Category Archives: Cinema Dispatch

Cinema Dispatch: Truth or Dare

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Truth or Dare and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Jeff Wadlow

Another day, another PRESENTED BY BLUMHOUSE film, which basically means it’s time to flip a coin! Heads Blumhouse wins, tails I lose but Blumhouse still makes a bunch of money! They’re certainly a studio that’s had their ups and downs as they’ve been responsible for getting films like Get Out and the Purge Franchise to the big screen, but are also responsible for The Gallows, at least half the Paranormal Activity movies, and that first Ouija movie. Now normally I’m at least SOMEWHAT aware when Blumhouse is putting out a horror film (at least one that has a shot of getting a wide release) but this one flew COMPLETELY under my radar which can only mean good things, right!? Does this film manage to rise above the underwhelming marketing it’s received and be a gem in its own right, or is this gonna be worse than Jem in its own right (yet ANOTHER of Blumhouse’s failures)? Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with a group of friends traveling to Mexico to celebrate Spring Break by drinking booze and eating nachos! One of the young women named Olivia (Lucy Hale) ends up meeting some cool dude named Carter (Landon Liboiron) and he leads the whole group to some abandoned church in the middle of nowhere to… I don’t know, party I guess? Doesn’t SEEM like the place to get wasted considering how much dirt and broken stuff is littering the floor, but Carter ends up convincing them to play a game of Truth or Dare. It goes… alright I guess, but Carter eventually flees and leaves Olivia with a warning; KEEP PLAYING THE GAME OR ELSE! Well THAT certainly seems weird. Anyway, the group heads back home to continue their college education, but soon enough ghostly figures and other strange occurrences compel them to continue the game with HORRIFIC results. Basically you can either do the challenge the ghostly visions propose which USUALLY involves hurting someone or hurting themselves, OR the ghosts will make them commit suicide because THAT’S not tasteless in the least! So I guess the game is on as each one of them has to take turns being tortured and risking death until… something happens I guess? I mean, that something is PROBABLY death considering there doesn’t seem to be a Get Out of Jail Free card for this situation, so… keep your chin up I guess! Can this group of friends find a way to outsmart this game that for whatever reason has followed them back home? What secrets will they learn about each other as the game continues, and how far will they be pushed to go just to survive? Did someone fall asleep at the wheel over at Blumhouse, because that’s the only excuse I can think of for how this managed to get past even THEIR lax standards!

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“I dare you to not suck, movie.”     “DAMN IT!  That’s a trap and you know it!”

 

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Cinema Dispatch: A Quiet Place

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A Quiet Place and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by John Krasinski

We had quite a few good horror films last year like IT, Happy Death Day, and ESPECIALLY Get Out, but pickings have been a bit slim in the first third of 2018 with the only wide releases going to the fourth Insidious movie and the rather underwhelming Annihilation if you’d even want to count that.  THANK GOODNESS that Platinum Dunes has stepped up to the plate because they’ve ALWAYS made good movies, am I right!?  Okay, so the studio has a pretty shaky track record with some pretty awful remakes being their staple up until 2010, but they have gotten a bit better at picking movies what with The Purge series being under their banner and I even liked that Friday the 13th film they did, though I’m certainly in the minority on that one.  This movie at least has been getting some positive buzz despite what I feel what I thought were rather underwhelming trailers, so maybe the steady improvement of Platinum Dunes productions will continue unabated!  I mean as long as we forget about those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie… and the first Ouija movie.  ANYWAY, does this latest thriller with a unique premise manage to be all it’s cracked up to be, or will the silence in the theater be less due to enraptured awe and more due to straight up boredom?  Let’s find out!!

We begin this story in the near future where it seems that society has crumbled and the few remaining survivors are eking out a rather mundane existence as they try to avoid being hunted down by whatever it was that nearly wiped us all out.  What is hunting them exactly?  I don’t know, some sort of Silent Hill looking dudes with sharp claws that LOVE to slice and dice people whenever they can find them.  The key to their success however turns out to be some EXCELLENT hearing skills, so in order to survive in this world you need to stay QUIET!  At least the Abbott family has managed to make this new way of life work for them as Momma and Poppa (Emily Blunt and John Krasinski) have worked tirelessly to set up rules and precautions to protect their children and to keep their mouths shut!  Sure, they lost ONE kid, but they’ve still got two left who know not to make even the SMALLEST of sounds if they want to survive, and there’s even another kid on the way which SEEMS like a bad idea considering how hard it is to reasonably explain to a baby that they’re crying is not very helpful at the moment, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there!  Anyway, the eldest kid Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is having trouble dealing with the death of her little brother which she blames herself for and on top of that is deaf herself which makes it easier for her to communicate without sound but means that things might be a bit more dangerous if she can’t hear any approaching threats.  At least she’s better equipped to handle what’s going on than her brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) who’s REALLY traumatized by everything that’s happened since the monsters came to town and spends most of his time being terrified about everything around him; not the MOST impracticable of positions to take, but it does cause some friction between him and his dad when he has trouble letting go of his fears to focus on the basic survival tasks at hand.  So with one kid feeling guilty, another one scared of his own shadow, and a third one threatening to come out of their mother in the very near future, things may not be sustainable for that much longer no matter how much Super Dad tries to keep things firmly within his grasp.  Can this family survive this terrifying threat for as long as it takes for someone to figure out how to destroy these creatures once and for all?  Will they find a way to successfully have this baby and raise it without attracting the attention of the creatures that have the super strong hearing and extremely deadly claws?  Seriously, how have you guys survived THIS long if knocking something over is enough to get these creatures to come a knocking!?

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“…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Rampage

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

Directed by Brad Peyton

Does anyone remember that Tomb Raider movie that came out?  Yeah, it was like a month ago but I kind of just forgot all about it already, though I guess my blissful ignorance won’t last for long considering that movie made a HUGE amount of money overseas which will inevitably lead to a sequel, but until then it looks like we’ve got another crack at the genre with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s second attempt at a video game adaptation.  Despite being buff enough to topple buildings, he is not the one RAMPAGING in this movie as it’s instead an adaptation of the classic arcade game where three giant monsters (who are TOTALLY not Godzilla, King Kong, and The Wolf Man) destroy buildings and… well that’s pretty much it.  Seems like a decent enough premise to throw a bunch of money at to make CGI mayhem, but can they manage to make this more than another monotonous action blockbuster starring the world’s most jacked teddy bear?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with a mission in space going HORRIFICALLY wrong (seriously, it’s about as terrifying as the end of Life) which leads to a bunch of canisters holding some sort of RAMPAGE GAS landing at various places across the US.  One lands on top of an alligator, another crashes into a wolf pack, and the last one craters into an animal sanctuary which is subsequently found by George; an albino gorilla who can speak sign language and is total bros with Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson).  Davis JUST SO HAPPENS to not only be a primate expert working at the sanctuary, but he ALSO used to hunt down poachers and even saved George from a terrible fate which led to them being buddies ever since!  If only it wasn’t for that DAMNED Science Gas made by some company led up by brothers Claire and Brett (Malin Åkerman and Jake Lacy), we could have had a movie about these two hanging out, but NO!  Instead, the Science Gas makes George grow SUPER BIG (even bigger than The Rock!!) and gives him a serious mean streak on top of that which makes it hard for even Davis’s glistening bulging muscles to contain which forces the some secret agency within the US government led by Agent Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to capture the ape and take him to Washington for experiments before putting it to sleep.  Things don’t go as planned however as Claire and Brett have even MORE sinister plots for George as well as the two other creatures roaming the countryside, and if they succeed it could spell doom for millions of people!  Will Davis along with A SCIENTISTTM (Naomie Harris) find some way to save his gorilla buddy before Claire and Brett destroy whatever is left of George and turning him into a TRUE monster?  What untold destruction will the monsters unleash upon the city, and will it look totally bad ass?  Why didn’t they just make this an Ultraman movie so that they could make The Rock into a giant!?  I’d pay to see him the size of a skyscraper doing Rock Bottoms on monsters!!

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HE LOOKS SO TINY NOW!  HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE!?

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Cinema Dispatch: Love, Simon

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Love Simon and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Greg Berlanti

Does anyone else think we’re at the point where we need to come up with a better way of describing movies like this one other than “Like a John Hughes movie”?  As much as those movies are a touchstone in popular culture, the phrase a bit played out at this point, and on top that movies such as this one, despite being quite faithful to the overall formula and tone that he developed, feels like something that couldn’t have (even if it SHOULD have) been made in his time.  I mean I GUESS we could go with “teenage coming of age story”, but that still doesn’t feel like it fully encapsulates the specific high school angst and post puberty struggles of self-discovery that made us develop the term in the first place.  Anyway, I’m just rambling here as I honestly had no idea of this movie’s existence until it showed up at my local theater, but I am happy that we’re getting an ACTUAL LGBTQIA+ teen comedy as that kind of movie is a lot more in my wheelhouse than the super serious LGBTQIA+ films like Moonlight or even Carol.  Does this manage to succeed in being just as good if not better than its straight peers in the genre, or is its good intentions just not enough to carry this film all the way through its run time?  Let’s find out!!

Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is your typical teenager, in that he’s not quite sure about his place in the world and has secrets that he doesn’t feel like sharing with the rest of the world.  As the audience though, we’re privy to ALL that information and we find out right away that Simon is in fact gay but hasn’t come out yet; not to his friends Leah, Abby, and Nick (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr), nor to his parents (Josh Duhmael and Jennifer Garner) and little sister (Talitha Bateman).  He has his reasons for doing so and it’s not like there’s a LAW that says you have to do it as soon as you know, so his plan is to just continue pining after hot dudes while hiding any trace that he’s actually doing so!  Simple enough, right!?  Well… not necessarily.  It turns out that there’s ANOTHER closeted gay dude in school who posts an anonymous letter on the school’s blog under the pseudonym Blue and leaves an e-mail address for people to contact him at.  Simon on a whim decides to reach out to him (using a pseudonym as well) which leads to a flurry of back and forth e-mails as Simon starts to develop feelings for this unknown “Blue” person.  However, since this IS a movie about teenagers, there has to be SOME sort of disaster and in this case it’s the nerdy kid Martin (Logan Miller) who finds Simon’s letters and tries to set up an “arrangement” (*cough* Blackmail *cough*) where Simon will help him clean up his act, take better care of himself, and become a much more attractive and emotionally available person which will help him meet awesome women who think he’s awesome and they can have awesome dates together.  At least that’s what I’m sure is going through MARTIN’S head to make this sound so much more innocent, but what it breaks down to is Simon (under threat of being forcibly outed) having to arrange dates between Martin and Abby who the former has a crush on.  Yeah, not the BEST situation to be in all things considered, and worse yet he might end up losing his chances with Blue who might get scared off if Simon is forcibly outed; thinking he might be next if he keeps contacting him.  Can Simon juggle this rough situation with his everyday duties of being the typical American teenager?  Will Martin make good on his threats and just how far will Simon have to go to keep that from happening?  How is it that EVERYONE’S teenage years suck!?  You’d think at least ONE person would luck out at some point!

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“Not only is my life over, it’s also a cliché…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Blockers

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

Directed by Kay Cannon

Blockers?  Seriously?  We’re all PRETENDING that’s what the movie is called!?  IT’S COCK BLOCKERS!  They’re not even being subtle about it considering THEY PUT A ROOSTER ON THE POSTER!!  I don’t know why, but the first time I saw the trailer and the subsequent poster for it, this one aspect REALLY annoyed me and I ended up feeling rather down on the trailer overall.  What, John Cena’s gonna try to sell us on him being a comedy star by shoving stuff up his butt?  Been there, done that!  Sure they had Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz on hand to steady the ship and keep things on track, but I didn’t really see much to this movie that I hadn’t seen in a hundred other comedies before it.  In the last week or so however, the early buzz for this movie started to get REALLY strong and people were praising it all over the place!  Is there a chance that I was WRONG about this movie!?  BUT THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!  You all come to read this because I’m ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING, right!?  Well I guess we’ll have to see if my skills at predicting movies based on trailers are top notch or if Universal was merely doing a bad job of selling a gem they had on their hands.  Does this film live up to the hype, or was I right all along!?  Let’s find out!!

Kayla, Julie, and Sam (Geraldine Viswanathan, Kathryn Newton, and Gideon Adlon) are the high school seniors who are ready to finally graduate but not before going to their prom which is the biggest day in a young teenager’s life, at least according to this movie.  I don’t know about you, but I brought a book to my prom instead of a date, so I guess I have trouble relating to that, but it’s made clear that this is a special night to THEM and they even decided that that will be the night they’ll lose their virginity!  One wants to do it then so that it would be a perfect night, another figures it’s as good a time as any to get it over with, and the last one is a closeted lesbian or wants to get in on the bonding experience and at least TRY to see if she’s maybe into the opposite sex before committing to the queer identity.  Too bad that their parents get wind of this idea and have decided to… block them from getting laid that night!  The parents in question include Kayla’s dad Mitchell (John Cena) as the super serious and incredibly dorky one, Julie’s mother Lisa (Leslie Mann) who’s a single parent and is afraid that her daughter is making a terrible mistake, and Sam’s father Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) who has his own reasons for going along with this that include wanting to reconnect with his daughter since he’s been more or less absent since he divorced her mother.  Will they be successful in stopping their daughters from having either the best night or the worst night of their lives?  What other issues have they all been hiding from that will be forced to the forefront in this wacky adventure?  Can John Cena properly atone for being in the god awful Mel Gibson movie!?

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“This is MUCH better than doing Daddy’s Home 3!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Acrimony

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Acrimony and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Tyler Perry

Oh great!  We’re back here again!  It wasn’t bad enough that we got a new Pure Flix movie, but we have to get another Tyler Perry one too!?  At least that’s what I’d NORMALLY be saying, but there are a few things surrounding this particular feature that have slightly altered my expectations; including the fact that God’s Not Dead 3 is actually not all that terrible (even if it is still woefully problematic).  Tyler Perry isn’t the MOST incompetent filmmaker out there, but his middling skills are not helped by the very low expectations he puts on himself and on what he expects the audience to lap up, hence why Boo 2 was shot a mere five months before it was released and is an utter retread of the previous film.  This one though?  It could be just wishful thinking, but the darker tone along with the R rating and the casting of Taraji P Henson as the lead… well it could mean something.  Maybe not much as this is STILL a rather unimpressive director (as well as writer and producer), but if Pure Flix can manage to vastly improve their output every once in a blue moon, then why not Perry?  Does this film rise above the low expectations of yet another Tyler Perry production, or are we in for another obnoxiously moralizing tale in lieu of a well-made movie?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Melinda (Taraji P Henson and Ajiona Alexus) being sent to a court mandated therapy session to deal with her anger issues which presumably landed her in a courtroom in the first place, but she’s not just angry!  She has a pitch black white hot fury more powerful than that of a collapsing star!  What could POSSIBLY have happened to make her so unbelievably pissed!?  Well her therapist would certainly like to know, so Melinda proceeds to regale us with her life story; starting with the day she met… HIM!  Who is HIM!?  Just some dude named Robert (Lyriq Bent and Antonio Madison) she met in college.  Okay, he’s a BIT more important than that because it seems that his charisma was SO magnetic that the two ended up marrying and living a rather unspectacular life together for the last twenty years, and she is NOT happy about him wasting all those years of her life being a lazy and irresponsible man child that tinkered away in his workshop on a new-fangled battery that’s never gonna freaking work; all the while supporting this obsession with unfulfilling jobs and assuming massive amounts of debt.  Now there’s more going on here than just a crappy marriage, especially what happens after she works up the nerve to leave his sorry ass, but to go much further would venture into spoilers and it’s better that you hear it from Melinda in her own words rather than through the grape vine.  What unspeakable crimes could have happened that justifies her ceaseless rage and thirst for vengeance?  Just how far will she go to get to the man who did her wrong?  Hey, um… is Tyler Perry alright?  He seems like he’s working through some things here…

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You all should have supported Proud Mary when you had the chance!  IT’S TOO LATE NOW!!

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Cinema Dispatch: God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

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God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pure Flix Entertainment

Directed by Michael Mason

Is there any single entity that manages to put out worse garbage to the cinemas than Pure Flix?  Yes, Eli Roth.  Other than HIM though, Pure Flix is easily the biggest blight on my existence as a film critic and I dread their releases more than anything else; God’s Not Dead 2 in particular being one of the lowest points I’ve ever had sitting in a theater.  Now watching them in a Post-SCROTUS America?  Good LORD, I can’t imagine how smug these reprehensible pieces of Christian propaganda will be while STILL acting like they’re the biggest victim of systemic oppression (spoiler alert, they aren’t).  Can Pure Flix sink to an even LOWER level than they’ve managed to in the past?  With God on their side, ANYTHING is possible!  Let’s find out!!

After the events of the last film (ugh…), Pastor Dave (David AR White) has been released from jail and the charges dropped over him refusing a court order to hand over his sermons to… the government or something.  THANKFULLY the movie isn’t about THAT, lest I wouldn’t have made it out of this screening in one piece, and instead we jump ahead a little bit in time where Pastor Dave has become kind of a local celebrity as the guy who’s church fought the government and won; though with celebrity comes infamy and his church has been getting a lot of heat.  Apparently the church itself is affiliated with the local college (I’m ASSUMING the same one from the first film) and there’s a growing movement among the student body to have the church removed for… existing I guess (okay…) and the board of directors at the college are TERRIFIED (okay…) and ready to cow tow to the angry mob’s demands.  If only something were to happen that would make the decision that much easier.  Well I guess God must have been listening to THAT prayer because one of the students (Mike C Manning) is angry at the church due to his girlfriend (Samantha Boscarino) dumping him over being an annoying Atheist jerk, and so he throws a brick through the window.  Wouldn’t you know it though; the brick hits a gas pipe and EXPLODES the freaking thing along with David’s best buddy from the previous films, Reverend Jude (Benjamin A Onyango).  Well now that a poor pipe work and a hot headed kid have done most of the work for them, the College Board decides to take the land away from Reverend Dave with the right of Eminent Domain (okay…) which our stalwart hero CLEARLY has a problem with.  He’s SO angry about this that he does the ONE THING he really doesn’t want to do which is to call his Atheist brother in the big city Pearce (John Corbett) to help him fight his case against the college.  With some resignation and more than a bit of smugness, Pearce agrees to take the case and the two set forth to plan the best defense they have to keep the land and get the church rebuilt.  Can the two brothers put aside their differences long enough to save this house of God along with their strained relationship?  Just how far will the (supposedly) anti-Christian protesters go to destroy this church, and how far will the other side go to keep it?  Is it just me, or did this movie make a REALLY good decision by having David AR White be sad the whole time?

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Considering the kind of movies he’s made, I feel like he should be this sad more often.

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