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Cinema Dispatch: Downhill

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Downhill and all the images you see in this review are owned by Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Let’s see… I don’t remember seeing any trailers for this, I didn’t know it was coming out until the day before I saw it, and I haven’t even seen Veep yet.  Yeah, not sure what to say about this one going into it, especially since Sonic The Hedgehog took up all my attention last weekend.  But hey, I’m sure SOMEONE out there is excited for this film, right?  It made it to Sundance!  Did SONIC make it to Sundance?  I think NOT!  Yeah okay, it’s got a good cast but Will Ferrell hasn’t been on the best of streaks lately so I’m giving this about a fifty-fifty shot at being any good.  Does it manage to beat the odds and be the surprise hit of the weekend, or will the only thing people remember about this is that it’s the film that tried to take on the Blue Furball on his opening weekend?  Let’s find out!!

Pete and Billie Staunton (Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) have taken their sons Finn and Emerson (Julian Grey and Ammon Jacob Ford) to the Alps for a family vacation which frankly Pete really needed as his father died a mere eight months ago and he’s been shaken up about it ever since.  You know how these things go however; the kids would rather just be on their screens all day, the busy schedule means everyone is tired, and all this extra effort and tension is bubbling up repressed negativity in unexpected ways.  Perhaps the MOST unexpected way though is what Pete ends up doing that puts a huge damper on things for the rest of the trip!  At one point the family is enjoying their lunch on the patio when an avalanche starts to approach, and like what any of us would do (what, you WOULDN’T do this?) Pete grabs his phone and skedaddles while Billie clings to the kids and hopes that they don’t all die in the snowfall.  They don’t of course, but darn it if Pete running away didn’t become the biggest buzzkill of this entire trip, and it calls into question quite a lot about their lives, their relationships, and where this family is headed.  Will Billie and Pete find a way to come back together after this bizarre event has torn them apart?  Will their kids be able to cope with the fact that their dad left them for dead and is barely even acknowledging this fact?  Seriously, what kind of excuse could Pete POSSIBLY come up with to explain that?  At that point you might as well just drop a smoke bomb and disappear for the rest of your life.

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“Hey, where were you guys?”     “WHAT!?”     “Yeah, I was over there waiting for you.  What, you didn’t get my text?”

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (02-19-20)

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

AEW has done a great job of building up its shows; not only by actually letting us know what’s coming up in the week head but by planting the seeds of big ideas long before they get around to doing them.  We heard about that Cage Match WEEKS ago and they kept reminding us of it every episode, so now that the day is finally here, well I found myself getting REALLY excited to see it for myself which is exactly what you want in a wrestling show; a reason to come back to it!  Does the match live up to the weeks of hype, and is the rest of the episode just as good?  Let’s find out!!

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Tag Team Battle Royale

Starting the show off in highest gear possible, we’re not even a minute in before the Battle Royale is on and like twenty dudes are beating the crap out of each other in the ring.  It is a RIDICULOUS amount of guys that are in here taking abuse and doing wacky spots that are pretty much all great but is far too much to try and recap in its entirety, but I’ll hit the highlights.  The first one for me was when Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and that turtle neck guy in those Dark Order promos started to taunt SCU which was enough of a distraction for John Silver and Alex Reynolds (representing The Dark Order in this match) to knock them out of the ring and eliminating them from the Battle Royale.  Don’t worry though!  The Young Bucks IMMEDIATELY Superkick the both of them out of the ring, just in case you thought The Dark Order were gonna win at some point, though they WERE the two clear jobbers of the group.  SCU start brawling with Stu Grayson right after they’re thrown out of the ring who manages to hold his own, so while The Dark Order may not have had MUCH success, they’ve been doing a good job of building up its key members with Evil Uno as the brains behind the operation and Stu Grayson being the one always ready for a fight.  Later on in the match, Cima of Strong Heart (yes, they’re in this too!) gets tossed out and Evil Uno offers him a mask to join The Dark Order.  It LOOKS like he accepted it, but we’re left unsure as to what’s going on there.  Other big standout moments include Orange Cassidy saving Trent from being eliminated by carrying him on his shoulders, some REALLY fun spots with Luchasarus who unfortunately gets eliminated with the combined effort of four dudes, and of course Santana and Ortiz as the heel group refuses to get in the ring for the first few minutes.  This is a really common thing with Battle Royales and frankly I’m wondering why they can’t just institute a ten count for those who didn’t go over the top but are outside the ring as a way to prevent these shenanigans.  So they all fight and fight and fight until it’s down to Santana and Ortiz alone with Matt Jackson.  The dude is getting a beating on both sides within an inch of his life, but he manages to take out Ortiz with a Superkick leaving just him and Ortiz.  Sammy Guevara, sensing a need for his particular set of skills goes into the ring, climbs to the top rope, and jumps at Matt like a missile, before Matt Superkick’s him out of midair; leaving him a crumpled and presumably DEAD mess on the mat. In the confusion Santana is gasping for air on the ropes and Matt charges at him with a clothesline; knocking him over the ropes and winning The Young Bucks their shot at the Tag Team Titles at Revolution.  This was a really great match in terms of Battle Royales which are always a bit messy and all over the place, but a lot of the spots really connected and they managed to tell a few stories within it to build up a few matches in the following weeks; not the least of which being The Young Bucks getting a shot at the Tag Team Title at Full Gear.  The only thing that’s kind of disappointing about it is that they start it off so quickly when I really would have liked a roll call; especially when teams like Strong Heart are back for this which should feel like a big deal.  Other than that, it was a great way to start the show!

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Cinema Dispatch: Sonic the Hedgehog

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

Directed by Jeff Fowler

Remember when that first Sonic the Hedgehog trailer came out with the horrifying monster design?  Good times!  I do wish that design stuck around a bit longer though because I REALLY wanted a plushie of that ghastly version of Sonic so he can sleep with me in my bed and devour my nightmares, but then again the redesign looks pretty good and will surely add a lot to this movie!  Yeah, it could almost be an inspirational tale of a studio realizing its mistake and actually taking proactive steps to correct it if it wasn’t for the fact that the studio that made the new design a possibility crunched to do it and closed down as soon as the work is done!  Sounds like Paramount should have gotten a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, but in any case the story of this film has finally come to its conclusion and we’re all on pins and needles to find out how it all ends!  Was Sonic’s face lift enough hto save this movie from being a total train wreck, or is there only so much that you can polish a turd before you’re just wasting perfectly good polish?  Let’s find out!!

Sonic the Hedgehog (Ben Schwartz) is a happy go lucky blue alien that calls himself a hedgehog for some reason who was teleported to Earth to escape from bad guys when he was but a wee lad.  Now that he’s grown up to the ripe old age of… sort of teenager, he’s starting to realize that spending all his time hiding in the woods just outside the town of Green Hills is leaving him with a lot of emotional scars and abandonment issues, and one day he has a super powered moment of angst that knocks out all the power on the West Coast.  The super power blast is enough for the US government to call in Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) who wants to track down whatever caused the anomaly and uses its powers for his insidious and tax payer funded ends, so now Sonic has to escape from this planet to go to ANOTHER planet where I guess he’ll be even safer.  To transport himself there he has a bag of magic rings that open ports to wherever it is he needs to go, but through wacky happenstance and poor timing his rings get lost in San Francisco which he has no idea how to get to.  Fortunately the local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), after being somewhat responsible for Sonic losing the rings decides to take this strange creature across state lines to the city of San Francisco so he can get the rings and get the heck out of Dodge.  It shall not be a straightforward road trip however as Robotnik is hot on their heels and is ready to not only dissect Sonic in the name of Sonic but ruin Tom’s life as well in pursuit of his prey.  Can Sonic and Tom make it to San Francisco before Robotnik and the US government find a way to stop them?  Will Sonic learn valuable lessons about friendship along the way and perhaps find a true home instead of just jumping from place to place on his own?

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“AM I PRETTY ENOUGH FOR YOU NOW!?  WILL YOU FINALLY PUT A RING ON IT!?”

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #25

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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

Honestly, I’d much rather be talking about that Sonic movie right now than force myself through another issue of Sonic of the Living Dead.  Heck, I’d rather watch that movie with the ORIGINAL DESIGN than have to read any more pages of these characters being miserable rather than doing anything fun, but this is the storyline we’re stuck with and we’re getting ever so close to the end of the arc; so screw it!  Let’s put on our game face and make get through this together!!

The issue begins with what PROBABLY should have happened eight issues ago which is the remnants of The Restoration (and the survivors) going to Angel Island to crash at Knuckles’s place until the main characters sort this all out.  Sure it’s more dramatic for them to go through all those tragedies instead of going to the safest place possible, but there needs to be a REASON why they didn’t try that right off the bat and one is never given.  It wouldn’t even be that hard as Knuckles could have said that they couldn’t risk exposing the Master Emerald to the virus, but that’s simply not the case since Sonic is right making himself at home!

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“Some would say overly long and pedantic, but let’s worry about one thing at a time.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Cathy Yan

I was probably on the kinder end of things than most people when it came to Suicide Squad; the DCCU’s attempt to be fun and wacky that ended up having all the edge of a limited edition holo-foil issue of Spawn from 1994.  In its own tacky cobbled together way it did manage to eek out a bit of charm, but what people mostly remember from the movie was the performances; namely one Harley Quinn played with gusto by the phenomenal Margot Robbie.  Now that we’re more or less in DCCU 2.0, it makes sense for this character to be given another shot away from the baggage of the movie that came before; even from the studio itself as Robbie basically put this thing together with Warner Bros maintaining a mostly hands off approach.  Is this the breakout hit that Warner Bros has been hoping for yet could never make themselves, or is this a desperate Hail Mary that misses by a mile?  Let’s find out!!

Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) has had a rough go of it lately.  She grew up with scary nuns, she had a string of bad relationships, she did at least get her college degree and became a psychiatrist but even THAT didn’t work out when she met some dude in clown makeup, and on top of that she had to fight a an ancient demon witch person or else have a bomb explode in her neck!  Fortunately she’s out of prison and she even dumped the clown dude so she’s ready to start her life anew!  A new pet, roller derby, and COPIOUS amounts of alcohol to deal with the unresolved feelings that she’s left with now that she’s single and away from the clown that made her life miserable.  BUT ENOUGH ABOUT DAVID AYER (Ba-dum-tiss!), with the Joker in her rearview mirror it has given her a lot more freedom but also the ire of ALL the people they screwed over in the past, and as the one on the short end of this breakup some of them are ready to take their vengeance!  One such vengeance taker is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) who’s a mid-range mob boss with a hot temper, enough toxic masculinity to smother ALL the adorable baby ducklings of the world, and an alter ego just one step below Taser Face; BLACK MASK!  Complete with second rate Die Hardman cosplay!  Him and his associate Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) are not only after Harley but ALSO after a diamond that somehow ended up in the hands of a young street hustler named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and so perhaps there’s a way to kill two birds with one stone there, and on top of ALL that we also have a singer at Victor’s club named Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) who’s looking for a way out of the life, a mysterious crossbow killer (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’s hunting down gangsters, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) who’s stuck trying to untangle all these messy knots.  Will Harley Quinn escape the payback that’s owed to her after working with the Joker for so long?  Why is Roman so intent on getting this diamond, and who else may be gunning for it?  Why DO they end up calling themselves the Birds of Prey anyway?

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“What, you don’t think it sounds cool and intimidating?”     “Hey, as long as you don’t put a bomb in my neck, I’m fine with anything!”

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (02-12-20)

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

We’re back with another episode of The Revolution Pre-Show as the next few weeks will be all about building up the Pay Per View at the end of the month!  Will we get some good matches and decent storylines in the buildup, or are we merely setting ourselves up for disappointment?  Let’s find out!!

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Hangman Adam Page & Kenny Omega Vs. SCU (Kazarian & Scorpio Sky)

SCU is accompanied to the ring by Christopher Daniels

Before the match begins, The Dark order hacks into the big screen and delivers a cryptic warning to BOTH teams about how they’re closer than any of them realize.  This threat is SO terrifying that Christopher Daniels decides to leave ringside to go “investigate” and we’ll see how well that goes soon enough.  Anyway, the match itself is REALLY good with Omega and Page being PHENOMENALLY over with the crowd as both get huge pops for everything they do; and credit to SCU for playing the heels here just to give them that much more of a pop.  I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work with them being the light that keeps their partner Daniels from going to the dark side, but for the purposes of this match it worked out great as Kenny and Page both got hot tags which led to them showing off their super moves to get the crowd in a great mood for the rest of the show.  It ends as it should with Kazarian eating both a Buckshot Lariat and a V Trigger at the same time, and since there was zero friction between the two in this match they may have just kicked Page’s heel turn WAY down the road.  What kind of soured the ending just a bit is that Kazarian grabbed the rope at the very last second of the pin which you really only want to do to justify a rematch, but the thing is SCU already HAVE a rematch of sorts lined up because whoever lost THIS match is going to be part of a Tag Team Battle Royale NEXT week where the winner of THAT gets a title match at Revolution!  So… what did this accomplish other than confusing the finish?  In any case, Kenny and Page are happy with their victory and quickly leave the arena presumably since The Dark Order comes out not three minutes after the bell rang.  This was great as The Dark Order surround the ring like usual, but then ALL the freaking tag teams (who will presumably be part of the Battle Royale) come out as well; The Best Friends and The Young Bucks backing up SCU while The Butcher, the Blade, and The Bunny as well as The Hybrid 2 come out to get in on the action too. Good job by the way on the part of Christopher Daniels!  While he’s in the back presumably walking around with a flashlight and a magnifying glass, The Dark Order managed to give him the slip and end up right where he had left ten minutes ago!  I don’t buy the theory that Daniels is secretly the leader of The Dark Order, but this ridiculous little ruse might just be a point in its favor.  It all devolves into a pull-apart brawl with The Young Bucks stealing the spotlight after a few well-placed Super Kicks, and even if it is mostly chaos it at least does a decent job of selling us on the upcoming Battle Royale.  However, despite how good ALL of this is it does end on a sour note; one we’ll be hearing throughout the episode.  The picture in picture during the commercials has always been something of a mixed bag as it at least gives you something to look at while being advertised to, but whenever something IMPORTANT happens there it can be really annoying because it’s super tiny and there’s no audio.  This was the case here as the picture in picture had ORANGE CASSIDY come out to confront Evil Uno and Stu Grayson who were walking up the ramp when all the fighting was going on.  Cassidy does his classic HANDS IN POCKET maneuver which the crowd always loves, and this is a big enough distraction for The Bucks to land simultaneous Super Kicks on them!  Yes, this is the first time Evil Uno and Stu Grayson have legitimately been bested since their reimagining, and it happened during a commercial.  Not only that, but Orange Cassidy is given a Young Bucks headband for being such a good sport; all of this would have drove the home audience wild but instead comes off as an afterthought due to the way it’s being presented!  WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT!?

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Cinema Dispatch: Gretel & Hansel

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Gretel & Hansel and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Oz Perkins

Sigh… a gritty reboot of the Hansel & Gretel?  Did you happened to catch that tagline; A GRIM Fairy Tale?  Yeah, something tells me this isn’t going to be good, AND YET there has been a decent amount of buzz surrounding this which surprised the heck out of me!  It’s not like February has a much better reputation for movies than January does, especially when it comes to horror, so if they really did have something here wouldn’t they have saved it for a better time?  I don’t know, maybe studios think that Get Out being the exception to this rule means it’s the new strategic time slot for quick horror bucks.  In any case, is this the surprise gem that people having been saying it is, or is this yet another chance for me to be a Grumpy Gus at a mediocre horror film?  Let’s find out!!

You know the story of Hansel & Gretel?  Well then you know the story of Gretel & Hansel!  Two kids are kicked out of their home because medieval times sucked for the working class and they get taken in by a witch who gives them food but has a hidden agenda.  Naturally there’s more to it, but it’s all about adding details than going off and doing its own thing as Gretel (Sophia Lillis) is the older sister taking care of her younger brother (Sam Leakey) and the witch (Alice Krige) is a more complicated presence in the movie.  At first she appears to be benevolent if a bit cagey as she not only feeds the kids bellies but their minds as well with meaningful chores, games of chess, and even teaching the little boy how to sharpen an axe so he can live out his dream of being a woodcutter.  Hey, at least it’s better than being a YouTuber or god help us a Twitch Streamer!  As the two stay at the house and learn more about her as well as the history of this house, things might just be going in a sinister direction that will force them to flee for their lives or perhaps it’s all a giant misunderstanding and they will end up being the aggressors in this story against an innocent and charitable older woman.  Will Gretel and Hansel become victims of a scheme that the witch is COOKING up for them?  Will Gretel perhaps be tempted down a dark path by the small TASTE of magic that the witch offers to her from time to time?  Do I have THYME to do OLIVE the food puns in the world before I get to the TOAST POINT!?

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Frankly, I don’t think there’s MUSHROOM left for jokes in this BERRY serious review!

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