Author: Craig Zablo

“Justified: City Primeval” (2023) starring Timothy Olyphant & Boyd Holbrook / Z-View

Justified: City Primeval (2023)

Written by: Dave Andron & Michael Dinner (eps. 1 – 2, 7 – 8); Eisa Davis & Chris Provenzano (eps. 3, 5); Taylor Elmore (ep. 4); Taylor Elmore & V.J. Boyd (ep. 6)

Directed by: Michael Dinner (eps. 1 -2, 8); Jon Avnet (ep. 3); Gwyneth Horder-Payton (ep. 4); Kevin Rodney Sullivan (ep. 5); Sylvain White (ep. 6); Katrelle Kindred (ep. 7)

Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Boyd Holbrook, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Adelaide Clemens, Marin Ireland, Victor Williams, Norbert Leo Butz, Alexander Pobutsky, Terry Kinney, Regina Taylor, Yosef Kasnetzkov, Paul Calderon, Amin Joseph, Walton Goggins, Keith David, Natalie Zea, Luis Guzmán  and Vivian Olyphant.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Raylan Givens (T. Olyphant) is a US Marshall and part time father to his 15 year old daughter, Willa (V. Olyphant). Raylan is sent to Detroit to testify in a court case.  While testifying, Raylan tests Judge Alvin Guy’s patience.  That evening the judge is murdered by a sociopath named Clement Mansell.. Raylan is assigned to the team tracking down the killer.

Mansell is known as The Oklahoma Wildman.  He has no fear and kills without remorse. Before it is over, Raylan will find himself dealing not only with Mansell, but an attorney willing to cross the line in her efforts to become a judge, a dirty cop, and the Armenian mob.

“You want a shootin’ match?  Let’s go.”

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Elmore Leonard novel City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit doesn’t feature Raylan Givens.  It was adapted to bring back Justified.  The novel’s protagonist is Homicide Detective Raymond Cruz.  The Cruz character also appeared in Leonard’s Out of Sight novel.  When Out of Sight was transformed into a feature film starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, Paul Calderón played Detective Cruz.  Calderón also appears as Cruz in Justified: City Primeval.

A hero is only as good as the villain he’s facing.  Clement Mansell is a great one.  Boyd Holbrook is perfect.  Other standouts include:

  • Aunjanue Ellis as Carolyn Wilder.  Wilder is Mansell’s defense attorney who ends up in a complicated relationship with Raylan.  She’s strong, vulnerable and willing to cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
  • Vondie Curtis-Hall as Marcus “Sweety” Sweeton.  Sweety was once a talented musician, crook and friend to Mansell Clement.  Now Sweety owns a bar.  Sweety is drawn back into the life with the return of Mansell and his plan to get rich.
  • Adelaide Clemens as Sandy Stanton.  Sandy is Mansell’s woman girl. She’s in way over her head and sees no way out.
  • Victor Williams as Detective Wendell Robinson.  Williams is best known for his comedic role on The King of Queens.  Here he shows his dramatic chops.
  • Keith David as Judge Alvin Guy.  Keith is only in one episode, but he shines.

Some actors/actresses are born to play a character.  Timothy Olyphant is a perfect example.  He IS US Marshall Raylan Givens.  Everyone remembers the great lines and Olyphant’s delivery.  I also love the quiet moments when Olyphant uses his body language, eyes and facial expressions to sell a scene.

It’s not often a series returns and is as great as the original.  Justified: City Primeval is a great example that it can be done.  There’s an excellent set-up for another season at the end of Justified: City Primeval.  I hope it happens.

Justified: City Primeval (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Paradise Alley” (1978) written, directed and starring Sylvester Stallone / Z-View

Paradise Alley (1978)

Director: Sylvester Stallone

Screenplay: Sylvester Stallone

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Lee Canalito, Armand Assante, Frank McRae, Anne Archer, Kevin Conway, Terry Funk, Joyce Ingalls, Joe Spinell, Aimee Eccles, Tom Waits, Frank Pesce, Ray Sharkey, Frank Stallone, Ted DiBiase, Dory Funk Jr., Don Leo Jonathan, Gene Kiniski, Dick Murdoch, Ray Stevens  and Paul Mace.

Tagline:  Three brothers… One had the brains, one had the muscle and one had the suit. Together they had a million dollar dream.

The Plot…

The Carboni brothers, Lenny (Assante), Cosmo (Stallone) and Victor (Canalito) are just getting by.  Lenny, who returned from the war a hero with a limp, is an undertaker.  Cosmo lives by his wits, always looking for a fast buck.  Victor hauls ice.

After an evening in Paradise Alley where real (not scripted) wrestling matches take place, Cosmo gets an idea.  Victor could become a professional wrestler with Cosmo as his manager.  Lenny sees that Cosmo has a good idea, but fears that Victor could be exploited.  Victor likes the idea of the brothers working together so Lenny becomes his manager and Cosmo his trainer.

Victor becomes a popular, winning wrestler.  This puts him in the crosshairs of Stitch Mahone and Frankie the Thumper.  Stitch is a local mobster and Thumper is a big dumb brute who happens to be an undefeated wrestler.  As Cosmo begins to have concerns that Victor is being pushed to fight to often, Lenny starts working on a fight with Frankie the Thumper.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Sly Stallone wrote, directed, starred in and sang the title song for Paradise Alley.  It was his directorial debut.

Paradise Alley was Terry Funk’s, Lee Canalito’s and Tom Waits’ feature film debut.

Frank McRae as Big Glory and Terry Funk as Frankie the Thumper own their scenes.

The final wrestling match in the Paradise Alley ring during a pouring thunderstorm is amazing.

I rate Paradise Alley higher than most folks.  Keep in mind that I am a huge Sly Stallone fan.  Your mileage may vary.

Paradise Alley (1978) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Desperation Road” starring Garret Hedlund & Mel Gibson – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Desperation Road is one to keep an eye on.  Great source material, starring Garret Tulsa King Hedlund and co-starring Mel Gibson.  Yeah, deal me in.

In a small Mississippi town, justice and the law are two very different things. Academy Award Winner Mel Gibson (Braveheart), Garret Hedlund (TRON: Legacy), and Willa Fitzgerald (Scream: The TV Series) star in a modern noir thriller based on the acclaimed novel by Michael Farris Smith about two lost souls tortured by the mistakes of their past and bound by a secret that keeps them running.


CAST: Mel Gibson, Garrett Hedlund, and Willa Fitzgerald

BE USEFUL by Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a free daily newsletter.  It’s full of short valuable tips on physical & mental health as well as a peak behind the curtain to see what Arnold is reading, watching and thinking.  Arnold also has a new book coming out on October 10th.  It’s called BE USEFUL.  Here’s the lowdown…

The seven rules to follow to realize your true purpose in life—distilled by Arnold Schwarzenegger from his own journey of ceaseless reinvention and extraordinary achievement, and available for absolutely anyone

The world’s greatest bodybuilder. The world’s highest-paid movie star. The leader of the world’s sixth-largest economy. That these are the same person sounds like the setup to a joke, but this is no joke. This is Arnold Schwarzenegger. And this did not happen by accident.

Arnold’s stratospheric success happened as part of a process. As the result of clear vision, big thinking, hard work, direct communication, resilient problem-solving, open-minded curiosity, and a commitment to giving back. All of it guided by the one lesson Arnold’s father hammered into him above all: be useful. As Arnold conquered every realm he entered, he kept his father’s adage close to his heart.

Written with his uniquely earnest, blunt, powerful voice, Be Useful takes readers on an inspirational tour through Arnold’s tool kit for a meaningful life. He shows us how to put those tools to work, in service of whatever fulfilling future we can dream up for ourselves. He brings his insights to vivid life with compelling personal stories, life-changing successes and life-threatening failures alike—some of them famous; some told here for the first time ever.

Too many of us struggle to disconnect from our self-pity and connect to our purpose. At an early age, Arnold forged the mental tools to build the ladder out of the poverty and narrow-mindedness of his rural Austrian hometown, tools he used to add rung after rung from there. Now he shares that wisdom with all of us. As he puts it, no one is going to come rescue you—you only have yourself. The good news, it turns out, is that you are all you need.

BE USEFUL  hardback


“Night of the Living Dead” (1968) directed by George Romero / Z-View

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Director: George A. Romero

Screenplay: John Russo, George A. Romero

Stars: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon, S. William Hinzman, Bill Cardille, John A. Russo, Russell Streiner and George A. Romero.

Tagline:  They won’t stay dead!

The Plot…

When the dead suddenly begin reanimating with a craving for human flesh, a group of strangers find themselves together in a deserted farmhouse.  As the group argues about their best moves for survival, the dead continue to gather outside!  Soon the farmhouse will be overrun.  The clock is ticking.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Night of the Living Dead, shot on a shoestring budget with most of the cast taking their first acting roles, reinvented and revitalized zombie movies.  Investors in the film, many of the people who worked on the film behind the scenes and some of locals ended up taking on-screen roles as well.

Although NotLD is one of the most profitable independent films of all-time.  Sadly, George Romero didn’t see much of the profits due to his little understanding of distribution deals.  To make matters worse, the film was released with no copyright notice which at the time placed it in the public domain.  Anyone or any company could make a sell copies of the movie with no proceeds going to George Romero or his investors.  That’s why there are so many crappy versions available.

NotLD takes place on the first day of a zombie apocalypse.  No one knows what is going on or the best course of action.  One of the interesting aspects of NotLD is that Harry Cooper argues that everyone is safer in the basement.  Cooper is the least likeable of the group and a different course of action is taken.  Turns out Cooper’s idea was the best.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“War of the Colossal Beast” (1958) produced and directed by Bert I. Gordon / Z-View

War of the Colossal Beast (1958)

Director: Bert I. Gordon

Screenplay: George Worthing Yates, story by Bert I. Gordon

Stars: Sally Fraser, Duncan ‘Dean’ Parkin, Russ Bender, Jack Kosslyn and Rico Alaniz.

Tagline:  The towering terror from hell!

The Plot…

When it is learned that Glenn Manning aka The Amazing Colossal Man is alive, the Army captures him for further study.  Manning was caught in the fallout from an atomic bomb test.  Although Manning survived the blast, radiation caused him to grow 60 feet tall.  Now horribly disfigured and brain damaged, Manning is a threat who may be beyond curing.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

War of the Colossal Beast is the sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man released a year earlier.

The movie gets more exciting once the army captures the Amazing Colossal Man.  A word of warning:  Be very careful should you ever give a giant an injection.  The scenes at the end outside the observatory are the best.  The last minute or so of the film appears in color and the change is effective.

War of the Colossal Beast (1958) rates 2 of 5 stars.