Cinema Dispatch: We Are Your Friends

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We Are Your Friends and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Max Joseph

How many music movies are we going to get this month!?  Straight Outta Compton is still dominating the box office, Rikki and the Flash came out just before that, and now we have this movie about Electronica artist?  Well while those movies were banking at least somewhat on nostalgia and music from decades ago that everyone’s familiar with, this one’s trying to be a bit more modern with a genre that while being around since at least the eighties, hasn’t become prominent in the mainstream until the last five or six years.  Not only that, but the movie also has a fairly significant draw in Zac Efron who’s been really trying to stretch himself creatively in the last couple of years in order to distance himself from his Disney super star days, and has actually been succeeding for the most part.  Are we getting another classic rise to stardom story with a fresh coat of paint, or is this going to be an unbearable slog despite it being about a genre of music that’s underrepresented in cinema despite its popularity in the pop world?   Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Cole (Zac Efron) who’s a struggling Electronica artist in the San Fernando Valley.  Like most creative types, he spends half his time working on his trade and the other half not doing much else, but he clearly has a passion for what he does and has aspirations to be one of the best.  His three friends are Mason, Ollie, and Squirrel (played by Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez, and Alex Shaffer respectively), and they don’t seem to have much going on in their lives either.  Much less in fact considering that aside from Shiloh Fernandez (who half-heartedly wants to be an actor), none of them even have much of a dream to be striving towards and are just running out the  clock on their twenties.  They’re all still young even if the actors are clearly pushing thirty, but they are reaching the point in their lives where they can’t keep goofing around and have to either commit to whatever goals they have or move on to something else.  Opportunity comes a knocking for Cole as he finds himself chatting up another electronica artist called James (Wes Bently) who has indeed made it in the industry and the two of them become friends in a sort of mentor mentee relationship.  As with all music stories though, there has to be something to strain the friendship and in this case it’s James’s assistant Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski) who Cole starts crushing on immediately despite her relationship with James outside of her role as his employee.  Will Cole be able to handle the modicum of success that slowly starts to take form now that he knows someone in the industry who’s willing to give him a chance?  Will everything fall apart because he’s a dumb ass twenty-something that refuses to find ANY other person to fall in love with?  Will his friends… do other stuff?

“So do we get our own stories?”     “Hey, whoa!  Which of us was in High School Musical?”     “You’re right Mr. Efron.  I’m sorry for getting out of line…”
“So do we get our own stories?”     “Hey, whoa!  Which of us was in High School Musical?”     “You’re right Mr. Efron.  I’m sorry for getting out of line…”

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Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 3 (The Mysterious Sleeping Sickness: Protect the Girls in Love)

Sailor Moon and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Viz Media

Episode directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi

We’re back with another episode of Sailor Moon Origins!  The last episode was by no means perfect, but it did show that just because they weren’t working directly from a story in the manga doesn’t mean they can’t make the filler in this show enjoyable.  Can this episode keep up with the level of quality we saw last time around, or are we already headed for a downward spiral until Sailor Mercury shows up in this?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Jadeite’s performance review in which he embellishes his accomplishments I’m the last two episodes.

“Our energy collection efforts are up three percent!”     “You lost two highly trained demons in the process.”     “I like to think of it as creating new openings for fresh faced monsters to hone their skills and become valuable members of our organization!”
“Our energy collection efforts are up three percent!”     “You lost two highly trained demons in the process.”     “I like to think of it as creating new openings for fresh-faced monsters to hone their skills and become valuable members of our organization!”

Continue reading “Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 3 (The Mysterious Sleeping Sickness: Protect the Girls in Love)”

Cinema Dispatch: American Ultra

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American Ultra and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh

Did someone finally remake Natural Born Killers?  No?  That sacred cow hasn’t been milked yet?  Eh… give it time.  Until then, we’ve got the next big film from Max Landis.  No, he didn’t direct it.  He wrote the movie and it’s his big follow up after Chronical, and we all know how well things turned out for the OTHER guy who made that movie!  All joking aside, Chronical was one of the best examples of not only the found footage genre but the super hero genre as well.  The story was complex and heartfelt while still being an exciting and unique take on portraying super powers in film.  Can Max Landis pull off another hit with this film about a stoner sleeper agent, or will he be doomed to the same fate as Josh Trank whose sophomore slump is easily the biggest disaster of the year?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) who’s some dipshit loser in West Virginia with a lousy job, a drug problem, and a condition where he has panic attacks whenever he tries to leave town.  The only good thing the sad sack has going for him is his sad sack girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart)  who’s only slightly more functional than he is in that she doesn’t nearly burn the house down due to her own absent mindedness.  Mike is certainly trying to do better by her, but this is a guy with no ambition and little imagination.  Aside from his doodles about an astronaut ape, he barely gives off any signs of conscious thought other than guilt for being lucky enough to find Phoebe and the fact that she loves him just as much as he loves her.  Of course, things aren’t as simple as they seem.  Being a man child movie, our hero has to have some super ability that they didn’t really earn, and in this case it turns out that he’s actually a decommissioned CIA sleeper agent with skills to rival James Bond… despite being MAYBE twenty five (at least as far as the movie is trying to sell the premise as).  Of course, being an unstoppable badass who ain’t doing shit to no one, some pencil pushing mother fucker (Adrian Yates played by Topher Grace) decides that Mike needs to be eliminated and sends out a bunch of goons to 86 the bastard.  The original leader of the program that turned Jesse Eisenberg into teenage Terminator (Victoria Lassetter played by Connie Britton) gets wind of this and is doing what she can to keep him alive while he starts to remember the skills he had in the past.  Can he survive these attempts on his life and get his girlfriend through this ordeal safely, or will the weight of these revelations be too much for him to handle?

“Can we not do this today?  It’s been kind of weird around her lately…”
“Can we not do this today?  It’s been kind of weird around her lately…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Hitman: Agent 47

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Hitman: Agent 47 and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Aleksander Bach

Are we really back here again?  Of ALL the video game franchises to get made into movies, of course we have to get ones based off a weak sauce Léon: The Professional.  The Hitman games have always been fantastic and unique experiences which are the reasons why the series has endured for so long, but the story was never the selling point.  Whatever lore was in those games just never connected with me and I never understood the point of making such a basic premise so complicated by including a cloning subplot and then an evil double at one point (I think) and whatever the hell else was going through IO Interactive’s heads when making those games.  Not only that, but they already TRIED to make this work and it sure as hell didn’t the first time around.  Why exactly are they bring THIS back to the silver screen when there are so many other games out there that aren’t already tainted by a poor adaptation?  Could it be because they were genuinely inspired to do better this time around, or is it just another cynical cash grab off a recognizable franchise?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with a brief history of who the Agents are and how they were created which is strike one against this film, but we’ll get to that later.  Dr. Litvenko (Claran Hinds) basically made the Captain America Super Solider Serum for… reasons, and it leads directly to the Agent program which turns regular dudes (or clones maybe?) into unstoppable bad ass assassins who don’t feel emotion (*cough* bullshit *cough*) and always get the job done.  Dr. Litvenko however fears His own creations, and runs away to never be seen again.  The company who was bankrolling him is uber pissed and spends the next twenty years looking for him and the daughter he abandoned (because reasons) without much success despite having access to ALL the cameras ever, but maybe their progress is stalled because Agents (or maybe just 47 specifically, played here by Rupert Friend) are wrecking their shit on a regular basis.  Eventually though the evil organization called The Syndicate (I see they’ve continued the trend of shitty group names in this series a la The Organization) finds the guy’s daughter who JUST SO HAPPENED to finally show up on a single security camera, and so they track her ass down in Germany.

“Good news sir!  We finally found his daughter!”     “WE’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR TWO DECADES!!  YOU COULDN’T FIND HER ANY FASTER!?!?”     “Oh I’m sorry!  I’m not the ones who said to check EVERY SINGLE CAMERA ON PLANET EARTH!”
“Good news sir!  We finally found his daughter!”     “WE’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR TWO DECADES!!  YOU COULDN’T FIND HER ANY FASTER!?!?”     “Oh I’m sorry!  I’m not the ones who said to check EVERY SINGLE CAMERA ON PLANET EARTH!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Straight Outta Compton

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Straight Outta Compton and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by F Gary Gray

Does this count as the beginning of Oscar season?  I mean we ARE in August and this is a biopic about famous yet controversial musicians!  What more could the academy be looking for!?  This retelling of the history of NWA directed by F Gary Gray (because who the hell else would you get to direct this) has gotten a lot of buzz recently and is already a certifiable smash hit at the box office with an opening weekend of over SIXTY MILLION which is nearly unheard of for a rated R movie.  So what is it about this movie that’s gotten so many people’s attention?  Is it the controversial nature of its subjects?  Maybe it’s out of pure nostalgia that people are checking out this movie about a rap group from the nineties.  That basically how Dragon Ball Z managed to make it in the top ten on a limited release.  Well for whatever reason this movie has connected with the movie going public, the question remains as to whether or not it’s any good, especially considering that the movie is produced by the people it’s portraying which can be a bad sign for any biopic.  Does this manage to be a fascinating examination of America’s scariest musicians, or will it be an endless parade of self-congratulations for a bunch of guys who have long outlived their relevance?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with our three principal players Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr) living their lives in Compton California and writing music whenever they have some free time.  After one of their songs hits it big on the local stations, they get the attention of a music manager (Jerry Heller played by Paul Giamatti) who puts them on the fast track to stardom and we watch the rise of one of America’s most notorious musical acts become legendary and the behind the scenes conflicts that eventually led to their downfall.

“We’ll start with a cover of Staying Alive, and then we can do that police song if we have time afterwards.”
“We’ll start with a cover of Staying Alive, and then we can do that police song if we have time afterwards.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Dragon Ball Super (Resurrection F)

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Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ and all the images you see in this review are owned by Toei Company, 20th Century Fox, and Funimation

Directed by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

We’re finally back with a review of the second movie in the Dragon Ball revival franchise!  With the success of Battle of Gods more or less leading to a Dragon Ball renaissance (I bet Toriyamas’s getting some SERIOUS Zeni out of this), they decided to make one more movie to set us up for the release of Dragon Ball Super!  Well… at least they did it that way in Japan.  SERIOUSLY FUNIMATION!?  No word on Dragon Ball Super in the US yet?  Well at least the released the second movie here, but it is any good?  Does going back to the DBZ well to drag this villain out of retirement end up making a fun throwback to the glory days of this mighty series, or a self-satisfied victory lap for the endless mountains of cash Toei is about to rake in with their number one franchise back?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the remnants of Frieza’s (or was it his Dad’s?) intergalactic empire trying to maintain their stranglehold on the galaxy.  Without any of their former leaders however, things are beginning to look grim as their forces continue to dwindle and the people they attempt to enslave are more and more successful in their organized resistance.  Some little blue mother fucker (Sorbet because why the hell not) is now the leader and has finally decided that the only way to restore the empire to its former glory is to bring Frieza back to life.  How you may ask?  With Dragon Balls of course!!

“I am the eternal MacGuffin!  What can I do to move the plot forward?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Guy Ritchie

We get a movie based on this show, and yet I STILL can’t get a Hogan’s Heroes reboot!?  It looks the Hollywood remake machine is going all the way back to the Cold War with this re-imagining of a series that was made well before Rocky solved the Cold War by kicking Dolph Lundgren’s ass.  I’ve never seen the show before, but a good old fashioned spy thriller in the vain of From Russia with Love would be a nice change of pace from the other stylish spy flicks we’ve been getting recently.  Not only that, but having Guy Ritchie at the helm of something set in an era that’s known for its unique brand of style seems like a perfect pairing of director and film, so there’s plenty to look forward to here.  Still, you can’t say that Guy Ritchie has been one to look at for great stories which is pretty evident by his PREVIOUS adaptations of a popular series that didn’t take long to go completely off the rails.  Will this be a return to form for the venerable director, or is this just another weak outing from a guy who never learns from his mistakes?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in early 1960’s Germany with American Super Spy Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) making his way to East Berlin. His mission is to get a local mechanic (Gaby Teller played by Alicia Vikander) to assist him in finding her father who was a former Nazi nuclear scientist and has recently gone missing. The mission is fairly simple. Convince Gaby to help the US and sneak her out of East Berlin. Things get complicated however when Soviet Super Spy Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is acutely aware of what’s going on and tries everything in his power to stop the duo from crossing the border into West Berlin.  Fortunately for the good old Stars and Stripes, Solo succeeds in his mission leaving the not so good old Hammer and Sickle twisting in the wind. Except not really! For some reason, the Soviet government and the US government decide to work together to find Gaby’s father, so now Solo and Illya have to work together to stop whatever scheme he, or possibly his kidnappers, are planning.  So wait, they couldn’t come to an agreement to work together until AFTER Solo and Illya tear their way through East Berlin? Wouldn’t that have complicated any ongoing negotiations?  Oh well, at least we now have our premise.  It’s a spy action-comedy with the tension between Solo and Illya working for opposing sides in the Cold War informing much of the comedic strife and genuine tension throughout the movie.

“At least my country hasn’t sold its soul to the false idols of capitalistic enterprises.”     “I’m sure your people feel oh so superior as they eat their potato soup and die in the Gulag.”     “CAN THE BOTH OF YOU PLEASE SHUT UP!?!?”
“At least my country hasn’t sold its soul to the false idols of capitalistic enterprises.”     “I’m sure your people feel oh so superior as they eat their potato soup and die in the Gulag.”     “CAN THE BOTH OF YOU PLEASE SHUT UP!?!?”

Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (The Hateful Eight)

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Oh goody!  We’re getting another Quinten Tarantino film!  Who wants to bet that it’ll be a very well made throwback to films from his youth that will get half the critics to praise him unendingly and the other half to dismiss him as a stunted artist that’s gotten quite long in the tooth?  Personally, I tend to fall into the former category, but I can understand the latter’s frustration with the guy’s output recently.  I wouldn’t mind if he goes ahead and does something RADICALLY different from what he’s been doing so far but even if he sticks to the same old tricks, he’s still the undisputed champ of these kinds of films.  So with that said, what can we gleam from the first trailer of his latest magnum opus?  Let’s find out!!

The trailer begins with Samuel L Jackson sitting on a pile of bodies in the middle of a snowy road as Kurt Russel’s stagecoach approaches, and I guess he joins Kurt Russel for… some reason.  They’re both bounty hunters and Kurt Russell has his latest perp handcuffed to him in the form of Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who’s charged with murder and will hang once she’s delivered.  From there, the plot isn’t TOO hard to guess, but the trailer makes it kind of hard to understand what is going on.  I’m assuming the hateful eight will consist of Kurt Russell (playing John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth), Samuel L Jackson (playing Major Marquis Warren), and the remaining character actors who show up in the trailer, and they’ll all be waiting out a terrible blizzard in this one building.  However, Kurt Russell knows for sure that one of them is actually a traitor and is after something (most likely Daisy), so the film will be about praying on one’s paranoia with the characters constantly checking over their shoulders and looking for the rat in the midst.

“Wait, so my character’s gonna get killed?”     “You’re the youngest one here.  Of course you’re not going to make it out of the movie alive.”  “Do I at least get a heroic death?”     “Nope.”
“Wait, so my character’s gonna get killed?”     “You’re the youngest one here.  Of course you’re not going to make it out of the movie alive.”  “Do I at least get a heroic death?”     “Nope.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Mr. Holmes

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Mr. Holmes and all the images you see in this review are owned by Miramax and Roadside Attractions

Directed by Bill Condon

What is this!?  A movie in the summer with explosions!?  A period piece right in the middle of this year’s boom-a-thon!?  Well this actually has a bit going for it that might explain why it’s being released now instead of in a couple of months, other than trying not to get crowded out during the Oscar months.  It’s about Sherlock Holmes who couldn’t be bigger right now what with the BBC and CBS shows still kicking around.  Not only that, we have genre super star Ian McKellen in the title role and it’s being directed by Bill Condon who has a BIT of a shaky career (he directed the best AND worst Twilight movies) but still has a lot of credibility for earlier works like God and Monsters and Dreamgirls.  So either it’s get a jump start on Oscar season by trying to muscle in with the big boys, or it’s hoping to come out before any less than stellar comparisons can be made once the summer ends.  Which one is it?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) who is getting up in years (ninety-three and counting!) and has spent quite a few of his twilight years in seclusion from the rest of the world.  After just arriving home from a trip to Japan (it’s 1947 so it’s not that long after the bombs dropped), he begins to form a bond with the son of his housekeeper and they grow to enjoy each other company as Sherlock is looking for someone to spend his final days with and the young boy (Roger) is looking for a father figure since his own died in World War 2.  Along with his growing friendship with young Roger (Milo Parker), he also tries some remedies he brought back from Japan in order to help his memory which has been fading recently and he wishes to recall more details about the final case which apparently went unsolved and caused him to retire.  What were the circumstances surrounding this case?  Will he find joy in his remaining time on Earth through Roger who seems to be quite quick witted like himself?  Will solving this final case finally bring about the peace that has been absent from his life for so very long?

“Am I gonna get a damn Oscar for this?”
“Am I gonna get a damn Oscar for this?”

Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Mr. Holmes”