Category Archives: Cinema Dispatch

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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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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Cinema Dispatch: Night School

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

Directed by Malcolm D Lee

It’s always good seeing Kevin Hart!  Okay, maybe not… BUT it’s always good to see Tiffany Haddish, right!?  Ehh… fine, these are two VERY talented comedians but they aren’t always in the best movies as is the case with A LOT of successful comedians.  Putting them together SHOULD be a match made in heaven, but then again maybe the filmmakers thought the script was so bad that even Hart couldn’t save it by himself.  In any case, we can hope that there are at least a few good jokes in here even if the premise and the trailers don’t seem to be promising all that much.  Does this movie manage to rise above expectations to be one of the better comedies this year, or are we doomed to suffer yet another mediocre effort from filmmakers and comedians who should be working on WAY more ambitious projects than this?  Let’s find out!!

Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) is your average Joe who is actually doing quite well for himself despite dropping out of high school and for reasons other than he’s a genius who went off to start his own company.  Instead, he’s managed to find a good job at a barbecue grill store and has set himself apart from his peers due to his world class skills in customer service!  I kind of find that hard to believe though considering he ends up accidentally blowing the place up not long after the movie starts.  You’d think someone as professional as he is wouldn’t have done something like that, but in any case Teddy is now without a job which is doubly a problem as he’s been living paycheck to paycheck for some time; refusing to tell his girlfriend Lisa who has a WAY more successful job (Megalyn Echikunwoke) that he’s not as well off as he lets on and that he could REALLY use a few bucks to ease the stress.  Luckily for Teddy though, his buddy Marvin (Ben Schwartz) JUST SO HAPPENS to have an even BETTER job for him all lined up… but he has to get his GED first!  To make matters worse, the principal of the high school (Taran Killam) is someone he had beef with in high school (for some reason…) and is not about to let old grievances die off, even if he can’t TECHNICALLY keep Teddy from going to night classes run by Professor Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) which I assume is the way she prefers to be addressed.  Can Teddy get his GED and that sweet new job without having his girlfriend finds out all of his deeply held and embarrassing secrets?  What wacky hijinks will he get into with a classroom full of eccentric odd balls that have their own reasons for getting their GED?  Can we send all six of the scriptwriters to night school?  I don’t know about you, but they could really use some brushing up if this is what they consider “professional” material.

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“Oh well.  I’m sure this will all make sense in the editing room!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Top Ten WTF Moments in The Predator

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The Predator and all the images you see in this editorial are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Shane Black

It’s been a few weeks since The Predator graced the multiplexes in all its confused glory, so I think now’s a pretty good time to really get into what exactly is SO fascinatingly wrong about this movie that I couldn’t fit into a proper review.  The last time I did something like this was all the way back when The Mummy was supposed to be the next big thing which sadly didn’t end up being the case despite making four hundred million worldwide and so The Dark Universe is more or less dead on arrival.  A shame because, despite the film’s ASTOUNDING amount of flaws, it was compelling in a way that very few terrible movies can be and I’d have loved to see a DCCU style nightmare come out of it.  Predators though still has a chance to be the next (albeit smaller) version of this with its incredibly pronounced sequel bait at the end and comparatively lower stakes, so why not give it the proper WTF treatment?  Unlike my last list however, this isn’t ranked in an ascending order of absurdity; rather it’s structured in a way to try and get across the ESCALATING sense of absurdity that builds as the movie goes along, so while one thing may not be as out there or ridiculous as the thing before it, it all adds up into this ludicrous mishmash of ideas that either should have been left on the cutting room floor or given the time it needed to not feel so inexplicably jammed into an already overly tight runtime.  Let’s get started!!

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10) Lock him up and throw away the key! – Why the heck is Quinn being railroaded!?

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So the movie begins with The Predator (at least the first one of them) crash landing on Earth basically within spitting distance a squad of army dudes out on a mission.  Our lead dude is Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who finds the escape pod The Predator used as well as part of his armor; including his mask and one of his arm bands that both have VERY advanced computer systems in them.  His men die at the hands of The Predator, he manages to escape, and then he mails the pieces of armor to his home in the US.  Now why would he do that?  Well apparently he correctly assumed that he would be arrested by THE HIGHER UPS and sent to a mental institution as a way to keep him quiet about the alien… because reasons.  Now to be clear, this is not just ANY army dude; the mission he was on was to assassinate a drug lord on an ally’s soil (Mexico) and the US Military isn’t about to send someone on that kind of job who doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut and play ball.  How is this guy not an ASSET to The Stargazer Project considering his sterling military record, and for that matter why are they so intent on keeping HIM out of the loop when they IMMEDIATELY bring a civilian scientist on board (Dr. Casey Bracket played by Olivia Munn) to run tests on the darn thing!?  Speaking of which…

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