So how’s everyone else enjoying their Spring? Lots of sunshine and pretty flowers? Well for me it’s been nonstop rain, a tornado warning, and a broken toilet that cost a bunch of money to fix, so things have been just a tiny bit hectic over here. That’s certainly a reason why my movie reviews have been a little late recently, but thanks to streaming services and studios becoming less confident about their theatrical releases, it’s now easier than ever to catch up on stuff in a timely fashion! To wit, I have three movie reviews for your enjoyment and to hopefully distract from the fact that I haven’t seen the new Top Gun movie yet!
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is owned by Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
The former stars of the nineties animated show Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers have gone through a lot since its cancellation all those years ago with Chip (John Mulaney) selling out and going corporate while Dale (Andy Samberg) trying to make it work all these years later; banking on the nostalgia adults have for his glory days and selling signed photos at conventions to keep himself afloat. To make matters worse, they ended the show on pretty bad terms so they’ve hardly spoken to each other since then, but fate brings them back together as one of the cast members of that show Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) is in deep with the cartoon mafia and gets kidnapped right after calling both of them for help. With their friend’s life in the balance, Chip & Dale must put aside their differences and work together to scourge the LA Underworld (or at least the nostalgic cartoon version of it) to save their friend and perhaps even come back together after being apart for so long.
I’m either gonna be too harsh on this movie because I’m a giant sourpuss or I’m gonna be too nice to this for fear of looking like a giant sourpuss. It occupies a very strange place for me as I do genuinely enjoy a lot about this movie, but I still can’t quite get behind it for reasons that… well probably make me look like a giant sourpuss. Before we get into that, let me just say that I got a decent amount of laughs in this and I was genuinely tickled by a lot of the imagination on display. There are some deep-cut references that certainly appealed to me, and concepts like the putty captain and the puppet chef were well-realized and fun to watch on screen. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that the inclusion of Ugly Sonic has me convinced that he should get his own spin-off series because they were just that funny! It’s almost like the nineties kids finally got the Roger Rabbit sequel we always wanted to see as the movie’s use of nostalgia, however cynical it may be, is at least cleverly realized with some very funny premises throughout. I love the idea of turning the objects of nostalgia that are the lifeblood of the convention scene and making them the literal guests trying to make a few bucks at rickety card tables with tri-fold boards of merch. It’s clear that the creative behind this are of my particular generation, both with the nostalgia for all this nineties crap and the subsequent decades of nostalgia baiting entertainment, so it gets more than a few points for some level of authenticity even if the movie leans far too heavily on it which I guess brings us to what’s wrong with the movie. The thing is that you can only rely on sight gags and nostalgia for so long before the movie has to start standing on its story and this is where the movie just doesn’t work for me. I didn’t find Chip or Dale particularly endearing as characters, nor did I find the plot all that interesting with the mystery being pretty threadbare. Now I could avoid being a giant sourpuss here and chalk this up to being a kid’s movie where a swift pace and lighthearted tone can carry an otherwise simplistic storyline, but I feel the age and density of so many of the references means that it’s aiming a bit higher than it wants to admit. Do kids even know who the Rescue Rangers are? Heck, are kids gonna get any of the Disney Afternoon jokes in here; let alone the references to more adult-oriented stuff like South Park or the general concept of bootleg movies? It’s a movie that clearly wants to have its cake and eat it; setting its targets squarely on a Millennial audience while hiding behind the Gen Z for its immature and simplistic storytelling. Perhaps it splits the difference evenly enough that both groups will get at least something out of this and I can’t deny the moments I enjoyed throughout, so it gets a little bit of a pass from me but this trick isn’t gonna work indefinitely. Millennials will get sick of 90s-stalgia just as everyone got sick of 80s-stalgia about a decade ago, and what is that gonna leave us with? 2000s-stalgia? I mean it’d be nice if I got my Megas XLR reboot, but still…
The Suicide Squad and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros
Directed by James Gunn
I was more positive than not about the first Suicide Squad movie, but there was absolutely a ceiling to how much I could appreciate it and frankly, I don’t think David Ayers getting his own AYERS CUT would end up improving things. It was a lot of good ideas and solid performances wrapped up in a script that felt half-baked at best and an editing job that struggled mightily to wrangle it all into something coherent. Fortunately, Warner Bros and the DCEU are in a much better position now as they’ve toned down the excessive budgets and improved the overall quality and tone of the films. Best of all, they got James Gunn to direct it who’s made some of the best movies in the genre with his Guardians of the Galaxy films! Sounds like the makings of a darn good movie to me, but are we looking at a perfect storm of awesomeness or are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment? Let’s find out!!
Task Force X is a secret government program that is the brainchild of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and uses dangerous criminals to take on missions that are too dangerous for anyone else. When there’s a regime change in a South American country to a government that is not so US friendly, Waller needs a crack team of weirdos to go in there and destroy a secret project known only as Starfish that is hidden below a research facility in the center of the country’s capital, and while some of them like Bloodsport Peacemaker, and arguably even Harley Quinn (Idris Elba, John Cena, and Margot Robbie), some of the others just seem to be there to either be cannon fodder or to just get them out of the prison system’s hair. I mean seriously what are you supposed to do with a guy like King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) and some dude named THE POLKA-DOT MAN (Davis Dastmalchian)? There are several others assigned to this mission such as Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) and the always dependable Rick Flag as the leader (Joel Kinnaman), but it doesn’t take long for things to go sideways and for the team to have to more or less wing it as they try to find a way into the city undetected so they can kidnap the country’s super-scientist known as The Thinker (Peter Capaldi) to get them inside the research base and just figure it out from there. Can this rag-tag group of super-losers save America from whatever this Project Starfish is and secure their freedom in the process? What isn’t Amanda Waller telling them about the mission and just how much is at stake if they end up failing? I mean whatever happens it can’t be as bad as having one of your own team members take over a city and turn everyone into her zombie servants. Sure it’s a low bar to clear, but you’ve got to start somewhere!
Trolls World Tour and all the images you see in this review are owned by DreamWorks and Universal Pictures
Directed by David SF Wilson
I know I’m a week late on this, but even with the convince of being able to watch this one at home (and let’s be frank here, I’m not spending THAT much more money than I would at the theater), I just couldn’t be asked when it actually came out and frankly I had better things to do like play that Final Fantasy VII remake than watch a sequel to an animated film I didn’t like all that much. But even if we do have the perfect excuse to sit around and do nothing as it is now the socially conscionable thing to do, I still need to maintain SOME sort of routine to not go stir crazy in here, so fine. Let’s buckle down and watch yet another toy commercial dance around for an hour and a half while playing all the songs your parents used to like! Does it manage to somehow surpass the low expectations that its predecessor had set, or are we in for a LONG bout of isolation if this is the bets that studios can give us in these tumultuous times? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is living out her fantabulous troll life singing songs, performing dance numbers, and being worshiped by her beloved subjects. Her best friend Branch (Justin Timberlake) seems a bit more uneasy about the idyllic life but he puts up with it in the hope getting out of the friend zone (ugh…) to either spend the rest of his life with the troll he loves or this is some elaborate power play to become KING OF THE TROLLS! Of course it’s not the latter (that would be far too interesting), but instead the conflict ends up being a group of ROCK TROLLS led by Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) who is traveling across the land attacking similarly music-themed tribes to steal their magical music strings that the former King Peppy (Walt Dohrn) failed to clue Poppy in about during her Queen initiation. Apparently each tribe of musical trolls (the trolls we know are known as the Pop trolls) has a magical string that signifies their music, and does… something. I’m not exactly sure what, but if Barb gets all six of them, puts them on her super awesome guitar, and plays some tasty licks with them, it’ll turn all the trolls into Rock trolls which will unify the troll kingdoms which will accomplish… something. In any case, Poppy wants to try and negotiate with Barb to see if they can unify peacefully, but it becomes clear that she’s more about taking everything over than working together, and so she and Branch along with Biggie (James Corden) have to travel the land and try to get the other tribes to work together to stop Barb from fulfilling her dastardly destiny. Will Poppy be able to convince any of the other tribes that working together is better than falling apart? Is there more to the history of the strings and these tribes than Poppy knows, and will that play a key role in defining the course of this current crisis? Do you think Justin Timberlake ever wonders why he’s not in better movies or has he just resigned himself to mid-level animated shlock?
Ralph Breaks the Internet and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston
I remember when the first Wreck-It-Ralph movie came out that I couldn’t wait for there to be a sequel! However, as the years went on and the marketing pivoted from video games to him being ON THE INTERNET, I started to lose interest because the sequel that I would have wanted didn’t seem like it was going to manifest. Now that’s not to say I thought it would be a BAD movie, but what I was seeing wasn’t getting me as excited as say a Disney version of Super Smash Bros or whatever where we got even MORE nostalgic characters (maybe even ones from Nintendo!?) that Ralph and crew could go on adventures with. Now clearly NOTHING could have competed with the fan fiction I made up in my brain so even if the lead up to this movie wasn’t filling me with fanboy joy I wasn’t about to dismiss it out of hand for those reasons. Does this manage to live up to maybe not quite MY expectations but REASONABLE ones for a sequel to a modern Disney class, or should they have gone with my idea of having Mario and Sonic fight zombies together while Ralph and Boswer play Yu-Gi-Oh… or something like that? Let’s find out!!
It’s been several years since the events of the first film where Ralph and Vanellope (John C Reilly and Sarah Silverman) uncovered Turbo’s evil plan, and things have been going pretty well since then. Vanellope has been racing, Ralph has been wrecking, and Fix-it Felix Jr and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch) have been the most adorable couple ever six years running! Still, things might be settling down a bit TOO much for Vanellope who’s time in the spotlight has turned a bit monotonous, but soon things go all Monkey’s Paw on her as her game breaks down and she and Ralph have to go online to see if they can find a replacement part before the kindly arcade owner (Ed O’Neill) sells the machine for scrap. Once online using the arcade owner’s recently purchased modem, they discover all the fantabulous things THE INTERNET has to offer, including the part they need on eBay. However, they don’t have any ACTUAL money and so need to find a way to score some cash through shady loot hunting in an online game with a bad ass NPC named Shank (Gal Gadot) and slightly less shady viral marketing through a trending video website run by an algorithm called Yesss (Taraji P Henson). Oh, and they visit Disney’s website at one point just to make sure you remember things like Star Wars, Zootopia, and their ever expanding stable of princesses. Will Ralph and Vanellope be able to buy the part and save her game before it’s too late? What will Vanellope learn about herself by seeing all these new and exciting places, and will Ralph be able to adapt to these new experiences? Where exactly did they manage to find such a clean and efficient version of THE INTERNET, and is there any way I can get on there!?