The Super Mario Bros. Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Aaron Horvath & Michael Jelenic
I’m not sure how clear I’ve been about this in the past, but this is kind of a big deal for me because I’ve been a Mario fan for as long as I’ve known that video games existed. To this day I lean towards Nintendo consoles, and while I haven’t finished Odyssey quite yet, I’ve at least finished all the primary 3D console games of which this adaptation is taking a lot of its inspiration. Needless to say that I will have far more thoughts on this than I should have, and in order to express them all I’m going back to my classic overlong format just in case you were all getting far too used to my newer snappier style. Given the decades of hype and speculation around the idea of a proper Mario movie, is there any hope of Illumination rising to the challenge and delivering the best video game movie ever made, or do we need to lower our expectations to something a little more reasonable given the studio’s particular brand of middle-of-the-road family entertainment? Let’s find out!!
Mario and Luigi (Chris Pratt and Charlie Day) are two Brooklyn plumbers who have just started their own business and are ready to make it big! Sadly the duo doesn’t have much luck as shenanigans abound, and a flood in the city leads them to some magical green pipes that transport them to the fantastical Mushroom Kingdom. Well, at least Mario gets sent there while Luigi gets sent to The Dark Lands and winds up as a prisoner of King Bowser (Jack Black) who is the big bad around here and is looking to take over the kingdom by dethroning Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy). With Mario looking to save his brother and Peach needing some muscle for her upcoming war with Bowser, the two strike a bargain to help each other as they head to the Jungle Kingdom to enlist the help of the Kongs. Will Peach and Mario be able to save the kingdom and Luigi from Bowser’s terrifying machinations? Can Mario learn the ins and outs of this world and become its greatest champion like John Carter and Flash Gordon before him? What’s really driving this Koopa tyrant in his quest to take over the world, and does he sing a song about it?
Jumanji: The Next Level and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Two years after the Jumanji reboot and I still think it’s a pretty good movie! I’ve had to of seen it at least twice since seeing it in theaters, and it still holds up pretty well; especially with such a fun and talented cast that could have phoned it in and let the special effects do all the work but instead elevated the material to something far more watchable than you’d expect at first glance! Now it’s time for a sequel, and… well I don’t know about you but I’d have rather seen a sequel to Baywatch than watch them try to recreate what made that reboot so good. Seems like a bit of a long shot that we’ll get something halfway decent out of this, but hey! I was saying the same thing about that first movie before it came out, and look what we got! Can we go back to the well one more time without the formula feeling stale and apathetic? Let’s find out!!
After Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany (Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, and Madison Iseman) had defeated the mysterious Jumanji video game and smashed it to bits with a bowling ball, we pick up on their lives a year or so later where everyone is off doing their own thing but still manage to stay in touch as they even plan on meeting up during the winter break. However, only three of them show up to the meeting spot so they go to check on Spencer and find that his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) hasn’t seen him since last night, though he hasn’t been paying much attention this morning as he has an unexpected house guest in the form of his former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) who Eddie’s been avoiding for over a decade now due to some conflict that broke them apart and I’m sure will be resolved before the end of the movie. Anyway, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany go to the basement to find that Spencer not only took the Jumanji pieces home with them but repaired them to the best of his abilities (I don’t know how many MAGIC retro console repair tutorial are on YouTube but I’m pretty sure it’s more than zero) and has managed to get himself back into the game. With their friend’s life (as well as contractual obligations) hanging over our heroes’ heads, they head back into the game once more time. However, things don’t go as planned as only Fridge and Martha wake up inside, and while Martha is still in the body of Karen Gillan, Fridge is now in the body of Jack Black. The ones filling the Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart shaped meat sacks turn out to be Eddie and Milo respectively who have no idea what’s going on but don’t seem to disturbed by it; assuming they just died or something. With only half their team, a brand new game scenario involving some dude named JURGEN THE BRUTAL (Rory McCann), and even some new mechanics including magic fruit and a body switching liquid, can this rag tag group of tired pros and retired noobs find Spencer and beat the game before everyone dies a miserable and painful death? What will Spencer have to say for himself once they find him and start demanding answers as to why he’s here in the first place? Will Eddie and Milo be able to resolve their decade’s long rivalry, and will it be half as compelling as the Sunny episode Frank’s Brother!?
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Ari Sandel
Was anyone asking for this!? Look, we got off pretty easy with the first one, but the prospect of sitting through one of these WITHOUT Jack Black sounds just utterly miserable; especially since they’re still calling this a “sequel” and slapping that number two at the end of it. You’d think that at the VERY least they’d try to distance themselves the tiniest bit from the movie they can’t even properly be a continuation of, but then I guess I’m not a Sony executive looking for something to fill an empty spot in October without spending more than a weekend allowance on it. BUT WHO KNOWS!? Maybe axing your most bankable star and replacing them with… nothing, is SOMEHOW a winning strategy! Yeah… probably not, but let’s find out!!
After the events of the first film but in no way connected to them, some kids in some other city, Sonny and Sam (Jeremy Ray Taylor and Caleel Harris), are middle school students who run a trash collection service hoping to find “good junk” that they can… I don’t know, sell? I mean it’s not the WORST idea I’ve heard of as it’s more direct and a lot cheaper than combing through flea markets, but this also runs the risk of going into a haunted house and finding a demonic book that will awaken an evil dummy that will try to destroy you and the town, BUT WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT HAPPENING!? Well sure enough, they get a mysterious call (the movie NEVER explains who called them by the way) to clean out an abandoned house that JUST SO HAPPENED to be owned by RL Stine many years ago which just so happens to contain his VERY FIRST STORY in a hidden compartment behind the fireplace. They open it up, say some magic words from it, and good ol’ Slappy (Mick Wingert) pops into existence and wants to be a part of the family! I don’t know about you, but an evil puppet with telekinetic powers is a PRETTY good card to have in your back pocket when the bully comes by (Peyton Wich), but I guess they way too Lawful Good to strike a bargain with him and so the two of them along with Sonny’s older sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) dispose of the dummy. Of course they didn’t use FIRE to do it or something as equally lethal for a little wooden boy (I’d have gone with a metal crate full of termites) so NOW he’s gonna have to destroy the whole town and kidnap their mother (Wendi McLendon-Covey) just to teach them a lesson! With Tesla’s Giant MacGuffin, Slappy uses his magic to bring all the Halloween decorations to life (i.e. NOT monsters from the Goosebumps books) and so the trio have to go to Tesla’s Giant MacGuffin to stop him; all the while fighting Styrofoam skeletons, balloon animals, and gummy bears. Can these three youngsters do what the cops and rescue services CAN’T do by stopping a puppet with a bad attitude? What is Slappy TRULY after, and can this all be resolved with a big discussion of each other’s feelings instead of total annihilation? What the heck are we even doing here!? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!?
Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim
Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
We’re back with another recap of Tom Goes to the Mayor! Okay, TECHINCALLY this is the first one as the one we did before was for the online shorts they did prior to getting an ACTUAL show, but whatever! This is the TRUE pilot for the show which begins with good ol’ Tom Peters, having just moved to Jefferton with his wife Joy and his three stepchildren, going to see The Mayor of Jefferton to run some ideas by him. The best way to describe the pilot is that it’s rather blunt with what it’s about; essentially the blueprint from which most of the episodes of this series will be built upon. You have some minor crisis in Jefferton (usually made up), Tom comes to the Mayor with an idea on how to fix it, the Mayor exploits Tom’s desire to be successful by twisting his ideas into something horrific, and Tom ultimately goes along with it until it all comes crashing down on his head. We’ll be seeing this kind of story throughout this recap series, but most episodes tend to throw a bit more conflict or motivation than what we get here which leads to an episode that lacks any real subtly or ambiguity, but at the very least it does lay the groundwork for character dynamics and several of the running gags. Speaking of which, Bob Odenkirk has a cameo in almost every episode and the one he has here helps to set up the primary conflict. The Mayor is watching an infomercial on his computer starring Mike Foxx (Odenkirk) who has a Scared Safe program to raise awareness for all the things that could kill children including Wind Poisoning, Sand Rash, and Deadly Crickets.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Directed by Jake Kasdan
So I guess the nineties nostalgia train is just gonna keep on rolling until it either runs out of steam or derails horribly (the latter probably if someone gets the idea to do a Cartoon Network Cinematic Universe), and this latest stop on that journey might be the most baffling yet. Sure the original film is a straight up classic (don’t yell at me! It is!), but did it really have the kind of cultural impact to make what I GUESS is supposed to be a sequel some twenty years later? Maybe that’s why they got one of the most reliably bankable stars right now to take the lead, which to be fair is EXACTLY what they did in the original. Either way, does this manage to live up to the fantastic film that preceded it, or is this yet another soulless cash grab desperately pandering to millennial nostalgia for a quick buck? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the story of a group of kids stuck in detention for various reasons when they JUST SO HAPPEN upon a video game console that looks kind of like a TurboGrafx-16. Inside there is only a single cart called Jumanji which they decide to play because apparently detention in this school goes unsupervised; especially when its being served out in a storage room full of all sorts of precariously stacked sports equipment and I guess haunted video game consoles. The four kids, Spencer, Bethany, Fridge, and Martha (Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, and Morgan Turner) get sucked into the video game and turn into three character actors and a leading man in the process and now have to find a way to beat the game in order to get back to the real world. Dr. Smolder Bravestone is Spencer’s character (Dwayne Johnson) takes point due to his video game knowledge and brand new smoking bod, Franklin Finbar is Fridge’s character (Kevin Hart) is the animal expert with an infinitely deep backpack, Ruby Roundhouse is Martha’s character (Karen Gillan) as a Playstation 1 era female protagonist, and Professor Sheldon Oberon is Bethany’s character (Jack Black) who knows how to… read maps I guess? Anyway, the four of them have to work together in order to complete their mission of getting some sort of jewel back to its sacred resting place before the EVIL Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) shoots them all in the head and takes the jewel for himself. Will these four brave (or at least sort of brave) heroes manage to put aside their differences and work together to escape this CryEngine tech demo? What secrets are hiding in this jungle, and will those secrets contain references to the previous film?
Goosebumps and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Rob Letterman
Well if Nineties Nostalgia is going to be a thing now, I guess we’ll be seeing movies like this pop up from time to time. Hell, they’re making a Power Rangers movie, so why not a Goosebumps creature feature (which will hopefully be followed by an Are you Afraid of the Dark reboot)? The trailers for this were pretty bad though with Jack Black doing his usual shtick, which I tend to like but can also be way overdone, and a story that feels like it’s been pulled right out of the hack’s guide for easy movie adaptations. So does this turn out to be a Halloween kid’s classic like Monster Squad or Hotel Transylvania, or is this another marketing exercise gone horribly wrong like The Smurfs or Alvin and the Chipmunks? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about “young” Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother who have just moved to Derry Maine… no wait, Madison Delaware. They’ve just moved from New York so that his mother can be the principal of the local high school that he will be attending which I guess is embarrassing or something. Anyway, Zach’s neighbor is a reclusive dude (Jack Black) living with his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) and the both of them seem rather strange. He and his new friends Champ (Ryan Lee) eventually find out that the mysterious dude is legendary writer RL Stine and that his original manuscripts contain all the monsters he has ever written about. They find this out to late however as some of the monsters have escaped including one who seems to be pulling the strings as it were. Can Zach, Champ, Hannah, and Mr. Stine stop these creatures from destroying the town? Will Zach win the heart of Hannah because every movie has to have that subplot? Can this please be a hit if for no other reason than to get Jack Black enough clout to try and make a Tenacious D sequel!?