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Cinema Dispatch: Bumblebee

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Bumblebee and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Travis Knight

The thing about Transformers, at least for me, is that it’s only ever existed as the Michael Bay movies.  I never watched the original series, any of its spin-offs, and I’ve only played one of the games, so if nothing else this movie has a rather low bar to clear if it wants to be considered “good”.  Now that said, it’s got some heavy competition right now what with the new Spider-Man movie not just being GOOD but PHENOMENAL, and there are plenty of others out right now that this isn’t gonna stack favorably against if it’s ONLY trying to be better than what Bay was putting out.  Still, it’s got a lot going for it what with Hailee Steinfeld AND the recently launched into the mainstream John Cena filling out the cast along with the Laika animation guy stepping in for Bay this time around.  Does this prequel manage to take this tired and overblown franchise in a fresh new direction, or is the engine underneath it still the same despite the shiny new coat of paint?  Let’s find out!!

Back in the long ago days of the late eighties (when Sony Walkmans walked the Earth), the war for Cybertron was reaching its peak as the Decepticons had pushed the Autobot rebels off the planet with little hope of taking it back.  The leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), has tasked B-127 (Dylan O’Brien) with scouting a far off planet that may serve as their new base of operations so they can regroup and finally stop the Decepticons once and for all; a desperate plan to be sure, but its not like anyone else is coming up wit ha better one.  So B-127 speeds off to Earth but was followed by a Decepticon warrior!  Oh no!  The ensuing battle leaves the Decepticon dead, but it leaves a few humans worse for wear including Super Solider from Sector 7 Jack Burns (John Cena) as well as B-127 ending up heavily damaged (even losing his voice in the process) and… I guess robo-hibernates for some time to recharge his batteries.  Some time passes (not sure if it’s months or years) and B-127 is found in a junkyard by Charlie Watson (Haille Steinfeld) who takes him home and manages to get him running again.  He wakes up, shows himself to be a robot to Charlie albeit it with no memories which were all damaged in the fight, and… I think he accidentally sets off some sort of tracking beacon that two Decepticons (Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) a few planets away seem to have heard which conveniently gives us antagonists to fight against in the third act.  Until then, Charlie names B-127 Bumblebee and tries to teach him how to blend in the human world while also taking him for joy rides, prank wars, and emotional character arcs for both her and her new robot buddy who’s not sure who he is or what his place in this strange world is.  Will Charlie and Bumblebee learn to deal with their traumas and find a new lease on life by beating up robots and taking bullies down a peg?  What will John Cena do when he finds out the robot that nearly killed him is still functional, and will it involve the Five Knuckle Shuffle?  Wait a minute… finding a robot in a junkyard that was meant to fight off a hostile alien force but got lost along the way… isn’t this the plot to Megas XLR?

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“Chicks dig giant Bumblebees!”     “Some of us do, Bee.  Some of us do.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

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Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by David Soren

Captain Underpants was a big staple of my elementary school years and while I eventually grew out the series after the first five or six books, I still have good memories (albeit vague ones) about those stories and the characters.  Now at one point, even as recent as say 2010, I would have lost my freaking MIND over the idea of a Captain Underpants movie, but with this being made so later after I dropped off of the series coupled with the relatively bare bones marketing I saw for it, my expectations are somewhat tempered going into it even though I would love nothing more than for this series to get a new lease on life.  Does Captain Underpants manage to be a better super hero movie than even the MCU can put out, or are we doomed for another DCCU style monstrosity of epic proportions!?  Or maybe it could be the middle ground of the better X-Men movies… I guess.  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the adventures of George Beard (Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch).  George is the kid with the tie and the flat-top while Harold is the one with the T-shirt and bad haircut.  You should probably remember that.  Anyway, they’re two good natured troublemakers at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School who always manage to peeve of their principal Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms) with their incessant pranking and never ending supply of self-published comic books that they distribute at the school.  Their most popular by far is the Captain Underpants series which involves a super hero who wears nothing but underwear and a cape since most superheroes look like they’re wearing their underwear.  I don’t know how true that is anymore as they mostly wear leather and body armor now, but that’s beside the point.  What’s important is that George and Harold’s latest prank was the final straw to break the camel’s back and Mr. Krupp is going to separate them once and for all by putting them in different classes.  In a last ditch effort to save their friendship, George uses his Hypno-Ring to hypnotize Mr. Krupp before he can sign the papers.  Not only that, but just for the heck of it they ALSO convince him that he’s Captain Underpants as well which is funny at first but proves to be quite a burden as he turns into the hero anytime he hears someone snap their fingers and will only turn back once he’s bene splashed by water (it’s unclear if other substances will work in water’s stead).  Oh, and there’s a mad scientist somewhere in this too who becomes a science teacher or something.  Will Harold and George learn a lesson about their pranking ways now that they have to keep Mr. Krupp from hurting himself or worse?  Eh, probably not, but will Captain Underpants manage to be an ACTUAL hero instead of just a guy running around in his tighty-whities?  Most importantly though, is this just as good as the books I remember reading in second grade!?

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“Guys.  Guys.  I’ve TOTALLY got this!”

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