Monthly Archives: June 2019

Cinema Dispatch: Late Night

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Late Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios

Directed by Nisha Ganatra

I’m fairly certain that my usual theater had a poster for this and then just decided not to actually screen it so this is yet another trip to the far away theater (i.e. thirty minutes away) which honestly is usually a good sign.  Not always, in fact this is the exact same story that preceded The Green Inferno, but the movies that aren’t wide enough for my local theater to get are usually have a lot more going for them; for good or ill.  I hadn’t heard much about this movie and only have a vague idea of the premise, but the cast is very talented and I’m always intrigued by entertainment that’s ABOUT the making of entertainment which is always a journey in its own right.  Does this glimpse into the world of late night television give us a funny and insightful look at the behind the scenes action, or will this end up being as boring as… I don’t know whichever one of those shows is the worst?  Let’s find out!!

Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is the host of a late night show that has been running for over twenty years, yet despite such a phenomenal legacy and a small army of Emmy awards behind her, the new network President Caroline Morton (Amy Ryan) tells her that the show will be cancelled in a few months and that she’ll be replaced with a hip young talent that gets those pesky millennials!  With basically nothing left to lose, she starts to do the one thing she has come to fear in the last ten years; actually try.  I know, truly a fate worse than death.  Part of her initiate to revitalize the show includes hiring someone in the writers room whose only qualification is to NOT BE A WHITE GUY, and as luck would have it Molly (Mindy Kaling) is interviewing that day and meets those very stringent qualifications!  Sure, she’s never written for a comedy show ever, but why should that stop her from filling up space and shielding the show from further criticisms of being too old and too white?  AH HA!  It’s not as simple as that however!  For you see, Molly is not JUST a blatant diversity hire!  She actually has good ideas, some decent writing chops, and may just be what this crusty old talk show needs in order to genuinely appeal to today’s audience instead of whatever crap Katherine and the other writers were gonna try to fake their way into relevance!  Can Molly learn to thrive in this dinosaur of a work place and find the right balance between respecting its legacy and changing it for the better?  Will Katherine realize what she’s been doing wrong all this time and genuinely change for the better before losing the best thing she has in her life?  Well I mean she has her husband (John Lithgow), but is he paying the bills around here!?  I DON’T THINK SO!!

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Not EVERYONE can go to TBS, alright!?

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Cinema Dispatch: Men in Black: International

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Men in Black: International and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by F Gary Gray

As tacky as it may seem, I kind of want to see MORE studios blatantly try to pick at the MCU’s carcass by snatching up its major talent and putting them in new scenarios with similar dynamics.  It’s kind of like the cinematic equivalent of an Elseworld’s tale or maybe even one of those bizarre crossover comics where the X-Men are on the Enterprise or Doctor Who has to fight the Cenobites or whatever.  Picking up both Chris Hemsworth in full on Thor Swagger mode and Tessa Thompson at the height of her popularity is probably the best thing this film has going for it because it certainly isn’t the name brand recognition.  The first Men in Black movie was good but is older than the target audience of this film, the sequel was utter dreck despite having my beloved Johnny Knoxville in a fun supporting role, and I never even bothered with the third movie that this thankfully doesn’t seem to be a direct sequel to.  Still, the concept is at least unique enough that you could still salvage it given the right talent which looks to be the case with its cast as well as being directed by F Gary Gray.  Can the MIB be brought back from the dead to be the next big cinematic franchise, or are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the late nineties and early 2000s over and over again

Molly (Tessa Thompson) has spent the last twenty years looking for the mysterious Men in Black organization which tried to capture an alien in her childhood home but failed to do so and also failed to neuralyse her like they did her parents.  It was a pretty serendipitous event as well because Molly is a bit of a loner and cares more about unlocking the mysteries of the universe than having friends or forming genuine human relationships; a trait prided in members of the MIB!  Because of this as well as her ability to eventually find them, the current head of the New York branch Agent O (Emma Thompson) gives her a shot with the new moniker Agent M and sends her to London for training where she runs into Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) who is a big shot hero from a few years ago but seems to be in a bit of a slump.  He and the head of the London branch High T (Liam Neeson) once stopped an alien invasion with nothing but a couple of weapons and their wits, but when a protection operation H takes M along on goes completely awry, it could spell the end of not just their careers but the Earth itself.  They must solve the mystery of who wanted to kill H’s alien buddy Vungus the Ugly (Kayvan Novak) and whether or not there’s some greater conspiracy happening with the MIB that this is just a small part of.  Oh yeah, and there’s a comic relief alien (Kumail Nanjiani) that does cute things and spouts sarcasm.  Can M and H learn to work together and solve the mystery before MIB or something more dangerous catches up to them?  Will the organization that prides itself on being secretive collapse into ruin due to the duplicitous nature of one of its own?  Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly hard to believe that THIS many people and THIS much equipment are STILL a complete mystery to the undiscerning masses; all of whom have smart phones and social media accounts?

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“Is this the place?”     “Yup.  XxVegetaAlphaxX won’t be uploading Men in Black and nutshot complications any time soon.”     “Freaking Reddit.”

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Super Recaps: The Twilight Zone (Mr. Motivation)

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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 Deran Sarafian

We’re back with another episode of The Twilight Zone Saga: New Millennium, and boy do we have something new for you all today!  This episode is unlike any other we’ve seen so far as it is a… wait for it… COMEDY!!  That’s right!  Not an unintended comedy like that one about the guitar or watching Katherine Heigl try to kill baby Hitler!  This one wants you to chuckle right along with it instead of directly at it!  Does this series know how to loosen up and have a genuine sense of wit about itself?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with what might be the most attended office birthday party that wasn’t catered as everyone and their mother apparently left their stations to go to a cubicle and sing For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.  Wait, what?  Is the birthday song copyrighted or something?  Hold on.

HOLY CRAP, IT IS!!  Apparently that song has had some sort of copyright on it since 1935 with Warner/Chappell music acquiring a company that claimed to have owned it back in 1985 and have been collecting royalties on it since!  That is until 2016 when a court ordered that their copyright was not valid for reasons that I’ve only skimmed now and will surely take up an afternoon of your time if you wish to look into it, and Warner/Chappell is required to refund the royalties they’ve collected for it.  Darn you, Warner Bros television!  If you had stuck to your guns and used the CORRECT song, you would be getting your seven hundred bucks back anyway!  Who looks like a fool now, Warner Bros Television?  Who looks like a fool now?

Did I really take this recap completely off the rails because of the Birthday Song?  Let’s see if we can somehow get back on track.  So anyway, the cubicle in question belongs to Charlie (Wallace Langham) who is one of many office drones in this building that does… stuff, and is having a rather joyous little celebration at his desk complete with trick candle on his cupcake, but all that comes to a SCREECHING halt as soon as The Boss (Christopher McDonald) comes through and tells everyone to get back to work; something they do with great gusto and more than recommend amount of abject terror.  The Boss by the way looks like a cross between Thomas Haden Church, Clancy Brown and Biff from Back to the Future, so it’s no wonder everyone is terrified of him!  Oh but he can’t be ALL bad, right?  After all, he got Charlie a gift for his birthday which is some sort of dime store talking statute called Mr. Motivation who spouts useless buzzwords and aphorisms whenever you bop it on its little bobble head.  Just the pick me up Charlie is gonna need of since The Boss follows up this magnanimous gesture with a neigh impossible task and his job security as the sword of Damocles hanging over his head.  He needs to pull up basically all documentation over the last several months (hard copies no less), and search for any that contain the name of a specific product their developing.  If he can find whatever vaguely sinister thing The Boss is looking for, he gets a promotion.  If not, well… at least the economy in 2002 is better than it is now but it would STILL be a pain in the butt.

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“I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do, sir!  I’m gonna invest in HOUSING!  There is nothing more stable in this, the greatest country on Earth, so you can take your job and shove it!”

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Jumping the Soapbox: A Banana Splitting Headache and Hanna-Barbera’s Confusing Existence

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The Banana Splits is owned by Warner Bros

All other copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

Do any of you even know who The Banana Splits are?  Of course not!  They were on the lower tier of Hanna-Barbera creations and because they were live action characters they never got that extra bump of popularity that many of their other creations did when they started randomly pairing them up on shows like Yogi’s Gang where they flew around in a giant flying ark.  Yeah, Hanna-Barbera is weird like that, but the thing about The Banana Splits is… I actually really like them!  I remember watching a marathon of episode back when you had to actually watch TV on a TV, and I thought it was a fun little slice of sixties nonsense!  A bunch of dudes in animal costumes playing bubblegum pop and doing slapstick?  What’s not to like!?  And guess what?  THEY’RE MAKING A MOVIE ABOUT THEM!!  OH BOY!  It looks like someone has finally realized how groovy these cats (and dogs and monkeys and elephants) are and are giving them the big screen treatment they deserve, right?  RIGHT!?

Sigh…

So it turns out that SOMEONE thought it would be brilliant and edgy to take lovable characters aimed at children… and turn them into monsters in a horror movie; straight up.  I mean yeah, they’re clearly playing up the absurdity of it but it just looks like a miserable experience outside of how senseless its UNIQUE SELLING POINT is.  Actually, even more blatant than the simple “shock” value of taking character aimed at kids and making them creepy (congratulations; you’re where Creepy Pasta was twenty years ago) is that they are only doing this to beat the Five Nights at Freddy movie to the punch.  I mean they weren’t robots in the original series either within the fiction of the show (they were anthropomorphic animals in a band) or the reality of its production which was done by people in costumes which is CLEARLY the case here as well.

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“WHAT IS MY PRIMARY DIRECTIVE!?”     “Okay, try to be like this video game, but NOT like this video game at the same time.”     “DOES NOT COMPUTE!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Secret Life of Pets 2

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The Secret Life of Pets 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures and Illumination

Directed by Chris Renaud

I remember the first movie having one of the most aggressive ad campaigns I’d seen since I started reviewing movies, and yet this one was much more subdued.  I only saw the trailer a few times leading up to its release, but while that certainly kept me from being ANNOYED by the movie it didn’t really do much to improve my expectations.  The first one was a C grade knock off of Toy Story, and while it wasn’t ALL bad it didn’t leave much of an impression outside of Jenny Slate’s performance and a few seconds of Andrew WK music to liven things up.  Can the sequel manage to improve where the last one came up short, or will this be a lazy cash grab on the success of the first one with similarly mediocre results?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film, Max and Duke (Patton Oswalt and Eric Stonestreet) have been getting along with their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in their peaceful New York life.  However, things change once Katie meets the man of her dreams Chuck (Peter Holmes), and cut to about five years later where Katie and Chuck have a kid named Liam (Henry Lynch) who Max is at first hesitant about but becomes quickly attached to.  The added stress of watching over a child however is starting to give Max some unhealthy habits, but maybe an upcoming vacation in the country with Chuck’s family and their dog Rooster (Harrison Ford) will be just what Max needs to relax!  While he’s off on his trip, Gidget (Jenny Slate) has been entrusted to watch his favorite toy which she loses almost immediately, and Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart) has become some sort of animal saving super hero who’s latest mission is to help a Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) save a tiger who’s being abused by a VERY evil looking circus run by a bunch of dudes with Russian accents and permanent sneers; one of whom is played by Nick Kroll.  Will Max get over his nervous tendencies now that he’s around nature and the stern advice of Rooster?  Can the other pets shore up their subplots before the running time exceeds ninety minutes?  Is Illumination trying to sell us four episodes of an unaired TV series as a full length movie!?

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“WHY, NETFLIX!?  WHY WOULDN’T YOU HAVE US!?”

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Super Recaps: The Twilight Zone (Hunted)

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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 Patrick Norris

We’re back with another episode of 3rd Twilight from the Zone, and boy do we have a fun one today!  Where previous episodes were about boring things like death personified, video game DLC, and killing baby Hitler, this time we get to hunt ourselves a MONSTER IN THE WOODS!  The original series had its fair share of fantasy creatures to terrorize the likes of William Shatner, so why not this series as well!?  Can they possibly match the level of quality that Rod Serling delivered with his fantastic creatures, or is hiring a guy in a rubber suit completely outside this series’ budget?  Let’s find out!!

Ahem.  IN THE YEAR NEW-THOUSAND, we see a couple of joggers running in a forest with the utmost of horrifying expressions (that cable TV will allow) etched across their faces as they try to escape from some unseen threat; one that likes to use that Evil Dead vision thing to maximize its victims horror before turning their skulls into another trophy for its collection.  Now given that this is far into the future where we somehow learned to be more civilized towards each other (snark), the Nu-National Guard are being called into the woods to find whatever this creature is and fill it with more hot lead than Murphy at the beginning of RoboCop!  Our main Terrestrial Marine is Jeffrey Freed (Scott Bairstow) which is actually quite lucky for him as he’s got a wife and a newborn child, which means if he WASN’T our protagonist then he’d be first on the chopping block when the squad gets to the forest.  His wife Kelly (Michelle Harrison) doesn’t see it that way however (I guess she hasn’t seen enough movies), and makes sure to give us quite a bit of exposition while making her trepidation known.  It turns out that Jeff is a doctor in his day job which I bet will come in handy later when they need someone to fill out the death certificates, and the monster in question appears to be some sort of creature known as a Kreetor which was a species that got wiped out over fifty years ago.  Now you’d think that with so few of them around that we would have PROTECTED them and put them on the endangered species list, but I guess even THESE jerks are scarier than Lion and Tigers and Panda Bears, especially if they hunt their prey like a freaking Slasher!  The wife also refers to them as “Genetically Mutated Beasts” which is probably what ignorant people fear that GMOs will morph into, and it seems that Jeff’s grandfather was MURDERED by one of them back before they were all wiped out, so he’s got a bit of skin in the game as well.

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“My grandfather was SLAUGHTED by one of these creatures!  Was he lost in the woods or did he get hurt when the Kreetor was looking for food?”     “No, the monster poisoned his morning coffee!”     Oh.  Um… who told you this story?”     “My grandma.  She also told that to the police.”     “Uh… huh.”

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