Monthly Archives: July 2018

Cinema Dispatch: Blindspotting

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

Directed by Carlos López Estrada

I get the feeling that as long as THE SCROTUS is in power along with his horrible lackeys doing his bidding, we’ll be getting more movies like this that take social issues head on; not that these stories weren’t worth telling in the first place, rather that studios seem to have realized that capitalizing on the political zeitgeist is potentially profitable and may even earn some prestige awards as well.  Capitalism in effect I guess, and while there’s no real excuse for films like this NOT being prominent despite the problems it deals with being real and prescient for so many people, I guess it’s better that we’re NOW getting these movies in much wider releases than not getting them at all.  This by the way can easily swing in the other direction if we don’t turn things around soon and the powers that be try that much harder to silence dissent (#RehireJamesGun), so don’t give me that SUFFERING AND SOCIETAL ILLS MAKES GOOD ART crap; especially when said is often more accessible to those who aren’t suffering.  Anyway, with this movie and Sorry to Bother You coming out so close to each other, will this turn out to be the best time of the year to see thoughtful and brilliant movies about the world around us, or will this turn out to be a far less thoughtful and engaging alternative?  Let’s find out!!

Colin (Daveed Diggs) is just three days away from probation retirement and managed to get through most of it without much complication.  Sure his friend Miles (Rafael Casal) likes to indulge every once in a while with illegal gun sales and fist fights every once in a while, but Colin has managed to keep him from getting TOO out of hand and both of them out of trouble.  Now that we’re down to the wire though, things are starting to get tense with Colin having to figure out where he stands with the people in his life as soon as he’s free, and how much Oakland is changing due to gentrification and an influx of white hipsters; something that’s been setting Miles more and more off as time has gone by.  To top things off, while driving back to the halfway house to make curfew, Colin sees a cop (Ethan Embry) shoot an unarmed black man (Travis Parker) in the back.  Naturally the cop is hailed as a hero in the media, but Colin knows the truth and the world seems to have shifted just a little bit after such a blatant act of unwarranted violence has struck his community.  Can Colin make it to the end of his probation without rocking the boat, or will he be forced to do something and risk his freedom in the process?  Will Miles learn to live with a changing world; especially since he has a wife and kid (Jasmine Cephas Jones and Ziggy Baitinger) who depend on him?  You’d think that if you’re three days away from ANYTHING ending that you’d just lock yourself in your room until it’s over; just to be on the safe side!

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“If anyone asks, just say they’re mine.”     “Even if we try that, they’re STILL gonna shoot us you know!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

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Teen Titans Go! To the Movies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Peter Rida Michail and Aaron Horvath

I’ll admit that I, like many fans of the first show (i.e. OLD PEOPLE), tended to be rather dismissive of Go for amping up the comedy and more or less abandoning the action and drama in doing so; but that said I also didn’t outright hate it or ever have the urge to complain loudly and publicly about it.  Still, now that the Titans trailer has given me a bit of perspective, I feel kind of bad about not really giving it the time of day and plan on rectifying that soon.  Before that though, we’ve got a movie to see which couldn’t be further in terms of tone and style than its TV-MA counterpart and frankly that’s about all I need to more or less give this movie a pass.  Hopefully it’s good movie as well, but considering I didn’t see Robin snapping necks and covered in blood in the trailers for this, I think it clearly has the upper hand.  Will the jump to from television to feature films silence the haters once and for all who complained that this interpretation of the characters wasn’t just like the one they had when THEY were kids, or is this yet another show that didn’t need the big screen treatment and will be yet another cudgel to be wielded by rather obnoxious fanboys?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the Teen Titans, made up of Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy (Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Hynden Walch, Tara Strong, and Greg Cipes), putting bad guys on the run and not stopping until the job gets done… at least until they find an excuse to dance at which point the Justice League has to come in and clean up after them.  Well that’s not TOO bad!  They got a few hits in before getting distracted by their own theme song, and it means they get a chance to chat it up with Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and even Superman (Lil Yachty, Ashley “Halsey” Frangipane, and Nicolas Cage)!  Not Batman though (Jimmy Kimmel) as he’s attending the premier of his latest movie which is NOT directed by Matt Reeves; rather by an up and coming star director named Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell).  Wait a minute, movie premiere!?  Why didn’t anyone tell the Teen Titans!?  Furthermore, why haven’t THEY gotten their own movie!?  These are questions that Robin in particular doesn’t like being raised, and so he vows to get his own movie by any means necessary!  Up to and including finding an arch villain for the Teen Titans to face which will surely get Jade Wilson’s attention and convince her to give them a shot at the silver screen!  Good thing it just so happens that a villain known simply as SLADE (Will Arnett) who is most assuredly NOT Deathstroke (that name is FAR too scary!) is cooking up some scheme and can only be stopped by this group of teenagers with attitude!  Can the Titans find a way to stop Slade AND get their own movie in the process?  Just how far will Robin go to get his chance, and will his friends be the ones to suffer in the process?   Can I just say that SLADE is a better bad guy name than Deathstroke?  SLADE!!  SLLAAAAAADDDDEEE!!

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This guy gets it!

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #7

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Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

We’re back with another issue of Tails and Sonic’s Excellent Adventure as the two of them are on the hunt for whoever is behind these recent robot attacks now that they’ve officially crossed Eggman off the list; him getting plot convenient amnesia and all that.  Does this mean we’re FINALLY done with introductions and kicking off the story in earnest?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with the duo JUST SO HAPPENING to run into the Egg Carrier while flying around in Tails’s biplane known as The Tornado.  I guess that’s one way to hit the ground running, but how the heck did we even GET here!?  Sonic makes sure to let us all know that they couldn’t track it on radar so I don’t know; maybe that’s what MAIN CHARACTER POWERS are for.  Either way, the two of them are now closer than ever to finding out who’s REALLY leading the Eggman Army and Sonic isn’t about to waste this opportunity.  Jumping from the wings of The Tornado to the carrier itself (from an absurd height naturally), he speeds his way to the bridge of the ship to see who’s there and finds none other than… DR. EGGMAN!  SONIC SHOCK!!  Okay, it’s not THAT surprising considering the last issue revealed that as the final page stinger, but Sonic certainly can’t believe what he is seeing!  In fact, he doesn’t believe it.  He calls Bull Pucky on this situation right off the bat since he already met the amnesiac Dr. Eggman in that one small town, so he demands this imposter to reveal himself!  Sure enough, he’s right!  The true villain turns out to be… Metal Sonic!  Okay, THAT one deserves a SONIC SHOCK!!

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“My Dr. Eggman, what big SPIKES you have!”    “All the better to KILL you with, my dear!!”     “Well that seems a bit excessive…”

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Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (Friendship Alliance)

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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 episode of Mayor Hard! The Tom Peters Story! It’s a very special episode this time around because not only does it guest star John C Reilly, it’s ALSO my favorite episode of the entire series! How did it manage to pull THAT off!? Let’s find out!! The episode begins with some happy news for once as Tom is going to The Mayor not to ingratiate himself into The mayor’s latest scheme (or to propose one of his own), rather to give The Mayor a bubble gum cigar and inform him that he is now a Step-Grandpop! It seems that one of Joy’s eldest daughters (who we have never seen before) has just given birth to a beautiful baby wolf person that they named Joy after her beloved grandmother! Whether this means the father is a wolf or Tom is being INCREDIBLY insensitive towards someone with extra body hair (as if women don’t have enough problems conforming to societal beauty standards when they’re grown, let alone as a baby) is something that we’ll sadly never know, but he is left to look after her while Joy and the kids are visiting one of her exes. What we DO know is that The Mayor is so overjoyed for Tom that he reminds him how important it is to update his Friendship Alliance profile to reflect the good news! Truly the most important ritual of the modern era, but sadly Tom has never heard of such a thing which begs the question, what exactly is Friendship Alliance? It’s Facebook. That’s it. Well, okay. It’s PROBABLY based more on Myspace as this episode came out in August of 2006 and Facebook wouldn’t be available to the public for another month while Myspace had a two year head start being released in 2004 (which ended up amounting to nothing once the competition took hold), so chances are that was what they were referencing when they initially wrote this episode.

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Oh, THAT’S where Myspace Tom came from!

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Jumping the Soapbox: Let’s Look At the Trailers from Comic Con 2018!

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

For ninety-nine percent of people out there who don’t get to go to Comic Con in person, our experience is basically a giant pile of news being dumped about upcoming movies and television shows, and while the coverage this year was overshadowed by the senseless firing of James Gunn (#RehireJamesGunn), there was still quite a bit of news worth paying attention to; especially some of the trailers that got released, and I’m not just talking about that crappy Titans one!  So let’s go ahead and take a look at some (certainly not all) of the trailers that we saw for the first time this weekend!

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SHAZAM!

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Directed by David F Sandberg; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical moody teenager who’s been placed in yet another foster home, but everything changes when the mystical space wizard SHAZAM (Djimon Hounsou) chooses him to inherit his spectacular powers.

I like what I see here, but what I’m seeing isn’t much.  Granted this is the first trailer and we’ll surely see more as we get closer to the release date, but the UNIQUE SELLING POINT of this movie needs to be more than it NOT being like the last few DCCU movies.  It’s brighter, it has genuine humor, and it focuses on the HERO part of being a Superhero.  That’s all great, but it still feels REALLY lacking.  The film looks VERY small in scale which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of spectacle needs to be compensated in other areas and I’m not really seeing much beyond DECENT in this trailer.  I like Zachary Levi in the role and he seems very natural playing a boy in a super hero’s form, but his dialogue is far from sterling, and the cinematography seems kind of flat for the most part.  I’m sure I’ll like this more than the overly ambitious Batman v Superman or the bloated but safe Justice League, but being light and family friendly doesn’t mean it has to be trivial and yet that’s a lot of what I’m getting out of this trailer.  If nothing else though, they’ve got a GREAT director behind it as the guy made two of the better horror films of the last few years (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), so hopefully he’ll bring some of that creativity to this film even if this first trailer doesn’t quite get it across.

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“I know we’re taking this, but we stopped the bad guys in the process so let’s just call it a wash, alright?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Unfriended: Dark Web

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Unfriended: Dark Web and all the images you see in this review are owned by OTL Releasing and BH Tilt

Directed by Stephen Susco

Somehow this ended up being a week where the three big movies coming out (this, Mama Mia: Here We Go Again, and The Equalizer 2) are all sequels to movies I’ve never seen, and I try not to avoid them if they’re direct sequels or prequels as the lack of context can make it hard to really judge a movie on its merits.  Sure I’ve made exceptions in the past like Barbershop: The Next Cut, but I’ve got enough on my plate as it is to try and catch up on EVERY franchise out there (unless of course it’s the Fast and the Furious which I did binge watch all seven movies before seeing Fate of the Furious), so I just leave those ones up to the other critics.  However, when it comes to sequels like THIS movie which seem to have nothing to do with the original and are mostly just using the name or premise, I’m fine with giving it a shot and looking at it as its own thing.  Heck, I was downright intrigued by this film since it looks like they fixed the main reason I avoided the first one (i.e. there being a GHOST IN THE COMPUTER) and replaced with something at least a LITTLE more grounded!  Does this manage to live up to its premise in ways that the first film didn’t sell me on, or was that the least of this franchise’s problems before I decided to jump onboard?  Let’s find out!!

The movie starts with Matias (Colin Woodell) booting up his new laptop and installing one of his own programs on the hard drive; namely a program designed to parse speech and then translate it into American Sign Language.  This is great because his girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras) is deaf and it will make it that much easier for them to communicate, right?  Well… not quite.  It seems that there’s some tension between the two of them that Matias is gonna have to figure out, but let’s worry about that later!  After all, it’s game night!  Matias’s friends Nari, Serena, Damon, AJ, and Lexx (Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Connor Del Rio, and Savira Windyani) join with him on a skype call and they start to play Cards Against Humanity in a blatant show of product placement while Matias checks the hard drive of his new computer.  As he looks through it though, it’s clear that the previous owner was into some shady stuff and Matias PROBABLY shouldn’t have… ahem, GOTTEN this computer from somewhere.  These sketchy documents and video files would be bad enough, but it looks like the computer owner (going by the name Charon IV) has found Matias through Facebook and is REALLY determined to get his property back; even if it means hurting someone he loves in the process, like say… oh I don’t know… Amaya?  Okay, but this isn’t THAT out of hand!  All he has to do is give it back, right!?  Well… easier said than done.  Charon IV (Douglas Tait) is willing to do a trade, but Matias has seen too much and will surely get the attention of Charon IV’s friends if he’s not careful which can only make things worse and could put the rest of his friends in danger as well.  What nightmares will Matias find on the computer, and is there anything he can do to stop these people?  Cab Matias outsmart Charon IV and his friends just long enough to save him and his friends this night?  What kind of self-respecting hacker uses a Macbook with OSX on it!?  Not even with a Dual Boot to Linux!?

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“Would you like to import your SNUFF FILMS into iTunes?”     “NO!”     “Importing SNUFF FILMS into iTunes.”     “DANG IT!!”

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Jumping the Soapbox: Teen Titans NO! – The Titans Trailer and Toxic Fandom

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Titans and Teen Titans Go are owned by Warner Bros Television Distribution and DC Entertainment

All other copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

It’s that time of year again where Hollywood sprinkles a dash of hype here and a pinch of news there right in the middle of San Diego for the yearly celebration of fandom known as Comic Con!  What does this mean for everyone who CAN’T book a ticket for California and drop ridiculous amounts of money on hotel rooms and cab rides?  Why trailers of course!  And this year we start the event off with something BIG!  DC and Warner Bros have been teasing us with a new Teen Titans live action show for some time now, and they’ve finally released the first trailer for it!  Let’s see how far we can get into this before I find something to criticize!

*ONE SECOND IN*

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Explicit language, adult themes, and violence.  Well those are certainly the first three things I associate with these characters!!

NOPE!  Sorry, DC and Warner Bros!  You couldn’t have missed the point harder if you actually FOUND the point and then threw it into the Mariana Trench so that no one could ever find for all eternity!  Now look, I don’t want this to be a rant about COMIC BOOK ACCURACY (mostly because I’ve never read a Teen Titans book) or about how it doesn’t match my nostalgia for that original Teen Titans cartoon (something we’ll talk about soon enough).  No, my problem is that this trailer is cynical garbage.  It’s a list of bad ideas that you could only make if you were TRYING to be this awful, and maybe in a cynical way that’s what they’re going for here.  It’s no accident that the trailer takes great pains to show you Robin straight up murdering dudes (he stomps that dudes’ neck, shoots a gun, and gushes someone like a sprinkler; I don’t care if they explain in the show that they were “just injured”) and to also have him shout FUCK BATMAN while covered in blood.  This is what a very immature person sees as COOL and MATURE (never mind that maturity is not the ability to withstand and consume dark material but to learn to empathize with your fellow people and take responsibility for yourself and those you care about) and it hews far too closely to the toxic nightmare that comic fandom has become in recent years (or at least has revealed itself to be now that its victims have platforms available to them).  Who would want to see Robin snap someone’s neck or Starfire set criminals on fire?  Probably the same “upstanding folks” who wanted Batman to kill people and are yelling at everyone about a Snyder Cut.

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Damn you, Frank Miller!  Will your awful influence on the Super Hero genre ever come to an end!?

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