Cinema Dispatch: RRR

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?

Come on, look at this! You’ve just got to know what’s going on here, right!?
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Cinema Dispatch: Top Gun: Maverick

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?

“Just hang tight and we’ll be done before you know it.”     “How long until we’re over Macho Grande?”     “Son, I don’t think we’ll ever get over Macho Grande…”     “Was than an Airplane 2 reference? Seriously, how old is this guy!?”
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Cinema Dispatch: 2022 May Catch Up

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!

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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…

3 out of 5
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Cinema Dispatch: The Bob’s Burgers Movie

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?

“Oh, GOD! It’s just a soupy clumps on a skeleton!” “Sigh…” “Wait, is it just me or does it look like hamburger meat?” “What!? No! It looks nothing like that!” “OH, now that I’ve said it I can’t unsee it! That’s it! I’m off meat for good!” “Oh jeez…”
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Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 9

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

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!

Seriously, wasn’t this a bonus stage in Goldeneye?
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Cinema Dispatch: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Sam Raimi

Before this latest phase of Marvel movies, you would have sounded like a broken record listing off all the great things about it before giving it an above-average score, but the last few movies have wavered a bit in quality with the only real standout being the latest Spider-Man; the one that leans heavily on nostalgia for movies that weren’t even made by Marvel Studios. Still, even prior to the Post-Endgame MCU there was an easily identifiable formula for these things and even the best of the Marvel movies didn’t deviate much from it; including the first Doctor Strange movie which definitely benefited from its mind-bending vision but still fell into a lot of the same pitfalls of other Marvel films at the time. Now it’s sequel time with a veteran director behind it, so perhaps this will be the one to successfully break the Marvel mold and do something unique with it instead of just another really enjoyable entry in the catalog. Can this bridge the gap between the great simplicity of the pre-Endgame MCU and the more experimental phase it finds itself in now, or will it tear itself apart trying to fix what isn’t broken? Let’s find out!!

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) may not be the Sorcerer Supreme since taking that five-year vacation, but he’s still hanging out at the Sanctum Sanctorum and just kinda working on himself. You know, get to know the REAL Doctor Strange, especially since his ex-girlfriend Christine (Rachel McAdams) is getting married and so he no longer has someone to pine after. Geez, this is starting to sound a bit sad. Maybe an interdimensional threat that could rip apart the universe would give him a bit of structure and a clearly defined goal to go after! Well as luck would have it, a young woman named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) is being pursued by the kind of monsters you’d find in a D&D handbook, and it turns out that she has the unique gift of being able to travel through dimensions. Well… sort of. She can’t exactly activate it at will but it always seems to get her out of trouble at the last second, though her luck seems to be running out as the malevolent force that’s pursuing her seems to be getting very close and she’s even gone to a few different Doctor Strange counterparts in those other universes without much luck in stopping this threat. Now it falls on our Doctor Strange to put an end to this sinister chase and stop them from taking her powers for their own nefarious end. For this task, he enlists the help of the current Sorcerer Supreme, Wong (Benedict Wong), as well as Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) who’s been off on her own since that whole Wanda Vision thing happened. Can Strange uncover the identity of this malevolent force that’s out to hurt America, and will he like the answers that he finds? What does Wanda hope to gain from all this, and will it be enough to make her whole after losing so much? I bet they wish they could escape to a dimension where Everything Everywhere All At Once came out the month after this instead of the month before.

“DARN YOU, EVERYTHING BAGEL! Next time, I’m ordering cinnamon raisin!”
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Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 8

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

It’s the penultimate episode for the season, and while things have started to waver a bit in the second half, Paramount has done an admirable job of bringing Halo to the big screen! Well maybe not the big screen, but with the way streaming is these days, is there really that much of a distinction anymore? In any case, we can pretty much assume that there’s gonna be a big blow-out in the finale, but is the journey to get there just as enjoyable as the inevitable alien punch-up? Let’s find out!!

Following the artifact boom at the end of episode six, Chief and Makee (Pablo Schreiber and Charlie Murphy) have grown closer which is not escaping the notice of everyone else on Reach. Most think that it’s a bad idea, especially when Chief starts pushing for Makee to grab a hold of the artifact as well to see if it will tell her where this Halo weapon is, but the recently ousted Doctor Halsey (Natascha McElhone) sees this as an opportunity to weasel herself back into John’s good graces. With all of humanity hanging in the balance, is this budding romance between Chief and Makee exactly what the humans need to turn the tide of the war, or will Makee lead them all to their doom? Just how far will Halsey go to keep control of what she believes is hers, and will her allies fall in line behind her? Seriously, these two are perhaps the most emotionally stunted people in the universe. Is anyone else dreading to find out what they think foreplay is?

“Either you were dropped off by a sect of religious alien fanatics, or heaven just lost an angel.”     “Green was never my color until I met you.”     “Why don’t you show me what an alien probe is like?”     “Only if you check my six, petty officer!”
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Super Comics: Sonic Imposter Syndrome – #4

Sonic: Imposter Syndrome, 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

I’m probably sounding like a broken record, but IDW’s Sonic series is always better the further away it is from Sonic himself. The mainline series has had its ups and downs, but the mini-series have always been some of the best writing we’ve seen from IDW’s run with the characters, and that is still the case with Imposter Syndrome; especially after Issue 49 which just felt like a bridge to whatever Issue 50 is gonna be. Does the final issue put the cherry on top of an already great mini-series, or will this be an even direr warning that Issue 50 might be an overhyped disappointment? Let’s find out!!

We begin the issue with Starline, Surge, and Kitsunami standing on the literal precipice of their greatest victory. For Starline that is to invade the Egg-base below and take over his mentor’s empire and for the other two, it’s to stab Starline in the back as soon as he thinks he’s won. Things go quite well right out of the gate, though that’s not much of a surprise given Eggman’s penchant for aesthetics over functionality, and the trio dispatches a number of goofy-looking and overly complicated robot minions. A few gun turrets or some land mines might have been a better use of resources, but Eggman will be Eggman and it’s not like he has anything better to do with his time. Speaking of whom, Eggman is swiftly made aware of the attack on his home and is baffled that it’s not being perpetrated by someone on his already extensive enemies list.

“Somebody ring up Reverse-Flash, Zoom, and that guy with the freeze ray.”     “Sir, I keep telling you that the CW isn’t-”     “YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND DO AS YOU’RE TOLD!!”
Continue reading “Super Comics: Sonic Imposter Syndrome – #4”

Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 7

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Jessica Lowrey

We’re back with another week of Halo, although I wouldn’t exactly fault you if you thought otherwise. Someone must have heard me complain about the lack of closure for the Kwan Ha/Soren storyline in my recap of the last episode, so now that dynamic duo gets a full hour just to themselves! Now I’ve found the character to be an interesting and welcome addition to the Halo lore, but there’s little doubt that the Kwan Ha storyline has been a mixed bag so far. On the one hand, she was fantastic in the first episode and she gives us an excuse to keep Soren around, but on the other, her story feels rather inconsequential to everything else and she herself hasn’t done much to guide her own narrative; mostly being escorted from place to place to give us updates on the goings-on on Madrigal. Still, the heat she’s been getting from some corners of the fan base has been inordinate and I’m more than happy to see them spend a good chunk of time on it if it means we’ll get to a resolution. Is this just the episode we need to make Kwan Ha and Soren feel like important people in this sprawling narrative, or will they have burned through whatever goodwill they had left by the end of it? Let’s find out!!

The story picks up some time after Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) escaped from Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) and is still intent on finding the desert mystics who will hopefully help her reignite the rebellion; the same way they helped her father many years ago. The journey is difficult but she eventually makes her way to them while Soren managed to find a way off -planet and back to The Rubble where he’s trying to continue his life as the coolest pirate ever like nothing had happened. For both of them though, they seem to be getting more pushback than they expected as the desert mystics are skeptical of Kwan Ha’s intent of overthrowing the government of Madrigal while Soren has to deal with people whispering about how he returned empty-handed and if it means he’s no longer fit to be their leader. Time is running short for both of them as they need to step up and prove that they shouldn’t be underestimated, but with Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman) on the hunt for Kwan Ha and a few knives looking to find their way in Soren’s back, is there a way to get through all of this alive even if they do prove themselves as worthwhile leaders? What will Kwan Ha have to do in order for the desert mystics to take her seriously, and what fears from her past will she have to confront in the process? It’s pretty amazing that sci-fi drugs are so good at revealing deep emotional truths about someone; otherwise, it’d seem irresponsible to give this Spice knockoff to a teenager!

“Looks like you’ve got a big green boulder to roll, Sisyphus! Good luck!” “Wait, you’re here too? Seriously, what was in that drink!?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Jeff Fowler

The first Sonic movie didn’t really do it for me, but I could at least appreciate the parts of it that were well put together as well as the few flashes of fun Sonic nonsense peppered throughout; especially the song from the credits! I still listen to that pretty regularly and frankly it was all I really needed from Sonic on the big screen. I’ll just keep reading the comics and playing the games over her while Paramount and SEGA keep the brand relevant with run-of-the-mill family movies. Then they started showing trailers for this one that had Knuckles in it and a more game-accurate Eggman, so perhaps they plan to lean harder and harder into the fan service with each subsequent film. It seems to be working since this has already made more money than the original film, but does the deluge of recognizable characters and iconography lead to a better movie, or is this just a cynical attempt to fleece the fans on promises they can’t deliver? Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first movie, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is living with Tom and Maddie (James Marsden and Tika Sumpter) and everyone just seems to be cool with the space hedgehog doing his thing throughout the state of Washington. Sure, maybe he’s a little overzealous with his Blue Batman shtick, but who can blame him now that he has full(ish) control of his speed powers? Well, he may just get a bit more than he wished for when Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) manages to escape the mushroom planet with the help of a red Echidna named Knuckles (Idris Elba) and they have a few words for the quip spouting rodent. Fortunately, he’s rescued by another mysterious creature, Tails the fox (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) who fills him in on what’s going on and why Knuckles is after him. Something from Sonic’s past leads directly to an ultimate power known as the Master Emerald and Knuckles is heck bent on finding it while Robotnik is just kind of along for the ride and will probably do something nefarious to everyone by the end of this. With such an unstoppable power at stake, Sonic and Tails must sift through his past to find the pieces necessary for finding the Master Emerald and protecting the world as we know it. Oh, and Tom and Maddie are at a wedding or something; probably not important. Can Sonic and Tails find the Master Emerald before Knuckles and Robotnik release its power upon the world? Why is Knuckles so intent on finding this thing, and how does his past tie in with Sonic’s? Seriously, this seems like a pretty big leap from the last movie! Are we sure that Sonic is ready for something that doesn’t involve slo-mo bar fights and fart jokes?

“So how did you save the world last time?”     “Eh, I mostly sat in a car listening to the radio. This seems a little more involved than that.”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Sonic the Hedgehog 2”