Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (10-30-19)

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AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT

We’re back with another week of AEW action, and with the Tag Team Tournament coming to a close as well as the ever closer PPV on the horizon, they’ve got more than enough momentum to put on a dazzling display of wrestling glory!  Will they continue to capitalize on their runaway successes, or will this be the week that everything starts to derail?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with SO much stuff before we even get to the opening credits!  Essentially they’re trying to build up the PPV Full Gear which will be on 11/9 with a couple of scripted promos, which is basically the opposite of last week which started out with a match that didn’t even get proper ring entrances, and I personally really liked this approach.  I’m all about the storylines when it comes to wrestling and while this might not be THE MOST AMAZING PROMOS OF ALL TIME, it’s just another example of AEW showing off that they are on top of EVERYTHING when it comes to the wrestling business.  Last week they started us with amazing tag team action and now they’re giving us a reason to care about the upcoming show.  So what exactly DID they show us?  Well there’s a scene with Cody Rhodes and Tony Schiavone chatting at the airport about his upcoming match against Jericho at the PPV where he will try to strip the heel champion and leader of the Inner Circle of his title.  Last week Jim Valley gave an interesting argument as to why Cody is the best wrestling at this period of time and I kind of see it.  He comes off like a genuine superstar; one who’s larger than life but not quite a cartoon.  He has a great balance of innate charisma and strong showman sensibilities that makes even the obviously staged action of this show come off as something much more real.  After that we get reminded that Pac and Hangman have a match as well with a montage of their interactions.  No new footage here, but it’s a solid enough package.  The BIG promo though comes with Jon Moxley who we see go into a room and we hear a conversation between him and Tony Khan where we learn that the match between him and Kenny Omega has been changed to a Lights Out match; i.e. an unsanctioned match which means that the results will not go on either person’s record and Moxley is VERY upset about this.  I think this is a good SETUP, but they definitely need to give Moxley and Omega more time to talk about it for it to really be something special.

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Sammy Guevara Vs. Hangman Adam Page

I liked this one right off the bat because it was telling a story other than the one about how awesomely two dudes can beat the crap out of each other.  Adam Page is the frustrated face going up against the cocky heel that’s getting a too big for his britches since joining up with the other bad guys.  They just let Adam Page go to TOWN on Sammy and it’s EXACTLY what the dude needs to be taken seriously at this point.  The reason I initially had a problem with Jericho winning the title is that it made Adam Page (and to an extent the newer guys on the roster) seem lesser than the old school legend they were elevating to the top which is a trap many bad wrestling promotions can fall into.  Since then Adam Page really hasn’t done much to impress me, but here it feels like they finally get it and are giving him a real chance to stake his claim.  He fights clean but aggressively while Sammy can only get an edge in with underhanded tactics.  It makes Adam Page look like an absolute BEAST (especially after two AMAZING spots where he lifts up Sammy like he’s a loaf of bread) but it also continues to show how smart Sammy is who has GREAT ring awareness on top of his already impressive athleticism.  Hangman eventually wins with a buckshot lariat (that is SUCH a devastating looking move!) and he gives a brief promo where he acknowledges his slump but vows to show us what he’s REALLY made of at Full Gear!  THAT’S how you sell a PPV, THAT’S how you tell a story in a match, and THAT’S how you turn a face into a superstar!  I still think they mishandled Page a bit leading up to this moment, but this has turned me around quite a bit on the Hangman!

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (10-30-19)”

Cinema Dispatch: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Joachim Rønning

If I was reviewing movies when the first Maleficient came out, it probably would have been in my top ten of that year; THAT’S how much I genuinely loved that movie, and I don’t think I’m in TOO big of a minority on this one!  It didn’t get the BEST reviews, but I think it still managed to connect with a lot of people and certainly made quite a bit of money even with its enormous budget.  Doing a sequel though, eh… that doesn’t sound like THE GREATEST IDEA EVER, but I’m willing to throw myself into it and hope for the best considering how good the first one was and Jolie’s continued involvement with the series since she was the best thing about that movie.  Do they find an interesting way to continue the story after its revisionist Happily Ever After, or should they have left well enough alone after managing to catch lightening in a bottle already?  Let’s find out!!

Queen Aurora (Elle Fanning) has been running the magic forest known as The Moors since her adoptive mother killed her biological father in the first movie.  It’s cool though; the dude was a HUGE jerk and was played by Sharlto Copley, so he pretty much HAD to die!  Someone who DIDN’T die though was Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) who’s been dating Aurora for some time now (ACTUALLY dating; not rescuing her from a castle and getting a bride as a reward), but now is the time for him to pop the question and join their kingdoms under one big happy family.  This is cause for celebration for just about everyone in The Moors… except for one woman who finds this arrangement utterly dreadful.  Actually two women, but we’ll get to that soon enough; we’re of course talking about Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) at the moment who has obvious reservations because of the whole Sharlto Copley thing, but agrees meet Phillips parents for dinner which will SURELY go off without a hitch, right!?  Well… that OTHER woman who’s not too please about all this is Phillip’s mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) who has a clear bias against all things magical and is not about to let those ghastly creatures crash on her kingdom’s metaphorical couch, and so she sets into motion her diabolical scheme to ruin the forest and turn Maleficent into a fearsome monster once again.  At first it seems to succeed as Maleficent is more or less banished from the kingdom after being a particularly unpleasant dinner guest, but things take an unexpected turn when she learns that there are OTHER creatures just like her that call themselves Dark Feys and have lived in hiding all this time, but Queen Ingrith’s plans may just put an end to all that.  Will Maleficent unmask Queen Ingrith’s evil plans and restore her place as a good guy once more, or will she embrace her outsider status and become the worst nightmare that Ingrith and the rest of the humans could ever face?  What will the Dark Fey do to protect themselves, and will it be in the best interest of everyone else in this conflict; even Maleficent herself?  Can we maybe get a movie where Queen Ingrith meets Queen Ravenna from Snow White and the Huntsman?  I’m pretty sure that the combined efforts of Jolie and Thor wouldn’t be able to overcome THAT level of concentrated ham-tastic villainy.

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If that stare gets any icier, we’re liable to start a new Ice Age; either the massive shift in global temperature or the movie franchise. Both would be equally devastating…

 

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Super Comics: Tangle & Whisper – #3

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Tangle & Whisper as well as 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 the GOOD Sonic series!  Okay, that’s a bit harsh as the main Sonic book has been fine if overly repetitive, but there’s zero doubt as to which one of these I look more forward to reading when they come out because in the scant few issues we’ve gotten so far, they’ve given these two a lot of characterization and pathos which I find WAY more interesting than yet another zombie drama.  With only two issues left to go (they REALLY need to make this a regular book once their done with the mini-series!), does this offshoot of the new era of Sonic Comics continue to impress?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with Whisper finally telling us about her TRAGIC BACKSTORY which involves her former mercenary group.  Those were the good ol’ days where committing war crimes was an activity best shared with friends!  Hey, they’re the one’s calling themselves mercenaries and remember that Mimic had that giant knife in the first issue!  These guys must have gotten up to some SERIOUS BUSINESS!

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“Have you heard of the Eggman Nuclear Weapon Program?”     “The what?”     “Exactly.  Billions of lives saved and only nine dead scientests.”     “Wait, WHAT!?”

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (10-23-19)

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AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT

We’re back with another episode of WWE’s Worst Nightmare! For three weeks straight, this upstart little company with just one measly billionaire behind it managed to outdo NXT in the ratings and it doesn’t look like that momentum is about to stop anytime soon!  Ratings momentum is just one piece of the puzzle however as a terrible show can still get good ratings for at least a little bit before everyone gives up on it.  Can AEW maintain its high quality as well as its high viewership?  Well let’s take a look at the latest episode to find out!!

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Private Party (Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy) Vs. Lucha Bros (Pentagón Jr and Fénix) – Tag Team Championship Semi-Finals

Right off the bat, with zero preamble or even ring entrances, both teams are in the middle of the ring as the show begins.  Now sure, I’m a huge fan of the pomp and circumstance so it’s a bit disappointing that we don’t even get to see them walk to the ring, but we’ve got a full card ahead of us so I’m not really bothered by it.  Besides, if it means we get more of these two teams fighting it out, then I’m fine with it as long as they don’t do it TOO often.  Quen and Kassidy are still somehow impressing more and more with every match as their chemistry only gets better and better.  Now I will pump the breaks just a LITTLE bit here as I wonder where the ceiling ultimately is for these guys as they are starting to take some really rough bumps.  They’re professionals of course and I trust them to know what they’re doing, but I do worry that with this promotion (and particularly its tag teams) burning so brightly right out of the gate that they’ll eventually burn themselves out either through injury or just straight fatigue.  I mean Quen takes what I can only describe as a flying pile driver from Pentagon Jr, and it was absolutely terrifying to watch.  Even with tha though, it couldn’t have been too bad (hopefully) since the match went on for several minutes after that with Quen taking even MORE bumps throughout.  Lucha Bros eventually won after Quen takes some sort of stomp/pile-driver combination, but that was to be expected considering how much they’ve built up their feud with SCU.  Both teams looked great here and Private Party has a bright future ahead of them as long as they don’t shatter their spines before year’s end!

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Cinema Dispatch: Gemini Man

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Gemini Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Ang Lee

So the Will Smith Renaissance hasn’t quite gone as well as say the McConaissance, but his uptick in roles in the last few years has been pretty enjoyable for the most part with him being one of the best parts of the trashy fun Suicide Squad, and as bad as Bright was he did have pretty good chemistry with Joel Edgerton.  Now he’s working with either his best or his worst co-star of all time… HIMSELF!  Does this action spectacular with Will Smith fighting Will Smith turn out to be one of the best movies of the year, or did the good parts of this movie begin and end with its sill premise?  Let’s find out!!

Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is just like every other aged government assassin who wants to retire and live the rest of his life in leisure, but of course something happens where the government decides that the one thing they should try to do to the unkillable solider is try to kill him.  The reason given here is that he stumbles upon some information that could eventually lead to him finding out about a mysterious project known as GEMINI, and the director of the project Clay (Clive Owen) doesn’t want him finding out more.  After barely escaping with his life and the life of the government agent tasked to keep an eye on him Dani (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he starts searching for clues and calling in favors from all his contacts to get to the bottom of what it is that Clay is so desperate to hide from him.  Well at least part of the answer comes a lot sooner than he expected as he starts getting chased by another assassin called Junior (Will Smith) who bears a striking resemblance to Henry circa 1991.  Can Henry survive long enough to find out just what Clay was up to and maybe even spare Junior in the process?  What will Junior do now that he’s starting to learn the truth?  Will he stay loyal to Clay and GEMINI or are these revelations enough for him to question everything he knows and the people he has trusted his whole life?  If they could just clone people in this world, why haven’t they ACTUALLY cloned Will Smith and tried to make a GOOD version of Wild Wild West?  At least make a version of the Matrix with him!

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“Whoa… My life is getting flipped; turned upside down!”     “No, that will be when you make Collateral Beauty.”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Addams Family

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The Addams Family and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan

I’ve actually been looking forward to this movie for quite some time.  Not in a BIG way, but everything I saw at first was very promising.  The new designs were quite good and the initial teaser seemed to have the right tone that retained what worked about these characters in the first place while making something that worked in a modern context.  After that though, once we got the trailers with more of the plot (and those terrifying human characters), the skepticism started to creep in and my enthusiasm waned as my attention turned elsewhere (*cough* Maleficient 2 *cough*) in the last month or so.  Still, a mediocre trailer is hardly a good barometer to how a movie will ultimately turn out (especially with so much of the marketing knocking it out of the preceding months), so were my negative feelings ultimately unfounded or did something go horribly wrong (and not in the good way) with this latest Addams Family venture?  Let’s find out!!

The Addams Family are a bunch of wealthy eccentrics who basically act like spooky monsters year round instead of just on Halloween.  The family consists of Patriarch Gomez (Oscar Isaac), possible vampire queen Mortitia (Charlize Theron), their daughter Wednesday  (Chloë Grace Moretz), their son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), Gomez’s mother (Bette Midler), the zombie butler who is IN NO WAY of any actionable resemblance to Boris Karloff known as Lurch (Conrad Vernon), and… I guess their OTHER butler who is just a hand called Thing.  Are they goths?  Murderous blue bloods?  If they were made in the mid nineties, would they all be Juggalos?  These are questions we may never get the answer to, but rest assured that whatever box they would most comfortably fit in, it’s one that will freak out the normies of the world whenever they happen to come in contact with them.  Said normies by the way are a bunch of nameless and nearly faceless upper middle class yuppies that built a community around the Addams family mansion and are just now realizing that there’s a spooky castle full of weirdos on top of the conspicuously nearby hill, and the head of the yuppies named Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) is none to please about it.  While this little pot of… I don’t know, spooky-phobia I guess, is brewing outside of the house, the Addams family itself is having a bit of tension as well as Gomez is trying to teach Pugsly a sacred family ritual known as The Mazurka but Puglsy seems to have no gift for it, and Morticia is trying to keep young Wednesday from falling into the wrong crowd; the kind that embraces unicorns, the color pink, and young pop stars.  Can the family stick together through these trying times both inside and out of the house?  Just how far will Margaux go to keep her little community nice and conformed now that this family has thrown a wrench in those plans?  Will The Addams family adjust to their new surrounds and join the rest of us in the living nightmare we all must suffer through under late stage Capitalism, or is that the wrong kind of terrifying for them?

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“A Panera Bread!?  AND a Chipotle!?”     “Ugh… it’s so GHASTLY commercial…”     “So is that GOOD ghastly, or BAD ghastly?”     “Well it’s BAD of course… but that’s actually good.  Because it’s bad…”

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (10-16-19)

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AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT

We’re back with even more AEW action!  With Chris Jericho’s stable running roughshod over the AEW locker room and the Tag Team Tournament well underway, AEW already has a lot of balls in the air to keep track of this early into its run.  Can they keep up this balancing act while continuing to put on great matches?  Let’s find out!!

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SCU (Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian) Vs Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta) – Tag Team Tournament

You may be wondering why I listed Scorpio Sky as a competitor when he made it clear he would NOT be in the match last week.  Well before the match can even begin, SCU gets jumped by The Lucha Bros before they can even make it to the ramp.  Christopher Daniels gets injured badly enough that Scorpio Sky has to sub for him.  I’m sure I made this clear before, but I really don’t like injury spots on wrestling shows.  It’s VERY clear here that it’s a work and that Daniels isn’t injured, but I really don’t think it makes for good television to have a guy being dragged out on a stretcher like this.  Sure, if you’re REALLY goofing it up you can get away with it, but it just feels too real in an industry where that kind of thing can ACTUALLY happen.  The match itself is as solid as AEW tag matches tend to be.  SCU is one of my favorite teams there and their presence alone is enough to overcome the utter apathy I have for The Best Friends.  The former team definitely come off as the underdog considering Kazarian was attacked just before the match and Scorpio Sky wasn’t prepared to fight tonight, and sure enough the get the hot tags and then ear falls while The Best Friends are the somewhat incompetent heels (Chuck Taylor dives right on top of Trent Beretta by accident) and it ends with SCU going to the next round of the tournament.  While I would have preferred a straightforward match with Daniels instead of putting him out of the tournament so early (at least save it for round two!), it was the ending I wanted and I’m glad that we’ll see more of SCU in the coming weeks.

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Cinema Dispatch: Brittany Runs a Marathon

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Brittany Runs a Marathon and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios

Directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo

Me and Amazon Studios?  We have an understanding.  Well… not so much an understanding as me having an opinion about them that the multi-billion dollar Mega Corporation doesn’t know or care about.  Their movies that come to theaters are often mid-range fare that almost affects the impression of a small studio like STX or a less ambitious NEON, but other than outright disasters like Gringo, they are reliably enjoyable if not particularly stunning achievements.  Does their latest outing that will surely be on a streaming box near you measure up to those ho-hum standards, or are we in for another feature more unbearable than their anti-union practices!?  Let’s find out!!

Brittany Forglar (Jillian Bell) is your typical millennial washout.  She’s living in New York City… somehow supporting herself with a part time job as an usher at a theater I think, but she’s not happy with herself and uses drugs, meaningless sex, and comedy to get her through the days.  However, after a visit from the doctor where she tries to get a prescription for uppers, the doctor delivers the harsh truth that her health isn’t all that great and she should probably lose a few pounds; not that weight loss in and of itself is healthy, but a lot of her REAL symptoms instead of the fake ones she’s trying to use to get the drugs can be alleviated or even eliminated entirely if she ate better and exercised more.  After some trepidation she does manage to start losing weight which builds up her confidence and she starts improving other aspects of her life including her relationships, her career path, and even plans on running the New York City Marathon as a benchmark for her achievement.  However, all this change is coming with a fair bit of resistance; not just form her but her friends as well as she has to look at the reality of her situation and come to terms that maybe some people in her life aren’t good for her and she’ll have to move on to greener pastures no matter how hard it may be.  Can Brittany get her life back on track and fulfill her newfound dream of finishing the marathon?  What pitfalls will she run into as she starts to make weight loss itself the goal instead of it being a side effect of taking care of herself?  Is her ultimate goal to hone her skills like a ninja and become Batman?  I mean… that’s the reason we ALL try to get in shape, right?

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“First question; do you have a tragic backstory?”     “I mean… the US economy?”     “Okay, that’s a good start.”

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (10-09-19)

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AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT

We’re back with even more AEW!  After Jericho revealed his heel faction last week, will Cody and the rest of THE ELITE band together to face this latest threat?  More importantly though, WILL LUCHASAURUS SHOW UP THIS TIME!?  Seriously, he wasn’t on LAST week and that’s one too many weeks without Luchasaurus!  Let’s hope for the best and take a look at the second episode of AEW Dynamite!

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The Young Bucks (Nick Jackson and Matt Jackson) Vs. Private Party (Marq Quen and Isaiah Kassidy) – Tag Team Tournament

Now THIS is a great way to start the show!  I’m a bit cooler on the Young Bucks than a lot of people but there’s no doubt that they are IMMENSELY popular, and I really like what I’ve seen of Private Party so far as they already look poised to be the fan favorites of the company.  Hopefully AEW (unlike what WWE does with a lot of their more talented tag teams) won’t let these two sit on the sidelines for half of their career with this match is a good indication that they won’t.  The match itself was pretty great as both teams are so absolutely fantastic as tag team wrestlers, and Private Party being a lot more straightforward in their style helped to minimize some of the issues I tend to have with The Young Bucks when they’re up against teams like The Lucha Bros.  In fact, what I found particularly interesting is that The Bucks fought like heels for the most part as Private Party were the ones fighting earnestly with big moves and lots of effort while The Bucks come off as much more cocky and taking their time to show off.  Heck, they even use a few underhanded moves like when Nick does a blind tag and another instance where Matt drops Kassidy on the steel ramp.  When they were doing the PPVs, it was a bit hard to tell where they would fall with their endless feud against the Lucha Bros (pretty much being baby faces by default), but I’m all for it if they real are planning on being heels.  They don’t have to be the nastiest players in this (I’m pretty Jericho and his crew have that covered), but being part of THE ELITE has always felt more like a heel position and it’s what has made Cody’s status as a face always feel a bit questionable.  Surprising absolutely everyone (myself included), Private Party actually won against The Young Bucks which puts them in a VERY good position in the tournament taking down the odds on favorite so early.  Like I said, AEW seems to know what to do with young talent like this and I’m glad that The Bucks are willing to step aside to give them such a huge push right now.  It’s probably my favorite thing they’ve done since I’ve started watching AEW!

After the match, Jericho comes out with his merry men of bad guys (Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, and LAX) and takes a good ten minutes to jabber on the mic and make sweet audible love to the teeming masses.  A lot of it is exposition to make sure everyone is up to speed on the title picture, but he can make reading a thesaurus look good and I’m glad that AEW hasn’t COMPLETELY abandoned larger than life characters who are allowed to just talk in the ring.  What we learn from all this is that Jericho’s faction is called THE INNER CIRCLE (so far it’s reminding me of Ric Flair’s faction in TNA known as Four-tune) and that Jake Hager’s collared shirt from the last episode was not a one off; apparently that’s his look going forward which is a shame because it makes him look like a TOTAL dork.  Look, maybe this is yet another unbridled talent that will finally have a chance to shine in a promotion that knows what the heck to do with him, but I don’t know who Jack Swagger or Jake Hager is, and him just staring blankly into the camera with a silly shirt on doesn’t scream AMAZING WRESTLING TALENT as it does I FORGOT ALL MY LINES.  Aside from that though, it was a great way to solidify them as the big heel faction of the company which will certainly keep things interesting in the weeks leading up to the next PPV.

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Cinema Dispatch: Joker

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Joker and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Todd Phillips

Are we ready to do this?  Alright, let’s do this.  So Joker always seemed like an odd choice for a movie as his defining moments have always been in relation to Batman.  Take him away, and what are you left with?  Well if the trailers are any indication, you get something akin to Travis Bickel in Taxi Driver by way of Krusty the Clown.  I mean I was at least interested to see where they were GOING with it since the trailers did a solid job of obscuring what the actual plot was, but the last few weeks of bad press have really drained any enthusiasm I could muster for what was already seeming to be a novelty at best.  Does this manage to rise above the controversy surrounding it, especially the controversies cynically generated by those who have an active stake in the film’s success, or will this all be for a movie that ultimately isn’t worth the time and effort?  Let’s find out!!

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is one of many residents in the city of Gotham who is barely getting by and can feels that life has given him a rather crappy lot.  All he wanted to do was be a comedian and make people smile, but street punks keep beating him up at his job, the rich politicians and lobbyist keep cutting social services that he needs, and on top of all that he has to take care of his elderly mother Frances Conroy) who’s unshaking belief that Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen) will help her and her son has only become more and more obnoxious as the years have gone by.  Why… it’s almost enough to drive someone MAD isn’t it!?  Like say… if someone got so tired of this that they started wearing clown makeup and robbed banks!  Well leave those fantasies at home as this is the REAL Joker for the modern age in that he’s really angry all the time but doesn’t do a heck of a whole lot about it and what he DOES do about it isn’t as… let’s say FLAMBOYANT as his comic book persona would have you believe.  Still, the walls are closing in more and more as Arthur’s life goes further and further into chaos to the point that he may just be forced to fight back in a way that no one could possibly expect; least of all himself.  Will Arthur’s miserable life come to some sort of hilarious denouement that gets all the squares to pop their monocles?  What effect will his actions have on the rest of the city, and is he really so different from all the normal people out there?  Seriously, is this REALLY the guy Warner Bros wants to be spouting his manifesto on the big screen right when they’re getting the DCCU back on track?

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“I call it… MY JOKE BOOK!”     “…”     “Seriously?  Nothing?”     “Oh, uh… no, that’s clever!”

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