Cinema Dispatch: Operation Finale

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Operation Finale and all the images you see in this review are owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Directed by Chris Weitz

Now that I think of it, when was the last time we got a World War 2 movie that actually tackled the events and consequences of the war?  I mean we had Dunkirk which was one big battle scene more or less divorced from the ideological conflict of the war itself, and I never got around to seeing The Darkest Hour.  Heck, the last World War 2 movie I remember before that is Allied, and I’m pretty sure that comment right there makes me the only person who’s brought it up in over a year!  Needless to say that with the current political landscape being what it is, we could probably use another World War 2 movie that actually mentions The Holocaust; especially with what we’re learning about full US citizens in Texas being denied passports due to the color of their skin which is hardly a far cry from what happened to German Jews as the Nazi party was taking over.  Does this mean that we have a fantastic film on our hands right at the start of Oscar season (I’m pretty sure I’ve been saying that for like a month now), or is this a disappointing retread of far better movies that have come before?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is a dramatization of the capture of Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) in Argentina by Israeli spies, which I don’t THINK was actually named Operation Finale, but for the purposes of this film that’s what they’re going with.  If you don’t know already, Eichmann was one of Hitler’s top official who basically orchestrated The Final Solution; organizing the prisoners, making sure the trains run on time, and ensuring there’s enough gas, bullets, and graves to go around so that the genocide of millions can be done as efficiently as possible.  Needless to say he’s not a nice dude, and our head spy Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) can’t wait to bring him to justice, even though he’s a loose cannon that messed up his last mission, but darn it!  He’s the best they’ve got!  The mission itself is fairly simple where Peter and a few members of his team will snatch the guy, drive him back to the safe house, and have their anesthetic specialist Hanna (Mélanie Laurent) put him to sleep so they can sneak him past Argentinian airport security and put him on a plane back to Israel to stand trial for his crimes against humanity.  Things go FAIRLY well at first, but problems start to build up and they team is basically stuck with a Nazi jerk in a house located in what seems to be the epicenter of Nazi activity in Argentina, and a rather long time to wait until they get a proper escape plan in place once the initial one goes up in smoke.  Can everyone who’s stuck in that house keep their heads down long enough for them to escape with their a Nazi war criminal AND their lives?  What will Peter do when he’s finally alone with the man responsible for not just millions of deaths, but the deaths of people very close to him whose faces still haunt him to this day?  Is it just me, or has Oscar Isaac been fighting A LOT of fascists?

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“Space Nazis.  German Nazis.  They all have one thing in common; very punchable faces.”

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Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (Glass Eyes)

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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 Toodle Day Part 2 as Tim & Eric have come up with ANOTHER wacky local holiday for the denizens of Jefferton to distract themselves with between the constant onslaught of disasters that Tom and The Mayor cause on a near weekly basis!  The episode begins with Tom going to The Mayor with yet another as per usual, and yet something seems different this time.  The Mayor picks up on it on it to and starts jabbing Tom in the eye with a giant stick; presumably because he sees Tom as some sort of threat that must be stopped, but luckily for Tom the SOMETHING DIFFERENT turns out to be one of his eyes which has been replace with one made of glass.  Apparently he lost it while playing with his step-children which I can absolutely see happening considering this guy’s luck, but I am surprised that his terrible insurance policy seems to have scrounged up enough money to put something into the socket, especially considering prosthetic eyes nowadays cost about two grand.  Who knows, maybe he bought it used or found it lying in the parking lot.

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“It’s just me.  Tom Peters.”     “I know exactly who you are, Tom.”     *JAB*  *JAB*  *JAB*

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Cinema Dispatch: The Happytime Murders

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

Directed by Brian Henson

Well the day has finally arrived!  After a decade of production hell, Brian Henson has FINALLY completed his dream project and is ready to show it to the world!  I’m excited to say the least, especially after they released the trailer and I started looking into Henson Alternative which is the offshoot of the Henson Company that’s responsible for bringing this to life, and sure some of their productions have been less than stellar, but this premise is just too great of an idea to NOT want to see get made!  I rarely get this excited for a movie as I usually try not to get too hyped for stuff that I’ll end up reviewing (I’m also VERY good at living under a rock so a lot of movie do sneak up on me), but for this one I have very high hopes that we’ll get something unique if nothing else.  Does this manage to exceed my expectations and is one of the best action comedies this year, or was this yet another pet project that should have never seen the light of day?  Let’s find out!!

Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is a private eye working in Los Angeles who not only used to be a cop but was the very first puppet cop in the city.  However, after… THE INCIDENT… that ousted him from the force, he’s been making ends meet digging up other people’s dirty laundry.  May not be the most noble of professions, but it keeps a roof over his head, a steady paycheck for his assistant Bubbles (Maya Rudolph), and a well-stocked shelf of booze.  Content with his sad life, Phil never expected that his latest client Sandra White (Dorien Davies) to be the one that changes it all forever.  Well sort of.  While investigating a blackmail letter that Miss White received, Phil stumbles upon a bunch of dead puppets; one of whom was a cast member of a famous puppet TV show known as The Happytime Gang.  Things get even worse for Phil once his former partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) is put on the case, and Phil eventually finds his way towards investigating it himself when more Happytime Gang bodies start piling up; especially since his brother Larry (Victor Yerrid) was one of the cast members as well as Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), the woman he loved.  Can Phil and Connie put aside their differences regarding… THE INCIDENT… in order to solve this case and save the lives of the remaining Happytime Gang?  What could possibly be motivating such killings, and could it have something to do with Phil himself?  Can we get Best Achievement in Puppets category for the Oscars?  I feel like this should win SOMETHING, and if we’re making up new awards anyway!

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“If Suicide Squad gets one, you bet your blue butt I’m gonna get one too.”     “Why are you putting your sunglasses on?  We’re going inside that building.”    “Don’t ruin this for me…”

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Cinema Dispatch: A.X.L.

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A.X.L. and all the images you see in this review are owned by Global Road Entertainment

Directed by Oliver Daly

So I guess we somehow needed more than one A BOY AND HIS DOG movie this month?  I mean after the monotony we got with Alpha, I guess we could use one that’s ACTUALLY good all the way through, but I get the feeling that this one isn’t gonna be it.  Like Alpha, I remember seeing this here and there for the past few months, but there’s been almost no marketing push for it and what little we see in the trailers isn’t really doing much to sell me or seemingly most people on this movie.  That said, a film’s marketing is not ultimately a determination on how good the movie will be (Alpha had a HORRENDOUS trailer with awful voice over), so maybe this one will be a surprise!  Yeah, probably not considering we’re getting this in late August, but let’s find out!!

The movie begins with typical… teenager?  Twenty something?  I don’t know, YOUNG ADULT Miles (Alex Neustaedter) who is an amateur motocross rider hoping to make it to the big leagues so he doesn’t have to go to school and can live off sponsorship bucks!  Okay… well he certainly has the talent but he’s lacking the equipment to REALLY give him the edge (and by edge I mean his bike will stop falling apart while he’s riding it) unlike a fellow… biker?  Yeah, let’s go with biker, named Sam (Alex MacNicoll) who’s got a rich dad and seems to take a liking to Miles.  On top of that he has a… friend?  Yeah, let’s go with friend, named Sara (Becky G) who basically HAS to keep in Sam’s good graces considering her mother is their housekeeper and they live in the pool house out back.  All this seems rather awkward to be sure, but somehow Miles manages to get the attention of Sara which doesn’t sit well with Sam, and so he “pranks” miles by… having him crash his bike and leaving him for dead.  Okay… well this turns out to be a GREAT thing because Sam manages to find a robot dog in the… junkyard?  Yeah, let’s go with junkyard, that’s right next to where Sam left him.  Not just ANY robot dog though!  A giant military grade beauty named A-X-L who escaped from the SCIENCE LAB where he was being developed.  The two start to build a bond and Sara gets caught up in this as well, but the EVIL SCIENTISTS (Dominic Rains and Lou Taylor Pucci) are determined to get their dog back by any means necessary, and if Miles has forged such a close connection to A-X-L so that he functions better now than he ever has before, well I guess they’ll just have to take him too!  Can Miles and Sara find a way to not only protect A-X-L from the EVIL SCIENTISTS, but also teach him to be a good dog instead of a military grade MURDER MACHINE?  Will anyone be able to understand this mechanical monstrosity with razor sharp teeth, or is he too dangerous to be kept in polite company?  Is there any chance that there are BETTER movies loaded onto its hard drive that we could watch instead?

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“WHOA!  Infinity War Part 2!?  Good dog!!”

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #8

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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 episode of Inglourious Hedgehogs, and now that Sonic knows who’s been behind the revival of the Eggman Army, can he and his fellow resistance fighters stop him before it’s too late?  More importantly, will Sonic get his robot scalps!?  Let’s find out!!  The issue begins with Sonic infiltrating yet another abandoned Eggman facility in the hopes of stealing some of the Not So Good Doctor’s old plans to hopefully get an insight into what Neo Metal Sonic is planning since it was revealed in the last issue that not only is he in control of the Eggman Army, he is also trying to carry on with this as if he was Eggman; going so far as to imitate his appearance from time to time.  Well I guess this is a decent plan at first glance, but haven’t these facilities been raided like a dozen times already?  Heck, I’m pretty sure The Chaotix swept through them all like three issues ago!  You’re telling me NO ONE thought to back up the hard drives while they were there!?  These are questions I’m sure will be answered at some point (snark), but for now Sonic is making his way through whichever facility this is and manages to meet another classic Sonic Character along the way (snark); namely Silver the Hedgehog!  Now if you don’t know, this guy is from the LEAST GOOD Sonic Game, Sonic 06, and was an irritating little twerp from THE FUTURE who took himself WAY too seriously and really screwed up Blaze’s continuity in the process.  The writers seem to be aware of this however because he’s actually got a much more relaxed and even jolly demeanor in this issue than he ever had doing his Trunks from DBZ impression back in Sonic 06; especially when it becomes clear that the duo are not alone and are being helped by someone that Silver might just know about.

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“YOU THINK SHE’LL GIVE ME AN AUTOGRAPH!?”     “If you’re lucky, she might write it in the blood of our enemies.”     “WOW, REALLY!?”

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Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (Couple’s Therapy)

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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 Mad About Tom, and while his wife Joy may be mad about him in one definition of the word, she’s certainly not mad about him in the more flattering version of that idiom.  What did he do this time?  Well let’s find out!!  The episode begins not with the familiar Tom Goes to the Mayor theme, but instead with a Public Service Announcement regarding an issue that is near and dear to all of our hearts.  Keeping Janeane Garofalo employed!  Okay, not that, but Janeane Garofalo IS in the PSA to deliver a message about endangered Oil Turtles.  As it turns out, Jefferton’s efforts to clean their man-made lake have in fact been a detriment to the wellbeing of Oil Turtles who need pollution to survive.  This is all sounding a bit fishy, but Janeane seems sure that the solution is to dump more oil into the lake, and The Mayor agrees as we pull the camera back and realize that we were in his office the whole time!  MAYOR SHOCK!!  Okay, that’s probably not worth a MAYOR SHOCK, but it does mean we can jump right into the Tom going to The Mayor part of Tom Goes to the Mayor as we see our hapless hero come by with some rather disturbing news.  Apparently Jefferton’s power company put a giant electrical tower right in the middle of Tom’s yard which has caused a few fires already as well as the fact that his step sons are developing giant tumors because of it.  It’s actually a bit of an urban legend that power lines can cause cancer, but really there hasn’t been any studies that confirm the kind of electromagnetic fields they produce (non-ionizing) that can link it to cancer, so I’m guessing it’s less a power line and more of a Hell Machine that The Mayor is DISGUISING as a power line, and I’m pretty sure its function is to do nothing BUT give people cancer.

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“You know, Brenden is hearing voices and Joy has been vomiting pea soup.  I just think that the TIMING is a bit curious.”     “Well Tom, I’m glad to have your input all I see is an un-American whiner who wants to halt the progress of this great town.”     “Oh.  Well… I guess I can’t argue with that reasoning.  My apologies.”     “It’s okay Tom.  I forgive you.  Just don’t let it happen again.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Alpha

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

Directed by Albert Hughes

Wait, didn’t this movie come out like four months ago?  I feel like I’ve been seeing the poster for this for like a year now and it just passed me by somehow like The Founder, Gotti, and that Amityville thing they ended up giving away for free.  For whatever reason this was just in the background for way too long for me to reasonably expect to ACTUALLY see it (especially considering I never even got a trailer for it despite seeing posters every once in a while), but I guess Crazy Rich Asians needed SOMETHING to trounce this weekend, so we’ve got this one out there to presumably make a quick buck for a weekend or two before slinking off to be forgotten.  Okay, maybe that’s being a bit too harsh as the release schedule of a movie is hardly the best barometer for a film’s quality, and what little I know about this movie sounds… okay.  I guess.  Anyway, does this coming of age story about a boy and his wolf turn out to be the perfect blockbuster to cap off the season, or is the auspicious timing of its release a huge sign that you should stay very far away?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of the boy Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and the wolf Alpha (a Czechoslovakian Vlca known as Chuck) who run into each other under… shall we say STRAINED circumstances.  You see the year is 17,982 BC (twenty thousand years ago as a subtitle informs us) and, Keda is a bit of a wussy whose dad (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) is the chief of his tribe and wants to get the wussy out of him before his wussiness gets the best of him.  In order to de-wuss-ify the boy, he takes him on THE HUNT where they… I don’t know, hunt animals that are VERY far away in order to drag their rotting corpses back to the village and store for winter; presumably before the flies and maggots take ALL the good meat.  Anyway, Keda The Wussy manages to get himself gored by a prehistoric buffalo and falls down to his presumed death; having never learned how to truly stop being a wussy.  A tragedy for all involved, but the good news is that Keda somehow manages to survive his near certain death; albeit a little bit worse for wear.  The bad news?  Well the hunting crew has already gone back and so Keda has to travel all by himself back to the village which SEEMS to be hundreds of miles away.  Again, seems like a pretty far way to go to get meat, but either way Keda has to find a way to get there before it starts snowing.  Then he’s REALLY in trouble!  But I know what you all are asking!  WHAT ABOUT THAT SUPER ADORABLE WOLF!?  It tries to eat Keda early on and gets injured in the process, but Keda decides to help the poor creature with sharp fangs and they eventually grow to be friends which makes it just a little bit more plausible for Keda to survive his journey.  What does the wolf get out of this?  I don’t know, table scraps?  Does Keda have what it takes to survive such a harsh environment while also learning to stop being a wussy?  Does the wolf truly care for Keda, or is it simply following him around so he can get at his precious meat when he drops dead of exposure?

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“In exchange for this half eaten rabbit, you promise not to eat me.  Deal?”     “Grr…”     “I’ll take that as a maybe!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Crazy Rich Asians

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Crazy Rich Asians and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Jon M Chu

Do you remember the last time an Asian man or an Asian women were the protagonist or even the romantic interest in a Romantic Comedy?  The last one I can think of was Hayden Szeto in The Edge of Seventeen, and even then the role was rather tertiary.  Thankfully we have the director of Jem and the Holograms (ugh…) making a movie that not only centers Asian actors in the leading roles, but is filled to the brim with Asian actors the same way… well ninety-four percent of films are with white actors.  Does this Romantic Comedy turn out to be one of the better examples of the genre on top of being a huge boon for representation in Hollywood, or is this a great opportunity that is ultimately squandered by a less than stellar outing from Jon M Chu?  Let’s find out!!

Rachel and Nick (Constance Wu and Henry Golding) have been going out for some time now and are enjoying their pretty average life in New York City with her being a College Professor of Economics and him… actually I’m not sure what he does, but they’re just great together and Rachel couldn’t be happier!  All that changes however when Nick tells her that his best friend Colin (Chris Pang) is getting married in Singapore, which is where his family JUST SO HAPPENS to live, and that it’d be great if she would go with him.  On top of that, Rachel’s college friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) lives in Singapore too and she’s been meaning to visit, so why the heck not?  It’d be nice to meet his family, right?  WRONG!!  As it turns out, Nick is SUPER rich and comes from a wealthy as heck family which comes as a surprise for Rachel, so now she has to deal with Rich People Problems and being looking down upon for being a lowly… professor.  Hey, when you’re as rich as Nick’s family is, being a professor might as well earn you minimum wage!  And so Rachel’s vacation/torture begins as she gets to experience the opulence of Nick’s life while also fending off his controlling mother (Michelle Yeoh), a jealous ex-girlfriend (Jing Lusi), and anything else this new world wants to throw at her!  Will she be able to make it through the weekend with her mental health and dignity in tact?  What does it mean for her relationship with Nick if this is the family that she’d be a part of?  How the heck did the guy behind Jem and the Holograms turn out to be THIS talented!?  Why did that even happen if he’s capable of doing something like this!?

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Why didn’t he cast THESE two to play Jerrica and Rio!?

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Cinema Dispatch: The Meg

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

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Jason Statham has fought criminals, terrorists, rednecks, and even Vin Diesel, but can he face his greatest challenge of all?  No, not the shark!  Headlining a hundred million dollar international blockbuster ABOUT a shark!  Heck, even Dwayne Johnson has had some stumbles in that department!  If you think about it, the man is a household name at this point with a huge back catalog of classic action films, yet he’s never really been THE A-LIST STAR his reputation would lead you to believe he has.  Sure he’s in a few franchise that made boatloads of money (Fast and the Furious, The Expendables), but those were always in supporting roles.  The times that HAS headlined a movie, even PHENOMENAL ones like Crank: High Voltage, have never really been the biggest of box office draws; especially in today’s climate where a hundred million dollars can be considered a disappointment.  Now he’s front and center trying to sell himself on the biggest stage of his life; sharing it of course with Chinese superstar Li Bingbing and a giant freaking shark, but still!  Can Statham and company manage to make a classic blockbuster that will catapult him and everyone else here to superstar status, or will this be the biggest shark jumping moment in this new age of giant international blockbusters?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where there is a research facility called Mana One that is being financed by “eccentric billionaire” Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) and is run by Dr. Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing).  The big theory they’re working on is that there may be a place in the ocean EVEN DEEPER than the Mariana Trench which is undetectable by radar for… some reason (something having to do with it being SUPER cold down there) and so they have a manned submarine diving down there to see what they find.  Of course things go wrong almost as soon as they get past the cold patch, and so someone needs to go down there to save them, and as it turns out they know JUST the guy for the job!  Jonas (Jason Statham) is not only the best darn rescue diver of all time, his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is one of the crew members stuck down there so of COURSE he ends up coming aboard Mana One despite being a grumpy drunk ever since… the incident.  Despite protestations from one of Mana One’s crew (Robert Taylor) due to… the incident, Jonas grabs a super science sub and dive ALL the way down to where the submarine was lost.  He manages to find it, but there’s something else down there waiting for them, and it’s sure no moon!  No, it’s a GIANT FREAKING SHARK (also known as a MEGalodon) that doesn’t take too kindly to weird metal boxes encroaching on his territory, and while Statham is able to save MOST of the sub crew, it turns out that THE MEG managed to follow them home and is wreaking havoc all over the Pacific.  Can Statham and the elite crew of Mana One, including Mac, Jaxx, and DJ (Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, and Page Kennedy), find a way to stop this massive creature before it kills everything!?  What exactly does Jack Morris have planned for this newly discovered monster, and is it in the best interest of everyone involved?  Seriously, considering how big this shark is, maybe we should just bite the bullet and call in Godzilla.

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“A glass wall!?  CURSES!!  MY ONE WEAKNESS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Slender Man

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Slender Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Sylvain White

I mean we’re already getting a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie with Christopher Columbus of all people putting their weight behind it.  Why WOULDN’T there be even more horror movies based on memes?  I fully expect someone to announce an Until Dawn or a Layers of Fear television series by the end of this week if this movie manages to make its budget back, but dubious starting points aside there are PLENTY of horror movies out there that have ridiculous premises yet still manage to be either genuinely chilling or a lot of fun to sit through.  Can the Slender Man mythos manage to make for an entertaining feature film, or was this story best left on the internet to fade into further obscurity?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with a group of friends Wren, Hallie, Chloe, and Katie (Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, and Annalise Basso) who have a sleepover one night and decide to look up this whole “Slender Man” thing, whatever that is!  They manage to find their way to a video (presumably right next to the one from The Ring) where they follow the instructions in it and then… nothing happens.  Well nothing happens at first, but they start to have nightmares about the dapper monster and Katie even seems to be engaging with the mythos on their own until they eventually disappear during a school field trip.  Wren, Hallie, and Chloe, eventually find her laptop and see all the Slender Man related things she was looking into including some sort of ritual that should supposedly bring her back if they follow the steps correctly.  Of course they mess it up and under Demon/Human contract law, if you make a mistake, that’s your ass!  And so the three of them are slowly but surely either driven mad by the creature or just taken away as he seems to have the ability to do whatever he wants with no real way for them to stop him, and he even starts to look towards some new victims that only makes it that much more urgent that they find a way to either stop him or at least appease him enough to have him decide to stop on his own.  Can the girls survive this onslaught of psychological horror and monster attacks to discover the secrets of what this creature really is?  What is it that Slender Man is after, and is there a way to give him what he wants before he takes everything from him?  Did anyone check to see if he was just mad about the script?  If I was him, I’d be doing this just because of how awful the script is.

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“WHO THE HECK TOOK ALL OF MY SCREEN TIME!?”

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