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: Bloodshot

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Bloodshot and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by David SF Wilson

Is it just me, or did anyone else think this movie was about a vampire?  I mean it’s not like BLOODSHOT is some sort of household name to rival that of Iron Man and Thor, and with a name like that I’d have pegged them as a Blade knock off more than anything else!  Well whatever this movie is about (a ROBOT vampire maybe?), it’s yet another vehicle for Vin Diesel who’s really had a bad luck streak in recent years as he’s been trying so hard to escape the Fast franchise to do his own thing but to no avail, and now he has to pretend that John Cena is his brother or whatever the heck is going on in that move that we won’t be seeing for another year.  Just when he thought he was out, THEY PULL HIM RIGHT BACK IN!!  Is this the one that will be the new franchise starter that he needs to escape the shadow of the Fast and Furious franchise?  I mean… probably not, but let’s find out!!

Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is your typical action movie hero.  He works for a SUPER SECRET SEAL TEAM SIX type outfit for the US military, and he’s covered in all sorts of scars that his beautiful wife (Talulah Riley) lovingly caresses whenever he returns from another world saving mission.  Sounds about right for a typical action flick, but where’s the motivation for vengeance?  WHERE’S THE INCITING INCIDENT THAT CALLS OUR HERO TO VIOLENCE!?  Oh wait, there it is!  Some dude (Toby Kebbell) kidnaps him and his wife looking for information, but when Ray doesn’t have the answers he’s looking for he kills the wife and puts a bullet in Ray’s head; an act that would kill a lesser man, but Vin Diesel isn’t about to be put down by a small amount of lead to the cranium!  Instead, he manages to survive the shooting and his body Is recovered… somehow by SUPER SCIENTISTS working for Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) where it’s brought to his SUPER SCIENCE company and is fixed up good as new by basically turning him into Million Ants Man; only instead of ants it’s NANOBOTS!!  With this new power he can recover from ANY damage, can punch things REALLY hard, is able to connect to basically any computer… BUT WILL THAT HEAL THE HOLE THAT IS LEFT IN HIS HEART!?  Of course not, so almost immediately he starts to search for the man who killed his wife and plots his revenge despite the consternation of Dr. Harting and his rag tag group of cyborg buddies including Katie (Eiza González) who has a robo-lung and seems to be hiding more than just her giant chest mounted ventilation system.  Will Ray find the man responsible and bring him to justice in a very violent fashion?  Why did he kidnap Ray and his wife in the first place considering he didn’t have any information to give him, and is there more to this horrific act of violence than Ray initially suspects?  Why the heck is even called Bloodshot!?  Is it REALLY just because he has red eyes sometimes?

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“Hey buddy, do you need help or something?”     “All I need is to bath in the blood of my enemies and hear their screams as they take their last painful breath…”     “Okay… well how about some eye drops?”     “I mean… I won’t say no if you have some.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Hobbs & Shaw

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Hobbs & Shaw and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by David Leitch

You know what movie I’ve recently watched again?  Face/Off!  Seriously, isn’t that like THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE!?  Great performances, over the top action, doves, it’s got it all!  I’ve always had a soft spot for action movies like that where two awesome actors are either working together or fighting one another while ludicrous action is going on around them.  It’s my excuse for still liking Central Intelligence, and it’s also why I found myself really excited to see this movie.  That trailer with the goofy song choice, the laughable premise, and Idris Elba being the most awesome Terminator imaginable hit all the right buttons for me, and throwing in John “THE DWAYNE” Rockson together with America’s favorite British dude Jason Statham was just the icing on the cake!  Can this spin-off of the most absurd action franchise of all time manage to excel past what came before it, or was moving the focus away from the main cast as bad an idea now as it was when they did it in Tokyo Drift?  Let’s find out!!

After the events of Fate of the Furious, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are no longer in jail because… I guess saving the world gives you a free pass, and are going about their daily lives as the most interesting men in the universe; living in nice houses, driving nice cars, and kicking random bad guy butts whenever the need arises.  The best part is that neither one of them has to see the other one since they live in entirely different countries working for entirely different bosses, and can just leave each other in peace, because I guess they don’t like each other anymore for some reason.  Well too bad for them!  Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) gets swept up in some global crisis involving a deadly robo-virus and is being hunted down by deadly robo-MAN Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), so Hobbs and Shaw have to put aside their differences and work together to keep the virus Hattie selflessly injected into herself from falling into the wrong hands, and to find some way to cure her before her insides turn to mush.  Can these three action heroes with coolness to spare but baggage for days outsmart the perfect cyborg human and whatever EVIL organization he works for?  Will they find the cure for this virus inside of a fast moving car or at the end of a gun barrel!?  I wonder if the next one will be Hobbs & Shaw vs. The Fast and the Furious…

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“Looks like I’ve got to take you in again, Dom.”     “And I’m the bad guy still.”     “And I’m here as well!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Alita: Battle Angel

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Alita: Battle Angel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Man, I don’t know the first thing about this series!  Every time you find out about ONE legendary anime that defined the genre, there pops up another dozen or so that you need to catch up on as well, and I’m a busy guy!  I don’t have time to catch up with the stuff I already need to; let alone this one that I’m only now aware of because the movie is coming out!  Speaking of which, wasn’t this supposed to come out like a year ago?  Granted, the amount of CG on display here is staggering and I can see even the SLIGHTEST hitch in post-production causing massive delays, but being a February burn off instead of summer blockbuster or even winding up in the post-summer slowdown period seems like a bad sign.  I don’t know, this is clearly one of those movies that have SO much passion and resources behind them that it can either be a total masterpiece or a hilarious disaster with almost no chance for landing in-between.  Are we talking Mad Max: Fury Road, or Battlefield Earth?  In either case, we should strap in just to be on the safe side!  Let’s find out!!

IN THE YEAR THREE THOUSAND (or some other far off date), the world has basically been reduced to two major cities, Iron City below and the sky city of Zalem above, after the devastation of THE FALL which was a big war hundreds of years ago.  Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is a robo-doctor (as in he fixes robots; not that he is himself a robotic doctor) who scavenges through the trash tossed down by Zalem for useable parts to keep his clinic open for those in need, but one day he finds far more than eh could have ever imagined!  He finds the remnants of some kind of robot which he takes home and learns has a human brain as well as some other unique parts which he attaches to a spare robo-body he had lying around and brings her back to life; giving her the name Alita which no doubt has some significance we’ll learn about later on in the movie.  Alita 9Rosa Salazar) has no memory of who she was before being tossed in the garbage which is sad to be sure, but the local badboy Hugo (Keean Johnson) as well as the totally rad sport of Motorball at least help to pass the time as she tries to find answers to her past.  Well needless to say as the movie goes along, we find answers to more and more of these questions which lead to Alita being put in more and more danger as others discover who she is as well.  Primarily, she starts getting pursued by the local kingpin Vector (Mahershala Ali) who has connections to everyone in town; including Dr. Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) who is helping him in exchange for a chance to reach the shiny city in the sky.  Along the way she’ll make friends, encounter enemies, and even have to deal with insufferable douchebags like the robo-bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) who coincidentally seems to hold yet another piece to Alita’s past.  Can Alita survive long enough in this harsh world to learn who she really is?  Just how powerful is she, and how far will she go to protect those she cares about?  Wait, so if she was built to be an ULTIMATE WARRIOR, why did they give her the brain of a teenager!?

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“I know Kung-Fu!”     “Fine, but make sure you know the source of the program before you install it into your robo-hard drive.”     “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!  YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Welcome to Marwen

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Mary Poppins Returns and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

This is one of the weirder cases of nostalgia I’ve had because I don’t have nostalgia about this story or the documentary from 2010.  I have nostalgia for a review of it.  Around that time I had just learned about Spill.com (which is now more or less split between Double Toasted and One Of Us) and one of the earliest podcasts I had heard from them was a series of reviews about films they saw at SXSW 2010 which included a review of the documentary.  So when they announced this movie, I actually was rather interested to see it because I had never gotten around to the documentary but that review for whatever reason always stuck with me and so seeing a big budget studio adaptation of something I had THAT tertiary of knowledge for would be interesting; not to mention seeing what those same critics thought of this movie as well.  Does this story of a man who found a way to cope with his trauma through the use of imaginative and painstakingly detailed art pieces manage to convey the raw emotional power of this man’s life and work, or are we stuck with another treacly adaptation that fails to live up to the material it’s based on; including the critically acclaimed documentary?  Let’s find out!!

Loosely based on the true story of Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carrell), this movie follows the story of Mark who was nearly beaten to death by five Neo-Nazi monsters who did so after they learned that Mark enjoyed wearing women’s shoes.  Fortunately Mark survived and the men were caught, but sadly he lost his memories, a lot of his motor skills (making it nearly impossible for him to write or draw), and has been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since.  In order to cope with what has happened, he created a World War II village named Marwen in his yard and stages elaborate action scenes and character moments using dolls that represent him, the Nazis who beat him up, and the women in his life who helped him afterwards.  This includes Anna (Gwendoline Christie) a nurse who visits him once a month to bring him medication and check on his physical health, Julie (Janelle Monáe) a physical therapist with one leg who helped him walk again and has since been traveling the world and running in marathons, Caralala (Eiza González) who is Mark’s coworker at his part time job, Roberta (Merritt Wever) who works at the town’s hobby shop and has helped Mark get the parts he needs to bring this made up town to life, and Suzette (Leslie Zemeckis) who he may not know in person but has starred in some of his FAVORITE films!  Sadly, the one doll that is based on Wendy (Stefanie von Pftetten) who the town is partially named after (Marwen is short for Mark and Wendy) has been permanently removed and put into the RIP bin for reasons that aren’t made explicitly clear but can be somewhat inferred as we learn more about Mark’s life as well as the struggles and demons he’s had to work through.  One such demon is the Belgian Witch Deja Thoris (Diane Kruger) who is the cause of many of Marwen’s woes and has a very distinct counterpart in the real world that you’ll have to keep an eye out for while watching them movie.  Things seem to have been going along like this for some time now, but when Mark gets a new neighbor across the street named Nicol (Leslie Mann), well it looks like Marwen’s about to get a new resident which will certainly add a few more stories to the town’s ever expanding lore, but maybe this is the point where he takes things too far with his work; not to mention the overwhelming stress he’s feeling about the attack now that the men responsible are going to finally be sentenced for their crimes.  Will Mark be able to face his attackers in court and put the incident behind him once and for all?  Will Nicol understand what Mark is going through or will his behavior cross some very clear lines that he seems completely oblivious to when dealing with women outside of his fantasy world?  Is it just me, or should they start making Marwen merchandise at some point?  I want that Deja Thoris doll!

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“Alright, Mark.  If things go bad then chuck me at their head and make a break for it!  FOR FREEDOM!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Baby Driver

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Baby Driver and all the images you see in this review are owned by TriStar Pictures

Directed by Edgar Wright

Summer is in full swing and they’re bringing out the big guns!  No, not Transformers surprisingly enough which is floundering at the box office.  We’re talking about this latest Edgar Wright feature that every film critic has been waiting for!  Everything about this movie looks great, from the trailers and casting all the way down to the soundtrack that brings to mind Scott Pilgrim in how it’s integrated into the narrative.  Does this manage to be yet another entry in Wright’s sterling career, or is this car chase film a huge wreck waiting to happen?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the titular Baby (Ansel Elgort) waiting in a car and listening to his music while three bandits named Buddy, Griff, and Darling (Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Eiza González) are robbing a bank.  Once the trio get back to the car, Baby proceeds to put The Transporter to shame by driving with as much skill and wacky collateral damage as the Blues Brothers could in their heyday; somehow managing to avoid the cops and get away scot free!  It turns out that Baby’s been doing these kind of jobs for a while now as he’s under the thumb of a local mobster named Doc (Kevin Spacey) who recognized the kid’s skills and has been putting them to good use for some time now.  Luckily for Baby, he’s just about to pay off whatever debt he owes to Doc and is ready to start his new life that will be free of crime and will hopefully involve a waitress at a local diner named Debora (Lily James) who he’s had his eye on for a while.  Of course, nothing goes as well as Baby hopes it does and his chance to get out ends up digging himself even further in doing more jobs with even more erratic and dangerous criminals such as Bats (Jamie Foxx) who has it out for Baby right from the start.  Can Baby find a way to break free whatever it is that Doc is continuing to hold over him?  Will this next heist be the one that breaks his perfect driving record?  Wait, did I just hear Handsome Boy Modeling School!?

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Sure he’s a good driver, but he’s also a radio hog!  Will you let someone else pick a song for once!?

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