Cinema Dispatch: The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by James Gunn

I was more positive than not about the first Suicide Squad movie, but there was absolutely a ceiling to how much I could appreciate it and frankly, I don’t think David Ayers getting his own AYERS CUT would end up improving things.  It was a lot of good ideas and solid performances wrapped up in a script that felt half-baked at best and an editing job that struggled mightily to wrangle it all into something coherent.  Fortunately, Warner Bros and the DCEU are in a much better position now as they’ve toned down the excessive budgets and improved the overall quality and tone of the films.  Best of all, they got James Gunn to direct it who’s made some of the best movies in the genre with his Guardians of the Galaxy films!  Sounds like the makings of a darn good movie to me, but are we looking at a perfect storm of awesomeness or are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment?  Let’s find out!!

Task Force X is a secret government program that is the brainchild of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and uses dangerous criminals to take on missions that are too dangerous for anyone else.  When there’s a regime change in a South American country to a government that is not so US friendly, Waller needs a crack team of weirdos to go in there and destroy a secret project known only as Starfish that is hidden below a research facility in the center of the country’s capital, and while some of them like Bloodsport Peacemaker, and arguably even Harley Quinn (Idris Elba, John Cena, and Margot Robbie), some of the others just seem to be there to either be cannon fodder or to just get them out of the prison system’s hair.  I mean seriously what are you supposed to do with a guy like King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) and some dude named THE POLKA-DOT MAN (Davis Dastmalchian)?  There are several others assigned to this mission such as Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) and the always dependable Rick Flag as the leader (Joel Kinnaman), but it doesn’t take long for things to go sideways and for the team to have to more or less wing it as they try to find a way into the city undetected so they can kidnap the country’s super-scientist known as The Thinker (Peter Capaldi) to get them inside the research base and just figure it out from there.  Can this rag-tag group of super-losers save America from whatever this Project Starfish is and secure their freedom in the process?  What isn’t Amanda Waller telling them about the mission and just how much is at stake if they end up failing?  I mean whatever happens it can’t be as bad as having one of your own team members take over a city and turn everyone into her zombie servants.  Sure it’s a low bar to clear, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

“Honestly, I think we can write this off as a learning experience.”     “Hungry.”     “See?  The shark guy gets it!”
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Cinema Dispatch: The New Mutants

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

Directed by Josh Boone

I was going to the movies multiple times a week for YEARS before this pandemic hit, and one of the things I kept seeing over and again was trailers for this movie. Every few months there’d be another one but with a different release date on it, and it got so ridiculously long that I vowed to be there opening day to see what kind of nonsense they were trying to cover up in post-production. Then the world came to an end and wouldn’t you know it? One of the first movies to go to theaters AND NOWHERE ELSE happened to be this one. All was not lost however as it turns out there’s a drive in theater nearby (the ONLY place I’ll go to see a movie right now) and they actually had this movie on their schedule, and so I was able to go out and keep that promise I made to myself all those years ago without having to take an unnecessary risk of CATCHING A POTENTIALLY LIFE THREATENING DISEASE in the process! So with all that buildup, with all the shakeups at the studio, and with all the world events that have broken the world between the first teaser trailer to now, does the movie manage to be any good? Did all the extra time working on it prove to be a fruitful endeavor, or are they hoping that the threat of getting sick would be enough for them to sneak this out without anybody noticing? Let’s find out!!

Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) finds herself stuck inside of a hospital of some sorts with a bunch of other young people under the watchful eyes of Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga) who informs her that her family is dead and that she’s here because she PROBABLY caused it. Why? Well because she’s a mutant of course, and so is everyone else here! We’ve got Sam (Charlie Heaton) who can go fast and make things explode, Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy) who… has some sort of teleportation and sword fighting powers, Roberto (Henry Zaga) who’s the most dudebro dude ever and also might have fire powers, and Rahne (Massie Williams) who is… well she’s just a werewolf. I didn’t realize that fell under MUTANT powers, but I guess you can call anything a mutant power if you try hard enough. In any case, they’re all stuck in here with the discount Nurse Ratched who’s trying to get them to learn to control their powers through… group therapy sessions I guess, and clearly has some sinister motivations for keeping them all there that they’re vaguely aware of but none too concerned about. Dani, still trying to figure out exactly what happened to her father and not even knowing what her own super power is, tries to make the most of this very bizarre situation which only gets more disturbing once everyone starts having terrifying dreams or something relating to their past traumas which is certainly not making the overall dingy atmosphere of this place any more cheery. What exactly are Dani’s powers and are they in any way connected to the strange goings on at the hospital? What does Dr. Reyes have planned for them once she’s deemed them to be “better”, and is it somehow worse than having stay here? Are they actually stuck in some sort of Groundhog’s Day time loop which is why it feels like this movie’s been around for a hundred years!?

Nope. Nope. There we go!
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Cinema Dispatch: The Shack

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The Shack and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment

Directed by Stuart Hazeldine

Geez, first we had Jennifer Gardner do one of these last year, and now ACADEMY AWARD WINNER OCTAVIA SPENCER?  And the thing is, I had no idea what this was about until I walked into the movie!  I thought it was Nick Sparks fluff piece or something like that, but no!  Alright, so I didn’t have the best attitude once they movie let me know what it was about within the first five minutes, but it’s not like there aren’t ANY religious films I like!  Certainly Noah counts, right?  Anyway, does The Shack manage to rise above its contemporaries and be a thoughtful examination on religion and spirituality’s role in working through grief, or is it just like every other mediocre or downright offensive Christian film we’ve gotten since Pure Flix managed to make a few bucks at the box office?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the wholesome Phillips family led by the father Mack (Sam Worthington) who one day decides to take the kids on a camping trip which couldn’t POSSIBLY go awry!  Oh wait.  The youngest of the group Missy (Amelie Eve) goes missing and presumed dead.  I THINK the body is found in the titular shack in the mountains, but the movie is a bit coy on that detail; presumably so they can avoid showing a dead body in this wholesome family film.  Anyway, the tragedy shatters the whole family including their son Josh (Gage Munroe) and their other daughter Kate (Megan Charpentier), but Mack is taking the brunt of the guilt; leaving the mother Nan (Radha Mitchell) to pick up the slack while he’s moping around the house.  One day however, he gets a mysterious letter telling him to meet God in the shack where Missy’s body was found which sounds suspiciously like the opening to Silent Hill 2, but unfortunately we’re not in for that kind of movie.  Instead, he steals his best friend’s truck (played by Tim McGraw) and drives up there thinking that he’ll find the killer waiting for him.  No such luck so Mack has a near suicidal fit of rage and fury but is saved from blowing his brains out by some dude who JUST SO HAPPENED to be walking by at just that moment.  Not only that, but the dude seems to know Mack and invites him to join his family in another nearby cabin.  What’s odd though is that the weather instantly changes from the dead of winter to a bright spring day, and on top of that, the dude’s father is played by Octavia Spencer.  So why would this guy played by Aviv Alush call this woman The Father?  And who is this mysterious third person there played by Sumire Matsubara?  Wait a minute… meet God in the cabin… there are three of them… oh.  Okay, so we’ve got The Father (Spencer), The Son (Alush), and the Holy Spirit (Matsubara) basically pulling a Christmas Carol on this dude to get him over the death of his daughter by… sort of answering his very obvious and leading questions about the nature of God in a world that isn’t perfect.  Uh huh.  So then… does Mack manage to find a reason to live after spending a few days with these three charming fellows?  What insights do they have that can apply to YOUR lives as well as his?  Is there a book you can buy to go along with the movie that will shed ADDITIONAL insights and unlock the secret to true happiness!?

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All this healing can be YOURS for the low low cost of $49.95!  It’s what GOD would want!!

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