Cinema Dispatch: Happy Death Day 2U

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Happy Death Day 2U and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher Landon

Man, I’ve been sitting on this one for almost two weeks.  I don’t know what happened!  Even though I saw it right when it was released a bunch of movies came out and this went on the back burner!  It certainly had a lot to live up to considering that the first movie was one of my favorite films of 2017; not to mention that a sequel seemed like the worst idea ever as the first movie felt so complete in its story.  Bill Murray never made Groundhog’s Day 2, and probably for the same reason he never did a Ghostbusters 3; it would have been a terrible idea!  ANYWAY, before I say something that’ll REALLY tick people off, does this pointless sequel manage to justify its own existence, or are we doomed to yet another brilliant movie made to churn out sequels until you forgot why you liked the darn thing in the first place!?  Let’s find out!!

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) having discovered who it was that was trying to kill her and closing the time loop that put her in a Groundhog’s day scenario is living the good life!  She woke up and it was a different day, and that guy Carter (Israel Boussard) who helped her out all those times but has no memory of it is making out with her!  Yup, it looks like easy street for Ol’ Gelbman!  Oh wait!  Carter’s roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) seems to be stuck in a time loop of his own!  How did THAT happen?  Hm… maybe it has to do with quantum reactor that Ryan and his two classmates (Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin) have been working on!  Wait, what?  So all this time, it was a giant science thingy in the basement that somehow made Tree relive that day over and over again?  Huh.  Well okay then!  So that mystery that didn’t need solving is now solved, but what ISN’T solved is why things are still acting up in the space time continuum after she managed to close the loop?  Well before she can find out, things get a LITTLE bit out of control and the quantum thingy… explodes I guess, and puts Tree back into her original loop.  OR DID IT!?  It turns out that she’s not just back reliving Monday the eighteenth over and over again; she’s doing it in a parallel universe where things are significantly different in ways that Tree is gonna have to discover the hard way!  Can Tree and the science squad manage to figure out how to work the darn machine and send her back to her own universe?  Will this universe actually have something in it that Tree desperately needs, and will she give up her old life to live here?  If the killer from the first movie isn’t the killer in THIS universe, then who IS the killer!?

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“OLD MAN BLUMHOUSE!?”     “That’s right!  I wanted to make horror movies even cheaper so I just started stabbing teenagers myself!  And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for SAG-AFTRA regulations!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Fighting with My Family

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Fighting with My Family and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Stephen Merchant

There really should be more wrestling movies!  Not movies starring wrestlers because… well after forty years we’ve managed about three good actors out of it, but movies ABOUT wrestling!  Beyond the Mat?  Good documentary!  The Wrestler?  Great movie!  With those two examples, I rest my case!  In the hopes of rectifying this situation, we’ve got WWE Studios along with Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson producing a biopic of sorts that tells the life story of one of its more recent superstars Saraya-Jade Bevis, known by her ring name Paige!  Can the combined efforts of The WWE, Dwayneson The Rockson Johnson, and even the talents of Stephen Merchant who they roped in to write and direct this thing, bring us an entertaining and heartfelt movie about one of the world’s most popular sports, or are we in for another low rent outing from the studio known for mediocre horror movies, straight to DVD action flicks, and Hannah-Barbara crossovers?  Let’s find out!!

Saraya (Florence Pugh) is your typical teenager girl in your typical wrestling family.  Her parents (Nick Frost and Lena Headey) have trained her to be an in-ring superstar and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) is training to be a superstar in his own right.  The family owns a rather notable indie wrestling promotion in England known as the World Association of Wrestling, but even with their comparatively high profile as a company they’re still struggling in a country that doesn’t seem to care much for independent wrestling promotions.  That’s why Saraya and Zak have been training in the hopes of getting the attention of the WWE which will not only propel them to the levels of fame and adulation that they’ve always wanted but will also give them a few bucks to send back home whenever WAW ticket sales fall short.  Their chance does eventually come when the WWE and NXT (the training program for potential wrestlers) visit England to put on a show and field some new talent; all of whom will be tested by one of their most seasoned trainers (Vince Vaughn) to see if they have what it takes.  The good news is that Saraya does indeed have what it takes!  The bad news is that Zak does not and so she has to leave her family behind to pursue her dreams while has to stay behind and fail to live out his.  Can Saraya survive the harsh challenges of the NXT boot camp and keep her head on straight despite being so far from home?  What will Zak do now that he’s failed at the one thing he’s been training his whole life for?  How intense do family dinners get when you know everyone there can power bomb you into the mashed potatoes?

 

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“All I’m saying is that Halloween Havoc isn’t as bad as people say it is.”     “What about the flash paper!?”     “WHAT IF I STAB THESE CHOPSTICKS IN YOUR EYES AND SHOVE EGGROLLS DOWN YOUR THROAT!?”     “Honey, I think we should probably have this discussion elsewhere.  THE LIVING ROOM IN FIVE MINUTES!!  IT’LL ALL BE SETTLED ONCE AND FOR ALL!!”

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #13

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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 a brand new issue of the brand new Sonic comic!  A bit late to be sure, but I’m gonna go ahead and blame that on this being the thirteenth issue… and the fact that I’m SUPER behind on everything else I’ve got going on.  ANYWAY!  Now that Eggman is back in business and ready to take over the world once again, what will his opening salvo be, and will Sonic and crew be prepared for what happens next?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with a quick recap of the status quo since the last arc ended.  Amy is running The Resistance which has been rebranded as The Restoration (thankfully they didn’t go with The Reconstruction), Knuckles is watching guard on Angel Island which he SHOULD have been doing this whole time, and for some reason they want us to know that Silver is still out there looking for whatever it is that may be threatening THE FUTURE, so chances are he’s gonna play a role in this story later on.  Oh, but what about our dear pal Sonic?  What’s HE been up to since saving the world!?  Well instead of doing something IMPORTANT like seeing if Mr. Tinker is still where he left him or possibly checking into what Metal Sonic is up to, he’s just chillaxing on a beach.  I mean sure, down time is necessary for mental health, but considering what he just went through the LAST time they assumed Eggman was gone for good (if you recall, the series started after the supposed death of the guy) it might be prudent to take a few preventative measures as well.  Heck!  If nothing else, make sure that the guys you captured back in issue 3 are STILL in Resistance/Restoration custody!  Oh, whatever!  I’m sure there’s no extraordinary evil schemes underway that are gonna blow up in his face any minute now, right!?

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“I’m probably gonna get blamed for this, but whatever.  I’ll fix it just like I fix EVERYTHING ELSE that goes wrong around here…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Alita: Battle Angel

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Alita: Battle Angel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Man, I don’t know the first thing about this series!  Every time you find out about ONE legendary anime that defined the genre, there pops up another dozen or so that you need to catch up on as well, and I’m a busy guy!  I don’t have time to catch up with the stuff I already need to; let alone this one that I’m only now aware of because the movie is coming out!  Speaking of which, wasn’t this supposed to come out like a year ago?  Granted, the amount of CG on display here is staggering and I can see even the SLIGHTEST hitch in post-production causing massive delays, but being a February burn off instead of summer blockbuster or even winding up in the post-summer slowdown period seems like a bad sign.  I don’t know, this is clearly one of those movies that have SO much passion and resources behind them that it can either be a total masterpiece or a hilarious disaster with almost no chance for landing in-between.  Are we talking Mad Max: Fury Road, or Battlefield Earth?  In either case, we should strap in just to be on the safe side!  Let’s find out!!

IN THE YEAR THREE THOUSAND (or some other far off date), the world has basically been reduced to two major cities, Iron City below and the sky city of Zalem above, after the devastation of THE FALL which was a big war hundreds of years ago.  Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is a robo-doctor (as in he fixes robots; not that he is himself a robotic doctor) who scavenges through the trash tossed down by Zalem for useable parts to keep his clinic open for those in need, but one day he finds far more than eh could have ever imagined!  He finds the remnants of some kind of robot which he takes home and learns has a human brain as well as some other unique parts which he attaches to a spare robo-body he had lying around and brings her back to life; giving her the name Alita which no doubt has some significance we’ll learn about later on in the movie.  Alita 9Rosa Salazar) has no memory of who she was before being tossed in the garbage which is sad to be sure, but the local badboy Hugo (Keean Johnson) as well as the totally rad sport of Motorball at least help to pass the time as she tries to find answers to her past.  Well needless to say as the movie goes along, we find answers to more and more of these questions which lead to Alita being put in more and more danger as others discover who she is as well.  Primarily, she starts getting pursued by the local kingpin Vector (Mahershala Ali) who has connections to everyone in town; including Dr. Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) who is helping him in exchange for a chance to reach the shiny city in the sky.  Along the way she’ll make friends, encounter enemies, and even have to deal with insufferable douchebags like the robo-bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) who coincidentally seems to hold yet another piece to Alita’s past.  Can Alita survive long enough in this harsh world to learn who she really is?  Just how powerful is she, and how far will she go to protect those she cares about?  Wait, so if she was built to be an ULTIMATE WARRIOR, why did they give her the brain of a teenager!?

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“I know Kung-Fu!”     “Fine, but make sure you know the source of the program before you install it into your robo-hard drive.”     “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!  YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: What Men Want

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What Men Want and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Adam Shankman

Despite its connection to a notably popular movie, I hadn’t heard a lot about this film until it finally decided to come out like a week ago.  Sure, I knew that they were making it and that the film was going to be gender flipped, but beyond that this is yet another film that completely flew under the radar for me which now that I think of it PROBABLY makes some amount of sense as it would have had to of been marketed in the last few months; i.e. Oscar season followed by a very crappy January for me.  So is this movie a hidden gem that I just didn’t give the time of day until it was staring me right in the face, or did this movie actually get shunted down the release schedule priority list to quietly slink away after a hopefully decent opening weekend?  Let’s find out!!

Ali Davis (Taraji P Henson) is a sports agent working out of Atlanta and is one of the rock star employees at her… firm?  Is that the right word?  Anyway, she consistently does great work for the company but FOR SOME REASON keeps getting looked over when it’s time to promote someone to partner, but she isn’t afraid of uphill battles gosh darn it!  If a woman has to work twice as hard to get half the credit, well she’s just gonna work TEN times as hard!  Her goal is to hire this up and coming hot shot basketball player named Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie) who could be big for the firm but has a very demanding father Joe ‘Dolla’ Barry (Tracy Morgan) who is demanding and demeaning at almost every turn and making life a living heck for Ali.  Clearly she needs to relax and perhaps learn to get into the mind of men instead of just trying to compete with them, which fittingly enough would make her compete with them better!  Good thing she’s got a bachelorette party to go to where there JUST SO HAPPENS to be a psychic with magic tea that will let her hear men’s thoughts!  Well it was either that or the crushing blow to the head she received later that night, but the point is that she wakes up the next morning and is able to hear the thoughts of all the men around her; including her assistant Brandon (Josh Brener) who is the only person she’s willing to confide in regarding this new power.  At first it seems like a curse but now that she can get into Joe and Jamal’s head to find out what they really want; not to mention the men in her office who have been quietly scheming against her from day one.  Will Ali be able to close this deal and finally get the job she’s always deserved?  Just how far will she go to succeed, and how many people will she have to hurt along the way while using these new abilities?  You’d think there’d be a lot more dudes singing random songs in the movie, but I guess you’d then have to license them all.

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“Really?  Nothing but Ninja Sex Party songs going on up there?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Prodigy

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The Prodigy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Orion Pictures

Directed by Nicholas McCarthy

You know, now that I think about it… I’m a lot more receptive to EVIL KID movies than I would have initially thought!  Sure you’ve got the classics like The Exorcist and The Omen, but I still maintain that The Boy is a pretty excellent horror film and I even enjoyed The Devil’s Due as ridiculous as it was!  Now clearly this movie is trying to ride the horror trend that was set by The Babdook and then buried into the ground by Hereditary, and not only is this obvious from the poster that’s blatantly ripping off the latter, you can see from the trailers that this is the horror film that has AMBITIONS!  The kind of horror film that’s at least shot like something you’re supposed to take seriously, so maybe we have something GREAT on our hands!  Oh wait; it’s a horror film in February.  Let’s uh… dial back those expectations, even if I’m STILL pretty sure I’ll like this more than Hereditary.  Is this the kind of horror film that’ll make the earlier parts of the year that much easier to get through, or is just another bump in the road as we try desperately to make it to the first Marvel film of the year?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with… well a lot of stuff happening.  Sarah (Taylor Schlling) and John (Peter Mooney) are about to give birth on the night that a woman named Margaret (Brittany Allen) manages to escape from a serial killer on the other side of town.  The good news is that she escapes and makes to someone who calls the cops for her.  The bad news is that she didn’t QUITE get away scot-free as the killer managed to take one of her hands before she escaped.  Said killer by the way, Edward Scarka (Paul Fauteux), finds out that Margaret escaped and does the only thing he CAN do in that situation!  Run out the front door naked and screaming until the cops shoot him dead!  At the same time this is going on, Sarah has given birth to her son Miles and I’m SURE these two events won’t connect in some fashion!  Anyway, we cut to several years later where Miles has grown to be a super smart yet social awkward eight year old (Jackson Robert Scott) and seems to be exhibiting more and more behavioral issues as the days go by.  He attacks one of his classmates at the super fancy school, he starts saying inappropriate things to his parents, and he even starts to act like a total creeper which is freaking his parents out and each day the fear more and more what he is truly capable of.  Is there something wrong with Miles that can be fixed with counseling and well-regulated medication, or will this problem call for more… unorthodox solutions?  Will Sarah go to any lengths imaginable, and even some unimaginable, in order to protect her son even if he IS acting like a total jerk?  Is it just me, or is this kid trying out to be the next Hannibal Lecter?

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“Tell me about the lambs, Clarice.”     “Geez, you’re parents let you watch THAT movie?  No wonder you need help.”

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Cinema Dispatch: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

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The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Everyone loved The LEGO movie, right!?  And then most people loved LEGO Batman, right!?  And then LEGO Ninjago was… okay, right?  Well now it’s time for the return of the one that started it all and it’ll be JUST as good as the original… right?  Sigh… okay, so the trailers for this film haven’t filled me with a whole lot of confidence that it’ll be on the same level as the original film.  It looks FINE if nothing else, but this is THE LEGO MOVIE!  We don’t just want fine, we want PHENOMENAL!  Then again, maybe that’s putting too much pressure on this film which doesn’t have the benefit of being such an out of the blue surprise, and while the trailers aren’t inspiring me with a lot of hope, maybe they’ll find a new angle to take it in that’ll make up for not being able to put the genie back in the bottle!  Can this sequel be Justas good if not better than the first film, or has the LEGO phenomenon finally run its course?  Let’s find out!!

Immediately following the events of the first movie, the Duplo aliens of the Systar System have waged an all-out war with the people of LEGO city for five whole years and have left it a Mad Max style barren wasteland with no more bright and shiny blocks.  ONLY DARKNESS AND NO PARENTS!!  Well except for Emmet (Chris Pratt) whose upbeat attitude cannot be damped even in the face of utter annihilation!  That turns out to be a problem though as the nice house he built has attracted the Duplos once again and now they’ve taken all his friends from the first movie which includes Lucy AKA Wyldstyle, Batman, Benny, Princess Unikitty, and MetalBeard (Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, and Nick Offerman) back to their home planet for their own nefarious purposes that we soon learn to be a shotgun wedding between Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi of the Systar System (Tiffany Haddish) and a very reluctant Batman.  Clearly something has to be done to save them, but the only one of the LEGO people willing to take the chance is Emmet who haphazardly travels through… space I guess, to find them.  Along the way he is saved from an asteroid field by the dashing rouge Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt) and his army of super smart velociraptors who agree to help Emmet on his journey to defeat the girly Systar invaders because being a TOUGH GUY means punching things that are pink and frilly!  Can Emmet save his friends from Systar invaders who want to brainwash all of his friends and put Batman through a forced marriage!?  Can Lucy escape from the Queen Watevra’s cunning grasp, and does she know something about this place that she isn’t telling the others?  Is it just me, or did things get REALLY complicated for a movie about plastic toys?

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“WHY DO WE KEEP RUNNING WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE WE NEVER GET ANYWHERE!?”     “WELL IT’S BEEN WORKING FOR US SO FAR!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: On the Basis of Sex

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On the Basis of Sex and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by Mimi Leder

Wait, didn’t we get this movie last year?  Oh right!  That was a documentary!  Well I guess since we got that we need a fictionalized version of the story to make a double feature out of, but at the very least this IS an individual whose story is worth getting the BIG HOLLYWOOD treatment and it’s not like we couldn’t use a GOOD biopic to balance the scales after last year’s big mistake.  Look, it was a pretty rough start to the year and the movies haven’t been doing much for me, so maybe the inspirational story of one of America’s most celebrated judicial figures could help me get out of this poor mood!  Or it could be another disappointment in a year that seems all too willing to hand those out left and right; especially since this was originally screened in 2018 but got pushed back into the 2109 dead zone for the rest of us.  In any case, let’s find out!!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) has had to deal with quite a lot in her life!  She managed to go to Harvard at a time when few women were able to, and got her law degree there as well as at Columbia; all the while taking care of her daughter as well as her husband Martin Ginsburg (Armie Hammer) who had some serious health issues while they were in school.  It was all worth it though because now they both have their law degrees and they can live out their dreams of being lawyers!  At least that’s the plan as Ruth, who managed to navigate the harsh male dominated world of academia, still hasn’t managed to land a job in the harsh male dominated world of law firms.  Oh well.  At least she got a teaching job which she excelled at for quite a few years, but one day Martin comes across a case that may just be the one the two of them have been looking for.  You see, they became lawyers because they wanted to do good in this world and fight for equality, and one of the things that has always a bugbear of theirs is how Men and Women are defined differently under the law and are therefore treated differently like in regards to workers’ rights and inherence.  The case that Martin found though is an instance where the laws negatively affect a man because Charles Moritz (Chris Mulkey) cannot claim a tax credit despite meeting all the qualifications for it… except for the fact that he is a male bachelor.  I know, it sounds UTTERLY RIVETING to hear people talk about tax laws, but this is the kind of thing that can really take a pickaxe to the existing status quo and a ruling in Charles’s favor could be the rallying point for other similar laws to be overturned!  With the case of a lifetime in their laps, the Ginsburgs begin to work the case with the help of the ACLU run by Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux) as well as a personal hero of Ruth’s Dorothy Kenyon (Kathy Bates) who’s resistant at first due to a lifetime of learned cynicism, but might just be willing to give them the push they need to be taken seriously.  Can Ruth and Martin successfully overturn this law and get Charles that sought after tax credit?  What kind of resistance will they face from the government that has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are?   FOOLISH MORTALS!  NO ONE CAN STOP THE RBG!!

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Really Badass Gal?  YOU DECIDE!!

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog 19-20

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Sonic the Hedgehog and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Archie Comics and Sega of America

Boy it’s been a while, hasn’t it?  What with the NEW Sonic the Hedgehog comics coming out, I haven’t had much time to look back at the series that started it all!  That changes right now (at least for the time being) as we’ve got two more issues of the Archie series to look at!  With the new books fresh in my mind, how do these classic issues compare with what we’ve been getting recently?  Let’s find out!!

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Issue 19 (February 1995)

Now this one’s a bit of a doozy as it’s the first issue in the series to have a SINGLE storyline instead of being broken up into vignettes which is an interesting change of pace and they certainly packed it with enough content to stretch the story out that long; not to mention continuity callbacks which I feel are only going to become more common as the series goes along.  So then!  Back in issue 11, Sonic used something called the COSMIC INTERSTATE in an attempt to shave time off of his commute but instead ended up going to a mirror universe with EVIL Sonic.  At the beginning of THIS issue, one of those Cosmic Interstate portals opens up and spits out a Terminator knock-off who is here to warn us all of impending doom!

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“You must stop Paramount Pictures before they release Terminator Gynesis!”     “But that already came out like three years ago!”     “WHAT!?  NYAAARRRRGGHHH!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Miss Bala

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

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

I somehow managed to survive January, but that month was so bad I’m ready to just write off February and maybe even March if I get the slightest bit saltier.  What can I say?  Getting sick twice, watching dreck like Escape Room, and even trying to justify my enjoyment of movies that EVERYONE ELSE seems to have deemed to be terrible has done little to improve my mood over the last thirty days, but who knows!  Maybe things have FINALLY turned a corner and I’ll regret being this despondent at the start of February when I go see… whatever this movie is!  Seriously, I didn’t even know this movie was coming out until three days before I went to see it, and I couldn’t gleam the slightest thing from the title or the poster.  At least with The Kid Who Would Be King which is another movie I knew nothing about until right before its release, you can kind of get a grasp on the general idea from the overly descriptive title and the poster having a bunch of kids wielding swords and makeshift shields!  ANYWAY!  Does this mysterious feature turn out to be a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, or will it turn out that ignorance was truly bliss after seeing this movie?  Let’s find out!!

Gloria Fuentes (Gina Rodriguez) is a makeup artist in California who frequently travels to Tijuana so she can see her friend Suzu Ramós (Cristina Rodlo) and her little brother Chava (Sebastián Cano).  This time however she comes with purpose as Suzu plans on entering the Miss Baja California pageant and could use Gloria’s expert makeup skills to make her truly shine in the competition!  Sadly things don’t go quite as planned when Gloria and Suzu go to a nightclub that ends up getting attacked by the Las Estrellas gang led up by Lino Esparza (Ismael Cruz Córdova).  Once the dust has settled, Suzu has completely disappeared and Gloria is kidnapped by Lino’s men as she saw too much and could now be a threat to them.  Under the threat of death, she becomes an unwitting participant in further gang violence and is headed for a life of nonstop coercion if she cannot find a way out and hopefully find Suzu in the process.  The best chance she seems to have is a couple of DA agents led by Agent Reich (Matt Lauria) who want to bring her up on terrorism charges due to her involvement in those unwitting crimes, but give her an out if she can plant a bug on Lino which will hopefully be enough to keep THEM from destroying her life before Lino does it first.  Can Gloria find a way to escape these overwhelming forces that can utterly destroy her at the slightest of whims?  Whatever happened to Suzu, and is Gloria simply chasing her tail by trying to find her in between coming up with a plan to escape and simply surviving this horrific situation she’s been forced into?  Why is it that bad guys ALWAYS mess with the wrong person?  You’d think just once they’d find the right person to mess with!

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“I could have just spent the rest of my life being a makeup artist, but NOOOOO!  You just HAD to tick me off!!”

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