Cinema Dispatch: Old

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

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

M Night Shyamalan is far from my favorite filmmaker, but I’m always interested to see whatever it is he’s made whenever his name flashes by on a trailer with this film being no exception!  The conceit seemed decent enough in a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits sort of way which is definitely in his wheelhouse, but there was A LOT going on here that made this look both laughable and disturbing.  I guess that’s why we all keep giving him more and more chances as no matter how bad he burns us with movies like The Happening, Last Airbender, and After Earth, there’s always something to his thrillers that makes them unique among everything else that makes it to theaters.  Does he manage to knock it out of the park once again with this ghastly tale of time gone haywire, or will this tank so bad that he’ll have to make another low budget found footage movie as penance?  Let’s find out!!

A family of four with parents Guy and Prisca (Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps) as well as the young kids Trent and Maddox (Emun Elliott and Embeth Davidtz) are vacationing at a resort THAT THEY JUST SO HAPPENED TO FIND ON THE INTERNET where they cater to your every need in the most beautiful tropical paradise you’ve ever seen!  Not only that, they have a secret beach that is PERFECT for spending a day at, so the four of them head out there along with another family of four (Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Kathleen Chalfant, and Kyle Bailey) as well as a nice couple (Ken Leung and Nikki Amuka-Bird) to enjoy the day swimming relaxing!  Things go sideways fairly soon however as Trent finds a dead body which some mysterious guy who was already there (Aaron Pierre) seems to recognize, and not long after that the oldest among them start to get sick.  They try to leave but something is causing them to black out as soon as they try to step through the cavern that led them here, and to make matters worse the three kids all start to age rapidly.  Trent and Maddox (now played by Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie) and reaching adulthood within hours and everyone who has a medical condition is getting worse and worse as the seemingly fast passage of time is leaving their conditions untreated to rampage through their bodies.  With only hours to go before the adults grow old enough to die from age alone, can they find a way to escape this beach before losing all the time they have left?  What possible reason could there be for the beach being this way, and why were they put there in the first place?  If they get out of this alive, do the kids get like twenty birthday presents in a day?

“I want a car.”     “CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS LATER!?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by Malcolm D Lee

Nostalgia is a heck of a drug, isn’t it?  The original Space Jam is certainly a fondly remembered time capsule and it has some highlights to it like its strong animation and some bizarre asides that gave it a bit of flavor despite being such an obvious marketing tool.  It’s been over twenty years though and what worked for us back then may not capture the imagination of the “Youth” today, and frankly I couldn’t tell you if any of them have seen or even HEARD of that first movie unless it was shoved on them by their Millennial parents.  It seems the question that this movie seeks to answer (along with how to make your budget back with a simultaneous streaming and theater release) is whether you can both reheat old nostalgia while giving something new for next generation to attach themselves to.  Does this succeed in giving us the best of both worlds, or will spreading itself too thin leave nobody happy?  Let’s find out!!

LeBron James may be a worldwide superstar and really good basketball player, but his parenting skills leave something to be desired as his son Dom (Cedric Joe) isn’t really into basketball despite his dad insisting that he go to Basketball Camp this summer.  He’d much rather go to Video Game Camp which I think is what people started calling Computer Camp to trick youngsters into going, but he’s worried about telling his dad that he’d rather make games than play ball.  While all this tension is in the air, Warner Bros has called LeBron James over so that their algorithm named Al-G-Rhythm (Don Cheadle) can pitch… some sort of multimedia deal?  LeBron seems as confused as I am so he turns it down which OF COURSE makes good ol’ Al go full on Skynet and kidnap him and his son, and drag them both into cyberspace.  Since Al-G-Rhythm is a WB program, I guess he’s aware of what a success the original Space Jam movie was and so challenges him to a basketball game while he mentors Dom and nourishes his desire to make video games.  It’s up to LeBron to find the most suitable characters owned by WB to join his basketball team, or failing that the Looney Tunes characters led by Bugs Bunny (Jeff Bergman), and get his son back by winning a game of basketball!  Can LeBron bring the Toons back together who’ve long been separated while also bridging the gap between him and his son?  What is Al-G-Rhythm’s plans for Dom once he’s done making his game, and will it spell doom for his family?  Wait, why do they call it Space Jam when no one in this is from Space?  Shouldn’t it be Cyber Jam?

“This is it?  What, were the Loonatics busy?”     “I RESENT THAT, GOOD SIR!”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Space Jam: A New Legacy”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (07-14-2021) – Fyter Fest Night 1

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

We’re back with another episode of AEW Road Trip as they are now traveling the country to put on shows in new and shiny stadiums!  The last episode certainly had its growing pains with a particularly unruly crowd, but they still managed to put in a great show with a lot of fun wrestling and even better story development.  Will that trend continue as they get their metaphorical sea legs over the coming weeks?  Let’s find out!!

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Jon Moxley Vs Karl Anderson – IWGP US Heavyweight Title Match

Moxley is accompanied to the ring by Eddie Kingston while Anderson is accompanied by Luke Gallows

In storyline, Moxley’s been out of action since the PPV where he took such a beating that he was not medically cleared.  Really, he wanted some time off since his daughter was born right around that time, but whatever the reason was, he’s back for this week at least and is sure to give us an AMAZING match… right?  Okay, so I kinda feel about this match the same way I felt about the Andrade match from last week; very good and not a bad way to bring someone back to the ring, but was not exactly what I wanted to see from the guy.  I hate to say it but Moxley looked a LITTLE bit rusty here with some not especially great selling and a pretty straightforward match that relies heavily on forearm strikes.  Anderson comes off a bit better with a more varied move set and some pretty impressive spots to try and turn the match in his favor, but there’s not much hope for the guy as Moxley never seems to be in genuine peril.  Fortunately it picks up speed in the second half with stronger moves from Moxley and a more desperate pace with Moxley eating a Pile Driver and a bevy of creative Cutters, but Moxley manages to stay in this and finally manages to finish of Anderson with a Paradigm Shift.  It was perfectly fine for an opening match, but it was lacking SOMETHING that would have made it a great title defense.  Kingston and Gallows are there at the beginning but they start brawling right away and are never seen again, so perhaps if they had stuck around and teased a few interference spots then maybe that would have added a little tension here, but in any case I thought this was just fine.

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Cinema Dispatch: Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Adam Robitel

I have next to no memories of the first movie other than a general sense of loathing and contempt for its central premise and absurd ending. The whole thing just got memory-holed like so many bad horror movies I saw in theaters which I guess is an interesting position to be in when watching a sequel as the lack of concrete feelings definitely gives it a lot of leeway as far as trying new things; not to mention that the overall low opinion going into it only makes the bar that much easier to clear.  It’s certainly possible that whatever negativity I felt for the first film has burned itself out and I’ll be more open for whatever this Saw Knockoff franchise wants to throw at me, but then again the trailers weren’t exactly selling me on anything beyond elaborate traps and people yelling which certainly sounds familiar to what I didn’t like last time around. Besides, we don’t NEED a Saw Knockoff anymore now that they’ve brought the series back and aimed it in a new and interesting direction!  In any case, does this latest entry in the ESCAPE ROOM UNIVERSE expand upon the original and actually give us something interesting, or will this movie double down on everything that didn’t work the first time?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film (which are helpfully summarized in a sequence that might as well have started with PREVIOUSLY ON ESCAPE ROOM), Zoey and Ben (Taylor Russell and Logan Miller) are still looking for the mysterious Minos corporation that set up the elaborate game from the first film and have seemingly set up games like this all over the place.  After some cajoling from Zoey, the two of them travel to New York which seems to be their base of operations but find nothing there except an empty alley and a purse snatcher.  Said purse snatcher grabs Zoey’s compass which I THINK was given to her by one of the characters in the first movie, and after an overly long chase through the streets of New York, they wind up on a subway car while the thief jumps out at the last second.  For reasons that are never properly explained, this subway car JUST SO HAPPENS to have four other passengers on it and they all get directed into another one of those deadly escape rooms.  ALSO as it turns out, the four other people are previous winners of one of Minos’s games which makes this (as one character helpfully says out loud) a tournament of champions.  Our previous winners are Rachel, Brianna, Nathan, and Theo (Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Thomas Cocquere, and Carlito Olivero), and all six of them have to go from room to room solving deadly puzzles for some nebulous goal and the chance to maybe not get murdered, though with Zoey and Ben hot on Minos’s heels it seems unlikely that this game is just gonna swing open the doors for them even if they manage to find the right number of keys in a fish tank or whatever.  Will Minos finally be brought down by the very champions that they’ve created, or will everyone be out for themselves in a desperate bid for survival?  Is there more to this game than they first realize, or are the Shyamalan twists in this thing easy to spot from a mile away?  Does any of it even matter when the game is apparently being run by money wizards that can literally do anything at any time with these nonsensical traps? 

“I KNOW THIS ONE! It’s a selfie challenge!” *CLICK* “Okay, maybe not.”
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Twenty Years of Halo: Helljumpers & Blood Line

Artwork by Usbaia and cawico7

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Both books were published by Marvel Comics

Apologizes for this piece being as late as it is.  I’ve been working on other projects like my new wrestling podcast as well as seeing more movies now that studios are willing to put them out in theaters, so the retrospective fell a bit to the wayside.  I’ll try to get it back on track though and we’ve certainly got some interesting things to look forward to now that the original trilogy is over and the series has to find new ways to keep fans invested.  To that end, we’ll be looking at two books that were released within months of each other and have some very interesting parallels as both are essentially the same Halo story we’ve seen before; a colony is attacked by The Covenant because there’s some sort of Forerunner artifact or weapon on it that they want, and now the UNSC has to send either a bunch of Spartans or a bunch of ODST to sort it out.  What’s perhaps just as interesting is that, at least as far as I can tell, there was no drama or overlong delays in the production of these books, so in a way they are the first of these to come out firing on all cylinders; created as intended with the utmost professionalism, unlike some OTHER books I can mention *COUGH* Halo: Uprising *COUGH*!  Which one does it better, and what can we learn from how each tackle this kind of story differently?  Let’s find out!

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Halo: Helljumper (Comic Book) – 2009

Written by Peter David with art and lettering by Eric Nguyen and Nate Piekos

Our first book follows a group of ODST soldiers as they investigate a colony where everyone has mysteriously disappeared!  Said mystery lasts for maybe five pages into the second issue before it’s revealed that The Covenant are up to something and are crawling all over the place, and so it’s up to Dutch and Romeo to find out what’s going on, put an end to The Covenant’s plan, and explore the depth of their bromance in an effort save the galaxy!  For a lot of people who were casual fans like myself, I’m sure their first exposure to the concept of ODST was in the game that Bungie put out not long after this comic book was released and I always thought they were more of a stealth unit who cleaned up and reported on things after the fighting already happened.  It didn’t take long though for that notion to be dissuaded as even in the very first Halo novel they are portrayed as brash over the top machismo-tastic soldier bros (and bro-ettes) who are basically Spartans without the Super Soldier Serum and with the Walmart brand version of Mjolnir armor.  The most obvious comparison are the Colonial Marines in the movie Aliens and the book starts off as brash and obnoxious as they were in that film with the crucial difference being that they are the protagonists here and not someone more relatable like Ripley.  When we’re only a few pages in and dudes are getting into fights over nothing, well I don’t consider that much of a good sign.

“Van Halen 3 was NOT a bad album!  Critics just didn’t understand it!”     “Whatever man, it was too dang long!”     “REAL ART DOESN’T ABIDE BY YOUR PEDESTRIAN IDEAS OF SONG LENGTH!!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Helljumpers & Blood Line”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (07-07-2021) – Road Rager

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

AEW is back on the road and to celebrate they have a rather sizable show for their first stop in Miami!  Now this isn’t the first show in front of a full crowd as Daily’s Place was starting to fill up at the end there, but we’re in a whole new market with fans who have been starving for live wrestling action, and AEW plans to deliver!  Is this a worthy show to kick off the start of a new era, or will it take a bit of time before things settle into place?  Let’s find out!!

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Cody Rhodes Vs. QT Marshall – South Beach Strap Patch

Both competitors are tied together with a strap.  To win, one must touch all four corners of the ring consecutively.

This was an INTERESTING match if nothing else.  I’ve heard of this kind of strap match before, but it always seemed overly convoluted and I’m not sure WHAT they are supposed to prove.  After watching it, there is some strategy to be had (do you try to stop someone in the middle of a run of posts, or do you fortify your position on the last one) but ultimately its closest to a Last Man Standing match where the goal is to keep an opponent down for an arbitrary amount of time; in one case for a ten count and in the other for as long as it takes someone to walk to the four corners of the ring.  What ended up standing out more for me was the strap which is both a blessing and a curse here.  There are some fun things they do like when Cody yanks on the strap so that QT bounces off the ropes, but the strap is so long and unwieldy that it made a lot of this match seem EXTRAORDINARILY dangerous.  At one point it looks like Cody got caught up in the strap during a suplex and it threw his balance off which wrecked his shoulder which I don’t BELIEVE was a legit injury, but I never like to wonder if someone is actually hurt while watching a wrestling match.  For the most part Cody maintains control as he cuts off QT’s moves pretty easily and uses the strap as a whip to turn his flesh pink, but there’s always something there to stop Cody from getting all four corners to end the match.  The big moment is pretty early when Aaron Solow goes after Cody but he’s soon chased off by Dustin Rhodes who fights him through the crowd.  The next is that VERY scary suplex that Cody sells for most of the match and hinders him in his attempts to finish this off quickly; especially after eating an Avalanche Powerbomb which somehow looked LESS scary than the suplex from earlier.  His closest chance at victory is a Draping Diamond Cutter that gets him as far as three corners, but Cody starts yanking on the ropes which forces QT to start attacking him again.  Cody however is fully energized by this point and runs WILD on QT with a series of big punches and big moves.  He lands a Cody Cutter which is soon followed by three Cross Rhodes, and QT stays down long enough for Cody to get all four corners to win the match.  If I didn’t worry that Cody and QT were going to DIE at some point in this match I would have called it a great opener, but the fact is that they didn’t and they put a lot into it to make it work, so it gets credit for that at least.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (07-07-2021) – Road Rager”

Cinema Dispatch: Black Widow

Black Widow and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Cate Shortland

Wow, 2020 feels like a million years ago doesn’t it?  Not only that, it seems that spy movies were in vogue as not only this movie but The King’s Man and the new James Bond movie were set to come out before finding out the one thing you can’t stealthy murder your way around is a global pandemic.  Thankfully things are starting to clear up (though the pandemic is by no means over, GET VACCINATED!) and some of those 2020 holdovers are making their way to theaters.  We already got Fast 9 and Spiral, s s turn to save movie theaters with their latest billion dollar blockbuster!  Is this spin-off film for one of o now it’s Marvel’ the MCU’s most iconic characters the true start to the next wave of Marvel movies, or is did it miss its chance when the world turned upside down last year?  Let’s find out!!

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is on the run after the events of Captain America: Civil War and is laying low in a trailer somewhere when she gets a message from her long lost spy-sister containing vials of some mysterious substance.  She is immediately attacked by a mysterious person in a mechanical suit with a skull painted on the faceplate, and so she goes to see her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) who first tries to punch her a bunch of times before revealing that the vials are some sort of antidote for a mind control drug that the current crop of Black Widows are injected with; including herself who is only free now after a botched operation that her a face full of the anti-puppet juice.  With Yelena now free and Natasha having nothing better to do, the two of them start working together to bring down General Dreykov (Ray Winstone), the scumbag leader of the Black Widows who is now coming after them.  To find Dreykov though, they will need the help of their spy-dad Alexei (David Harbour) who was once the Red Guardian (the Captain America equivalent for the Soviet Union) and is now wasting away in prison, as well as the help of their spy-mom Melina (Rachel Weisz) who was a Black Widow herself and still has contacts with the organization.  Can this awkward family reunion get Natasha and Yelena the information they need to save the women under Dreykov’s control and end the program once and for all?  Will their spy-parents help them on their journey or will they be a bunch of Boomers about it and question why they feel so entitled to not being mind-slaved by the state?  How much is Marvel regretting their decision to end Black Widow’s story in Endgame, and how big of a sales pitch did they give to Florence Pugh?

“I’m telling ya, sis.  Four movies MINIMUM that will all make over five hundred million at the box office!”     “I’ll think about it, but no promises.”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Black Widow”

Phenomenal Wrestling Podcast: Episode 4 (7-05-2021)

What do you think about Zelina Vega returning to WWE, or perhaps you have some thoughts on The Three Stooges showing up on Raw? Let us know in the comments!

00:00 – Opening 01:04 – Zelina Vega returns to WWE 04:31 – AEW Dynamite (6/30/2021) 41:16

Zelina Vega returns to WWE [1:04 – 4:30]
AEW Dynamite (6/30/21) [4:31 – 41:15]
The Three Stooges on Raw [41:16 – 46:14]

My co-host Ryan can be found at the links below!
https://www.twitch.tv/profhandsome
https://twitter.com/ProfHandsome_

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-30-2021)

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

The Pandemic is not over yet despite what many will have you believe, but as far the Wrestling business and other live events, it’s at a point where enough people are vaccinated that they can fill arenas without worrying about super spreader events; at least not to the degree of risk there was even a few months ago.  Because of that, AEW will be returning to the road with next week being their first show out of Daily’s Place in Jacksonville Florida since more or less the start of the pandemic.  Do they give us a fantastic sendoff to the city of Jacksonville for all it’s done to keep AEW afloat, or are they already half-way out the door and just threw something together?  Let’s find out!!

Before we start the opening match, Jericho comes out to a raucous rendition of Judas as he is joining the announce team for this show; mostly to call the Sammy/MJF match in the main event, but he’s always a fun presence whenever he shows up in the booth!

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Young Bucks Vs. Eddie Kingston & Penta El Zero M – AEW Tag Title Qualifier Match

Penta is accompanied to the ring by Alex Abrahantes

AEW will rarely resemble WWE, and the few times it does it’s usually the GOOD parts like getting wrestlers from the past that people like and the occasional goofy celebrity spot.  This feud between The Bucks, Kingston, and Penta though resembles some of their worst tendencies which are its incessant 50/50 booking and running matchups into the ground as these two teams have been fighting back and forth since the PPV; longer if you count the fact that Kingston and Moxley were fighting with them before that!  To their credit though, the matches have been improving and The Bucks are only getting more fun in their utter contempt for good taste; case in point, the diseased rats they’ve glued to their face that they are calling facial hair with Nick in particular is sporting a very bushy Hogan-stache that seems to be drawing heat from the crowd all by itself.  Aside from that, it’s a pretty straightforward match with the Heels getting the heat and the Baby Faces breaking free to run wild.  Its good wrestling to be sure, but they aren’t doing anything I didn’t see the last few times they locked up; even the really cook stuff like Penta’s roll up into a DDT or when Kingston starts no selling a bunch of kicks feels like diminishing returns.  The best moment was probably the nearfall where Kingston throws Nick up onto the turnbuckle, Penta follows up with a kick, Kingston then lands a German Suplex, and Penta catches him into a Backbreaker.  The Bucks get a similar nearfall when they land The Lucha Bros own finisher (Fear Factor) onto Penta which Kingston breaks up at the last second, and this leads to The Good Brothers coming out to heckle Kingston and Penta as well as distract the ref while Cutler runs out for the cold spray spot.  Matt Jackson has Penta in position, but Penta comes up with the BRILLIANT tactic of… ducking, and instead Matt eats a bunch of cold spray to the face!  Frankie Kazarian runs out to take out Cutler which leaves Penta and Kingston to finish off matt Jackson with a Pile Driver and a back fist to get the pin and win the match; earning their chance to challenge for the Tag Team title!  If I hadn’t seen The Bucks versus Kingston and Penta for the last few weeks this would have hit a lot harder as the moves work was solid and the ending had a lot of fun spots to it; especially with Kazarian living up to his name as the Elite Hunter to just spoil The Bucks endless attempts to cheat.  This does set us up for yet another match between the two teams, but with the title being on the line it will hopefully bring enough gravitas to make it feel not as much like every other match we’ve seen so far from them.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-30-2021)”