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Cinema Dispatch: Rambo: Last Blood

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Rambo: Last Blood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Adrian Grunberg

Not sure if this counts as a hot take, but I’ve always felt that of the two major Stallone franchises (the other being Rocky), Rambo was the lesser of the two.  First Blood wasn’t quite as good as the first Rocky, Rocky had better sequels, and even when it came to deconstructing the franchise I thought that Rocky Balboa was better than Rambo 2008.  Now that we’ve gotten to the post-deconstruction continuation for Rocky which did a phenomenal job with both Creed movies, I guess it’s time for Stallone to give good ol’ John one last adventure on the silver screen.  Does this latest and possibly last Rambo adventure measure up to the better films of the series, or will this be the movie that finally makes us all realize that Rambo 3 wasn’t ALL bad?  Let’s find out!!

Not long after the events of Rambo 2008, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) moved back to his family ranch and is living with what little family he has left; his niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) and her grandmother Maria (Adriana Barraza).  It’s now the present and young Gabrielle has grown up while John has started to settle down and has diverted a lot of his negative energy towards building a complex series of tunnels underneath his ranch which if nothing else is better than getting into fist fights in Thailand.  As great as this peaceful existence has been, something terrible is about to happen that will change their lives forever!!  Gabrielle… is going on a trip!  TO MEXICO!!  Yes, apparently a friend of hers who lives there (Fenessa Pineda) has found Gabrielle’s estranged father and is inviting her down there to meet him.  Rambo however knows that… I don’t know, Mexico is full of bad guys or something, and is about as skeptical of her going to Mexico as Liam Neeson was of his daughter going to Europe.  Sure enough, the exact same thing more or less happens as Gabrielle gets taken by bad guys the same day she gets there and Rambo has to save her; presumably without rubbing her nose in it TOO much that he was right to not trust THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF MEXICO.  Can Rambo make it in time to save Gabrielle from whatever horrific fate awaits her on the other side of the border?  Will Rambo unleash the beast that has been brewing inside of him for all these years, and is it enough to get him out of one last battle?  Can someone please tell me why I’m watching a Rambo movie that’s absolutely NOTHING like a Rambo movie?  Can someone point me to who’s responsible for whatever this is!?

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“Geez… I’m gonna have to do five more Creed films to make up for this one…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Hustlers

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Hustlers and all the images you see in this review are owned by STXfilms

Directed by Lorene Scafaria

Have I mentioned before that BASED ON A TRUE STORY is a tagline that fills me with dread and anxiety?  Yeah, it’s never fun having to be historian of sorts (or even just read a few articles) to make sure that you aren’t being unfair to a movie because you don’t know everything around it, and frankly they tend to have rather unimpressive endings because life rarely ends on a BANG.  Still, the premise looks interesting enough and I don’t need much of a reason to enjoy seeing rich people get screwed over, so maybe this will turn out to be a fun time even with the FACTS OF THE STORY hanging around its neck like an albatross!  Maybe it’s a NICE albatross!  You ever think of that!?  Anyway, is this piece of late stage capitalism bashing yet another cathartic bit of enjoyable escapism, or is the only good thing that’ll come out of this movie the awesome dance moves that Jennifer Lopez learned while making it?  Let’s find out!!

Dorothy, AKA Destiny (Constance Wu), is a stripper who has just started working at a big club in New York City, but despite the promises of big money she finds that she’s not quite fitting in with the clientele and that management is taking out HUGE chunks of her paycheck for various “services” that let her keep working there.  If only there was an extremely talented stripper there who can show her the ropes and make her into a star, but what are the chances of THAT, am I right!?  Oh wait, what about Ramona (Jennifer Lopez)?  Yeah, she makes a bunch of money and makes it look totally effortless in the process!  With her tutelage, Dorothy does manage to find her niche there and makes more money than she ever had before, but the plot twist here is that this is all ACTUALLY taking place in 2007 and the big financial crash that wiped out this entire country is about to hit their industry hard; especially since their big paying clients are Wall Street guys who are now broke.  Well not BROKE broke like everyone else, but they’ve become rather stingy with their dollars and now no one can make money in this business which is particularly bad for Dorothy who has an elderly grandmother to take care of as well as a kid she’s raising by herself.  Once the dust settles from the crash, Dorothy eventually goes in on a scheme that Ramona has set up along with fellow co-workers Mercedes and Annabelle (Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart) to drug these rich penny pinching punks with stuff that’ll make them happy, pliable, and forgetful so they can then run up their credit cards on all sorts of services that they get a kickback on.  Sounds like a great plan if you ask me, especially since none of these jerks went to jail for tanking the housing market, but a good thing can never seem to last and so things start to unravel over time as Dorothy starts to question whether Ramona is truly looking out for all of them or just for herself.  Can Dorothy get enough money to take care of her biological family while ALSO keeping her new family safe and away from inquiring eyes?  Just how much do they plan on getting away with before someone will eventually catch on, or are they hoping to steal back every penny these investment firm jerkwads took from the American public?  Does anyone else think these ladies should be in line for the next Captain America?  Taking money from these guys seems to me about as patriotic as apple pie and The Cheesecake Factory!

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Jennifer Lopez 2020

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Cinema Dispatch: IT Chapter 2

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IT Chapter 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Alright, so we’re all in agreement that the first film was amazing, right?  I mean it had a few issues here and there, but dang it if Chapter One wasn’t a horror masterpiece with great performances, a terrifying villain, and the brilliant idea of taking the GOOD parts of a Stephen King book and leaving out all the stuff that doesn’t work.  Heck, I’m pretty sure the last time that happened was when Kubrick made The Shining which Stephen King really doesn’t like for some reason.  Now we’ve got the sequel which has the neigh impossible task of capturing lightening in a bottle twice; especially since most of what made the first one so memorable will necessarily have to be either absent or pushed to the side.  Can the filmmakers pull off the impossible by making the notoriously unworkable ending to the book into something not just comprehensible but just as good as the film that came before it?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up twenty seven years after the events of the first film where the mysterious murders in Derry have started up once again and Michael (Isaiah Mustafa) as the only member of the Losers Club left in town has to bring the gang back together to fight the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once again.  Bill, Richie, Beverly, Ben, Eddie, and Stanley (James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean) have all gone their separate ways and can’t even seem to remember their time in Derry or the monster they fought all those years ago, but after a phone call from Mike they all start to remember (some take the news harder than others) and travel back home to take care of what IT is once and for all.  In the process they will have to confront their pasts, face their fears, and do all sorts of weird stuff in the vein attempt of trying to destroy a monster that has lived for hundreds of years while they’re a bunch of middle aged writers, comedians, and risk analysists, who might be able to throw a punch but not much else.  Can the monster known alternatively as IT, Pennywise, and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING!? be defeated by these friends brought together once again by the pact they made long ago?  What is the clown planning for them as revenge for the defeat that he suffered back in the eighties?  Maybe he can defeat them by trying to explain the ending of the book and just wait until their brains explode.

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“I WANT A FIVE HUNDRED WORD ESSAY ABOUT THE ENDING ON MY DESK TOMORROW MORNING!!”

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Super Comics: Tangle & Whisper – #2

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Tangle & Whisper as well as Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

Well now that we’ve got the rather meh Sonic book out of the way, let’s get back to the NEW series that is already quite promising!  As I’m sure you don’t need me to say once again, Whisper is perhaps the best thing the new Sonic book has going for it and so making this mini-series about something in her DARK AND MYSTERIOUS PAST sounds like a total slam dunk to me!  Do they keep up the momentum from the first issue and continue to outdo the ACTUAL Sonic book?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with Tangle & Whisper sneaking up on an abandoned Eggman facility because OF COURSE they’re at an abandoned Eggman facility.  I’m pretty sure there are more empty houses owned by Eggman than there are homeless furries in the streets which is yet another reason to eat the rich aside from how tasty someone named Eggman would inevitably be.  ANYWAY!  If you weren’t aware already (and for SOME REASON hadn’t read my recap of the first issue), these two are here to hunt down a mischievous knife wielding bad guy named Mimic who can count all the prime numbers from one to nine-thousand nine-hundred and seventy three.  No, I’m kidding; they can shapeshift and impersonate other people which makes something like an abandoned facility with lots of doors, hallways, and storerooms filed with empty boxes not the most ideal of hunting grounds for our heroes.  Despite the disadvantage however, Whisper has more than enough angst to say screw the danger and Tangle has more than enough pep in her step to assume she’s gonna come out of this the big dang hero!

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“I am vengeance!  I am the NIGHT!  I!  AM!  LEMUR WOMAN!!”     “Stop talking to yourself!  We’re trying to be inconspicuous!”     “STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!!”

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Super Wrestling: AEW – All Out

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All Out and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan

Well here it is!  After months of trial and error, big announcements, and no real response from WWE, it’s the last show before the AEW experiment goes to prime time television!  Starting in October we will be getting a weekly show from them on TBS and while I doubt they could IMMEDIATELY crash and burn considering how much money there is behind them, it’s still something of a risky venture to go into Vince’s backyard and try to claim a piece for yourself.  WCW failed, TNA failed, and the other guys just kept off of TV altogether.  It’s kind of a big deal, but we’re not really here to talk about all that!  We’re here to find out if this show had any good wrestling on it and if it’s worth your time and money to see it!  Can AEW end their PPV run on a high note as they head to the big leagues, or will this end up as a foreboding vision of things to come?  Let’s find out, and we’ll start with the pre-show!!

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Casino Battle Royale

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We start the night off with another Casino Battle Royale, but unlike the one in Double or Nothing this one is with the women’s division.  What IS like last time however are the overly complicated rules for how the groups are populated and ordered which amount to absolutely nothing because we don’t end up seeing the process; just the result.  With WWE’s Royal Rumble, they don’t make a big deal out of it and just make it a simple lottery system which is easy enough to get across to an audience but also allows for a bit of drama and tension as well; especially if someone tries to cheat it.  The wrestlers here have to draw from a “special deck” but we don’t see the drawing which determines their group, and apparently the don’t determine the group order prior to the match; they shuffle the deck right when the timer goes off and whatever suit is selected goes next.  Again, we don’t actually SEE anyone draw a card to determine the next group, but I like to imagine Cody’s in the back after having called 2 suits and has to pick the third one, but he keeps getting the first two suits over and over and over again until half the deck is on the floor before a new one comes up.  See, THAT might have justified this nonsense!  Anyway, that’s all rather immaterial as it basically boils down to a staggered Battle Royale match, so how is it?  Well I think the problem here is that it’s a Battle Royale that FEELS like it should be paced like a Royal Rumble because of those staggered entrances which are the defining feature of a Royal Rumble.  Sure a Royal Rumble can go on for a rather long time which is whole PPVs are built around them, but the benefit is that the pacing allows for multiple storylines to play out in the ring.  Contrast that with a Battle Royale which are MUCH better for pre-shows where everyone is in the ring at the start and it usually devolves into chaos until the last five or so competitors are left.  The latter is basically what happens here; it’s not until everyone has made it to the ring that it stops being about random spots and constant eliminations to play out into something more substantive; all of which is fine, but the fact they stagger the entrances makes it feel like more should be happening throughout.  It also isn’t helped by the camera work which missed a few eliminations, and while I would normally cut them some slack considering how chaotic this was (some of the more prominent wrestlers got thrown out with little fanfare during other team’s entrances), this is a problem that ended up persisting throughout the entire show and I’ll make sure to point it out when it happened during other matches.

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Look!  They brought in ODB!  See in the corner there?  Yeah, she’s already eliminated, but she still showed up!

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #20

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Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

We’re back with another issue of Night of the Living Hedgehogs as our very much alive Sonic (I’m assuming Amy is alive as well) continues to face the unending hoard of Zombots that Eggman has unleashed upon the world!  The resistance is running out of resources, Sonic is running out of stamina, and I’m running out of interest for these continuous attacks that we’ve been reading about over and over again!  Can the writers give us just enough new ideas and interesting concepts to keep the momentum going, or will this story be so uninteresting that it’ll feel like it 28 days to read it?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins right where the last one did with EVIL Shadow the Hedgehog holding Sonic by the throat and making menacing gestures to him which frankly is what I assume he does most days in the first place, but I guess THE ULTIMATE LIFE FORM is as susceptible to a robo-virus as the aliens in The War of the Worlds were to the common cold.  All that power, yet taken down by a lack of hand sanitizer.  WHEN WILL WE LEARN!?  Some other time perhaps because Sonic and Shadow are about to lock it up for what has to be the fiftieth BILLION time and it’s about as exciting as listening to Sonic go through his seven or eight catch phrases.

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“TOTALLY RADICAL!!  COWABUNGA!! EAT MY SHORTS!!  I CAN’T STOP!!  SEND HELP!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Banana Splits Movie

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The Banana Splits Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Home Entertainment

Directed by Danishka Esterhazy

Well… I guess we’re finally here.  After months of speculation and a couple of pieces by yours truly, we finally find out if this horror themed Banana Splits movie can justify its ludicrous premise.  I’ve made no bones about the fact that I’m not looking forward to this, especially when it’s so blatantly trying to jump on the Five Nights at Freddy’s bandwagon with a property that isn’t even REMOTELY applicable (a Country Bear Jamboree horror film would make WAY more sense), but maybe the filmmakers know something I don’t and have found an angle to tell this story from that will make it an interesting examination of these characters and their place in popular culture instead of just a cheap attention grabbing cash in.  Yeah, it’s probably the latter but let’s find out!!

The Williams Family wanted nothing more than for little Harley’s birthday (Finlay Wotjak-Hissong) to go perfectly and the best way to do that would be to take him to see a live taping of his FAVORITE show; The Banana Splits; a quartet of singing animals made up of Fleegle the beagle, Bingo the ape, Drooper the lion, and Snorky the elephant (voiced by Eric Bauza).  In this universe however, I guess the Banana Splits are the entire half hour instead of the bumper between cartoons and they use a retro-sixties aesthetic… ironically maybe?  Well whatever the case may be, his mother Beth (Dani Kind) managed to score five tickets to take the both of them along with his dad Mitch (Steve Lund) and his step brother Austin (Romeo Carere) along with a friend from school Zoe (Maria Nash) who’s too cool for the Splits but has to go anyway.  Once they get to the studio where it’s filmed which is located WAY in the back of the lot, we learn that The Banana Splits, while successful (somehow) is a production of many frustrations.  The stage manager Rebecca (Sara Canning) has to manage the incompetent staff as well as the overly dramatic Stevie (Richard White) who’s the only human in the cast and drinks his sorrows away on a daily basis.  Fortunately The Splits themselves aren’t as troublesome as they are LITERALLY ADVANCED ROBOTIC ENTERTAINERS that this studio can somehow afford and are regularly maintained by the overly enthusiastic programmer Karl (Lionel Newton), and most everything else is managed by the page Paige (Naledi Majola) who is way sicker of that joke than you are.  Well in case you weren’t sure what movie we were watching, the robotic Splits end up getting a crappy firmware update and start to go on a murdering rampage as soon as the taping is over and the only ones left in the studio are a few employees and the lucky few who were chosen to meet The Splits in person; including the Williams family.  Will anyone be left alive after The Splits enact whatever horrifying machinations they are dead set on enacting?  Are the true Splits still somewhere within those cold metal shells, and is there a way that Harley can reach them?   Even if he could though, who would WANT to reach them?  Bunch of dead eyed Chuck-E-Cheese rejects.  Back in my day, The Banana Splits had life and personality; not circuits and microchips con-sarn-it!

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“NOT PROGRAMMED FOR AFFECTION!  HUG PROTOCOLS ARE IN BETA!!”     “Aww… I love you to Bingo!”

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