Cohan (Star Wars super-fan, popcorn enthusiast, sad Death Star Popcorn Maker owner)

I didn’t really expect a response, but 24 hours later, I received this reply:

Cohen- [sic]

Thanks for your email. And thanks for supporting our product. You review is greatly appreciated.

In general, most air-pop popcorn makers leave un-popped kernels. Its the one drawback of an air-pop machine versus a kettle machine that pops with oil. Your opinion is noted; however, Im surprised. This popcorn maker was our #1 selling SKU in 2017…with an extremely low return & defective rate.
Since you did not purchase the product directly from us I cant issue you a refund. What I would like to do — since you are a Star Wars nut — is send you some additional product in exchange for your honest review. Is that fair?
Please send me your address and I can send you some goodies.
Thanks Cohen [sic]
Uuncanny Brands [sic]
My response to this email was, of course, something along the lines of, “HELL. YES.”  And then a couple months went by and I forgot all about the exchange, until one day I came home from work to find a very large box left outside my front door.  A package whose arrival was not something I was expecting.  I had no idea what it was.  When I brought it in and opened it up, I discovered this:


Uncanny Brands had totally come through.  They had sent me Light Saber Salt & Pepper mills, a R2D2 toaster, a Stormtrooper toaster, a Stormtrooper waffle iron, and a Lightsaber Immersion Blender.  Holy shit.  I was shocked.  Of course, since they followed through and sent me all this schwag, I felt a certain responsibility to hold up my end of the deal.  So I did.  I used all the items and wrote reviews for each one.  See my follow up posts for reviews of each product.

My Star Wars Saga: Lightsaber Salt & Pepper Mills Review


I wanted to let you know I had a chance to try out a couple of the Star Wars items you sent me.  Luckily, it addition to being a full-fledged booger-eating Star Wars nerd, I like to cook.  I like to think one offsets the other, which is why, I’m sure, I’m still married.  So, I’m going to start with the best thing I’ve tried so far…

Lightsaber Salt & Pepper Grinders

I love these two little gadgets.  I’m using the hell out of these.  I love that they’re electric, which is something I never realized I wanted until I tried these.  Like I said, I cook a lot, which means seasoning often at every stage.  Twisting the manual grinders became such an annoyance to me that I started buying the pre-ground sea salt and black pepper and keeping them in little cellars next to my stove.  The only drawback to that really is that you sacrifice a fuller flavor by using pre-ground.  Salt and pepper (especially pepper) are a lot like coffee in that regard.

Side note:  When in the hell are you guys gonna make a Darth Vader coffee maker?  Seems like a no-brainer to me.


Back to the grinders.  They have a nice solid heft to them.  I don’t feel like they’re gonna break every time I use them.  I like the caps on the ends so you don’t spill salt and pepper all over when not in use, I like the size and the way they look on the countertop (like I said, big time nerd).  The buttons on top are great, easy to press with either your thumb or finger.  It grinds nice and fast, although I wouldn’t mind if the salt were a little slower, but I think it’s because I couldn’t find the right kind of true rock salt and had to settle for coarse sea salt, which might already be a little too small for the grinder.   Oh, and I almost forgot my favorite part… I must have used these guys 4 or 5 times before I realized there are lights on the end.  THAT. RULES.  Especially with salt, it can be difficult to see how much you’re really applying.  It’s the one way cellars win out over grinders, control.  But having those lights, hot damn, it’s so much easier to see how much seasoning your dumping into your dish.  So a great idea that had never occurred to me.

Now, after all that gushing, I have 3 minor complaints and/or suggestions:

1. Man oh man would i love to ditch the AA batteries in favor of a charger of some kind.  Like a cell phone cable, or even some sort of dock.  I’ve seen those electric corkscrews that rest on an always plugged in dock on your countertop and I dig.  Something like that would really be a bonus.  Then if you want to get crazy, you have a model with one or two USB ports so you can charge your phone while you’re cooking dinner.  Maybe have a version where the dock is also a bluetooth speaker.  The possibilities are endless.

2. When you have the grinder taken apart to change the batteries or add more salt and pepper, the battery compartment just sort of rests on the salt/pepper reservoir in an awkward, unbalanced way.  Until you put the main piece back on and give it a twist to lock, it seems really unstable.  This is a minor quibble, by the way.

3.  For the size of these grinders, the compartments for the pre-ground salt and pepper seem awfully small.  If you guys could lose the batteries in favor of a charging system there’d be more space for a larger quantity of salt and pepper.  I know I go through a lot of both and the less times I have to refill, the better.

Like I said, so far this is my favorite item you’ve sent me.  That being said, I’ve only tried these, the storm trooper waffle iron and the storm trooper toaster.  Those reviews will be coming in separate emails.  I’ll be trying out the R2D2 toaster and lightsaber immersion blender soon.

One more suggestion:  a Sarlacc Pit meat grinder.

– Cohan

p.s.  okay, last suggestion:  Admiral Ackbar’s “It’s a mouse trap!”

My Star Wars Saga: Stormtrooper Waffle Iron Review


I had a chance to use the Stormtrooper Waffle Maker and I’m happy to report it works pretty well.  Not great, which I’ll get into, but it certainly made competent waffles that absolutely look like a stormtrooper head.

I’m going to hit this one as a stream-of-consciousness list of thoughts as they occur to me in the moment, starting with:

1. I like the relatively small footprint of the unit, but also it only makes one waffle at a time, which is totally normal of course, but I would love a dual side by side version that makes two simultaneously.  Say an imperial stormtrooper head (current) next to a First Order Stormtrooper.  Anyway, the good thing about this waffle iron is that the waffles themselves are pretty good size.  I made one for me and one for my wife, and along with some sliced apple and hard-boiled egg, made for a good-sized breakfast.  If you’re making waffles for the whole family, you better get up pretty early… or maybe start the night before… because you are in it for the long haul.

2. Which brings me to the length of time it takes to make a waffle.  Instructions say 3-4 minutes.  Nah, double it.  If you use a whole cup of batter, rather than 3/4, definitely double that.  Even then, the inside was a little less than fully cooked.  But I let one sit in there for like 12 minutes and it was nicely browned and cooked through.

3. Oh, also I had the temperature setting turned up to MAX the whole time.  That dial is kinda useless.  I can’t imagine having it set lower at all, ever.  Unless you’re making little thin 1/4 cup waffle-ettes, little baby stormtrooper heads… stormtoddlers.

4.  Speaking of controls, the indicator light that goes off when the iron is hot works great.  That same green light is supposed to go off when the waffle is done.  Nope.  Not even close.  Like I said, double it.  I ignored that light while making waffles.

5.  Are they really waffles?  Seems to me really they’re stormtrooper head pancakes.  I don’t know, what’s the difference really?  Are the square divots we think of as unique to waffles the only thing separating them from pancakes?  I have no idea, it seems akin to the difference between a violin and a fiddle (it’s the same instrument – the difference is in how they’re played).  This is a deeply profound philosophical discussion best conducted over several glasses of fine whiskey and really has no impact on my review of your waffle iron.  On that note, let us continue.

6.  No batter stuck to the iron, top or bottom.  This, to me, is the number one positive aspect of the waffle maker.  I sprayed some Pam on beforehand, as the instructions suggested and sure enough, those would-be waffles popped right out with a silicone spatula.  Excellent.

7.  Cleaning it was pretty much a breeze.  I wiped it down with a slightly damp paper towel.  There was some hard to get oil pools around the ridges of the stormtrooper’s head and inside some nooks and crannies, but I would imagine these occurrences would be far worse in an traditional waffle iron with all those little squares. I used a q-tip to get those little daps of oil.  Is that OCD?

8.  The lid hinge seemed a bit loose to me.  Which would make sense actually if it were designed to include a bit bulkier items like:

9.  Wouldn’t it be great if this thing doubled as a panini style press?  just add a lock to the lid so you can ‘close and clamp it’ (do I hear a Ronco “set and forget it” tag line being coined?) and you have yourself a sandwich press.  In fact, I’m definitely going to try this at some point.  I think it’ll work nicely.  After all:

10. the waffle maker looks just like a george foreman grill.  is this a good thing or a bad thing?  hell, I don’t know… depends on your personal predilections for, or against, mr. foreman.

Overall, I’m quite content with the stormtrooper waffle maker.  It makes waffles.  Makes them pretty well actually.  I even added some pomegranate seeds to the batter and it handled that a-okay.  this weekend I might even go wild with some fresh blueberries.  I think it’ll do just fine.  Even though it takes longer than suggested to make the waffles and the indicator light goes off way too early, I think this waffle maker is a fine addition to anyone’s array of kitchen gadgets.  I’m going to definitely hang on to this thing… I’ve never owned a waffle iron before.

– Cohan

p.s. I am a little surprised there isn’t a matching Darth Vader syrup dispenser.

p.p.s.  I just realized the reason the waffles take so long to cook in this thing is exactly because there are no square divots.  With those things on the top and bottom, the batter is spread over a larger surface, a hot surface cooking it.  Without it, you’ve got what are essentially pancakes, which always take longer to cook than waffles.  It’s the divots.  Is that right word, divots?  I don’t know.  Do you guys make a death star waffle maker?  i’ve seen them, but don’t know if that’s you.  Regardless, I bet with the sort of grid like nature of the design, it makes waffles faster.

My Star Wars Saga: Toaster Reviews


I’m chugging along on the Star Wars kitchen gadget train.  My latest test runs were with the Stormtrooper toaster and the R2D2 toaster.  To be frank, neither work well at all.  At least the Deathstar popcorn popper made a small amount of perfectly fine popcorn while it was rifling out hot, unpopped kernels like Jesse Ventura laying waste to the jungle with his Gatling gun in Predator.


Both toasters have almost identical problems, but before I get into that, I’m going to look at them separately, then after that, what they have in common.  So…

Stormtrooper toaster:

Jesus this thing is big.  That is both a good and bad thing.  Bad because its counter top footprint is huge.  It looks great, it’s a life size stormtrooper head after all.  But a life size stormtrooper head is a large appliance to have on your countertop.  Along with it’s over all size comes large bread slots large enough for bagels to fit.  A key component the R2D2 toaster is missing.  I’m a New Yorker and accommodating bagels is an absolute must.  So that’s a definite plus for the Stormtrooper.  I do not like that the controls are on the back.  I had it set up on my breakfast bar in my kitchen so the face is, uh… well, facing in.  Reaching around it is awkward.  I’d rather see the controls on the side maybe?  I don’t know.  On the front would totally disrupt the totally life-like stormtooper face it’s got going on.  So maybe there is no solution, and yet it bothered me.  Added to which, the plunger doesn’t go down smoothly.  It hitches on something unless you push down in an absolute unwavering straight line.  And it feels cheap.  I mean cheaply made.  Using it a couple of times and I felt like I was fortunate to have not broken it.  One small note about the controls… I find it clever and hilarious that the doneness dial goes from the “Light side” to the “Dark side.”  Perfect.  If it worked.  I’ll get to that.

Okay, now R2D2:

Much smaller footprint.  Also a good and a bad thing.  Good because it takes up less counter space.  Bad because the slots hardly fit a normal piece of sliced bread, let alone a bagel.  I don’t even think it could fit one of those shitty frozen Lender’s bagels, much less the bulging wonderful monster bagels you can get at any bakery and half the bodegas here.  That automatically to me is a deal-breaker.  I realize that for a whole bunch of people that aren’t me, maybe the lack of bagel accommodation is just fine.  That being said, i had to kinda cram in even the slices of basic whole wheat bread I tried toasting and they were not thicker than any of your average loaves of sliced bread.  It is nice to have the primary star wars design on the side, so the controls can face either way.  I will say I am surprised the R2D2 toaster wasn’t designed to look like an actual R2D2 robot.  I mean, R2D2 already looks like a toaster.  Maybe R5D4 since he’s got a flat top.  Oh, even better, the gonk power droid from the original movie – that guy absolutely looks like a toaster… but from a branding standpoint, i guess he’s pretty obscure (I told you I was a booger-eating Star Wars nerd).

Now both.

As I mentioned above, the “Light side/Dark side” thing is great.  But I’m afraid that dial doesn’t work well at all.  Neither toaster works well at all.  I think the primary problem is how they toast the image onto the side of the bread.  Sure it toasts the design, but then does not toast the rest of the area on that side of the bread.  Then the other side toasts almost like normal.  If you have to sacrifice the efficacy of an appliance in service of something so frivolous, then you should do away with that aspect altogether.  I mean, look at that big ole stormtrooper head on your counter top… do you really need the Imperial logo poorly burned into the side of your unevenly toasted bread?  I say no.  Added to which, that dial is pretty useless.  Anything other than all the way dark and the dang thing just keeps popping early over and over.  It’s extremely frustrating.  Any other setting but total dark side is pointless.  It warms the bread and pops, no toast.  Turn the dial up, replunge and it warms the bread and pops, no toast.  Not until you put it all the way will it finally toast, and even then it’s probably going to burn.  The only way I got either to work right was to put the doneness setting all the way, push ‘er down, then return to check on it every few minutes until I thought it was done, then manually pop it.  And even then, the side with the design is only half toasted, because the filaments are not evenly distributed.  And even if they were, i noticed on both toasters, maybe 25% of the filaments weren’t glowing at all anyway.

I’m sorry, but these toasters are terrible.  I wouldn’t even give these away as gifts.  I’m not sure if I would even donate them to the Salvation Army or otherwise.  Nobody wants a toaster that doesn’t work right.  It’s like having a super-cool ice cream machine that only spits out liquid.  There are plenty of options out there that work great and cost the same, or less than these two.  My Hamilton Beach toaster is boring to look at, but boy howdy it toasts like a goddamn master.  It is the Yoda of toasters, if I can intrude on the uncanny brands world.  And it’s $15 cheaper than both of these.  I’m sure there are diehard collectors out there who want to add these to their repertoire, but people like that aren’t going to take it out of the packaging anyway.

– Cohan

p.s.  If you guys ever decide to scale up, I’d love to see a refrigerator shaped exactly like a life-sized Han Solo frozen in carbonite.

My Star Wars Saga: Lightsaber Immersion Blender Review


This is my last review of the items you recently sent me to test out, The Lightsaber Immersion Blender.  First of all, this thing has got some weight to it (a good thing).  Makes you feel like you’re holding a power tool, which I guess is exactly what an immersion blender is.  I used it last weekend when I made a huge batch of marinara sauce for freezing.  I dumped 6 large cans of whole peeled san marzano tomatoes into a 10 quart stockpot with a large jar of marinated artichoke hearts and another large jar of garlic stuffed castelveltrano olives, along with some other herbs and spices.  I heated it until it started simmering, then unleashed the lightsaber immersion blender on the whole kit and kaboodle.  I really did the job well.  It cut through the contents of that stockpot like a warm knife through butter.  Any time the head of the immersion blender got close to the bottom of the pot, it sucked it right to it, like a powerful vacuum cleaner exactly how a good immersion blender should.  After maybe ten minutes of really getting in there, I had a nicely puree’d tomato sauce with zero chunks.  Usually I use a potato masher so I have chunks, but this time I wanted to created a nice smooth sauce to see how the lightsaber blender handled it.  It did great.  Zero complaints.  My only suggestion would be a longer stem.  It’s just a little bit short.  It was almost too short to reach the bottom of the stock pot without submerging the handle… almost.  But one more can of tomatoes and it wouldn’t have been long enough.  I probably wouldn’t have even noted it’s length, but I already have a great immersion blender I love, so I compared them.  The Lightsaber is…

You know what?  Disregard everything I wrote about the length.  I was wrong.  I just went and compared them side by side, the lightsaber with my Kitchen Aid immersion blender and they’re exactly the same length.  The handle of my Kitchen Aid is an inch or two longer, but the actual blender attachment is the same.  I misjudged it.

Okay, so my actual only suggestion would be, again to have a charging dock instead of a AC cord.  It sucks having to wrangle the cord so it doesn’t catch on fire while using it in a pot on the stove.  I don’t know how feasible this would be.  I would imagine to create the kind of power an immersion blender needs to function properly you might have to use a wall outlet, but one can dream.  Just imagine…a charging dock that looks like R2D2.  handle of the immersion blender sticking out his head like Return of the Jedi.  Ah, geek dreams.

Well, there you have it.  If I didn’t already own an immersion blender, the Lightsaber immersion blender would get a lot of use.  In fact, it still may.  It’s pretty looks pretty bad ass.  And it works well.

And here ends my reviews of all the items you sent me:  Stormtrooper Waffle Iron, Lightsaber Salt and Pepper Grinders, Stormtrooper Toaster, R2D2 Toaster and Lightsaber Immersion Blender.  I hope these reviews have been useful in some way.  Should you ever decide you’d want to send me more merchandise to review, please do not hesitate to sent it along.  I’m happy to test out anything you’d like, and I rather enjoy writing these reviews.

Thank you.

[NOTE:  It has been several weeks since I sent in my last review and I have yet to receive a single reply to any of the reviews I’ve sent in.  No idea what that means, but if at any point I hear back from Uncanny Brands I’ll be sure to update here on Aberration Type.]

A Belated 2017 Movie Roundup

Hey guys,

I haven’t posted in quite some time, over a year.  What can I say?  Life.  So, I’m going to take this opportunity to first post my 2017 movie roundup list and commentary, a couple months late of course… then proceed with my first non-movie related postings.  But first:

  1. Thor: Ragnarok
  2. Wonder Woman
  3. Brawl in Cell Block 99
  4. Logan
  5. Get Out
  6. Spider-man: Homecoming
  7. War for the Planet of the Apes
  8. It
  9. Split
  10. John Wick 2
  11. Kong: Skull Island
  12. Logan Lucky
  13. Baby Driver
  14. The Fate of the Furious
  15. Justice League
  16. The Hitman’s Bodyguard
  17. The Vault
  18. Happy Death Day
  19. Blade Runner 2049
  20. Atomic Blonde
  21. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
  22. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  23. The Mummy
  24. Rough Night
  25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
  26. A Cure for Wellness
  27. Beauty and the Beast
  28. Life
  29. Okja
  30. The House
  31. Whatever Happened to Monday?
  32. Bright
  33. Gerald’s Game
  34. 1922
  35. Alien: Covenant
  36. Baywatch
  37. CHiPs
  38. Geostorm
  39. Transformers The Last Knight
  40. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
  41. Underworld: Blood Wars
  42. Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets
  43. Bedeviled
  44. Daddy’s Home 2/The Dark Tower
     Okay, people… this year’s list is dominated by mediocrity and downright shit.  Very few in my top ten would have cracked any other top ten of past years.  But of course I have not seen any of the award winners other than Get Out.  Some observations:
     There are a few Netflix originals on the list and none of them are terribly noteworthy.  So far, I’ve enjoyed their original series far more than their original films.  Bright was fine.  Happy Death Day was amusing.  Okja was… definitely not a comedy.  If I could, I’d go back in time and not watch Okja.  Not because it was a bad film, but because it’s depressing.   Gerald’s Game has some interesting ideas, but ultimately fell flat for me.  I fell asleep half way through 1922, another King adaptation for Netflix, and Whatever Happened to Monday has an interesting premise, what appears to be a damn fine budget, but then operated strictly by the numbers straight through to the end.
     We are in the middle of a superhero glut.  Some people mind, I don’t.  on that note:
     Thor: Ragnarok was the funniest movie of 2017.  Shame on you, The House, Rough Night, Baywatch, CHiPs, and goddamn Daddy’s Home 2.  A Thor movie was funnier than all of you.
     Wonder Woman was shockingly good.  Particularly after the 1, 2 turd punch of Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad.  Justice League wasn’t a total failure… and the fact that that is how I review it says something about the state of the DC cinematic universe.  I was skeptical of Gal Gadot when they first announced her casting way back when, but damn if she isn’t endlessly watchable in the role.  I look forward to the inevitable sequels.  Hopefully Warner Brothers doesn’t lose their goddamn minds and replace Patty Jenkins as the director.  Clearly she’s miles above Zack Stupid-face Snyder.
     Logan was a damn fine movie.  No need to undercut that statement by adding “comic book” before movie.  Surprisingly touching, but with a fair amount of edge to it.  Ha ha, see what I did there?  Like saying it was razor-sharp blah blah blah.  Whatever, i liked it.  My only gripe, and it’s some serious booger-earing nerdery, is that the comic that inspired it, Old Man Logan was batshit crazy is all the best ways.  Maybe some day someone will try and tackle that mad bastard.
     Spider-man.  Tom Holland is perfect.  I could have done with less Tony Stark, but i get it.  Michael Keaton’s McCaughnassaince is most deserved and welcome.
     Not based on a comic but certainly feels like it, John Wick 2.  the plot and motivations were actually a bit more subdued that the utterly insane, “you kill my dog, I kill you all” premise of the first one, but the weird comics inspired universe they’ve created fascinates me.  The ending is ridiculous.  I eagerly await part 3.
     Kingsman: The Golden Circle.  not as good as the first, but entertaining as hell regardless.  Matthew Vaughn has a real eye for surreal action.
     Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2.  Didn’t like it much at all.  And it has Kurt Russell in it.  You dumb shits, how could you fuck that up?
     I believe that’s it for comic book movies… so segueing into movies with Kurt Russell… the Fate of the Furious was fine.  part 5 was the high point of the series, which is certainly saying something, but it’s been diminishing returns since.  i like that Jason Statham and the Rock have great chemistry and are possibly doing some sort of spinoff together, but within the context of this film world, Statham is responsible for killing one of the fast and furious folks at the end of Tokyo Drift.  DOES NOBODY REMEMBER HAN!!!!!!????? that poor bastard.
     I would like to go on record clearly stating that since Swingers, I have grown more and more irritated by Vince Vaughn.  I find his schtick tiresome, to say the least.  And great googily-moogily was he terrible in season two of True Detective.  but i guess in his defense, everything about that season was terrible.  And then Brawl in Cell Block 99 happens and he makes me do a total 180.  it’s a simple, violent film.  the less you know the better.
     So Get Out just won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  Hmmm, I suppose.  Maybe.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked it quite a lot.  Mostly because it somehow managed to subvert my expectations.  it wasn’t quite as black and white as I expected.  WHEW, MAN AM I ON A ROLL!  but best screenplay?  I think the circumstances surrounding the film and Jordan Peele are more important than the film itself.  so i say, well done sir.  enjoy your oscar.  you earned it.
     It is with a heavy heart that I deliver this one line review:  I found Star Wars the Last Jedi to be a totally underwhelming misfire whose creative decisions, almost entirely, felt wrong.  Boo.
     War for the Planet of the Apes… so odd.  This entire series, Dawn, Rise and now War are far better than they have any right to be.  They deserve credit, if for no other reason, than making people forget that Tim Burton/Mark Wahlberg shitfest ever happened.
     Speaking of Wahlberg, did I mention Daddy’s Home 2 is awful?  It is.  But it’s actually tied for last place.  With The Dark Tower.  WOW.  I mean, just, wow.  Kudos to the jerkwads who somehow managed to surpass The Lawnmower Man as the stupidest king adaptation to date.  I mean really, have you seen The Lawnmower Man?  It makes more sense than The Dark Tower.  That’s right, telling an audience that rudimentary virtual reality can somehow turn a moron into a digital genius super-villain is less of a head scratcher than every second of the dark tower.  aka, the dark turd, aka, the shit tower, aka, the shart shower.
     Are all y’all aware that The Mummy was supposed to usher in Universal’s shared universe of monster movies?  Yeah, maybe not so much.
     Alien: Covenant is basically a remake of Prometheus, while somehow making even less sense.  Ridley Scott is a masterful filmmaker.  His movies are utterly seamless.  But still, who cares?
     Related:  Bladerunner 2049.  didn’t like it.  didn’t like the way it looked.  didn’t like the story choices.  didn’t like the characterizations.  lazy writing.  that is all.
     gonna circle back around to CHiPs for a minute.  I really like Dax Shepherd.  He can be incredibly funny given the right material.  This is not the right material.  Which is too bad since he wrote and directed it.  Michael Pena is an excellent actor in every other film he’s ever made except CHiPs.
     Did i actually see Transformers: The Last Knight?  you know, i don’t seem to recall.  i think i watched it on a plane.  but these friggin’ movies are so dull, i can’t even recall if I actually saw it.  Just stop already.  Shame on you, Anthony Hopkins.
     Same goes for Resident Evil and Underworld.  What can I say, airplane movies.
     Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a comic book movie.  My bad.  But their bad for making this turd.  I’m pretty sure in the history of clandestine organizations whose mission is to protect and serve, nobody under the age of 20 has ever been a real deal secret agent.  Except for Spy Kids.  but alas, this is no Spy Kids.  and I didn’t even like Spy Kids.  No movie this bad should have a title this long.  Every time you say or write it you feel like your life is ever-so-slightly, and needlessly shorter.
     It was pretty scary.  I had some issues, but after The Dark Tower, this seemed positively masterful by comparison.  I’m curious who they cast as the adults.
     I don’t mean Valerian was scary.  I mean the movie whose title is, “It.”
     Kong: Skull Island was entertaining in all the ways a movie about a giant gorilla fighting other giant monsters should be.  Supposedly the beginning of an extended universe involving the gojira classics:  Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, etc.  I’m curious.  Take note, The Mummy.
     Logan Lucky wasn’t as witty as I was expecting, as the writing was a little flat, but excellent performances made it extremely watchable.  When Channing Tatum’s daughter sings his favorite song quite terribly at her recital, I must admit I was moved.  Also, Daniel Craig is a better actor than the Bond movies would have you believe.
     I dig Split because young professor X was pretty great.  I look forward to Glass, the movie that will bridge Unbreakable and Split.  Who would have thought I’d look forward to an M. Night movie ever again?
     there are a few rando flicks from my list I didn’t mention, but that’s okay.
p.s.  I’d just like to say that Thor: Ragnarok was not the best film of 2017.  I’m not even sure it was the best film I saw in 2017.  It’s not even the best Marvel film.  but it was the best trailer of 2017 and it made me laugh.  so fuck it, number one it is.  I will say my top 5 are pretty interchangeable.  hell, maybe even top 10.


2016 Year End Roundup

Hey guys,

It’s that time of year. The Oscars are upon us, thus officially ending the 2016 film season. And with it, my list of all the new films I saw in 2016, ranked best to worst. Followed by some specific thoughts – standouts, let downs, etc. So here goes:

1. Arrival 2. Hell or High Water 3. Captain America: Civil War 4. Green Room 5. Train to Busan 6. Deadpool 7. The Nice Guys 8. In a Valley of Violence 9. The Invitation 10.Rogue One 11.Sausage Party 12.10 Cloverfield Lane 13.Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates 14.Don’t Breath 15.Doctor Strange 16.Hush 17.Zootopia 18.Bad Moms 19.Midnight Special 20.Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 21.American Fable 22.The Autopsy of Jane Doe 23.The Good Neighbor (aka, The Waiting) 24.Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made 25.The Bandit 26.War on Everyone 27.Ghostbusters 28.Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising 29.Lights Out 30.Star Trek Beyond 31.Spectral 32.The Magnificent Seven 33.Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 34.X-Men Apocalypse 35.Phantasm: Ravager 36.Central Intelligence 37.Passengers 38.The Monster 39.Cell 40.The Conjuring 2 41.The Forest 42.The Witch 43.Zoolander 2 44.Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 45.The 5th Wave 46.Jason Bourne 47.The Divergent Series: Allegiant 48.Independence Day: Resurgence 49.Kickboxer: Vengeance 50.London Has Fallen 51.Suicide Squad 52.Masterminds 53.Hardcore Henry

Continuing my trend of seeing less and less new movies every year as I get older, 2016 was a historic low at 53. But, alas, Hardcore Henry was so fucking bad it could have easily been 10 shitty movies, there was that much to hate about it. Some other random thoughts…

Masterminds was terrible. I don’t think I smiled once during its running time. It’s almost admirable how well the director kept all humor out of a film starring Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Ken Marino. With that cast there should have been at least one chuckle, even by mistake. I can assure you, there wasn’t.

While we’re on the topic of terrible movies, Suicide Squad wins the Most Bafflingly Bad Filmmaking Award. When your threadbare plot becomes increasingly hard to follow as your film progresses, you’ve got problems.

I liked Olympus Has Fallen. It was the best Die Hard movie since the third Die Hard movie. So I was all like, cool, when I heard there was a sequel. The dipshits responsible for London Has Fallen should be flogged. Thematically bankrupt and shockingly stupid. The dialogue, I suspect, was written by a disturbed 12-year-old who still hasn’t made it past the 3rd grade.

Independence Day: Resurgence, like London Has Fallen, could win awards for stupidity. Dumbest third act in the history of film. All the main baddie had to do was NOT MOVE. Remain safely anonymous until the soldier aliens have won, because there was a non-sensical deadline I won’t bore you with the humans had to win by and most certainly could not if they couldn’t find the queen alien, who reveals herself for no reason minutes before said deadline. If it sounds confusing and dumb… I can assure you, it is. But hey, as least we get to see the lesser Hemsworth “ahhhhhhhh”-ing every few minutes as he performs some manner of maverick-ian heroics he’s not supposed to because he’s a rebel, or some such nonsense.

I know what you’re all thinking… why would anybody sit through Kickboxer: Vengeance? A terrible remake of a mediocre film whose only scene of note was removed in favor of a completely standard fight scene in a similar location, which is a pitiable state of affairs to be sure. Anyway, I sat through it because I’m an idiot.

Jason Bourne. Why?

Here are some of my biggest let downs, films that made it in the bottom half I was greatly looking forward to:

The Witch – I’ll never stop being bewildered by the warm reception for this movie.

The Conjuring 2 – obvious jump scares and some kid teleporting around a haunted house? what the deuce?

The Monster – A24 has been kicking ass for awhile now and as such, I was very much looking forward to this creature feature. Let me save you all from the concussion you would have received watching The Monster, as the director hammered you over the head with his heavy-handed POV: the mom is The Monster!!!! Not really, not physically, but metaphorically and thematically, you know, she’s a terrible mom. Spoiler Alert: she redeems herself at the end. Kinda.

Passengers – were it not for the chemistry of the leads, I’m sure I’d have no memory of the film’s plot by now. as it stands, I can still remember vividly what a turkey it was. well done Pratt and Lawrence. More here.

Central Intelligence – I like Dwayne Johnson. I like Kevin Hart. I did not like Central Intelligence.

X-Men: Apocalypse – a $200 million experiment to determine what happens when you remove Wolverine from an X-Men movie. I could have saved them some time, money and effort… he guys, you get a shitty movie. You’re welcome. Oh wait, he was in it, for like a minute. For no reason.

Okay, that about does it for the crap.

Best film for me was easily Arrival. I loved everything about it. I’ve spoken to a couple people who hated it. I think I can see why, but it resonated for me through and through.

Hell or High Water was a fantastic little crime film with rich and relevant themes that I suspect will hold up for years to come. Finally Chris Pine seems like an adult male human instead of a high school kid pretending to be an adult. This and Arrival are the only two Best Picture nominations I’ve actually seen. And other than Hacksaw Ridge, the only ones I’m likely to see. I’m okay with this.

I was surprised how much i liked Captain America: Civil War. If you’d like to read more on that, have a gander. Zack Snyder and the DC dipshits should take some notes… a comic book movie is supposed to be fun, you knobs.

Green Room is brutal and utterly compelling. Patrick Stewart is mesmerizing as a murderous white supremacist.

Train to Busan is one of the best zombie films I’ve seen pretty much ever. It’s definitely top five of the genre. And its emotional core packs a punch.

Deadpool, aka Ryan Reynolds stops making shitty movies and reminds us why he’s a movie star.

Shane Black brings his razor wit to The Nice Guys. Russell Crowe & Ryan Gosling aren’t quite Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr., but they are pretty great together.

In The Valley of Violence was a nice surprise. Didn’t know anything about it going in other than it was a western directed by Ti West, a dude who’s been making excellent small budget horror movies for quite a few years now. ITVOV is a tense little western with a surprising amount of humor. John Travolta. Such an odd actor. Every once in a while, he kills it. Other times you get Hairspray, Old Dogs, and Battlefield Earth.

The Invitation was one of those movies I overheard someone, somewhere say it was excellent and then decided to check it out on Netflix based solely on that. Because I do that sometimes. Remember Kickboxer: Vengeance. This time, it paid off. Best if you know as little as possible going in.

And rounding out my top ten, Rogue One. Everyone’s seen it, no need to rehash.

A few more thoughts…

My favorite line in Sausage Party still makes me laugh just thinking about it: “Fuck you, weiners.” Don’t Breathe starts to fall apart right around the beginning of the third act, but until then its tension is palpable – edge of your seat type shit. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates made me laugh. A lot. Who knew? The Zootopia scene in which the sloth at the DMV laughs at a joke he’s told is worth the price of admission right there. Midnight Special is a fascinating representation of how removing all exposition from a film will render it virtually inert. But Michael Shannon elevates pretty much everything he’s in. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is almost a masterpiece, were it only a bit more fleshed out and a little more clever. Looking back at my list, it probably should have been higher. The Bandit is a terribly made documentary, but it doesn’t matter. The subject matter is so dang entertaining.

And that’s all, folks. For the first time in my adult life, I won’t be making Oscar picks. This year, I really don’t care. Dear me, am I maturing a bit, finally? Probably not. After all, “Fuck you, weiners.”


The unfortunate meh of Passengers

Hi guys,

I have a pet peeve.  Well, I have several pet peeves, but one of those peeves has to do with deceptive film trailers.  I don’t like it when you see shots in a trailer that aren’t in the released film.  The latest Fantastic Four rebooted turd was a huge offender in that regard. I realize that in a rush to entice viewers marketers often release trailers before a film is finished, oftentimes resulting in cut shots appearing in trailers that don’t make it into the finished film.  I find it somewhat annoying, but understandable. But way worse, is when a trailer essentially lies to you. It doesn’t happen all that often, but there are a few key offenders. A few spring to mind…

I’m sure you’ve all seen, and most likely liked or loved, Pan’s Labyrinth.  But if you recall their marketing campaign before the film’s release, they conveniently ignored the fact that the film was in Spanish, not English.  But judging by this early trailer, you’d never know. The supers are all in English, as is the decidedly American-accented voiceover.

Another offender on the more egregious side would be Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Nowhere in that trailer do they even allude to the fact that the film is a musical.

There are lots of more minor offenses.  Kangaroo Jack is not a film about a talking kangaroo. Bryan Cranston is not the star of Godzilla. Drive is not a film in the mold of The Fast & The Furious, Alien 3 is not set on earth, Bridge to Tarabithia is not a kid-friendly adventure fantasy film….

And Passengers is not a mystery.

Do you recall the trailer for Passengers?  Pay close attention to Chris Pratt’s voiceover at 2:21.  It’s hard to miss.  There put extra focus on the line by having it occur under a black screen, giving it extra weight:

“There’s a reason we woke up early.”

This line isn’t in the finished film. And in the trailer, it was preceded by Pratt onscreen saying, “There’s something I have to tell you.” They set up a mystery in the trailer that does not exist in the film.  He knows immediately why he woke up early. It is, in fact, an overly simplistic explanation. There’s no ambiguity, subterfuge, or conspiracy going on.

Nowhere in the trailer do they even hint at what Passengers is really about. Keeping the core plot secret is great.  These days trailers give away too much, but such an obvious bait and switch is just plain shitty.

So… if it’s not a mystery set on a space ship bound for a distant world, what is it? At its core, Passengers is a character drama centered around an amoral decision made by one of the leads. It’s an interesting moral dilemma treated with patience and thought right up until that decision is made.  After that, the moral quandary and interesting character study is tossed out the window (or air lock, as it were, ha ha ha) in favor of an obvious, by the numbers space thriller pitting man vs. technology in a way that makes very little sense and leans far two heavily on the chemistry and charisma of the two leads. Throw in Lawrence “Stop Trying To Hit Me And Hit Me” Fishburne because the plot requires a character to explain some stuff and a bizarre non-speaking cameo by Andy Garcia in a single throwaway shot at the end, and you have a fairly lazy, standardized “space movie” with extremely watchable leads doing stuff nobody really cares about.  Passengers is a missed opportunity.  The questionable action taken at the end of the first act could have lead down a darker and more interesting path.  There’s a psychological thriller hiding in Passengers somewhere, an honest portrayal of man succumbing to his/her baser instincts in a moment of weakness and the aftermath that comes with such a decision.  Instead they chose to have a couple of beautiful hollywood A-listers run around a space ship putting out fires with little regard for the fascinating character study they jettisoned along with a sensical plot and believable motivations.

The most maddening part is that the director made a film in his native Norway a few years ago called, Headhunters.  It stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, of Game of Thrones fame.   Headhunters is a grisly and violent little dark comedy whose twists and turns keep you guessing throughout.  Passengers needed those oddball thriller sensibilities to elevate it beyond a dull yarn we’ve all seen before.  The effects are great, and Jennifer Lawrence & Chris Pratt are an endlessly watchable duo, but ultimately Passengers fails at presenting itself as anything more than proficiently made.  Another middle of the road science fiction bore we see far too many of these days.

The most concise thing I can say about Passengers is this: what if 2001: A Space Odyssey was just about a malfunctioning computer aboard a space ship?


p.s. I neglected to mention that Michael Sheen as the robotic bartender was great. I would love to see a better movie starring him and Chris Pratt.  They have great chemistry and play off each other well.



ARRIVAL. All caps. (Not to be confused with Charlie Sheen’s, The Arrival which, to be honest, isn’t a bad little alien invasion film from the guy who directed the fantastic Pitch Black and the not-so-fantastic The Chronicles of Riddick, before Charlie Sheen suffered a Freaky Friday-like mind switch with a brain damaged hedgehog)

Hey guys,

It would seem we fans of Smart Science Fiction only get about one worthy entry in the sub-genre a year (I count Smart Science Fiction as a category all its own).  Sometimes every few years.  Films like The Martian, Ex Machina, Moon, Contact, Solaris (both versions, although the original Russian film is superior), Primer, Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey and dare I say it… Interstellar (I didn’t particularly like Interstellar, but I never considered it a stupid science fiction film – it just wasn’t my cup of tea) come out in theaters all-too-rarely.  Instead we get stupid shit like endless Transformers, Resident Evil, and Alien vs. Predator franchise films.  For every one fantastic and cerebral film like Timecrimes we get a dozen Battlefield Earths, the Rollerball remake, Wing Commander, Lost in Space, the Lawnmower “Virtual Reality Will Turn You into a Superhuman Digital Monster” Man, that totally fucked first Planet of the Apes reboot starring Mark Walberg directed by, holy creeping Jesus, Tim Burton?!?  I mean, seriously, I could spend the next several days amassing a master list of all the worst Science Fiction films ever made.  It would take me an hour to make the same list for the greatest Sci Fi films.  There’s that many bad Sci Fi films out there and that few good.  It’s like film studios are clown cars and stupid sci fi movies are the clowns.  Stupid, ugly clowns sitting around drooling into a pile of their own shit wondering how in the world anybody can possibly sort out gross grammatical pickles like the proper usage of there, their and they’re.  You see, because they’re morons.

And then there’s ARRIVAL. That’s right, all caps [sic].  I put it in all caps because, HOLY SHIT IT’S GOOD.

Arrival is one of those rare films where your movie-going experience is 100% enhanced by knowing exactly dick going into it.  If you’ve seen a trailer then you know the basic premise, but what the trailers do not show you is what makes Arrival such a fantastic, not only Science Fiction film, but film, period. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote a very pointed and concise description of how Science Fiction is unfairly viewed in critical circles. Arrival is one of those films brimming with heart, brains and confidence, the same qualities that allowed ________ to win a Best Picture Oscar in _______. You’ll notice the Best Picture winner and year are left blank.  That’s because no Science Fiction film has ever won a Best Picture Academy Award.  This is a trophy that has gone to dreck like Crash, Chicago, A Beautiful Mind, Shakespeare in Love, The English Patient, and the king mother of films wrapped in unwarranted, unearned, and totally unbelievable praise… Forrest Fucking Gump.  Mad Max: Fury Road was nominated for Best Picture last year, along with nominations in 9 other categories.  It did not win Best Picture, but it did win 6 Oscars in other categories.  So there is hope.  Maybe this year Arrival will make history by actually winning Best Picture.  It won’t.  Not when critics are creaming themselves over ‘serious drama’ like Manchester by the Sea and Fences.  But one can dream.

I’m not going to run the risk of negatively impacting your movie-going experience in any way if you have not seen Arrival.  I won’t get into the super smart plot or wonderful performances.  Just go see it.  Nooooooo, don’t get sucked in by La La Land’s pandering horse shit, Assassin’s Creed’s hazy rooftop antics, or Passengers lead actors’ chemistry.  Buy a ticket and go see Arrival. If you come out of it with a negative opinion, then ask yourself this… is Forrest Gump a better film than Pulp Fiction (or The Shawshank Redemption for that matter)? If your answer is yes, then please, for the good of humanity, lay down and stop breathing.  You’re poisoning the gene pool.

I really hate Forrest Gump.


p.s. I am aware that Lord of the Rings: The Return of the The King won Best Picture in 2003.  It’s not Science Fiction.  It’s Fantasy.