Cinema Dispatch: Annihilation

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Annihilation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Alex Garland

So apparently Paramount wanted to bury this thing for some reason?  I mean… I guess it WORKED considered I never heard of this until the week before it came out.  I go to movies all the time, and I never saw ONE trailer for this thing despite starring some PRETTY big names right now!  Now this is hardly the first time that a studio had lost complete faith in the movie they had made, and it’s not always a sign that the movie is bad (*cough* Brazil *cough*), but it STILL is a bit worrying as studios are loath to just throw money away; especially on projects that seem to have had THIS much star power both in front of and behind the camera.  Does this offbeat science fiction film manage to shine through despite the studio doing everything it could to keep it out of the public eye, or was Paramount trying to save us from something that we were better off just forgetting it even existed?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Lena (Natalie Portman), told slightly out of order, where she went head first into a unique biome of alien origin that I like to call The Rainbow World and tried to reach its center to destroy it from within!  Okay, now that I’m writing this down, it’s possible that a bit more context is needed.  To rewind a bit here, about three years before the movie starts a meteorite smashes into a small coastal town and starts doing… something.  It basically creates its own isolated environment with a clear delineation between EARTH WORLD and ALIEN WORLD in the form of a shimmer; almost like an opaque curtain in the shape of a dome.  The US government seems to have gotten there right away and have been sending people into the strange place to find out what is going on, but no one has ever returned… until now!  Lena’s husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) is a military Black Ops guy (I think) and was sent on a MYSTERIOUS mission about a year ago and suddenly returns home right as the movie starts; albeit looking rather disheveled and coughing up a worrisome amount of blood.  The government weren’t too far behind him though and put him in a quarantine to study what’s happened to his physiology after being exposed to the alien biome, but they’re probably gonna have to work fast; lest this become an autopsy because his condition is getting worse.  Lena is brought into the loop at this point and is told about THE SHIMMER (I still think it looks more like a Rainbow World); promting her to suit up, grab a gun, and join the next expedition which is in less than a week.  Now if that sounds a bit silly, don’t worry!  She was in the military as well, so she knows how to handle herself and use a gun.  In fact, compared to the rest of the crew which includes a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez), a geologist (Tuva Novotny), a physicist (Tessa Thompson), and a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), she’s practically a god send as I doubt the rest of them would last a full day in there without her.  So the day is set, the inexplicable rag tag crew gathers their courage, and they walk into THE SHIMMER with one goal in mind; get to the center and destroy whatever it is that’s causing this.  Will Lena survive the harsh environment that nearly took her husband’s life, and will the secret to his illness lie within?  What is motivating the rest of these women to go into this place that even trained soldiers couldn’t manage to overcome?  Was this really the best we could muster after three years of failed attempts?  They couldn’t even be given gas masks or motor bikes?

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“Before we go in, does anyone need to use the bathroom?  Speak now or forever hold your pee.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Samson

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Samson and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pure Flix Entertainment

Directed by Bruce Macdonald

The surest sign of God’s existence is that I managed to go through all of 2017 without seeing a Pure Flix film, though the favor I managed to accrue with the man upstairs seems to have run out as I’m stuck here on the precipice of not just one, but TWO Pure Flix films; starting with the epic retelling of one of the Old Testament’s biggest figures.  Hey, at least it’s not taking place in modern day and pretending that Christianity is the most oppressed religion in America.  That’s gonna wait for the NEXT movie they come out with this year; God’s Not Dead 3 (THE RE-DEAD-EN-ING).  Still, this is Pure Flix we’re talking about and their track record is utterly abysmal even with their less outwardly bigoted films being mediocre at best.  Do they have a chance of capturing the magic that makes the story of Samson worth telling in the first place?  Yeah… probably not, but let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Samson (Taylor James) who… I guess is a super hero?  Actually, he’s more like Achilles in that his parents (Rutger Hauer and Lindsay Wagner)  did SOMETHING to him as a child that got him God’s favor and made him the strongest man alive, though in order to keep his gifts he has to follow three rules; no drinking, no touching dead bodies, and no cutting his hair.  Seems a bit arbitrary, especially since none of these were important enough rules to put on those tablets Moses had, but it DOES work as Samson periodically kicks ass for The Lord and will hopefully someday drive the Philistines out of Israel.  Of course, with Samson being a young man with a rocking bod, he often gets distracted along the way and must deal with foxy ladies including Taren (Frances Sholto-Douglas) and Delilah (Caitlin Leahy), a pissed off prince with STRONG urge to stab his dad (Jackson Rathbone), and of course the current king of the Philistines (Billy Zane) who’s keeping a careful eye on this Jewish Savior.  Will Samson avoid the temptations of the world and be the champion that Israelites need?  Who is this Delilah woman, and what does she plan to do to Samson once she has him under his spell?  Is it just me, or does this sound more like the backstory to action figure more than anything else?

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“I HAVE THE POWEEEEEERRRR!”

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Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (Pioneer Island)

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Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim

Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim

Welcome back to another episode of Jefferton C-SPAN, where we look at the best damn show that Tim & Eric ever made and what made it so brilliant!  Well… at least most of the time.  We begin with Tom Peters visiting The Mayor in his office where’s he watching reruns of old Jefferton Public Access television, including a commercial for something called Pioneer Island which was an amusement park built on top of the Jefferton Man Made Lake (something we’ll see more of in subsequent episodes) but was burnt down under MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES.  Maybe the park’s mascot “Olde Tymey” (Bob Odenkirk) could provide a little insight.

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“It was The Mayor!!”     “That’s enough out of YOU Mr. Television and/or computer!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Black Panther

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

Directed by Ryan Coogler

It’s time once again for the Marvel Money Machine to give us all yet another excuse to give Disney ten more dollars of our hard earned cash to people with super powers in profoundly silly costumes punch each other between humorous quips and callbacks to previous films!  The sooner we declare Marvel release dates to be national holidays the better off we’ll all be (who DOESN’T like getting a Friday off!?), but until then the film critics must continue to go to the multiplexes, sit for two and a half hours as the lights and sounds dazzle our senses, and then tell you what you already know; namely that these are still good and that you’ll spend your money on it no matter what!  Now as cynical as this never ending cycle of unimaginable profits can seem, it STILL manages to keep its head above water at least with critics by having that one thing that many other blockbuster franchises DON’T have.  What was it?  Oh right!  Talent.  With pretty much every one of these films, Disney went the extra mile of hiring talented and sought after filmmakers to play around with their billion dollar toys, and so far we’ve had a near perfect success rate!  Okay, Jon Favreau didn’t QUITE capture lightening in a bottle twice with Iron Man 2 and there was the whole Ant-Man debacle with Edgar Wright, but for the most part they’ve had a good eye for picking out talent; especially considering they got Ryan Coogler of Fruitvale Station and Creed fame to start his blockbuster career with them.  Will this be a monumental addition to an already astronomically successful franchise, or… well okay, there’s no chance this is gonna be BAD, but will it be… MEDIOCRE!?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins not long after Captain America: Civil War (so… presumably BEFORE Spider-Man Homecoming?) where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is returning home to Wakanda to be crowned king after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani).  Here, we all the important people in his life including his mother (Angela Bassett), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his top general and most dependable ass kicker Okoye (Danai Gurira), and an accomplished spy for the Wakandan military Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend.  Anyway, we spend some time with T’Challa as he’s getting used to the heavy burden bestowed upon him, but he doesn’t have much time to adjust as Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) from all the way back in Age of Ultron has resurfaced and is still on Wakanda’s shit list for stealing Vibranium like twenty years ago.  With this chance at capturing one of Wakanda’s greatest enemies, T’Challa suits up to take the mantel of Black Panther once more and even takes Okoye and Nakia for backup.  Things don’t go quite as planned however as the CIA operative from Civil War, Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is onto Klaue as well, and Klaue seems to be working with a guy that REALLY has a grudge against Wakanda and is known simply as Killmonger  (Michael B Jordan).  Can T’Challa unravel the mysteries before him, and will he like the answers that he finds?  What are these ruthless villains planning that could endanger Wakanda and the rest of the world with it?  How exactly does he breathe in that thing if it doesn’t even have a mouth hole!?

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“IT’S SO MUGGY IN HERE!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Early Man

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Early Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aardman Animations and StudioCanal

Directed by Nick Park

I remember watching those Wallace and Gromit shorts many times when I was a kid on VHS tapes (none of which I still have), and while I haven’t been keeping up with Aardman TOO much in the last decade, I have always respected them as a studio and have had nothing but good things to say about their work; including that Pirates movie which seems to have had a much more mixed reception than a lot of their other work.  Now we’ve got their most auditions work to date; not because it’s a particularly out there or unexpected from the studio, but because they had the gall to open it against Black Panther!  I mean I guess it goes with the David and Goliath underdog story this movie is trying to tell, but something tells me that the forward thinking and groundbreaking black centered super hero movie is gonna do a SMIDGE more business than this silly cartoon.  Does Aardman’s latest adventure hold up to the high pedigree that they’ve set for themselves over their long and prestigious filmography, or have the masters of clay lost their touch in this latest outing?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Dug (Eddie Redmayne) who is the youngest and the most wide-eyed member of a tribe of cavemen that spends their days hunting rabbits and playing primitive instruments.  Dug dreams of something more though, like possibly hunting BIGGER animals (maybe even a Mammoth), yet the leader Chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) doesn’t feel like rocking the boat is the best thing for the tribe; especially when everyone else is so incompetent that they can manage to catch rabbits.  Still, the march of time is a cruel one and one day the tribe is uprooted from their idyllic homes by the war machines and mining equipment of Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston); leader of a nearby town that has advanced to the Bronze Age.  Through a series of convoluted missteps and slapstick humor, Dug ends up tripping falling into the Bronze Age city and even gets stuck right in the middle of their sacred arena where the mightiest warriors gather for the crowd’s amusement.  What exactly do they DO in the arena?  Fight to the death?  Feed Christians to lions?  NO!  They play SOCCER of course!  You know, that one game that everyone else calls football that we in the US only seem to care about once every four years!  Dug, seeing how much the people of this town crave the sport and treat as sacrosanct, challenges Lord Nooth and his best players to a match against him and his tribe!  If Lord Nooth wins, he can keep their homeland, but if Dug wins they get it back!  Can Dug and his tribe manage to learn how play just in time to beat the very best players the Bronze Age has to offer?  Will Dug’s new friend Goona (Maisie Williams) be the ringer they need to secure victory and will she finally get to live out her dreams of glory on the football pitch?  More importantly, can FIFA find a way to somehow turn this into an excuse to plunder a country of its riches and bully local governments!?

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“This game is brought to you by Bronze.  Always bet on Bronze and if we catch you with Steel, that’s twenty years in Football Jail!”

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Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (WW Laserz)

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Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim

Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim

Welcome back to another episode of Tim & Eric’s Parks and Rec where we take a look at the show that gave the duo their start!  We begin the episode with good ol’ Tom Peters waiting to see The Mayor while he’s in a meeting with City Council over a web cam (The Mayor Cam if you will) to explain his plan for an education grant that the city received some time ago.  Sadly, all The Mayor could come up with is putting a monkey inside of an éclair (okay…) which City Council isn’t sold on, and they’re running out of time to use the money or else it will be returned to the federal government.  If only someone would walk through the door and give them a brilliant idea…

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“Heeeere’s Tommy!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Peter Rabbit

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Peter Rabbit and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Will Gluck

Wait, didn’t we already get this movie like three years ago?  Yeah, Russel Brand was the Easter Bunny or something, right?  I didn’t imagine that?  Ugh… anyway, it looks like after the SMASHING success of other CGI animal movies like Alvin and the Chipmunks and Woody Woodpecker, it’s time to drag this Beatrix Potter classic out of the closet and imbue it with all the stuff that out of touch executives think the KIDS OF TODAY will find totally dope!  Okay, that’s a bit unfair considering I’ve never even read the original source material, and it’s not like updates to classic properties are ALWAYS a recipe for disaster as we saw with The Peanuts Movie.  Maybe there’s a chance that this will turn out better than the trailers indicate?  Yeah… I doubt it too, but let’s find out anyway!!

The movie follows the wacky adventures of our roguish hero Peter Rabbit (James Corden) who finds an endless deal of fulfillment in stealing other people’s stuff!  In particular he just LOVES stealing vegetables from the garden Old Man McGregor (Sam Neill) and does it with such frequency that the man becomes obsessed with hunting down these rascally rabbits; by which I mean chopping their heads off, stripping the meat from their bones and baking them into a pie so that he can consume his most hated of enemies.  CLEARLY this is a healthy relationship that Peter and his family of similarly roguish rabbits (Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Colin Moody) had developed with the guy, but it all becomes moot when the dude keels over and dies right as he’s about to snap Peter’s neck.  In case you were wondering, yes; this is indeed a kid’s movie.  So now that the old man is dead, the rabbits as well as the other woodland critters can finally take his garden for themselves, sleep in his bed, and poop on his dining room table, right?  Well… kind of.  At least for a little bit.  See, what the animals don’t know is that there is another McGregor who’s the one that ACTUALLY gets the house and he’s coming by to fix the place up and sell it for tidy little profit.  This new McGregor named Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) may not be as blood thirsty (at least at first), but is much faster and much cleverer than his great uncle was, and this means that Peter is gonna have to work TWICE as hard to get those vegetables and may have to go so far as to risk everything he holds dear in this battle of wills; one of which is McGregor’s neighbor Bea who is nice to the rabbits but also gets caught right in the middle of this feud between man and rabbit!  Will Peter be able to claim what he CLEARLY feels is rightfully his?  Will Thomas completely lose his mind trying to stop a few measly rabbits from somehow destroying his life?  How did they manage to fit THIS much violence in a movie about talking rabbits that doesn’t have Bugs Bunny in it!?

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“Eh… what’s up, Dead Man?”

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Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (Bear Traps)

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Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim

Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim

We’re back with another recap of Tom Goes to the Mayor!  Okay, TECHINCALLY this is the first one as the one we did before was for the online shorts they did prior to getting an ACTUAL show, but whatever!  This is the TRUE pilot for the show which begins with good ol’ Tom Peters, having just moved to Jefferton with his wife Joy and his three stepchildren, going to see The Mayor of Jefferton to run some ideas by him.  The best way to describe the pilot is that it’s rather blunt with what it’s about; essentially the blueprint from which most of the episodes of this series will be built upon.  You have some minor crisis in Jefferton (usually made up), Tom comes to the Mayor with an idea on how to fix it, the Mayor exploits Tom’s desire to be successful by twisting his ideas into something horrific, and Tom ultimately goes along with it until it all comes crashing down on his head.  We’ll be seeing this kind of story throughout this recap series, but most episodes tend to throw a bit more conflict or motivation than what we get here which leads to an episode that lacks any real subtly or ambiguity, but at the very least it does lay the groundwork for character dynamics and several of the running gags.  Speaking of which, Bob Odenkirk has a cameo in almost every episode and the one he has here helps to set up the primary conflict.  The Mayor is watching an infomercial on his computer starring Mike Foxx (Odenkirk) who has a Scared Safe program to raise awareness for all the things that could kill children including Wind Poisoning, Sand Rash, and Deadly Crickets.

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“Eye Poking, also known as Giving the Moe, is the fourteenth number one killer behind Communism and Electric Swirlies!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Winchester

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Winchester and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate and CBS Films

Directed by Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig

SERIOUSLY!?  We managed to go through ALL of January without a single notable horror movie!?  Okay, I mean there was that INSIDIOUS movie but that one doesn’t count because… I didn’t see the other films.  MY POINT IS that it’s been PRETTY light so far for a month known almost EXCLUSIVELY for terrible horror films, and for me this is the first one of the new year so I’m STILL gonna consider it a January horror film!  Besides, that’s not even a particularly hard rule of thumb considering last year’s worst horror abomination Rings didn’t make it out the gate until the first week of February either.  Will this be another entry in the never ending list of terrible first of the year horror movies, or are the people behind this just too darn talented to make the same mistakes that everyone else did?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) who is the widow of William Winchester; the man who started the Winchester Repeating Arms company and got SUPER rich doing so.  Now she has all this money, but she’s been using it to build and rebuild and rebuild and add on and then do some MORE rebuilding on here house.  Why is she doing this?  Well she believes that the ghosts of the victims of Winchester rifles, instead of haunting say… their murderers, are haunting her house and I guess the multiple rooms and weird architecture confuses them or something.  Anyway, Dr. Price (Jason Clarke) has been sent by the Winchester Repeating Arms company to assess the mental fitness of Sarah in an attempt to oust her from the company, but he’s not interested in being their lap dog and seems to genuinely want to help her; not like he’d get away with being so duplicitous what with her niece Marion (Sarah Snook) watching his every move.  Of course, things start to get strange almost immediately as Eric starts to see creepy things of his own and Marian’s son Henry (Finn Scicluna-O’Prey) is “sleepwalking” all over the place.  Is Miss Winchester correct in believing that there are ghosts in her house and that they’re after her for what her company’s weapons did to them?  Does Dr. Price have a much deeper connection to this place than either he or Sarah initially thought?  Why does it matter if the house is a confusing maze of dead ends and random staircases!?  GHOSTS ARE NON-CORPOREAL!!

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“BOO!!”     …     “What?  Ah, damn it!  She’s not in this room either.  WHERE THE HECK IS SHE!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Hostiles

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Hostiles and all the images you see in this review are owned by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Scott Cooper

Okay, so MAYBE I jumped the gun a bit when I declared Phantom Thread to be the last of the 2017  hold overs as apparently THIS film (as well as Molly’s Game apparently) is was similarly hoping for some award buzz before reaching the general public.  The difference HERE though (and probably why I hadn’t heard about it until 2018) is that it DIDN’T get the recognition it was looking for as it hasn’t been nominated for any Oscar, nor is it really showing up on critic associations’ BEST OF lists.  Still, that doesn’t mean it’s BAD, right?  I mean did Wonder Woman or Ingrid Goes West get any Oscar nods?  Did Happy Death Day even get a Teen Choice Award!?  There are never enough awards to go around for all the great films that come out in a year, so MAYBE this one will turn out to be the sleeper hit of the season!  We can only hope, right?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows Captain Joseph J Blocker (Christina Bale) who is not just any US solider at the turn of the nineteenth century, but one who seems to SPECIALIZE in  hunting down Indigenous people.  His job description is starting to go out of style however as the US government is starting to make token efforts to give back to the people they’ve committed genocide against, and their latest effort is to take one of Blocker’s prisoners, Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), along with his family (Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tanaya Beatty, and Xavier Horsechief) back to their tribal lands in Montana.  Now you’d think that a long trek from his holding cell in New Mexico ALL the way to Montana would benefit from an escort that ISN’T led up by not only the guy who has killed SO many Indigenous people but ALSO the guy who put Yellow Hawk there in the first place, but I guess it only adds to the symbolic nature of this token gesture.  So with only a handful of soldiers (Jonathan Majors, Jesse Plemons, and Timothée Chalamet) and his best buddy Thomas (Rory Cochrane), the party sets off to deliver these people back to their homeland and will hopefully everyone won’t kill each other in the process!  Things get messy right away though as they come across a home decimated by a band of Indigenous Bandits where the only survivor is Rosalie (Rosamund Pike) whose entire family was slaughtered in the massacre by the bandits who are still out there somewhere.  Will the soldiers have to put aside their prejudices just to survive against this new threat?  Will Captain Blocker learn the error of his ways and come to respect his former enemies?  What hardships will they be forced to endure before they reach their destination!?

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“Captain!  We have to pee again!”     “WE JUST STOPPED AN HOUR AGO!  HOLD IT IN!!”

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