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Cinema Dispatch: Dolittle

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Dolittle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Stephen Gaghan

My GOODNESS have studios been putting out some high priced nonsense recently!  We are definitely stuck in the Billion Dollar Blockbuster Bubble where every studio wants nothing but the most expensive movies to maximize their profits, but as is the nature with bubbles all the money Is usually dried up by the time everyone else tries to get in on it which is why Disney is still sitting pretty on their mountain of gold and everyone else is making stuff like Cats and that awful Tarzan movie.  With this being the current trend, someone making an overpriced adventure film about Dr. Doolittle feels almost inevitable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be bad!  I LOVE me some overpriced entertainment like Jupiter Ascending and Final Fantasy XIII, so maybe Dr. Doolittle being played by Iron Man and co-starring a wrestler as a CGI polar bear is just what I need to cleanse the palate and finally kick off the GOOD parts of 2020 which so far has been pretty plodding at the multiplex!  Is this retelling of the classic story the start of another beloved blockbuster franchise, or are we in for a disaster to rival even that of Cats!?  Let’s find out!!

Taking place AFTER what I presume is the actual Dr. Dolittle story, we find that the intrepid physician who can talk to animals (Robert Downey Jr) has gone fully Will Wonka and is holed up inside his giant wildlife preserve; refusing to see any visitors, human or otherwise.  That all changes when one day, out of PURE LUCK, he gets TWO visitors who insist on seeing him!  The first is Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) who is on assignment from the Queen despite being all of twelve years old, and Tommy (Harry Collett) who shot a squirrel and has brought the wounded creature to Dolittle because he feels bad.  Lady Rose is there to inform him that the Queen is dying and requires his help which he reluctantly agrees to, and determines that she’s dying of McGuffin’s Disease which can only be cured by a fabled fruit on an uncharted island, so he takes some of his animals friends (Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, and Octavia Spencer just to name a few) on a boat to get the fruit and save the Queen; hoping that once this is finished he can go back to brooding in his house all day.  Oh, and Tommy is coming along too because… he loves animals too I guess?  Will the Dolittle Crew get to the magic fruit in time to save the Queen?  What challenges will they face along the way, and will some of it be intentional sabotage?  If one of the cats from Cats was in this movie, would Dolittle be the only one who could talk to it!?

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“So what you’re saying is that never was there ever a cat as clever as Magical Mister Mistoffelees?”     …     “What is that it?  I mean sure, throwing your voice is a skill but I wouldn’t call it MAGICAL.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Like a Boss

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Like a Boss and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Miguel Arteta

Now that I think of it, have I really liked ANY of Tiffany Haddish’s movies?  I’ve reviewed most of them by now, and outside of The Kitchen and MAYBE Keanu, her movies are mostly meh or worse which is a pattern that certainly doesn’t bode well for this film.  Then again, she’s never the reason why those movies are bad and is often the complete opposite!  She’s someone who can make a terrible film tolerable and a mediocre one a delight which goes to show how strong of a performer she is even if she’s not the most adept at picking scripts.  In any case, is this latest entry in the Tiffany Haddish oeuvre worthy of her talents, or is she stuck shouldering the weight of another lousy movie along with every other talented person that was roped into this?  Let’s find out!!

Mia Carter and Mel Paige (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) are best friends and co-owners of a beauty store that they opened together; Mel & Mia’s!  They have good employees like Sydney and Barett (Jennifer Coolidge and Billy Porter), they have great friends they hang out with (Ari Graynor, Natasha Rothwell and Jessica St Clair), and aside from being in quite a bit of debt at the moment, they’re their own bosses and are living the American Dream!  Things couldn’t get any better for them, EXCEPT THEY DO!  A big makeup conglomerate owner named Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) has taken interest in their little shop and she is offering to clear their debts AND let them retain fifty-one percent of the company once it merges with Luna’s!  Sounds like a sweetheart deal to me, but Mia is skeptical of such a good deal and she turns out to be right as Luna is hatching an EVIL scheme to screw them out of their company!  There’s a clause in the contract that if either one of them quit their job that Luna would be the one to take over, so as long as Luna finds a way to break these two best friends up, she will be able to cut them out; leaving them with a mere… forty-nine percent of a company that Luna hopes to make millions off of.  Okay… seems like an awful long way to go to make a fraction more money and to NOT use the experience and expertise of these women who got on her radar in the first place because of their good ideas, but whatever floats her boat I suppose.  Can Mia and Mel weather the storm that Luna will be putting in their path and come out he other side still friends?  What will these trials reveal about these two and has their friendship always been as strong as they claim it to be.  How will they survive if they fail this challenge are left with no debt and a huge amount of money anyway!?

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“We’ve got to stop wasting the caviar!  When you’re done with it, put it in the fridge!”     “You’re not my mom!”

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Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2019 (Part 2) – Switch Lightening Round!

One of the more notable stories in games this year was the rise in ridiculously slashed game prices on the Nintendo eShop for games that otherwise were starting to get overlooked in the marketplace.  It definitely feels like that has slowed down quite a bit even if there are a few good deals here and there, but let’s take a look at some of the games that I bought on a whim!!

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Crypt of the NecroDancer

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Developed by Brace Yourself Games

I played this game a while back when it was on Steam and wasn’t too impressed.  I was TOLD that there was a DDR mode and the idea of doing steps to do super moves or whatever sounded intriguing, but using a mat makes the game almost unplayable and when I used a keyboard it just felt rather dull.  When it was on sale for the Switch however, I decided to give it another shot, and you know what?  It’s pretty good.  Not one of my favorite games for the system, not one of my favorite rogue likes for that matter, but the gameplay works well enough and that soundtrack is pretty rocking. My biggest problem was getting overwhelmed pretty easily as the controls and combat intersect in an interesting but still odd way, and the fact that you’re encouraged to keep things to the beat means there’s not a lot of time to really think things out which is when you get blasted in the face with a dragon beam or get crushed by the boss for the ten millionth time.  Then again, complaining about dying a lot is like complaining about the lack of sweet dunking skills in a first person shooter, as amazing as it would be to see Master Chief tear it up on the court, and by now the game is old enough that you can ask everyone and their grandmother how good it is instead of asking this Grumpy Gus.  If nothing else, I’m pretty interested in playing The Cadence of Hyrule which not only incorporates Zelda iconography and music, but appears to downplay the rouge-like elements for a more traditional adventure.  Let’s hope there’s a decent sale soon so it’ll be on next year’s retrospective!

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-15-20)

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AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT

Welcome back to another episode of AEW Dynamite where we’re partying like its 1997!!  Despite WWE basically owning everything wrestling related in the US prior to 2000, they let their trademark for Bash at the Beach expire which allowed Cody Rhodes to get it for AEW; a fitting change of hands considering his father Dusty Rhodes was the one who created the concept in the first place!  Does this revival of an old school wrestling tradition still hold up twenty years later, even with a BEACH show taking place in the middle of winter!?  Let’s find out!!

The big thing to note about this show is that the major angles are put on the back burner a bit to focus on a new round of tournaments for the belts; presumably as a way to make this BASH AT THE BEACH thing feel like something other than another episode of Dynamite shot in a slightly different way.  To that end, the Tag Match is a Number One Contender match, and there’s a two bracket tournament tonight (Jon Moxley Vs. Sammy Guevara & Pac Vs. Darby Allin) with the two winners of this week’s matches facing off next week for a shot at Jericho.  Fair enough I suppose as there could certainly be a bit more excitement around the belts themselves which haven’t changed hands once since AEW started, and we start things off with that GINORMOUS tag match!

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Hangman Adam Page & Kenny Omega Vs. Proud N Powerful Vs. Best Friends Vs. The Young Bucks – Four Way Tag Team Match for Number One Contender

Best Friends is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy

The best way that I can describe this match is that it has as much in common with an actual sporting contest as It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World has with actual racing.  For twenty minutes these eight dudes did their best to recreate the mad cap of Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin in that the physicality of their bits are just as impressive to watch as it is hilarious.  No, you don’t really buy it as a REAL wrestling match, but the timing and the spectacle were out of this world and I enjoyed every minute of it once it kicked into high gear!  It actually took me a minute to get what they were going for, especially when JR just blurted out that it was a non-DQ match two minutes after the bell ring which calls into question why anyone is even bothering to tag in and out, but honestly that’s always going to be a thing in wrestling where if the goal is to knock someone into submission then why are they doing high flying moves and whatnot instead of MMA beat downs.  I can understand that going THIS far into wackiness will be past some people’s suspension of disbelief and that’s a fair criticism as it really does descend into chaos multiple times here, but if you can groove on that understand that it’s all one elaboarately planned out showcase of moves, spots, and well timed interference, then there’s a lot of wacky fun to be had in this opening match.  The match does eventually have to come to an end though with Kenny and Page landing that combo V-Trigger and Buckshot Lariat on Chuck Taylor which knocks him out cold and leads to the three count.  They’re definitely playing the long game here with Page’s heel turn as they’ve made it ALL the way to the number one contender slot, so hopefully next week in their match against SCU they’ll finally pull the trigger on it.  I’m guessing they’re going to lose relatively cleanly against SCU and that’s when Page finally turns heel on Kenny which will set up a feud for those and possibly a match at Revolution; possibly a Triple Threat if they wanted to get Pac in there as well.

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Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2019 (Part 1)

I might be a little late here, but I always like to take a bit of time to showcase some of the games I managed to play in the preceding year; particularly those that didn’t actually come out at that time and just so happened to catch my interest for whatever reason.  Some were good, some were bad, all were hopefully worth talking about (otherwise I spent a lot of time writing for absolutely no reason), so let’s get started and I hope you enjoy it!!

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Apex Legends (PC)

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Developed by Respawn Entertainment

Pretty much the only online multiplayer games I’ve ever stuck with significantly were Team Fortress 2 and Rocket League, so while I haven’t played at match in this game for many MANY months, it’s not their fault; it’s just me.  Apex Legend was by far the best of these Battle Royale games and its astounding just how much better it is than Fortnite in every way that matters to me.  The cooperative gameplay make each match much easier to invest in as you have someone other than yourself depending on your performance, and the innovative team chat options made it effortless to coordinate tactics and efficiently convey new and prescient information.  So why did I stop playing it?  Well it’s not JUST that I’m terrible at it as I’m pretty bad at both Team Fortress and Rocket League which haven’t stopped me from playing them.  I think the matches might go on a bit too long to get into a really nice groove of match after match after match, and the closer we get to the end of one the less interesting the mechanics become.  I’m personally more of a sneaky player and I like to keep my distance from other teams, but it’ll inevitably come down to trading bullets with someone else (inevitably ten times more skilled then you are) and at that point I can only hope that my teammates can pick up the slack.  The game has the mechanics to do more than just shoot at each other, so I’d probably jump back in if they took advantage of that for some sort of racing or package delivery game modes, but as it stands it’s a really good example of the genre that managed to suck a good forty hours of my life away in its first few months, so I can only imagine what it’d be like for someone who’s actually GOOD at one of these!

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Cinema Dispatch: 1917

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1917 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Sam Mendes

Is it a 2019 movie or a 2020 movie?  I mean I guess it’s the former as I doubt Universal wants to wait until NEXT February for it to win a bunch of Oscars, but while some critics may have gotten to see it back in December I only have the chance to see it now right alongside other sterling January releases like The Grudge and the upcoming Dolittle.  Well now that they finally let the general public see this, does it live up to the hype it’s been building up over the last few weeks, or is there a reason they held it off until the dumping ground month despite the pedigree behind it?  Let’s find out!!

Will Schofield and Tom Blake (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) are just two dudes in the British Army milling around France during World War I with the rest of their unit as they try to wait out the German army who are on the other side of No Man’s Land on whatever battlefield they’re on.  That’s all about to change however as the general Colin Firth has given them a critical mission to deliver new battlefield orders to a company several miles away that as it turns out has Blake’s brother serving in it.  It seems that recent changes in the German Army’s movements have given the impression that the company can secure victory with one final push that they’ve scheduled for the morning, but new information has confirmed this to be a trap that will no doubt lead to most if not all of the sixteen hundred men in that company to their untimely deaths.  If these two can get this information to the commanding officer in time, the attack will be stooped and all those men will be saved (or at least die a much more timely death), but it is not an easy undertaking as German soldiers are still scattered across the region; not to mention the environmental hazards like traps, rain, mud, and both sunlight AND darkness coming with their own troubles as well.  Can they makes it in time so that these soldiers can live to fight another day?  What hardships will they encounter on this journey, and are both of them ultimately up to the task?  Did Sam Mendes actually make a 007 prequel without telling us!?  I mean they’re making a Kingsman prequel, so why not?

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Considering how much this dude runs, maybe it’s a Mission Impossible prequel.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-08-20)

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AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT

Welcome back to another week of TNA Impact! … Wait, that’s not right. Welcome back to WCW Thunder! Nope! Try again! Welcome back to… AEW? There we go! Seriously, trying to fight the WWE is like one of those rouge likes with perma-death where you have to start over with a brand new character from scratch. Thankfully this just might be our best specced character yet as AEW has kept on chugging with quality content and management seems to have a good head on its shoulders for what are reasonable expectations for the brand. Is this week’s episode another memorable and fun entry in the already venerated wrestling promotion? Let’s find out!!

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Kenny Omega & Hangman Adam Page Vs. Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen)

The big in-ring story for AEW going into 2020 is where The Elite stand as the de facto Face faction and whether they will break their losing streak anytime soon, but the thing is I’m not as bothered by Kenny Omega’s losing streak as I am by his utter directionless at the moment. Where Cody has his one big storyline and a few other things simmering in the background that we’ll get to later, everything with Omega feels like it’s stuck in the background and it’s hard to really sink your teeth into his character when even he doesn’t seem to have a clear set of priorities. At least Kenny has those background things going on though. While stuff like his feud with Pac and whatever he has going on with John Moxley aren’t front and center, they’re at least THERE in some capacity. Adam Page really has nothing going on other than his own frustration at having nothing to do, so if nothing else putting him in matches with Omega has at least dragged him a bit forward as well. So how is the match this week? It’s pretty good, but a bit plodding. Kassidy is in that ring for a LONG time and is basically the whipping boy for the entire first half of the match as Omega and Page work him over to show how tough they are, but Quen at least makes a comeback and does a good job of keeping Page and Kenny from running away with it. There just wasn’t a whole lot to really excite me in this however, at least until the end when Page and Omega start working together and lay some SERIOUSLY painful combo attacks and Kassidy. That’s pretty late into the match though and I’ve always been of the opinion that an opening match should get in and out to pump up the audience. We do eventually get a spot where Kenny has Quen in a hold and Page tries his Buckshot Lariat where he once again accidently hits Kenny, but it’s like the third time we’ve seen it so it doesn’t mean a whole lot. The only thing that’s KIND of surprising is that Page (aside from the whole Lariat thing) is actually trying to be a good teammate as he protects Kenny at points and even breaks up a near fall to save the match. It seems to be done rather begrudgingly, but it at least shows that Page isn’t some One Dimensional Sourpuss who will screw over his own teammates for no reason. Kenny ends up winning the match by landing a One Winged Angel on Marq Quen for the pin, and afterwards we see Pac on the big screen doing some sort of submission on Michael Nakazawa (I’m guessing it’s the Brutalizer?) who then once again says that it’s Kenny’s fault and that he wants his rubber match. Ultimately this match and this angle felt like a holding pattern rather than an advancement of the storyline as we’re just repeating the angle from last week. Not bad, but not how I’d start things out.

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