Cinema Dispatch: Prey

Prey and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios & Hulu

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg

The Predator franchise has actually had one of the better track records out there. Perhaps it’s because they take a significant amount of time between each entry, or maybe it’s a premise that is almost foolproof. In fact, the only time they really screwed it up was when they gave it to the one guy who really shouldn’t have screwed it up, but then we’re not here to badger The Predator yet again. Instead, we’re gonna talk about this latest entry that was recently put on Hulu with a few interesting twists that have certainly caught peoples’ attention. Is it another solid entry in this dependable franchise, or did Shane Black’s giant mishap a mere harbinger of things to come? Let’s find out!!

Set in the early eighteenth century, we follow Naru (Amber Midthunder), a strong Comanche warrior who wants to prove herself as a hunter to her tribe and to her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) who would rather she put away the bows and arrows to pick up a mortar and pestle. It’s not that she’s unskilled as a healer, but she’s not about to let others tell her what she’s gonna do and she continues to hone her skills for whatever tries to invade their territory. Of course, she’s picturing some wild cats and maybe a bear here and there, but it becomes clear that there’s something in the woods that’s stronger than all the cats and bears combined! An alien creature with a chip on his shoulder and covered in advanced alien tech, lands nearby and starts looking for the most dangerous creatures to kill and prove that itself to be tougher than. With such a dangerous monster lurking in the shadows (and the just as dangerous specter of colonialism looming nearby) can Naru and Taabe protect their tribe from the threats around them? Will Naru prove herself to be a worthy warrior to her tribe, and what will it cost her to finally get the respect she’s after? I don’t know, it seems a little bit unfair to be busting out the laser-guided bolts when your opponents still don’t have gunpowder. Seems like a hollow victory at best for the Predator, am I right?

“Is it just me, or is it a little TOO quiet?”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Prey”

Cinema Dispatch: Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Hey, remember when Murder on the Orient Express came out and then the world ended before the sequel come hit theaters? It feels like this thing was pushed back at least half a dozen times before it finally hit theaters, and sure enough, I ended up missing it when it did; catching it on one of the various streaming services it was added to in the last few weeks. I made time for Uncharted and Batman, but I couldn’t make time for this!? Blasphemy, I say! Was I wrong to miss out on this classy and colorful adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel when I had the chance to see it on the big screen, or did I manage to save myself from crushing disappointment and overpriced popcorn? Let’s find out!!

Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is the world’s greatest living detective and owner of one of the best mustaches the world has ever seen! Still, even with so much success behind him, he is not without his troubles, his worries, and his fatigue which prompts him to take a trip to Egypt. Little does he know however that, just like Jessica Fletcher, murder and mischief follow him wherever he goes and he winds up meeting his old friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) who drags him to a wedding party full of colorful characters and juicy intrigue. The wedding is for Linnet Ridgeway and Simon Doyle (Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer); the former a socialite heiress to a vast fortune and the latter a hunky dude she stole from her best friend Jackie (Emma Mackey). The rest of the wedding party is certainly putting on a show of happiness for the new couple, but each one has an ax to grind as is standard for this kind of story with Jackie herself making an appearance once in a while to really ratchet up the heat. Someone is going to die during this destination wedding, and with Poirot around, there is a good chance that justice will be served! Who at this wedding party will play the part of the victim in this tragedy, and what will be the motive behind that killing!? Will Poirot be able to suss out the murderer before they get desperate and cover their tracks with even more bloodshed!? Seriously, dude. How do you keep that mustache so perfect; ESPECIALLY in this humidity!?

“Bedrest, tweezers, and industrial-strength adhesive!”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Death on the Nile”

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”

Cinema Dispatch: Free Guy

Free Guy and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios

Directed by Shawn Levy

When the Pandemic started over a year ago, this was one of the movies that got pushed back to try and court a big audience once things had settled down, and sadly it seems to have waited JUST long enough to catch the brunt of the Delta variant that has people gun-shy about going back to theaters once again. Still, even when the trailers for this were coming out in the pre-pandemic work, it was not something I was looking forward to as it looked like a cash grab from Ryan Reynolds; using his post-Deadpool clout to score a HUGE payday with something that KINDA resembles his usual shtick. Then again, Reynolds isn’t a guy who takes on roles lightly, especially SINCE Deadpool, and his other big cash grab movie Detective Pikachu turned out to be one of the best video game movies ever made! Can he make lightening strike twice with this send up of the AAA Game Industry, or is the video game curse one that even Ryan Reynolds can’t overcome more than once?

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is an NPC going about his day to day life in an online sandbox game known as Free City; basically if Grand Theft Auto 5’s online mode was smashed together with a not-so-self-aware version of the Saints Row series. Guy is no one of particular note in the game, he isn’t giving people quests or running in-app purchase storefront; instead he’s just a banker who’s daily routine involves getting stuck up by criminals multiple times a day as players complete the Bank Heist mission for XP. All of this is way over Guy’s head who along with his fellow NPCs doesn’t even know they are in a video game; they are just living their lives day to day and this is what it looks like! That is until Guy runs into a player named Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) who seems familiar in some way and makes him start to think differently than before; so much so that he decides to take the glasses that these robbers are always wearing and discovers the user interface that’s hidden from all the NPCs. With this new world opening up to him, Guy goes after Molotov and even tries to make Free City a better place to live by stopping crime and being a Good Guy which gets him XP of his own and catches the attention of streamers out there; confused by this character (who they mistake as an actual player) trying to do GOOD things in the game. This attention however does not go unnoticed by the developers and the studio head Antwan (Taika Waititi) who is none too happy with someone trying to break their profitable game loop; especially right before the release of their sequel that will make Guy and his world obsolete. Will Guy’s quest for self-determination and heroism ultimately spell doom for himself and everything he holds dear? Who is this mysterious woman that he has fallen for, and what is her connection to the developers of the game itself? How can Ryan Reynolds be so dorky AND so cool at the same time!?

“Excelsior, Mo-Fos.”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Free Guy”