Cinema Dispatch: Isn’t It Romantic

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Isn’t it Romantic and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

This review is going up PRETTY darn late considering it’s been out for over three weeks now, but I have a VERY good reason for taking my time with it!  Okay, maybe not a GOOD reason, but the truth is that I got a serious case of writers block thinking about this movie.  Yeah, the mid-February release is the one that locked up my brain for a lot longer than I’d care to admit.  How could that be!?  In the year that already brought us Glass and Serenity, THIS is the one I had trouble wrapping my head around!?  Could it be that this is a multi-layered and nuanced examination of relationships and the media surrounding them, or is it just kind of… meh, but in ways that aren’t particularly interesting to write about?  Let’s find out!!

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a young woman struggling to make it in the big city and has abandoned love to focus on her career which isn’t going to great either because she’s a smart and overly competent woman who isn’t taken seriously at the workplace.  Her best friend Josh (Adam DeVine) has a crush on her, her girlfriend Whitney (Betty Gilpin) is a bit quirky but always encouraging, and the new hotshot with a million dollar smile Blake (Liam Hemsowrth) is ignoring her ideas to his own detriment because she has some brilliant plans for his next project.  Sounds a bit clichéd if you ask me, even the part about Natalie being cynical about love and calling out other Romantic Comedies for being unrealistic, but after suffering a concussion in a WACKY mugging scene, she wakes up and finds herself in a ROMANTIC COMEDYTM where everyone is a model, the colors are boosted up to eleven, and people will break out into song occasionally.  Natalie may be fully aware that she’s stuck in a Meg Ryan movie by way of Baz Luhrmann, but the question is how the heck does she get out of here?  Is this Back to the Future rules where she has to recreate the incident that got her there, or is this Groundhog Day rules where she has to fulfil some sort of destiny before she’s allowed to leave?  Well she’s gonna have to try both at least, and when the first one doesn’t work out she starts to pursue the hunk-tastic Blake because of course that’s who she’ll end up with in these kind of stories and starts going to the motions as best as she can; which includes living in her overpriced apartment, starring in makeover montages, and even having an offensive gay best friend stereotype named Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) who lives next door and always pops up whenever he’s needed!  Can Natalie survive this nightmare of high fashion, shallow problems, and unrealistic romance long enough to get back to her normal life of muted colors and an unfulfilling work environment?  Will Blake be the key to her escape, or is there something ELSE she should be looking for instead?  Doesn’t this feel a bit like a chicken and egg situation where figuring out if the cliché is more clichéd than the critique on the cliché?

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“I REJECT YOUR REALITY AND SUBSTITUTE IT WITH MY OWN!!”

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #14

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

We’re back with another issue of The Excellent Eggman Escapades which should be the OFFICIAL title of this series if the villains’ story line continues to be such a big highlight of this series!  Ever since Eggman came back to his senses and took the villain role once again, the series has improved significantly with a much more focused story line and an interesting new antagonist in the form of Doctor Starline.  With his first fight against Sonic himself, can this new villain continue to impress along with everything else the bad guys are doing?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with Sonic and Silver climbing a mountain which helpful little box informs us is FROZEN PEAK, but I can’t tell if it’s a pronoun or just a vague description of where they are.  I mean sure, in a world where half the charactesr have a first name foled by THE SPECIES it wouldn’t be that hard of a leap for things to be named so bluntly (I’m guessing that would mean Sonic was chillaxing on HOT BEACH in the last issue), but it must be a nightmare for the Woodland Critter Cartographer Society.  Why are we even up here in the first place?  And why do neither of them have jackets?  While the latter question will remain a mystery that’ll haunt me to the end of my days (does sonic have fur?  IS HE ONLY FURY ON THE BLUE PARTS!?), the former is a lot easier to answer.  Apparently SOMEBODY, not gonna name names, walked up to Silver, told him Eggman has a base on a mountain somewhere, and then disappeared without a trace.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an A PLUS lead right there!

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“If I didn’t foolishly dive head first into danger, then I wouldn’t be going fast!  It’s possible that I’d be… going slow.”     “Don’t say that, Sonic!  Don’t EVER say that!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Happy Death Day 2U

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Happy Death Day 2U and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher Landon

Man, I’ve been sitting on this one for almost two weeks.  I don’t know what happened!  Even though I saw it right when it was released a bunch of movies came out and this went on the back burner!  It certainly had a lot to live up to considering that the first movie was one of my favorite films of 2017; not to mention that a sequel seemed like the worst idea ever as the first movie felt so complete in its story.  Bill Murray never made Groundhog’s Day 2, and probably for the same reason he never did a Ghostbusters 3; it would have been a terrible idea!  ANYWAY, before I say something that’ll REALLY tick people off, does this pointless sequel manage to justify its own existence, or are we doomed to yet another brilliant movie made to churn out sequels until you forgot why you liked the darn thing in the first place!?  Let’s find out!!

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) having discovered who it was that was trying to kill her and closing the time loop that put her in a Groundhog’s day scenario is living the good life!  She woke up and it was a different day, and that guy Carter (Israel Boussard) who helped her out all those times but has no memory of it is making out with her!  Yup, it looks like easy street for Ol’ Gelbman!  Oh wait!  Carter’s roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) seems to be stuck in a time loop of his own!  How did THAT happen?  Hm… maybe it has to do with quantum reactor that Ryan and his two classmates (Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin) have been working on!  Wait, what?  So all this time, it was a giant science thingy in the basement that somehow made Tree relive that day over and over again?  Huh.  Well okay then!  So that mystery that didn’t need solving is now solved, but what ISN’T solved is why things are still acting up in the space time continuum after she managed to close the loop?  Well before she can find out, things get a LITTLE bit out of control and the quantum thingy… explodes I guess, and puts Tree back into her original loop.  OR DID IT!?  It turns out that she’s not just back reliving Monday the eighteenth over and over again; she’s doing it in a parallel universe where things are significantly different in ways that Tree is gonna have to discover the hard way!  Can Tree and the science squad manage to figure out how to work the darn machine and send her back to her own universe?  Will this universe actually have something in it that Tree desperately needs, and will she give up her old life to live here?  If the killer from the first movie isn’t the killer in THIS universe, then who IS the killer!?

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“OLD MAN BLUMHOUSE!?”     “That’s right!  I wanted to make horror movies even cheaper so I just started stabbing teenagers myself!  And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for SAG-AFTRA regulations!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Fighting with My Family

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Fighting with My Family and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Stephen Merchant

There really should be more wrestling movies!  Not movies starring wrestlers because… well after forty years we’ve managed about three good actors out of it, but movies ABOUT wrestling!  Beyond the Mat?  Good documentary!  The Wrestler?  Great movie!  With those two examples, I rest my case!  In the hopes of rectifying this situation, we’ve got WWE Studios along with Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson producing a biopic of sorts that tells the life story of one of its more recent superstars Saraya-Jade Bevis, known by her ring name Paige!  Can the combined efforts of The WWE, Dwayneson The Rockson Johnson, and even the talents of Stephen Merchant who they roped in to write and direct this thing, bring us an entertaining and heartfelt movie about one of the world’s most popular sports, or are we in for another low rent outing from the studio known for mediocre horror movies, straight to DVD action flicks, and Hannah-Barbara crossovers?  Let’s find out!!

Saraya (Florence Pugh) is your typical teenager girl in your typical wrestling family.  Her parents (Nick Frost and Lena Headey) have trained her to be an in-ring superstar and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) is training to be a superstar in his own right.  The family owns a rather notable indie wrestling promotion in England known as the World Association of Wrestling, but even with their comparatively high profile as a company they’re still struggling in a country that doesn’t seem to care much for independent wrestling promotions.  That’s why Saraya and Zak have been training in the hopes of getting the attention of the WWE which will not only propel them to the levels of fame and adulation that they’ve always wanted but will also give them a few bucks to send back home whenever WAW ticket sales fall short.  Their chance does eventually come when the WWE and NXT (the training program for potential wrestlers) visit England to put on a show and field some new talent; all of whom will be tested by one of their most seasoned trainers (Vince Vaughn) to see if they have what it takes.  The good news is that Saraya does indeed have what it takes!  The bad news is that Zak does not and so she has to leave her family behind to pursue her dreams while has to stay behind and fail to live out his.  Can Saraya survive the harsh challenges of the NXT boot camp and keep her head on straight despite being so far from home?  What will Zak do now that he’s failed at the one thing he’s been training his whole life for?  How intense do family dinners get when you know everyone there can power bomb you into the mashed potatoes?

 

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“All I’m saying is that Halloween Havoc isn’t as bad as people say it is.”     “What about the flash paper!?”     “WHAT IF I STAB THESE CHOPSTICKS IN YOUR EYES AND SHOVE EGGROLLS DOWN YOUR THROAT!?”     “Honey, I think we should probably have this discussion elsewhere.  THE LIVING ROOM IN FIVE MINUTES!!  IT’LL ALL BE SETTLED ONCE AND FOR ALL!!”

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #13

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

We’re back with a brand new issue of the brand new Sonic comic!  A bit late to be sure, but I’m gonna go ahead and blame that on this being the thirteenth issue… and the fact that I’m SUPER behind on everything else I’ve got going on.  ANYWAY!  Now that Eggman is back in business and ready to take over the world once again, what will his opening salvo be, and will Sonic and crew be prepared for what happens next?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with a quick recap of the status quo since the last arc ended.  Amy is running The Resistance which has been rebranded as The Restoration (thankfully they didn’t go with The Reconstruction), Knuckles is watching guard on Angel Island which he SHOULD have been doing this whole time, and for some reason they want us to know that Silver is still out there looking for whatever it is that may be threatening THE FUTURE, so chances are he’s gonna play a role in this story later on.  Oh, but what about our dear pal Sonic?  What’s HE been up to since saving the world!?  Well instead of doing something IMPORTANT like seeing if Mr. Tinker is still where he left him or possibly checking into what Metal Sonic is up to, he’s just chillaxing on a beach.  I mean sure, down time is necessary for mental health, but considering what he just went through the LAST time they assumed Eggman was gone for good (if you recall, the series started after the supposed death of the guy) it might be prudent to take a few preventative measures as well.  Heck!  If nothing else, make sure that the guys you captured back in issue 3 are STILL in Resistance/Restoration custody!  Oh, whatever!  I’m sure there’s no extraordinary evil schemes underway that are gonna blow up in his face any minute now, right!?

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“I’m probably gonna get blamed for this, but whatever.  I’ll fix it just like I fix EVERYTHING ELSE that goes wrong around here…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Alita: Battle Angel

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Alita: Battle Angel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Man, I don’t know the first thing about this series!  Every time you find out about ONE legendary anime that defined the genre, there pops up another dozen or so that you need to catch up on as well, and I’m a busy guy!  I don’t have time to catch up with the stuff I already need to; let alone this one that I’m only now aware of because the movie is coming out!  Speaking of which, wasn’t this supposed to come out like a year ago?  Granted, the amount of CG on display here is staggering and I can see even the SLIGHTEST hitch in post-production causing massive delays, but being a February burn off instead of summer blockbuster or even winding up in the post-summer slowdown period seems like a bad sign.  I don’t know, this is clearly one of those movies that have SO much passion and resources behind them that it can either be a total masterpiece or a hilarious disaster with almost no chance for landing in-between.  Are we talking Mad Max: Fury Road, or Battlefield Earth?  In either case, we should strap in just to be on the safe side!  Let’s find out!!

IN THE YEAR THREE THOUSAND (or some other far off date), the world has basically been reduced to two major cities, Iron City below and the sky city of Zalem above, after the devastation of THE FALL which was a big war hundreds of years ago.  Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is a robo-doctor (as in he fixes robots; not that he is himself a robotic doctor) who scavenges through the trash tossed down by Zalem for useable parts to keep his clinic open for those in need, but one day he finds far more than eh could have ever imagined!  He finds the remnants of some kind of robot which he takes home and learns has a human brain as well as some other unique parts which he attaches to a spare robo-body he had lying around and brings her back to life; giving her the name Alita which no doubt has some significance we’ll learn about later on in the movie.  Alita 9Rosa Salazar) has no memory of who she was before being tossed in the garbage which is sad to be sure, but the local badboy Hugo (Keean Johnson) as well as the totally rad sport of Motorball at least help to pass the time as she tries to find answers to her past.  Well needless to say as the movie goes along, we find answers to more and more of these questions which lead to Alita being put in more and more danger as others discover who she is as well.  Primarily, she starts getting pursued by the local kingpin Vector (Mahershala Ali) who has connections to everyone in town; including Dr. Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) who is helping him in exchange for a chance to reach the shiny city in the sky.  Along the way she’ll make friends, encounter enemies, and even have to deal with insufferable douchebags like the robo-bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) who coincidentally seems to hold yet another piece to Alita’s past.  Can Alita survive long enough in this harsh world to learn who she really is?  Just how powerful is she, and how far will she go to protect those she cares about?  Wait, so if she was built to be an ULTIMATE WARRIOR, why did they give her the brain of a teenager!?

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“I know Kung-Fu!”     “Fine, but make sure you know the source of the program before you install it into your robo-hard drive.”     “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!  YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: What Men Want

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What Men Want and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Adam Shankman

Despite its connection to a notably popular movie, I hadn’t heard a lot about this film until it finally decided to come out like a week ago.  Sure, I knew that they were making it and that the film was going to be gender flipped, but beyond that this is yet another film that completely flew under the radar for me which now that I think of it PROBABLY makes some amount of sense as it would have had to of been marketed in the last few months; i.e. Oscar season followed by a very crappy January for me.  So is this movie a hidden gem that I just didn’t give the time of day until it was staring me right in the face, or did this movie actually get shunted down the release schedule priority list to quietly slink away after a hopefully decent opening weekend?  Let’s find out!!

Ali Davis (Taraji P Henson) is a sports agent working out of Atlanta and is one of the rock star employees at her… firm?  Is that the right word?  Anyway, she consistently does great work for the company but FOR SOME REASON keeps getting looked over when it’s time to promote someone to partner, but she isn’t afraid of uphill battles gosh darn it!  If a woman has to work twice as hard to get half the credit, well she’s just gonna work TEN times as hard!  Her goal is to hire this up and coming hot shot basketball player named Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie) who could be big for the firm but has a very demanding father Joe ‘Dolla’ Barry (Tracy Morgan) who is demanding and demeaning at almost every turn and making life a living heck for Ali.  Clearly she needs to relax and perhaps learn to get into the mind of men instead of just trying to compete with them, which fittingly enough would make her compete with them better!  Good thing she’s got a bachelorette party to go to where there JUST SO HAPPENS to be a psychic with magic tea that will let her hear men’s thoughts!  Well it was either that or the crushing blow to the head she received later that night, but the point is that she wakes up the next morning and is able to hear the thoughts of all the men around her; including her assistant Brandon (Josh Brener) who is the only person she’s willing to confide in regarding this new power.  At first it seems like a curse but now that she can get into Joe and Jamal’s head to find out what they really want; not to mention the men in her office who have been quietly scheming against her from day one.  Will Ali be able to close this deal and finally get the job she’s always deserved?  Just how far will she go to succeed, and how many people will she have to hurt along the way while using these new abilities?  You’d think there’d be a lot more dudes singing random songs in the movie, but I guess you’d then have to license them all.

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“Really?  Nothing but Ninja Sex Party songs going on up there?”

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