Cinema Dispatch: Godzilla vs. Kong

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Godzilla vs. Kong and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Adam Wingard

It’s no secret that I was not a fan of King of the Monsters which was particularly surprising to me as I always get a kick out of seeing giant monster movies!  There was just too much pretention and import without enough depth or butt kicking fight scenes to justify how lethargic much of it was, but if there was anything about the movie that caught my interest (aside from them using the Blue Oyster Cult song for the credits), it was the promise of seeing Godzilla and the King Kong from Kong: Skull Island lace up the gloves and duke it out in a battle to end all battles!  Well the one thing that giant monsters were not able to overcome was the Pandemic as this got pushed back for several months, but the day has finally arrived and they even put it on HBO Max to boot!  Is this the titanic clash between two legendary movie monsters we’ve all been waiting for, or is this a bigger letdown than Batman v Superman?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Monarch has decided that instead of leaving Kong alone on his mysterious island that is probably not even on Godzilla’s radar, they’ll capture him, chain him up, and put him in a fake jungle so that… I guess he and Godzilla don’t have a punch up.  It seems that Kong himself wasn’t consulted on this as he’s constantly wrecking up his cage and has to be restrained whenever he’s out of it, but in any case, along with that there’s a new Super Science company in town named Apex run by some dude named Walter (Demián Bichir) who believes that there’s some sort of Unobtanium-like SUPER OIL that requires drilling even deeper into the Earth to get.  How deep?  Well so deep that apparently you empty out into a whole new world which is where the monsters they’ve been dealing with are actually from.  A rag tag team of scientists are assembled to try and prove this Hollow Earth theory and since they’ve already got a giant monster under lock and key, they can use his… something something science babble to help them find the entrance to the Hollow Earth and make perhaps the greatest discovery in all of human history!  Said team is made up of some geologist dude (Alexander Skarsgård), Kong’s caretaker (Rebecca Hall), her adopted daughter (Kaylee Hottle), and Walter’s very annoyed daughter (Eiza González) along with like five or six nameless army dudes. Now all this however assumes that Godzilla, the supposed protector of Earth, doesn’t come in and wreck Apex/Monarch’s plans, but hey I guess if they’ve got Kong on hand anyway, why not let him punch the giant lizard a few times along the way?  Oh, and Millie Bobby Brown is back on a Goonies adventure to discover the secrets of Apex along with a nerd (Julian Dennison) and a conspiracy theorist (Brian Tyree Henry) who has no problem dragged teenagers along on a life threatening adventure.  Then again, Rebecca Hall has someone even younger tagging along with her, so either way there seems to be way too many irresponsible grown-ups running around here.  Will Apex and Monarch be able to find the hidden entrance to the Hollow Earth and perhaps find some answers about Kong as well?  What does Apex want with this new energy source, and could Godzilla’s recent aggression towards them be somehow connected?  Am I the only one picturing a better movie where the giant ape and the giant lizard just say SCREW this and work together to destroy everyone involved with this ridiculous venture!?

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“Join me, brother! These humans care NOTHING for our kind!” “I would, but… your face… is so… PUNCHABLE!!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Godzilla vs Kong)

Godzilla vs Kong and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Adam Wingard

Warner Bros’ bold move to release their movies on streaming the same day as theaters is going to be one of the more interesting stories of 2021, and this film is probably going to be the one indicate its direction.  Sure they gave us Wonder Woman 1984, but that had been delayed so long and theaters were still staying closed for the foreseeable future that it almost felt like WB throwing the world a bone or perhaps even a Christmas present.  A present that was pretty wonky and not nearly as its predecessor, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.  This one is a bit different because the vaccine means that people are going to try and get back to a normal life; some faster than others while the responsibility of such actions remains… dubious at best.  I’m HOPING things get fixed before the Summer, but I’m guessing there’s going to be more than enough people out there saying it’s already fixed today.  So with that said, this movie is one that COULD conceivably be delayed for a full theater release without waiting too long, but WB is committed to this strategy and we’ll have to see how it pays off for them; if releasing these big blockbusters on streaming will build up HBO Max enough to offset the costs, or if they are just throwing money down the drain because they couldn’t wait for a safer time to release.  As interesting as all that is though, we’re here to talk about the trailer that they released so let’s take a look at it!

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My biggest fear going into this is that I was NOT a fan of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and that this would be a continuation of that.  I found the whole thing rather insufferable with just how much the overwrought drama weighed down the monster fighting action of which there was already a dearth of.  Oh sure, you can go back to the Japanese Godzilla films and point out how much human drama was in THOSE, but first I wouldn’t say they were SPECTACULAR either, and second they didn’t have a bloated runtime dragging things down even more.  Twenty minutes of Kaiju action in a ninety minute movie is better than twenty-five minutes of Kaiju action in a hundred and thirty minute movie; especially when the action itself is obscured by so much bad weather.  Frankly the giant dudes in costumes brawling in full day light may not have looked the best but had a lot more charm than King of the Monsters. 

TEAM KONG, ALL THE WAY!!
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Cinema Dispatch: Joker

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Joker and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Todd Phillips

Are we ready to do this?  Alright, let’s do this.  So Joker always seemed like an odd choice for a movie as his defining moments have always been in relation to Batman.  Take him away, and what are you left with?  Well if the trailers are any indication, you get something akin to Travis Bickel in Taxi Driver by way of Krusty the Clown.  I mean I was at least interested to see where they were GOING with it since the trailers did a solid job of obscuring what the actual plot was, but the last few weeks of bad press have really drained any enthusiasm I could muster for what was already seeming to be a novelty at best.  Does this manage to rise above the controversy surrounding it, especially the controversies cynically generated by those who have an active stake in the film’s success, or will this all be for a movie that ultimately isn’t worth the time and effort?  Let’s find out!!

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is one of many residents in the city of Gotham who is barely getting by and can feels that life has given him a rather crappy lot.  All he wanted to do was be a comedian and make people smile, but street punks keep beating him up at his job, the rich politicians and lobbyist keep cutting social services that he needs, and on top of all that he has to take care of his elderly mother Frances Conroy) who’s unshaking belief that Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen) will help her and her son has only become more and more obnoxious as the years have gone by.  Why… it’s almost enough to drive someone MAD isn’t it!?  Like say… if someone got so tired of this that they started wearing clown makeup and robbed banks!  Well leave those fantasies at home as this is the REAL Joker for the modern age in that he’s really angry all the time but doesn’t do a heck of a whole lot about it and what he DOES do about it isn’t as… let’s say FLAMBOYANT as his comic book persona would have you believe.  Still, the walls are closing in more and more as Arthur’s life goes further and further into chaos to the point that he may just be forced to fight back in a way that no one could possibly expect; least of all himself.  Will Arthur’s miserable life come to some sort of hilarious denouement that gets all the squares to pop their monocles?  What effect will his actions have on the rest of the city, and is he really so different from all the normal people out there?  Seriously, is this REALLY the guy Warner Bros wants to be spouting his manifesto on the big screen right when they’re getting the DCCU back on track?

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“I call it… MY JOKE BOOK!”     “…”     “Seriously?  Nothing?”     “Oh, uh… no, that’s clever!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Child’s Play

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Child’s Play and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Lars Klevberg

I’m gonna say it right now.  Even though the movie gets quite a bit of praise, Child’s Play is still underrated.  It’s one of those series where the later films defined the look and tone that stuck in the popular consciousness to the point that the merits of the original can still be somewhat overlooked.  It’s a lot like with the first Friday the 13th which is mostly known for the non-Jason killer and the sorta-Jason jump scare.  The first Child’s Play really does have a lot going for it even if the more recognizable elements like the campiness and Jennifer Tilly’s Tiffany are absent.  In a way that kind of makes it perfect for a remake as the finer points of the original can feel fresh to newer audiences who only know of the franchise in the broadest of terms.  Then again, turning Chucky from a possessed doll to a bad robot doesn’t feel particularly inspired, but I guess we can’t begrudge a remake for trying something new, right?  Does this manage to capture the spirit of the original film while telling it in a new and interesting way, or is this yet another mess of a movie to throw on the pile with The Nightmare on Elm Street remake, The Black Christmas remake, and whatever the heck that Rings movie was supposed to be?  Let’s find out!!

Andy Barclay and his mother Karen (Gabriel Bateman and Aubrey Plaza) have just moved to the city and are trying to start fresh with a new life, yet neither one of them seem to be doing a great job of it.  Karen is in a relationship with a huge jerk named Shane (David Lewis), Andy isn’t making any friends with the kids in his building, and to make matters worse Karen has to work the return desk at a department store which means she has to deal with angry jerks ALL day long.  You’d think she’d recognize the jerk-gene in her boyfriend considering how many of them visit her on a daily basis, but regardless of that, Andy’s birthday is coming up and she’s got nothing for him.  I mean I guess she COULD buy him a Cabbage Patch knockoff doll, but considering it’s not the late eighties and he’s thirteen, it doesn’t seem like a good fit.  Maybe she’ll “procure” one of those Buddi Dolls that one of the customers returned which I GUESS is supposed to be an A.I. assistant only MORE anthropomorphic since it’s housed inside a creepy looking robot doll.  Hey, it’s cheaper than a new phone!  Karen takes it home and Andy, while initially resistant, ends up finding a soft spot for the little bugger named Chucky (Mark Hamill), but not everything is as it should be because Chucky is not just an A.I.; it’s a LEARNING A.I. who observes things around it and jumps to the conclusion that murder might just might be the best way to solve Andy’s problems, and unfortunately for Andy this isn’t a problem that can be solved by turning it off and turning it back on again.  Can Andy teach Chucky the ways of peace before he starts leaving a lot of bloody messes in his wake?  Just how far will Chucky’s programming go to ensure Andy’s “happiness” at the exclusion of everything else?  Couldn’t we let Mark Hamill use his Joker voice and just say Andy downloaded a custom speech pack from the cloud!?

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“I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”     “Do you have to say that EVERY time we start a new game?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman

Honestly this whole “Oscar Season” thing has felt rather muted this year as I really haven’t seen that many movies that would fit the archetype we often associate with them.  Other than Welcome to Marwen, the holiday season has been just an extension of summer with huge blockbusters coming out back to back with three presumed major money makers (Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, and Aquaman) fighting over a single weekend right before Christmas.  However out of all those movies that we’re getting right now, the one that really caught my attention was this film; not because I had any particular reason to think it would be great (though I do certainly hope that’s the case!) but because it looked so much different than everything else.  An animated film with a unique art style about Spider-Man characters other than Spider-Man?  Heck, that’s PRACTICALLY Venom considering how much CG they used, and that wasn’t TOO bad!  Can the cinematic debut of Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, and… others I guess, manage to be up there with the best that Disney can put out, or is this only gonna look good in comparison to Sony’s other recent Spider-Man efforts?  Let’s find out!!

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is your typical Marvel nobody; slightly smarter than everyone else, painfully insecure, and doesn’t realize how good his life is until some tragedy will inevitably strike it after they get super powers!  For now though, he’s just bummed about having to go to a fancy new school that his parents (Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez) want him to attend while all he wants to do is be with his friends and hang out with his uncle (Mahershala Ali) who understands him a heck of a lot more than his parents do.  During one such hang out session where he and his uncle tag a wall in an abandoned subway tunnel, Miles gets bit by a radioactive spider and goes through the typical Spider-Man first day of school; make a fool of yourself, stick to things, and eventually realize how awesome these powers are!  Then again, there’s already a Spider-Man roaming the streets (Chris Pine) so it’s not like he needs to get himself involved in Super Hero shenanigans, right?  Oh wait, Spider-Man’s dead.  Huh.  Didn’t see that coming (especially if you don’t know anything about Miles Morales already) and not only that, the big Super Villain plot he failed to stop is some sort of interdimensional portal gun thingy that The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is making and is merging alternate realties into this one.  It makes a lot more sense when you see in the movie.  Trust me on that.  ANYWAY!  One of the alternate dimensions has spout out Peter B Parker (Jake Johnson) who is like this universe’s Peter only a lot less dead and a lot less competent, and he and Miles end up crossing paths through even more convoluted shenanigans.  So now that we’re up to TWO only somewhat competent Spider-People, they can do what the actually GOOD Spider-Man couldn’t, right?  Eh… maybe, but let’s see if we can find a few more Else Worlds Spiders like Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage), Spider-Bot (Kimiko Gleen), and Spider-Pig (John Mulaney) before storming The Kingpin’s castle.  I’m sure they’re around here somewhere!  Will Miles learn how to use his powers for good and accept the responsibility that comes with them?  Can the other Spider-People not only show him what it means to be a hero, but stop The Kingpin before their universe’s become endangered as well?  Can we somehow find a way to go to an alternate dimension where this film is ALSO part of the MCU!?

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“In our universe Venom was released in 2007.”     “WOW!  Your world really IS superior!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Widows

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Widows and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Steve McQueen

Is it time for another cinematic confession?  Alright, so I’ve never actually seen a Steve McQueen movie all the way through.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of Shame and I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, but based on those films and what we’ve been shown of this one I get the feeling that I’m not gonna be the biggest fan of his work.  What can I say?  I’m not the biggest fan of overly oppressive mood pieces even if the subject matter justifies that tone, but unlike other kinds of movies of filmmakers that I’m not too fond of I’m rather open to what this guy has to say here because even if I don’t like what I see on screen at least I’m fairly confident that the director is trying to ENGAGE with their audience instead of completely alienating them (*cough* Eli Roth *cough*).  Will this film be the perfect introduction to the director’s body of work, or did he already reach his peak and nothing else will quite measure up to it?  Let’s find out!!

Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is just having a TERRIBLE week!  Not only did her husband (Liam Neeson) die in a horrible fiery explosion, two million dollars went completely up in smoke which she is now being held responsible for since said two million was STOLEN by Liam Neeson and his crew of crooks (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, and Coburn Goss) from a local gangster who’s the slightest bit miffed about all this.  It’s made especially bad because said gangster Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is also running for local office against the golden boy Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and could have used all that ill-gotten gain to fund his campaign; presumably through shady 501(c) groups considering where the money came from.  Thanks, Citizens United!  Anyway, him and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) have given Veronica a week to pay him back which is PROBABLY not all that feasible, but as luck would have it her husband left her a notebook that had detailed plans for their next heist; one that could not only pay back Jamal but will give her a nice payday to keep her afloat while she figures out what to do next with her life.  She enlists the help of two of the widows, Linda and Alice (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) as well as Bell who is another person in need of some fast cash (Cynthia Erivo) to hopefully pull off this heist, though without any actual experience committing crimes, pulling guns, and breaking into places, their success seems dubious at best.  Will Veronica and her slapdash crew of desperate widows manage to pull off such a dangerous heist?  What exactly happened the night their husbands died, and could it have had anything to do with this plan that was left behind?  Is it just me, or could this easily be an Amanda Waller prequel?

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“If I can get these women to pull off this heist, imagine what I can do with super villains!”     “I don’t know, that STILL seems like a bad idea.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Hotel Artemis

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Hotel Artemis and all the images you see in this review are owned by Global Road Entertainment

Directed by Drew Pearce

So you’re telling me that there’s a movie with Dave Bautista AND Jeff Goldblum in it, but it’s NOT part of the MCU!?  That seems like a bit of waste, especially considering the latter is clearly playing the same character minus the highlights, but I guess not EVERYTHING has to be a superhero film… at least for now.  Anyway, I kow ABSOLUTELY nothing going into this film other than seeing the poster once, and even that didn’t give much information on what this was going to be about, so it’s yet another chance for me to roll the dice at the theater which can be REALLY great when a movie surprises you, but then you run the risk of being completely unprepared if the film is an absolute train wreck.  Did I manage to roll sevens on a solid action film, or will I end up getting snake eyes on my last bet before I lose my thumbs?  Let’s find out!!

It’s the year 2028 and our movie begins with a crew of gangsters trying to pull off a bank heist in the middle of LA during a riot.  It seems that some big conglomerate turned off the water for everyone and now people are rising up to march their corporate offices and beat the hell out of anyone still working there which is an awful indictment of privatization and a huge humanitarian crisis, but ALSO a great opportunity to steal stuff because the cops are busy elsewhere.  Capitalism, am I right?  Anyway, the heist doesn’t quite go as planned and they barely seem to break even by just taking the stuff of those who happened to be there at the time, but one of them gets shot (Brian Tyree Henry) and his brother Sherman (Sterling K Brown) has to drag him to a SECRET CRIMINAL HOSPITAL known as The Hotel Artemis run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster) who has a very precise set of rules that are followed to the latter; else you have to deal with the orderly named Everest (Dave Bautista) and you do not want to deal with Everest unless absolutely necessary.  Sherman and his brother aren’t the only ones there however as a fellow guest staying in the Nice room (Sofia Boutella) is nursing a gunshot wound and another guest in the Acapulco room (Charlie Day) is getting his face fixed up after some sort of encounter.  Seems like a typical night at The Hotel Artemis, right?  Well it turns out that riots can cause a fair bit of chaos, even in a place as well protected as that, and things start to unravel as someone from The Nurse’s past start to show up asking for help (Jenny Slate), and the big mob boss who helped The Nurse set this place up known simply as The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) is stopping by with a gunshot wound; flanked by his hot headed son (Zachary Quinto) who chafes immediately at all the rules.  Oh, and it turns out that Sherman’s brother managed to take something that belonged to The Wolf King during the heist, and if he were to find out… well let’s just say that wolves aren’t typically known for their ability to share things.  Can The Nurse keep order in this place while the rest of the world is descending into chaos around her?  How long can Sherman keep himself and his brother out of sight, and will they be able to escape in time?  How is it that no one can just follow the rules!?  IT’S NOT THAT HARD!!

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“If I told you once, I told you a THOUSAND times!”     “Duly noted!  I will remember put the toilet seat down, okay!?”

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