Cinema Dispatch: Sing 2

Sing 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Garth Jennings

Was anyone expecting the first Sing to be anything more than cloying and treacly?  I mean it’s not like Illumination has a great track record for this kind of thing, especially with those toothless Seuss adaptations, but they somehow pulled it off with that movie which was sweet, sincere, and my favorite animated movie the year it came out!  The moment that it was over though, I knew that a sequel was coming and that it was probably going to be a bad idea.  The first one worked as its own story, so trying to fit another one on top of it seemed like typical sequel folly and an obvious attempt at a cash grab.  Then again, it’s not like I was expecting anything out of the first one and it managed to surprise me, so why not the sequel as well?  Can this movie capture the magic of the first film and give us the rare animated sequel that is just as satisfying as the first one, or should we just be glad that we got a good movie in the first place and write this one off as a mere victory lap from Illumination?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film, the Moon Theater is back and better than ever!  The all-star cast of Meena, Johnny, Rosita, and Gunter (Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, and Nick Kroll) are living their dreams and selling out shows every night; all of which should make Buster (Matthew McConaughey) who owns the theater very happy, right?  I mean that’s kind of the dream that they were all striving for in the first one!  Well… no.  Apparently, they all want to go to the Sing universe equivalent of Las Vegas and perform shows there; presumably next to furry versions of Blue Man Group and Carrot Top.  After a talent scout (Chelsea Peretti) brushes them off, Buster drags his cast as well as Ash (Scarlett Johansson) to the big city to prove that scout wrong and appeal to the biggest producer in the city; Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Carnavale).  Through some high-level schmoozing and a white lie here and there, he agrees to give them a shot; albeit it with quite a few strings attached.  They have three weeks to throw together a lavish Broadway-style show from scratch, they have to include Crystal’s daughter Porsha (Halsey) in some way, and they need to find rock legend Clay Calloway (Bono) so he can be a part of the show.  That last one, in particular, is going to be difficult as no one has seen or heard from him in fifteen years, but if Buster says he can get him, then by Jove, he’s gonna get him!  Can the crew pull off yet another amazing show, even with the added pressures of a bigger production and an overbearing executive?  What new challenges will our heroes face on their latest venture, and is this perhaps the end of the road for them?  I mean it’s not like Buster has a habit of getting in over his head, right?  Surely he knows what he’s doing!

“I don’t know, can we make it ten percent more heartfelt?  Which one of these dials adds more heart?”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Sing 2”

Cinema Dispatch: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Jon Watts

It’s been a rather underwhelming year for the superhero genre which once towered over the world.  The Pandemic has pushed the release schedule around several times which means we’re waiting longer for these movies, and to me, the MCU is having trouble finding their voice after Endgame put a pretty definitive end to the original story arc.  Frankly, the best we’ve gotten from the MCU in the last two years have been the Disney+ shows that may not always hit their marks but definitely have a lot of interesting ideas that probably wouldn’t work as a movie; even with these things being overly long for the most part.  Still, it’s hard not to get excited about another Spider-Man film; especially one as specifically targeted to my generation as this one is.  Does it manage to pull us out of the MCU funk and deliver on all the ludicrous promises the trailers have made, or is this going to be as convoluted and pointless as the Clone Saga; or even worse, One More Day?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has been revealed to the world as their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and this newfound celebrity (and infamy) has thrown his life into chaos.  Investigations from the government, a bunch of weirdos throwing bricks through his windows, and a very awkward school environment where half of them want to see him become their mascot and the other are hurling conspiracy-laden insults at him.  See, this is why you need to be rich or a soldier to do the Superhero thing; either commit to it full time or pay people to go outside for you!  It gets to be such a burden that Peter begs the MCU’s cool uncle Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to use his wizard magic to erase his identity from the mind of everyone in the universe.  Let’s just say that it had mixed results as the world doesn’t forget his identity, but there are now a bunch of villains running around who seem to know him; including Doctor Otto Octavius who has four robot arms (Alfred Molina), Max Dillon who has electricity powers (Jamie Foxx), Dr. Curt Connors who’s a lizard man (Rhys Ifans) Flint Marko who spends most of the movie as a human-shaped sandcastle for whatever reason (Thomas Haden Church), and of course Norman Osborne who still suffers from pretty severe mood swings (Willem Dafoe).  Now if you’ve kept up with the Spider-Man films for the last twenty years, those names should seem pretty familiar.  Sadly the Spider-Man of this universe didn’t get to see those movies, so he has to discover who all these people are, why they became villains in the first place, and if this confluence of inter-dimensional fan service can actually turn into a good thing for all involved.  Will Peter Parker, with the help of his friends, his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and his sorta-bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau), be able to stop these guys from tearing apart this universe and perhaps even get past their overwhelming hatred of wall-crawling superheroes?  Who else may have found their way into this universe, and what can they do to either help or hamper Peter’s attempts to fix everything?  So is J Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) also an inter-dimensional buzzkill, or is there no universe that can escape his ludicrous conspiracy theories and get-rich-quick schemes?

“Looks like they already turned you into an NFT.”     “Seriously?”     “Yup.  And it sold for five-hundred grand.”     “See THAT’S the kind of evil-doer I should be fighting.”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Spider-Man: No Way Home”

Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-17-2021)

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

It’s another night of AEW action during a week that pretty much all people dread.  Sure, the Holidays can be fun and all that, but this is a stressful time for a lot of people, including me, so fitting in my usual output has been a challenge.  I’m still going to do it, but I think Rampage is going to go by a lot faster than usual if you catch my drift.  Is this a fun boost to get us ready for the final week of rushing and shopping, or is it less a reprieve and more of a grim specter of things to come?  Let’s find out!!

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The Young Bucks, Adam Cole, and Bobby Fish Vs. Best Friends, Orange Cassidy, and Rocky Romero – Eight-Man Tag Match

The Young Bucks are accompanied to the ring by Brandon Cutler while Best Friends are accompanied by Wheeler Yuta

The Young Bucks and Best Friends feud continues unabated, and while it does feel like we’re spinning our wheels, it’s never a bad idea to get these two groups in the ring as often as possible.  The matchups certainly haven’t gotten stale yet, and it even manages to make an Eight-Man Tag Match not feel overly excessive or drawn out.  The Best Friends get a lot of offense in early on as Cassidy and Cole stare at each other from opposite corners, but when the opportunity arises for them to meet in the ring, Cole keeps to himself and lets the Bucks deal with Cassidy.  The Heels eventually take control of the match with some sly beatings outside the ring, but The Best Friends didn’t call themselves that for nothing and take several opportunists to save Cassidy from being pinned.  Cassidy eventually fights back and gets the hot tag to Trent who runs wild over everyone; fighting the Bucks and Cole by himself, giving Bobby Fish a spear on the outside, and even hitting Brandon Cutler with a Backdrop.  It’s good to see Trent back in action again and he looks pretty good, but it doesn’t last forever as the Heels isolate him in the ring and take turns utterly destroying him!  He’s yanked off the turnbuckle by Nick and lands neck first on the top rope, he eats Brain Busters and Superkicks from the Super Clique, and he even gets hit by a Diving Headbutt from Fish!  Even with all that, Trent manages to kick out at two, so the only logical thing is to take the guy coming back from spinal surgery and give him an AVALANCHE FALCON ARROW!  This should have been the end of the match, if not the death of Mr. Trent, had Cassidy not run in to break up the pin, and that’s when the match devolves into the usual Eight-Man shtick where everyone runs in to hit a big move until it’s just the legal men alone in the ring.  After a spectacular flurry of moves that ends with Cassidy hitting a Springboard Flip to everyone on the floor below, Trent manages to land the Crunchy on Bobby Fish to get the pin and win the match!  It was a pretty fun opening bout!  Perhaps there was a bit too much chaos in the second half as no one is even trying to follow the rules, but even with that, it managed to stay comprehensible and kept everyone looking strong!  The feud will surely continue from here, but with matches like this, it’s clear they haven’t run out of things to do just yet!

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-17-2021)”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-15-2021) – Winter Is Coming

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

We’re back with AEW, and there’s certainly a chill in the air as Winter has officially come!  We’ve still got a few more weeks of shows this year, but this is the big one that they try to build up as a game-changer to start the New Year on a high note; especially with the AEW World Title on the line in a genuinely competitive match!  Will this be as exciting as when Moxley lost the title to Kenny Omega on last year’s show, or will my enthusiasm drop faster than the temperature outside?  Let’s find out!!

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Hangman Adam Page Vs. Bryan Danielson – AEW World Title Match

A rather bold choice for AEW to start with the big match instead of saving it for the main event!  Then again, given what’s about to happen it was probably the only choice they could go with as this match goes on for over an hour!  That’s right, more than half the show is dedicated to this one match, and we’ll talk about what this meant for the rest of the show once we get there, but for now, we need to talk about what happened here.  First and foremost, Danielson proves once again that he’s not just a great technical wrestler but a fantastic storyteller between the ropes as he’s very good at projecting the entirety of his thoughts through his movements and facial expressions.  It’s clear at the outset that Danielson does not consider Hangman to be an insurmountable challenge.  He’s certainly bigger and strong than him, but Danielson has faced those kinds of odds before and he has a plan for it.  For several minutes of the match, he refuses to engage with Hangman to any degree by keeping his distance, avoiding any real contact, and using the ropes to keep Hangman at bay; all the while grinning from ear to ear as the frustration mounts in Hangman.  He’s waiting for Hangman to get ahead of himself and to do something brash which Danielson can easily overcome, but Hangman is no fool and is keeping his cool just as much as Danielson is.  After a while of this, Hangman gets a quick boot to the chest that catches Danielson off guard and there’s a moment of uncertainty before he collects himself and gets back on track.  Still, Hangman has found his inch and he manages to force this into a proper match.  Danielson has to start engaging with Hangman, but he’s also staying smart about it by going for submissions and trying to damage the limbs while avoiding big moves from Hangman.  The strategy seems to be working, but Hangman manages to force Danielson into more direct confrontations and so Danielson starts using his chops and kicks that eventually send Hangman out of the ring.  This is when things start to get more violent as Danielson and Hangman start to slug it out in a war of brutal attrition, and this is what we get for a good chunk of the match.  Sometimes Danielson is in control, sometimes it’s Hangman, and they stick to their initial strategies as much as they can.  Hangman is hitting a lot of big and flashy moves like the Moonsault from the top rope to the floor, but Danielson stays on track and keeps picking at Hangman’s limbs to neutralize their power.  He also is keeping a sharp eye out for Hangman’s finishers, and so attempts at the Deadeye or the Buckshot Lariat are constantly avoided throughout the match despite the crowd desperately wanting to see it.  The only thing about the match that doesn’t work very well, and is probably why they should have saved this for a PPV, is that they simply can’t run the show for a full hour without commercial breaks and so the pacing of the match feels a bit wonky.  The worst of this is when Hangman goes for a Moonsault but is shoved off the turnbuckle by Danielson.  He hits the apron on his way to the floor and Danielson bashes Hangman’s shoulder into the post; continuing his strategy of neutralizing Hangman’s offense.  However, this also causes Hangman to bleed and so for an entire commercial break he’s being looked at by the doctors as Danielson poses in the ring.  We saw this same spot used in the Guevara/Lethal match and I just don’t think it’s helpful to a match.  If you need to fill a commercial break, then sure; have the doc look at the wrestler so that the TV audience doesn’t miss anything significant.  However, this still creates the problem as to why the ref doesn’t call for the bell as soon as the doctor is out there, or why he stops the ten count while the doctors attend to him.  It highlights the advantage that the champ has in title defense (titles can only change hands on pinfalls or submissions) which is great when you have a Heel champ, but it’s also not the kind of thing you want to advertise when it’s a Babyface with the title.  In any case, Hangman finally starts to stumble his way to the ring once the commercial break is over and they keep going from there.  We’re only at about the halfway point so the injury is kind of a moot point, but they do at least keep track of Hangman’s shoulder which is being brutalized by Danielson and is going to make it nearly impossible for Hangman to hit the Buckshot Lariat.  Turnabout is fair play however and Hangman starts targeting Danielson’s leg after he misses a Yes Kick that sends his shin right into the post.  This ends up playing into the rest of the match as we get closer and close to the time limit, and once we’re down to the final five minutes they have to leave everything they can in that ring to see who is still standing by the end of it!  Danielson has Hangman on the match and grabs his arms to start stomping on his face, the same way he did to all the members of the Dark Order, but with the bad leg, it’s not hard for Hangman to escape.  Danielson charges and Hangman catches him to at last land the Deadeye, but it’s only a two count.  Undeterred however, Hangman is now the one to grab his opponent’s arms and stomp on their face; a taste of Danielson’s own medicine if you will!  With Danielson sufficiently dazed, Hangman goes for the Buckshot Lariat with whatever strength he has left in the arm… BUT DANIELSON DODGES IT AND PUTS HANGMAN IN THE LABELLE LOCK!   With just over a minute left in the match, this is Danielson’s last chance to come away the champion, but perhaps that eagerness left him open for Hangman to escape and Slingshot him into the ropes.  Hangman hits a big lariat on Danielson which leaves him nearly dead on the floor, and Hangman goes to the apron one last time.  He waits for Danielson to stumble back to his feet, and he FINALLY hits the Buckshot Lariat just as the time expired!  Whether or not Hangman had enough in the tank for that hit to keep Danielson down for good is something we will never know, but it was about as satisfying an ending as you could get for a match that ends in a time limit draw!  This was a good match and I thought that both guys put in an exceptional amount of effort here, but I don’t think it needed a full hour to tell this story; especially with the commercial breaks wreaking havoc with the pacing.  Where we’ve seen PPV quality matches on TV before, this felt like a PPV match shunted into the TV format, but there’s very little doubt that the ending of this match is to set us up for a PPV main event, so as far as that goes it did its job brilliantly!

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-15-2021) – Winter Is Coming”

Cinema Dispatch: The Last Duel

The Last Duel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios

Directed by Ridley Scott

It’s officially catch-up month over her as I scramble to fit a few more reviews in before the New Year and try to catch up on some of the things I missed, so hey; why not two Ridley Scott movies back to back?  While House of Gucci had a modest amount of box office success despite some rather underwhelming reviews, the same cannot be said for this film which came and went with barely a notice from general audiences.  Did we all miss out on a fantastic gem that deserved a lot more attention at the box office, or is this just a really bad year for the venerable director?  Let’s find out!!

The story takes place in Medieval France and follows three people whose fates are inexorably and cruelly intertwined.  Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) is a simple if narrow-minded warrior in the French army who takes a wife, The Lady Marguerite (Jodie Comer), and while there are some advantages to the marriage in terms of property and a bit of esteem in the court, he’s still very much outclassed by his friend, the Squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver).  He doesn’t come from a family of warriors or is in an advantageous marriage, but still, he pulled himself up through cunning and political maneuvering to become a chief adviser to the nearby lord, Count Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck).  The tensions between Jean and Jacques escalate as Jacques curries more favor with the community while Jean is just kinda being sad in his castle with his wife and mother, and it all comes to a head when Jean returns from the capital to find his wife in an utterly distraught state.  She says that while he was gone, Jacques broke in and raped her which Jacques denies vociferously.  Being a man of honor (and one that doesn’t listen to his wife), Jean challenges Jacques to a duel to the death, with the caveat being that if Jean falls in battle then Marguerite will be burned at the stake.  With so much riding on something as arbitrary as a fight with swords, can justice truly be meted out for Marguerite?  Is there more to this story than any of the three participants are willing to share and is there more to the duel than meets the eye?  First Joan of Arc, and now this?  Seriously, Middle Ages!  Get your act together!

“If this duck quacks an even number of times, you are innocent.  An odd number however and you will be condemned as a witch!”     “Is there an appeals process?”     “That involves two cows a budgerigar, and a length of twine.”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: The Last Duel”

Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-10-2021)

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

We’re back with another week of Rampage action, though this one finds itself in a bit of an odd spot.  The next Dynamite is the big Winter is Coming show, and they wrapped up all the major storylines on the Wednesday show, so this is kind of just filling the gap between the two shows.  Sure, Rampage works best when it gets to do its own thing separate from Dynamite, but sandwiched between the Dynamite show and Winter is Coming, can it manage to find enough fun action and compelling narratives to keep from feeling entirely disposable?  Let’s find out!!

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The Lucha Bros Vs. FTR – AEW Tag Title Match

The Lucha Bros are accompanied to the ring by Alex Abrahantes while FTR are accompanied by Tully Blanchard

You’d think this would be a match to save for the big show on Wednesday instead of throwing out on the B-Show; especially since these two teams had a match at Triple-Mania less than a week ago.  Why not let them rest until the Wednesday show and try to put on a barn burner instead of filling a slot that could literally go to anyone else?  Rampage is a good place for random matchups, and it’d be nice if we got some highlights from Triple-Mania or even just a promo to set up this title match!  Well, we’ve got the match that we’ve got, and I guess it was their way of making this Rampage not seem insignificant; so let’s see how it plays out.  It starts off well with the Lucha Bros getting a solid lead on FTR, but the No Flips All Fist guys are hard to keep down no matter what you throw at them!  Penta decides to go for psychological warfare and theatrically takes off his glove which he tosses to Cash who dutifully catches… and then IMMEDIATELY eats a kick to the face!  Rey then tags in and jumps really high in the air for a Cross Body on Cash, but after landing he’s grabbed by Dax and is dropped spine first onto the apron; giving FTR some heat as we head into the commercial.  Rey eventually makes his way to the corner to tag in Penta who hits Sling Blades on both guys before landing the Backstabber on Dax.  Things go back and forth for a bit between Penta and Cash with some very cool reversals thrown in, and soon enough Rey tags back into the match.  He punches Tully Blanchard in the face who thought it was a good idea to get up on the apron and taunt him, and starts to face off both members of FTR just like Penta did because I guess the Heels are allowed to do whatever they want; isn’t that right Ref?  In any case, Dax catches Rey in a Springboard move and drops him with a Slingshot Liger bomb for a two count, and Dax tosses him into the ropes where Cash is waiting to bash him with the belt much like he did in their first meet up.  Rey manages to stop himself and avoid the belt shot just as the ref sees what’s going on, and the two of them yank the belt out of Cash’s hands… which then goes right into Dax’s face!  Oh well!  Guess Rey’s gonna hit him with the Frog Splash and win!  NO WAIT!  Dax is still holding the belt and just lifts it up as Rey comes down; conking him in the face and going for the pin.  Despite seeing little flying birds circle his head after that shot, Rey manages to kick out at two and things just go into overdrive from there!  Rey tries to fight off FTR and goes up top for some sort of move, but he gets caught by both of them and they smash him to the mat with a Big Rig.  They go for the pin but it’s broken up by Penta who comes flying in from the top turnbuckle; wiping everyone out taking a little breather on the floor while the crowd is going wild!  It’s down to a battle of chops as both teams are in the ring and trading blows back and forth until Fenix lands a Cutter on Dax, only to eat a Gory Bomb from Cash.  Penta is back in the ring and Cash does his best to fight him off, but in the end he winds up eating a Fear Factor and the Lucha Bros get the pin to win the match.  I’m still a bit baffled that they gave away a title match (especially one this good) on Rampage, but if you are gonna give it away then why not make it fantastic?  If nothing else, it was WAY better than the one on the PPV!

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-10-2021)”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-08-2021)

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

We’re back with another week of AEW action and drama as the Winter is Coming special is only one week away!  Last year we saw the title change hands on the Winter is Coming show, and this year we have Danielson and Hangman in the main event!  Could there be another upset in the making?  Well, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out, but we’ve got a lot more in store for that show that this episode needs to set up!  Is this the perfect Dynamite to get everyone invested in the big show next week?  Let’s find out!!

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The episode starts on a rather odd note that somewhat encapsulates the entire show.  MJF’s music hits and the hometown crowd is excited to see him… but then CM Punk comes out.  I mean hey, CM Punk is great and all, and I’m sure the crowd wanted to see him, but he tricked them into thinking MJF was coming out, and this also means they don’t get to see him come out to Cult of Personality!  For probably the first time since he got to AEW, CM Punk is getting booed by the Long Island crowd, and while he seems to be fine with it, going so far as to antagonize them and begging them to boo louder, it’s not a great start to a promo that is kind of all over the place.  I still don’t know what this whole Britt Baker thing is and I don’t think the crowd gets it either, and then he starts talking about nineties basketball which is starting to wear on the crowds’ patience.  Eventually, he throws down the gauntlet and even says he’s willing to face MJF tonight, but the guy never comes out and Punk goes to the back as Cult of Personality FINALLY plays.  Not a great start to the show as we didn’t even get a brawl between Punk and one of MJF’s stooges, but I guess we were saving the guy for what comes next which is…

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Dynamite Diamond Battle Royale

The last two in the ring will have a match on next week’s show for the Dynamite Diamond Ring

Since MJF is the hometown boy, he’s the only one who gets an entrance while everyone else is already in the ring like jobbers.  He also gets a full entrance video with a narration done by a guy who sounds a lot like Barry Scott who used to do TNA promos.  The guy starts listing off all of MJF’s high school accomplishments as he’s walking on a high school football field, which is funny because that’s what you expect sad losers in their forties to do.  In any case, here’s who we’ve got for this match! 

MJF, Wardlow, Lio Rush, Dante Martin, Ricky Starks, Will Hobbs, Matt Hardy, Frankie Kazarian, Jay Lethal, Matt Sydal, Lee Johnson, and Lee Moriarty.  Also, Shawn Spears is outside the ring with an MJF branded folding chair.

Now the best way to do a Battle Royal is to not just focus on who’s going to come out on top but to seed future matches and expand on existing feuds.  Sure, you can throw a few guys in there just to get tossed out like Lee Moriarty who felt the wrath of a rampaging Wardlow, but then you’ve got Team Taz in there with their newly added member Dante Martin.  They’re working together to try and ensure that someone in Team Taz gets into the match (much like how Wardlow is protecting MJF), and they have to go through all people that Dante has burned along the way.  The first one out is Matt Sydal who gets tossed by Will Hobbs, and while I THINK that one was unintentional (it looked like he was trying to grip the middle rope to hold on, and the announcers don’t even acknowledge his elimination), it was bound to happen at some point and it’s always good to make Hobbs look strong!  We’ve got Matt Hardy who gets some brass knuckles from The Bunny that he uses to bash Jay Lethal and toss him out, but then he gets eliminated by Dante Martin right after; thinning the herd further of non-Team Taz members.  Wardlow is not liking this and so he goes to confront Will Hobbs where they trade shoulder tackles for a bit until Wardlow gets the upper hand and sends Hobbs to the apron.  Wardlow can’t finish him off, but then Lio Rush comes in with a Running Senton looking thing and eliminates Hobbs.  Things settle down for a bit as we go to commercial with the only thing of note being MJF who takes cheap shots on Dante before running back to the corner protected by Wardlow.  I bring this up because it’s another example of the show not quite gelling with the crowd as THEY are popping for it but the announcers spend half the match chiding MJF like a bunch of pearl-clutching moralizers.  I guess you can’t let the storylines and tone be entirely dictated by how one specific crowd is reacting, but the commentary just had me rolling my eyes throughout.  Things start to pick back up when Lio goes after MJF but faces the wrath of Wardlow instead.  With a well-timed Drop Kick from Dante Martin, Wardlow is on the ropes and Lio along with Lee Johnson try to throw him over.  Seeing an opportunity, MJF lifts ALL THREE of them over the ropes; eliminating Rush and Johnson but also taking out his bodyguard.  Oh, and Kazarian charges after MJF only to go sailing over the ropes.  Thanks for coming, buddy!  MJF’s feeling pretty good about himself having just eliminated four guys… but then he realizes he’s all alone in the ring with Ricky Starks and Dante Martin.  The two members of Team Taz approach MJF with the utmost of menace… AND THEN DANTE DUMPS RICKY STARKS!  That’s right!  Dante has betrayed Team Taz in some sort of long con to get this match against MJF at next week’s show; something that MJF finds quite amusing as he raises Dante’s hand before walking out.  That’s when Ricky starts to beat up on Dante and MJF takes a moment to consider helping the little punk.  He hems and haws before finally rushing to the ring to confront Ricky… and then starts to beat up Dante because MJF is a jerk and you better not forget it!  The only one to come down and make the save for Dante is CM Punk who chases off MJF and confronts Ricky.  Dante gets up and lands a Drop Kick that sends Ricky right into CM Punk for a GTS which knocks Ricky out cold and surely sends a chill down MJF’s spine!  I want to be a little bit annoyed by the commentary team and guys like Kazarian and Jay Lethal were brought in to do absolutely nothing, but the good parts of the Battle Royale were REALLY good, and the ending was a fantastic swerve that was perhaps the best ending for this!  I would have liked to see Dante have at least one match under the Team Taz banner, but this will no doubt lead to some serious fallout in the next few weeks and I can’t wait to see it!

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-08-2021)”

Cinema Dispatch: House of Gucci

House of Gucci and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Ridley Scott

It’s that time of year where the big performances come out, the A-List directors strut their stuff, and the biopics are as far as the eye can see!  Oscar season is in full swing and Ridley Scott is doubling down this year with two prestige films; both of which star Adam Driver, funnily enough.  Now I don’t know the first thing about Gucci or the story behind the family, and the closest I’ve ever been to designer clothes is seeing them in shop windows.  Still, stories about the grimy underbelly of powerful families and giant corporations can be very entertaining (provided they aren’t poisoning the planet or something like that), and while Scott can be hit or miss with a lot of his projects, the good ones can REALLY stand out in an otherwise crowded and lukewarm award season.  Does this movie capture the whirlwind drama around one of the most recognizable brands in the world and the eccentric family that built it, or is the only interesting thing about this family the name they carry?  Let’s find out!!

Our story begins with Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) as a young up-and-coming socialite who may not come from a truly wealthy family, but she’s ambitious and wants to prove herself as a woman to take seriously!  Well, she’s in luck because one of the parties she goes to is where she meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), the son of Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons) who is the current head of the Gucci business along with his brother Aldo (Al Pacino).  Whether or not she truly had feelings for him is ultimately secondary as her Prince Charming was in her sights and she was not about to let this opportunity go!  Over time the two get close and Maurizio agrees to marry her, but it’s clear her wants very little to do with the family business as he’s seen how it has turned his family bitter and cold; including his cousin Paolo (Jared Leto) who may be jovial on the outside but is nursing some serious resentments that threaten to bubble up in unpredictable and inopportune ways.  Patrizia is having none of that wishy-washy nonsense from her husband however, and pushes him to get more and more involved.  In fairness, was more than likely to happen with or without Patrizia’s involvement, but with her at his side, he’s poised to not just be A Gucci, but to become THE Gucci!  Does this tale of power, wealth, family drama, and high-end clothing have a happy ending for the ambitious Patrizia?  What makes Maurizio different from the rest of the family, and will this aggressive push from her wife make him the very thing he didn’t want to become?  I know we got a MacBeth movie pretty recently, but any chance we can get another one so Gaga can be in it?

“I lost out to The Favorite, did I? Fine! I’ll show them what a REAL Queen looks like!”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: House of Gucci”

Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-03-2021)

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

Whenever I start to get into a less than enthusiastic mood about wrestling, I still like to see Rampage because it’s a small enough dose that I can still enjoy it even when the burnout is starting to creep in.  I’m probably not at that point yet, but Wednesday’s Dynamite was kind of a disappointment for me.  Despite it clearly being a show they put a lot into, I just didn’t connect with the storylines involved and a flaming table spot is not going to automatically add an extra star to the match.  That’s why we have Rampage though; to be the fun desert after the big Dynamite meal!  Is there enough self-contained and exciting action to clear the way for a hopefully better episode of Dynamite next week, or are we gonna need something a little bit stronger to cleanse the palate?  Let’s find out!!

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Sammy Guevara Vs. Tony Nese – TNT Title Match

The TNT title continues its long tradition of giving wrestlers their first big shot at AEW via the open challenge, and while Nese has been around for a few weeks now in Dark matches, this is going to be his first TV match for AEW.  Sammy starts off strong with some impressive acrobatics and a Suicide Dive that leaves Nese almost defenseless against an assault outside the ring, but fortune starts to turn in his favor once they’re both back in the ring.  Sammy goes to the turnbuckle to show off even more of his impressive athleticism, but Nese manages to get up and knocks him off so that he’s lying across the ropes; his body parallel with the mat.  Nese then kicks him SO HARD that Sammy flies through the air and lands on Nese’s shoulders which is something I’ve never seen in a wrestling match before, and he follows it up with a Gut Buster for a two count.  Now this is particularly bad as Sammy’s ribs are still taped up from… actually I don’t remember why they’re taped up, but he’s been nursing this injury for a few weeks now and Nese is well aware of this which is why he focuses on them during the heat segment that follows the pin attempt.  Sammy eventually gets a bit of a breather when he breaks out of a submission with a Backdrop, but it isn’t long before Nese is back in control with a Single Leg Boston Crab. Sammy does his best to fight through the pain and even manages to escape to land a Springboard Cutter, but his ribs are proving a detriment and he can’t make a proper cover in time.  Sammy goes for the GTH, but Nese escapes with ease and once again puts him in a Single Leg Crab, and Sammy only manages to escape it this time by twisting over and rolling Nese into a quick pin attempt.  Nese tries to run the ropes to shake up his offense, but he ends up eating Spanish Fly for a two count and then a Springboard Moonsault.  Sammy tries for another Springboard move to finish this match, but Nese is able to get up and knock him of the apron to the floor below which gives him an opening to land a Suicide Dive and a 450 Splash; showing off his athletic skills which are comparable to that of Sammy’s.  This only gets him a two count though, and the two start slugging it out in the ring until Nese lands a Buckle Bomb and Guevara lands a Pump Kick.  The Pump Kick is somehow the more effective of the two moves, and it allows Sammy to get Nese up on his shoulder for the GTH!  He hits the move which is more than enough for him to get the pin and wins the match to retain the TNT title!  This was a really good match and a great way to start the show!  The TNT title has a great track record as far as these open challenge matches, and Sammy is proving to be as effective with the belt as his predecessors like Cody, Brodie, and Miro.  The only thing is that I hope they drop the rib angle soon because I’m never a fan of wrestlers fighting through injuries; Kayfabe or otherwise.  Maybe once or twice, but at some point you’ve got to let the guy just wrestle at a hundred percent and trust that he can still generate drama in the match.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-03-2021)”