Ducktales (tv) (2017)

  • First things first: I haven’t watched the original “Ducktales” cartoon in DECADES. Sometimes, things like movies, cartoons and music don’t hold up to our cynical adult views, and it’s best to leave them in the past with our youthful innocence. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn that thirst for nostalgia into a much more rich and satisfying experience.
  • It’s 2017 and we’re in a modern representation of Duckburg, where Donald Fauntleroy Duck (yes, that IS his middle name) is now a permanent resident and his uncle Scrooge McDuck still owns everything.
  • Donald is of course the legal guardian of this three nephews Huey, Louie and Dewey and this time, each of those nephews has more distinct personalities: the nerd, the relaxed one, and the over-confident one.
  • Keep in mind that this is very much an origin story, so things might not be like you remember them. But, this is a new representation of an origin story, and a story that looks to be more dense, emotional and mysterious to go along with all the adventure and exploration.
  • If you’re looking for silliness, laughs and cute moments, this isn’t that at all; This is very much an old-fashioned, slower-paced, mystery-filled adventure with some pretty funny moments. Think more Indiana Jones than Chicken Little.
  • The visual style is also a bit of a throwback, as it is rooted more in the original Donald Duck comics of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s versus the Disney “House style” look that has been made so famously recognized around the world (the new intro to the show even alludes to the comic origins [don’t worry, I’ll post the old & new intros below]).
  • Speaking of Donald and his early years, many of us know him as a greedy and highly temperamental character. He never cared to care for his nephews and he could not stand when chipmunks got in his way. But that version’s cartoons were funny, because he always got beat up and whomever he was picking on would win. And we laughed. However, this Donald is different. He’s responsible, sweet and he cares for his nephews and their well-being. I guess this is the original Donald Duck that my Parents (and a lot of people born in the first half of the 20th century) grew up with. Sure, he still gets frazzled easily and yeah, the physical trauma is still there, but he’s a compassionate, nicer, well-rounded representation. And I LOVE it.
  • Final* Letter Grade: A-
    • *This is just for the first two episodes/pilot movie that Disney XD aired (and have up legally for FREE on youtube). The whole series hasn’t been released.
  • As promised, here are the two intros:
  • Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production. He’s on Twitter and Instagram.

Atomic Blonde

  • The action in this movie is fantastic.
  • HOWEVER, there isn’t a lot of action in this movie at all. Please note: this is more of a spy-drama than an action-thriller. The movie moves extremely slow and is told through pure flashbacks. And I was very bored until the last 3rd of the movie (which gives us a pretty long-winded ending).
  • I always look for specific posters to be the graphic on all reviews, and I chose one that highlights the major action sequence of the film (that everyone is talking about [just look at all those quotes about it on the poster itself]). This movie is NOT that action sequence. If you would like to see a movie with wall-to-wall action, please see “The Raid“.
  • It’s set during the tear down of the Berlin wall, and tries to provide a mutual commentary with it’s story. And it sure misses the mark. It just tries to do too much, without the screenwriting talent to pull it off (not that I could of done any better).
  • While my girlfriend was in the bathroom, she overheard another gal say “It tries to be another one of those “America saves the world” movies.”
  • I did not know this was based on a comic book.
  • Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies do a much better job of incorporating pop music into movies. This movie is set in the 80’s and doesn’t stop with the 80’s music, BUT it doesn’t know how to successfully configure it into the respective scenes. Their placement felt very gratuitous. Like, they’re just their because people loved them.
  • Final Letter Grade: D+
  • Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production. He’s on Twitter and Instagram.

GLOW (tv): a Female’s Perspective

  • As a product of the 70’s and 80’s, there really wasn’t too much going on except for the Saturday Morning cartoon. I was way too young to understand SNL and was pretty much stuck watching Lawrence Welk (bubbles and accordion music, oh my). One day, my mom introduced something magical to my brother and I. Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling aka GLOW! We always looked forward to watching this entertaining, delightful show (which segwayed into our love of the former WWF). So I was super excited when Netflix decided to create a TV show based off of GLOW.
  • The show is based in the 80’s. Big hair, big shoulder pads and big egos. Your main characters are Ruth and Debbie, two former friends who become advisaries in and out of the ring. In typical night time soap opera fashion, sex is what breaks their friendship (Ruth sleeps with Debbie’s douche bag husband).
  • But it’s not just about that. There are also some small side stories about the other girls. My favorite one is about the story about Carmen, played by Britney Young. She comes from a family of wrestlers (Dad and Brothers are famous wrestlers) and dad of course does not want his daughter wrestling because it’s dangerous. Carmen, in her journey to prove him wrong, goes against his wishes and wrestles anyway.  There’s more to this but I think you need to see it for yourself.
  • Yes, some of this show is a little bit of a cliche, but that was kind of the 80’s.
  • I think the story line does justice to this show as well as the acting. As a woman who grew up watching women’s wrestling, I always felt impowered watching these women kicking butt. They had great story lines and awesome moves. Watching this show, I felt the same way, with a twinge of nostalgia (there’s great music in this show). There was always a message about girl power and that we’re not just sex objects, the show moves through this and shows that women CAN do what a man can do.
  • I want to see what next season can bring.
  • Final Letter Grade: A. 
  • Veronica Zuazua-Kuznets is a girl who was always curious about Comic Con but had never gone. She’s a big fan of Downton Abbey. Tweet her here and on Instagram.

GLOW (tv): a Male’s Perspective

  • Full disclosure: I LOVE pro wrestling. Before you roll your eyes, just be aware that this GLOW tv show is based ON A REAL THING. A real thing that my Mom watched, and made my Sister and I watch with her. Our Mom introduced us to pro wrestling through that original GLOW, meaning I have a nostalgic connection to this.
    So without further adieu…
  • This was great. It’s written extremely well and truly never slows down in my opinion. Each episode of this 10 episode season is just over a half hour long, never letting the show’s pace slow.
  • Every actress in this show just nails their part, from the drama and comedy to the physicality of their alternate wrestling personae.
  • I’ve never really followed Marc Maron’s work in any way, but he’s great here.
  • If you want to watch a story of relatable, truly realistic underdogs empowering themselves to survive, then please watch this.
  • This could’ve easily turned into a spoof of pro-wrestling. Yes, everyone laughs at it: “it’s fake” or “it’s staged”. Here’s the thing: sure, there’s a choreography to it. Yes, the outcomes are predetermined. But pro wrestlers still have to physically go through the movements. Have you tried falling on your back onto a piece of plywood practically every night for nine months? Or falling on your knees for the same amount of time? It is not an easy life, but GLOW (and other wrestling promotions) are these people’s lives. They do it for entertainment, for glory and for themselves. The makers of this show were inspired by a documentary they saw on Netflix (the same documentary that I saw with my Family one Christmas a few years ago). So give them respect and don’t laugh at their profession.
  • Shout-out to Moonlight Rollerway here in Glendale, CA!
  • Final Letter Grade: A+.
  • Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production. He’s on Twitter and Instagram.

Castlevania (tv)

  • An adaptation of a long-running video game franchise released on the first Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1986, and heavily influenced by Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Check out that kick-ass intro!
  • written by Warren Ellis, a writer who over the last 10 years (when I first became a fan), has written some great comics, some awesome episodes of Justice League Unlimited, and the fantastic G.I. Joe: Resolute.
  • There’s some deep social commentary about the differences between organized religion and actual spirituality.
  • I’ve played many of the Castlevania games since 1986, and I was more than happy that not only did they include my favorite character Sypha Belnades (a magician priestess / vampire hunter) BUT they also gave her a Spanish/Hispanic accent! HELL EFFING YES. Score one for the light-skinned Hispanics Team!
  • I talk about tone and balance of tone a lot on this site (as recently as yesterday), and how important it is to try to achieve a perfect one. If you present something as serious and then introduce comedic elements too late within the piece, then it might jar the audience to the point where they’re no longer interested. The video games within this series have always been serious stories about a family of vampire-hunters trying to take down Dracula, but this adaptation adds humor, and a lot of it. The difference is that it introduces this humor early on, which helps the audience ease into the contrast of tone more and gives us balance.
  •  This is only the first season, and this first season only has four episodes (which is PERFECT for people with shitty attention spans like me.).
  • [spoiler-ish] They basically make Trevor Belmont a Jack Sparrow kind of character and it WORKS; making a near-perfect balance of serious drama, social commentary, horror, action and humor.
  • [spoiler-ish] If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll be happy that the castle gears make an appearance! I practically cheered when I saw them.
  • Final Letter Grade: A.
  • Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production. He’s on Twitter and Instagram.

  • Bonus! I didn’t notice it before (I can be slow sometimes), but check out the sweet homage to the original video game’s box art (right) that Netflix did (left):

War for the Planet of the Apes

  • Clocks in at 2:20 minutes, which is about 15 minutes longer than my attention span can handle nowadays.
  • Very slowly paced.
  • [spoiler-ish] There’s a funny ape who, even though he moves the story along, is a source of comedy in this, and his character really took me out of the movie. Had they already established lighter tones in this franchise then I wouldn’t care, but don’t give me “serious sci-fi” and then make the court jester a prominent piece.
  • [spoiler-ish] TALK ABOUT A MELODRAMATIC ENDING. Ooof. That’s heading into Steven Spielberg schmaltz.
  • Matt Reeves is a very good filmmaker. He’ll always have me interested in anything he does thanks to directing the first “Cloverfield” and the incredibly brilliant remake “Let Me In“.
  • Movies are a visual medium, and should be treated as such. Every frame should be composed in such a way that you could tell what is going on within the movie, what emotions the characters are going through, etc., WITHOUT actually being told. This is one of those movies. You could leave the sound off and still understand what is happening in a powerful way (plus, you could avoid the funny ape’s dialog like this [swish!]).
  • I haven’t heard a score this memorable in years, although it seems like Michael Giacchino does practically every score nowadays. I’ve never heard him compose better music.
  • I’m not one that ever really gets “wowed” by special effects but HOLY WOW THOSE APES LOOK REAL.
  • My Daughter really enjoys this franchise, especially the ape named Maurice. She likes to mimic his sign language:
    Image result for war for the planet of the apes maurice
  • Final Letter Grade: B.
  • Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production. He’s on Twitter and Instagram.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

  • There will NEVER be a better Spider-Man film than Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2”. You remember that one, right? Tobey Maquire? Alfred Molina as “Doc Ock”? THAT ENDING. THAT DOC OCK CREATION SCENE. THAT ELEVATED TRAIN SEQUENCE? THE HEART AT THE CENTER OF THAT STORY??? That FILM WAS SO PERFECT, the reigning film critics of that era (who grew up on masterpieces of cinema like Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia and Sunset Blvd) gave it an INCREDIBLY STELLAR cumulative grade , and this was BEFORE bonafide nerds took over film criticism. Shut up, nerds! Anyway, EVERYTHING worked so extremely well in it that it’s nearly impossible for them to make something better. And if you go into this one thinking it WILL be better, then you will be disappointed. It’s best to just go in with a fresh mind and forget that Raimi’s second Spidey film even exits. So now…

qlbr spidery

  • I consider myself a “Spidermanologist” (which may sound pretentious to you, the fair reader, but you’re on MY site and you’re reading MY review, so deal with it [I love you, you know that right?]). I say that because I’m passionate about my favorite fictional character ever, and can speak at long-winded length about him and his various adventures. THIS REVIEW WILL BE LONGER THAN NORMAL, so just grab a soda and sit back for a while.
  • Speaking of his adventures, the Spider/Peter life has always been full of different ones that affect him in many different ways, from romance to revenge, from finances to family to fighting fiery foes. It’s a bit of a discredit to the overall story to try and cram so much of that into just one long movie. It slows the pace to have so many sub-plots going at the same time and prevents things from truly breathing and growing organically.
  • Speaking of cramming too much, how are there SIX credited screenwriters on this? That’s not a good sign, and with too much going in this, it feels like WAY too many cooks in the kitchen. The greatest films have one, two or three credited screenwriters at the most.
  • Why is it so hard to just have one villain in modern comic book movies? See my “letting things breathe” example above. Why are studios giving us SO MUCH in one movie? I don’t need it. I’ll happily give you my money multiple times if you just make your movies shorter and more focused, it’s not a problem! Don’t shove a buffet’s worth of food on my plate when all I want is a damn cheeseburger combo.
  • Because of the reasons above, the movie feels quite imbalanced. The main vibe is “John Hughes-ish teen-movie” which IS a part of Peter’s life, but the movie is missing the HEART of Tobey Maguire’s movies. Also, with all that’s going on, we kind of get robbed of Michael Keaton truly fleshing out his villain.
  • Speaking of Tobey Maguire, his Peter was SPOT ON. But he and Raimi forgot the humorous side of “Spider-Man”, which they NAILED in the Andrew Garfield version…only they made his Peter too cool and not nerdy at all. Tom Holland (your current Spidey) was GREAT in Captain America: Civil War; written and directed with precise knowledge and stunning accuracy. Here, the SIX writers made him feel kind of whiney.
  • Whereas Raimi’s movies attempted to recreate the tone of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, this movie feels very current with trying to be “modern teen comedy”.
  • (deep exhale)
  • Love that this wasn’t ANOTHER version of his origin story.
  • There are two pretty spectacular action pieces in this.
  • The suit he wears in this might be the best cinematic version of it yet. And I loved the Vulture costume design.
  • The SIX screenwriters (I’m not gonna shut up about that) actually wrote some pretty dang good dialog in this movie.
  • The score to the movie is just “eh” except for the one they use during the Marvel Studios intro (pay attention).
  • They do infuse some popular tunes into it that work within the context of their respective scenes (Thanks, Guardians of the Galaxy).
  • There’s one sequence in this movie that was a pretty iconic one in the comics, which was nice to see.
  • Hellllllooooo Marisa Tomei!
  • HELLLOOOO Marisa Tomei wearing 70’s clothes stolen out of the Three’s Company wardrobe department!
  • Hey, it’s Garcelle! Helllooo!
  • There’s a FANTASTIC animated sequence during the end credits.
  • Who doesn’t enjoy a flat sandwich? I sure do. Squish it. Squish it good.
  • I know I kept bringing up the second Raimi film even after I told y’all to forget it exists, but I feel I have to because it creates context for a story that’s been brought to us 6 times within 15 years. Now, after having said all that, this is still a pretty dang entertaining movie.
  • Final Letter Grade: A-

    Here are some fun little bonuses for you, the faithful readers:

    Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production. He’s on Twitter and Instagram.

Baby Driver

  • The main story line is heavily cliched, but the dialog is not.
  • The pacing is pretty slow, but then again, I have a TERRIBLE attention span.
  • Felt a little long, with a long-winded ending.
  • It’s great to see REAL cars (not computer graphic cars) doing REAL driving stunts. It’s too bad the quick editing diminishes the impact of the chase sequences. Seriously, how can we appreciate the stunt driving if we can’t see the actual STUNT DRIVING on the screen? The quick-quick-quick cuts work fantastically for the non-chase scenes though, as they’re edited to specific beats in whatever song is a part of that scene.
  • There’s a chase on foot that might be the greatest foot-chase EVER in the history of cinema.
  • Speaking of songs, the soundtrack to this is a lot of fun.
  • MAJOR props to actually casting a deaf actor for a deaf role.
  • Lily James is quite adorable.
  • Final Letter Grade: B.

    Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production. He’s on Twitter and Instagram.