Tag Archives: John Ortiz

Cinema Dispatch: Ad Astra

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Ad Astra and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by James Gray

We already sent Matt Damon into space and couldn’t get rid of him, so I guess its Brad Pitt’s turn on the intergalactic chopping block.  Space movies, especially ones that try to reflect our current understanding of outer space and an approximation of our current technology have been a great way to explore our own humanity as well as the stars themselves with 2001: A Space Odyssey still being the gold standard that these kinds of films try to aspire to.  Does this newest sci-fi drama about Brad Pitt IN SPACE prove to be a worthy contemporary of the genre, or will the only favorable comparisons be to Plan 9 From Outer Space?  Let’s find out!!

Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is an astronaut in the near future where that’s back to being a viable career and NASA has morphed into the SpaceCom which has put bases on the moon, on Mars, and they even sent a space ship out to Neptune to look for life beyond what they can see back on Earth.  That space ship was part of the “Lima Project” which was launched sixteen years ago with Roy’s dad Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones) and hasn’t been heard from in years and is presumed lost forever.  That is until weird electrical pulses start to reach Earth that knock out power in a lot of places and even causes a giant space antenna to come crashing down that Roy just so happened to be working on at the time, and SpaceCom thinks that it might be the… super science generator (something to do with dark matter maybe?) that they stuck on Clifford’s ship all those years ago.  On the off chance that this is the case, they want Roy to get his butt to Mars and use their super science broadcasting antenna (basically pirate radio IN SPACE) to get a message out to Neptune and hopefully to his dad.  Things get complicated right away however as there seems to be more going on than SpaceCom is telling him, and on top of that he’s got some unresolved issues with the old man, what with him leaving his family to never return, that may or may not complicate things even if they DO get a message to him.  Will Roy come to terms with the decisions his father made as well as finally get the closure he’s looking for?  What challenges will he face and what secrets will he uncover during the rather long voyage from Earth to Mars?  How do you pack for kind of trip anyway?  A lot of protein bars I guess?

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“Really wish we could find a Starbucks out here.”

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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: Kong: Skull Island

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Kong: Skull Island and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Truth be told I’ve always been more of a Godzilla fan, and while the recent Shin Godzilla was pretty good (if a bit disjointed and tonally uneven) the American film with Gareth Edwards wasn’t so much.  Now Warner Bros is trying to create yet another Expanded Cinematic Universe (because the DCCU is working out SO well for them) and this is in some ways a sequel… or prequel I guess… to the 2014 Godzilla film.  Does this manage to make up for the mistakes of that film while setting the groundwork for future monster movies to come, or are we much better off watching that 1962 film where the two of them duked it out and threw rocks at each other?  Admittedly that wouldn’t be the WORST thing to do as it’s still pretty freaking awesome, but let’s find out!!

The movie starts by introducing us to Bill Randa (John Goodman) who is the head of Monarch; an organization that is hell bent on proving the existence of monsters.  They’ve hit a rough patch, mostly due to them never finding any monsters, but 1973 just might be the year they turn things around!  They have some satellite images of a heretofore unknown island which may or may not contain resources that the government can use in their fight against the Russians, and Monarch wants to tag along with another organization already headed there for some basic geological research.  Actually, all Bill wants to do is find monsters, but the US government gives them the go ahead to tag along and to also bring a military squadron who JUST SO HAPPEN to be one day away from heading back home from Vietnam.  Of course the commander Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) is thrilled at the opportunity as he doesn’t seem too interested in leaving the war, but those under his command which includes Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell) are less so.  Still, they follow the orders that are given to them and they are even joined by former British SAS bad ass James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) who’s supposed to be an expert tracker and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) who somehow manages to be a part of this expedition as well.  The crew packs up, they fly to the mysterious island that is colorfully known as Skull Island, and IMMEDIATLEY get their asses kicked by Kong who mows down all their helicopters; leaving all of the name actors but only a handful of army and scientist extras.  Along their travels, they run into even MORE monsters, find a World War 2 fighter pilot who’s been trapped on the island for almost two decades (John C Reilly), and ultimately have to come up with a way to escape the island before their one chance of rescue passes them by.  Can the remaining survivors make it off the island before they become monster food, or will some of them refuse to leave until Kong is dead?  Just what is Kong fighting on this island when he’s not swatting down humans?  Most importantly, WHEN ARE WE GONNA GET A NEW GODZILLA VS KING KONG MOVIE!?

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“This guy doesn’t have thermonuclear breath, right?”     “No, but he can still throw stuff at us.”

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