Top 8 films of 2019 That Need Improvement

As with the good list, so must come the bad.  Except… maybe not quite, this year?  There’s been a lot of blow back to WORST OF THE YEAR lists and especially WORST OF THE DECADE ones that have been coming out as well, and I do understand why.  These things can come off as snarky and mean spirited and there’s just not a lot of constructive criticism to be had when trying to make clickbait WORST OF lists.  Personally I’m not too happy with how my list came out last year as it felt a bit performative which is not what you want if you want to be taken seriously and not just someone looking to chase down easy views.  I still firmly believe there is value in recapping bad movies as I’ve already said negative things about them already in my reviews, and there are certainly films with horrible messages that are worth deriding as well as technical failures that are worth learning from.  The lessons from last year have definitely been learned however and so instead I’ve narrowed it down to films REALLY worth talking about instead of just trying to round it up to ten, and I’ll avoid using overly superlative language; hence why this is a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT list instead of a WORST list.  Without further ado, lets’ get started!!

.

Honorable Mention: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

TROSCD0

Full Review

If we’re gonna approach this as a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT list, I don’t think we could have asked for a better example than JJ Abrams’s attempt to stitch the Star Wars fan base back together which may average out to a good movie (hence why it’s only an Honorable Mention), but it’s flaws are ridiculously glaring throughout.  I could sit here and list all the reasons this movie’s slapdash narrative fails to connect both in terms of the previous Disney Star Wars films as well as well as what we expect from movies in general, but you should already know by now how rushed the pacing is, how many plot points are shoved in here, and how much backtracking they did to paper over basically everything I liked about The Last Jedi.  And yet, what’s most interesting to me is that for all the effort JJ Abrams and company clearly put into this Frankenstein monster of an ending, no one seems particularly happy with it!  Certainly not the fans who were more or less clamoring for something more familiar than The Last Jedi provided, so what was the point?  Was the vocal minority of obnoxious fans (not all people who didn’t like The Last Jedi; just the ones who wouldn’t shut up about it) loud enough to scare the most powerful entertainment company in the world into spending half a movie apologizing for it?  Was JJ Abrams not able to square the circle that Rian Johnson left him and just reverted back to his original plans that no longer fit with the new paradigm?  We probably won’t know for sure exactly went wrong for some time, but as far as I’m concerned the answer is clear on how this could be fixed.  Do something different!  It worked for The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Rouge One, The Mandalorian; heck, even Solo felt like its own thing within the Star Wars universe!  By being so referential and tied to the original trilogy without properly examining it or making it feel like a modern interpretation of its core themes, we ended up going through the motions but in an utterly directionless fashion; knowing the steps but not knowing where they were gonna take us.  Maybe that Rian Johnson trilogy will work out a lot better.  I’m sure some fans will hate it, but I think we’re officially done giving the obnoxious subset of that group the time of day.  Their moment came and went, and all they got was an okay movie that they can’t stand either.

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Top 10 Best Movies of 2019

Another year has passed and as usual we have to spend the first few days of the new year looking back at what came before; usually ranked from ten to one in some fashion!  Well, let no one ever say that I’m not a part of it too as we’re here today to look at my favorite films of 2019 which turned out to be a pretty good year all things considered!  I mean… for movies at least as we’re still facing the overwhelming threats of fascism, climate change, and bigotry every single day with a commander in chief that’s only bee fanning those flames even further, but at least we have these movies to provide us with a modicum of relief and escapism between trying desperately to fix it all before it’s far too late!  Will YOUR favorites be reflected on here, or will this prove once and for all that I have absolutely no taste?  Let’s find out!!

.

Honorable Mention: Dolemite Is My Name

BEST2019-11

I have no particular fondness for Rudy Ray Moore as I only know his films by reputation, but boy was this a fun little story about yet another artist yearning to get his vision out there; and make a few bucks along the way of course!  I’ve always been a sucker for films that take place on a movie set and I even put The Disaster Artist on my 2017 list, but what sets this one apart is just how different its subject matter is from other films like it.  A lot of times these movies about artists are essentially a reflection on the creation of art itself, but few come from the world that Rudy Ray Moore came from with the priorities that come with it.  Guys like Tommy Wiseau wanted a creative outlet and the adulation of the public.  Rudy Ray Moore certainly wanted that as well, but there was more at stake with the creation of this movie (namely his career and financial stability) and there’s something a bit nobler about making a movie for an underrepresented audience than making a movie out of sheer ego.  I have no idea how accurate this movie is and you should take any biopic with a grain of salt, but for what it’s trying to do and the story it’s trying to tell, it succeeds with a whole lot of style and a whole lot of heart!

Continue reading

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-01-20)

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT

Happy New Year and TGI Wednesdays! It’s the start of a new year and AEW is ready to bring us some more of that great wrestling action, only now they’ve reset everyone’s win lose records from 2019 so everyone is now at zero-zero and they can all start fresh! Only everyone is still ranked exactly where they were last year… and they still show each wrestler’s CAREER win lose records instead of just this year’s… but I guess it’s still important! Somehow! Aside from that odd little lurch in year change, does AEW come out on New Year’s Day swinging for the fences, or is this just another day ending in Y for them? Let’s find out!!

.

Cody Rhodes Vs. Darby Allin

The match starts off a bit odd as both guys come out with dudes who just seem to be there to be eye candy; Allin with some guy from some band I’ve never heard of and Arn Anderson who I highly doubt is going to get in the ring or interfere in the match, but whatever; it’s the new year so they wanted to add a bit of pizazz to their first match! Once they get to the match it’s actually quite great as both guys show off a heck of a lot of athleticism even if neither one of them come off as big powerhouse. I mean they’re not quite at Lucha Bros level of raw acrobatic athleticism, but the amount of twists, spins, rolls, and flips is quite impressive here and works to Darby Allin’s strengths which are NOT inflicting huge amounts of pain in a single punch. I think one of the things about Cody is that he’s so… right down the middle I guess that he can work with almost anyone and it can come off as believable. He doesn’t have the over the top physiques of Kenny Omega or Pac, and he isn’t as nimble as small guys like Allin or Jungle Boy, but his move set is dynamic enough that he can more or less adapt to any opponent he’s facing. The turning point in the match is when Allin knocks Cody right on his shoulder on the apron which Cody sells like a broken arm, and so now Allin has a chance to pull off some bigger moves on the guy like his famous Coffin Drop on the apron as well as working the arm for maximum damage. However, the match does come to an end with Darby Allin going for a second coffin drop on Cody who’s ready for it this time and gets his legs up way in advanced; destroying Allin’s back on impact and getting pinned by Cody immediately after he lands. I like this because it plays into Allin’s character and doesn’t necessarily make him look bad. Darby Allin is definitely a risk taker; always willing to put his body on the line at the drop of a hat. In a lot of case this is good because he’s willing to do the big dangerous moves that no one else will, but it’s also his fatal flaw as Cody so aptly exploited here. It was a solid match to start the show out on and best of all it didn’t wear out its welcome or burn out the crowd; preferring to leave them wanting more to get them hyped for the rest of the show.

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: 21 Bridges

21BRIDGESCD0

21 Bridges and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Films

Directed by Brian Kirk

Look, the holiday season is a busy time and this one slipped through the cracks, alright?  Besides, even if this movie hasn’t been in theaters since Disney Plus came out, it still has SOME value… at least once the blu ray comes out… right?  Eh, whatever.  I’ve got a To Do list for the end of the year, and we’re putting a little check next to this one right the heck now.  Is this cop thriller a fun little distraction from the rest of the big movies that came out in the last two months, or is there a reason I kept pushing this one to the back burner until it was well past the point of being relevant?  Let’s find out!!

Super Detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) is called to the scene of a gruesome crime.  A bunch of cops were found dead at the scene of a drug robbery and the two suspects have disappeared with a large amount of cocaine.  Said suspects are Michael and Ray (Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch) who we learn were not expecting THAT much coaine to be there, let alone any cops, and so they have to find a way to get out of town and probably even further than that as soon as possible with the drugs they took being their best bargaining chip in the seedy underbelly of organized crime in the city.  Andre however is hot on their heels along with his temporary partner Frankie (Sienna Miller) from Narcotics that seems to be particularly invested in this case along with Captain McKenna (JK Simmons) who was in charge of all the officers gunned down during this raid.  Andre’s big plan to catch the crooks is to shut down the island of Manhattan (which includes it’s TWENTY-ONE BRIDGES) to any traffic in or out and hopefully root out the two bad guys before they can escape without a trace, but as Ray and Michael work their way through dealers, contacts, and Swiss bank account dudes to try and secure safe passage, they may have come across some information that puts an even bigger target on their backs than the ones they already had.  Will Andre be able to find these two and uncover the mystery of wat exactly happened this night?  What secrets did Ray and Michael learn, and is it their ticket to freedom or their ultimate death sentence?  Most importantly, is this a role worthy of the king of Wakanda!?

21BRIDGESCD1

“So Black Panther 2 isn’t coming out for another two years?”     …     “Sigh…”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Uncut Gems

UNCUTGEMSCD0

Uncut Gems and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie

Good Time wasn’t one of my favorite movies of that year by a long shot, but it’s also a movie I keep thinking about even now as the filmmakers clearly made something wildly compelling even if it wasn’t exactly for me.  If nothing else, I was eager to see what they did next as I really believe they can make a movie that’s not just great but one that I’d like as well, which is why when I first heard of this new movie they were making AND that it would be a dramatic turn for Adam Sandler, I knew that this had to be a top priority that I needed to see as soon as it came out!  Okay fine, AFTER Star Wars, but this was locked in for second place!  Do the Safdie Brothers improve on their last film and make a film that’s even better, or was all the potential I saw in Good Time actually the peak of their creative vision?  Let’s find out!!

Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) runs a jewelry store out of New York City where he makes a tidy living selling exquisite trash to those looking for something Gaudy more than Elegant, but most of the money he makes is then funneled into his gambling addiction which means he gets to talk to sports stars, have nice apartments, and live a life of relative comfort, but he’s also in deep with loan sharks (Eric Bogosian, Keith Williams, and Tommy Kominik) who want nothing more than to rip his heart out right out of his chest since that’s about all they’ll get from the guy who can’t stop throwing all his money away on terrible sports bets.  Still, he’s got an ace up his sleeve which is this opal he got straight from a mining company in Ethiopia which he plans to sell at an auction for up to a MILLION dollars.  Seems like he’s got it all sorted out, but of course when you’re a guy whose got as much bad blood as he does, those people who want something from him could easily derail everything in an instant, and Howard himself can’t seem to keep his own behavior under control long enough to get the money and clean the slate; especially when he “loans” the opal to basketball player Kevin Garnett (playing himself) and for whatever reason he can’t be reached and his go between guy (Lakeith Stanfield) is being awfully cagey for some reason.  Can Howard get the opal back in time to sell it and get his life back in order?  What sorts of comeuppance will he have waiting for him the moment he gets the money and what if it comes for him sooner than that?  I mean if he’s THAT deep in the red, can’t he just make Happy Gilmore 2?  Nineties nostalgia is ALL the rage now; tell me that wouldn’t make a hundred million at the box office!

UNCUTGEMSCD1

“Weren’t you Little Nicky?  No, you’re thinking of the other guy.  I think his name was SHUT UP!!”

Continue reading

Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 8

THEMANDALORIAN0

The Mandalorian is owned by Disney

Directed by Taika Waititi

Would it be inappropriate to do the Darth Vader “NOOOO” right now?  Because I feel like doing the Darth Vader “NOOOO” right now.  I don’t want this season to be over!  Heck, I need this show more than I did BEFORE seeing The Rise of Skywalker!  What am I supposed to do between now and whenever the heck season 2 comes out!?  Read fan fiction!?  Play that Star Wars Destiny thing!?  On top of that, what is Disney Plus supposed to offer me between now and then?  They don’t even have the Goofy sports cartoons, let alone the REALLY good stuff like No Smoking!!  Does this season end on a high note which would make it the best Star Wars thing since The Last Jedi, or will this be a bigger disappointment to everyone than The Return of Skywalker?  Let’s find out!!  Oh, and today I think we’ll go with… Walter and Jesse.  I know we used a DIFFERENT Walter last time, but I had no idea that Gus was going to show up in that episode, so I’m using that name again for this one!!

The episode begins right after the end of the last one; with two storm troopers on speeder bikes heading back to the city to deliver Jesse to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and they are waiting just on the outskirts for a signal that it’s okay to bring the little bugger to him.  What happens next is one of the best scenes in the entire series as the two Stormtroopers played by Adam Pally and Jason Sudeikis just start chatting and doing random incidental things for like five minutes!  They argue, they shoot their blasters at a tin can (missing obviously), and they even punch Jesse in the head a few times just so you don’t forget that they’re jerks.  I’ve always had a fascination with henchmen and I love it whenever something like this takes a moment to give them the spotlight, and this scene doesn’t disappoint as it is simultaneously REALLY funny but also distressing as they really do clock that kid a couple of times which makes you hope that he uses his force powers to snap their necks and leave their corpses in hilarious poses.   Disney?  If you want to throw a few costumes at me, I will make you a storm trooper series!  Just say the word!!  Sadly this isn’t the entirety of the episode, but the scene does have a great payoff as the IG-unit (now the IG-Nanny I guess) shows up, rips one guy’s arm out of its socket and bashes the other’s head repeatedly into his own speeder.  Luckily the other speeder remained unharmed and IG-Nanny goes off with Jesse to presumably somewhere safe.  My question is where was the IG-Nanny when Nick Nolte was running to the ship?  He was within spitting distance of it, and yet IG-Nanny couldn’t have provided some cover fire!?

Continue reading

Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #24

STHIDW24-0

Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

I had NO idea that this issue was coming out which I feel is rather understandable since IDW decided to release it on Christmas Day, and I only found out after Ian Flynn sent a tweet about it.  The tweet ALSO promised that this is the last issue of utterly agonizing misery (my words, not his) before our heroes start to rally and bring this zombot saga to a close.  You know what?  Fine.  I’ll muster through one more of these and hopefully I can start enjoying this series again in 2020.  Can the end of the bad times be of any more interest than the last half a year’s worth of interminable issues, or does this arc plan to end as it started; by annoying me in a very repetitive way?  Let’s find out!!

Once again we find Sonic in yet another town being overrun by Zombots while The Resistance (or Restoration?  I don’t even know anymore) tries to evacuate survivors; saving comrades in need with his super speed, thinning out the Zombot hoards with his OP powers, and putting out fires wherever they crop up.  He’s more or less the player character in the most depressing version of Dynasty Warriors… so basically Dynasty Warriors 9.  HA!  Take THAT, game from two years ago!!

STHIDW24-1

“It appears that our fellow officer has been defeated.”     “Yikes!  I can feel my morale dropping already.”     “Too soon, Sonic.”

Continue reading