Sicario: Day of the Soldado Review

I was initially surprised to see the nail-biting 2015 drama Sicario get a direct sequel. The film was pretty conclusive and didn’t leave much story left to be told, so it was interesting to see what they’d do next. What was even better about this news was that Benicio Del Toro, arguably the best character in the film, would be reprising his role as a mysterious and sometimes frightening hitman.

I immediately knew that regardless of the quality of the film itself, Del Toro would deliver another solid performance and give more depth to a fascinating individual. How right I was.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado brings FBI agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and hitman Alejandro Gillik (Benicio Del Toro) back to Mexico to fight the cartel. However, this time drugs aren’t the name of the game, its people.

Attempting to start a war between the numerous cartel clans, Alejandro kidnaps the daughter of a kingpin named Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner). As they dig themselves deeper into the mess they’ve created, the life of young Isabela becomes in jeopardy, and Alejandro begins to question what exactly he’s fighting for.

I have to say that this concept doesn’t work as well when we don’t have that fish out of water character (like Emily Blunt) to latch onto. In the first Sicario, we the audience were just as helpless and confused as Blunt. We cared about her, felt sorry for her, and learned all the crazy plot twists along with her.

Here we have Isabela (a very well-written character) as an innocent child to care for, but that doesn’t work as well when it comes to plot suspense and tension. We’re constantly being fed spoonful’s of plot to come before the events even take place. It makes for some interesting scenes, but nothing feels as dramatic or tense with Brolin and Del Toro holding our hand through the chaos.

Speaking of Del Toro, one advantage Sicario: Day of the Soldado has over its predecessor is giving more focus on the character of Alejandro. This time around he isn’t as mysterious or menacing, and we even see a softer side to his existence. There’s some touching moments between Alejandro and Isabela that turn out to be the best scenes in the film. Moments that properly convey the message of how children and families are negatively affected by acts of terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Sicario plays out as a fairly solid drama/action film, at least up until the last ten minutes. A couple of very bold choices are made in the direction of the film, and I was suddenly shocked into excitement over what might happen next to our leads. Lots of buildup for what is ultimately a letdown ending. Sicario concludes on a note that’s confusing, nonsensical, and overall anticlimactic. I feel like there may have been several scenes taken from the final cut that tied everything together. Rather than end the film hitting the message home, they instead decide to leave us with an obscure cliffhanger. How disappointing.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is an entertaining yet flawed mix of action and drama, with some light social commentary and great performances sprinkled in. If you’re expecting anything as hard-hitting or thought-provoking as the first Sicario, you’ll be leaving the theater more than dissatisfied.

The Verdict: C+

-Zachary Flint

The Worst Movies of 2017

Here they are, the worst films I forced myself to sit through in 2017. Each was excruciatingly painful to watch, and I contemplated leaving the theater in just about every scenario.

This list is of course based on what I was able to go out and see this year, so there may be some films not on this list that very well should be. Like The Snowman and Flatliners for example, which I heard were just terrible. Regardless of my decision not to see said films, let’s dig in, shall we?


Honorable Mentions: Transformers: The Last Knight, Great Wall, Smurfs: The Lost Village, Rings

Congrats to all of you that made it, you were just awful enough!

10. All Eyez on Me

A failed biopic on the iconic rapper Tupac Shakur, All Eyez on Me had some of the worst editing and cinematography I’ve seen all year. Riding on the coattails of Straight Outta Compton (the critically and financially successful biopic about N.W.A.), All Eyez on Me incorporated too many one-dimensional characters and half-baked racial messages.

9. Daddy’s Home 2

A rather unpleasant comedy starring typically A-list actors, Daddy’s Home 2 simply wasn’t funny, at least for the most part. There were occasional sight gags and one-liners that got a light exhale from me, but overall the film was pointless and had me antsy to leave.

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The only film on this list to be part of an already established blockbuster series is Dead Men Tell No Tales, which I consider to be the final nail in the coffin to Pirates of the Caribbean. Not only was the MacGuffin plot (the only kind of plot known to the Pirates Universe) trite and tiresome, it had the most bland and basic characters in the entire franchise. Especially the strong, independent woman, who felt the need to tell you how strong and independent she was every time she was onscreen.

Even the character of Jack Sparrow, who has proven to be quite a fun and mischievous personality, is irrevocably ruined by the bumbling writers.

7. The Circle

The Circle attempted to preach metaphors about the dangers of technology without any firm understanding of its subject matter. Mixed with an unrealistic plot and wasted performances from an ensemble cast (including the now deceased Bill Paxton), The Circle is as disappointing as it is ignoramus.

6. 47 Meters Down

47 Meters Down is about as boring as a killer shark movie could possibly be. Two thirds of the runtime were made up of obvious filler involving long overused plot devices. When we actually got to see the sharks, they were nothing more than cheap, SyFy channel CGI. I’m offended that this even made it into the theater with such hand-me-down graphics. Topped with an obnoxious ending synonymous with a giant middle finger to the audience, I was tired with 47 Meters Down from start to finish.

5. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

The best way to describe this Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings knock off is incoherent and disjointed. Scenes are sloppily thrown together and edited in such a way that made much of what was going on incomprehensible. Overall, King Arthur was a not-so-epic fantasy that wasted its talent (including Jude Law and Charlie Hunnam) and managed to sink below my already low expectations.

4. Phoenix Forgotten

I hate almost every film I’ve seen that utilizes found footage, and Phoenix Forgotten is no exception.

The entire shtick of this genre anymore is that you initially think the footage may somehow be real. In the same vain as something like The Blair Witch Project or to a slightly lesser degree Paranormal Activity. The only issue here? Phoenix Forgotten is obviously fake from the moment the film starts. So when the audience is already salient that what they’re seeing is fake, their ceases to be any point in watching. This isn’t true for all found footage films, but Phoenix Forgotten has so little going for it that profound boredom sets in quick.

3. The Mummy

The only pleasure I took from The Mummy was watching the film financially tank.

Instead of taking The Mummy back to its spooky Universal monster movie roots, the studio decided to turn it into a big, bloated action/adventure extravaganza. And what was meant to be the start of an entire franchise has become the butt of everyone’s jokes.

Starring the horribly miscast Tom Cruise (who appears confused for the entire film), The Mummy has little to offer audiences. Other than sensory overload and shoddy attempts at humor.

2. The Bye Bye Man

The Bye Bye Man is the second worst concept for a film on this list (we’ll get to the worst here in a minute).

A horror film with a tremendously muddled premise and underdeveloped characters, The Bye Bye Man is one of the least effective horror flicks I’ve seen in a very long time. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had from just how terrible the performances and CGI are, I just felt morally obligated to rank The Bye Bye Man high on this list.


And the absolute worst film of the year: The Emoji Movie

This trendy, cynical piece of lazily animated trash is void of imagination and creativity. To quote a review I initially wrote about The Emoji Movie, “It’s unoriginal, uninspired, mediocre, boring, manipulative, and downright asinine”.

I feel emotionally drained just thinking and writing about how bad it was, and I hope in the future we never get another film that sends the message, “Text more, think less”.

-Zachary Flint

The Emoji Movie: The Death of Creativity

The Emoji Movie takes everything selfish and wrong with our technology-obsessed generation and wears it like a badge. The film, which revolves around smartphone emojis, exists for the sole purpose to appeal to the masses, with zero attempts at creativity made. Films like The Emoji Movie are my least favorite kind of film to watch, ones that indulge in overused tropes and treat the audience like brainless idiots.

The plot is the same boring animated adventure that you see in every sub-par kid’s film nowadays. An emoji named Gene (T.J. Miller) is sad because he is different from all of his colleagues, so he embarks on an adventure to become like everyone else. Along the way, Gene meets a couple other outcasts who show him that it’s okay to be unlike everyone else. From here, I’m sure you can easily deduce how the rest of The Emoji Movie plays out.

Rather than crafting well-timed jokes that fit into the plot, The Emoji Movie instead hits the audience with a never-ending barrage of one-off puns. Painfully bad emoji-related jokes that are fired in rapid succession throughout most of the flick. Within the first five minutes there were at least twenty emoji puns associated with Shrimp, Christmas trees, and yes, even poop.

Everything about The Emoji Movie is an animated atrocity. It’s unoriginal, uninspired, mediocre, boring, manipulative, and downright asinine. The few clever ideas that the film displays are blatantly stolen from movies like Wreck-it Ralph and Inside Out, which are both more intelligent, entertaining, and heartwarming to watch. With nonexistent characterization and absolutely no laughs, The Emoji Movie is a cynical, trendy product that I took no pleasure in viewing.

The Verdict: F

-Zachary Flint

Remakes and Reboots and Sequels! Oh My!

Well folks, its happened. Hollywood has completely run out of ideas for major film releases.

So far this year we have received remake after reboot after pointless sequel. And as expected, most fell flat on their faces. Only a select few will stand the passage of time as memorable films.

And from the looks of it, 2017 isn’t going to be any better. So far on the roster there’s:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tale
  • Power Rangers
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Transformers: the Last Knight
  • Star Wars VIII
  • Alien: Covenant
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • World War Z 2
  • Baywatch
  • Despicable Me 3
  • Fast 8
  • Annabelle 2
  • Cars 3
  • Jumanji
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • etc. etc. etc.

Like, what the hell is going on? Everything on this list has already been done!  I didn’t even name all the damn superhero movies coming out, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Now I don’t mean to judge these movies without seeing them, and when I do see them I will judge each based upon their own merit. It’s just very disappointing for me (and many others too) to see so many movies being needlessly and shamelessly redone. Especially when we know its just because studios want to make a bunch of money.

Not one film that I listed above needed any sort of remake or sequel. Some of these films may be good, they may even be great! But they all beg the question why? I love Blade Runner and Pirates of the Caribbean, but the stories are over. Go home. It’s finished. Stop adding to stories already made and make something different.

Alien is my favorite movie of all time, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pumped for Alien: Covenant. But if film makers just keep giving me the same stuff I always want, how will I ever be challenged to try something new? I want to be challenged with new themes and new concepts on the big screen, so maybe its best if we put some of these films to rest.

I’m starting to get pissed off at all these remakes. Hollywood executives don’t care about movie fans and only have an interest in making money. I think that some day soon people are going to catch on to all this remake/sequel bull crap. And when they do, Hollywood will have to get clever and stop redoing things that have already been done.

Zachary Flint

Annoying People at the Movies

Almost every time I go to the theater nowadays, my enjoyment of watching the film is broken by someone being incredibly rude or obnoxious. Sometimes it’s a person eating food very loudly. Other times it’s someone actually taking a phone call in the theater, and they don’t courteously leave.

I would like to discuss a few of my experiences in the theater that have annoyed me greatly. These experiences are very recent and are why I have been compelled to write this.

Just recently, while viewing Kubo and the Two Strings, a mother’s young children yelled and screamed through most of the film. The mother just sat there without a care in the world, her brain hanging somewhere in space over Lake Michigan. She never told them to be quiet, and never took any of the children out of the theater. Just sat there and let them scream.

Another movie viewing where I almost mentally snapped was The Birth of a Nation. Just behind me a man was eating his food so loud I could tell exactly what he was eating. “That was a piece of popcorn. Now that was an M&M.” So on and so forth. It became so extreme I had to move my seat, twice. I could still hear him chomping away three rows down.

A third situation I was in was during my viewing of Don’t Breathe. The film was at a very dark and tense moment, when suddenly a man starts shining his iPhone flashlight in my face. I believe he was looking for a friend or something, but I’m not really sure. All I know is I had some choice words for him to hear.

I have been annoyed in a theater setting by every demographic of human being on this planet. And the list exponentially grows as to how many times this stuff is happening. Things I never thought somebody would do in a million years, people are doing. I mean, who shines a flashlight in everyone’s faces?

People need to understand that there are still a minority of individuals out there who go to the movies intending to actually watch the movie. I don’t think its too much to ask for to be quiet while watching a movie.

So please, either shut up or hit the road jack. I’m sick of this shit.

Zachary Flint

The Secret Life of Pets Review


The Secret Life of Pets is a fun family adventure that anyone, especially children, can love.

The Secret Life of Pets stars a dog named Max (Louis C. K.) who has to get used to sharing the love of his owner with a new dog in the house named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). The two are forced to embark on an adventure together, all while meeting other wacky pets along the way.

As a personal fan of Louis C. K.’s stand up, I was particularly excited to see how his voice acting in a kids film would hold compared to his other various works. Upon viewing, Louis really delivered. I was very pleased with just how much personality he gave to the performance. His distinct voice really added character and humanity to Max.

Not only Louis, but almost every voice actor in this film stood out to me, and each was unique in their own way. That, for me, was the strongest point throughout the Secret Life of Pets. It’s rare to find an animated movie where just about every voice is utilized to its fullest potential. When each voice is able to encompass the entire personality of the animated characters.

The animation is bright and colorful, typical Illumination Entertainment style. However I find that the story is more engaging then most of their past productions like The Lorax (2012), Minions (2015), or, dare I say it, Hop (2011). I was invested in the characters and their quests, and I wanted to see a happy resolution. I genuinely cared more about the pets in Secret Life of Pets than I ever did the minions in their movie.

There are plenty of different cat and dog personalities portrayed in the film. Every audience member is bound to find at least a few relatable traits to their own pets, which is really where the Secret Life of Pets gets its charm. While watching the film I would catch myself thinking things like, “that’s exactly how my dog acts”.

One of the weaker points of the film would be that it takes on such a standard plot. With the main plot being that the protagonists are lost and trying to get back to their owner. Therefore certain situations and scenes could get very predictable very fast. And with a plot so used before, the message doesn’t end up anything special either.

However the core audience for Secret Life of Pets, families and children, will be satisfied with this film regardless. When the movie gets good, it gets good. The personalities of the pets and the voice actors are what pick Secret Life of Pets up and carry it away.

The Secret Life of Pets answers the long asked question of, “what exactly are my pets doing while I’m not home?” The film tells a simple adventure story that children will easily enjoy and that adults will find cute and silly. However, those that will be most satisfied with the Secret Life of Pets will be those with crazy pets.

Zachary Flint