Cinema Dispatch: The Batman

The Batman and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Matt Reeves

I wasn’t sure what to think about them doing yet another Batman movie when this first got announced. Say what you will about the Marvel movies, they haven’t beaten characters into the ground as thoroughly as Warner Bros have done to Batman and his crew. Multiple continuities and actors playing the same characters within years of each other, and all of them pale in comparison to The LEGO Batman Movie! Still, despite this looking like the grimdark fantasies of a nineties teen, it has an immense amount of talent that I genuinely respect behind it; particularly Robert Pattinson who has swiftly become one of my favorite actors. Is this a refreshing change of pace and a genuinely excellent interpretation of the character, or is this a whole lot of effort and prestige going to waste? Let’s find out!!

In the heart of Gotham, there is a man wearing a very strange costume attacking criminals and striking fear into the worst that the city has to offer. Unfortunately, this is not Batman doing it and it’s not the costumed bad guys who are getting their heads caved in; rather it’s some guy calling himself The Riddler who is murdering the corrupt politicians and their enablers. He’s also leaving cryptic clues for the city’s other vigilante, the one that attacks the easier to ignore bad guys, and so it’s up to Batman (Robert Pattinson) to find out who this brat is and bring him to justice! His investigation leads him to some shady figures in the underworld including Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell) and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) who are connected to this Riddler fellow in some way, and he even stumbles across a cat burglar (Zoë Kravitz) who may know more about this case and the people involved than she’s letting on. Can Batman solve the clues and find the man responsible for these killings before he gets to his grand finale? How has being the Batman affected the man beneath the cowl, and will this latest mystery push him too far into the darkness? Seriously, fanboys; what’s your beef with Robert Pattinson? Is he somehow not broody enough for you!?

“I can scowl like this all day! Just try me!!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom: Let There Be Carnage and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Andy Serkis

The first Venom movie wasn’t exactly a cult classic, but it did have a lot more fun with the formula and with the characters than I expected it to.  Still, trying to figure out what to do with the character for a second movie, especially since we’re STILL keeping it away from anything Spider-Man related, could easily upset the balance and stretch the joke further than it can go.  The trailers definitely seem to be having a lot of fun with the formula which may be the right way to try and make lightning strike twice, and Andy Serkis is definitely an interesting choice for director, so who knows?  Is this a campy and fun romp that captures the Venom magic for a second time, or did our luck run out when the first movie turned out to be not-terrible?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) has settled into a routine with the symbiotic space goo that resides in his body and the two are trying to get his journalism career up and running again with this big story of captured serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) who for whatever reason has taken an interest in the reporter.  After a particularly heated discussion between the two of them that ends in a small amount of bloodshed, Kasady somehow gets a bit of the symbiote in him as well and to his utter surprise, it saves him from the death penalty so that he can roam the streets of San Francisco; leaving untold CARNAGE wherever he goes!  Oh, but this is no mindless murderer with a one track mind as Kasady has bigger plans involving a friend from childhood who JUST SO HAPPENS to have super powers (Naomie Harris) and has been locked in a secret super-prison that would normally be impenetrable but Kasady’s new powers intend to put that to the test.  All while this is going on, Eddie and Venom are going through some growing pains in their relationship as Venom wants to be free to save the world and eat people in spite of Brock’s attempts to keep him safe and hidden; all of which comes to ahead once they learn that Eddie’s ex Anne (Michelle Williams) is engaged which brings whole new dimensions of stress between them.  Can Eddie and Venom put aside their differences long enough to stop Kasady from wreaking havoc on the city?  What exactly does Kasady have planned after reuniting with his childhood love, and does the symbiote in his body have anything to say about it?  You’d think it wouldn’t be THAT hard to keep a space parasite happy when all it really needs is food and validation, but I guess that’s the troublesome nature of relationships and a square peg just won’t fit in a round hole no matter how hard you try.

“I go through ALL this trouble to make you breakfast, and you won’t even eat it!?” “You’ve got like six thousand calories and eight hundred carbs here!” “VENOM CARES NOT FOR YOUR DIET!” “But-” “EVERY DAY IS A CHEAT DAY TO VENOM!!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Long Shot

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Long Shot and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Jonathan Levine

I love Seth Rogen!  Have I mentioned that before?  Knocked Up, Neighbors 2, The Night Before, all are great movies that I’ve watched multiple times and showcase just how talented the guy is.  Now we’ve got a movie with him AND Charlize Theron, one of the hardest working actors working today with so many great movies under her belt!?  Well dang!  How had I not heard about this movie before!?  Seriously, considering how many times I go to the movies you’d think I’d have seen one trailer but no!  I hadn’t even heard of this until about a week ago and I had no idea what it was even about, but hey, when do you watch a comedy for the plot?  I’m here to see these two work off of each other and tell some funny jokes!  Does this team up manage to knock it out of the park like peanut butter and chocolate, or are we in for an experiment that’s gone more horribly awry than whatever the heck it is Oreo has been pumping out recently?  Let’s find out!!

Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a journalist with a serious chip on his shoulder who’s had a rough time of it recently and Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is the Secretary of State who’s had a rough time of it always.  Two people from two vastly different worlds who you wouldn’t think would ever meet, but in movie land these two have something of a history as Charlotte used to babysit Fred when they were younger and there was an embarrassing incident between the two of them.  Still, fate seems to conspire to bring them back together as Fred loses his job and is brought to an upper class party by his friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr) where Charlotte just so happens to also be.  They talk for a bit, Fred makes a fool of himself when trying to confront an evil media conglomerate (Andy Serkis) and you’d figure that life would just keep on going from there.  However, Charlotte starts to read some of Fred’s earlier work and comes up with a brilliant idea!  See, she plans on running for president as the current guy (Bob Odenkirk) won’t be running for a second term to instead make movies and so she needs a speech writer who can write funny and incisive commentary that she can pepper into her usual rhetoric, so going on quite a limb here she hires Fred for the job despite him being… well a boorish man child who can barely even dress himself.  Naturally her staff isn’t too thrilled included her top aids Maggie and Tom (June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel), but everyone goes along with it and Fred, if nothing else, seems to write decent speeches and the two begin to reconnect once more; possibly with more going on between them than either initially realized.  Can Fred be the necessary piece that Charlotte has been missing in her life, and is Fred even capable of being what she needs him to be?  What sinister actors out there will try to undermine Charlotte’s campaign, and how will Fred react to the realities of being part of the political machine on such a large stage?  Seriously, how did this jacket alone not destroy her political career?

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“I didn’t realize the Blue Meanie was getting into politics!”     “Say what you will about the Blue World Order, they at least have a sound economic platform!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Black Panther

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Black Panther and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Ryan Coogler

It’s time once again for the Marvel Money Machine to give us all yet another excuse to give Disney ten more dollars of our hard earned cash to people with super powers in profoundly silly costumes punch each other between humorous quips and callbacks to previous films!  The sooner we declare Marvel release dates to be national holidays the better off we’ll all be (who DOESN’T like getting a Friday off!?), but until then the film critics must continue to go to the multiplexes, sit for two and a half hours as the lights and sounds dazzle our senses, and then tell you what you already know; namely that these are still good and that you’ll spend your money on it no matter what!  Now as cynical as this never ending cycle of unimaginable profits can seem, it STILL manages to keep its head above water at least with critics by having that one thing that many other blockbuster franchises DON’T have.  What was it?  Oh right!  Talent.  With pretty much every one of these films, Disney went the extra mile of hiring talented and sought after filmmakers to play around with their billion dollar toys, and so far we’ve had a near perfect success rate!  Okay, Jon Favreau didn’t QUITE capture lightening in a bottle twice with Iron Man 2 and there was the whole Ant-Man debacle with Edgar Wright, but for the most part they’ve had a good eye for picking out talent; especially considering they got Ryan Coogler of Fruitvale Station and Creed fame to start his blockbuster career with them.  Will this be a monumental addition to an already astronomically successful franchise, or… well okay, there’s no chance this is gonna be BAD, but will it be… MEDIOCRE!?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins not long after Captain America: Civil War (so… presumably BEFORE Spider-Man Homecoming?) where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is returning home to Wakanda to be crowned king after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani).  Here, we all the important people in his life including his mother (Angela Bassett), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his top general and most dependable ass kicker Okoye (Danai Gurira), and an accomplished spy for the Wakandan military Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend.  Anyway, we spend some time with T’Challa as he’s getting used to the heavy burden bestowed upon him, but he doesn’t have much time to adjust as Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) from all the way back in Age of Ultron has resurfaced and is still on Wakanda’s shit list for stealing Vibranium like twenty years ago.  With this chance at capturing one of Wakanda’s greatest enemies, T’Challa suits up to take the mantel of Black Panther once more and even takes Okoye and Nakia for backup.  Things don’t go quite as planned however as the CIA operative from Civil War, Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is onto Klaue as well, and Klaue seems to be working with a guy that REALLY has a grudge against Wakanda and is known simply as Killmonger  (Michael B Jordan).  Can T’Challa unravel the mysteries before him, and will he like the answers that he finds?  What are these ruthless villains planning that could endanger Wakanda and the rest of the world with it?  How exactly does he breathe in that thing if it doesn’t even have a mouth hole!?

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“IT’S SO MUGGY IN HERE!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Rian Johnson

And we’re back for our yearly song and dance to the empire George Lucas created and Disney is rebuilding!  Not that Star Wars ever really went away (nor did its fans who were perfectly willing to still spend money on it), but the last few years have been just the shot in the arm the franchise needed in order to make it more than a nostalgia artifact that won’t go away into something that will resonate with audiences today and maintain its throne as KING OF THE BLOCKBUSTERS.  Now that we’re at the second installment of the new trilogy, will it be yet another example of Disney getting this formula right, or have we already started hurtling head long into the dark side… by which I mean the movie is not very good?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up not long after the events of the first film where The First Order is understandably peeved over the destruction of the Star Killer Base and are on a warpath to hunt down the remnants of The Rebellion; more or less whittling them down to a single flagship desperately trying to find a place to hole up until the heat dies down.  Unfortunately for them, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) along with his own flagship are right on their tails and are blasting away at the Rebel ship’s shields until they can get a shot in and blow the whole thing up; effectively killing the resistance and all the loveable characters onboard.  Said characters include Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who’s having trouble ceding to the Rebel Leadership which is primarily General Leia and Admiral Holdo (Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern), Finn (John Boyega) who’s all fixed up after the fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who’s sister recently died in an attack and wants to help Finn in saving everyone who’s left on the flagship.  While Finn, Pie, and Rose are working out a way to save the ship while subverting the Rebel Leadership, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is off on Planet Nowhere with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trying to coax the latter into going back to The Rebels and giving her Jedi lessons, while Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)… well he’s keeping the Millennium Falcon warm in case either of them needs it.  Need it they might though considering how dire the situation is with The Rebels and Rey can’t exactly wait around for Luke to stop being a grumpy pants; especially with Kylo Ren growing more and more desperate to prove himself which only makes him that much more dangerous of a blunt tool for Snoke’s greater ambitions.  Will The Rebels find a way to survive this unceasing onslaught by The First Order?  Will Rey find her place in this conflict and become the Jedi Master that everyone can look up to in these trying times?  Will Luke teach her all those lessons he kinda sorta learned from Yoda and Obi-Wan!?

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“Do, or do not.  There is no try.”     “What do you mean there’s no try!?”     “Huh. You know, I never really understood that part either.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

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Star Wars: The last Jedi and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Walt Disney Studios

Directed by Rian Johnson

Sure enough, Disney is going forward with their plan of turning the month of December into Star Wars month (Merry Lucas-mas!!) and they have just released the first teaser trailer for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi!  Now The Force Awakens topped my Best of 2015 list, and Rogue One ended up pretty high on my Best of 2016 list, so while the sense of HYPE isn’t really there this time (Disney knows what they’re doing and if this one doesn’t work we’ll have another one in 2018), I’m still rather interested to see where they go with the main story and hope they can build upon the success of The Force Awakens.  Anyway, let’s get started with the speculation!!

Now the first thing I noticed is that this trailer is cut EXACTLY the same as the teaser for The Force Awakens which is an interesting choice.  Both trailers are narrated by one of the characters in the movie, doesn’t connect to any of the scenes they actually show.  Both trailers start with a quite shot where one of the protagonists suddenly enters the frame with an accompanying musical sting.  Finally, both trailers are a collection sizzle shots to show off the graphics and incentivize speculation.  The only major difference in regards to the style of the two is the pacing.  While the teaser trailer for The Force Awakens had a strong sense of energy and movement, this one is much lower key and methodical with makes sense considering what the movie seems to be about.  At least partially, this movie is going to be about Rey’s training as a Jedi under Luke Skywalker which will require as much soul searching, meditation, and self-control as it will chopping dudes to bits with a glowing stick.

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“And then I’m gonna go WAAAA!  HIYAAAAA!  FFWWWOOOSHHHH!  And then everyone’s gonna go ‘YAAAAYYYYY!’ and then I’ll be all WOOHOOO!!!”

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