Cinema Dispatch: Prey

Prey and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios & Hulu

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg

The Predator franchise has actually had one of the better track records out there. Perhaps it’s because they take a significant amount of time between each entry, or maybe it’s a premise that is almost foolproof. In fact, the only time they really screwed it up was when they gave it to the one guy who really shouldn’t have screwed it up, but then we’re not here to badger The Predator yet again. Instead, we’re gonna talk about this latest entry that was recently put on Hulu with a few interesting twists that have certainly caught peoples’ attention. Is it another solid entry in this dependable franchise, or did Shane Black’s giant mishap a mere harbinger of things to come? Let’s find out!!

Set in the early eighteenth century, we follow Naru (Amber Midthunder), a strong Comanche warrior who wants to prove herself as a hunter to her tribe and to her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) who would rather she put away the bows and arrows to pick up a mortar and pestle. It’s not that she’s unskilled as a healer, but she’s not about to let others tell her what she’s gonna do and she continues to hone her skills for whatever tries to invade their territory. Of course, she’s picturing some wild cats and maybe a bear here and there, but it becomes clear that there’s something in the woods that’s stronger than all the cats and bears combined! An alien creature with a chip on his shoulder and covered in advanced alien tech, lands nearby and starts looking for the most dangerous creatures to kill and prove that itself to be tougher than. With such a dangerous monster lurking in the shadows (and the just as dangerous specter of colonialism looming nearby) can Naru and Taabe protect their tribe from the threats around them? Will Naru prove herself to be a worthy warrior to her tribe, and what will it cost her to finally get the respect she’s after? I don’t know, it seems a little bit unfair to be busting out the laser-guided bolts when your opponents still don’t have gunpowder. Seems like a hollow victory at best for the Predator, am I right?

“Is it just me, or is it a little TOO quiet?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Deep Water

Deep Water and all the images you see in this review are owned by Hulu

Directed by Adrian Lyne

Movies may be returning to theaters, but the Pandemic has irrevocably muddied the waters between theatrical movies and straight to streaming. Pixar’s splitting the difference with one of their movies going to streaming while other is a theatrical exclusive, and all the major streaming services are sacrificing box office bucks in the hopes of roping in a few more views; Netflix being the most blatant as far as I’m concerned what with Knives Out 2 going straight to their service. It’s certainly been good for me as I’m already paying for these things so I might as well check out what’s on them, and one movie caught my eye this week. It’s a movie I never heard of until a few days before it was to come out, and yet it’s starring the former Batman and Agent Paloma from the last James Bond movie! How did something with such high-profile actors fly under my radar like this? Was Hulu hoping we won’t notice it as they sandwich it between Seth Macfarlane cartoons and whatever the heck Letter Kenny is, or is this just further evidence that I am out of touch and just barely managed to catch a great movie before it sailed right over my head? Let’s find out!!

Vic Van Allen and Melinda Van Allen (Ben Affleck Ana de Armas) are an upper-class married couple who have an… interesting relationship. It’s unclear how much of this is formalized or agreed upon, but it’s clear that Melinda is having sex with other men and that Vic is aware of it. For the most part, he just stands there and plasters a smile on his face while she does her thing, but it’s clear that this is eating him up inside and he starts getting more and more aggressive in his “handling” of this situation. Melinda seemingly has no compunction about this and presumably doesn’t care much for Vic’s feelings, but then Vic is no peach either and his need for control only gets more desperate and more uncomfortable. Just how far will Vic go to hold tight on what he believes is rightfully his, and how will Melinda react to these cages he wishes to put up? Is there something underneath all this contempt that they have for each other, and is it somehow darker than the animosity with which they deal with their problems already? See, back in my day they would just go on Springer and get it all out in the open, but nope! Just gonna bottle it up until someone writes a really inappropriate rant on Facebook!

“She’s so *#!@% that ^&^@#$!”     “Well, HE can’t even %$%#*!”     “JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Happiest Season

Happiest Season and all the images you see in this review are owned by Hulu

Directed by Clea DuVall

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and watched a new movie, hasn’t it?  Okay, at THIS point it’s not exactly a new movie as it’s been out for over a week now, but it’s been harder to keep up with what’s coming out and which films are worth seeking which is a far cry from the very structured way I used to do them when they came out in theaters, but we ten months into this nightmare and we all need to find new ways to work with the new normal.  In any case, I heard murmurings about this about a week before it came out which is usually a good sign to check it out, and the premise at least looked like it had SOMETHING worth talking about to separate it from all the other Christmas movies that come out each year.  Now that I’ve finally seen it, does it live up to the modicum of hype it built for itself, or did Hulu trick me into watching something that otherwise should have been on the Hallmark channel sandwiched between A Shoe Addict’s Christmas and Fir Crazy?  Let’s find out!!

Abbey Holland (Kristen Stewart) is in a wonderful relationship with her girlfriend Harper Caldwell (Mackenzie Davis) and after spending the better part of a year together she thinks she’s ready to ask her to marry her!  Fate has other ideas in mind however as it’s Christmas time and on a whim Harper asks her to join her family for Christmas which SEEMS innocuous enough… but just as they’re about to pull into the drive way Harper tells Abbey that her family has NO IDEA she’s a lesbian and that they have to pretend to just be friends.  Seems like a red flag big enough to see from space, but Harper assures her that she’ll tell her parents AFTER Christmas and so Abbey begrudgingly goes along with it.  From there it’s what you’d expect as the family members each have their own eccentricities and barely concealed hatreds for one another which Abbey just sits back and enjoys, but keeping this secret proves to be harder than it looks; especially when Harper’s mom (Mary Steenburgen) tries to set her up with an old boyfriend (Jake McDorman), and her dad (Victor Garber) is a politician which means they are under a microscope whenever they leave the house.  Fortunately there’s a ray of light in this town in the form of Riley (Aubrey Plaza) who was Harper’s first girlfriend and seems to know what Abbey is going through, and if all else fails Abbey’s got a Gay Best FriendTM back home named John (Dan Levy) who’s watching her pets and is always ready to dispense sassy advise when needed!  Can Abbey survive being in this awkward situation, and will her relationship with Harper fall apart in the process?  What is it about her family that has made Harper so paranoid about them finding out she’s a lesbian, and can any of justify what she’s having her girlfriend go through?  Then again, if it’s THIS easy to fool her parents, maybe this is just a warm up to some big heist or something!

“We’re friends!”     “JUST friends!”     “Which is obvious!”     “And a very normal thing to say!”     …     “I think they’re buying it!”
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