Tag Archives: Djimon Hounsou

Cinema Dispatch: Charlie’s Angels

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Charlie’s Angels and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

I’ve never seen the Charlie’s Angels movies from the early 2000s, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the original TV series either.  Heck, I’m pretty sure the closest thing I’ve seen to it was Totally Spies, and while that has its fans, it’s pretty much been dropped into the memory hole with dozens of other 2000s shows that you don’t remember.  So if nothing else, I can at least come into this series with a relatively fresh perspective, and I’ve got to say that I’ve been pretty interested in what we’ve been shown so far; particularly the cast which looks to be amazing and the fact that it’s being directed by Elizabeth Banks who has been gaining some momentum as a voice behind the camera as well as in front of it.  Does this reboot of the seventies classic bring the franchise into the twenty first century; at least for the second time?  Let’s find out!!

Elena (Naomi Scott) is a scientist working at some business company on some new technology that will revolutionize the power industry through… I guess computer coding?  The invention in this case is called Calisto which is a little box the size of an Echo Dot or a Google Home that can somehow power entire rooms and even buildings.  However, there is ONE itty-bitty flaw with it in that it can cause people to have brain aneurisms through some sort of bug that Elena is SURE she can fix, but her misogynistic boss (Nat Faxon) won’t let her because they have to get it to market and he wants to take all the credit for it.  If only there was an agency that understood her plight as a woman in tech and could help her stop a supervillain plot at the same time.  Oh wait!  There is!  The Townsend Agency consists primarily of Bosleys and Angels; the latter being the agents who go on missions and the former being the ones to coordinate the Angels.  The two angles who got assigned to Elena’s case are Sabina and Jane (Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska) and it should be a straightforward Exposé of company documents, but when an assassin (Jonathan Tucker) shows up and takes out one of the Bosleys (Djimon Hounsou), things have clearly escalated to a point far more seirous than Elena had ever imagined.  With the help of a new Bosley (Elizabeth Banks), the three women team up to try and take () back from the evil company and find out just what it is they plan on doing with it in its current deadly state.  Will Elena prove herself to be a true Angel in the making despite a lifetime of being under the thumb of patriarchal and woman unfriendly industry?  What are Sabina and Jane’s story, and will they find excuses to clash with one another when they really should be working together to save the world?  Most importantly of all, does this succeed in empowering women to be in silly spy movies just like men can!?

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“Why does SHE get the gun?”     “Do you know how to use a gun?”     “I mean… it’s the principal of the matter.”     “WHAT principal!?”     “Uh… feminism?”     “Yeah… no.”     “You’re right.  My bad.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Shazam!

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Shazam! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by David F Sandberg

The slow course correction of the DCCU is perhaps not the most surprising thing in the world (you fail at something long enough, you might start to learn from those mistakes), but with Aquaman being a critical hit along with the… let’s say INTERESTING reactions to the Joker trailer, DCCU might just be on the upswing with this movie being the big test to see if this whole experiment can work now that we’re more or less in Phase Two.  Not only is this a fresh start in terms of being the first one more or less completely separate from the Snyder version of the universe, it’s also the first one to FEEL different from all the other ones; same way that Guardians of the Galaxy was a shot in the arm for Marvel after a somewhat serious phase for them.  Does this left turn into sunshine and happiness work turn out to fix many of the problems with the DCCU, or is Warner Bros beating a dead horse at this point?  Let’s find out!!

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical teenager who loves to roam the streets of Philly looking for his mother who disappeared many years ago and is willing to any length to find her!  Okay, maybe that’s not the typical teenage experience, but it’s Billy’s whole deal and the state is getting real tired of him running away from foster homes to search for a person that clearly doesn’t want to be found.  Now they don’t want to just toss his butt into juvy just yet, so they’ve found ONE more family willing to take him in which includes Rosa and Victor as the parents (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews), a bunch of other kids (Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, and Pedro Peña), and his new roommate Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) who’s sassy, handicapable, and REALLY into superheroes.  That last one wouldn’t be TOO bad if it weren’t for the fact that he likes Henry Cavell’s superman, but I guess those are the only toys he can get on clearance, so what are you gonna do?  ANYWAY, while all this is going on (and for several decades prior) a wizard by the name of Shazam (Dijmon Hounsou) has been scouring the Earth for decades to find SOMEONE worthy of taking his power and being the new protector of the planet which depressingly is a much harder task than you’d imagine.  Even with that caveat, I can’t say I’m too fond of his methods as he just pulls kids out of nowhere to give them a test and then send them back to reality when they fail to disappoint; especially when of these candidates is a young Thaddeus Sivanna (Ethan Pugitotto) who will one day grow up to be the ADULT (and doctor) Thaddeus Sivanna (Mark Strong) and is still obsessed with finding that weird dude who told him he wasn’t good enough to be a super hero.  Thaddeus does get his… revenge I guess (perhaps more of a make-up test?) when he finds the secret to accessing this magic realm and steals the EVIL version of Shazam’s power for himself.  Well darn it!  Now that Shazam has plum run out of options, it’s time to just pick one before it’s too late, so Billy?  It’s your lucky day!  The wizard scoops him up, gives him his powers, and then kicks him back to reality as well only now he’s in the rockin’ bod of the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi).  Can Billy learn how to use his powers and be the best superhero on Instagram, or was the wizard’s desperate Hail Mary ultimately a bad move?  Will he be ready by the time Dr. Sivanna realizes the wizard’s champion has been chosen and goes after him to take his power as well?  Be honest!  If you got super powers, you’d be an obnoxious attention seeker as well!

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“Free drinks are part of the superhero tax!  I don’t make up the rules!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Captain Marvel

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

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

You know, it’d be nice if a Marvel movie can come out and NOT bring out the worst of the man babies which has sadly become an almost yearly ritual that the rest of us have to deal with.  Now admittedly I was something of a crybaby when I was pretty scathing about Infinity War, but at least I WAITED until I saw the movie and… you know… FORMED MY OWN OPINION ABOUT IT!  I didn’t go into it assuming it was going to be bad or pass of blatant lies as a “review” to tank an arbitrary number like an alarming number of people took time out of their day to do!  The amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth that this movie generated is phenomenal, and frankly it’s a BIT worrying at this point for the most popular thing in the world to somehow also be the largest lightening rod of faux controversy in cinema.  It’d be nice if something other than the latest Disney Money Maker can be talked about without the SAD BOY PATROL rearing their ugly heads and derailing ACTUAL conversations that people care about, but I guess we don’t get to choose our villains who in this day and age are less James Moriarty and more The Collector from that one Treehouse of Horror episode.  Anyway, we’re all here to talk about the movie, so let’s cut through the nonsense and look at what all the hubbub’s about!  Is this a cinematic masterpiece that will crush the patriarchy once and for all, or did all these crying losers utterly lose their cool over a not especially good superhero movie?  Let’s find out!!

Vers (Brie Larson) is a refugee on a Kree planet who was found by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and trained to be a warrior to fight the enemy that left her for dead and with no memory; an enemy of shape shifting green dudes known as THE SKRULL!  Vers is not only tough but she has some sort of energy blast power thingy that makes her an effective hammer to smash things with, but she’s still struggling to be a team player which becomes an issue on her first mission with Yon-Rogg and his crew to extract a double agent before the Skrull find him.  The mission inevitably goes wrong, Vers is captured but manages to escape, and so she and a bunch of Skrull soldiers including their commanding officer Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) crash land on Earth which so far has been left unaware of the Kree/Skrull conflict.  Not long after landing, she meets up with a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative named Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) who decides that the enemy of my enemy is my friend (at least for now) and is helping her find the Skrulls and whatever it is that led them to Earth in the first place.  Eventually Vers learns that she’s actually FROM Earth and that her real name is Carol Danvers which is quite a shock to her considering that she was supposedly a refugee from another planet, so on top of stopping the Skrull from destroying this planet like they have to so many others, she has to find out exactly who she is, why she ended up on a Kree planet, and what this would mean for her life going forward.  Can Carol find the secrets of her past, and will they be the key finding her true place in the universe?  What exactly are the Skrull planning, and can Carol’s new perspective lead her to finding a way to end this conflict once and for all?  Seriously, why were there SO many creepy dudes combing through every single detail before this movie came out!?  Do they really think it makes them look smart and credible!?

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“You think I should smile more?”     *PUNCH*     “How about now?”     *PUNCH*     “This is actually kind of fun.”     *PUNCH*     “Oh would you look at that?  I might just start to smirk!”     *PUNCH* *PUNCH* *PUNCH*

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Cinema Dispatch: Fishing for Answers in Serenity

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Serenity is owned by Aviron Pictures

So now that it’s been a week since Serenity graced theaters, you’ve all had a chance to go see it and get your mind blown or hear other people regale you with their stories of seeing the movie themselves!  When I went to go see it, I was coming down with a pretty nasty cold and perhaps that’s why I ended up liking the movie more than a lot of other people (it’s got a pretty abysmal score on Rotten Tomatoes), but I do think that there’s something at least INTERESTING in the movie’s ideas even if it’s not the most coherent use of a wacky twist and a high concept I’ve seen in a movie.  Well everyone else has already given their unfiltered opinions on what the movie actually means and how well it pulls of its absurd twist, so why don’t I go ahead and give you mine!  First things first…

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Just What the Heck is Going on Here?

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Since we’re going to be analyzing some of the film’s themes, we might as well start with a spoiler filled recap of the entire narrative.  For the first half of the movie, we’re following Matthew McConaughey who’s on a small island named Plymouth and he’s obsessed with catching a tuna fish that he calls Justice.  During his meaningless existence of waking up, not catching the fish, and drinking himself to sleep at night, he gets visited by his ex-wife played by Anne Hathaway who offers him ten million to kill her utter scumbag of a husband played by Jason Clarke, and also he had a son named Patrick with Anne Hathaway and the two of them have been viciously abused by Jason Clarke.  This back and forth goes on for some time as McConaughey keeps hemming and hawing over whether he should do it, but the whole time something seems off.  Anne Hathaway seems to have jumped out of a noir thriller and Jason Clarke is an absurdly exaggerated caricature of a bad person; not to mention that there’s this one dude in a dorky suit trying to find McConaughey the whole time but always just misses him.  Is there something else going on here?  Well yes there is!  When the mystery man played by Jeremy Strong finally catches up to McConaughey, he offers him a super duper fish finding device to use that will hopefully catch him that tuna once and for all which would be a good way to spend an afternoon instead of maybe sort of killing a guy.  Not that Jeremy Strong somehow KNOWS anything about that!  Okay fine, he does.  McConaughey ends up getting him to spill some of the beans (the rest of the puzzle he puts together himself) and we find out that what we’ve been seeing up to this point has NOT been a charming little island, but instead a simulation.  That’s right!  We’re in the Matrix!  Okay, more specifically we are inside a video game.  Which video game pray tell?  Well it turns out that IN THE REAL WORLD McConaughey’s character is actually a dead army veteran who left behind a wife (Anne Hathaway) and a son (Patrick).  His wife remarried an abusive construction worker (Jason Clarke) and so he spends all his time programming this video game where his dad is still alive, his new dad is a dangerous mob connected monster instead of some abusive loser, and his mother is a wealthy femme fatale instead of… well we don’t really get an idea of what Real World Anne Hathaway is like, but I’m sure that Patrick put just as much exaggeration into her character as he did everything else.  Now things are starting to come together as the somewhat unbalanced way that the characters were drawn start to make sense from the perspective of a confused and angry teenager who is finding a way to escape the horrors of his real life.  This does raise a few questions however about whether Patrick is directly controlling McConaughey and whether or not he truly has any free will, but if we’re gonna let Wreck-it-Ralph slide on that stuff, I think we can let it slide here!  Anyway, McConaughey starts to question everything around him and begins to see where the “seams” are in the programming which starts to react in a rather hostile manner to his break in the routine.  His “role” in the game as it were is to catch the fish, and entertaining the idea of murdering someone is clearly going against the programming at which is why he’s getting the ire of the NPCs that populate the town who keep telling him he should just catch the fish, and he even runs into a few… let’s call them “traps” that are intended to keep him on the right path.  This is also a rather confusing point in the narrative as it’s clear that Patrick is the one programming all of this… but it’s also clear that the scenario here about McConaughey killing Jason Clarke is what he wants… so did he add this scenario to the game?  If so, why is the rest of the game telling McConaughey not to do it?  That is something I wish the movie had a better grasp on, but in any case, despite ALL the resistance he gets from the other NPCs and whatnot, he does manage to kill Jason Clarke in the most symbolically ridiculous way possible.  He takes him out on the boat, manages to get the Tuna called Justice onto one of his poles, and hands the pole to Jason Clarke without strapping him in properly which causes him to be pulled overboard and dragged down to the bottom of the sea… by Justice.  GET IT!?  This is where things take a dark turn as while this is going on, Patrick has taken a knife that his father once owned (a knife we see Virtual McConaughey use frequently in the movie) and stabs the REAL WORLD Jason Clarke to death off screen.  Now this raises questions as to whether or not these things were happening simultaneously, if McConaughey was being directly “controlled” by Patrick as he simulated killing his own step-dad or if this may have been some bug Patrick witnessed that inspired him to do it, but I won’t get diegetically nit-picky here because the thematic thru-line itself is rather consistent.  Patrick feels that he needs to TAKE JUSTICE by killing Jason Clarke, and that attitude is reflected in the game as well as this specific scenario he either intentionally made or just somehow managed to work its way into the code he already wrote.  The movie ends with Virtual McConaughey getting a phone call from Patrick who says he’s gonna rewrite the game, and moments later a Virtual Patrick shows up.  The two reunite, the credits roll, and the house lights turn on before anyone has a chance to really grasp just what the heck it is they witnessed!  Now as I said in my review, I did enjoy this movie before the big twist when it was just a run of the mill Cohen Brothers knock off, and I enjoyed it after the reveal in terms of understanding the metaphor and what they were trying to do with the concept.  Maybe it’s not particularly deep, but I did find at least a few neat ideas about video games and how we can relate to them with the text of the film, so let’s go over some of those now!

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Cinema Dispatch: Serenity

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Serenity and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aviron Pictures

Directed by Steven Knight

Independent of the movie itself, I’d just like to say that this is PROBABLY the worst January I’ve had in quite a few years.  Not only did I get the flu which knocked me out of commotion for about a week, I THEN got a really nasty cold that I’m dealing with right now as I try to push through the fog and sinus congestion to try and create cogent points about this movie which certainly could use a much clearer head to talk about.  Seriously, we started the month off right with a crappy horror film and a Shyamalan Greatest Hits piece, but now we’re getting THIS utterly absurd art piece!?  It’s way too early in the year and I’m way too sick to stay all that coherent, but maybe that’s the best way to truly experience this movie which, after all feels like a total fever dream!  Is this movie as good as everyone says and its qualities can shine through even if I saw it under less than ideal conditions, or was this the last thing I should have gone out to see when I barely had my wits about me?  Let’s find out!!

Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fisherman on the small island of Plymouth who works with his friend Duke (Djimon Hounsou) to take rich jerks out on the ocean so they can catch big fish to brag about on Instagram or whatever.  Mostly he does this so that he can pay for the OTHER days he’s on the ocean looking for… HIM.  You know who I’m talking about!  That ONE FISH that has eluded our hero and has occupied all his thoughts since… THE INCIDENT.  After yet another unsuccessful chase for his Great White Whale, which is actually just a big Tuna Fish, he is greeted by his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) who has somehow tracked him down to this nowhere island and wants to make him an offer.  You see, Karen has since married this total monster named Frank (Jason Clarke) who abuses her as well as the son she had with Baker before they split up (Rafael Sayegh), but she can’t simply divorce him or run away because the guy has some serious mob connections.  For ten million dollars as well as ensuring that his son no longer grows up in an abusive household, she wants him to take Frank out on a fishing trip and throw him overboard.  Seems simple enough, but there’s a whole lot of grey area for things to go wrong and Baker is quite hesitant to carry out his ex-wife’s dirty work.  However, there might be more going on than meets the eye as this latest bit of drama seems to have stirred up something on the island of Plymouth that Baker either never noticed or chose to ignore before now; not to mention the sudden appearance of some dude in a suit (Jeremy Strong) who REALLY wants to get a sit down meeting with Baker about something urgent.  Is Karen being completely truthful about what is that she wants Baker to do, and can Baker pull off such a scheme if he needs to?  What is it that’s suddenly so off putting about the island, and is it in some way connected to the sudden reappearance of his ex-wife?  Just how many video essays will be made about the DEEP MEANING of this movie, and how many will actually make sense!?

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“ALL WE ARE IS DUST IN THE WIND!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Aquaman

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

Directed by James Wan

Well I guess this is one way to put 2018 to a close.  It’s been over a year since the last DCCU film stumbled into theaters and failed to make back the ludicrous amount of money put into it, but since Warner Bros hasn’t given up just yet on turning their superheroes into box office gold (it worked for Wonder Woman at least!), we’re getting at least one more stab at making this initial run of movies work before moving onto what MIGHT be an entirely new continuity with Shazam next year along with another Wonder Woman movie.  With nothing left in the tank and one more Hail Mary left to go, can Warner Bros and DC knock it out of the park as the year is coming to a close?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is just chilling with his dad (Temuera Morrison) and saving the occasional submarine from pirates.  After a recent successful venture that left one particular pirate named David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) rather ticked off with our sub-nautical super hero, Arthur figured he’d just hang out at the bar for a bit before passing out somewhere.  Sadly rest and booze is not in the cards at the moment as a fellow mer-person named Mera (Amber Heard) who we saw briefly in Justice League shows up to Warn Arthur that war is brewing and he’s the only one who can stop it.  To explain this, we’ll need to do a bit of a FLASHBACK to the mid-eighties where his father Thomas and his mother first met.  His mother JUST SO HAPPENED to be the runaway princess Atlanna of the Kingdom of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) and fell in love with Thomas which eventually led to Arthur being born.  However, after an attack from Atlantian soliders, Atlanna decides to go back to protect Arthur and become the bride of some dude who gets her pregnant and then chucks her into some dark hole in the sea after their son is born.  Said son Orm (Patrick Wilson) is the current king of Atlantis and is consolidating power with the other mer-people tribes including the one that Mera belongs to which is ruled by her father Nereus (Dolph Lundgren).  Did you get all that?  Good, well Orm’s plan is to take over Surface World with an army of mer-people, but since Arthur is part of Atlantian Royalty by birthright, he can challenge Orm to the throne and turn around his expansionist policies before Surface World has to start nuking the ocean.  Okay, so if Arthur wants to save the world (which he’s not too keen on but begrudgingly accepts) he has to stage a coup of some sort and convince the Atlantians of his right to rule.  How the heck is he gonna do that!?  Well, that’s where this other guy Nuidis (Willem Dafoe) comes in as he’s Orm’s head Vizier but has secretly been training Arthur this whole time and has a plan for him.  Okay, MORE backstory.  To sum it up, the first Atlantian King had a super powerful trident and if Arthur can find it, then his claim to rule will be that much more legitimate.  Find the trident, avoid Orm’s army, and steer clear of that David guy who has a serious grudge now and may even have access to Atlantian technology to boot.  Sounds reasonable enough, especially with Mera helping him out the whole time!  Can Arthur solve the mysteries of his people’s past and find the one thing that will make him the ruler he was born to be?  Even if he does find it, can he truly be a leader to these people given that he’s of both Surface World AND Water World lineage?  Will he say MY MAN at least once in the movie!?  Just once!  It’s all I ask!!

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“MY MER-MAN!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Guy Ritchie

I don’t know about you, but the definitive King Arthur movie was already made by Monty Python in 1975, so unless Charlie Hunnam is gonna be fetching shrubberies for the Knights who say Ni I’m gonna have a hard time taking this movie seriously!  Okay, so clearly we’re not gonna get a movie as good as Holy Grail (which admittedly is an impossibly high bar to set), but I did like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. well enough which was Ritchie’s last film, and while I never got around to seeing the Sherlock Holmes movies I hear they’re solid as big budgeted adaptations that favors style over substance, even if they did get overshadowed by the BBC show once that became a hit.  The point is, we haven’t had a good King Arthur movie in quite a while and Ritchie is usually reliably competent with this kind of bigger than life myth making material, so maybe he’ll have a chance of clearing that very low bar set by the likes of Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur movie and A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.  Can this movie manage to at least be better than those?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins long before Arthur becomes king; namely when his dad Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) was ruling shit and killing dark wizards!  It’s just too bad that the guy had to have a brother because as we all know, the only purpose they serve in medieval stories is to kill the current king and assume the throne!  That’s just what Vortigern (Jude Law) does here, but little Arthur just barely manages to escape after being drifted down a river on a small boat (I think we’re mixing our mythologies here).  He’s found in a nearby village, grows up in a brothel, and turns into Sexy Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) who for some reason has no idea that he’s ACTUALLY the rightful king of… wherever the heck they are.  They keep referring to it is as Londinum, so I guess it’ll become Camelot in the sequel.  ANYWAY!  You can’t keep a hero from fulfilling his destiny, and he manages to pull the sword from the stone (similar to how Link pulls the Master Sword out of the Temple of Time) which gets everyone under Vortigern’s thumb hunting his chiseled ass down so they can finally kill the Born King once and for all!  Along the way, Arthur teams up with a mage (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) who is NOT Merlin but close enough, Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) who replaces Terry Jones’s mustache with a goatee, and several others; some of whom are from the original stories and other who are clearly not.  Can this rag tag group of Merry Men… I mean Honorable Knights, take down the deceitful king once and for all?  Will Arthur face his responsibilities and destiny with grace and composure, or will he first have to run away from them like any good Joseph Campbell hero?  Did anyone proof read this script before shooting it, or was everyone on board with the giant elephants, anachronistic dialogue, and the random excursion to Monster Island?

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“With this sword, I shall become The Avatar and control all four elements!!”

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