Cinema Dispatch: The Great Wall

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The Great Wall and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Picture and China Film Group

Directed by Zhang Yimou

Hey, Disney can’t be the ONLY company making all that money all over the world, right?  Sure, they have Star Wars and Marvel on their side, but there’s certainly room for even more movies that go for a global audience.  Hell, we’ve already got a few we can name off already like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Warcraft, or even the last loathsome Transformers movie which inexplicable set the third act in China.  Still, this particular movie is something different as it’s a US/China co-production that is legitimately one of those instead of a Hollywood film that had some of it done in China.  This is an acclaimed Chinese director with stars from his own country AND the US with financial backing from Universal and a script from Hollywood writers.  Hell, the fact that this movie ACTUALLY has Chinese subtitles yet is STILL getting a wide release in the US is noteworthy in and of itself!  Did all that effort ultimately pay off, or is this a lousy way to kick off this new era in filmmaking?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with William and Pero (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) running their ass off across the Gobi desert in hopes of outrunning the bandits chasing them and also finding out the secret to BLACK POWDER (i.e. gunpowder) from the Chinese once they find someone to ask about it.  Unfortunately for them, they wind up at The Great Wall where a secret army of warriors assigned to guard the wall (how can they be secret if they’re base of operations can be seen from space?) and they aren’t too friendly to tourists.  Fortunately for them (or maybe not so fortunately), they arrived on the EXACT DATE that an army of monsters that comes around every sixty years (I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be aliens) are set to attack and try to break the wall down so as to siege the country behind it.  Because of this, General Shao and the chief strategist Wang (Zhang Hanyu and Andy Lau) who run this secret military called The Nameless Order don’t have the time to lock them in a dungeon and so they get a chance to prove their worth by slicing up a few monsters as well.  This gives them a brief stay of execution and even the respect of some of the members there including Commander Lin Mae (Jing Tian) and an ill prepared lower solider named Peng Yong (Lu Han).  Of course, these newcomers ALSO get the attention of Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe) who’s… a prisoner I think?  He came to China 25 years ago for BLACK POWDER as well, and I guess The Nameless Order just won’t let the dude leave; a fate that both William and Pero fear awaits them if they stick around too long.  So it looks like they have a dilemma on their hands!  Take what Black Powder the order has and leave them to fight on their own, or do what they can to help and hope they can finagle a way out once the dust has settled.  Will they make the right choice in the end?  What does the order have planned to fight this monstrous threat?  How much were they hoping Matt Damon would bring in?  A hundred million?  Two hundred million?

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Wait, HOW much did that last Bourne movie make!?

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Cinema Dispatch: Fist Fight

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Fist Fight and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Richie Keen

First rule of Fist Fight?  Make as many references as possible!  Hey, I’m not the one who said FUCK THE POLICE in the red band trailer, alright?  That’s ALL on Ice Cube!  Corny lines aside though, I’ve been cautiously optimistic about this film; mostly because of the cast as I LOVE Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Ice Cube can be pretty compelling when given the right material.  I mean sure, it IS February which usually doesn’t fare much better than January as far as movies, and while it’s been pretty mediocre since the start of 2017, there have been a few bright spots here and there.  Can this movie about two dudes beating the crap out of each other for contrived reasons be one of the exceptions?  Hell, we let John Wick get away with that, right?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place on the last day of high school where all the seniors are pulling hilarious pranks like hanging vulgar signs on the building, stealing the principal’s car, and mowing a penis into the track field.  Needless to say that none of the teachers are too thrilled to be here (and yet for some reason aren’t calling the cops) which includes English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) and History teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube).  Well… maybe less so Mr. Strickland who seems to come at today with the same FUCK YOU attitude that he would every other day as he’s the only teacher who can SORT OF keep the kids in line; mainly by threatening to beat the shit out of them.  Of course, a guy with these kinds of anger management issues is bound to do something stupid, and that happens on this fateful day where one kid pisses him of and he takes a fucking fire axe to his desk; in full view of the class as well as Mr. Campbell who just so happened to be around during the incident.  Under threat of both of them being fired by Principal Tyler (Dean Norris), Mr. Campbell rats on Mr. Strickland who in all fairness endangered the lives of SEVERAL people and probably shouldn’t be in a god damn school in the first place if this is how he’s gonna act.  Mr. Strickland doesn’t quite see things that way however, and like a REAL man decides that he’s gonna punch his way out of this, so he challenges Mr. Campbell to a fight after school which the entire town hears about in a matter of minutes.  Hashtag Teacher Fight!  Can Mr. Campbell find a way out of this ass beating, or is he gonna get his face smooshed in by a guy twice as big as him?  Does Mr. Strickland have ulterior motives for starting this fight in the first place?  Can… can someone tell who thought this was a good idea in 2017?  Please?

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Don’t pin this on him!  It was YOUR budded who directed this damn thing!

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Cinema Dispatch: The LEGO Batman Movie

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The Lego Batman Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Chris McKay

Let’s see… you take something awesome like The LEGO Movie, and you add more Will Arnett.  How could this POSSIBLY fail!?  I mean granted, adding Will Arnett to ANYTHING is an automatic improvement (unless it’s Bojack Horseman), but considering what we’ve gotten from the DC canon since Nolan’s second movie, how could we NOT be excited when one of those movies isn’t fraught with astounding mismanagement and crushing solemnity!?  Does this offshoot of The LEGO movie prove to be a success while laying the groundwork for other LEGO based offshoots, or has Warner Bros utter mismanagement of the DC licenses somehow managed to spread to this colorful and vibrant take on the characters?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Batman being Batman and everyone getting really sick about it, and I can certainly relate to that.  More specifically, Batman (Will Arnett) has just locked away a whole bunch of villains for what has to be the millionth time, but something’s a little bit different.  While The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) managed to escape like he usually does, Batman managed to hurt his feelings by claiming he’s NOT his arch-enemy, so now he’s got a NEW axe to grind with the caped crusader.  On top of that, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) has just become the new commissioner and is somewhat skeptical about letting some sociopath with silly ears and a cape beating up poor people and other weirdos in the streets of Gotham which makes SENSE but isn’t all that comforting to Batman who’s already having enough trouble finding things to do in what little spare time he has NOW; let alone how much he’d have if the police department started doing their jobs right under Barbara’s new rule.  To cap things off, he JUST SO HAPPENS to adopt a young boy named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) which you’d THINK would require just a LITTLE bit of paperwork, but I guess the Orphanage could use the extra bed; especially considering how many kids they have to take in considering how many supervillains are blowing shit up around the city.  ANYWAY!  Batman, who’s been avoiding his feelings all this time by punching baddies in the face now has to deal with that one thing we all fear… CHANGE!  Will he be able to keep his cool now that the status quo has been upended?  Just what does The Joker have planned now that he’s even MORE pissed at Batman than usual?  Is it too soon to reboot the DC films and just make them all based on toys?

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“Do you bleed?”     “Probably not.  I mean, I AM made of plastic.”     “YOU WILL!!”     “Again… I’m made out of plastic…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Gold

goldcd0Gold and all the images you see in this review are owned by TWC-Dimension

Directed by Stephen Gaghan

It’s getting a bit late in the year, but I guess we’ve still got a few more Oscar holdovers that need to recoup a few bucks from the general public; especially for ones like this that clearly didn’t get the recognition it  was hoping for.  Still, the big award shows don’t always know what the hell they’re doing (*cough* The King’s Speech *cough*), and it’s not like any of MY favorite films of 2016 got nominated for an Oscar, so maybe this one will turn out be to be a gem that no one else was able to recognize!  Can Matthew McConaughey pull off yet another great performance in a movie about yet another eccentric oddball, or will this be forgotten like most of his pre-McConaissance work once he realized he was ACTUALLY good at acting?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the misadventures of Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) who’s a down on his luck prospector; barely managing to make ends meet after inheriting a successful mining company from his father.  With his girlfriend by his side (Bryce Dallas Howard), he manages to keep from succumbing to total self-destruction, but his drinking isn’t helping the situation all that much and he needs ONE big score in order to get his company out of the red and his life out of the dumps.  His big harebrained scheme is to get a SIMILARLY down on his luck geologist named Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez) to help him find a gold mine in the heart of Indonesia.  It’s rough going at first, so much so that Kenny becomes deathly ill during the expedition, but he manages to pull through and they ACTUALLY find a gold mine!  From there, Kenny has to deal with the avalanche of wealth that has landed right at his doorstop, the people who will try to take advantage of him, and of course those who want to put him out of business altogether.  Can this schlubby guy with a TERRIBLE haircut manage to hack it in a world of millionaires and true professionals?  How can this one dude fend off the biggest mining companies in the world and even the Indonesian government who are looking for ANY opportunity to snatch his gold mine out from under him?  Seriously, what’s with that hair!?  Either get the hair plugs or shave the damn thing off!

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“Would you fuck me?  Well I probably would, but I’d need a few more of these first.”

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 3 (Body Double)

We’re back with another episode of The Way Too Young and the Restless!  When we last left things, Cheryl was FINALLY getting arrested for being the most OBVIOUSLY SUSPICIOUS PERON IMAGINABLE, but chances are that those charges aren’t gonna stick considering we’re only on the third chapter.  What mysteries will be uncovered once Cheryl tells us what REALLY happened on the Fourth of July?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with a recap of what happened at the end of the last episode which, as stated above, was Cheryl Blossom FINALLY being dragged away in handcuffs.  Why?  Well I could probably give you a laundry list of reasons, but SPECIFICALLY she’s being hauled in for questioning because her story about what happened to Jason on the Fourth of July has a few holes in it.  Namely ONE hole that ended up in Jason’s head!  Sheriff Keller (Kevin Keller’s dad played by Martin Cummins) begins to question her in Principal Weatherbee’s office, and we find out what REALLY happened that day, or at least the CURRENT version of the truth before the next big revelation upends everything we learn here.  Jason wanted to run away from home and fake his death.  He and Cheryl took the boat ACROSS the river and I guess Jason just wandered off into the woods with no bags and presumably very little cash (a dead man wouldn’t be using a credit card and a big withdrawal right before he disappeared would have been suspicious) while Cheryl waited around for someone to find her so she can tell the story about Jason drowning.  How she knew that Dilton and his scout troop (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a scout leader in the books, but whatever) would JUST SO HAPPEN to pass by is still a mystery, but maybe that’s the NEXT big revelation.  While the two of them were sharing their tearful goodbye, they heard the gunshot.  You know; the one that Archie and Miss Grundy heard?  Yeah, they heard it too which means that we now know two places were the gun COULDN’T have been fired from.  Now that’s a decent chunk of information to build off of and presumably this take Cheryl off the hook for the murder.  Why the sheriff didn’t ask Cheryl WHY Jason wanted to run away is beyond me, but whatever.  We’ve still got a whole season of shows to fill up, so we can’t be giving away all the surprises NOW!

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“That whole thing where I said I was guilty?  Yeah… not really what I meant.  Still made for a good cliffhanger though, right?”

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Cinema Dispatch: John Wick: Chapter 2

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John Wick: Chapter 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment

Directed by Chad Stahelski

WOO!!!  JOHN WICK IS BACK!!  Now I wasn’t as over the moon as some people were with that first movie (), but I am never the less EXTREMELY excited to see what Keanu Reeves has up his sleeve in the sequel!  True, sequels to unexpected hits are almost universally terrible (*cough* Highlander 2, The Hangover 2, Taken 2 *cough*), but there’s not a whole lot of ways to screw up a formula like this; especially when what made it work the first time around was well choreographed and expertly shot action scenes; two things that Keanu Reeves and the returning director seem to prize above all else.  Can this manage to be as exceptional as the man himself and ACTUALLY be a good sequel, or has the air gone out of this series the same way the Matrix did when we got ITS sequels?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up RIGHT where the last one left off, namely with John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finishing off what remains of the Russian mob (his injuries have healed rather nicely considering how close he was to dying at the end of the last film) and getting his car back.  Of course, because of how much noise he made doing so, he gets a visit from a former associate who wants him to do a favor despite his insistence that he’s FINALLY going to retire.  This turns out to be a VERY bad move as the associate Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) then blows up his fucking house because of this.  Doesn’t kill the dog though!  No, he makes to the end!  Anyway, apparently Santino has a Marker with John which supposedly makes all of this make sense (spoiler alert: it doesn’t) as a Marker is essentially a blood oath where one party owes the other a one-time request that they MUST do or else… I don’t know, they die?  I mean, good luck finding someone to kill John Wick!  Hell, if that was even an option, why don’t you send THAT person to do the job for you!?  Well no one was asking for my opinion when they were writing this, so John takes the job, executes his target, and THAT’S when things go to hell as the target’s bodyguard Cassian (Common) was  an old friend but now a SWORN MORTAL ENEMY, and Santino betrays John and tries to have him killed.  I totally didn’t see that coming, especially when HIS bodyguard Ares is played by Ruby Rose and was giving John dirty looks throughout the first act (angry dirty; not sexy dirty).  So now he’s got Cassian on his ass, Santino trying to kill him, and oh yeah A SHIT TON OF OTHER ASSASSINS as Santino has ALSO put a hit on him just for good measure.  Will John be able to kill his way to Santino and finally get his retirement once and for all?  Well… PROBABLY considering how good he is at head shots, but does Santino plan to keep John JUST out of arm’s reach?  Who can John trust now that there’s a huge bounty on his head and hit men are coming out the wood work for his very valuable head?   How many suits does this guy go through on a daily basis!?

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Trick question.  Anything John touches is automatically bulletproof.

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Cinema Dispatch: Rings

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Rings and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by F Javier Gutiérrez

What in the hell took them so long with this!?  Not only is this coming out over a decade since the last one, this one has been pushed back at least three times from its initial release date in November 2015 which is only a few months shy of Monster Trucks’s unimaginably long delay, and we all know how THAT turned out!  Then again, no one was stupid enough to mortgage their studio on THIS film, but I’m not all that optimistic either way.  There’s a hell of a lot going against this movie even before it was pushed back several times, so unless we’ve got the next  Fede Álvarez helming the damn thing, I don’t think there’s much hope of this being even halfway decent; otherwise they wouldn’t have waited until February to dump it on theaters.  All that said, you never know!  Hell, even Monster Trucks managed to be a LITTLE bit of fun, and it’s not like the first film was a sure thing either being a remake of a well-known Japanese horror film!  Maybe there’s something to this that the studios just didn’t see!  Yeah… that’s a bit of a long shot, BUT let’s find out anyway!

So if you’ve seen the trailers, it turns out they don’t actually tell you ANYTHING about the plot of the movie as they basically consist of the cold opening and the last five minutes.  What’s REALLY going on here is that Julia (Matilda Lutz) is a woman dating some dude who went off to college named Holt (Alex Roe) and she ends up worrying about him after he stops taking her calls.  Now in the REAL world this would mean that he’s found some campus squeeze, but instead she finds out that the Biology professor named Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) has him and a WHOLE bunch of other students working on some sort of study into a magic video tape that kills whoever watched it after seven days.  That is, unless the person makes a copy of the video and has someone else watch it, in which case the seven day curse resets and is put on the next person.  It’s not clear exactly what Gabriel’s end goal is here, but shit goes to hell when one of the students dies from Samara’s wrath (the ghost from the other Ring films) and it leaves Holt hanging who need someone to watch his copy soon.  Julia volunteers herself as tribute, but something goes wrong as the video is different, she can’t make a copy herself, and she gets some weird scar on her hand that no one else has gotten.  Clearly Samara is changing the rules on them, so the only way to stop her once and for all is to solve the mystery of what happened to her and why she’s so damn pissed!  No, not the mystery from the FIRST film!  This is a whole NEW mystery about her past that no one bothered to mention until now!  Can Julia and Holt figure out… whatever it is they need to figure out, before it’s too late?  Did Gabriel learn anything USEFUL by messing with the ghost for this long?  So can she just come through ANY screen now; even ones that aren’t TVs?  I wonder what would happen if she haunted a 3DS…

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“These fifty inch TVs are really nice!  So much roomier!”

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