Cinema Dispatch: Uncut Gems

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Uncut Gems and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie

Good Time wasn’t one of my favorite movies of that year by a long shot, but it’s also a movie I keep thinking about even now as the filmmakers clearly made something wildly compelling even if it wasn’t exactly for me.  If nothing else, I was eager to see what they did next as I really believe they can make a movie that’s not just great but one that I’d like as well, which is why when I first heard of this new movie they were making AND that it would be a dramatic turn for Adam Sandler, I knew that this had to be a top priority that I needed to see as soon as it came out!  Okay fine, AFTER Star Wars, but this was locked in for second place!  Do the Safdie Brothers improve on their last film and make a film that’s even better, or was all the potential I saw in Good Time actually the peak of their creative vision?  Let’s find out!!

Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) runs a jewelry store out of New York City where he makes a tidy living selling exquisite trash to those looking for something Gaudy more than Elegant, but most of the money he makes is then funneled into his gambling addiction which means he gets to talk to sports stars, have nice apartments, and live a life of relative comfort, but he’s also in deep with loan sharks (Eric Bogosian, Keith Williams, and Tommy Kominik) who want nothing more than to rip his heart out right out of his chest since that’s about all they’ll get from the guy who can’t stop throwing all his money away on terrible sports bets.  Still, he’s got an ace up his sleeve which is this opal he got straight from a mining company in Ethiopia which he plans to sell at an auction for up to a MILLION dollars.  Seems like he’s got it all sorted out, but of course when you’re a guy whose got as much bad blood as he does, those people who want something from him could easily derail everything in an instant, and Howard himself can’t seem to keep his own behavior under control long enough to get the money and clean the slate; especially when he “loans” the opal to basketball player Kevin Garnett (playing himself) and for whatever reason he can’t be reached and his go between guy (Lakeith Stanfield) is being awfully cagey for some reason.  Can Howard get the opal back in time to sell it and get his life back in order?  What sorts of comeuppance will he have waiting for him the moment he gets the money and what if it comes for him sooner than that?  I mean if he’s THAT deep in the red, can’t he just make Happy Gilmore 2?  Nineties nostalgia is ALL the rage now; tell me that wouldn’t make a hundred million at the box office!

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“Weren’t you Little Nicky?  No, you’re thinking of the other guy.  I think his name was SHUT UP!!”

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Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 8

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The Mandalorian is owned by Disney

Directed by Taika Waititi

Would it be inappropriate to do the Darth Vader “NOOOO” right now?  Because I feel like doing the Darth Vader “NOOOO” right now.  I don’t want this season to be over!  Heck, I need this show more than I did BEFORE seeing The Rise of Skywalker!  What am I supposed to do between now and whenever the heck season 2 comes out!?  Read fan fiction!?  Play that Star Wars Destiny thing!?  On top of that, what is Disney Plus supposed to offer me between now and then?  They don’t even have the Goofy sports cartoons, let alone the REALLY good stuff like No Smoking!!  Does this season end on a high note which would make it the best Star Wars thing since The Last Jedi, or will this be a bigger disappointment to everyone than The Return of Skywalker?  Let’s find out!!  Oh, and today I think we’ll go with… Walter and Jesse.  I know we used a DIFFERENT Walter last time, but I had no idea that Gus was going to show up in that episode, so I’m using that name again for this one!!

The episode begins right after the end of the last one; with two storm troopers on speeder bikes heading back to the city to deliver Jesse to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and they are waiting just on the outskirts for a signal that it’s okay to bring the little bugger to him.  What happens next is one of the best scenes in the entire series as the two Stormtroopers played by Adam Pally and Jason Sudeikis just start chatting and doing random incidental things for like five minutes!  They argue, they shoot their blasters at a tin can (missing obviously), and they even punch Jesse in the head a few times just so you don’t forget that they’re jerks.  I’ve always had a fascination with henchmen and I love it whenever something like this takes a moment to give them the spotlight, and this scene doesn’t disappoint as it is simultaneously REALLY funny but also distressing as they really do clock that kid a couple of times which makes you hope that he uses his force powers to snap their necks and leave their corpses in hilarious poses.   Disney?  If you want to throw a few costumes at me, I will make you a storm trooper series!  Just say the word!!  Sadly this isn’t the entirety of the episode, but the scene does have a great payoff as the IG-unit (now the IG-Nanny I guess) shows up, rips one guy’s arm out of its socket and bashes the other’s head repeatedly into his own speeder.  Luckily the other speeder remained unharmed and IG-Nanny goes off with Jesse to presumably somewhere safe.  My question is where was the IG-Nanny when Nick Nolte was running to the ship?  He was within spitting distance of it, and yet IG-Nanny couldn’t have provided some cover fire!?

Continue reading “Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 8”

Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #24

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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

I had NO idea that this issue was coming out which I feel is rather understandable since IDW decided to release it on Christmas Day, and I only found out after Ian Flynn sent a tweet about it.  The tweet ALSO promised that this is the last issue of utterly agonizing misery (my words, not his) before our heroes start to rally and bring this zombot saga to a close.  You know what?  Fine.  I’ll muster through one more of these and hopefully I can start enjoying this series again in 2020.  Can the end of the bad times be of any more interest than the last half a year’s worth of interminable issues, or does this arc plan to end as it started; by annoying me in a very repetitive way?  Let’s find out!!

Once again we find Sonic in yet another town being overrun by Zombots while The Resistance (or Restoration?  I don’t even know anymore) tries to evacuate survivors; saving comrades in need with his super speed, thinning out the Zombot hoards with his OP powers, and putting out fires wherever they crop up.  He’s more or less the player character in the most depressing version of Dynasty Warriors… so basically Dynasty Warriors 9.  HA!  Take THAT, game from two years ago!!

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“It appears that our fellow officer has been defeated.”     “Yikes!  I can feel my morale dropping already.”     “Too soon, Sonic.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by JJ Abrams

So here we are once again, though I guess things are a little bit different since we last got a Star Wars movie with a number at the end of it.  Whatever problems you may personally have with The Last Jedi (I have my own as well!), it certainly didn’t justify whatever the Fandom Menace was and only ended up souring people on Star Wars rather than provide constructive criticism of it.  Seriously, if you’ve made MULTIPLE hour long videos letting people know just how much you dislike a movie, there’s probably something else going on than just critical analysis.  With all that negativity surrounding the trilogy’s middle entry (from I must stress a VERY small if VERY vocal minority of people), there was a lot of interesting energy going into this final film as Lucasfilm and Disney were either going to ignore the toxicity and continue with what Johnson started, or they were gonna thread the needled of appeasing those people while also not losing the overwhelming majority of the audience that understood and appreciated what Johnson was going for.  Do they succeed in stitching this fandom back together (or better yet unambiguously denouncing and excising the toxic parts of) with one great movie to finish of the Saga of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo?  Let’s find out!!

After narrowly escaping destruction in The Last Jedi, the Resistance has started to grow its ranks once again on a well-hidden planet where Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training with Master Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).  Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is now Emperor of the First Order has been searching for Emperor Palaptine (Ian McDiarmid) ever since a mysterious broadcast from the dead guy went out across the galaxy, and he eventually succeeds in finding some sort of tracking beacon that leads him right to his mysterious and hard to reach planet.  It seems that Palpatine is still somehow alive (I’ll say The Force did it) and has an unstoppable military force waiting to be unleashed on the galaxy that Kylo can control IF he brings him Rey.  The Resistance learns of this overwhelming power that Palpatine has at the ready from a mission that Poe and Finn (Oscar Isaac and John Boyega) just barely manage to complete and survive so now there’s a clear ticking clock that the Resistance is working against in order to stop The First Order once and for all; get to Palpatine’s planet and destroy its fleet before it can leave port on Doom Planet.  Rey, Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)take it upon themselves to search for one of those tracking beacons that Kylo Ren used to find Palpatine’s planet and start looking into The Resistance’s past as well as the Empire’s past in order to find it and maybe a few more answers along the way.  Will our quartet of space heroes find a way to stop Palpatine once and for all; a task that as it turns out Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader weren’t up to?  What will Kylo Ren do to stop them from finding the beacon, and what agendas does he have of his own?  Will this movie FINALLY make those angry Star Wars fans finally happy?  Well of course not, but will it make the other ninety-nine percent of Star Wars fans happy!?

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“I feel a great disturbance in the force.  As if millions of fanboys suddenly cried out in betrayal and then never stopped doing it.”

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Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 7

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The Mandalorian is owned by Disney

Directed by Deborah Chow

We’re back with the further adventures of Mando and Baby, though frankly I would have preferred if they had just waited a week to release this episode instead of releasing it so soon after the last one.  This is the busiest time of the year and you throw THIS at me at the same time I’m doing a million other things; INCLUDING watching your new Star Wars movie!?  So if you’re wondering why this is so late, that would be the reason; because Disney are huge jerks for giving us too much to enjoy all at once!  In any case, even with a few minor bumps in the road here and there I’ve enjoyed every episode of this series and will certainly be sad to see the season come to an end in just a few more days.  Does this episode continue give us high quality Star Wars adventure on the small screen, or are they hoping to give us an episode so bad that we won’t be knocking on their door every day to give us season two right the heck now?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with… Let’s go with Walter and Buddy (Tis the season!) flying around in their space ship when Walter gets a message from Carl Weathers who we haven’t seen since episode three.  It’s a very interesting one that sets up yet another trope of the classic western and pulp movies; i.e. the convoluted double cross where Carl Weathers offers Walter a chance to clear his name with the guild if he goes on one more assignment for them.  It turns out that The Guild trusting Werner Herzog and his fascists militia turned out to be a bad idea (WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED!?) as Herzog has since grown his forces and has basically taken over the planet of Navarro which is where all this started and where Carl Weathers resides. If Walter will come back with the baby and go through a mock exchange with Buddy to Herzog, that will get him close enough to put a bullet in the man’s head; ending his rule, ending the chase, and clearing Walter’s name once and for all.  It’s a very enticing offer to be sure, but the amount of trust that Walter is being asked to impart to Carl Weathers is high and at any step in this process it could turn out to be one big trap.  That’s why he needs a few cards close to his chest if he’s going to go through with this, and what better backup than Cara Dune (Gina Carano) who already help Walter protect the kid back in episode four, so perhaps she can be trusted to not stab him in the back; especially when she finds out that the dude they’re bumping off is an ex-Imperial scumbag.  Apparently that’s a bit of a sore spot for her, but as with everything in this episode there’s always the threat of mistrust and double cross so I’d keep my eye on her just in case!

Continue reading “Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 7”

Super Comics: Tangle & Whisper – #4

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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

And so we come to the final issue of the Tangle & Whisper series; also known as THE ONLY THING KEEPING THE SONIC COMIC RELEVANT WHILE THEY LABORIOUSLY WORK THEIR WAY THROUGH A DULL AND DERIVATIVE ZOMBIE STORY.  It’s a much more descriptive title to be sure, but I don’t think they had enough room to put it on the cover so they went with the shorter one.  It’s definitely been a fantastic ride as each issue showed us more and more of Whisper’s backstory as well as the growing relationship between her and Tangle which I hope to see more of in the future, but for now we’re here to see how it all comes to an end with their final confrontation against that jerk Mimic!  Will it be a satisfying end to a fantastic mini-series, or will the culmination of Whisper’s story arc end in a disappointing fizzle rather than a satisfying bang? Let’s find out!!

The issue begins on a quiet yet intense moment with our heroes preparing for the coming confrontation on the remains of Whisper’s home from long ago.  Tangle is keeping a watchful eye out for Mimic’s arrival while Whisper steels her nerves for the battle ahead; adjusting her weapons and ensuring their effectiveness as a way to pass the time which seems to stand still in the middle of this quiet ocean base.  By the way, if the MGS references weren’t obvious enough with the one female sniper in this series being named after both female snipers from that series, the base in question looks suspiciously like a stripped down Mother Base.  Someone’s certainly a Kojima fan, and I’m bracing myself now for the scene where Whisper has one of those wisps inside a giant test tube strapped to her chest.

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“GAH!  IT’S METAL SPHERE!”     “Metal Sphere?”     “The deadliest and roundest weapon in Eggman’s Army!”     “Eggman’s Army?”     “Okay, are going to repeat EVERYTHING I say?”     “Everything you say?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Cats

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Cats and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Tom Hooper

I know next to nothing about Cats the stage show or the TS Eliot book it’s based on.  I know it ends with a sad song that earns the cat another life and I know the band Mungo Jerry took its name after a character in it, but other than I don’t have the first clue; not to the narrative, what the famous songs are, or why it’s so popular that a studio sunk a bajillion dollars into making good actors look like creatures from The Island of Dr. Moreau to bring it to the big screen.  Yeah, those trailers weren’t doing this film a lot of favors as the odd cat suits were all anyone was talking about and it certainly wasn’t selling a newbie like me on the CATS experience.  Still, even if the effects are strange there could be an engaging and heartfelt story beating underneath that’ll make up for all tht which if nothing else will explain why the stage show is still popular after all this time.  Is this the cinematic dance party of 2019 that The Greatest Showman was for 2018, or will this sit right alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber’s other missteps like Love Never Dies and Gerard Butler?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Victoria (Francesca Hayward) being dumped in an alley by her human owner (a very disturbing sight by the way coupled with these shrunken cat humanoids) and she is greeted by the Jellicle Cats.  What’s a Jellicle Cat?  I have no idea, but I think it involves three years of ballet and two years of tap.  The Jellicle Cats led by Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild) take Victoria through the streets of London to meet other Jellicle Cats like Jennyanydots, Bustopher Jones, and Rum Tum Tugger (Rebel Wilson, James Cordon, and Jason Derulo), and eventually to the Jellicle Ball which is some sort of talent show where even MORE cats show up to strut their stuff in the hopes of winning a new life.  I’m not sure if this is some reincarnation deal or if they get a tenth life tacked to the end of their ninth, but regardless there are a lot of cats trying to impress the leader of the Jellicle Cats, Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), who is the one that will ultimately make the decision.  Some cats like Gus and Skimbleshanks (Ian McKellen and Steven McRae) will simply try to do their best, while others like Macavity (Idris Elba) will use underhanded means to try and while, and others still like Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) are excluded entirely, for… reasons.  Will Victoria find a place among the Jellicle Cats now that she no longer has a home with the humans?  Who will be chosen to receive the ultimate prize this night, and how far will Macavity go to try and secure it?  Does anyone know if this is all one big joke?  Who looked at those faces and thought, YUP!  THAT’S WHAT WE WANT TO SPEND OUR MONEY ON!!

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What an un-fur-tunate turn of events.  I am not kitten you when I say this is an utter cat-astrophe.  Quite A-paw-ling when you get right down to it.  An in-fur-ior interpretation of the stage show and a slap in the face, meta-fur-kitty speaking.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-18-19)

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

We’re back with yet another episode of Vince McMahon’s giant pain in the butt!  While last week’s episode left me a bit cold (possibly due to being sick at the time), I am still hopeful for what happens this week as we finally get the Jungle Boy match against Chris Jericho that they have been building up for weeks, and we can only hope the rest of the show is just as gret considering they are going off the air for two weeks; resuming on January first of next year.  I consider this to be a phenomenally good decision because I frankly don’t NEED a Christmas Day show and forcing wrestlers to work over the holidays like that is utterly heartless and I still want to have at least SOME hope that a heavily moneyed wrestling promotion isn’t entirely evil!  Is this a return to form for the series and the best way to end the first year of AEW?  Let’s find out!!

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The Luchas Bros (Fénix & Pentagón Jr) Vs. Hangman Adam Page & Kenny Omega

DANG!  We’re not just starting off with a bang; we’re starting with a freaking CANNON as these are four of the biggest stars in the entire company and they’re coming out as the opening act!  The first part of the match is a bit of a clown show with both teams peacocking at each other, but the crowd was SO into it as it basically devolves into elaborate call backs like Pentagón’s glove thing which I still don’t fully get as well as prideful stare downs where they give their best smoldering intensity for no discernable reason other than everyone involved REALLY wanting to show off.  There is almost negative momentum here as no one is in any particular hurry to get the match going and I found it a LITTLE bit off-putting as I prefer matches to have some real flow and movement, but there’s genuine charm to watching the biggest hams in wrestling Kenny Omega and Pentagón Jr staring at each other for an almost uncomfortable amount of time; daring the other to be the first to break the tension.  The match does eventually pick up, and while it’s never a barn burner to bring the house down, it’s fun and has a lot of really hard hits that the crowd continued to eat up.  I particularly liked this one spot where Pentagón drags Kenny Omega out of the ring so that Fénix can follow up with a Suicide Dive.  THAT shows some real teamwork that you just don’t get when you throw two randos together in a match like this!  Now one of the things about last week’s tag match with Adam Page and Omega is that Page seemed to have some sort of resentment for Kenny that didn’t manifest into a full blown betrayal but definitely left things a bit more intense than they should have been considering they did get the victory.  This match continues up on that as it ends in typical tragic face fashion where Adam Page “ACCIDENTALLY” lands a Buckshot Lariat on Kenny Omega which opens him up for Pentagón’s finisher and subsequent pin; and now we have to wonder just how intentional Adam Page’s little screw up there really was.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-18-19)”

Cinema Dispatch: Jumanji: The Next Level

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Jumanji: The Next Level and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Two years after the Jumanji reboot and I still think it’s a pretty good movie!  I’ve had to of seen it at least twice since seeing it in theaters, and it still holds up pretty well; especially with such a fun and talented cast that could have phoned it in and let the special effects do all the work but instead elevated the material to something far more watchable than you’d expect at first glance!  Now it’s time for a sequel, and… well I don’t know about you but I’d have rather seen a sequel to Baywatch than watch them try to recreate what made that reboot so good.  Seems like a bit of a long shot that we’ll get something halfway decent out of this, but hey!  I was saying the same thing about that first movie before it came out, and look what we got!  Can we go back to the well one more time without the formula feeling stale and apathetic?  Let’s find out!!

After Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany (Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, and Madison Iseman) had defeated the mysterious Jumanji video game and smashed it to bits with a bowling ball, we pick up on their lives a year or so later where everyone is off doing their own thing but still manage to stay in touch as they even plan on meeting up during the winter break.  However, only three of them show up to the meeting spot so they go to check on Spencer and find that his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) hasn’t seen him since last night, though he hasn’t been paying much attention this morning as he has an unexpected house guest in the form of his former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) who Eddie’s been avoiding for over a decade now due to some conflict that broke them apart and I’m sure will be resolved before the end of the movie.  Anyway, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany go to the basement to find that Spencer not only took the Jumanji pieces home with them but repaired them to the best of his abilities (I don’t know how many MAGIC retro console repair tutorial are on YouTube but I’m pretty sure it’s more than zero) and has managed to get himself back into the game.  With their friend’s life (as well as contractual obligations) hanging over our heroes’ heads, they head back into the game once more time.  However, things don’t go as planned as only Fridge and Martha wake up inside, and while Martha is still in the body of Karen Gillan, Fridge is now in the body of Jack Black.  The ones filling the Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart shaped meat sacks turn out to be Eddie and Milo respectively who have no idea what’s going on but don’t seem to disturbed by it; assuming they just died or something.  With only half their team, a brand new game scenario involving some dude named JURGEN THE BRUTAL (Rory McCann), and even some new mechanics including magic fruit and a body switching liquid, can this rag tag group of tired pros and retired noobs find Spencer and beat the game before everyone dies a miserable and painful death?  What will Spencer have to say for himself once they find him and start demanding answers as to why he’s here in the first place?  Will Eddie and Milo be able to resolve their decade’s long rivalry, and will it be half as compelling as the Sunny episode Frank’s Brother!?

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“I’ve got a human meat guy, and if you’re not careful I’ll take you right to him with these giant muscular arms!”     “Yeah, well with this tiny body I’m sure he won’t give you much for me, so ha!”     “What in the heck are they even talking about!?”

Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Jumanji: The Next Level”

Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 6

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The Mandalorian is owned by Disney

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

I get the impression that a lot of people weren’t too pleased with the last episode which is astonishing because it had some really great moments in it including a fun part for Amy Sedaris, AND it was basically like every other episode we’ve gotten so far so I don’t see what’s worth crying foul about with that one.  In any case, we’ve got a new episode look at so let’s see if they can pick things up a bit for those who are starting to lose interest.  Does the show maintain the high bar of fun and excitement it’s set for itself within the Star Wars universe, or will the genre hopping antics will finally start to feel stale for me as well?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with… how about Al and Bud, arriving on some sort of space station which already sets this apart from other episodes in the series, and Al is out there to get another job so he and Bud can stay on the run for another day.  He meets up with an old contact named Ranzar (Mark Boone Junior) who immediately becomes my favorite person in this entire series, and he lets Al know that it’s a five person job with him as backup and his ship serving as the SPACE GETAWAY CAR; more or less making him responsible for bringing this sorry sack of scumbags to their job and back again in one piece.  Said scumbags include a devil looking dude named Burg played by CLANCY MOTHER FREAKING BROWN, an android with a bug head named Zero voiced by Richard Ayoade, a Twi’lek knife expert and former flame of Al’s named Xi’an played by Natalia Tena (think of the dynamic between Brock Samson and Molotov to get an idea of what’s going on there), and of course the leader of the bunch called Mayfeld played by comedian Bill Burr; trying his darnedest here to land a role in a Scorsese flick.  See, this is why I have to respectfully disagree with anyone who’s getting bored with this show as it may be doing the genre recreation thing for every single episode, it’s still doing it in interesting and uniquely Star Wars flavored ways.  Heck, I’m sure Clancy Brown has been in a dozen of these, let alone everyone else in the scene’s filmographies, and yet we haven’t seen a heist story like this in the Star Wars universe!  Yes, Rouge One was about stealing plans, but that was still within the context of the noble rebellion fighting against fascism!  This is just a bunch of definite Bad Guys committing crimes because it’s their job, and Al trying to justify taking this job to himself as necessary to keep his little boy Bud safe and sound.  It’s immediately familiar and yet still compelling because the show continues to do such a good job of keeping Al interesting as a character as well as introducing new and exciting elements within the Star Wars universe!

Continue reading “Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 6”