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Cinema Dispatch: The Angry Birds Movie 2

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The Angry Birds Movie 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Thurop Van Orman

We only got one shot at the Super Mario Bros in the last twenty five years, yet THIS manages to get a sequel?  I actually LIKED that Mario movie, which just goes to show that Hollywood is out to get me specifically; though I can’t imagine why since I’m SUCH an agreeable and charming fellow!  Anyway, the first movie left me feeling pretty bitter so there’s not a single part of me that is looking forward to see the further adventures of Boring Red, Danny McBoom, and Fast Olaf, but sitting here dreading the darn thing isn’t gonna get us anyway, so let’s put on a brave face and try to meet this film halfway!  Can the sequel meet or perhaps even exceed the low bar that the original movie set, or is hoping for even that much just setting myself up for disappointment?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film where Red (Jason Sudeikis) became a hero to Bird Island by driving away the Pigs, the two islands are at something of a standstill with each of them pulling pranks and launching food at one another in an attempt to see which island can get the most annoyed.  Red is overjoyed by this since being the hero who fought the pigs is now his full time job as he along with Chuck and Boom (Danny McBride and Josh Gadd) spend every waking moment coming up with new schemes, retaliating against attacks, and giving speeches to the citizens of Bird Island.  That’s all about to change however as a THIRD island starts to float into the middle of the conflict which is head up by Zeta (Leslie Jones); an Eagle on an island of ice who throws ice balls at people just because she’s angry that her island is full of ice.  She could just take a vacation to one of the adjacent islands, but nope!  Massive ice balls that surely crush whatever living thing ends up beneath them!  The pigs are the first one to notice the threat and King Leonard (Bill Hader) offers a truce to the citizens of Bird Island who are all happy to finally be done with this prank war… except for Red who now has to get a real job I guess and find people who like him for reasons other than being the maroon messiah.  Well I guess if being the brave warrior who defeated the pigs isn’t cutting it anymore, than recklessly leading the charge against the eagles is the next best thing!  Along with Chuck, Boom, and King Leonard, they recruit Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), Courtney the pig (Awkwafina), gadgets expert Garry (Sterling K Brown), and Chuck’s hereto unmentioned sister Silver (Rachel Bloom) to aid in their plot to destroy Zeta’s super ice weapon, but are the ready to face such a dangerous and flamboyant threat?  Can they save both islands without betraying one another or just screwing up due to their own incompetence?  Are we sure we can’t just let Zeta take over the islands?  Maybe it’s just me, but I think we should at least give her a chance!

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Say what you will about her weapons of mass refrigeration; at least she likes dogs!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Kitchen

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

Directed by Andrea Berloff

Oh, now who doesn’t love a good period crime movie?  We’re over a hundred years into the medium and mobsters have outlived cowboys, pirates, and musicals which, now that I think about it, would make an interesting For Honor sequel.  I’ll have to pitch that Ubisoft at some point, but which I mean send an overly enthusiastic tweet.  ANYWAY!  What caught my attention about this movie right off the bat is the cast which stars the one and only Melissa McCarthy alongside Tiffany Haddish who’s become one of the most recognizable names in movies, and yet despite two of the biggest names in Hollywood right now (as well as Elizabeth Moss who’s great as well), this hasn’t gotten a whole lot of advertisement from the studio or buzz from the critics.  Is this a hidden gem that everyone else but me managed to overlook, or is this a disaster that everyone was desperate to hide?  Let’s find out!!

Kathy, Ruby, and Claire (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss) are the wives of three members of the Irish Mob back in the late seventies who are sent to jail after a robbery gone bad and they’re left to fend for themselves despite the promises that the mob will protect them financially until their husbands get out.  With nothing to fall back on, a lousy economy, and two kids to take care of, Kathy decides that they should pick up the slack that the current mob boss Little Jackie (Myk Watford) has left during his ineffectual run at the top.  She, Ruby, and Claire start to collect protection money, solves problems for local businesses, and even starts to recruit a few of the guys to their side including Gabriel (Domhnall Gleeson) who has just returned to New York after a seemingly shady departure and is looking to sow himself back into the community.  Seems like they were just what this organization needed to thrive, but with every opportunity they grab and every inch of power they accrue, it only paints a bigger target on their back as more and more people start to get jealous of how much these house wives have managed to show them up.  Not only that, but their husbands will only be in prison for so long, so what’s gonna happen when they get out and try to reassert themselves as the head of their respective families as well as the organization itself?  Can this trio survive in a world full of death, violence, and hard decisions?  What kind of attention will they attract from outside interests, and will they see an opportunity to destroy the Irish mob or worthy foes to make peace with?  Anyone else not surprised that Melissa McCarthy is great as a cold blooded killer?

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Interesting direction for a sequel to The Heat, but I guess if you’re gonna make it… YOU MIGHT AS WELL DO IT IN THE KITCHEN!!  HA HA!!

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Cinema Dispatch: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

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Dora and the Lost City of Gold and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by James Bobin

You know that they already did an aged up Dora series?  Sure she was only ten years old in that one instead of going to high school, but she moved to the city and made some human friends instead of talking to a monkey all day.  That’s… about all I know about Dora the Explorer outside of it being… a thing for a while there.  Well that’s a bit dismissive; it was actually a HUGE success for Nickelodeon and was broadcast worldwide in various languages, so I guess there HAS to be a market out there for more Dora stuff which is why we’re getting this film in the first place; though not as a straight up adaptation of the material but instead as a reimagining of the concept.  Less Spanish lessons and more Bowie knives if the trailer is anything to go by, which at least caught my and many others’ attention a few months ago.  Can this spin on the beloved children’s character become a cross generational hit that will keep Dora in the public consciousness for decades to come, or will this be as bad a miscalculation as that M Night version of The Last Airbender?  Let’s find out!!

Dora (Isabela Moner), whose last name has been lost to time, is your typical teenaged jungle explorer.  She has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything that could kill her in there, she’s made friends with the native animals including a monkey named Boots, and she can apparently fall from great heights without breaking any of her bones!  Truly a Lara Croft in the making as long as she gets her gun permit, but her parents (Michael Peña and Eva Longoria) have other plans for her.  See, they’re about to go on a trip to find THE LOST CITY OF PARAPATA (which is apparently full of gold), but instead of taking their highly competent and well trained daughter with them, they’re gonna send her to “the city” to stay with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and attend the most fearsome jungle of them all; HIGH SCHOOL!!  Like most cartoon characters brought to life, her biggest problem is that she’s just too earnest for this cynical world which wants to sap all the idealism right out of her, but darn it she won’t be deterred!  She does end up being a bit of a laughing stock though for… being nice I think, and she’s ends up hanging out with the other nobodies at the school; her cousin Diego for some reason, the class president (Madeleine Madden) for some reason, and the local nerd (Nicholas Coombe) for pretty obvious reasons.  If only there was a way for her to show everyone that she’s ACTUALLY an awesome Indiana Jones knock off instead of some geek who likes to carry water purifies wherever she goes.  Well she gets her monkey’s paw wish when during a field trip she and her “not friends” all get captured by mercenaries who take her back to “The Jungle” and demand she help them find her parents who have gone missing in search of that city full of gold.  Fortunately a friend of her parents Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez) springs them free and wants to help them find her parents, so now it’s a race against time as Dora and her not so enthusiastic explorers have to track down her parents before the team of mercenaries (including Swiper the Fox for some reason) can hunt them down, take the gold, and gut them all like fish.  Can Dora teach her friends to survive in such a harsh environment and gain their respect in the process?  Why did her parents go missing in the first place, and is the lost city gold so hard to find for a very good reason?  I wonder if this adventure will look good on their college applications…

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“If we can make it through this cave, we’ll finally be in Paraparta!”     “Good.  At least I’ll finally be able to afford Harvard after this.”     “We really shouldn’t take the gold.”     “And I really shouldn’t be paying fifty grand a semester, yet here we are!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Farewell

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The Farewell and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Lulu Wang

I really haven’t seen nearly as many small release and indie films as I should have this year which is a shame because Can You Ever Forgive Me, Sorry to Bother You, and Ingrid Goes West certainly aren’t the kind of films that will be playing at my local theater which STILL has Aladdin yet no room for this film.  Yes, I had to go out of town once again to see something even marginally outside the mainstream (how does an Awkwafina movie not get on every screen in the world!?) but more often than not the effort has been worth it as there are a lot of great stuff to find outside the blockbuster tent pole films, and not ALL of them have gone to Netflix yet!  Does this family drama about a family member dying somehow manage to be the standout film of the summer, or are we doomed for mediocre dreck ON TOP OF such as somber premise?  Let’s find out!!

Billi (Awkwafina) is your typical American millennial; in that she’s living in New York, she wants to be a writer, and she is perpetually broke.  Oh well!  At least she has her parents to support her (Tzi Ma and Diana Lin) and has maintained a good relationship with her paternal grandmother who she refers to as Nai nai (Zhao Shuzhen) and talks to on a regular basis.  One day however, when Billi is home to do her laundry, she finds out that Nai Nai has been diagnosed with lung cancer and only has a few months left to live.  The whole family including relatives in Japan will be going to see her so they can make her goodbyes which is about all Billi could hope for from this tragic situation, BUT WAIT!  The family SPECIFICALLY doesn’t want her to go!  Why?  As it turns out NO ONE IS TELLING NAI NAI SHE’S DYING (her sister played by Lu Hong hid the medical reports) and everyone is pretending that Billi’s cousin Hao Hao (Chen Han) is getting married as an excuse for the trip.  Billi being the… I don’t know, emotional and/or Westernized one is liable to spill the beans if she sees her.  Billi goes anyway however despite the protests of her parents but she does manage to keep the secret for the time being.  However, she’s constantly struggling with whether to tell her while going along with this wedding ruse that starts to spiral out of control; all the while just trying to deal with the fact that she’s going to lose someone so important to her as well and the (at least to her) bewildering actions her family is taking.  Will Billi come clean to Nai Nai or is keeping this a secret the more humane approach?  Will the family get the closure they need during this trip despite the layers of subterfuge getting in the way?  What if Nai Nai has some unfinished business she needs to take care of!?  How do they REALLY know what she’s up to on the weekends!?

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“This is the last picture we took with Nai Nai before she died.  Not from her illness; she died blowing up the Martian flagship.  That whole invasion thing just kinda came out of nowhere.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Hobbs & Shaw

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Hobbs & Shaw and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by David Leitch

You know what movie I’ve recently watched again?  Face/Off!  Seriously, isn’t that like THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE!?  Great performances, over the top action, doves, it’s got it all!  I’ve always had a soft spot for action movies like that where two awesome actors are either working together or fighting one another while ludicrous action is going on around them.  It’s my excuse for still liking Central Intelligence, and it’s also why I found myself really excited to see this movie.  That trailer with the goofy song choice, the laughable premise, and Idris Elba being the most awesome Terminator imaginable hit all the right buttons for me, and throwing in John “THE DWAYNE” Rockson together with America’s favorite British dude Jason Statham was just the icing on the cake!  Can this spin-off of the most absurd action franchise of all time manage to excel past what came before it, or was moving the focus away from the main cast as bad an idea now as it was when they did it in Tokyo Drift?  Let’s find out!!

After the events of Fate of the Furious, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are no longer in jail because… I guess saving the world gives you a free pass, and are going about their daily lives as the most interesting men in the universe; living in nice houses, driving nice cars, and kicking random bad guy butts whenever the need arises.  The best part is that neither one of them has to see the other one since they live in entirely different countries working for entirely different bosses, and can just leave each other in peace, because I guess they don’t like each other anymore for some reason.  Well too bad for them!  Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) gets swept up in some global crisis involving a deadly robo-virus and is being hunted down by deadly robo-MAN Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), so Hobbs and Shaw have to put aside their differences and work together to keep the virus Hattie selflessly injected into herself from falling into the wrong hands, and to find some way to cure her before her insides turn to mush.  Can these three action heroes with coolness to spare but baggage for days outsmart the perfect cyborg human and whatever EVIL organization he works for?  Will they find the cure for this virus inside of a fast moving car or at the end of a gun barrel!?  I wonder if the next one will be Hobbs & Shaw vs. The Fast and the Furious…

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“Looks like I’ve got to take you in again, Dom.”     “And I’m the bad guy still.”     “And I’m here as well!”

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Super Recaps: The Twilight Zone (Gabe’s Story)

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The Twilight Zone and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Warner Bros Television and based on the series created by Rod Serling

Directed by Allan Kroeker

The episode begins with the titular Gabe (Christopher Titus who I’ve talked about in the past) smashing his car into someone else’s by accident; someone by the way who doesn’t even seem too perturbed by it which is a little odd.  His driver’s side door is half caved in and yet rather than get yell at Gabe or get his insurance information, he makes a half-hearted crack at his driving skills before calling him a loser.  Seems a bit low key considering the damage inflicted which I would certainly call a silver lining, but then Gabe is one of those perpetually miserable dudes who attributes everything to his all-encompassing belief in his own bad luck.  Well that and his lousy boss who’s keeping him down at work.  Gabe is basically the embodiment of lower white working class angst which is a topic Sir Titus is quite familiar with as he jumps right into a stand up routine while explaining to his wife (Stefanie von Pfetten) why he didn’t get the promotion due to his lack of butt kissing skills.  He goes outside to nurse his ego as well as the big lump on his head which he got in the car crash when he notices some guy in an orange jumpsuit (Kelly Perine) in the backyard killing his grass.  When confronted, the guy just oddly says that Gabe shouldn’t even be able to see him and that he should pretend this is ALL some big hallucination before turning tail and running off while Gabe just stands there; gawking at the absolute gall of this guy to just kill his grass and say IGNORE ME.  I wish I got to see the inner workings of the universe whenever I bumped my head.

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“Darn crabgrass.  I should have listened to Philip K Dick when I had the chance…”

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Super Comics: Tangle & Whisper – #1

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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

We’re back with what is OFFICIALLY the first issue of the Tangle & Whisper mini-series!  No more sneak previews or spoilers being doled out by IDW; it’s time to get to the real story and what we’ve all been waiting for!  Both these characters have been the highlight of the renwed Sonic series (Whisper more so, at least in my opinion) and giving them their own shot at the spotlight was a brilliant move by IDW; especially since they are original for the series so building them up as much as possible will either entrench them as neigh inseparable from the franchise it spun off of.  Does the Sonic Comic team at IDW make a brilliant case for their OCs’ place in SEGA’s world?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins… well exactly the way that Tangle & Whisper 0 started since that was the first four pages of this one.  To quickly recap, Tangle is bored in her home town now that the threat of Metal Sonic has been thwarted (I’m assuming this is either right before the Zombot-pocalyse or the town is far enough away that they haven’t heard about it yet) and is itching for some adventure to break up the monotony of day to day life.  Fortunately there’s a commotion outside where Tangle finds none other than Whisper the Sniper Wolf who is in the middle of the street firing her laser rifle at a scampering Sonic the Hedgehog!  Say WHAT!?

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“IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO STOP SONIC FORCES 2!”     “NOTHING can stop Sonic Forces 2!”     “WELL I HAVE TO TRY!!”

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