Cinema Dispatch: Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by Simon McQuoid

Honestly, I was never much of a Mortal Kombat fan.  More of Tekken guy when it came to fighting games, but there’s no denying the cultural impact that the franchise has had and it’s impressive just how long they’ve been going with the series for it to only get better and better as time goes on.  I remember Mortal Kombat 9 being an excellent reboot that got me into the series for a bit, but even at the games’ peak it still can’t touch that AWESOME 1995 movie directed by Paul WS Anderson!  I just rewatched that movie like a year ago and it still holds up as a fantastic martial arts movie that finds the right balance between what fans want from the games and making into a coherent movie.  There have been other attempts since then to get the series off the ground in non-video game forms, but this is the first big step WB has taken with it since acquiring the franchise in 2009.  Does this bring Mortal Kombat to the big screen for a whole new generation of fans in a bold and exciting way, or will we all still be clutching our VHS tapes of the original film by the end of this movie?  Let’s find out!!

As you’d expect from a Mortal Kombat movie, the story is set right before the start of the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament where Earth Realm’s greatest fighters try to overcome the unstoppable warriors of Outworld, and after nine consecutive losses in a row it’s Earth’s last chance to avoid complete and utter devastation as Outworld will finally be able to invade Earth if they win this time!  So who exactly will be participating in this generation’s tournament?  Well we’ve got some of the classic standbys from the franchise like Liu Kang, Jax, and a begrudging Kano (Ludi Lin, Mehcad Brooks, and Josh Lawson), but the real hope for humanity comes in the form of Cole Young (Lewis Tan); a new character for the series and someone with an unexpected history to this tournament that slowly reveals itself as he is recruited by Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) to seek out Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) and his crew so he can learn the techniques and Mortal Kombat Magic necessary to win this tournament!  All is not as cut and dry however as Outworld’s leader in the tournament Shang Tsung (Chin Han) has his own crew of Mortal Kombat characters and is not waiting for the tournament to begin before sending them out to destroy the fledgling Earth team.  With opponents such as Sub-Zero, Mileena, and Goro (Joe Taslim, Sisi Stringer, and Angus Sampson) hunting them down, do these heroes of Earth even stand a chance of MAKING it to the tournament; let alone becoming strong enough to win it?  What is Cole’s history with this tournament, and will it be the key to Earth finally getting one over on Outworld?  You know, most Fight Camps are AT LEAST eight weeks, so shouldn’t Raiden have gotten these guys together BEFORE the tournament was like a week away?  And we all wonder why Earth Realm lost nine times in a row!

“Look, I’m sorry! I set some time aside to watch The Flash, and then I had to watch Legends of Tomorrow, and it just turned into a big thing! Nobody’s perfect!”
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Cinema Dispatch: The Meg

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The Meg and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Jason Statham has fought criminals, terrorists, rednecks, and even Vin Diesel, but can he face his greatest challenge of all?  No, not the shark!  Headlining a hundred million dollar international blockbuster ABOUT a shark!  Heck, even Dwayne Johnson has had some stumbles in that department!  If you think about it, the man is a household name at this point with a huge back catalog of classic action films, yet he’s never really been THE A-LIST STAR his reputation would lead you to believe he has.  Sure he’s in a few franchise that made boatloads of money (Fast and the Furious, The Expendables), but those were always in supporting roles.  The times that HAS headlined a movie, even PHENOMENAL ones like Crank: High Voltage, have never really been the biggest of box office draws; especially in today’s climate where a hundred million dollars can be considered a disappointment.  Now he’s front and center trying to sell himself on the biggest stage of his life; sharing it of course with Chinese superstar Li Bingbing and a giant freaking shark, but still!  Can Statham and company manage to make a classic blockbuster that will catapult him and everyone else here to superstar status, or will this be the biggest shark jumping moment in this new age of giant international blockbusters?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where there is a research facility called Mana One that is being financed by “eccentric billionaire” Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) and is run by Dr. Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing).  The big theory they’re working on is that there may be a place in the ocean EVEN DEEPER than the Mariana Trench which is undetectable by radar for… some reason (something having to do with it being SUPER cold down there) and so they have a manned submarine diving down there to see what they find.  Of course things go wrong almost as soon as they get past the cold patch, and so someone needs to go down there to save them, and as it turns out they know JUST the guy for the job!  Jonas (Jason Statham) is not only the best darn rescue diver of all time, his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is one of the crew members stuck down there so of COURSE he ends up coming aboard Mana One despite being a grumpy drunk ever since… the incident.  Despite protestations from one of Mana One’s crew (Robert Taylor) due to… the incident, Jonas grabs a super science sub and dive ALL the way down to where the submarine was lost.  He manages to find it, but there’s something else down there waiting for them, and it’s sure no moon!  No, it’s a GIANT FREAKING SHARK (also known as a MEGalodon) that doesn’t take too kindly to weird metal boxes encroaching on his territory, and while Statham is able to save MOST of the sub crew, it turns out that THE MEG managed to follow them home and is wreaking havoc all over the Pacific.  Can Statham and the elite crew of Mana One, including Mac, Jaxx, and DJ (Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, and Page Kennedy), find a way to stop this massive creature before it kills everything!?  What exactly does Jack Morris have planned for this newly discovered monster, and is it in the best interest of everyone involved?  Seriously, considering how big this shark is, maybe we should just bite the bullet and call in Godzilla.

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“A glass wall!?  CURSES!!  MY ONE WEAKNESS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Battle of the Sexes

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Battle of the Sexes and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Well THIS is certainly a pleasant surprise!  I may not know all the details, but I’m certainly aware of the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Robbie Riggs which has always stuck with me despite only knowing about it by watching the back half of a TV documentary around fifteen years ago.  I’ve always liked tennis as a sport and the build up to the phenomenal match was ridiculous and felt like a flash in the pan moment in history which did end up having a big impact on everything simply for how much confident men were that she was gonna lose and then had that whole perception shattered on live television around the world.  Is there any way that a film can do justice to this once in a lifetime event and remind us all of how important this was in the first place?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about the infamous match between world renowned tennis player Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and world renowned FORMER tennis player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) which was played up in the media as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES and the match that would once and for all prove that women have no business competing in MAN PLACES like tennis; something that wasn’t helped by Riggs’s absurdly derogatory and over the top chauvinistic stunts.  Of course, there was a lot more to the story than the over the top theatrics leading up to it which includes the establishment of the Women’s Tennis Association, Billie Jean’s romantic relationship with another woman Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), and even Bobby Riggs’s financial woes that may have been the driving force for setting up this match in the first place.  So much was on the line for Billie Jean to succeed, yet with so much working against her, it was quickly becoming a task that seemed impossible to overcome.  Would she be able to find the strength to overcome the odds and prove herself once and for all?  How will she be able to maintain a relationship with another woman in a time when that was much more frowned upon and life destroying than it is today?  How can one person navigate all this nonsense being constantly thrown at them and STILL manage to keep from knocking all these jerkwads upside the head!?

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“I must break you…”     “Are you sure you won’t break a nail?”     “… I’m gonna enjoy this.”

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