Prey and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios & Hulu
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
The Predator franchise has actually had one of the better track records out there. Perhaps it’s because they take a significant amount of time between each entry, or maybe it’s a premise that is almost foolproof. In fact, the only time they really screwed it up was when they gave it to the one guy who really shouldn’t have screwed it up, but then we’re not here to badger The Predator yet again. Instead, we’re gonna talk about this latest entry that was recently put on Hulu with a few interesting twists that have certainly caught peoples’ attention. Is it another solid entry in this dependable franchise, or did Shane Black’s giant mishap a mere harbinger of things to come? Let’s find out!!
Set in the early eighteenth century, we follow Naru (Amber Midthunder), a strong Comanche warrior who wants to prove herself as a hunter to her tribe and to her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) who would rather she put away the bows and arrows to pick up a mortar and pestle. It’s not that she’s unskilled as a healer, but she’s not about to let others tell her what she’s gonna do and she continues to hone her skills for whatever tries to invade their territory. Of course, she’s picturing some wild cats and maybe a bear here and there, but it becomes clear that there’s something in the woods that’s stronger than all the cats and bears combined! An alien creature with a chip on his shoulder and covered in advanced alien tech, lands nearby and starts looking for the most dangerous creatures to kill and prove that itself to be tougher than. With such a dangerous monster lurking in the shadows (and the just as dangerous specter of colonialism looming nearby) can Naru and Taabe protect their tribe from the threats around them? Will Naru prove herself to be a worthy warrior to her tribe, and what will it cost her to finally get the respect she’s after? I don’t know, it seems a little bit unfair to be busting out the laser-guided bolts when your opponents still don’t have gunpowder. Seems like a hollow victory at best for the Predator, am I right?
Nope and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Jordan Peele
Very recently I’ve started watching Key & Peele in earnest as I had seen little more than clips online in the past, and frankly, it’s not all that surprising that at least one of them became a horror director. The duo made some very funny stuff, but there are also quite a few sketches throughout the show that not only have a sinister edge to them but almost feel like precursors to Jordan Peele’s first feature Get Out. Now he has two wildly successful features under his belt and much like M Night Shyamalan when he was in that position, his next move is to go for a spooky movie about aliens, or at least the general idea of them as the marketing has done a very good job covering up the true nature of whatever is going on here. Does this updated take on the classic sci-fi genre prove to be as groundbreaking as Peele’s previous films, or is even the best of filmmakers unable to escape the occasional dud? Let’s find out!!
OJ Haywood and his sister Em (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) are left running their father’s horse ranch after an unexpected (and unexplained) accident took his life only a few months prior. Now Papa Haywood (Keith David) ran Hayood’s Hollywood Horse Ranch like a true professional as he took great care of the horses and worked well with the production studios, but unfortunately, his kids aren’t exactly filling his shoes with Em having the personality but not the business sense and OJ working great with horses but not with other people. The only thing keeping them afloat is selling horses one after another to the local rodeo owned by former child star Ricky Park (Steven Yeun), but that’s only going to last for so long before they will surely need to sell their father’s ranch and his legacy off to whoever will throw a few dollars their way. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, there seems to be this strange thing in the sky that will occasionally pass soundlessly through the air in the middle of the night and has some sort of effect on electronic equipment which can only mean one thing; aliens, and therefore opportunity! Em is gung ho about capturing some fantastic footage of this mysterious spacecraft on film and selling it to the highest bidder, and OJ is just kinda going along with it since there isn’t much more they can do to save the ranch, so with the help of a local electronics store clerk (Brandon Perea) they set up a series of cameras around the ranch hope to get a once in a lifetime shot that will put Haywood’s Hollywood Horses back in the spotlight! What is this mysterious thing in the night sky that Em and OJ hope to capture on film, and can they do it without drawing its attention; or wrath? What is it doing here in the first place, and are the Haywood’s the only ones trying to catch a glimpse of it? Seriously, with the way things have been going lately, how much are they really gonna get for alien footage? It’s not like there won’t be another dozen or so terrifying news stories the next day!
Thor: Love and Thunder and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Taika Waititi
Much like Thor himself, I find myself in something of a slump recently with a few different roads to get out of it. I won’t go into details, but I’m definitely taking a few steps in some sort of direction and we’ll see how things shake out in the next few weeks. For now though, I’m working on these reviews on my schedule and no one else’s which means that unfortunately, this is coming out long after everyone else has said their piece on it. Still, no harm in throwing my opinion out into the void and seeing if the void spews anything back up! Does this latest entry in the Marvel Forever-verse shock a few more minutes of life into the franchise, or will this be just fine and watchable to the consternation of those who are waiting for a big enough disaster to finally topple Disney’s firm grip on the genre? Let’s find out!!
With everything that happened in that whole Thanos kerfuffle, which included the death of his brother and the near extinction of the Asgardians, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) really needed a break to try and figure things out. To that end, he’s been bumming around with the Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as his friend Korg (Taika Waititi), until they run out of Big Lebowski jokes and convince him to go on some wild goose chase for some sort of God Butcher in a bid to get away from his mopey Asgardian butt. Turns out the threat is real, however, as a humble alien named Gorr (Christian Bale) loses his faith in the Gods and is rewarded with the Necrosword; a weapon so dark and powerful that it can kill these selfish Gods while slowly draining him of his life and seemingly his sanity. Well, we’ve got a new Marvel villain to dispatch of which can only mean it’s time for another team-up, and since the Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t returning his calls he returns to the last Asgardian colony on Earth to see if a few warriors are still bumming around. Turns out that Thor’s hammer has been restored and there’s a new Thor in the form of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) who is called Mighty Thor to distinguish from the guy whose name is Thor but lost the title of Thor some time ago… or something like that. Needless to say, there are some mixed feelings there as their relationship didn’t end on the best of terms, but they need to work together, along with Korg and King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to stop Gorr who, in classic villain fashion, has stolen a bunch of Asgardian children for seemingly no reason other than spite. Can Thor and Mighty Thor set aside their past difference and come together to stop this threat to the universe? What are the rest of the Gods doing while Gorr is carving his way through their ranks, and what is Gorr truly hoping to accomplish by stringing the two Thors along on this rescue mission? Seriously, are Jane and Thor gonna talk or will they just keep things awkward for the whole trip?
Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America
Apologies for this one being as late as it is. I was out of town when the issue came out and all I got out of the trip was a lousy case of Strep Throat that’s left me sick and exhausted for well over a week now. Still, you can’t keep a Sonic fan down for long! Whether it’s illness, delays, or crappy games, we always come back for more; which is the operative word here because they went all out and made this an extra lengthy issue to fit in everything they wanted for the big celebration! Does this double-sized issue live up to the months of hype surrounding it, or will it land with an extra loud thud now that they’ve made it twice as long? Let’s find out!!
The issue begins where the last one left off as our heroes race to Eggman’s capital city as its being sieged by Dr. Starline and his two protégés Surge and Kitsunami. From here the story breaks down into three fights as Eggman comes back to take out Starline, Surge catches Sonic by surprise and drags him to a fight for survival, and Tails is left befuddled to deal with the sad fox with water powers and a particularly sinister look in his eyes. We’ll tackle these fights one at a time starting with Eggman and Starline which I consider to be the best of three as both characters are really allowed to stretch their muscles and give us a clash of personalities worth getting invested in. The biggest problem with these two is that, despite some solid characterization and a few ingenious plots here and there, they feel a bit underwhelming as threats and can lean too hard into goofy territory when they have to fend off the furry brigade and the unstoppable power of friendship. Here, the winner is going to be determined not by Main Character Powers or the heart of a champion, but by who can last the longest without dying as the two try to smash each other to bits with giant robots! What I found particularly satisfying about this (even more so than the giant robots) is the depths of Eggman’s ego as he would rather risk destroying everything than have any aspect of it not under his supreme authority and Starline (despite being the one who kidnapped and brainwashed two innocent critters) ends up sounding like the reasonable one.
With an out-of-state trip followed by a hellacious cold, it has not been the most productive week for me and I sadly could not get this done by the end of last month. Still, it’s been a rather slow month of releases as only three or four big movies have come out in the last few weeks with everything else presumably scared off by Top Gun, so taking things a bit easy and reviewing them on my schedule may not have put me as far back as you’d think. In any case, we’ve got three movies that I saw in June, and I’m finally ready to talk about them! Let’s get started!!
Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe
Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe is owned by Paramount Plus
Directed by John Rice & Albert Calleros
Beavis and Butt-Head (Mike Judge) are living their pointless teenage lives in the early nineties when they get into trouble and are rewarded with tickets to Space Camp. Through a convoluted series of misunderstandings and poor adult supervision, the duo is launched into space and find their way into a wormhole that sends them all the way to 2022; a revelation that is awe-inspiring to them as seeing the numbers 69 on a billboard. With nothing else to do and still barely comprehending the situation, the duo tries to make it back to their house so they can score with a hot astronaut lady and watch some more TV. Said astronaut lady (Andrea Savage) is now running for reelection as Governor of Texas and doesn’t want these two bringing up questions about that botched space mission, so she’s hunting them down with the help of her Lieutenant Governor and hapless lackey (Nat Faxon), while the Pentagon is following their movements believing them to be extra-terrestrials. Can Beavis and Butt-Head avoid death and dissection on their quest to score and eat nachos, or will the universe itself be torn to shreds in their quest for food and babes?
If Disney spewing their entire retro catalog at us in Chip & Dale didn’t make things clear enough, we are firmly in the throes of a nineties comeback which meant it was only a matter of time before Mike Judge and co dusted off this franchise for one last ride. Unlike other revivals, however, that try to remind you of the nineties with rose-tinted glasses, Judge and co are more interested in making two characters that were inextricably tied to that decade work as a modern property. To their credit, they mostly succeed as this movie is funny and a solid entry in the franchise, but even with the best of intentions it still feels a bit mired in the past. Transplanting them to modern-day with a very modern conceit (multiverses are the hot new thing these days) was a wise move and it does give Judge some room to air his grievances with modern life, though as is his style he tries not to get too preachy about it and lets his characters react to it rather than say much about it himself. They also flesh out the duo in ways that we hadn’t seen before which is certainly rewarding for fans, and I like that Beavis gets to open up a bit more and shows some genuine heart in this. It also puts into stark relief how much Butt-Head is the Moe Howard of this duo and he has some pretty nasty moments in here that almost make him the villain of the story which is honestly a lot more plot and drama than these two are used to. It’s pretty much what you’d want from a modern Beavis and Butt-Head as it’s solidly funny but is not breaking any new ground. As fun as all this is, however, there’s a point where they completely run out of steam and what is supposed to be the subtext of the entire franchise becomes laid bare in a way that is just not funny or interesting. The thing about Beavis and Butthead is that they may be foolish and ignorant teenagers, but they are able to move through life with little consequence because the rest of the world is just as foolish and ignorant as they are. Where Beavis and Butthead are driven by simplistic desires for food, sex, and cheap thrills, the rest of the world is consumed by ego, comfort, and minimizing their shame, and while they do get a good amount of mileage out of that in this movie, it feels like they wrote themselves into a corner and gave up on trying to make this a clever punchline and instead use it as a plot device. Once that happens, the movie never truly recovers and the final thirty minutes are somewhat of a slog as no one seems to know what to do anymore and are just jabbering back and forth to pad out the running time. There are plenty of franchises that go on long after they’ve run out of ideas and I commend Judge and co for picking their moments to bring these characters back. Still, there’s a bit too much of this that’s stuck in the nineties and the few jabs at modern society are not quite enough to pull it into the twenty-first century.
RRR and all the images you see in this review are owned by Variance Films and Sarigama Cinemas
Directed by S.S. Rajamouli
We’re still trying to take things easy around here, and frankly, it’s the perfect time to do it as Top Gun was really the last film to hold much interest for me. The new Jurassic Park looks like about as exciting as a paint drying seminar, and while Lightyear roped me in by using Bowie in the first trailer, I bounced off pretty hard after the more recent ones had much less going for them. So with that, we’re still mostly just scrapping through streaming services to see what pops up, and I decided to give this one a chance after hearing a lot of glowing reviews from people I follow on social media. Is this the action bonanza that everyone and their dog’s Twitter account is telling me it is, or am I going to be the Grumpy Gus that rains on everyone’s parade? Let’s find out!!
In the early twentieth century, back when The British Empire was occupying India, one of their governors (Ray Stevenson) kidnaps a child from a small village and takes her back to the consulate in Delhi. Unbeknownst to them, however, the village has a champion whose mission in life is to keep this tribe safe and to return this girl to her rightful family. The hero known as Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr) has already made his way to Delhi and so the government puts a bounty on his head which is of particular interest to one of their officers Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) who sees it as a chance to get a promotion. Considering how the dude single-handedly fights off an entire riot, it seems like he’s a shoe-in to catch this hero, but the task may prove more difficult than he anticipated given that no one knows what he looks like and that the dude is known for fighting (and winging) against wild animals. While following a lead, Raju witnesses a train accident that puts a child in danger, and a mysterious stranger helps him to save the child in the most spectacular and outrageous manner possible, and the two become quick friends. Oh, but what a twist of fate that this stranger is none other than Bheem and the two have no idea of the other’s identity and it will surely come to a head the closer either one gets to completing their mission. Will Bheem be able to rescue the girl from the British Governor, or will his best friend be forced to stop him? What convinced Raju to join this oppressive government in the first place, and will his friendship with Bheem ultimately be his undoing? Did I actually see this movie, or was it a beautiful dream I had after watching too many Jerry Bruckheimer movies?
Top Gun: Maverick and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
It’s true that I’m getting to this one pretty late, but it’s also true that the darn thing is still the biggest movie at the moment so I guess I can still call this review somewhat relevant. I guess it’s no surprise that one of the most enduring classics of the eighties finally getting the sequel everyone always wanted would hit like a meteor full of money, but it’s still pretty surprising just how much this has eclipsed everything else around it. Even MCU movies which are supposedly so ubiquitous that we should all be sick of them don’t manage to have the kind of staying power that this movie has! So what is the secret formula that turned this into a license to print money? Is it actually as good as its box office would suggest, or has nostalgia once again suckered us all into giving money to a movie that was better off being remembered than revived? Let’s find out!!
Captain Pete Mitchell, better known as Maverick (Tom Cruise), has been bumming around the Navy since the glory days of Eddie Money and Leisure suits, and it’s landed him a gig as a test pilot for experimental aircraft. Of course, Maverick being Maverick, he manages to screw that up by ticking off Admiral Ed Harris and is only saved from a dishonorable discharge by his old friend Admiral Tom Kazansky who was once known as Iceman (Val Kilmer). Instead, he gets sent to teach the next generation of hot shot pilots which just so happens to include Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Goose who died while flying with Maverick back in the first movie. His assignment, should he choose to accept it, is to get these Millennials in tip-top fighting shape for a ridiculously complicated and ludicrously dangerous bombing run to destroy a uranium enrichment facility, and there’s no one better than Maverick for making the impossible merely improbable! Can Maverick finally put his ego in check and be the teacher that these pilots need? What happened between him and Bradley that left him feeling so bitter, and is this Maverick’s last chance to make things right? Was waiting nearly forty years to make a sequel just a flex on Tom Cruise’s part to show how little he’s aged since then?
So how’s everyone else enjoying their Spring? Lots of sunshine and pretty flowers? Well for me it’s been nonstop rain, a tornado warning, and a broken toilet that cost a bunch of money to fix, so things have been just a tiny bit hectic over here. That’s certainly a reason why my movie reviews have been a little late recently, but thanks to streaming services and studios becoming less confident about their theatrical releases, it’s now easier than ever to catch up on stuff in a timely fashion! To wit, I have three movie reviews for your enjoyment and to hopefully distract from the fact that I haven’t seen the new Top Gun movie yet!
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is owned by Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
The former stars of the nineties animated show Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers have gone through a lot since its cancellation all those years ago with Chip (John Mulaney) selling out and going corporate while Dale (Andy Samberg) trying to make it work all these years later; banking on the nostalgia adults have for his glory days and selling signed photos at conventions to keep himself afloat. To make matters worse, they ended the show on pretty bad terms so they’ve hardly spoken to each other since then, but fate brings them back together as one of the cast members of that show Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) is in deep with the cartoon mafia and gets kidnapped right after calling both of them for help. With their friend’s life in the balance, Chip & Dale must put aside their differences and work together to scourge the LA Underworld (or at least the nostalgic cartoon version of it) to save their friend and perhaps even come back together after being apart for so long.
I’m either gonna be too harsh on this movie because I’m a giant sourpuss or I’m gonna be too nice to this for fear of looking like a giant sourpuss. It occupies a very strange place for me as I do genuinely enjoy a lot about this movie, but I still can’t quite get behind it for reasons that… well probably make me look like a giant sourpuss. Before we get into that, let me just say that I got a decent amount of laughs in this and I was genuinely tickled by a lot of the imagination on display. There are some deep-cut references that certainly appealed to me, and concepts like the putty captain and the puppet chef were well-realized and fun to watch on screen. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that the inclusion of Ugly Sonic has me convinced that he should get his own spin-off series because they were just that funny! It’s almost like the nineties kids finally got the Roger Rabbit sequel we always wanted to see as the movie’s use of nostalgia, however cynical it may be, is at least cleverly realized with some very funny premises throughout. I love the idea of turning the objects of nostalgia that are the lifeblood of the convention scene and making them the literal guests trying to make a few bucks at rickety card tables with tri-fold boards of merch. It’s clear that the creative behind this are of my particular generation, both with the nostalgia for all this nineties crap and the subsequent decades of nostalgia baiting entertainment, so it gets more than a few points for some level of authenticity even if the movie leans far too heavily on it which I guess brings us to what’s wrong with the movie. The thing is that you can only rely on sight gags and nostalgia for so long before the movie has to start standing on its story and this is where the movie just doesn’t work for me. I didn’t find Chip or Dale particularly endearing as characters, nor did I find the plot all that interesting with the mystery being pretty threadbare. Now I could avoid being a giant sourpuss here and chalk this up to being a kid’s movie where a swift pace and lighthearted tone can carry an otherwise simplistic storyline, but I feel the age and density of so many of the references means that it’s aiming a bit higher than it wants to admit. Do kids even know who the Rescue Rangers are? Heck, are kids gonna get any of the Disney Afternoon jokes in here; let alone the references to more adult-oriented stuff like South Park or the general concept of bootleg movies? It’s a movie that clearly wants to have its cake and eat it; setting its targets squarely on a Millennial audience while hiding behind the Gen Z for its immature and simplistic storytelling. Perhaps it splits the difference evenly enough that both groups will get at least something out of this and I can’t deny the moments I enjoyed throughout, so it gets a little bit of a pass from me but this trick isn’t gonna work indefinitely. Millennials will get sick of 90s-stalgia just as everyone got sick of 80s-stalgia about a decade ago, and what is that gonna leave us with? 2000s-stalgia? I mean it’d be nice if I got my Megas XLR reboot, but still…
The Bob’s Burgers Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Animation
Directed by Loren Bouchard & Bernard Derriman
When adapting a TV show like this, the question that needs to be answered is why this story needed to be a movie; a question that’s only gotten harder to answer now that we expect even more from TV shows and streaming services. There are of course remakes that I remember being a particularly popular thing around the early 2000s, presumably kicked off by the success of Charlie’s Angels, but really good movies that are an extension of an ongoing TV show? Well, we’ve got those SpongeBob movies, but it gets pretty thin on the ground after that. Can The Blecher family’s first cinematic outing prove to be the exception to the rule, or will they burn their buns flying too close to the sun? Let’s find out!!
Summer is fast approaching and it couldn’t come soon enough because Bob Belcher (H Jon Benjamin) is in dire need to make some money to cover his loans which are dangerously overdue. His wife Linda (John Roberts) is looking on the bright side and throwing in some jazz hands for good measure, but jazz hands will not be enough to save them when a sinkhole opens right in front of their restaurant; blocking all foot traffic and making it impossible for customers to buy burgers which means that next loan payment will be next to impossible to make. If that wasn’t enough, their youngest daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal), in a bid to prove herself as the bravest kid around, goes down the hole only to find a dead body which makes things even more difficult for the Belchers to get back on track; especially when the primary suspect is their landlord Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) who is the only one who can help them in this financial bind. Wanting to save her family’s business and once again prove everyone wrong about her being a baby, Louise enlists the help of her older siblings Tina and Gene (Dan Mintz and Eugene Mirman) to solve this mystery and prove that Mr. Fischoeder was not the killer! Can the Belcher kids bring the murderer to justice while saving their restaurant in the process? Just how far will Bob and Linda go start selling burgers again, and is it a risk they will ultimately regret taking? Seriously, does Bob radiate bad luck, or is the universe just out to get him; possibly for making a burger recipe with kale in it?
And so we find ourselves at the final episode of the first season. It’s definitely been a wild ride with some dizzying heights early on, but it’s had trouble regaining that momentum after the battle in episode five. Frankly, the most satisfying storyline we’ve gotten since then was the conclusion to Kwan Ha’s journey and the USNC side of things has just kind of muddled along trying to make sure all the pieces are in place for whatever was to come in this episode. Does it untimely come together in a spectacular finale that sets us up for an even better second season, or will we have to wait until then to get something that’s worth watching? Let’s find out!
After Makee (Charlie Murphey) activated the artifact, it left a lot of things in disarray. Makee managed to escape with it, The Spartans are having a crisis of identity, and good ol’ Doctor Halsey (Natascha McElhone) is gonna try and skip town while everyone is still wondering what the heck just happened. It’s one giant mess to clean up and there are those who are more responsible than others, but the Spartans don’t quit when there’s a mission and they’re needed now more than ever. With the artifact fast on its way to the Covenant Prophets, there’s not much time for the UNSC to get itself together and figure out where they’re going and how to stop them. Can Chief (Pablo Schreiber) and Silver Team (Natasha Culzac, Bentley Kalu, and Kate Kennedy) finish the fight despite the weight of Halsey’s deceit hanging over their shoulders? What will the Covenant plan to do once they get the location of Halo, and how does Makee still fit into those plans? Is there any particular reason that this had to be done on top of a sand mountain? I mean the dirt canyon from episode five wasn’t the most exciting location but it looked a lot better than this!