Cinema Dispatch: Godzilla vs. Kong

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Godzilla vs. Kong and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Adam Wingard

It’s no secret that I was not a fan of King of the Monsters which was particularly surprising to me as I always get a kick out of seeing giant monster movies!  There was just too much pretention and import without enough depth or butt kicking fight scenes to justify how lethargic much of it was, but if there was anything about the movie that caught my interest (aside from them using the Blue Oyster Cult song for the credits), it was the promise of seeing Godzilla and the King Kong from Kong: Skull Island lace up the gloves and duke it out in a battle to end all battles!  Well the one thing that giant monsters were not able to overcome was the Pandemic as this got pushed back for several months, but the day has finally arrived and they even put it on HBO Max to boot!  Is this the titanic clash between two legendary movie monsters we’ve all been waiting for, or is this a bigger letdown than Batman v Superman?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Monarch has decided that instead of leaving Kong alone on his mysterious island that is probably not even on Godzilla’s radar, they’ll capture him, chain him up, and put him in a fake jungle so that… I guess he and Godzilla don’t have a punch up.  It seems that Kong himself wasn’t consulted on this as he’s constantly wrecking up his cage and has to be restrained whenever he’s out of it, but in any case, along with that there’s a new Super Science company in town named Apex run by some dude named Walter (Demián Bichir) who believes that there’s some sort of Unobtanium-like SUPER OIL that requires drilling even deeper into the Earth to get.  How deep?  Well so deep that apparently you empty out into a whole new world which is where the monsters they’ve been dealing with are actually from.  A rag tag team of scientists are assembled to try and prove this Hollow Earth theory and since they’ve already got a giant monster under lock and key, they can use his… something something science babble to help them find the entrance to the Hollow Earth and make perhaps the greatest discovery in all of human history!  Said team is made up of some geologist dude (Alexander Skarsgård), Kong’s caretaker (Rebecca Hall), her adopted daughter (Kaylee Hottle), and Walter’s very annoyed daughter (Eiza González) along with like five or six nameless army dudes. Now all this however assumes that Godzilla, the supposed protector of Earth, doesn’t come in and wreck Apex/Monarch’s plans, but hey I guess if they’ve got Kong on hand anyway, why not let him punch the giant lizard a few times along the way?  Oh, and Millie Bobby Brown is back on a Goonies adventure to discover the secrets of Apex along with a nerd (Julian Dennison) and a conspiracy theorist (Brian Tyree Henry) who has no problem dragged teenagers along on a life threatening adventure.  Then again, Rebecca Hall has someone even younger tagging along with her, so either way there seems to be way too many irresponsible grown-ups running around here.  Will Apex and Monarch be able to find the hidden entrance to the Hollow Earth and perhaps find some answers about Kong as well?  What does Apex want with this new energy source, and could Godzilla’s recent aggression towards them be somehow connected?  Am I the only one picturing a better movie where the giant ape and the giant lizard just say SCREW this and work together to destroy everyone involved with this ridiculous venture!?

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“Join me, brother! These humans care NOTHING for our kind!” “I would, but… your face… is so… PUNCHABLE!!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Godzilla vs Kong)

Godzilla vs Kong and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Adam Wingard

Warner Bros’ bold move to release their movies on streaming the same day as theaters is going to be one of the more interesting stories of 2021, and this film is probably going to be the one indicate its direction.  Sure they gave us Wonder Woman 1984, but that had been delayed so long and theaters were still staying closed for the foreseeable future that it almost felt like WB throwing the world a bone or perhaps even a Christmas present.  A present that was pretty wonky and not nearly as its predecessor, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.  This one is a bit different because the vaccine means that people are going to try and get back to a normal life; some faster than others while the responsibility of such actions remains… dubious at best.  I’m HOPING things get fixed before the Summer, but I’m guessing there’s going to be more than enough people out there saying it’s already fixed today.  So with that said, this movie is one that COULD conceivably be delayed for a full theater release without waiting too long, but WB is committed to this strategy and we’ll have to see how it pays off for them; if releasing these big blockbusters on streaming will build up HBO Max enough to offset the costs, or if they are just throwing money down the drain because they couldn’t wait for a safer time to release.  As interesting as all that is though, we’re here to talk about the trailer that they released so let’s take a look at it!

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My biggest fear going into this is that I was NOT a fan of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and that this would be a continuation of that.  I found the whole thing rather insufferable with just how much the overwrought drama weighed down the monster fighting action of which there was already a dearth of.  Oh sure, you can go back to the Japanese Godzilla films and point out how much human drama was in THOSE, but first I wouldn’t say they were SPECTACULAR either, and second they didn’t have a bloated runtime dragging things down even more.  Twenty minutes of Kaiju action in a ninety minute movie is better than twenty-five minutes of Kaiju action in a hundred and thirty minute movie; especially when the action itself is obscured by so much bad weather.  Frankly the giant dudes in costumes brawling in full day light may not have looked the best but had a lot more charm than King of the Monsters. 

TEAM KONG, ALL THE WAY!!
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Cinema Dispatch: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures and Toho

Directed by Michael Dougherty

I may have been a bit cold about the first Godzilla film (no not the one from 1954 and no not the FIRST Hollywood version) which had a tendency to favor human drama over monster punching action, but with Kong: Skull Island being a phenomenal bit of bloody adventure action and the trailers for this film looking absolutely gorgeous, it looks like things may finally be kicking into high gear for the once and future king!  Shoot, they managed to get MOTHRA in this!  What more could you possibly ask for!?  Does the latest Godzilla movie live up to its title as King of the Monsters, or is this further evidence that the big green guy’s day in the spotlight has come to an end?  Well probably not the latter since Shin Godzilla was pretty awesome and Toho isn’t about to give up this cash cow anytime soon, but let’s find out!!

Following the events of Godzilla 2014 (and technically Kong: Skull Island as well), the world is now hyper aware of Kaiju being a “thing” they just have to deal with now, and ever since Godzilla kicked those monsters’ butts the last time more and more seem to be popping up all over the place.  Fortunately Monarch, the secret organization that studies Kajiu, has been keeping them either asleep or in cages so as not to cause further catastrophe, though I do wonder exactly where they get their funding if the government is constantly calling them in for hearings to tell them how bad they are at their job.  Ah, it probably doesn’t matter!  What DOES matter is that one of the Monarch scientist Dr. Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) have been KIDNAPPED by… anti-Kaiju terrorists I guess (led by Charles Dance) and are planning something NEFARIOUS with her research which involves communicating with Kaiju.  Good thing she’s got a self-pitying ex-husband named Mark (Kyle Chandler) who’s off somewhere still brooding about his son who died during the first movie, and Monarch calls him in to… help I guess.  I mean they’ve already got Dr. Serizawa from the last film (Ken Watanabe) as well as Dr. Chen and Dr. Chen (Zhang Ziyi) who are Kaiju experts, Dr. Stanton (Bradley Whitford) who cracks jokes and does science stuff, and even a couple of army people including Jackson Barnes (O’Shea Jackson Jr) who cracks jokes as well, so why are they throwing in a guy who explicitly wants all the Kaiju killed into the pro-Kaiju organization?  I guess to try and figure out how those kidnapping Kaiju-haters think?  So now this rag tag group of scientists and random dudes are off to stop the anti-Kaiju terrorists from waking up all the monsters which I guess will show people that the monsters are bad… or something.  Hey, isn’t Godzilla supposed to be in this movie at some point?

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“I’m only here for one day, so make it count!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Game Night

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Game Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein

It’s not easy trying to release a movie in the wake of an overwhelming success like Black Panther or really ANY Disney movie nowadays, and the idea of Counter Programming (releasing a movie that targets an audience vastly different from whatever else is in theaters) is becoming an increasingly less viable route to go when success is as massive as these year round tent poles have become.  With that said, it’s ALSO a common time to dump movies that the studio has little faith in as wasting a BETTER time slot in the year is the year would only make things that much worse for them.  For me, seeing this trailer quite frequently in the last month or so, it looks to fall into the latter as the premise of the film and the gags they showed us wasn’t inspiring much hope in me that this was going to be much of a comedy classic, but I have been wrong before about movies and I’m like the ONLY guy who’s like Billy Magnussen in everything I’ve seen him in; and that’s including Birth of the Dragon!  Does this action comedy bring the same fun and excitement you always hope to have whenever you have your own game night, or is this as exciting as playing Monopoly for two hours past the point everyone stopped caring?  Let’s find out!!

Max and Anne (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams) are the picture perfect mid-thirties couple that LOVES playing board games on their weekly Game Night along with their friends Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury) as well as good ol’ Ryan (Billy Magnussen) who frequently brings new dates to Game Name with the latest being Sarah (Sharon Horgan) .  OH, and uh… they used to invite the neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons) over to play with them, but no one likes to talk about Gary; especially after the divorce.  ANYWAY, Game Night is the one thing that they all look forward to every week, but things start to run afoul this time around as Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) shows up out of the blue with his badass car and super smooth swagger to take over Game Night and make it an evening they will NEVER forget; something that gets Max rather pissy right off the bat.  Oh, you know how brother are!  Always trying to one up each other even when it comes to something as trivial as Trivial Pursuit!  Brooks invites everyone over to his house to play one of those INTERACTIVE MURDER MYSTERY deals with actors pretending to be cops and robbers, but the party is crashed by ACTUAL robbers right off the bat; something that they REALLY should have realized was the case even if they were told this was going to be a big game.  They don’t realize that these are REAL crooks invading the party and kidnapping Brooks though, but they will soon enough as they find out more and more about Brooks and just how much trouble he’s really in.  Can Max, Anne, and their best buddies find a way to save Brooks before he gets two in the head?  What will Max learn about his brother during this absurd quest, and what will he learn about… HIMSELF!?  Anyone else feel like playing a game right now?  King of Tokyo?  Drop Mix?  Yu-Gi-Oh?

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“Who wants to play… PAR-CHEESE-I!?”     “Max, if you tell that joke ONE more time, I will personally shove this knife right through your eye socket.”     “Well then… I hope that after doing that… you’d feel SORRY!”

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Cinema Dispatch: 2015 Catch Up

Like any decent film critic, I’ve had a couple of movies that I promised myself I would eventually get to, but then they ended up slipping through the cracks for so long that I had given up hope on ever getting back to them.  Well no more I say!  Not only am I catching up on two movies I saw in 2015 that I never got to talk about, I have just recently had the chance to watch two other films from 2015 that are definitely worth discussing!  So without procrastinating another second, here are four movies from the past year that I now have the chance to review!!

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Rock the Kasbah and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films

Directed by Barry Levinson

Ah yes.  The one where Bill Murray saves Afghanistan.  See, THIS movie got a bit crowded out because it came to theaters the same week as Jem and the Holograms and The Last Witch Hunter.  CLEARLY I was very busy at the time writing reviews for two of the worst movies of the year and things just snowballed after that to the point that I never got my thoughts down on this movie.  It may have been the best movie of that week by a long shot, but that’s not saying a hell of a whole lot considering the not so stiff competition it was up against.  Is it any good without the direct comparison to the garbage it was surrounded by when it was at the box office?  Let’s find out!!

Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) is a guy who will try to get you to fall for anything, and probably believes half the bullshit that he’s spewing.  At one time he was a somewhat successful manager to some big acts, but nowadays he just hangs out in his hotel room/office scamming wannabe singers out of some cash while trying to promote one of  his clients Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel) who might actually have a bit of talent if he can just get her a break.  Opportunity comes a knocking one night where a military man sees her perform and suggest that Richie take her on a USO tour in Afghanistan which is supposed to pay very well with only a slight chance of death in the process.  Richie’s all on board but Ronnie eventually reveals that she’s not into being somewhere that rough and not long after arriving in Kabul, she robs him of all his money as well as his passport; leaving him without any identification and in debt to the mercenary (Bruce Willis) who got Ronnie out of the country and was only given half his fee in the process with promises that Richie had the rest.  Will he be able to scramble up enough money to pay back the mercenary and get his ass out of the country?  Well that actually becomes pretty moot as the REAL plot involves a young woman in a nearby village named Salima Khan (Leem Lubany) who can sing like an angel but will be killed if anyone in her fundamentalist village (and almost anyone her in her fundamentalist country apparently) hears her do it.  Richie though sees fame and fortune in the story and eventually convinces her to join an American Idol like competition (Afghan Star) which has never had a female singer on before, and the rest of the movie is basically the fallout of that with Richie learning some lessons about himself along the way!

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“I co-wrote this one from Stevie Nicks back in 1990.  She didn’t like the lyrics, but we got a top 100 hit out of it.  SOMETIMES IT’S A BITCH!!  SOMETIMES IT’S A BREEZE!!!!”

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