Living on Netflix: Power Rangers – Life’s a Masquerade

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and all the images you see in this recap are owned Saban Brands

Episode directed by Robert Hughes

It’s that time a year for us to start enjoying all the SPOOKINESS in the world as well as the endless amount of crappy horror sequels that we PRETEND to enjoy ironically but actually like them quite a bit (*cough* Children of the Corn 3 *cough* The Fly 2 *cough*).  However, for those of us who just aren’t feeling it this time around I made a list of really great Halloween specials that will get you in the festive mood without all that gratuitous blood and gore that just feels a bit unnecessary right now.  Let’s face it, the world is in pretty rough shape, and while I LOVE me some bone crunching, blood gushing, slasher trash… I just can’t get into the spirit the way I could in previous years and I’m guessing there are others who would agree with me or at the very least were looking for a bit of variety to their Halloween playlist.  Now I capped that list off with something that came as a HUGE surprise to me which is the episode of Power Rangers that we will be looking at today!  Power Rangers vs Frankenstein!?  Not only does that sound like the most amazing premise of all time, the episode ACTUALLY manages to live up to the absurd awesomeness that you’d hope to get from that!  Just how well did they pull this episode off!?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with the Power Rangers Jason, Billy, Trini, Zack, and Kimberly (along with the newly reformed Green Ranger Tommy) helping Ernie set up the Angel Grove Youth Center for the Halloween Party where all the teenagers can go and celebrate away from the horrible influences of sex and booze!  As always, Bulk and Skull are on hand to help; not necessarily to help any of THEM, but to help the audience enjoy the episode that much more because Bulk and Skull are the absolute best thing about this series.  I LOVE these two and I always find their shtick hilarious, though the initial gag this time around is a bit odd as Skull apparently has nothing better to do than hit himself in the head with a staple gun.  Okay… I mean I guess he’s frustrated that it’s not working, but that has to be like… the WORST way to go about it!  At least Bulk’s gag here is a lot simpler with the classic PAINT CAN ON HEAD bit, though the paint here is obviously some sort of cream.

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“You look like Storm Shadow crossed with the Pillsbury Dough Boy!!”     “Oh a wise guy, eh?  COME HERE, YOU!!”

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Jumping the Soapbox: Halloween and Chill! 5 Awesome Specials for a Stress Free Playlist!

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

Halloween is the season of frights, monsters, cheap movies, and a hedonistic approach to eating candy, but while I do enjoy all of that stuff immensely, I’m feeling a bit mellower this time around and am not in the mood to get fully immersed in the seasonal excesses.  Maybe it’s the never ending horror show of a year we’ve been having so far, or maybe it’s because I’m already seeing scary movies on a regular basis for review purposes, but the thrill of hunting down the most obscure and blood drenched VHS horror camp isn’t doing it much for me right.  Not all is doom and gloom however for those that aren’t feeling the frightful mood as I’ve compiled a list of a few Halloween themed TV specials that you can easily chillax to that will hopefully get you back into the festive mood!  Oh, and obviously Treehouse of Horror episodes are great choices for a list like this, but neither the prospect of narrowing them down or filling up the entire list with them seems like a worthwhile endeavor; especially considering how well known they are at this point.  Anyway, let’s get started!!

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3rd Rock from the Sun – Scaredy Dick (S3 E5)

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Dick Solomon, the high commander of a team of aliens in human disguises trying to learn about humanity, is now faced with a new emotion that he’ll have to find a way to deal with; IRRATIONAL FEAR!  To keep his job as a university professor he’ll need to take a physical, but for some reason he becomes extremely terrified whenever he goes into the doctor’s office.  Not helping matters is that this problem JUST SO HAPPENS to crop up right around Halloween and since he can’t deal with his ACTUAL fears, he starts being afraid of everything around him; including what appears to be a ghost haunting the apartment.

This show is one of the best sitcoms ever made and while SOME of the episodes don’t hold up (the family reunion episode has some VERY off-putting and creepy moments), the ingenious premise that allows the phenomenal cast to explore all the messy facets of humanity feels like the benchmark of what sitcoms SHOULD be striving for.  The Halloween episode is another great example of that as Dick Solomon who is played by John Lithgow is acting like a child with how fearful he becomes of everything which is hilarious to watch but also has a degree of poignancy to it with how our internalized fears and shortcomings can bleed into other aspects of our lives.  This storyline also has the benefit of focusing on Harry Solomon who is played by French Stewart (another member of the alien crew) and the way that he and John Lithgow complement each other’s vaudevillian comedy chops.  I’m not all that thrilled about the subplot with Sally and Tommy played by Kristen Johnston and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the two remaining crew members) where they’re house sitting for a coworker of Dick’s (Dr Mary Albright played by Jane Curtain) which is… FUNNY I guess, but it feels a bit too lightweight when compared to what Dick and Harry are up to at the apartment; especially when we get to the reveal of what’s ACTUALLY been haunting them.  Last time I checked the show is no longer on Netflix, but the box sets of these are INCREDIBLY cheap at this point and I’m pretty sure you can find the whole series for a measly twenty bucks, so do yourself a favor and watch ALL of the episodes, but make sure squeeze this in on the big night!

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“But what if it’s an ALIEN, Dick!?”     “Well we’re aliens too, so I’m sure we can reason with it.”     “Not if it has acid for blood!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Geostorm

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

Directed by Dean Devlin

We’ve been getting a LOT of delayed films this year, haven’t we?  Tulip Fever took a while to come out, Rings took even longer, and that Amityville Horror sequel or reboot or whatever ended up failing so hard that it was released FOR FREE on Google Play.  Not in theaters; on the same storefront where you download crappy Tetris knockoffs and flashlight apps.  Now we’ve got this movie which may be the most interesting of the bunch simply because of how much money Warner Bros inevitably sunk into the damn thing to try and recoup its losses.  Not quite as much as Monster Trucks, but certainly enough that you’d question if anyone behind this damn thing had heard of the Sunk Cost fallacy.  Well it’s finally out now at probably the worst time imaginable (this story keeps getting better and better!) and with very little fan far from Warner Bros who may have finally realized it’s time to cut their losses.  Does this movie manage to rise above its troubled production to deliver something at least somewhat enjoyable, or is this possibly an even bigger mess than The Snowman was?  Okay, NOTHING is quite as shoddily put together as that film, but will this still be an absolute disaster and not in the way they were hoping for?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place in the very near future where humanity finally came up with an idea on how to combat Global Warming.  Not by recycling or embracing renewable imagery of course, but by putting a giant freaking net of satellites around the globe that can somehow shoot science beams at the earth whenever a tornado, hurricane, or anything else is about to threaten human lives.  Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), who I’m assuming got this brilliant idea from Highlander 2: The Quickening, is the one dude bad enough to put this whole project together which is nicknamed Dutch Boy but is kicked off the project for infuriatingly political reasons.  Okay, he punched an inspector in the face, but what ELSE was he supposed to do!?  Listen to what he had to say!?  Anyway, his brother Max (Jim Sturgess) is the new head honcho of the project but the system starts to malfunction a few years down the road which leads to some isolated but very deadly weather events and no one knows what’s causing them.  I guess it’s time for good ol’ Jake to reclaim his throne and go up to the satellite to see what the heck is causing these problems and hopefully stop it before it threatens all life on Earth.  Will Jake solve the mystery before it’s too late and find out if its simple malfunctions or sabotage?  What will Max find out back on Earth with the help of one of Dutch Boy’s programmers (Daniel Wu) and a hacker that he apparently knows in the State Department (Zazie Beetz)?  Just how many things can they manage to blow up with a weather machine!?

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“Damn it!  I knew we shouldn’t have stored all those recalled Samsung phones in there!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Boo 2! A Madea Halloween

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Boo 2! A Madea Halloween and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Tyler Perry

Oh great.  We’re back here again, and I have the feeling we’ll be back her again AGAIN come next October because if there are two things Tyler Perry is good at, its making movies quick and beating a dead horse.  I didn’t outright HATE the first film, but it’s pretty terrible and showcases pretty much all the weaknesses in the Tyler Perry formula that somehow has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people.  Does this movie improve upon the last film to make something tolerable for the rest of us who aren’t in the Madea loop?  Of course not; you knew that BEFORE this movie was even made.  Is it at least TOLERABLE though?  Well… let’s find out.

It’s Halloween again in whatever town this is and the events of last year are still somewhat fresh in the memories of all the characters they bothered to bring back for this one.  I say SOMEWHAT because Tiffany (Diamond White) still has very little respect for her father Brian (Tyler Perry) despite learning that lesson last year, and the situation is worse now because she is OFFICIALLY EIGHTEEN!!  Apparently her birthday is on the thirtieth of October which I don’t recall them mentioning in the first film, but that’s the case here which means its PERFECTLY LEGAL now for her to tell her dad to piss off and go get laid by the broiest bro in the frat Johnathan (Yousef Erakat) who has an even BETTER party planned this time around!  This time, the party will be at the Ye Old lake where apparently a dozen people were murdered back in the seventies and I GUESS has been closed ever sense which makes it the perfect place to set up a rockin’ Halloween PAR-TAY!  Of course Brian has a problem with this, but since his ex-wife () () gave Tiffany permission (which she didn’t even NEED because she’s an adult now), there’s very little he can do.  BULLSHIT, I SAY!  There must be SOMEONE willing to stop this girl from having fun!  I guess this is a job for Madea, Uncle Joe (both Tyler Perry), Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) who all return from the last film and are apparently haven’t moved an inch as they start this movie in the same damn chairs they spent most of the LAST movie sitting in.  When they get up there though, things aren’t what they appear to be as they start running into mysterious characters with dangerous weapons and ill intent that seem just as hell bent on stopping this party as the Madea crew are; though admittedly with much more violent means.  Will Brian ever find a way to get through to Tiffany’s rebellious streak and stop her from making poor decisions?  What else is up at the lake other than the horrors of sex, drugs, and pop music?  How much longer can Tyler Perry POSSIBLY milk this character while still making a crap load of money EVERY SINGLE TIME!?

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We meet again, old friend.  Sigh…

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Cinema Dispatch: The Snowman

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

Directed by Tomas Alfredson

Is anyone else super excited to see this movie?  There’s something innately appealing about a serial killer movie, as morbid as that sounds, mostly because I feel they’re one of the purest forms of a Good Guy vs Bad Guy story that pits two characters against each other in a battle of wits to see who comes out on top!  Face/Off, Death Note, Silence of the Lambs, Sherlock; the list goes on and on and I always find them to be at least somewhat enjoyable… though I have never seen that Alex Cross movie which I hear is so bad it’d probably ruin the whole genre for me.  At least this movie looks better than THAT film did and from the trailers it looks like a rather interesting murder mystery with a neat little gimmick for the killer that certainly sets them apart from your typical slasher.  Will this be another great film to add to the list, or will all the hopes I had for this melt into a sad little puddle like a snowman left in the sun for far too long?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the adventure of the hilariously named Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) and if you think that’s just a poor translation; the writer of the book this is based on ALSO wrote a book called Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder.  Anyway, Detective Hole is a complete and utter wreck when we catch up with him as he’s constantly drinking and sleeping on park benches despite the fact that he’s supposedly a legendary detective who’s solved all sorts of difficult cases… I think. The latest mystery he’s tasked to solve is a series of disappearances which may end up being homicides and he’s got a fresh new detective out of the academy named Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) to help and/or annoy him as he tries to find a connection between them.  I’m not sure if he figures out that the connection is a snowman being built in front of the home of each victim (the movie is rather bad at conveying information) but that seems to be the killer’s signature; hence the title.  Detective Hole has to get to the bottom of this case soon; not only to save whoever the killer’s next victim is, but because the killer seems to have taken a liking to the drunk detective and may be targeting him or his loved ones soon if he can’t catch him first.  Can Detective Hole figure out who’s been kidnapping these people and cutting them to pieces; despite his hilarious name?  Doe these recent kidnappings have anything to do with a case from six years ago that was led by Detective Gert Rafto (Val Kilmer) who died under mysterious circumstances?  Seriously, did anyone read the script to this before filming?  Were there pages missing or did someone ACTUALLY think that this all made sense?

 

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Seems like a lot of effort just to make a point.  Wait… what was the point again?

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Cinema Dispatch: The Mountain Between Us

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The Mountain Between Us and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Hany Abu-Assad

Eh… you know I’m not really feeling this one.  The trailer wasn’t QUITE as overplayed as the one for Flatliners (you already forgot that movie came out, didn’t you?) but I was sure getting sick of seeing it as we got closer to the release date.  Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are stuck on a mountain which I imagine COULD be an interesting premise, but nothing about the trailer really stood out to me other than the casting which isn’t a good sign for a movie like this.  Hopefully it was just a bad trailer and that the movie itself will be much better which has certainly been known to happen every once in a while, and even if the movie is bad… well it’s not like I haven’t enjoyed crappy Idris Elba films in the past!  Does this manage to rise above the low expectations it has set for itself, or was that weak trailer right on the money and we’re stuck with a lame mountain survival film?  Let’s find out!!

Super Surgeon Dr Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and Super photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) are trying to get back home but their flights are canceled at the last minute.  Since both of them REALLY need to find a way out of the state as soon as possible, they manage to find dude (Beau Bridges) who’s unscrupulous enough to brave the incoming storm and fly them where they need to go for a nice stack of cash.  Of course things go bad while in the air and not just because of the storm as their pilot keels over and dies of a stroke mid-flight; crashing the plane in the process.  Ben seems to have come out of it alright, but Alex has an injured leg that makes it hard to move around which leaves Ben and the pilots dog as the only two who can try to find the supplies that fell out of the plane while also trying to set up a signal of some kind for whatever happens to pass by.  No such luck though as days go by without a rescue and so Alex eventually convinces Ben that they need to start hiking their way across the mountain to try and find a semblance of civilization that can Uber them back to the city.  Will the two manage to survive the harsh environment with the help of their wits, their warm jackets, and the super adorable dog?  How will this unbelievable experience change them individually as well as their burgeoning friendship?  Is this Idris Elba’s punishment for being in The Dark Tower!?

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“Just ten more miles and a Nicholas Sparks movie before my slate is clean!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Foreigner

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The Foreigner and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment

Directed by Martin Campbell

FINALLY!  I’ve been waiting to see this movie for MONTHS considering how bad ass that first trailer was!  Jackie Chan in a gritty action film where he’s blowing stuff up and shooting people in the face!?  It’s like those Liam Neeson films only with an actor who ACTUALLY know how to fight instead of just being really good at pretending they can!  Now I’ve seen my fair share of Jackie Chan films, but the dude is so prolific outside the US (he’s a freaking POP STAR SINGER in China!) that no matter how many films they sneak onto Netflix, there’s always gonna be a lot more that flew under the radar.  That’s why I’m so glad to see him headlining a big mainstream (at least for the US) Hollywood film to remind people that he’s still the freaking man!  That’s not even getting into the solid team behind this which includes both James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan and James Bond director Martin Campbell; both of whom may not have the BEST track record but can certainly produce some solid work when the need arises!  Can this dark thriller starring the most delightful man in existence live up to the huge expectations set for it, or are we doomed to be disappointed once again like we were with Green Lantern, Mamma Mia, and Rush Hour 3?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the typical overprotective dad Ngoc Minh Quan (Jackie Chan) picking up his teenage daughter from school (Katie Leung) when BOOM!!  She gets caught in a terrorist bombing from a group known as the Authentic IRA who shaking things up in the UK; especially for Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) who’s now an elected official but was a member of IRA Classic.  With little else to turn to, Quan starts to zero in on Hennessy as the one person who might have a clue as to who are behind the bombing that killed his daughter, and he’s also the target of the English government who are hell bent on stopping whatever this group has in store next.  Can Quan get the justice he seeks for the death of his daughter?  Does Liam Hennessy actually know more than he’s letting on about the recent bombings?  Seriously, why wasn’t THIS guy in those taken movies!?

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“You think THAT guy had a particular set of skills!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women and all the images you see in this review are owned by Annapurna Pictures

Directed by Angela Robinson

You know, if we’re gonna get biopics like that upcoming one about Charles Dickens that looks like a Monty Python sketch, we might as well start doing them about comic book creators too!  The early years of Marvel with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, watching Batman evolve from comic book hero to Hollywood star through the eyes of Bob Kane, heck The Alan Moore story could be a freaking twelve hour Netflix series considering how much comic book controversy he’s managed to find himself in over his career!  What we’ve got NOW though is probably the most interesting story of them all which is about Wonder Woman creator Professor William Marston and his unorthodox relationship with his wife Elizabeth Holloway and a former student of his Olive Byrne.  Heck, it’s not only a great story to tell about queer women (though there is some contention of that) in a time where that wasn’t even legal, it also has incorporates radical feminism, BDSM, and comic book scare mongering that eventually led to the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s.  With such fascinating material to work with, can it be turned into an engaging and interesting biopic, or is this a whole lot of scintillating window dressing for yet another rote history lesson?  Let’s find out!!

Our story begins in Radcliffe University (a women’s only branch of Harvard) where the brilliant psychology professor William Marston (Luke Evans) and his much more brilliant wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) are teaching psychology while working together on some other projects such as a lie detecting machine which is actually true.  They did invent the polygraph which is a significant event in this film.  Anyway, William is teaching a course on DISC theory (Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance) when one of the students catches his eye.  Her name is Olive Byrne and soon becomes a TA for the Marstons; helping them with their legitimate experiments and some that may just be for fun.  Eventually, this precarious situation between the three of them has to come to a head at some point and… well that’s where things get kind of awesome but also REALLY stressful.  Oh, and at some point the dude creates Wonder Woman off based on the experiences and he has with the two women in his life as well as his own theories on feminism and even some of his sexual hang-ups which are REALLY noticeable if you read the earliest issues of the book.  Will this trio of likeminded misfits find a place in the world that is openly hostile to them and their way of life?  What will happen when puritanical busy bodies get start to understand the radical subtext within the pages of the comic book that are becoming more and more popular with children across the country?  Wait, is THAT why Wonder Woman has a lasso!?

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“The safe word is Themyscira.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Happy Death Day

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Happy Death Day and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher B. Landon

There are very few premises that will get more on board with a film than “like Groundhog’s Day, but…” and honestly I’m not even sure why.  That movie is certainly a phenomenally crafted comedy that I revisit from time to time, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite films of all time.  I guess it really is just how great of an idea that premise really is as I see it as basically THE perfect interpretation of a Bottle Film (it allows limitless possibilities while also having an enormous constraint) and its one of the few ideas that gets me to eagerly start putting together scenarios of what I would do in that situation.  Throw a murder mystery in the middle of it, and you have something that could be not just a GREAT film, but an absolute classic for the genre!  Can this movie POSSIBLY reach the lofty goals that it sets for itself, or will this be a bigger waste of time than Before I Fall?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Tree (Jessica Rothe) waking up in an unknown dorm room with a guy she doesn’t really know named Carter (Israel Broussard) and heads back to her sorority so she can ignore the fact that today is her birthday.  She ignores calls from her dad (Jason Bayle), brushes off her roommate Lori (Ruby Modine) who’s at least making an attempt to make her birthday a little bit nicer, and just goes through her usual routine as if there’s nothing special about today; even going to see the married professor she’s sleeping with (Charles Aitken).  At the end of the day, when she’s heading to her own surprise party, it turns out today is NOT going to be a normal day because someone in a crappy baby mask (the school’s mascot… for some reason) stabs her and she… wakes up in the same dorm room she did that morning.  Same guy, same day, same ignored phone calls from dad.  Oh, and also the same murder.  Clearly she’s doomed to repeat the same day over and over again until she finds out just who it is that’s killing her each night which may not be an easy thing to do considering how many people she manages to piss off on a regular basis, though murder DOES seem to be a bit extreme to be just anyone she knows so she’ll need to narrow down the suspects as each night (and each death) brings her closer to the truth.  Will Tree be able to put an end to this endless cycle of misery and stabbings by unmasking the one person on campus who wants her dead?  Is every day TRULY a repeat of the last, or does something linger every time the clock goes backwards?  Just how many absurd and hilarious ways will Tree have to experience the ice cold hand of death before this is all over!?

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“OH MY GOD!  THEY KILLED TREE!!”     “YOU BASTARDS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Battle of the Sexes

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Battle of the Sexes and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Well THIS is certainly a pleasant surprise!  I may not know all the details, but I’m certainly aware of the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Robbie Riggs which has always stuck with me despite only knowing about it by watching the back half of a TV documentary around fifteen years ago.  I’ve always liked tennis as a sport and the build up to the phenomenal match was ridiculous and felt like a flash in the pan moment in history which did end up having a big impact on everything simply for how much confident men were that she was gonna lose and then had that whole perception shattered on live television around the world.  Is there any way that a film can do justice to this once in a lifetime event and remind us all of how important this was in the first place?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about the infamous match between world renowned tennis player Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and world renowned FORMER tennis player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) which was played up in the media as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES and the match that would once and for all prove that women have no business competing in MAN PLACES like tennis; something that wasn’t helped by Riggs’s absurdly derogatory and over the top chauvinistic stunts.  Of course, there was a lot more to the story than the over the top theatrics leading up to it which includes the establishment of the Women’s Tennis Association, Billie Jean’s romantic relationship with another woman Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), and even Bobby Riggs’s financial woes that may have been the driving force for setting up this match in the first place.  So much was on the line for Billie Jean to succeed, yet with so much working against her, it was quickly becoming a task that seemed impossible to overcome.  Would she be able to find the strength to overcome the odds and prove herself once and for all?  How will she be able to maintain a relationship with another woman in a time when that was much more frowned upon and life destroying than it is today?  How can one person navigate all this nonsense being constantly thrown at them and STILL manage to keep from knocking all these jerkwads upside the head!?

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“I must break you…”     “Are you sure you won’t break a nail?”     “… I’m gonna enjoy this.”

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