Monthly Archives: February 2017

Cinema Dispatch: Get Out

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

Directed by Jordan Peele

2016 turned out to be a fantastic year for horror movies; not just for the ones that ended up on my best of the year list, but also the ones that aimed to be middle of the road seemed to step up their game and try harder than you’d normally expect from the genre. Now sure, 2017 started with The Bye Bye Man, but even 2016 had some low points with The Forest and Incarnate.  Plus, we’ve also gotten the excellent, if problematic, Split not too long ago which is already one of the better films this year; horror or otherwise.  Now we’ve finally gotten to the BIG one which is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut that’s been getting a lot of positive buzz from when it was first announced all the way up to now with those Fancy Schmancy “professional” critics who are raving about it after they saw the “Critics Screenings”.  Well I had to drive thirty miles in the rain AND hail to see this damn thing, so it BETTER be as good as everyone is saying it is!  Is this thoughtful and well-crafted horror film that everyone says it is and that we desperately need right now, or did the hype machine get out of control with this movie which admittedly can sometimes happen with horror films?  Heck, I wasn’t the biggest fan of You’re Next, and that movie was instantly touted as a classic of the genre!  Anyway, let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) heading off to meet her family for the first time in what is sure to be a painfully awkward experience for everyone.  Sure enough, Mr. and Mrs. Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are just as “down” and “hip with the youngsters” as you’d imagine from older white people, but Chris seems to know what he as getting into and is just taking everything in stride until he get back home after the weekend is over.  Of course, things only get worse as Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) enters the picture is an obnoxious dweeb as well as a bunch of the Armitage’s other white friends who are VERY excited to meet Chris.  On top of that the Armitage’s have two black servants, Georgina and Walter (Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson), who look to have gotten the Stepford Wives treatment, though only Chris seems to be noticing this.  Tensions mount higher and higher as more clues are uncovered by Chris and it’s starting to seem that he may be in more danger than he initially realized.  Can he get out before he becomes the victim of whatever these white people have planned?  What happened to Georgina and Walter that has them acting so strange?  Did we SERIOUSLY get one of the best movies of the year from the guy who co-wrote Keanu?  That wasn’t a BAD movie, but god DAMN is this a step up!!

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Fucking white people.  Not only are we pulling this crazy shit, but we’re doing it in the rumpus room!?

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Cinema Dispatch: Rock Dog

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Rock Dog and all the images you see in this review are owned by Huayi Brothers and Summit Premiere

Directed by Ash Brannon

Okay, so maybe saying The Great Wall is some bold new step in Hollywood/China co-productions was overselling it a bit as stuff like this movie, which was animated in the US but made for the Chinese film market, have been happening for quite some time now.  Still, The Great Wall is unique in how hard it was pushed to try and make an impact on the US film market instead of just making all its money in China which usually isn’t the case; including with this movie that barely got any promotion leading up to its release.   That said there’s still some really solid talent behind this, including an all-star cast of voice actors, the studio that animated The Book of Life, and even the co-director of Toy Story 2!  Okay, he’s not the co-director everyone remembers (that would be John Lasseter), but still!  Is there enough talent in this internationally minded animated film to be of some appeal on this side of the globe, or was this all just a cynical cash grab from everyone involved.  You know, like when celebrities do those insane Japanese commercials and hope no one in the US will see them?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in the town of Snowville… I mean the Village of Snow Mountain, where the local sheep population is protected from wolves by Tibetan Mastiffs which is a breed of dog.  Well okay, it’s just ONE dude named Khampa (JK Simmons) who has mastered the Kamehameha and used it to fend off a wolf raid several years ago.  Yes, you read that right.  Motherfucking dog shoots energy beams from his hands because reasons.  This would be AMAZING if it wasn’t for the fact that he did all that in the past and hasn’t had to for some time now because the wolves know better than to attack while he’s on watch, so he doesn’t have much cause to use it nowadays.  Still, he’s kept the sheep safe and even managed to raise a son named Bodi (Luke Wilson) who will one day take his place as the town protector, even if he needs a bit more practice before he can ACTUALY do a Kamehameha of his own.  It’s too bad that the writers of this have seen The Gods Must Be Crazy as one day a plane drops civilization right in front of Bodi in the form of a wireless radio that’s fully charged and able to catch a signal.  How about that!?  On the radio he hears a sick track from the one and only Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard) which inspires him to pursue his dreams, and with just the right amount of buttering up of his old man, he manages to get a bus ticket to the big city which is… actually pretty close by.  How has Bodi never been to the city before?  WHY IS THERE A BUS STOP NEXT TO SNOW MOUNTAIN IF NO ONE IS USING IT!?  Anyway, his leaving manages to catch the attention of the wolves who are gangsters in that big city, and so the big bad one named Linnux (Lewis Black) sends his slapstick prone henchmen to kidnap him and… I guess get information about Snow Mountain so they can finally kill all those sheep.  Will Bodi be able to live his dreams of a rock star, or will he ultimately get lost in the cruel and uncaring world of professional music?  Will the wolves finally get what they want, or will Body manage to outsmart them… somehow?  For a movie called Rock Dog, he’s not much of a rock star… so why aren’t we following Angus Scattergood instead?

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“Look, I’ve just downed two bottles of tequila and chased it with an irresponsible amount of Chimichangas, so I expect you to do a lot of the heavy lifting here, alright?”

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Cinema Dispatch: A Cure for Wellness

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A Cure for Wellness and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Gore Verbinski

You know, Gore Verbinski is a much more versatile director than I think he gets credit for.  Sure, he made three Pirates movies and then that Pirates movie in the old west, but he’s also got The Ring, The Weatherman, and Rango under his belt too; all really solid movies.  Hell, even his big blockbuster films are at least interesting if not always good!  Okay, The Lone Ranger isn’t even that much, but I’ll give credit to those Pirates movies for being fantastically well-crafted even if the story wasn’t always there to back up the designs.  Now he seems to be going back to his roots in a way as this is the lowest budget he’s had to work with since The Weatherman, and he’s also heading back to the horror genre which seems like a pretty good idea considering how well that Ring remake turned out.  Is this a new benchmark in horror that all others will be compared to, or will this be a catastrophic failure the likes of which we haven’t seen since The Lone Ranger?  Or you know, it COULD be somewhere in between those two.  Anyway, let’s find out!!

The movie follows an up and coming… business man of some sort named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) who’s sent to some faraway Wellness Center somewhere in the Swiss Alps to retrieve the owner of the company he works for.  You see, the board of directors got a strange letter from their boss Mr. Pembroke (Harry Groener) that he’s found the cure for what ails him at this facility and that he’s never coming back.  Of course, if he REALLY didn’t want to be bothered anymore, he would have included official documents removing himself from the company to go along with that letter, but if he did that then Lockhart wouldn’t have a reason to go and we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we?  It also helps that Lockhart did some illegal… business stuff I guess that he thought he had kept secret but the board knows ALL about it and is holding that over his head to get him to go to Switzerland.  Once Lockhart gets there, its IMMEDIATELY clear that something just isn’t right about this place.  Is it the creepy staff that acts like condescending zombie vampires?  Is it the strange girl named Hannah (Mia Goth) who’s comes and goes with seemingly little understanding about the world around her?  Maybe it’s the fact that the head of the facility is named Dr. Heinreich Volmer (Jason Isaacs) which is probably in the top ten villain names of all time!  I’m guessing it’s that.  Well any normal person would just bolt it to the airport at this point, but Lockhart JUST SO HAPPENS to get in a nasty car accident on the way back from the Wellness Center and wakes up back at the facility a few days later with a cast on his leg.  Well since he isn’t GOING anywhere for now, he might as well try to find Pembroke and see if there’s some shady shit going down in this Wellness Center that puts a little too much emphasis on water and for some reason uses REALLY outdated medical equipment.  Will Lockhart get what he needs from Pembroke and save his job?  Just what is going on in this creepy facility with so many creepy people and creepy equipment?  Is the cure that everyone is looking for… love!?

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“I don’t remember them covering THIS is sex ed!”     “Hey, which one of us is the doctor here?”

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 4 (The Last Picture Show)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by Mark Piznarski

We’re back with another episode of Riverdale 90210!  So things are still pretty rocky for this series, what with its severe mishandling of dark and weighty subject matter, but even with that we at least get some awesome Betty and Veronica moments here and there as well as a Jughead who’s starting to come into his own for this series.  Still, as long as the Miss Grundy subplot is around, I’m not convinced this show will manage to pull itself out of the mess it put itself in by having that serious miscalculation.  Are we in for another uncomfortable slog through boneheaded choices and obnoxious self-seriousness, or can the series put itself back on track before it’s too late to salvage any of this?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Jughead reminding us that Jason Blossom is dead and that everyone is apparently a suspect as he ACTUALLY died a full week after he disappeared on the Forth of July; meaning that everyone had the opportunity to do the deed.  Motive is still a bit murky though as I doubt most people would want to kill a teenager, even if he is kind of a creep (at least that’s what the flashbacks seem to imply), but I’m sure whoever’s responsible will have convoluted and completely out of left field reason for the murder that we just can’t see yet.  For now though, we have much more important fish to fry than the death of Cheryl’s brother; namely that the local drive in theater is closing down (NOOOOOOOOOOO!!) and that Betty now knows that Archie and Grundy were at the river together on the Fourth of July which honestly isn’t all that relevant anymore since we’ve pretty much solved every relevant mystery about what happened that morning.  Archie and Grundy heard a gunshot from Dilton Doiley while Cheryl and Jason bid a tearful farewell to one another as the guy ran off into the woods to who knows where.  Oh, and because the show makes damn sure you notice this, Betty apparently has a diary where she’s writing about what she knows.  Considering who her mother is I’m guessing that THAT little book is going to come into play sooner rather than later, but for now it’s just a plant for a future payoff.  What’s relevant now is the sort of love triangle forming between Archie, Miss Grundy, and his dad who thinks she’s REALLY hot!  Hell, I would too if I didn’t already know she was a total monster!

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“Look at this kid!  Getting all dressed up to see you perform!”     “Dad!  You’re embarrassing me!”     “Well you better get used to it, cuz you might just be looking at your future stepmom!”     “DAD!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Great Wall

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The Great Wall and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Picture and China Film Group

Directed by Zhang Yimou

Hey, Disney can’t be the ONLY company making all that money all over the world, right?  Sure, they have Star Wars and Marvel on their side, but there’s certainly room for even more movies that go for a global audience.  Hell, we’ve already got a few we can name off already like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Warcraft, or even the last loathsome Transformers movie which inexplicable set the third act in China.  Still, this particular movie is something different as it’s a US/China co-production that is legitimately one of those instead of a Hollywood film that had some of it done in China.  This is an acclaimed Chinese director with stars from his own country AND the US with financial backing from Universal and a script from Hollywood writers.  Hell, the fact that this movie ACTUALLY has Chinese subtitles yet is STILL getting a wide release in the US is noteworthy in and of itself!  Did all that effort ultimately pay off, or is this a lousy way to kick off this new era in filmmaking?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with William and Pero (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) running their ass off across the Gobi desert in hopes of outrunning the bandits chasing them and also finding out the secret to BLACK POWDER (i.e. gunpowder) from the Chinese once they find someone to ask about it.  Unfortunately for them, they wind up at The Great Wall where a secret army of warriors assigned to guard the wall (how can they be secret if they’re base of operations can be seen from space?) and they aren’t too friendly to tourists.  Fortunately for them (or maybe not so fortunately), they arrived on the EXACT DATE that an army of monsters that comes around every sixty years (I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be aliens) are set to attack and try to break the wall down so as to siege the country behind it.  Because of this, General Shao and the chief strategist Wang (Zhang Hanyu and Andy Lau) who run this secret military called The Nameless Order don’t have the time to lock them in a dungeon and so they get a chance to prove their worth by slicing up a few monsters as well.  This gives them a brief stay of execution and even the respect of some of the members there including Commander Lin Mae (Jing Tian) and an ill prepared lower solider named Peng Yong (Lu Han).  Of course, these newcomers ALSO get the attention of Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe) who’s… a prisoner I think?  He came to China 25 years ago for BLACK POWDER as well, and I guess The Nameless Order just won’t let the dude leave; a fate that both William and Pero fear awaits them if they stick around too long.  So it looks like they have a dilemma on their hands!  Take what Black Powder the order has and leave them to fight on their own, or do what they can to help and hope they can finagle a way out once the dust has settled.  Will they make the right choice in the end?  What does the order have planned to fight this monstrous threat?  How much were they hoping Matt Damon would bring in?  A hundred million?  Two hundred million?

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Wait, HOW much did that last Bourne movie make!?

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Cinema Dispatch: Fist Fight

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Fist Fight and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Richie Keen

First rule of Fist Fight?  Make as many references as possible!  Hey, I’m not the one who said FUCK THE POLICE in the red band trailer, alright?  That’s ALL on Ice Cube!  Corny lines aside though, I’ve been cautiously optimistic about this film; mostly because of the cast as I LOVE Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Ice Cube can be pretty compelling when given the right material.  I mean sure, it IS February which usually doesn’t fare much better than January as far as movies, and while it’s been pretty mediocre since the start of 2017, there have been a few bright spots here and there.  Can this movie about two dudes beating the crap out of each other for contrived reasons be one of the exceptions?  Hell, we let John Wick get away with that, right?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place on the last day of high school where all the seniors are pulling hilarious pranks like hanging vulgar signs on the building, stealing the principal’s car, and mowing a penis into the track field.  Needless to say that none of the teachers are too thrilled to be here (and yet for some reason aren’t calling the cops) which includes English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) and History teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube).  Well… maybe less so Mr. Strickland who seems to come at today with the same FUCK YOU attitude that he would every other day as he’s the only teacher who can SORT OF keep the kids in line; mainly by threatening to beat the shit out of them.  Of course, a guy with these kinds of anger management issues is bound to do something stupid, and that happens on this fateful day where one kid pisses him of and he takes a fucking fire axe to his desk; in full view of the class as well as Mr. Campbell who just so happened to be around during the incident.  Under threat of both of them being fired by Principal Tyler (Dean Norris), Mr. Campbell rats on Mr. Strickland who in all fairness endangered the lives of SEVERAL people and probably shouldn’t be in a god damn school in the first place if this is how he’s gonna act.  Mr. Strickland doesn’t quite see things that way however, and like a REAL man decides that he’s gonna punch his way out of this, so he challenges Mr. Campbell to a fight after school which the entire town hears about in a matter of minutes.  Hashtag Teacher Fight!  Can Mr. Campbell find a way out of this ass beating, or is he gonna get his face smooshed in by a guy twice as big as him?  Does Mr. Strickland have ulterior motives for starting this fight in the first place?  Can… can someone tell who thought this was a good idea in 2017?  Please?

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Don’t pin this on him!  It was YOUR buddy who directed this damn thing!

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Cinema Dispatch: The LEGO Batman Movie

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

Directed by Chris McKay

Let’s see… you take something awesome like The LEGO Movie, and you add more Will Arnett.  How could this POSSIBLY fail!?  I mean granted, adding Will Arnett to ANYTHING is an automatic improvement (unless it’s Bojack Horseman), but considering what we’ve gotten from the DC canon since Nolan’s second movie, how could we NOT be excited when one of those movies isn’t fraught with astounding mismanagement and crushing solemnity!?  Does this offshoot of The LEGO movie prove to be a success while laying the groundwork for other LEGO based offshoots, or has Warner Bros utter mismanagement of the DC licenses somehow managed to spread to this colorful and vibrant take on the characters?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Batman being Batman and everyone getting really sick about it, and I can certainly relate to that.  More specifically, Batman (Will Arnett) has just locked away a whole bunch of villains for what has to be the millionth time, but something’s a little bit different.  While The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) managed to escape like he usually does, Batman managed to hurt his feelings by claiming he’s NOT his arch-enemy, so now he’s got a NEW axe to grind with the caped crusader.  On top of that, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) has just become the new commissioner and is somewhat skeptical about letting some sociopath with silly ears and a cape beating up poor people and other weirdos in the streets of Gotham which makes SENSE but isn’t all that comforting to Batman who’s already having enough trouble finding things to do in what little spare time he has NOW; let alone how much he’d have if the police department started doing their jobs right under Barbara’s new rule.  To cap things off, he JUST SO HAPPENS to adopt a young boy named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) which you’d THINK would require just a LITTLE bit of paperwork, but I guess the Orphanage could use the extra bed; especially considering how many kids they have to take in considering how many supervillains are blowing shit up around the city.  ANYWAY!  Batman, who’s been avoiding his feelings all this time by punching baddies in the face now has to deal with that one thing we all fear… CHANGE!  Will he be able to keep his cool now that the status quo has been upended?  Just what does The Joker have planned now that he’s even MORE pissed at Batman than usual?  Is it too soon to reboot the DC films and just make them all based on toys?

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“Do you bleed?”     “Probably not.  I mean, I AM made of plastic.”     “YOU WILL!!”     “Again… I’m made out of plastic…”

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