Zach Says Goodbye (For Now) to Metal ArcadeJanuary 2, 2014
Our writer Zach Kircher has reviewed theatrical film releases on Metal Arcade for the past few years. Zach has to take a long hiatus from writing for the site, and has written a farewell letter to our readers explaining his situation. Thanks for all your contributions Zach – we’ll miss you!
Well Metal Arcade, it has been plenty of fun for the past couple of years. I have very much enjoyed being able to review both movies and some video games for this great website, and I hope my opinions have been useful for all of my readers ever since I joined this team. I’ve certainly appreciated the opportunity of getting to share my love for the entertainment industry with all of you.
But now, it is time for me to say goodbye. You may or may not know that I am a Mormon, and I have been called to serve a proselyting mission in Des Moines, Iowa. I will actually be serving all across that state, while my area of work will also include some small parts of Illinois and Missouri. For the next two years, I will be completely separated from my family and friends (the only communication I can take part in with others is weekly emails) as I embark on an epic adventure to spread the good word of my religion with the people of the Midwest. I will not have the opportunity to watch any movies, play any video games, listen to secular music or even read books – I will be dedicated 100% to the proselyting for two years, and nothing else.
I can honestly say that I have never been more nervous of anything in my whole life. This will be the first time I have ever been on my own for an extended period, so it will be a tough experience having to live away from my family, especially since I was born and raised in Arizona so I am not used to a life in the snow. However, I know that it will be a very fun and rewarding experience for me. I am excited to serve, and I will work hard for the next two years.
When I return, I will most likely come back to Metal Arcade and continue to write about film and video games. But until then, I bid you all a fond farewell. You all have been so great!!
You can follow up on my adventures in Iowa here.
Here’s a rundown of some of Zach’s favorite – and least favorite – films of 2013.
You know what, forget all of the gender and plot comments, because Alfonso Cuarón created a bona fide masterpiece with Gravity – the blockbuster of 2013. Poised to take the Academy Awards by storm this spring, this is what happens when the auteur meets blockbuster filmmaking, because it is freaking brilliant. The reason why I hold it so high and disagree with the (undeniably understandable) criticisms is because I see the whole film more as a spiritual allegory. We see a female astronaut damaged by the events of her past now engaged in her first spacewalk, when all of a sudden disaster strikes and she is in both spiritual and physical peril. She has to face insurmountable odds as she continually goes on, and the aid of another person (who I believe to be symbolic of the Holy Ghost in different ways) helps her along as she tries to overcome a great trial. This is all encompassed in a couple of key shots in the middle and end of the film, but overall Gravity is both a consistently intense thrill ride whilst being that spiritual journey. In terms of authenticity and realism, few films reach the same level as this one due to a combination of perfectly shot and edited long takes, sound, music, unbelievably good CGI and interesting tricks with the camera. On top of that, it’s one of the few films that is an essential 3D viewing. Simply put, Gravity is a perfect example of how to successfully blend Hollywood thrills with brilliant storytelling, artful imagery and great acting (particularly on Bullock’s part, who is Oscar-worthy here).
Now this is how you make a summer blockbuster. I understand that a bastion of Star Trek fans have rejected some of the elements of this film’s story, but as more of a Star Wars fan myself such elements did not bother me as much as other people. And I actually don’t consider this to be a rehash of Wrath of Khan; due to the parallel continuity between this rebooted series and the original series, I think what they do here is warranted. Otherwise, Star Trek Into Darkness is a fantastic sci-fi action film. It starts off strong with an excellent set piece, and it never loses its momentum as it strengthens its connection to the audience with pulse-pounding action, strong visual effects (and no, J.J. Abrams’ lens flares don’t bother me) and an emotionally resonant plot and homages to the War on Terror (the U.S.S. Vengeance crashing into San Francisco was very effective), this is one of the few films released this past summer that has really stuck with me. Well, at least where blockbuster entertainment is concerned. Oh yeah, and Benedict Cumberbatch was awesome.
The title is pretty terrible. But the film itself is pretty freakin great. While the third act tends to drag on a little bit, Captain Phillips is a claustrophobic, tense, exciting and deeply affecting true-life action thriller. Paul Greengrass has once again proven that he is a master with shaky cam and dramatizing real-life events (the other two examples being Bloody Sunday and his masterpiece United 93), for not only are the action scenes all riveting, the entire film is tense while the story is depicted with unparalleled authenticity. However, what’s most surprising about this Captain Phillips is that initially it presents itself as merely a standard procedural, but then elements of the story subvert such clichéd narrative routes. All of the gritty violence serves a purpose, you sympathize with those on both sides of the conflict, the performances subtly define the personalities of each character, and everything comes to a head in the very end for a very interesting look into masculinity, power and business (especially when the government intervenes). And yes, Tom Hanks’ “Oscar” scene really is that shocking.