Author Archives: Matt Vetrano

HalloWWEen: DOOM

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

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak

Welcome one and all to this most SPOOKY time of the year!  For this Halloween, I’ll be reviewing horror movies as I’ve been known to do on occasion, only this time we’ll be doing something a LITTLE bit different!  With my recent fascination in the WWE and wrestling in general, I thought it’d be interesting to check out a few horror movies from some of the company’s most iconic stars, starting with the often maligned DOOM movie from 2005!  DOOM was one of the biggest attempts to bring a video game to the big screen but ended up bombing at the box office which kind of put the whole idea of adaptation these properties on hold for a while there; leaving the genre to be dominated by Resident Evil sequels and Uwe Boll until around 2016 when studios started getting confident once again and movies OTHER than Resident Evil could start making money.  Is it as bad people say it is, or is this Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vehicle just a diamond in the rough looking for the right critic to give it the polish it needs?  Let’s find out!!

Before the opening credits we get a bit of narration which tells us that humans discovered a portal on Earth that led to Mars, and now that I think about it… isn’t that the plot of John Carter of Mars?  Why haven’t they run with that yet!?  Maybe that’s the surprise twist in DOOM: Eternal.  Now obviously with this being a DOOM movie, nothing can go well once you get your ass to Mars which these unlucky scientists are currently learning as the prologue picks up right as things are going to hell; literally I’m sure.  They are RUNNING their asses off to try and get away from some unseen (presumably demonic) threat, and the situation is SO critical that the fastest sprinter locks the sliding doors behind him; leaving the slower ones to die in very gory fashion!

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This is what happens when you don’t hold the elevator door.

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Cinema Dispatch: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

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Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Ari Sandel

Was anyone asking for this!?  Look, we got off pretty easy with the first one, but the prospect of sitting through one of these WITHOUT Jack Black sounds just utterly miserable; especially since they’re still calling this a “sequel” and slapping that number two at the end of it.  You’d think that at the VERY least they’d try to distance themselves the tiniest bit from the movie they can’t even properly be a continuation of, but then I guess I’m not a Sony executive looking for something to fill an empty spot in October without spending more than a weekend allowance on it.  BUT WHO KNOWS!?  Maybe axing your most bankable star and replacing them with… nothing, is SOMEHOW a winning strategy!  Yeah… probably not, but let’s find out!!

After the events of the first film but in no way connected to them, some kids in some other city, Sonny and Sam (Jeremy Ray Taylor and Caleel Harris), are middle school students who run a trash collection service hoping to find “good junk” that they can… I don’t know, sell?  I mean it’s not the WORST idea I’ve heard of as it’s more direct and a lot cheaper than combing through flea markets, but this also runs the risk of going into a haunted house and finding a demonic book that will awaken an evil dummy that will try to destroy you and the town, BUT WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT HAPPENING!?  Well sure enough, they get a mysterious call (the movie NEVER explains who called them by the way) to clean out an abandoned house that JUST SO HAPPENED to be owned by RL Stine many years ago which just so happens to contain his VERY FIRST STORY in a hidden compartment behind the fireplace.  They open it up, say some magic words from it, and good ol’ Slappy (Mick Wingert) pops into existence and wants to be a part of the family!  I don’t know about you, but an evil puppet with telekinetic powers is a PRETTY good card to have in your back pocket when the bully comes by (Peyton Wich), but I guess they way too Lawful Good to strike a bargain with him and so the two of them along with Sonny’s older sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) dispose of the dummy.  Of course they didn’t use FIRE to do it or something as equally lethal for a little wooden boy (I’d have gone with a metal crate full of termites) so NOW he’s gonna have to destroy the whole town and kidnap their mother (Wendi McLendon-Covey) just to teach them a lesson!  With Tesla’s Giant MacGuffin, Slappy uses his magic to bring all the Halloween decorations to life (i.e. NOT monsters from the Goosebumps books) and so the trio have to go to Tesla’s Giant MacGuffin to stop him; all the while fighting Styrofoam skeletons, balloon animals, and gummy bears.  Can these three youngsters do what the cops and rescue services CAN’T do by stopping a puppet with a bad attitude?  What is Slappy TRULY after, and can this all be resolved with a big discussion of each other’s feelings instead of total annihilation?  What the heck are we even doing here!?  WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!?

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“Look, we either get another movie or you let us sweep the floors for minimum wage plus benefits.  At this point we’ll take either.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Bad Times at the El Royale

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Bad Times at the El Royale and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Drew Goddard

Oh hey!  I know this guy!  Yeah, didn’t he do that movie that everyone else liked but I was pretty nonplussed about?  Okay, probably have to be more specific there.  This is the guy who made The Cabin in the Woods (no not that guy, the guy who ACTUALLY directed it) which was an interesting idea but for me it suffered from a somewhat oblivious tone and an ending that soured me from ever really enjoying the film again.  Well after a few years doing quite a bit of writing, he’s back in the director’s chair with this film that looks to be a mishmash of noir tropes as opposed to horror ones, though he managed to keep Chris Hemsworth around.  Will this be the movie that sells me on the brilliance of this director after a somewhat disappointing opening salvo, or is this another guy who I’m just not gonna get and be a sourpuss about while everyone else is enjoying themselves?  Let’s find out!!

The El Royale is a hotel on the border between Nevada and California, once a hotbed of celebrity debauchery but now a shell of its former self; handing out cheap rooms to unscrupulous and impoverished characters who aren’t really here for the ambiance.  On the fateful day that this movie starts, there JUST SO HAPPENS to be quite a few people there who may or may not have nefarious schemes in mind, including the vacuum salesman Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), the kindly Father Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), and the mystery woman who signs the guestbook with an obscenity (Dakota Johnson).  Now normally they would just go their separate ways and not bother one another no matter what bad stuff they’re into, but what the concierge Miles (Lewis Pullman) isn’t telling them is that this place isn’t simply a rundown hotel; rather it’s a rundown hotel WITH A SPYING ROOM!  As each one of them goes about their business, things start to unravel as some discover this place and see what the others are up to which inevitably causes their stories to intertwine in ways that will either lead to fair and equitable compromises or an utter bloodbath; especially with the Mystery Woman having some serious baggage in the form of another mystery woman with her (Cailee Spaeny) and some dude who just might be looking for them (Chris Hemsworth).  Will these lovely guests manage to finish what they came here to do with all their limbs still attached?  What is each one of them hiding, and how important will it be to the other people there?  How the heck did hotel stay open this long!?  They’ve got ONE guy running the darn place!!

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“This is NOT what I was promised on Yelp!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Venom

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

Directed by Ruben Fleischer

FINALLY!!  I have been waiting so long for this movie to come out, especially with the last few weeks being miserable times doing these reviews.  None of this wish washy crap where I am not savvy enough to understand the BRILLIANCE of movies like Mandy, Assassination Nation, and A Star is Born!  None of the dull tedium of films like Night School or the disappointingly wasteful Hell Fest!  I’m done with those!  Give me something I can wrap my head around!  Something I can easily size up and bash with a baseball bat for some cheap laughs and maybe some a bit of insight!  Whether this is good or bad (STRONGLY leaning towards the latter if the trailers are any indication), I can’t imagine I’ll have to spend three hours hemming and hawing about the best way to describe why I’m the ONE critic out there who “doesn’t get it” because this is the kind of movie that I’m sure we’ll ALL have no problem understanding!  It’s a sad testament to the times we’re living in that a Sony Spider-Man movie (except maybe not?) is what I consider a grounding influence in my life, but I’m not the one who voted for any of these jerks, nor did I have anything to do with the September release schedule!  Anyway, does Venom actually turn out to be a fun adventure with one of Spider-Man’s most infamous foes, or did Sony WAY overestimate their ability to make another super hero movie after Disney held their hand on the last one?  Let’s find out!!

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is your typical movie journalist!  He’s on the streets looking for the REAL news and has an axe to grind against THE MAN!  So much so that he finds dirt on some smug billionaire jerk named Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) who you’d THINK everyone would realize is bad just from the name, but Eddie’s got the story and springs these questions on him during an interview!  A few problems though.  First, this is the kind of billionaire who can get people fired from newspapers even if they DON’T run with the story, and second… well he got the dirt by hacking the computer of his girlfriend Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) who I THINK was a lawyer at the firm that Mr. Drake was employing, so she gets the boot too.  Well THAT certainly backfired for poor privacy invading Eddie!  Now no one will hire him because… I guess there’s NO outlet in existence that wants to hire someone who’s seemingly as competent as Eddie is (ESPECIALLY since he’s desperate and ready to work for cheap) and he’s just kind of sitting around depressed in his apartment; hoping his girlfriend will come back to him (she won’t) and hoping that his neighbor will turn down the loud music (he won’t).  Oh, and I think there’s something to do with aliens?  Yeah, apparently Mr. Drake had a spaceship that crashed but also had some alien lifeforms on it; namely The Symbiotes.  These giant piles of goo turn out to be rather dangerous as we learn when Mr. Drake starts siccing them on human subjects.  One of the scientists (Jenny Slate) doesn’t recall this being in her job description so she reaches out to Eddie who reluctantly goes to the facility with her after hours, and sure enough one of the Symbiotes escapes and attaches itself to Eddie.  Eventually it reveals itself to be known simply as Venom and the two of them need to work together; otherwise the EVIL MR. DRAKE will find them and… I guess do even MORE evil experiments on them!  Can Eddie and Venom uncover whatever it is that Drake has planned for humanity and the Symbiotes?  What exactly is Venom’s endgame here, and does it require Eddie to stay alive for that much longer?  What chances does Eddie have for reuniting with Anne now that there’s a third slimy wheel in the mix?  WHAT THE HELL IS TALKING ABOUT WHEN HE SAYS TURD IN THE WIND!?

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“Well on MY planet, turds are as light as a feather and could EASILY start rolling from a stiff breeze!  Now shut up as I eat your eyeballs!”

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Cinema Dispatch: A Star Is Born

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A Star is Born and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Bradley Cooper

Let’s see… a remake of a classic film, the directorial debut of a respected actor, and it’s about the entertainment industry.  Are we sure they can’t squeeze in World War II to make this finely engineered Oscar Bait in all of existence?  Now Oscar Season has always been a bit of nebulous term as there are a lot of films throughout the year that manage to maintain prestige buzz all the way to voting time (*cough* Get Out *cough*), but there’s no denying that this time of year is chock full of films hoping to be contenders; especially this one!

The movie follows Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) who is an aging country rock star (think Bruce Springsteen or Florida Georgia Line) that likes to drink hard, take pills, and try to pretend he isn’t developing a severe case of Tinnitus.  After one of his shows and three fourths of a bottle of whisky, he randomly stumbles into a bar and sees Ally (Lady Gaga) performing one of her sets.  Now it could just be the booze talking or she could be THE GREATEST SINGER OF ALL TIME, but either way he has to meet her and try to get her to date him.  Oh, and ALSO he’ll help her get a career, but he’ll cross that bridge when they get to it; which is after the dating bridge.  ANYWAY, they spend some time together, party hard at a few bars, and eventually he takes her on tour with him (which is managed by Jackson’s brother played by Sam Elliott) to sing her songs among other things.  Eventually she catches the eye of a manager (Rafi Gavron) and suddenly her success isn’t dependent on Jackson which I guess just gives him more time to drink heavily even if it’s obviously a problem for everyone around him, including her.  Will Ally live out her dreams and become the next great pop sensation?  How long can Jackson function like this without destroying everything and everyone around him?  How the heck are they successful in TODAY’S music climate!?  There’s not a single sick drop in any of their songs!

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Give him six months of Spotify returns and he’ll be singing in the same bars that she was!

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Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (Joy’s Ex)

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Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim

Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim

We’re back with another episode of The Jefferton Folk Blues, and if that pun there was a bit too obscure, this is the final episode of the series!  I know!  I too wish this series had gone on forever and ever, but all good things must come to an end at some point, so let’s see how Tim & Eric’s flagship series made its final bow!  The episode begins with Tom in a quite cheerful mood as he visits the Mayor on Saint Patriot’s Day; presumably a Jefferton specific take on The Fourth of July that I’m guessing The mayor concocted for whatever reason.  Probably so he had an excuse to buy an ADORABLE talking bear that sadly seems to drain its batteries very quickly.  If it wasn’t clear enough by Tom’s cheerful mood that this episode did NOT directly follow Puddins, it turns out that Tom has brought over a cake for The Mayor that his three VERY MUCH ALIVE step sons had made for him.  For what reason, I’m not sure, but I’m guessing it has to do with Tom trying to brown nose The Mayor again and has roped his sons into this latest foolhardy attempt to get The Senpai to notice him.  Actually it looks like this attempt might just pay off as The Mayor seems to feel genuinely sorry for the guy after hearing his pathetic spiel about how bad things are at home (Joy’s ex-husband and father of Tom’s stepsons is staying at their house while she and the kids are going out of town) and invites him to a soiree at his private residence.  No not the fancy house we saw in Puddins!  He’s got a condo at Jefferton Castle which I assume is the most exclusive bit of real estate in the entire city and lucky Tom here just got a one way ticket to enjoy the festivities!

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“All I ask is that you bring six bottles of Tequila, a goat you have a slight amount of animosity towards, and a covered dish.”     “Okay… what about potato salad?”     “Come on, Tom.  I don’t have to hold your hand now, do I?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Hell Fest

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Hell Fest and all the images you see in this review are owned by CBS Films and Lionsgate

Directed by Gregory Plotkin

Did anyone know about this movie more than a week ago?  I certainly never got a trailer for it despite being a horror movie being released right around October, but then again I guess Halloween is gonna keep soaking up all the attention this year which is even leaving stuff like the Suspiria remake out of the spotlight.  I remember back when Blockbuster was a thing (BACK WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH!) I would rent a bunch of horror movies, and I have very vague memories of one taking place at a circus.  It MIGHT have been Funhouse I guess?  I honestly don’t remember, but a horror movie set at a spooky amusement park sounds like a match made in heaven and may even twinge a bit of nostalgia or the days when I would rent basically anything in the horror section with an R-rating.  Does this manage to be a fun throwback to the carnival horror movies of yore, or is this just another by the numbers horror film made on the cheap to try and recoup its budget in a single weekend?  Let’s find out!!

It’s that time of year again where the college kids take a break from their arduous studies to enjoy the spookiest month of the year!  Yes, its Halloween time and Natalie (Amy Forsyth) finally has a chance to take a break and reconnect with her friend Brooke (Reign Edwards) and maybe even hook up with the hot stud Quinn (Christian James) who’s been asking about her!  Along with Brooke’s roommate Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus), her boyfriend Gavin (Roby Attal), and Taylor’s boyfriend Asher (Matt Mercurio), they head off to the most awesome amusement park of all time, HELL FEST!  Imagine if the bad guys in all the pre-Nolan Batman movies went into Performing Arts instead of a life of crime and you basically have an idea of just how rad this amusement park is, but something is amiss!  You see, among the merriment and fog machines, there’s an ACTUAL serial killer lurking around in a silly mask who decides that Natalie and her friends are gonna be his next targets.  Will the group be able to escape from the park with their lives and not just because they’re risking their health with that extremely greasy carnival food?  How will they even be able to protect themselves when everything in the park looks spooky and murderous already?  How is it that the last noticeable thing about this movie is the guy who’s ACTUALLY cutting people up!?  Seriously, buddy!  It’s called showmanship, and you’re being outclassed by strobe lights and a scary sound effects CD!

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Can I get one of those awesome mechanical eye things at Spencer’s?

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