Sergio Z.'s Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Paul (2011)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

First off I would like to state that I love Edgar Wright's work with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and I consider both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz two of the greatest modern parody films, and so it is in my disappointment to have to explain how miserably Paul fails to hold up to expectations.

Simon Pegg has had his fair share in Hollywood for the past few years, but he doesn't seem to function well as an actor without his (should be siamese) cinematic twin Nick Frost. The two are an inseparable comedic duo, and are always capable of pulling off one good joke after the other, but now that I've seen Paul I feel that this is something they can only pull off in British cinema.

Paul lacks the wit and charm of Pegg's and Frost's earlier efforts, and its really a shame to see their talent go to waste. Shaun of the Dead was a great zombie parody, and Hot Fuzz was a great buddy-cop parody, but Paul simply does not have enough clear references to even be considered a real parody in the first place. Seth Rogen did a nice job dubbing Paul and most of the laughs come from him, but that seems to be the biggest problem with the film. There are hundreds, if not thousands of Sci-Fi cliches that are never really picked up on in the movie, and therefore the script feels rushed and unfinished.

Nevertheless some jokes work really well, Paul's flashbacks are great and Kristen Wiig does a nice job as a young bible-belt follower, however her jokes tend to feel uninspired and she is not given a good quality script to work with. Once again, it would have been nice if the script would play around with more Sci-Fi cliches and movie references rather than including Kristen Wiig's character. I don't want to spoil too much at this point, but I'll just say that much of the films jokes are a little too basic and unoriginal. Pegg and Frost do their best to keep the film afloat and they have a great sense of ensemble, but I can't help but feel that the film would have been much better if it had been a British production.

Overall, Paul seems to miss the comic-style direction of Edgar Wright and the film seems to forget that its supposed to be a parody and not a Sci-Fi comedy, thus only briefly using some Sci-Fi references (mostly noticed in audio such as the Close Encounters theme in a fireworks shop and a country band playing the groovy tune from the Tatooine band in Star Wars: A New Hope).

Paul could have been a lot better and I hope that someday, Pegg and Frost go back to British cinema and make a new parody that is of the same caliber as their original hits.

Ed Wood
Ed Wood (1994)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

For a long time, bad filmmaking had a face. That face was the face of Edward D. Wood Junior, an ambitious director with little talent but big dreams. I see something most admirable in the figure of an artist who refuses to give up. Sure, Ed Wood's pictures were bad, at some points even horrendous, but the world of art is open to everyone. This is why I believe that Tim Burton's biopic; Ed Wood may be one of the greatest films of the 1990's, if not of all time. Tim Burton's direction is second to none with a meticulous attention to detail, and Johnny Depp's performance is only trumped by Martin Landau's disturbingly realistic performance of the late Bela Lugosi.

Burton knows how to work with his rejects. Having done Edward Scissorhands, Batman and Beetlejuice, it was clear that if there would be anyone capable of casting a positive light on the worst director of all time, it would be Tim Burton. The films incredible charm, the magnetic charisma from the leads and Burton's stellar attention to detail draws the viewer into a wonderful world that blends formalist cinematic techniques with realistic depictions of 1950's Los Angeles. Although the film takes huge emotional drops, there is an overall feeling of rejoice that is felt when Ed embarks onto another film endeavor, regardless of his failures. I finished the film feeling that regardless of how your movie is received, a filmmaker will always be a noble human being.

The performances are mind blowing; Depp gives Wood a sincerity and sympathy that few actors could have achieved. The viewer feels close to him and his constantly optimistic outlook is uplifting and incredibly motivational. One starts to see how Wood himself managed to get films as ridiculous as Glen or Glenda, or Plan 9 underway. However, Martin Landau steals the show. His visceral performance, coupled with the black and white photography is a powerful portrayal of a fading legend of early cinema. Bela Lugosi could have risen from the grave and not done a better job.

Ed Wood is one of those films that leaves you loving and hating the film industry all at the same time. The optimism with which the film leaves the viewer might not be factually correct, but there is an unconditional love for cinema that flows throughout the film. Tim Burton manages to bring an entire emotional outlook to life through this film: the respect for art and the pursuit of success.

Burton recreates entire scenes from Ed Wood's films with a sense of dark humor. The shot framing and composition is incredible at some points, one might as well be seeing the footage from an actual Ed Wood film. The character interactions on set with Ed Wood, Lobo and Bela Lugosi are hilarious as well as surprisingly believable. Tim Burton finds an incredibly efficient method to slowly introduce us to the eccentric character of Ed Wood, whose interests in cross-dressing and filmmaking all appear wonderfully sympathetic instead of off-putting.

This film finds a special place in my heart. Any film enthusiast can see the power of Tim Burton's film and although the film shows us a horribly inept director, the film could motivate just about anyone to go make their own movie. Tim Burton manages to make Ed Wood's disastrous career look fun, and therefore awakens a love for the art of filmmaking. I sincerely doubt that a biopic on the life of Orson Welles could be as inspirational as Tim Burton's film on the masterful Ed Wood.

Bad Education
Bad Education (2004)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Filmmaking demands elegance. As a film begins to cross the thresholds of time continuums, play with the perception of reality and fiction as well as border morality and begin to provoke its audience, elegance is the fundamental axis in separating a film from genius and self-indulgence. Such is the case of Almodovar's tale of molestation, love and death. A film so intricately constructed and so tightly knit that its hard to fathom how extensive the screenplay and storyboards must have been for a film of this caliber.

In today's world, a gay romance is in no way different than a straight romance, and although some might argue that Almodovar does go above and beyond the comfort zones of some viewers, one needs to understand is that La Mala Educacion is in essence a film about love. Whether it is about love between people, love for art or love for life, Almodovar creates a colorful and visceral story in which the genders involved are not essential, because love crosses all creeds and colors.

The film shows the lives of filmmaker Ignacio Rodriguez and screenwriter Enrique Goded, two young men who had last seen each other sixteen years ago, when they were still in a Christian school and were threatened by their pedophile teacher, Father Manolo. Going into the story any further than this would diminish the excellence of Almodovar's direction, because ultimately, the films genius lies in its story and execution.

Almodovar proves that he has elegance in his provocative film about how a priest with pedophile tendencies forever changes the lives of 2 young boys. By never succumbing to sexploitation and always keeping the narrative first in line, Almodovar's film shocks with its constantly believable plot twists and excellent performances from its cast. The film is both shocking and hilarious, and as tragedy evolves, one finds a dark humor in the lives of Ignacio, Enrique and Juan.

The story covers endless layers and stories, and as the setting shifts in the film, fact and fiction does as well. The film never confuses the viewer too much by alternating in its aspect ratio, which is an innovative technique. As the film shows what happens within Enrique's screenplay, the image of the video on the screen is smaller. By elegantly jumping back and forth in time and place through voiceovers and technical tricks, La Mala Educacion never becomes impossible to comprehend.

What first is accepted as true is later proven false, and as the film works its way to the end of the puzzle, the viewer needs to rethink their own perception of the characters and constantly reconsider their opinions and demands for the outcomes of each stakeholder. In his own right, Almodovar made a darkly satirical, yet disturbingly sincere and tragic Romance in the style of Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Although links between the two films can be drawn, they are definitely not the same film. The power of this film is second to none, and the performances and the characters are excellent and wonderfully layered.

La Mala Educacion is not a film for everyone, but those who can give it a try will not be disappointed. It is a film that displays technical expertise, and tells a powerful story in an unconventional, and provocative way.

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane (Plane Dead)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

You know that moment when you're in the DVD rental and tell your friends "hey lets get this movie to laugh". This isn't exactly this kind of movie. You start off confused. You tap your feet, you cover your eyes in fear that it might actually be scary. The first zombie comes into the frame, and just before you see the gore, a loud scream is heard, and the zombies reflection is seen in the victims helmet... AS A FREEZE FRAME! Yes, this is probably the most 80's film of the 2000's that you will EVER see!

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak On A Plane - also known as Plane Dead - is one of those ridiculous adventures you have to see to truly believe. Its a joke of a film, but its probably the best joke you could ever ask for. I remember watching it with a group of friends, and it was probably one of the funnest movies I ever watched. Because of this, I'm going to simply highlight everything that makes this unpolished turd worth your 90 minutes.

The plots as ridiculous as it can get. I won't discuss it too much, but I think its already understood that we've got a plane, we've got zombies and we've got a couple of protagonists who are trying their best to make their way around this dilemma.

The characters are great. You basically have 2 groups to watch during this film.

1) the main characters on the plane, with all the screaming and pushing and shooting and whacking you could ask for.
2) the important guys: basically just a group of Pentagon-esque representatives in a cold, grey room who discuss random jib-jab regarding the plane problem.

The latter are such fun to watch. Its most probably the most aimless scene in movie history. Nothing ever happens, and the film could live without it, and the actors really try to make their scene relevant, but how can a scene be relevant when the screenplay they have says NOTHING! The plane characters are forgettable, except the Tiger Woods wannabe - who my group of friends wonderfully dubbed Lion Forrest - who seems to realize that his driver is the only driving force to beat up some undead. Sure, these characters are the tip of the stupid iceberg, but I wonder why this iceberg was so unfortunate to even have formed. Moving on, this is all good and fine, we've got pointless scenes, stupid characters and a plot that's out of this world.

Hazardous - zombie inducing - material on a commercial flight? SURE

I think its the story that pretty much sums it up. The rating it has here on RT is out of this world, but since it was a straight to DVD release I guess nobody's complaining. Plane Dead is one of those bad films you need to watch, laugh and then throw in the trash. I would never recommend this repeated viewing, but every "shock" from beginning to end, is so poorly staged, so laughably acted, and so ridiculously cliche, that I can honestly say that I love how bad this film is.

If you want a zombie film, watch it. If you want a bad film, watch it. It's bad, and everyone knows it, (even the cast seems well aware that they signed a contract for the 2006 version of Plan 9 From Outer Space) so sit back, relax and enjoy the shite!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It's 12:55AM, I just got back from the Transformers premiere that I viewed in a half-full IMAX Cinema in 3-D (yes, you heard me, half-full, thats how we roll in Romania) and I need to allocate the bits and pieces of my mind, eye and understanding in order to make my argument about Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Now that I typed up the title, I realized that "Dark of the Moon" wasn't included in the opening credits, it simply said Transformers 3. I might be wrong, I might have trouble recalling parts of the film. Why is that you may ask? Well apart from being way to close to the tyrannosaurus-screen (apt title since every IMAX cinema in the world advertises with T-Rex biting the audience from the screen), the film was simply too long, but I'll get into that further in a minute. Before this review gets too messy, I'm going to outline one thing after the other, from story, to acting, to cinematic technicalities and my overall impression.

Tarantino seems to have ushered in a little mini-trend in popular cinema with Inglorious Basterds by taking generally accepted and popular history, and playing with it in a film's narrative to show what really went down. Inglorious Basterds played around with the facts associated to Hitlers demise. With X-Men: First Class we were made aware that numerous missiles cruised around from west to east and east to west in the hot summer sky during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, with Michael Bay's new release, we toy with Apollo 11 and the moon landing. So now we can all rejoice and agree that the landing wasn't faked, but in response to a crash signal that occurred somewhere between "Speak To Me" and "Eclipse". Yes, the Dark Side of the Moon. Now let's go overboard shall we? Okay, so in the war for Cybertron, 1 last hope was left to win the war for the Autobots, but that hope, including its inventor (the admirable Sentinel Prime) sorta f-ed up and landed its ass on our moon. That mega machine to save Cybertron is now in demand from the Decepticons. I won't go much further into that but to say that if you want a ridiculous story, plus romance, plus a "mom/dad I cant find a job" sub-plot, you've got yourself a fine deal with Transformers 3.

Shia LaBeouf once again plays Sam Witwiky, and unfortunately Megan Fox couldn't stay on good terms with Bay and Spielberg so we get her blonder replacement, Carly played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, but screw her name, its too long for teenage boys to remember anyways, and not nearly sexy enough (sorta sounds like the name of your Irish friend's grandmother). In fact, around the start we get a line from a little robot saying that "[the old girl] wasn't very nice". Take that Megan Fox! LaBeouf is enjoyable in his role, and the only leading actor to make me laugh in the entire film. His character is always there to provide all the intel, and do all the dangerous work that not even Seal Team 6 could succeed in performing. It makes you wonder how buff this 20-year old really is. He plays his role to its maximum potential, given that all he gets to do is complain about being job-less, bitch about Carly's relationship with her boss (played by Patrick Dempsey, a pretty odd casting for the role) and shout "OPTIMUS" a good deal. Having said that, there are some worthy performances, John Malkovich plays a little role and does an excellent entertaining job, and is definitely the funniest character in the film. Nevertheless, many jokes come across as fillers in between BOOM this and BOOM that. Ken Jeong (better known as Mr. Chow from The Hangover movies) plays a little role, and it seems that he's already been typecast as the gay Asian. He is essentially there to add to the narrative, but the comedy featuring him is just plain dumb. Not only does it not fit with the tone of the rest of the film, but is simply comes across as utterly pointless. Nevertheless, its not such a big deal since he only has approximately half an hour of total screen time. The Autobots and Decepticons are really a matter of opinion. Personally, I hate how much they try to be like humans. Listening to Optimus Prime say "Let's Roll" is just weird, and the robots feel dumbed down because they are simplified to the extent where it's irrelevant that they are, after all, aliens. The overall acting isn't great, but since everyones focus is on those who aren't even acting (Rosie's wonderful body or the Autobots, depending on preference) its not such a big deal.

The film is eye-candy whenever there's action, but having said that, its some seriously brain-dead eye candy. It's a spectacle to watch, and really enjoyable at some points, but unlike a film the likes of Avatar, you don't see a lot of love for the animated environments. The camera moves too much, too often and too quickly for anybody to even admire the craftsmanship behind the animation. In fact, I was stuck going "Damn! Look at him go! Is that his eye? Or his hand? Now I see an arm! Oh I give up". People really need to learn to edit again, since apart from being too long, its absolutely impossible to understand who is left, and who is right. In fact, the filmmakers seem to completely ignore directions, and since everything moves so quickly, you're stuck accepting that the danger is seemingly coming from every direction. This is horribly distracting, and really takes away from the potential that the action scenes could create. Much like in Battle: LA there is no point in trying to understand whats happening, your best bet is to simply anticipate one explosion after the other. The only Decepticon that moves understandably is Shockwave, and he does deliver some great visuals, but apart from him, the action feels uninspired overall. The only time when the animation shines is in the large establishing shots of exploding Chicago.

Comic-book based cinema is clearly battling off big time at the moment by showing how much longer my film is than your film. I remember a time where a 90 minute run-time was fine for a film, but for the past years, every superhero film exceeds the 2 hour margin. With this new installment, we've hit the Avatar length of 2 hours and 34 gloating minutes. This is all good and fine, but while one could argue for the length of Avatar, I gotta say that Transformers could have easily (and I say easily easily) been cut by - I shit you not - at least 45 minutes. I think that Bay filmed so much footage, that he just thought "oh, to hell with it, we'll use it all! HAHA!". Unfortunately, this causes the movie to be extremely nauseating at times, especially when wearing those god darn 3-D goggles. The edits become fast, the action becomes fast, and even when nothing is blowing up, the camera is never not moving. This is a real pain in the pupil. Also, the 3-D elements aren't impressive, nor do they add any depth of field or considerable "cool" to the film. All the 3-D is good for is for generating more revenue. It would have been considerably more appealing to the eye (and just simply more beautiful) had we gotten more static shots with the robots moving past the frame, rather than having a moving frame and a moving robot. We've basically got ourselves a real Michael Cimino in the works here with Michael Bay, only considerably more successful. There's a prologue with Apollo 11, an irrelevant amount of establishing relationships and job applications and then the battle everyone pays to watch. You could probably watch the first 30 minutes, leave the cinema, have a beer, come back and watch the end without having missed all too much. The addition of Decepticon blood, or whatever that gunk is, is a pretty pointless addition, but since its only seen a few times, its not worth complaining about.

The soundtrack if for teenagers, thats as far as I want to go in explaining it. It features all the current chart-topping singles from Linkin Park and Paramore as well as numerous others. It also includes the cliche church choir epic music that everyone loves so much, but it only comes across approximately 3 to 4 times. The instrumental music is actually pretty good. I enjoyed some of the percussions and it added some good drama to the scenes. Unfortunately, much of the power that could have been pulled out of scenes was distorted through the use of looping the piano track of Linkin Park's "Iridescent". I was stuck humming the chorus in my head. So if you can, do not listen to your radio and ignore Linkin Park for as much as you can prior to watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

As far as originality goes, Transformers doesn't do anything new. The Chicago invasion feels like additional footage from War of the Worlds. There are guns that pulverize people, leaving only their clothes and there are big tentacle spaceships (they aren't tripods this time). This may be an homage to H.G Wells classic novel, or better yet, Spielberg is just recycling clips from an earlier one of his movies, but it really shows that the film doesn't do anything new. Michael Bay was borderline PG-13, because we've got people dying and we've got swearing. The F-word is always cut off just in the right minute. The most original thing in the movie is probably that its the first time somebody actually made a cut before A ROBOT gets to say the word "clusterfuck". The film sort of makes you feel bad for Chicago considering how much stuff falls to pieces. The innocent casualties throughout the film are probably in the close million range, no biggie. The more interesting question is how much Cisco paid Michael Bay in product placement funding. Cisco is everywhere in this movie! Punch the person sitting next to you in the cinema every time you see a Cisco advert, you'll be out of the cinema in no time.

In conclusion, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a film for young audiences, and completely fulfills its task in being a blockbuster film. Apparently, I'm one of the few lucky ones who missed out on Tramsformers 2, so all I can say is that this one was worth the watch, but if you can catch it in 2-D and in a smaller theater, it might be more appealing to the eye. It does it job well and the 2 hours dont go by slowly, but having said that, its not a classic, nor is it anything brilliant or original. Transformers is what it wants to be, a movie that makes money, and since everybody loves explosions and robots kicking ass, Michael Bay set up a successful equation. It's definitely not the best movie of the year, or the month, but it's a fun watch either way.

It may be stupid, it may be nauseating, but in the end its just what you were expecting to see. So if you don't lie to yourself about how it didn't meet your expectations, you'll have fun with this one. It's your mainstream popcorn fare, and since it doesn't want to be superior to that, I decided to give it a fresh 60% rather than anything more rotten. Overall, a successful closing to an average trilogy. (although I wouldn't be surprised if Bay releases some more Transformers films that tell stories of the War for Cybertron and whatnot)