Tag Archives: Blumhouse Productions

Cinema Dispatch: Birth of the Dragon

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Birth of the Dragon and all the images you see in this review are owned by BH Tilt and WWE Studios

Directed by George Nolfi

Now I’ve always been more of a Jackie Chan guy myself (sorry, but the guy has a much larger filmography and basically reinvented the genre by incorporating vaudevillian slapstick into the martial arts) but Bruce Lee is a dude who earned all the respect that he gets by being the first big Asian star in cinema and defining a genre of film for generations to come.  There have been plenty of Bruce Lee films since his death in 1973, almost all of which were in pretty poor taste, but there hasn’t been one in quite some time so maybe now is the time to remind everyone just how awesome and badass he was with a brand new and super slick Hollywood production… or at least something approaching that.  Can this film bring the man back to the forefront of action filmmaking one more time, or is this yet another example of how to pay tribute to him in the worst way possible?  Let’s find out!!

The story begins in 1960s San Francisco where Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) hasn’t quite made it as a star but is certainly building up a following as the country’s greatest martial artist and a potential star of the silver screen.  Of course, with this brazen attitude and willingness to teach anyone of any race the secrets of Eastern martial arts had gotten the ire of some of the more traditional masters back in China; including Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) who’s come to San Francisco as some sort of journey of self-discovery and repentance for his own misdeeds.  One of Lee’s students Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen) goes to greet Wong Jack Man at the port and they soon form something resembling a friendship with the latter still not happy with what Lee has been teaching to people like Steve which has always been a sacred practice as well as Chinese one.  Eventually Lee’s pride and arrogance (and to a certain extent Wong Jack Man’s as well) leads the two to eventually meet and have a rather public standoff that may someday lead to the fight to end all fights.  Oh, and there are Chinese gangsters in this movie somewhere because what kind of martial arts movie would this be if there WEREN’T Chinese gangsters hanging around?  Will Bruce and Wong find a way to hash out their differences, even if they have to face each other in combat to do so?  Will Steve be able to save his girlfriend from those Chinese Gangsters we were talking about because OF COURSE that subplot has to be in here somewhere?  Is it just me, or does the guy in this movie look more like Moe Howard than Bruce Lee?

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“Why I outta!  COME HERE, YOU!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Sleight

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Sleight and all the images you see in this review are owned by WWE Studios, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing, and Universal Pictures

Directed by JD Dillard

If I ever decide to write a screenplay, I have two ideas.  One of them I’m still gonna keep to myself, but the other was a fake-documentary about a street magician who ACTUALLY had magic powers.  I hadn’t really thought of it past that point (no idea what the conflict would be), but when I saw the trailer to Sleight it looked like someone had made a much better version of my idea and I couldn’t wait to see it.  That kind of magic (or should I say MAGIC!) has always been of great interest to me, whether it’s Penn & Teller’s unique brand of magic comedy, the soft spot I have for at least the second Now You See Me movie, or even Zatanna from DC Comics who is one of my favorite super heroes of all time.  Mixing that with a sort of low key X-Men origin story seemed like the kind of movie that would easily be one of my favorites of the year, and that’s saying something considering how good the movies have been so far!  Does this manage to exceed my expectations as a pseudo-superhero movie with card tricks and drug dealers, or does this all devolve into a mess of poorly thought out ideas and wasted potential?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the adventures of Bo (Jacob Latimore); a mild mannered young man with a little sister Tina (Storm Reid), a penchant for magic tricks, and a side job selling drugs to keep a roof over their heads.  Now that last thing might sound rather risky to be doing, even if he doesn’t have much of a choice (both his parents are dead), but then again… who else would be better at hiding drugs than a master of sleight of hand!?  Well I can think of at least ONE kind of person who’d be better!  A master of sleight of hand who ALSO has super powers!  Now he doesn’t make his powers obvious, but he clearly is using some sort of subtle manipulation of objects around him that no actual magician would have, so on top of being bad ass with a deck of cards he can ALSO avoid police suspicion with the way he can hide his products.  This has led to him being a rather good dealer which is good news for his supplier Angelo (Dulé Hill) who wants to bring Bo deeper into his organization.  On top of dealing with that and his kid sister, he also manages to meet a nice girl named Holly (Seychelle Gabriel) who he wants to be there for as well but Angelo pulling him closer keeps pushing him further away from them.  Eventually things come to a head with Angelo and Bo has to find a way to get out from under his thumb once and for all, even if it means doing something he’s never wanted to do with the gifts he’s been given.  Will BO be able to protect everyone he loves before Angelo takes everything away from him?  What exactly is the nature of his powers and how did he get them?  I wonder what his magician name would be.  Bo the Benevolent?

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“With great power comes great responsibility.  Now what Spider-Man never got is that that responsibility can take many forms!  He chose to save people, which is nice, but not for me.  Instead, I’ve decided to BLOW THEIR MINDS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Split

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

Directed by M Night Shyamalan

We all want Shyamalan to have a comeback and to find a way to make up for the last fifteen years of his career; especially when it includes such unmitigated disasters like After Earth, The Last Airbender, or even The Happening which is fun to watch but for none of the reasons he intended it to be.  Now he did manage to knock out at least one decent film recently which was The Visit, but it was also a clear sign of how far his status has fallen that he was picking up Blumhouse scraps on a dopey premise with a found footage gimmick.  Now it WAS probably the best thing he made since Signs, but even with that it still wasn’t all that great and wasn’t something that I could imagine a dozen other much less accomplished directors directing along with three other direct to video horror films that year.  With this movie though, it seems he’s making a much more earnest effort; not just a paycheck to keep his name relevant, but an honest attempt to make the next great M Night movie that we’ve been waiting for since Bush won reelection.  Does the latest M Night thriller finally bring him back into the spotlight, or is this the final curtain call for the much maligned filmmaker?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the teenagers, Claire, Marcia, and Casey (Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, and Anya Taylor-Joy), being kidnapped by a mysterious dude for clearly nefarious purposes.  Once they wake up from this… spray the guy uses (do they actually make Knock Out spray?), they find themselves in some sort of basement with two beds, a small bathroom, and a locked door.  Not long after they wake up, they are confronted by their captor Dennis (James McAvoy) who doesn’t give much details but makes it clear that he isn’t about to let them go.  Sometime later, they meet Patricia (James McAvoy) who apologizes for Dennis’s rude behavior, and eventually they meet young Hedwig (James McAvoy) who tells them they’re all screwed.  Now if you couldn’t pick up on it yet, or you haven’t seen the trailers, these are all the same person as their captor, given name Kevin, has Dissociative Identity Disorder and is said to have 23 distinct personalities, though maybe five or six are relevant to the movie.  From there, the movie just builds the tension as more time passes and the women are dreading what their captor has planned for them which, according to Hedwig, are PROBABLY not good things.  While that’s going on, Kevin’s therapist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) is getting messages from one of his identities, Barry, claiming that they DESPERATLEY need to see her, but whenever he comes in, he seems perfectly fine and is sorry to be wasting her time.  Hm…  So just what does Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig have planned for the women in his basement?  Will the good doctor find out that everything is certainly NOT fine before it’s too late?  What exactly are those other identities we don’t to see really like?

 

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“Did Igor bring you here so we can work on our experiments?  I mean, I prefer the bodies to be cold BEFORE I bring them back to life, but I can work with this.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ouija: Origin of Evil

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Ouija: Origin of Evil and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Mike Flanagan

In a year that’s already been pretty good for horror movies and sequels, has it been just as good for horror movie sequels?  Well ironically enough for a genre known for churning out sequels, there’s really only been two I’ve seen this year; The Purge: Election Year which is one of the best films of the year so far, and Blair Witch which is one of my least favorites.  Sure I heard people liked The Conjuring 2, but I hated the first one with a fiery passion so I highly doubt it would end up on the good end, and then if you wanted you could count 10 Cloverfield Lane as a horror movie which I would put on the good side even if it’s sequel status is somewhat questionable.  My point is that the data on horror sequels this year is, shall we say… inconclusive.  Will we have a more definitive answer one way or the other with this prequel (I know that’s technically not the same thing as a sequel, but I’m freaking counting it!) to a movie that was universally panned just two years ago?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place in 1967 at the home of the Zander family, made up the mother Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters Lina (Annallise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson).  Alice is barely getting by after the death of her husband as her fortune telling business isn’t quite paying the bills, but they’ll make due for now and they even get a new item for the show that should definitely drum up some business, right?  Well those concerns become secondary as it JUST SO HAPPENS to be a ghost living in the house already that has started to take control over young Doris and is clearly after something but we’re not sure what.  For now, it’s just using Doris to pretend to be the dead father and freaks everyone out with the Ouija Board as a way to… I don’t know; keep Alice from calling the Ghostbusters?  Either way, Alice is more than happy to have a REAL (and presumably benevolent) ghost in the house to not be used to keep a roof over their heads but to also get some closure with her “husband” after his tragic death.  Of course, Lina smells bullshit from a mile away and knows better than to trust something possessing her sister CLAIMING to be her dead father, so she starts to investigate and even gets a local priest involved (Henry Thomas) to find out exactly what’s going on; something the ghost isn’t too happy about.  Will Lina and the Padre stop this madness before it’s too late?  Just what is the ghost after if it needs to pretend to be good rather than just kill everyone in their sleep?  How the hell is it gonna convince everybody of that when it keeps messing with her face!?

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“Look at that!  How is that normal!?”     “Oh will you relax?  She’s just yawning!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Purge: Election Year

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The Purge: Election Year and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by James DeMonaco

For the past few months, there hasn’t been a movie I was more excited to see than this one.  I still haven’t seen the first movie, but the SECOND one is a really great B-Movie in the vein of John Carpenter or even modern day directors like Gareth Evans.  It was more than just an action shlock-fest though as it really wanted to say something about its premise in between the outrageous violence.  This one though?  This looks like they’re going full-tilt on having something to say about society, politics, and violence in our culture!  In between the brutal murders and silly costumes of course.  Does this manage to be yet another sequel this year that ends up better than the previous film, or have they run out of genuine ideas and are now just parroting hot button issues?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place two years after the events of The Purge: Anarchy where Frank Grillo’s character from the that film FINALLY has a name (Leo Barnes) and has somehow found his way to being the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) who is poised to win the Presidential Election that year and will hopefully end the purge.  Unfortunately for her, the ruling party in the US Government (the New Founding Fathers of America, or NFFA) would very much like to keep their jobs and to keep the purge going so they can kill lots more poor people, so their plan to stop the senator is to change the rules of the purge so as to lift the ban on killing government officials; leaving them free to send a whole bunch of mercs (neo-Nazi ones of course) to take her out.  Well not if Frank Grillo has anything to say about it!  He manages to get her away from the assassins after their initial assault on the Senator’s home and they end up finding a few people trying to survive the night and more than willing to help the senator who will bring an end the purge once and for all.  These include Joe Dixon (Mykelit Williamson) who owns a small convenience store that is being threatened that night, his employee Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) who wants to help his boss, and Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel) who is one of the volunteers that helps people get medical treatment during purge night.  Can this rag tag group of badasses manage to outrun the NFFA?  Will Senator Roan be able to win the election, or should they find a way to ensure her victory this very night?  There have been what, fifteen purges already?  You’d think some of these people would find it all passé at this point.

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“We’re hardcore bro!”     “You’re all a bunch of posers!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Visit

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The Visit and all the images you see in this review are owned byUniversal Pictures

Directed by M Night Shyamalan

Oh good god, we have another M Night Shyamalan movie!  After the travesty of… well everything after Signs, you’d think that he’d no longer be a big name director in Hollywood.  Still, people kept giving him projects and he kept making terrible movies, culminating with the utter disaster that was After Earth.  It seems though that he’s finally had to step down somewhat and has now released a low budget film with barely any recognizable actors and found footage gimmick.  Will getting back to basics be exactly what this filmmaker needs to get his directing chops back, or is it too late for the man who could have been one the great auteurs of our time?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Becca and Tyler (played by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould), who are on a trip to see their grandparents.  Their mother (Kathryn Hahn) had left things on pretty bad terms when she ran away to be with the man who would end up being the kids’ father, and she hasn’t spoken to them since then.  Only recently did they get back in contact with their daughter and would like to have their grandchildren come visit them some time.  An opportunity presents itself where the mother would need someone to look after the kids for a week, so she decides to let the kids go see them.  The reason for the found footage approach with this film is that Becca is a filmmaker in her own right and wants to make a documentary of their trip to their grandparents house to not only go for an Oscar, but to show the footage to her mother to help her get over whatever it was that kept her away from her parents for so long.  Of course, once they get to the grandparents’ house, things slowly start to get out of hand as both of them seem to exhibit strange and occasionally dangerous behaviors.  Are these two the victims of some sort of degenerative neurological disease, or is there something more sinister at play?

“Oh don’t mind Granny.  She just get possessed by Pazuzu everyone once in a while.”

“Oh don’t mind Granny.  She just get possessed by Pazuzu everyone once in a while.”

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