Author Archives: Matt Vetrano

Super Recaps: The Twilight Zone (Sanctuary)

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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

Welcome back to yet another episode of The Twilight Drone!  Not one of those flying things, I mean in terms of just… droning on.  Yeah, I’m just gonna be upfront with you; this is one of the bad ones in that it’s REALLY boringly made and has a message that… well you’ll see soon enough.  Oh well!  I’m sure we’ll get to something more interesting next time like aliens, or time travel or whatever, so let’s just burn through this one and try to make a few jokes along the way!  Let’s get started!!

Scott (Rob Estes) is a hot shot sports agent who’s having a rather tough start to his day as he got a flat on his tire and is about to lose one of his biggest  players if he doesn’t stop him from singing with someone else.  While waiting for a tow truck to get there, he wanders off into the nearby woods to pee on a tree (as you do), and ends up getting lost; finding not his car but a beautiful home in the middle of nowhere.  Inside he finds a woman named Marisa (Elizabeth Berkley, yes THAT Elizabeth Berkley) who similarly has to be somewhere soon but wandered into the forest for whatever reason (perhaps the SAME reason) and ended up here.  This place by the way has bad reception even by 2002 standards and their watches have stopped working as well.  The house has no light switches, no electricity, no clocks, and no cars.  Now to ME this sounds like an unbearable hell to live in whether or not there’s a good view and pretty throw pillows, but I don’t want to get TOO ahead of myself here, and it also turns out that Marisa is familiar with the area and KNOWS that no idyllic looking mountain ranges or sparkling clear ponds are anywhere close to where the two of them got lost, so they’re kinda stuck as far as finding their way back; wherever “back” even is at this point.

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“DARN YOU NATURE!!  WHY MUST YOU BE SO IDYLLICALLY SAMEY!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Yesterday

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

Directed by Danny Boyle

This may be a movie about music from fifty years ago, yet the premise is even older than that as the idea of a hapless someone getting a shortcut to fame and fortune is one of the most basic cornerstones of literature.  When you take that premise and make it about something other than say measurable wealth and status (i.e. Aladdin) to instead focus on some sort of perceived skill or art form (i.e. music), you can run into a few issues; namely that you have to sell the audience on the perceived greatness of something that is rather subjective.  You either have to play into the impossibility of someone ACTUALLY making the greatest music ever like with Tenacious D’s Tribute or even Fish Story, or your stuck trying to write it yourself and just ignore the disconnect (*cough* Harsh Mistress *cough*).  The workaround for all that though is what we’ve got here which is a jukebox musical of sorts where the songs being played are widely considered (at least somewhat) to be the greatest of all time, and in this era where Musical Biopics are now in vogue, it was probably the best way for yet another Beatles tribute to stand out among the crowd.  So then!  Does this movie manage to capture the magic of that one band from Liverpool, or will this be a bigger stain on their legacy than Magical Mystery Tour THE MOVIE?  Let’s find out!!

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is the typical struggling artist who spends his time stocking store shelves between gigs that no one bothers to see.  His manager and best friend Ellie (Lily James) still believes in him and his amazing songwriting skills, but if it hasn’t happened yet then it probably isn’t going to happen and so he decides that now is the time to hang it up.  The universe on the other hand has other plans for him because as he’s riding home on his bike that night, there’s a global power outage that no one ever finds an explanation for but did lead to Jack getting hit with a bus; breaking his guitar, his front teeth, and his spirit even more.  After a lengthy recovery though, he soon realizes that no one remembers who The Beatles or any of their amazing songs.  You know, songs like Yesterday, A Hard Day’s Night, and… others.  Okay, so there were A LOT of songs, but Jack can surely remember enough of them to finally have a chance to be the musical star he’s always wanted to be!  I mean these songs are culturally important and should exist in some form for the betterment of mankind, so Jack is practically doing a public service here, right!?  So that’s what Jack does as he starts recording classic tracks like I Want to Hold Your Hand and Let it Be (seemingly unconcerned with the arc the band took in their music) as well as songs like Back in the USSR which sounds a bit retro now, but still jams!  It takes a bit of time, but he does eventually start to get a following and it seems like all that success is just around the corner if he can just stick it out through the hardships and machinations of the music industry, but with so much changing so quickly and his loved ones seeming to get further and further away from him, is this truly what Jack wants now?  On top of that, if HE remembers who The Beatles are then there has to be other’s out there too, right?  Can he keep up the lies before this house of cards comes crumbling down, or will everyone be cool with it since no one knows who the fudge John Paul George and Ringo are anyway?  Most importantly, is he gonna get a mediocre Hanna-Barbera cartoon as well!?

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“Thank you everyone, and make sure to watch my web series!  We are sponsored by Audible!!”

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #18

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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

We’re back with another issue of The Spin Dashing Dead, and unlike Robert Kirkman’s book I’m PRETTY sure this issue won’t turn out to be the final one.  Amazing as it would be for everyone to turn into robot zombies and the story to just end, we still have SOME hope for a triumphant conclusion to all this despite the tragic loss of Charmington L Beesworth (also known as Charmy) last issue and Sonic’s progressively worsening sickness.  Seriously, is Sonic trying to fill the gap that Game of Thrones has left?  I’m not saying we’re there YET (we’d need a few more decapitations), but we’re certainly closer to it than at any other point in the franchise’s history!  Anyway, before I go into any more random tangents about series that have come to a close (I could make an Archie reference here but I shall resist the temptation), let’s focus on the issue at hand and the continued efforts of THE RESTORATION to contain the ROBO-VIRUS!  Can Sonic and crew rescue those caught in the midst of Eggman’s latest attack, including Cream the Rabbit!?  Let’s find out!!

Right off the bat, I want to point out that they gave us an ACTUAL map of the world we’ve seen so far as well as a running tally of who’s missing or zombified which actually helps a lot in making the world feel a lot more cohesive rather than a series of random cities plopped into the story whenever convenient.  I mean… that’s still KIND of what’s been going on, but at least they’re keeping track!

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Cinema Dispatch: Child’s Play

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Child’s Play and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Lars Klevberg

I’m gonna say it right now.  Even though the movie gets quite a bit of praise, Child’s Play is still underrated.  It’s one of those series where the later films defined the look and tone that stuck in the popular consciousness to the point that the merits of the original can still be somewhat overlooked.  It’s a lot like with the first Friday the 13th which is mostly known for the non-Jason killer and the sorta-Jason jump scare.  The first Child’s Play really does have a lot going for it even if the more recognizable elements like the campiness and Jennifer Tilly’s Tiffany are absent.  In a way that kind of makes it perfect for a remake as the finer points of the original can feel fresh to newer audiences who only know of the franchise in the broadest of terms.  Then again, turning Chucky from a possessed doll to a bad robot doesn’t feel particularly inspired, but I guess we can’t begrudge a remake for trying something new, right?  Does this manage to capture the spirit of the original film while telling it in a new and interesting way, or is this yet another mess of a movie to throw on the pile with The Nightmare on Elm Street remake, The Black Christmas remake, and whatever the heck that Rings movie was supposed to be?  Let’s find out!!

Andy Barclay and his mother Karen (Gabriel Bateman and Aubrey Plaza) have just moved to the city and are trying to start fresh with a new life, yet neither one of them seem to be doing a great job of it.  Karen is in a relationship with a huge jerk named Shane (David Lewis), Andy isn’t making any friends with the kids in his building, and to make matters worse Karen has to work the return desk at a department store which means she has to deal with angry jerks ALL day long.  You’d think she’d recognize the jerk-gene in her boyfriend considering how many of them visit her on a daily basis, but regardless of that, Andy’s birthday is coming up and she’s got nothing for him.  I mean I guess she COULD buy him a Cabbage Patch knockoff doll, but considering it’s not the late eighties and he’s thirteen, it doesn’t seem like a good fit.  Maybe she’ll “procure” one of those Buddi Dolls that one of the customers returned which I GUESS is supposed to be an A.I. assistant only MORE anthropomorphic since it’s housed inside a creepy looking robot doll.  Hey, it’s cheaper than a new phone!  Karen takes it home and Andy, while initially resistant, ends up finding a soft spot for the little bugger named Chucky (Mark Hamill), but not everything is as it should be because Chucky is not just an A.I.; it’s a LEARNING A.I. who observes things around it and jumps to the conclusion that murder might just might be the best way to solve Andy’s problems, and unfortunately for Andy this isn’t a problem that can be solved by turning it off and turning it back on again.  Can Andy teach Chucky the ways of peace before he starts leaving a lot of bloody messes in his wake?  Just how far will Chucky’s programming go to ensure Andy’s “happiness” at the exclusion of everything else?  Couldn’t we let Mark Hamill use his Joker voice and just say Andy downloaded a custom speech pack from the cloud!?

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“I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”     “Do you have to say that EVERY time we start a new game?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Dead Don’t Die

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The Dead Don’t Die and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Two things I’m not particularly well versed in are zombie movies and Jim Jarmusch movies; the former because I find many entries in the genre to be tedious and the latter because I haven’t gotten around to them yet.  Good thing I get to kill two birds with one stone here as I guess even he couldn’t resist the allure of big box office gold with yet another zombie film!  Then again, we’re kind of on the other side of the whole zombie craze, so maybe this is the PERFECT time for his indie sensibilities and surprisingly extensive connections to make the ultimate commentary on the modern interpretation of the genre!  Or maybe it’s just a goofy comedy with the dude from Star Wars and Selena Gomez.  The point is that you can never pin this guy down to just one thing, so it’s probably both at the same time.  The REAL question though is whatever it ends up being, is it any good?  Let’s find out!!

Police Chief Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) are living out their lives patrolling the small town of Centerville without much to worry about other than Hermit Bob (Tom Wait’s) possibly stealing chickens and the dead body in their police station that someone from the big city promises to pick up real soon.  The town is filled with lots of colorful characters like Farmer Miller (Steve Buscemi) who’s a racist jerk, Hank Thompson (Danny Glover) who’s clearly getting too old for whatever it is that he does, and Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones) who runs a really cool gas station filled with old school horror movie merchandise, and all of them certainly have their concerns about reports of the Earth being pushed off its orbit due to arctic fracking, but it’s not something they have much control over so they just keep doing what they’re doing.  Sadly for the citizens of Centerville (except for Farmer Miller because screw that guy), the grave environmental catastrophes thousands of miles away seem to be having a global effect and the dead start to rise from their graves.  Chief Robertson and Officer Peterson, along with the third and final cop in the town Officer Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) have to figure out the best course of action for dealing with this nonsense and they could use a little help from the new undertaker in town Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton) who seems to know her way around bladed weapons and might just have a plan for dealing with the undead rising from their graves.  Can the cops as well as the rest of the citizens of Centerville survive this literal night of the living dead?  What can be done even if they do survive it now that the Earth has changed its orbit and the moon is now glowing for some reason?  What even was the last zombie movie I saw?  Does Overlord count?

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“Look, all I’m saying is that Nazi Zombies are technically zombies if you want to get pedantic about it, but they never follow the traditional zombie formula.”     “What about Dead Snow?”     “That was INTENTIONALLY tongue in cheek about its premise!  It doesn’t count!”

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Super Wrestling: AEW – Fyter Fest

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Fyter Fest and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan

We’re back with another PPV brought to you by the throne smashers themselves, AEW!  Things have certainly changed since Double or Nothing, haven’t they?  For one, WWE has completely lost the plot from what I’ve heard and responded to AEW with nonsense, bad story lines, and an overabundance of Shane McMahon.  With their primary rival of sorts doing such a poor job of responding to the new challenger, which is surprising in its own right, it only got stranger when AEW announced that THIS PPV would be completely free; a move that still baffles me considering how successful they’ve been up to this point.  Sure, Double or Nothing MIGHT have been a bit pricey at fifty bucks, but they could have at least charged twenty or even ten for it which would have gotten them a heck of a lot more money than ZERO!  I guess TBS and the Khan family have the money to throw around, and I’m not about to complain TOO much about not having to pay for a show like this.  The bigger question is what’s different in this show and have they improved since Double or Nothing?  Eh… sort of.  As far as commentary, Excalibur has improved but JR still sounds a bit rusty and out of touch; especially when he referred to Cima as “an Oriental.”  I mean look, we can argue about how much of a slur that is or whether JR has any genuine ill feelings about Asian wrestlers (and I can think of WAY worse people they could have gotten as an announcer where the answer to those questions wouldn’t even be debatable), but it really does make him seem like an awkward fit for what is supposed to be a very modern and forward thinking wrestling company.  While the announcing has improved, sadly the camera work still has a few rough patches that will hopefully get ironed out before they go to TV.  I only mentioned this very briefly in my last recap, but the editing sometimes misses spots or more often will miss whenever there’s drama at the end of a match.  Someone does a low blow, someone else enters the ring, stuff like that will almost go by unnoticed because whoever is running the cameras is focusing on something else an nearly misses the action.  Again, this is the kind of thing that can be easily fixed with experience and I’m not gonna begrudge them this learning curve, but it is even more noticeable here than it was last time. In fact, I’d say that’s the overall vibe I’m getting from Fyter Fest.  It’s still really good stuff, but I think the high from Double or Nothing has started to wear off and so it’s easier to see and evaluate its flaws.  The big one that MOSTLY stayed in the pre-show but kept coming back to annoy me was the show’s theme where they didn’t JUST name it after something topical but had to do little skits to make sure we ALL KNOW that they saw the documentaries too.  Kenny Omega is trying to find instruments for bands that don’t exist, The Young Bucks lost their luggage and need to find new costumes, and they even brought models out before swiftly replacing them with mannequins.  It all just felt so corny and unnecessary when they could have used that time to put up a few promos for the matches which frankly were desperately needed as many of them seemed to have a story but one that we weren’t informed of ahead of time.   Let’s put all that aside though and just focus on the matches!  So how did the pre-show kick things off?

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Six-man Tag Team Match

AEWFF1Private Party: Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen
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SoCal Uncensored: Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky (Schuyler Andrews)
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Best Friends: Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta

There’s a lot going on in this first match which is good because you want to get the crowd on board right away so they can carry that energy for the rest of the show.  We’ve got Private Party as the newcomers who I think AEW is trying to push as future superstars of the company considering they got a whole episode of Road to Fyter Fest dedicated to them.  We’ve got two thirds of SCU who had one of the best matches in all of Double or Nothing, and while I wasn’t really impressed with The Best Friends last time (definitely a victim of the last show running long), they get a pretty good pop from the crowd so I was willing to give them another chance.  The only thing that I didn’t like right off the bat was the fact that this was a Triple Threat tag match and they always use this weird rule where only two compeitors can be in the ring at a time; leaving one team to just sit on the sidelines while the other two actually fight.  I don’t understand why they don’t have one member of each team in the ring like say… an ACTUAL Triple Threat, but we’ll get back to this later on in the match.  For now, I just want to point out that everyone in this looks great and does some very impressive acrobatics!  SCU continues to be the best tag team as far as I’m concerned as they can take already impressive wrestlers like Private Party and Best Friends and make them look even better than they already are!  There’s this really impressive spot where Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen go back to back on Kassiran in beautiful and brutal fashion!  If I could say one thing about the match it’s that it FEELS a bit too much like an exhibition; like everyone is here to help the other team show off their moves instead of win the fight, but frankly that’s a rather minor complaint when the moves are THIS impressive!

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He should change his name to Mark QUAIL!!  …  Because he’s flying through the air?  …  Really, nothing?  Is this thing on?

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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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