The Man with the Golden Stream! James Bond video games every Sunday at 2:30pm EST!
Death Stranding is owned by Kojima Productions and Sony Interactive Entertainment
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been pretty down on Kojima’s latest game for a while now. Sure, we all got caught up in the hype when we first saw naked Norman Reedus and were left wondering what could all that nudity mean, but by the time that Del Toro got his own trailer and the babies became more and more… prominent (let’s go with that word) in the narrative, it all felt like a splash of cold water on the face; a revelation that he may be throwing things against the wall to see what sticks rather than doing something with any real thematic heft to it. But I could be wrong! I fully admit that watching trailers like this aren’t always a clear indication of what the final product will be like, such as the case with Dead Island or even The Order 1886, and frankly it all feels very intentional; as if he’s trolling for hundreds of videos breathlessly narrating their ideas of what this could all be about, and playing into that game is harmless but feels rather futile. Still, I’ve also been trying to get better at judging films in a non-literal fashion, and Kojima is if nothing else a VERY frustrated filmmaker! Until someone in Hollywood gives him a chance to direct something he’s gonna take it out on all of us by making the most bizarre and ludicrous trailers imaginable for supposed video games, and while I can’t really get mad at it, I just don’t feel the hype anymore. But hey, I’m already here and there’s a new trailer out with ACTUAL gameplay footage, so let’s at least take a look at what we know so far and see if there’s anything worthwhile to gleam from all this!
As I said, I gave Kojima a lot of credit for that first trailer which was strange, provocative, and surprisingly vulnerable with some clear themes about loss, grief, and the way that male identity (in how we are socialized) play into those experiences. It sets a very apocalyptic tone with the dead animals, the copious amounts of oil (or an oil like substance), and the washed out aesthetic which goes along with the idea that this world is dying in some way. Not a bad way to kick things off, and Kojima couldn’t have been more popular at the time due to his recent fallout with Konami which made it a perfect storm of intrigue and feel good sentimentality. By the second trailer though, I was starting to get worried. Yeah seeing Pappy McPoyle (also known as Guillermo del Toro) carrying around a baby in a war torn city did advance the narrative at least somewhat since we know how some other people are reacting to the end of the world, but I don’t think the trick works twice and this felt more like a holding pattern than anything else. When we should have been getting hyped for the GAME, it was still being incredibly coy about everything. Now we had to start asking questions about the weird fetus thing, the black goop that keeps showing up, and new things like the soldiers with skulls for heads being lead around by Mads Mikkelsen! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Mads Mikkelsen, but I was starting to get a bad feeling that Kojima left entirely to his own devices is gonna end up missing the forest for the trees when developing this.
Aladdin and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Guy Ritchie
The Disney money train just keeps on rolling, doesn’t it!? With nowhere else to go but back to the well, they’ve been pumping out remakes, reboots, and even sequels for some time now with… let’s say MIXED results. In fact, Dumbo might have been the last straw to finally knocking these into MOSTLY BAD territory; and I’m not liking the way that Lion King movie is shaping up despite its solid casting! Still, Aladdin is probably the film BEST suited for the big budgeted live action retelling considering how cinematic and adventurous it is, and the fact that the story’s already been done in live action in the past! Can Disney pull off another remake of a beloved nineties property, or are we gonna have to wait for Maleficent 2 for things to get back on track? Let’s find out!!
In the wondrous city of Agrabah, there once lived a thief known as Aladdin (Mena Massoud) who spent most of his days stealing apples and talking to his monkey Abu; presumably because he gave up on forming attachments to other humans and find that monkeys are less likely to stab you in the back. I mean they COULD what with apposable thumbs, but that’s beside the point! What’s important is that one day he meets a woman in the local bazar who doesn’t seem to understand how money works which you’d think she WOULD considering she’s Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), the one and only daughter to the Sultan (Navid Negahban), but I guess when you’re THAT rich possessions and currency don’t hold much value. Thankfully Aladdin is there to smooth things over, and by smooth things over I mean help her run away, and the two hit it off almost immediately which would normally be good news if it weren’t for the fact that she can only marry a prince. That’s where the Sultan’s Grand Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) comes in who sees something in this street rat and wants to use him to get his hands on the Magic Lamp for clearly nefarious purposes, and so spins him a tall tale of how doing this one job for him will get him all the riches he could dream of and become a prince in his own right! Well Aladdin at least holds his end of the bargain up, but things inevitably go wrong and he’s stuck there with nothing but his monkey, a magic carpet and oh yeah THE MAGIC LAMP which houses a TERRIFYING Genie (Will Smith) that promises him three wishes for finding his lamp! What will Aladdin wish for, and will it be enough to win the heart of the Princess? How long can he keep up the ruse he concocts, and will he be able to fool the sharp witted Vizier; even WITH the Genie’s magic? More importantly, who needs a Genie when you can capitalize on people’s nostalgia? That ALREADY gets you all the riches in the world!!
Brightburn and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by David Yarovesky
I’ve only had this movie vaguely on my radar for some time now (which frankly is a lot more than MOST movies but that’s another discussion) and I was certainly interested to see what it was, but more importantly I wasn’t quite sure what it was ultimately ABOUT which piqued my interest more than anything else. Was it truly just a kid with super powers killing people? Would there be some sort of They Live or even Frailty kind of twist at the end to explain his actions? It’s a fascinating premise to basically take the Superman origin story and turn it into that of a villain, but evil kid movies aren’t the easiest thing to pull off well and we’ve had at least ONE example this year of Hollywood screwing that up spectacularly. Is this the dark and twisted superhero horror movie we’ve all been waiting for, or is this just more horror tripe with a trendy coat of paint on it? Let’s find out!!
Brandon Breyer (Jackson Dunn) is your typical Midwest tween. He works on his parents’ farm, he goes to school every day, and oh yeah he’s an alien who crash landed when he was a baby and has been raised by his parents Tori and Kyle (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) since then. He’s not aware of that though, but it’s also something that’s not TOO easy to hide; especially since Space Puberty is turning out to be quite a bit more INTENSE than the Earthling variety! Brandon begins to pick up on the fact that he’s a little bit different from others, what with his invulnerability and eye lasers, and eventually things come to a head as Tori and Kyle have to figure out the best way to handle the fact that their adopted son has UNSPEAKABLE COSMIC POWERS. You know, sending him to his room without dinner isn’t gonna work all that well when he can rip your heart out with his bare hands and then fly to the arcade. Brandon seems to understand this little power differential as well, not to mention that his alien side might not be from the most humble and good natured parts of the universe which can only spell trouble as he gets more and more proficient with his powers. Can Tori and Kyle instill enough self-control and empathy into this brat before he starts burning Pepe memes into the corn fields? Just how powerful can Brandon get, and is there any way to stop him if he goes too far? See, this is why everyone needs an Uncle Ben. Neither Tori nor Kyle have a brother named Ben, and that’s why this is all happening in the first place!!
Double or Nothing and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan
Welcome to all you Marks, Smarks, and everything in between, to my very first recap of a wrestling show!! Now I’ve been watching WWE pretty consistently for the past year as wrestling is something I’ve always been interested in but I always felt there were barriers to entry that kept me away from it. Well thankfully WWE solved that problem right away with the amazing WWE Network that only costs ten bucks a month, had more or less up to date content (the shows there are a month behind the live broadcast) AND it had the ENTIRE BACKLOG OF CONTENT stretching back to its earliest broadcast days in case you wanted to catch up on anything that you didn’t know the full story of! Even so, becoming a fan of this stuff has also let me in on some of the more pernicious things about the company that can sometime temper my enthusiasm. Vince is still a MASSIVE jerk, the Saudi Arabia deal is a total disaster, healthcare for the talent is still a problem, and the company keeps scumbags like Hulk Hogan and Randy Orton on their payroll. It’s almost like there should be a viable alternative brand out there or something, but where are we gonna get one of THOSE!? Anyway, let’s take a serious look at what Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and a couple of billionaires managed to put together in what is no doubt the most hyped and anticipated wrestling show of the year!!
Before we get to any of the matches, I wanted to point out two key points that apply to the show as a whole. First, the production is FANTASTIC! I’ve seen a couple of TNA shows and a bout or two of Ring of Honor, and they always looked like the lesser version of what WWE can put together; what with their massive screens, multi-camera setup, and detailed set design to really give them a flashy and professional presentation. Fortunately AEW has realized that this is gonna be a key thing to figure out right off the bat because if they LOOK like a second rate company then people will TREAT THEM like a second rate company, and after this show I don’t think anyone will be doing that! Sure, it’s not WRESTLEMANIA or even some of the higher end PPVs as far as production, scope, and sizzle, but its right up there with what Raw and SmackDown pulls off each week. Where it DOES lag behind WWE however, is the commentary; particularly that Excalibur guy who doesn’t have a particularly commanding voice and seems to fumble over his lines a fair bit. It’s not just him though; the other guy (I don’t even remember his name) and even JR seemed a bit rusty here and they seriously need to work the kinks out of this before they get to their television deal. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s start with the Pre-show matches!!
The Clubs: Dustin Thomas, MJF (Maxwell Jacob Friedman), Sunnny Daze (James Dylan), Brandon Cutler, and Michael Nakazawa
The Diamonds: Brian Pillman Jr, Orange Cassidy, Jimmy Havoc (James Mcahren), Shawn Spears
The Hearts: Billy Gunn, Glacier (Raymond Lloyd), Jungle Boy (Jack Perry), Marq Quen, and Ace Romero
The Spades: Luchasaurus (Austin Matelson), Marko Stunt, Sonny Kiss, and Tommy Dreamer
The Joker: Adam “Hangman” Page
Now the thing about Battle Royale matches is that while they can be flashy and fun, they’re also kind of a mess to stage and so a lot of the time you have people hanging out in corners for a long time or someone getting a bit of momentum before being stopped in their tracks so someone ELSE can have the spotlight. With the right timing and a lot of flexibility on the participants though, it CAN be great. This one? Eh… I wasn’t all too into it. The first thing that felt odd was that they set up these rules about people going out in waves and how it was ALL random, but it still felt incredibly staged so why not just say that AEW management set up four groups themselves? Why the elaborate explanation about a deck of cards; especially when we don’t SEE anyone draw from it? I guess that’s the benefit of a weekly show where you can spend ten minutes having your wrestlers dramatic draw cards and set up the dynamics for each bracket, but on a PPV it felt needlessly complicated. Ignoring that though, the Battle Royale itself felt like it moved at a snail’s until at least three of the brackets came in, but there were some highlights! MJF cemented himself as the de-facto heel right off the bat by kicking Dustin Thomas in the face and calling him Lieutenant Dan. In case you didn’t know, Dustin Thomas is a wrestler with no legs, which proves that MJF hasn’t seen a movie since the late nineties. I bet at some point he’s gonna shout RUN FOREST, RUN at someone who’s running to the ring or maybe even do a SHOW ME THE MONEY gimmick. The other great thing that happened very early in this match is Michael Nakazawa busting out a bottle of baby oil and just COVERING himself with the biggest smile you could ever imagine! I mean it DID help him out of a jam at least, but you’d think someone would want to do that BEFORE they got into trouble!
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 Knuckles-less Chaotix! Are we ever gonna get an explanation for that by the way? Or the disappearance of Mighty the Armadillo? Ah, it’s probably not important! What IS important is that Eggman is finally putting his latest plan into motion with terrifying results; not just because of how effortlessly it transmits itself from host to host but, but also how much damage its surely causing to the fragile infrastructure that’s been built up since the last time Sonic stopped Eggman’s nefarious schemes. Even if they do find a cure, will there be anything left of the old world to salvage? What will The Chaotix do if the market for Private Investigators dries up!? Charmy’s barely old enough for THIS job; let alone work in a factory or be trusted around a stove! Well before we start speculating on the POST-apocalypse, we might as well see how it plays out live and jump right into the issue proper!!
The issue begins with everyone’s favorite third rate detective agency (a step above Aqua Teen Hunger Force but a step below Schmidt and Jenko in 21 Jump Street) getting an update from Amy about the Robo-virus, and then proceeding to do absolutely nothing about it! I mean I guess I can kind of see the logic behind it as there’s no indication the disease has spread to their city yet, and they aren’t exactly the A-Team in the Sonic Universe. They’re The Defenders to everyone Else’s Avengers. You call them to rough up a mugger or fight a biker gang; not to single handedly reverse a Romero Apocalypse. Sadly their ingenious decision to do nothing has one fatal flaw which is that the zom-pocalypse already reached Seaside City and the zombots are breaking down the Chaotix’s door which is bad news for everyone. Now I want to be VERY clear about what happens next. None of the Chaotix have seen a zombot up to this point or seem to know what they are capable of. The door bursts open and a couple zombots come waltzing in. Espio then proceeds to take a KUNAI, which if you didn’t know are very sharp, and throws it RIGHT AT THEIR HEAD! The kunai bounces harmless off their metallic cranium, and Espio is shocked that it didn’t work. In case there was any doubt as to what was supposed to happen, Espio threw a bladed weapon with the intent of burying it right between the eyes of an anthropomorphic animal; killing them instantly by hemorrhaging a vital organ like he’s in a John Wick movie. Yes. That just happened.
The Twilight Zone and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Warner Bros Television and based on the series created by Rod Serling
Episode directed by Joe Chappelle
We’re back with another episode of The Twilight Groan, and boy do we have a rough one here today! So last time around we got a GOOD example of the show taking a chance on darker subject matter and I definitely appreciate the show’s attempt to put a bit of edge back into the series. Today’s episode however is NOT a good example of them using dark subject matter, at least in my opinion, and it’s not even in a particularly compelling way as so much of it is just a total downer. But we’re not here to feel sorry for ourselves and lament the difficulty of recapping something so unabashedly sad, now are we!? We are here to show appreciation for a series that passed a lot of people over and make a few cheap jokes along the way, so let’s get started!!
The episode begins on a rather dark note for such a lightweight series, but whatever tension is built here is somewhat undercut by just how cheesy it all is. Okay, watching a dude emotionally berate and physically threaten a woman isn’t a breeze to sit through, but the dude doing the threatening is the most clichéd pimp imaginable with a leather duster, a crushed velvet shirt, and a spring loaded knife to intimidate his top earner with. The guy playing him (Dione Johnstone) is doing a darn fine job and looks almost EXACTLY like Denzel Washington which is fun in its own right, but there’s a bit of a disparity here in terms of tone. Luckily this tension is cut, not with a knife, but with HOT LEAD as super cop Eric Boggs (Usher; yes THAT Usher) comes onto the scene and shoots A Pimp Named Throwback right in the heart; proving that his proclamations of being The Power, The Glory, The Darkness, The Hyperbolic, were perhaps somewhat overstated. OR WERE THEY!? In the aftermath, while the EMTs are carting the body away, Office Boggs gets a call from The Pimp mocking him for not finishing the job and promising a swift return from the land of the dead! TWILIGHT SHOCK!!
The Hustle and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing and MGM
Directed by Chris Addison
Whether or not it’s a particularly successful tactic (particularly when the audience for blockbusters is only growing larger and larger), counter programming is still a thing in the industry and I’d wager that it’s the main reason this movie is being sandwiched between so many big named blockbusters. I certainly thought the trailers for this looked quite good and I like the casting quite a bit, but being put in theaters now when Avengers and Detective Pikachu are still tearing it up at the box office is either a sign of great insight for the studios to fill a gap in the viewing audience or total hubris that will spell doom for what seems to be a fun little crime film. Is this film a big time hustler elbowing its way to the forefront against such big titans of the cinema, or is this a small time crook that’s way in over its head? Let’s find out!!
Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) is a con artist working in the city running scams on dating sites which are actually quite effective, but end up garnering a significant amount of heat on her and so she’s forced to take her game elsewhere. Said elsewhere turns out to be the stomping grounds of another con artist Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) who’s set up her base of operations in a ritzy French tourist trap which is never short of gullible dudes just itching to be separated from their valuables, but a wild card like Penny could throw a wrench her in perfectly laid out plans if left to her own devices. Initially she tries to fool her into leaving of her own accord, but by her own wits and a bit of luck, Penny becomes wise to Josephine’s game and wants in on the action; a proposition Josephine is initially resistant towards but figures that keeping Penny happy and useful is better than risking her going to the authorities with what she now knows. At first it seems to be going just fine as Penny trains in the arts of manipulation with the help of Josephine’s assistants Brigitte and Alfred (Ingrid Oliver and Nicholas Woodeson), and they even pull of this brilliant little scheme that’s never really come together until Penny entered the picture, but all is not sunshine and roses in the world of professional scamming, and so the student must eventually face the master in a game of wits, ingenuity, and even a bit of outright cruelty, to prove once and for all if Penny’s brash resourcefulness is truly a match for Josephine’s refined expertise. Will Penny and Josephine’s ultimate challenge bring out the best in both of them, or will they lose everything to their overblown egos? Can they ever come to a mutual understanding given how different their backgrounds are and how cutthroat their line of work is? Is it just me, or is one of them at a distinct advantage considering they’ve already played a diamond thief in a previous movie, and that’s ASIDE from them already having played Catwoman!