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Cinema Dispatch: The Lion King

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The Lion King and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Jon Favreau

Didn’t I just do this a month ago?  Seriously Disney, I know you own basically all of entertainment now, but can you at least change it up a bit from month to month?  We JUST got done making fun of the genie in Aladdin; we don’t need another remake this soon!  Seriously, if they keep burning through their renaissance films like this they’re gonna have to take another stab at Treasure Planet before 2030, and if they thought that one sunk like a lead balloon LAST TIME… oh who am I kidding?  We’ll give it a billion dollars at the box office without a second thought!  So until those bleak times are upon us, does this latest remake of a beloved nineties classic live up to the original, or is this a worse idea than Lion King 1.5?  Let’s find out!!

Now stop me if you’ve heard this one before!  Simba (Donald Glover) is the son of Mustafa (James Earl Jones); king of the Pride Lands and brother of Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who conveniently has a scar on his face to go with the name.  Now if the name wasn’t enough to convince you, scar is one EVIL lion that wants the throne for himself but now has to wait behind the little brat for his shot.  That is unless he pulls a Hamlet and MURDERS THE KING IN COLD BLOOD, albeit with a stampede instead of a jug of ear poison.  Convincing young Simba that he is responsible, he runs off to live in exile while Scar takes the Pride Lands for himself, and the young prince runs into two free spirited do nothings called Timon and Pumbaa (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen).  While Simba is living his carefree life as a slacker, things are not going so well in the Pride Lands under Scar’s quasi fascist rule with the help of the hyenas and so Simba’s childhood friend Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) runs off to find help, and believing Simba to be dead this whole time… well let’s just say there’s an awkward conversation very soon in their future.  Can Simba find the courage to face his fear and his guilt that have defined him for so long?  Just how far will Scar go to stay seated on his throne, and does Simba have a chance of defeating him after all this time?   Did Disney listen to that “everything the light touches” line again recently and consider that a challenge?

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“Everything the light touches is our Kingdom.”     “Yeah, but the Earth revolves around the sun, so pretty much everywhere gets hit by sunlight at SOME point throughout the day.”     “Look, we’re lions, alright!?  We can’t draw border maps!  WE DON’T HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Infinite Patience – Has Marvel Gone Too Far!?

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Avengers: Infinity War and all the images you see in this editorial are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

So if you read my review of Avengers: Infinity War, you’d know that I had a few problems with it and that I couldn’t really discuss them in detail due to everything I found wrong with this movie containing MASSIVE SPOILERS!  Well now that it’s very likely everyone and their mom has already seen the movie (SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY MILLION IN ONE WEEKEND!?), I figured it’d be a good idea to get my thoughts written down about not just this movie but what it represents for the MCU as a whole and how they’ve run their business up to this point.  For the most part they’ve been enormously successful with even their minor missteps like Thor 2, Iron Man 2, and (the not so minor misstep) Iron Fist doing little to tarnish their sterling reputation.  There are places to improve in each film to be sure, and their overwhelming success has made it easy to take it all for granted, but when your last few films included Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor Ragnarok, and Black Panther, clearly they’re doing something right and should be celebrated for it.  With Infinity War however, something has changed and I am now worried about the future of the MCU; not financially as these will make money regardless, but that they might have gotten a bit too big for their own good and are taking the wrong kind of risks that could sour public opinion over time instead of the GOOD kind like hiring visionary directors such as Ryan Coogler to create memorable cinematic experiences instead of cheap popcorn fare.  So what exactly has changed?  Well let’s take an in depth look at where I felt this movie started going down the wrong path.

From here on out, we are in full on spoiler territory!

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Cinema Dispatch: Avengers: Infinity War

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Avengers: Infinity War and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

You know, for a while there I COMPLETELY forgot that this was supposed to be a two parter, and I don’t think I’m ENTIRELY at fault on that because PART ONE is never mentioned anywhere on the poster, on IMDb, not even on the Wikipedia page!  I don’t know, that just seems kind of curious considering they ARE for sure planning on doing another one of these (unlike what happened with Justice League PART 2), and yet they seem to want you to forget that little fact.  Either way, whether they put Part One, Part Three, or Part Sixty-Five on the poster, people will still come out to see it in droves because the brand is just THAT powerful at this point.  However, as was once said by a dude who presumably lived in this universe and died a horrible death, WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY, and with so many characters to juggle at once it is surely a responsibility not to be taken lightly.  Can Marvel pull it off once again like they’ve done pretty much every time they’ve stepped up to the plate, or is the build up to Thanos and the Infinity Stones a challenge even they aren’t truly prepared to face?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is, well basically everything we knew it was going to be leading up to it.  Thanos (Josh Brolin) is a purple alien who wants to destroy at least half of all life in the universe, and he’s finally making his big move to collect the Infinity Stones which is the only power source in existence strong enough to complete such a heinous act, and now The Avengers (as well as Avenger adjacent characters) are finally aware of what he’s up to and try to stop him from obtaining further gems.  Primarily, we’ve got three groups working together to try and stop him; The Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Pom Kiementieff) as well as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in space who are trying to stop him from getting that one Stone from Thor The Dark World, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) are stuck on a spaceship heading to his home world after attempt by one of Thanos’s minions to steal the Time Stone from the Sorcerer Supreme, and basically everyone else back on Earth which includes Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle) The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) trying to find a way to protect The Infinity Stone lodged in The Vision’s head (Paul Bettany) which involves a trip to Wakanda and everyone we remember from that movie a few months ago (Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright) minus Nakia who I’m guessing was off fighting crime elsewhere.  Oh, and as much as I KNOW it will break your heart… Hawkeye is not in this.  I’m sure Jeremy Renner will find a way to cope.  ANYWAY, that’s about it.  We’ve got three stories running parallel to each other with a giant purple jerk wad right in the center of it; tearing through anyone foolish enough to get in his way!  Can The Avengers (and its loose affiliates) manage to put up enough of a resistance to stop Thanos from causing mass genocide across the MCU?  What is he truly after, and will his backstory reveal any possible weaknesses that can be used to stop the evil tyrant once and for all?  Thanos may be strong, but can he defeat the one entity stronger than himself?  Disney’s reliance on BRAND NAME RECOGNITION!?

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“All your sequels have been canceled.  I made sure to it myself.”     “The HELL did he just say!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Black Panther

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

Directed by Ryan Coogler

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

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

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“IT’S SO MUGGY IN HERE!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Wonder Woman

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

Directed by Patty Jenkins

You know what they say!  FOURTH TIME’S THE CHARM!!  After three rather disappointing attempts by Warner Bros to turn the DC Universe into a viable competitor to the MCU, we’re at the last one before the big team up movie that could make or break this franchise going forward.  Don’t forget, the post Justice League movies are still in pre-production at this point with a lot of them either losing directors or still trying to find one.  If this movie AND Justice League turn out to be duds, it wouldn’t be the most out there idea for Warner Bros to finally pull the plug.  On top of that, this is the first Wonder Woman film ever made (outside of a TV movie starring Cathy lee Crosby) despite being very popular since her creation in 1941 and the fact that Superhero movies have been a big market; even before the MCU.  Heck, if someone was willing to make a Steel movie back in 1997, then surely we should have gotten a Wonder Woman film before now!  Needless to say that there is A LOT of pressure on this film to not just be good, but to be GREAT in order to justify its own existence for some people (probably the same people who had a problem with the casting in the latest Ghostbusters movie) and to clean up the mess that the three other movies left for her.  Can Wonder Woman live up to her name and show the world how to do this right, or has DC and Warner Bros managed to give us yet another disappointing slog that  could have been so much more?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins on the magical island of Themyscira; home to the Amazons who have isolated themselves from the rest of the world and are led by Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) who is dead set on keeping these rules in place.  However, her daughter Diana (Gal Gadot) proves to be much more than her mother gives her credit for and they are constantly clashing over her desires to be a true Amazon warrior that protects people over her mother’s insistence on keeping her safe.  Fate manages to bring all this to ahead however when a World War I pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) somehow manages to crash land in the waters near Themyscira which leads to the regiment of German soldiers chasing him to attack the island.  In the ensuing conflict, her mentor and aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) along with several others are killed but Themyscira is kept safe.  Diana’s eyes have been opened however and now she has no choice but to take Trevor back to where he came from and to fight the evil that has taken over the world.  She believes the war itself to be the work of the God of War Ares and hopes that by destroying him that the war can come to an end, and while Trevor knows a bit too much about humanity to buy this explanation, she IS gonna give him a ride home and she knows her way around a sword, so he agrees to take her to the front lines if she takes him back home.  Is it truly the work of a God that has turned these countries against each other, or will Diana have to learn the hard way just how terrible humans can be?  What plans do the German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and a master chemist Doctor Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya) have in store to turn this war on its head and to crush The Allied Powers?  Are we gonna get a bunch of losers talking crap about this movie because it stars a woman.  The answer to that is yes, but the IMPORTANT question is… should you care?  No.  The answer to that question is no.

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“Would you look at just how many fucks I give!”

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