Category Archives: Cinema Dispatch

Cinema Dispatch: Brahms: The Boy II

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Brahms: The Boy II and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment

Directed by William Brent Bell

You’re unlikely to find a bigger cheerleader for The Boy than me, so when the trailers started coming out for this sequel four years after everyone else had forgotten about it AND it looked like a truly awful mess, well let’s just say that my spirits weren’t very high for this. Seriously, that bit where Katie Holmes makes a face in the trailer and they play the clichéd horror movie sting is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in something allegedly trying to sell you on a movie, and it was so disappointing to see how little they seemed to care about this considering just how good the first one was! I guess getting excited for horror sequels is in and of itself a fool’s errand, but who knows what it’ll REALLY be like before we get a chance to see it. Maybe there are some hidden depths to this that the studio was scared to give away in the trailers, much like the first film, and this is truly worth successor! Yeah, I’m doubtful as well but let’s find out!!

Taking place sometime after the events of the first film, we follow Liza (Katie Holmes) and her son Jude (Christopher Convery) who had a traumatic experience with a break in; leaving her with headaches and night terrors while Jude became mute and now communicates with a notebook. In an effort to try and get them past this, the father and husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) decides to take them on a trip to someplace out in the country where they can get away from it all and reconnect as a family! As it just so happens however, the place they decide to stay in is a hereto unknown guest house (ugh…) of the mansion from the first film, and said mansion has fallen into disrepair under the new owner Joseph (Ralph Ineson) who’s been trying to fix it up but can only do so much as one guy. Of course, Jude ends up finding the Brahms doll somewhere and IMMEDIATELY attaches himself to it which seems to at least be doing a good job of opening him up a bit, but it comes with other weird behaviors and a set of rules that must be followed or else the doll will get very cross with them. Liza’s naturally worried about all this and isn’t helped by her ghastly nightmares of the break in, but Sean isn’t exactly convinced the doll is evil (just a little bit creepy) and believes that Liza is overacting despite the many strange things that start to happen around the guesthouse and Jude’s increasingly bizarre behavior. Is there some secret to the doll that wasn’t in the last film that Liza must uncover in this one? Is Jude being manipulated by whatever it was in the last film, or is there something else that’s terrifying this family? I’m not even sure why they’re friends to be honest. Doesn’t seem like they’d have a lot in common.

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“Did you kill your parents yet?”     “NO! STOP ASKING!”     “Alright! All I’m saying is that the knives are right there-”     “What, and you’re gonna help me clean up the mess?”     “Oh, you are just IMPOSSIBLE today!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Fantasy Island

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

Directed by Jeff Wadlow

The only thing I know about the TV show is that it had Khan from Star Trek and Nick Nack from The Man with the Golden Gun, but even still turning it into a horror film seems like a dubious prospect at best.  What, there weren’t enough Twilight Zone episodes to adapt or Creepshow sequels to pump out that we have to now start reaching for non-horror properties to try and squeeze out yet another February horror film?  I mean I guess it COULD be good!  Stranger things have happened, certainly.  Is this brilliant reinterpretation of a classic seventies television show, or were we better off with Wild Wild West being the most embarrassing remake of a TV series from that era?  Let’s find out!!

Gwen, Patrick, JD, Brax, and Melanie (Maggie Q, Austin Stowell, Ryan Hansen, Jimmy O Yang, and Lucy Hale) have all won a free trip to the mysterious FANTASY ISLAND which is run by the equally mysterious Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) who is known for his also equally mysterious ability to grant your greatest fantasy while visiting the island!  For JD and Brax, they want to party like rock stars, for Gwen she wants to get back what she’s lost, for Patrick he wants to be a solider, and for Melanie she wants to get revenge on her school bully.  All of which are simple enough to fulfill for the enigmatic Mr. Roarke, but as the fantasies come to fruition there are monkey paw style twists and turns that make their visit not quite as spectacular as they had hoped they would be; particularly when spooky and outright dangerous stuff begins to happen.  They must somehow work through their own turbulent fantasies and eventually with each other to stop whatever dark fate is expected to befall them and to find out the secret of the island as well as Mr. Roarke’s uncanny power.  Can this rag tag group of nobodies who may or may not have some sort of dark past figure out a way to escape the island in one piece?  What exactly is Mr. Roarke’s end goal here, and are there some dark secrets in his closet as well?  If my fantasy was to have unlimited fantasies, would he have to find a way to make that work?

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“What is your greatest wish today?”     “I want to see you get your suit dirty.”     “…”     “DO IT!  CHOP CHOP!!”     “Oh, it’s going to be one of these days…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Downhill

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Downhill and all the images you see in this review are owned by Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Let’s see… I don’t remember seeing any trailers for this, I didn’t know it was coming out until the day before I saw it, and I haven’t even seen Veep yet.  Yeah, not sure what to say about this one going into it, especially since Sonic The Hedgehog took up all my attention last weekend.  But hey, I’m sure SOMEONE out there is excited for this film, right?  It made it to Sundance!  Did SONIC make it to Sundance?  I think NOT!  Yeah okay, it’s got a good cast but Will Ferrell hasn’t been on the best of streaks lately so I’m giving this about a fifty-fifty shot at being any good.  Does it manage to beat the odds and be the surprise hit of the weekend, or will the only thing people remember about this is that it’s the film that tried to take on the Blue Furball on his opening weekend?  Let’s find out!!

Pete and Billie Staunton (Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) have taken their sons Finn and Emerson (Julian Grey and Ammon Jacob Ford) to the Alps for a family vacation which frankly Pete really needed as his father died a mere eight months ago and he’s been shaken up about it ever since.  You know how these things go however; the kids would rather just be on their screens all day, the busy schedule means everyone is tired, and all this extra effort and tension is bubbling up repressed negativity in unexpected ways.  Perhaps the MOST unexpected way though is what Pete ends up doing that puts a huge damper on things for the rest of the trip!  At one point the family is enjoying their lunch on the patio when an avalanche starts to approach, and like what any of us would do (what, you WOULDN’T do this?) Pete grabs his phone and skedaddles while Billie clings to the kids and hopes that they don’t all die in the snowfall.  They don’t of course, but darn it if Pete running away didn’t become the biggest buzzkill of this entire trip, and it calls into question quite a lot about their lives, their relationships, and where this family is headed.  Will Billie and Pete find a way to come back together after this bizarre event has torn them apart?  Will their kids be able to cope with the fact that their dad left them for dead and is barely even acknowledging this fact?  Seriously, what kind of excuse could Pete POSSIBLY come up with to explain that?  At that point you might as well just drop a smoke bomb and disappear for the rest of your life.

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“Hey, where were you guys?”     “WHAT!?”     “Yeah, I was over there waiting for you.  What, you didn’t get my text?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Sonic the Hedgehog

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Sonic the Hedgehog and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Jeff Fowler

Remember when that first Sonic the Hedgehog trailer came out with the horrifying monster design?  Good times!  I do wish that design stuck around a bit longer though because I REALLY wanted a plushie of that ghastly version of Sonic so he can sleep with me in my bed and devour my nightmares, but then again the redesign looks pretty good and will surely add a lot to this movie!  Yeah, it could almost be an inspirational tale of a studio realizing its mistake and actually taking proactive steps to correct it if it wasn’t for the fact that the studio that made the new design a possibility crunched to do it and closed down as soon as the work is done!  Sounds like Paramount should have gotten a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, but in any case the story of this film has finally come to its conclusion and we’re all on pins and needles to find out how it all ends!  Was Sonic’s face lift enough hto save this movie from being a total train wreck, or is there only so much that you can polish a turd before you’re just wasting perfectly good polish?  Let’s find out!!

Sonic the Hedgehog (Ben Schwartz) is a happy go lucky blue alien that calls himself a hedgehog for some reason who was teleported to Earth to escape from bad guys when he was but a wee lad.  Now that he’s grown up to the ripe old age of… sort of teenager, he’s starting to realize that spending all his time hiding in the woods just outside the town of Green Hills is leaving him with a lot of emotional scars and abandonment issues, and one day he has a super powered moment of angst that knocks out all the power on the West Coast.  The super power blast is enough for the US government to call in Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) who wants to track down whatever caused the anomaly and uses its powers for his insidious and tax payer funded ends, so now Sonic has to escape from this planet to go to ANOTHER planet where I guess he’ll be even safer.  To transport himself there he has a bag of magic rings that open ports to wherever it is he needs to go, but through wacky happenstance and poor timing his rings get lost in San Francisco which he has no idea how to get to.  Fortunately the local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), after being somewhat responsible for Sonic losing the rings decides to take this strange creature across state lines to the city of San Francisco so he can get the rings and get the heck out of Dodge.  It shall not be a straightforward road trip however as Robotnik is hot on their heels and is ready to not only dissect Sonic in the name of Sonic but ruin Tom’s life as well in pursuit of his prey.  Can Sonic and Tom make it to San Francisco before Robotnik and the US government find a way to stop them?  Will Sonic learn valuable lessons about friendship along the way and perhaps find a true home instead of just jumping from place to place on his own?

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“AM I PRETTY ENOUGH FOR YOU NOW!?  WILL YOU FINALLY PUT A RING ON IT!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Cathy Yan

I was probably on the kinder end of things than most people when it came to Suicide Squad; the DCCU’s attempt to be fun and wacky that ended up having all the edge of a limited edition holo-foil issue of Spawn from 1994.  In its own tacky cobbled together way it did manage to eek out a bit of charm, but what people mostly remember from the movie was the performances; namely one Harley Quinn played with gusto by the phenomenal Margot Robbie.  Now that we’re more or less in DCCU 2.0, it makes sense for this character to be given another shot away from the baggage of the movie that came before; even from the studio itself as Robbie basically put this thing together with Warner Bros maintaining a mostly hands off approach.  Is this the breakout hit that Warner Bros has been hoping for yet could never make themselves, or is this a desperate Hail Mary that misses by a mile?  Let’s find out!!

Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) has had a rough go of it lately.  She grew up with scary nuns, she had a string of bad relationships, she did at least get her college degree and became a psychiatrist but even THAT didn’t work out when she met some dude in clown makeup, and on top of that she had to fight a an ancient demon witch person or else have a bomb explode in her neck!  Fortunately she’s out of prison and she even dumped the clown dude so she’s ready to start her life anew!  A new pet, roller derby, and COPIOUS amounts of alcohol to deal with the unresolved feelings that she’s left with now that she’s single and away from the clown that made her life miserable.  BUT ENOUGH ABOUT DAVID AYER (Ba-dum-tiss!), with the Joker in her rearview mirror it has given her a lot more freedom but also the ire of ALL the people they screwed over in the past, and as the one on the short end of this breakup some of them are ready to take their vengeance!  One such vengeance taker is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) who’s a mid-range mob boss with a hot temper, enough toxic masculinity to smother ALL the adorable baby ducklings of the world, and an alter ego just one step below Taser Face; BLACK MASK!  Complete with second rate Die Hardman cosplay!  Him and his associate Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) are not only after Harley but ALSO after a diamond that somehow ended up in the hands of a young street hustler named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and so perhaps there’s a way to kill two birds with one stone there, and on top of ALL that we also have a singer at Victor’s club named Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) who’s looking for a way out of the life, a mysterious crossbow killer (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’s hunting down gangsters, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) who’s stuck trying to untangle all these messy knots.  Will Harley Quinn escape the payback that’s owed to her after working with the Joker for so long?  Why is Roman so intent on getting this diamond, and who else may be gunning for it?  Why DO they end up calling themselves the Birds of Prey anyway?

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“What, you don’t think it sounds cool and intimidating?”     “Hey, as long as you don’t put a bomb in my neck, I’m fine with anything!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Gretel & Hansel

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Gretel & Hansel and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Oz Perkins

Sigh… a gritty reboot of the Hansel & Gretel?  Did you happened to catch that tagline; A GRIM Fairy Tale?  Yeah, something tells me this isn’t going to be good, AND YET there has been a decent amount of buzz surrounding this which surprised the heck out of me!  It’s not like February has a much better reputation for movies than January does, especially when it comes to horror, so if they really did have something here wouldn’t they have saved it for a better time?  I don’t know, maybe studios think that Get Out being the exception to this rule means it’s the new strategic time slot for quick horror bucks.  In any case, is this the surprise gem that people having been saying it is, or is this yet another chance for me to be a Grumpy Gus at a mediocre horror film?  Let’s find out!!

You know the story of Hansel & Gretel?  Well then you know the story of Gretel & Hansel!  Two kids are kicked out of their home because medieval times sucked for the working class and they get taken in by a witch who gives them food but has a hidden agenda.  Naturally there’s more to it, but it’s all about adding details than going off and doing its own thing as Gretel (Sophia Lillis) is the older sister taking care of her younger brother (Sam Leakey) and the witch (Alice Krige) is a more complicated presence in the movie.  At first she appears to be benevolent if a bit cagey as she not only feeds the kids bellies but their minds as well with meaningful chores, games of chess, and even teaching the little boy how to sharpen an axe so he can live out his dream of being a woodcutter.  Hey, at least it’s better than being a YouTuber or god help us a Twitch Streamer!  As the two stay at the house and learn more about her as well as the history of this house, things might just be going in a sinister direction that will force them to flee for their lives or perhaps it’s all a giant misunderstanding and they will end up being the aggressors in this story against an innocent and charitable older woman.  Will Gretel and Hansel become victims of a scheme that the witch is COOKING up for them?  Will Gretel perhaps be tempted down a dark path by the small TASTE of magic that the witch offers to her from time to time?  Do I have THYME to do OLIVE the food puns in the world before I get to the TOAST POINT!?

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Frankly, I don’t think there’s MUSHROOM left for jokes in this BERRY serious review!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Rhythm Section

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The Rhythm Section and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Reed Morano

One of the unique selling points of this movie is that it’s produced by EON productions, and this is pretty significant considering they’ve only made four other films that weren’t in the Bond Franchise since its inception way back in 1961.  Now I love me a good Bond film and they have certainly been some really good ones in the recent past (Spectre notwithstanding), so seeing their logo on a film is intriguing if nothing else; but sadly the reason I can focus so much on a production company is that there’s simply not much else about this movie that’s catching my eye.  It looks way too much like other films I’ve seen in the last few years like American Assassin and The Foreigner; all of which span the range from nothing particularly impressive to outright terrible.  Can this latest spy thriller manage to rise above its peers with the help of the Broccoli family, or is this yet another dime a dozen spy films that won’t have even half the shelf-life of the worst Bond film?  Let’s find out!!

Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) has gone through a rough patch in her life.  She was doing alright, but then her entire family died in a plane crash that may or may not have been terrorism (pretty sure that’s the first thing the government would figure out, but whatever) and has spent the last months in a spiraling depression.  No home, no job, working as a sex worker because I guess that’s what grieving people do (did she not have friends or even second cousins that didn’t die?), but an unspeakable rage has built up inside of her that must be satiated by VENGEANCE!  Fortunately a reporter (Raza Jaffrey) comes along and tells her exactly who the bad guys are and where to find them, so she tries to shoot the terrorist in the face but blows the opportunity instead of his brain matter; leading her to be in even more danger and getting the reporter killed in the process.  The only hope left is the reporter’s source which is an ex-MI6 agent known as B (Jude Law) who begrudgingly agrees to train her so that she can take revenge PROPERLY next time.  Will she be able to train her body to be a perfect killing machine and finally exact vengeance on those who murdered her family?  What twists and turns will throw her off her path as she learns more and more about the complicated network of spies, extremists, and opportunists that facilitated the attack in the first place?  I mean I’m PRETTY sure she can pull this off!  She already fought off a shark, so how hard could this be!?

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“Wow!  This is SO much easier with a gun!”

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