Cinema Dispatch: Charlie’s Angels

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Charlie’s Angels and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

I’ve never seen the Charlie’s Angels movies from the early 2000s, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the original TV series either.  Heck, I’m pretty sure the closest thing I’ve seen to it was Totally Spies, and while that has its fans, it’s pretty much been dropped into the memory hole with dozens of other 2000s shows that you don’t remember.  So if nothing else, I can at least come into this series with a relatively fresh perspective, and I’ve got to say that I’ve been pretty interested in what we’ve been shown so far; particularly the cast which looks to be amazing and the fact that it’s being directed by Elizabeth Banks who has been gaining some momentum as a voice behind the camera as well as in front of it.  Does this reboot of the seventies classic bring the franchise into the twenty first century; at least for the second time?  Let’s find out!!

Elena (Naomi Scott) is a scientist working at some business company on some new technology that will revolutionize the power industry through… I guess computer coding?  The invention in this case is called Calisto which is a little box the size of an Echo Dot or a Google Home that can somehow power entire rooms and even buildings.  However, there is ONE itty-bitty flaw with it in that it can cause people to have brain aneurisms through some sort of bug that Elena is SURE she can fix, but her misogynistic boss (Nat Faxon) won’t let her because they have to get it to market and he wants to take all the credit for it.  If only there was an agency that understood her plight as a woman in tech and could help her stop a supervillain plot at the same time.  Oh wait!  There is!  The Townsend Agency consists primarily of Bosleys and Angels; the latter being the agents who go on missions and the former being the ones to coordinate the Angels.  The two angles who got assigned to Elena’s case are Sabina and Jane (Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska) and it should be a straightforward Exposé of company documents, but when an assassin (Jonathan Tucker) shows up and takes out one of the Bosleys (Djimon Hounsou), things have clearly escalated to a point far more seirous than Elena had ever imagined.  With the help of a new Bosley (Elizabeth Banks), the three women team up to try and take () back from the evil company and find out just what it is they plan on doing with it in its current deadly state.  Will Elena prove herself to be a true Angel in the making despite a lifetime of being under the thumb of patriarchal and woman unfriendly industry?  What are Sabina and Jane’s story, and will they find excuses to clash with one another when they really should be working together to save the world?  Most importantly of all, does this succeed in empowering women to be in silly spy movies just like men can!?

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“Why does SHE get the gun?”     “Do you know how to use a gun?”     “I mean… it’s the principal of the matter.”     “WHAT principal!?”     “Uh… feminism?”     “Yeah… no.”     “You’re right.  My bad.”

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Cinema Dispatch: American Ultra

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American Ultra and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh

Did someone finally remake Natural Born Killers?  No?  That sacred cow hasn’t been milked yet?  Eh… give it time.  Until then, we’ve got the next big film from Max Landis.  No, he didn’t direct it.  He wrote the movie and it’s his big follow up after Chronical, and we all know how well things turned out for the OTHER guy who made that movie!  All joking aside, Chronical was one of the best examples of not only the found footage genre but the super hero genre as well.  The story was complex and heartfelt while still being an exciting and unique take on portraying super powers in film.  Can Max Landis pull off another hit with this film about a stoner sleeper agent, or will he be doomed to the same fate as Josh Trank whose sophomore slump is easily the biggest disaster of the year?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) who’s some dipshit loser in West Virginia with a lousy job, a drug problem, and a condition where he has panic attacks whenever he tries to leave town.  The only good thing the sad sack has going for him is his sad sack girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart)  who’s only slightly more functional than he is in that she doesn’t nearly burn the house down due to her own absent mindedness.  Mike is certainly trying to do better by her, but this is a guy with no ambition and little imagination.  Aside from his doodles about an astronaut ape, he barely gives off any signs of conscious thought other than guilt for being lucky enough to find Phoebe and the fact that she loves him just as much as he loves her.  Of course, things aren’t as simple as they seem.  Being a man child movie, our hero has to have some super ability that they didn’t really earn, and in this case it turns out that he’s actually a decommissioned CIA sleeper agent with skills to rival James Bond… despite being MAYBE twenty five (at least as far as the movie is trying to sell the premise as).  Of course, being an unstoppable badass who ain’t doing shit to no one, some pencil pushing mother fucker (Adrian Yates played by Topher Grace) decides that Mike needs to be eliminated and sends out a bunch of goons to 86 the bastard.  The original leader of the program that turned Jesse Eisenberg into teenage Terminator (Victoria Lassetter played by Connie Britton) gets wind of this and is doing what she can to keep him alive while he starts to remember the skills he had in the past.  Can he survive these attempts on his life and get his girlfriend through this ordeal safely, or will the weight of these revelations be too much for him to handle?

“Can we not do this today?  It’s been kind of weird around her lately…”
“Can we not do this today?  It’s been kind of weird around her lately…”

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