Monthly Archives: July 2017

Cinema Dispatch: The Emoji Movie

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The Emoji Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures

Directed by Tony Leondis

I’m not ready for this.  Seriously, why am I doing this!?  WHAT HAVE I EVER DONE TO DESERVE THIS PUNISHMENT!?  Actually, don’t answer that.  Okay… focus.  Deep Breathes.  Sigh…  So The LEGO Movie was a big hit and so was The LEGO Batman Movie which means the imitators and knock offs were sure to follow; culminating in THIS which I can only assume was the first idea that someone threw out at Sony and they just decided to run with it.  It’s got a pretty good cast, and I have liked Sony Animation films in the past, so maybe this has a shot!?  Yeah… probably not.  The best thing we can hope for is that it won’t be TOO painful…  So then!  Will this be a SLAM DUNK for the Oscars, or have we somehow managed to find a new low in cinema?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is all about the MAGICAL world of living apps that live inside all of our phones and in particular the messaging app that contains those ADORABLE and MARKETABLE Emojis we all love so very much!  One such Emoji is a Meh in training named Gene (TJ Miller) who’s ready to start his first day as an… OFFICIAL Emoji… I guess.  See, how it works is that these Emoji creatures wait around all day in vertical cubicles (basically a thirty by six Hollywood Squares setup) and are scanned whenever their MASTER USER wishes to use one of them.  Why they couldn’t just have their pictures taken and then scan THOSE when the user needs them is beyond me, but asking questions like that only breaks the immersion!  So anyway, Meh’s first day ends in utter disaster as he PANICS and makes the wrong face; leading to the user thinking the phone is malfunctioning and will therefore take it to be replaced.  Now all the Emojis are ready to hang him in the middle of the street because he’s bringing about Armageddon with the good ol’ Smiley Emoji named… wait for it… SMILER (Maya Rudolph) leading the charge!  He manages to escape with another Emoji named HI-5 (James Corden) who used to be one of the user’s favorites, but has fallen on hard times and needs to find a way to force himself back into their good graces and thinks that helping Gene find a way to… fix his bad Meh face I guess… will also lead to a solution to HIS problem.  The answer comes in the form of a hacker named Jailbreak (Anna Faris) who agrees to rewrite their code or whatever if they can help her get to THE CLOUD!  Okay then.  Will Gene find a way to be more meh, or is his less meh qualities really a gift instead of curse?  Will the three of them manage to save the phone and live for another few months before their owner switches out his current one for the latest model?  What sick and twisted God is responsible for giving such miserable creatures any degree of sentience AND WHY AM I SITTING THROUGH THIS NIGHTMARE!?

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“Kill… Meee…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Atomic Blonde

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Atomic Blonde and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by David Leitch

Holy crap!  The day has FINALLY come, hasn’t it!?  There are usually a handful of movies that I genuinely look forward to each year and for most of 2017 the big one was this Charlize Theron spy thriller with a lot of bloodshed and a lot more attitude!  The trailers looked phenomenal with Theron putting her heart into this John Wick knock off (it even has one of that movie’s directors) and James McAvoy being… well James McAvoy, but that’s why we go to see him in movies!  Still, a trailer isn’t always true to what a movie will ultimately be about and while I certainly have high hopes for this, I should PROBABLY temper them lest my expectations get too astronomical and I end up setting myself up for disappointment.  But still!  CHARLIZE THERON PUNCHING DUDES IN THE FACE!  How COULD it go wrong!?  Well if it does, we’ll certainly find out!!

The movie begins with the death of an MI6 agent (Sam Hargrave) in East Germany right at the tail end of the Cold War, and the British Government are in desperate need of someone to clean up the mess the poor bastard left behind.  Enter Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) who given two objectives to complete once she gets there; find THE LIST that the MI6 agent had secured before getting a bullet in the head (you know, that list of EVERY SPY EVER that’s in EVERY SPY MOVIE EVER) and find a double agent known simple as Satchel who is more than likely responsible for this whole mess.  Her only contact in the country is MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) who’s gone DEEP undercover in the Berlin punk scene but has more knowledge of the country’s inner workings than anyone else.  Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems as there’s a French agent rather conspicuously following them around (Sofia Boutella), there’s like five different German/Nazi dudes who hate punk music trying to find her, and she keeps getting stymied at every turn presumably to the machinations of that darn double agent!  Will Lorraine find this list that could CHANGE THE TIDE OF THE WAR before it falls into the wrong hands?  Who is this mysterious double agent, and could they be closer than she dares to believe?  How is it that all the hired goons keep finding her so easily!?  Is it the hair?  It’s probably the hair.

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“All natural.”     “Oh you are SO full of crap!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Dunkirk

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Dunkirk and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by Christopher Nolan

I never got around to seeing Interstellar despite having the blu ray somewhere around here, so my last Christopher Nolan film was The Dark Knight Rises (a film that I’m not particularly fond off) which came even longer ago than Green Lantern.  We’ve had an entire DCCU build up in the dude’s wake since I’ve last seen one his movies, and he’s coming back to theaters with the most classic of prestige genres; the World War II epic!  Hey, it worked for Spielberg!  Twice in fact!  Even if I wasn’t a huge fan of his last Batman movie (and from what I hear, most people were rather put off by Interstellar), I’m still glad to see this guy continue to make films, and while it’s a bit of cliché now for RESPECTABLE film makers to make a film about how much Nazis suck, I’m sure the guy is more than capable of putting his own spin on it that will make the movie a standout of the year!  Does Nolan return with a decisive victory, or is this a tortuous war of attrition?  Let’s find out!!

So the movie is about the Dunkirk Evacuation where a whole bunch of Allied soldiers were trying to escape from France as it was slowly being overtaken by the Nazis.  Their only hope is to get a whole bunch of boats to France, load them all up, and ferry them across the English Channel to safety, but of course it’s not as easy as that considering how many submarines and airplanes the Nazis have in the area.  Things get so desperate that Churchill eventually calls for English citizens with boats to become volunteers and try to make the dangerous trek across the Channel to pick up however many soldiers they can carry; hoping the Nazis will ignore them for being civilian ships.  In the movie, we’ve got Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) on the beach with everyone else waiting for the boats, Mr Dawson (Mark Rylance) as one of the boaters taking his yacht along with his son and a local boy (Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan) to help the war effort, and a Royal Air Force pilot (Tom Hardy) doing what he can to keep the skies clear despite being rather low on fuel.  Will our heroes manage to make it out of this evacuation alive?  Does Christopher Nolan manage to capture the magnitude of this historical event through his spectacular technical chops?  If they needed a ride so badly, why didn’t they just call Uber!?  Wait, do they have Uber for boats yet?

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“Does anybody know any good knock-knock jokes?”     “Knock Knock.”     “Who’s there?”     “Shut up.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment and EuropaCorp

Directed by Luc Besson

As much as I would like a new Sci-Fi franchise to bring a bit of variety and challenge the Disney Monolith, I just couldn’t see this movie as anything more than a REALLY expensive mistake.  Maybe that’s more of a commentary on the current state of Blockbuster Cinema than an observation of the movie itself (though the ho-hum trailers certainly didn’t help), but a movie THIS expensive looking based around a series of graphic novels that (as far as I can tell) didn’t end up having THAT much reach outside of its native France looked like the kind of disaster that can only be made by people REALLY passionate about what they’re doing.  Now sometimes China can pick up the slack like it did with Pacific Rim which was a GOOD movie, but then other times not even they can save a doomed production like John Carter.  Still, that’s all secondary when talking about whether a movie is good or not, and while the trailers didn’t really impressive me, there were certainly glimpses of something that could be great if the filmmaker knew how to take advantage of it.  Does this movie manage to be a science fiction classic despite its box office prospects, or was everyone asleep at the wheel while Luc Besson spent an untold fortune bringing this comic book to life?  Let’s find out!!

Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne) are two space agents working for the Human government who are basically paid to be bad asses across the galaxy and supposedly have the ability to travel through time which I guess we’ll have to wait to see in the sequel.  Anyway, Valerian is having dreams about some lost civilization whose planet was destroyed but he has no idea if these are premonitions of the future or something that happened long ago.  Either way, his latest mission with Laureline JUST SO HAPPENS to converge with these mysterious dreams as there are a band of terrorists of sorts from an unknown race (I BET VALERIAN KNOWS WHO THEY ARE!) that are trying to get their hands on a rare MacGuffin Creature that Laureline is protecting as well as the current military leader of the Human government General Arün Filitt (Clive Owen).  They manage to get the latter, but the former is still safely tucked away and both Valerian and Laureline, despite the protestations of their new commanding officer (Sam Spruell) try to chase them down.  Valerian gets lost in the chase as do the terrorists, and so Laureline has to find him and then the both of them can these aliens who kidnapped the general… unless of course shenanigans with other aliens happen along the way, but that could NEVER happen in the city of a thousand planets, right!?  Will Valerian and Laureline stop this new threat before it’s too late!?  What is their ultimate goal once they have both the general and the MacGuffin Creature?  Will Valerian be the next ACTION STAR to dominate the silver screen!?  Well… probably not, but can he and Laureline STILL save the City of a Thousand Planets!?

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“Before I pull this trigger, you’ve gotta ask yourself one thing.  ‘Does this guy look silly in these glasses?’  Well?  DOES he, punk!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Big Sick

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The Big Sick and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate

Directed by Michael Showalter

I try to keep up with who the big up and coming comedians are, but I often find myself under a giant rock when something like this comes out starring a guy who I’ve CERTAINLY seen in other movies like Fist Fight and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but wasn’t aware of his output beyond that.  I’ve never seen Silicon Valley which seems to be Kumail Nanjiani’s biggest role to date (though he DID play Prismo in Adventure Time) so this is gonna be the first time that I’ve seen him in a starring role as opposed to a funny secondary character in REALLY mediocre or outright awful comedies, and apparently it’s somewhat autobiographical which makes it even MORE representative of what this guy is all about.  Does Kumail’s big debut as a leading man in his own life story manage to hit the mark and hopefully launch him into super stardom, or is this just a failed vanity project whose only purpose will be as a piece of trivia for Silicon Valley fans?  Let’s find out!

The movie is based on the real story about Kumail Nanjiani’s relationship with Emily V Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan but Emily V Gordon is the co-writer here) and the hardships they had to endure along the way.  Kumail is living the Stand-Up Comedy dream of a crappy apartment and shitty comedy club gigs while Emily is working towards her masters in Psychology when the two of them meet and quickly fall for each other.   Sadly, life keeps getting in the way of their happiness as Kumail’s mother and father (Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Kher) still expect him to marry a Pakistani woman and he doesn’t have the heart to either confront his parents about this or to tell Emily about their plans for him.  Things eventually come to a head, I won’t spoil too much here, but there’s a tragedy that happens where Emily is in the hospital and Kumail has no idea what to do; especially when her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) enter the picture and are immediately skeptical of Kumail.  Now Kumail is stuck in the worst of all cases; trying to coddle two sets of parents who are looking out for their kids and making terrible mistakes, and also trying to figure out exactly what he wants and how hard he’s willing to fight for it.  Will Emily overcome whatever illness has struck her so severely?  Will the two of them manage to overcome whatever issues they may have and properly fight for each other’s happiness?   Does anyone else think this might be a new benchmark for romantic comedies!?  Maybe not one of the BEST, but it sure feels like it’s gonna have an impact, right!?

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“This is a lot like Annie Hall!”     “Hmm… let’s not.”     “Yeah, you’re right.  Uh… Groundhog Day?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Wish Upon

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Wish Upon and all the images you see in this review are owned by Broad Green Pictures and Orion Pictures

Directed by John R Leonetti

Geez, while everyone else is going to see the new Planet of the Apes movie, I’m stuck watching the horror movie they dumped in theaters to “compete” with it.  Sigh… well, you never know!  We got a fair amount of REALLY solid horror movies last year and while there were a few at the absolute bottom of the barrel (*cough* Incarnate *cough*) even the more average fare was above what was normally expected.  Maybe now that the bad stuff is out the way like The Bye Bye Man (ugh…), we can finally get to some of the better horror movies… right?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows Clare Shannon (Joey King) will soon be the latest victim of some sort of mysterious Chinese wish box that her dad Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe) had found while dumpster diving.  Is that like a job you can make a living off of?  He doesn’t seem to do anything else in the movie.  Anyway, just for a lark it seems, she makes a wish while holding the box and sure enough it comes true!  However, the box comes with a terrible price that she’s not made aware of immediately where every wish ends with someone she knows getting killed in very ludicrous ways, and surely there are MORE consequences to be found if she continues to use it!  Will she manage to figure out the mysteries of this magic box before it’s too late?  Will the new life she gets from making these wishes turn out to be everything she’s always dreamed of?  What if she wishes for the box not to kill anyone, or even infinite wishes!?  WHAT THEN!?

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“I wish that I had the power to grant my own wishes and that you would disintegrate.”     “WHAT!?  SHE SOMEHOW OUTSMARTED ME!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Spider-Man: Homecoming and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures

Directed by Jon Watts

So after a decade of crappy reboots and custody battles, Spider-Man is finally gonna start living with BOTH his parents; sticking with Sony but being able to visit Disney on the weekends.  To celebrate these two studios begrudgingly working together to make a lot of money, we have the third reboot of the Spider-Man franchise getting a whole move all its own with a little from column Sony and a little from column MCU.  Considering how bad things had gotten for the character with the two Amazing Spider-Man movies and how reliable the MCU is when it comes to making above average blockbusters, it’s unlikely that this will end up a disappointment for anyone who’s been hoping to see a Spider-Man movie with the official Marvel stamp of approval, but if it can ONLY manage to be better than the previous iteration… well I can hardly think of a more textbook definition of Damning with Faint Praise.  Does this manage to stand on its own as a great film, or has Marvel finally met its match by having to work with another studio for once!?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up right after Civil War where Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is spending his day doing his Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man thing, but is getting antsy over the fact that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) won’t return his calls.  Neither will Happy (Jon Favreau) who’s supposed to be keeping an eye on him and is clearly doing a poor job of it since even a LITTLE bit of attention might have kept him from doing something stupid!  Said stupid thing is when he starts tracking down a group of alien gun smuggles head up by Adrian Toomes who played by Michael Keaton (Oh hey!  I guess he DID live long enough to become the villain!) and soon finds himself in over his head.  Not only does he have to deal with REAL tough guys instead of street thugs, he also has to deal with the problems of being a teenager such as having a crush on a senior named Liz (Laura Harrier) trying to sneak around Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and having to deal with his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) who accidently found out his secret identity.  Can Spider-Man stop the bad guys AND get his math homework done?  Will Tony Stark eventually notice him once he takes down such a dangerous criminal, or will that only make things worse between them?  Oh I’m sure he can handle all this!  He’s a super hero, right!?

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SYMBOLISM!!

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Jumping the Soapbox: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The One Where Dennis Leaves the Show

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The images you see in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

One of my favorite shows of all time is Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia which I actually came into pretty damn late into its run.  I was always aware of its existence, but I never really had a reason to sit down and watch it until around 2013 when I was stuck in bed for like two days due to a minor surgery I had and I needed something to watch to kill the time.  In an effort to fix that problem, I booted up Netflix, saw that it had like eight seasons, and figured why not?  To this day, I rarely go a week (and usually no more than a single day) without putting it on in the background of whatever it is I’m trying to do at the time which is more often than not writing stuff for the site (I’m watching Mac’s Banging the Waitress as I’m typing this… though less likely to be watching it while you’re reading this).  Sadly though for fans of Sunny, the latest season ended on a rather bittersweet note as it may in fact have been the final appearance of Glenn Howerton’s Dennis Reynolds who is STRONGLY considering leaving the show, despite it getting renewed for at least two more seasons.  Now as much as I’d hate to see him go, I don’t necessarily begrudge him for doing so considering they’ve already done twelve AMAZING seasons, and I hope he has all the success in the world with what he plans to do next which looks to be a show with Patton Oswalt where he plays a disgruntled and malicious high school teacher.  So what does this mean for fans of Sunny?  I have no idea!  Maybe they’ll hold out for him on the off chance this new show fails (the thirteen season has already been pushed back a year), or maybe they’ll try to solider on without him; hoping the remaining four members of the crew can somehow manage the burden of his absence.  For me though, this is a perfect chance to do some fun speculation on possible replacements for Howerton to either fill the void he left or to possibly even turn the show into an entirely new direction.  That is why I have listed my top five BRILLIANT ideas of who they should get to be the new fifth member of the crew, though unfortunately Schmitty is not one of them.  The ranking is mostly in terms of how much I want to see this person (or even persons) show up in the series, but I TRIED to keep the list as practical as possible.  As amazing as it would be to get Nicolas Cage, Scarlett Johansson, or Denzel Washington to be fifth member of the crew, I doubt they’ll be picking up Rob McElhenney’s calls anytime soon.

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5) Topher Grace

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Probably not the first name that comes to mind when trying to fill in an enormous gap on one of the most ingeniously crafted shows of all time, but hear me out!  We all know he played nerdy Eric Foreman for a decade and that he wasn’t all that great in Spider-Man 3, but his filmography since then has been, if not STERLING, at least interesting.  He’s REALLY good at playing slimy characters like in Predators and American Ultra which is more or less a requirement for a show like It’s Always Sunny, but what really makes him seem like a perfect fit is that he naturally exudes a sense of weakness and apathy in his performances which I know doesn’t sound like a complement but fits perfectly with the ethos of the show.  Everyone in that bar, except maybe Frank, has no direction in their life and is living in a perpetual state of denial about everything around them with Mac thinking he’s tough, Charlie thinking he’s quirky instead of a creep, and Dee failing to understand why she’s never achieved her goals (fear of rejection keeps her from making a whole hearted effort at anything).  Look at his performance in the recent Opening Night where his level headed cynicism is clearly a mask for his own insecurities and how the wackiness of everyone backstage continues to push him further and further over the edge.  Now imagine it was the crew that was pushing his buttons the whole time!  The guy seems to be getting regular work in films just outside the mainstream (his most recent role was in a Netflix movie) so I doubt he’s looking to tie himself down to a TV show, but that kind of character coupled with the horror show that is the crew at Paddy’s Pub could make for an interesting dynamic.

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