Cinema Dispatch: The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by James Gunn

I was more positive than not about the first Suicide Squad movie, but there was absolutely a ceiling to how much I could appreciate it and frankly, I don’t think David Ayers getting his own AYERS CUT would end up improving things.  It was a lot of good ideas and solid performances wrapped up in a script that felt half-baked at best and an editing job that struggled mightily to wrangle it all into something coherent.  Fortunately, Warner Bros and the DCEU are in a much better position now as they’ve toned down the excessive budgets and improved the overall quality and tone of the films.  Best of all, they got James Gunn to direct it who’s made some of the best movies in the genre with his Guardians of the Galaxy films!  Sounds like the makings of a darn good movie to me, but are we looking at a perfect storm of awesomeness or are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment?  Let’s find out!!

Task Force X is a secret government program that is the brainchild of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and uses dangerous criminals to take on missions that are too dangerous for anyone else.  When there’s a regime change in a South American country to a government that is not so US friendly, Waller needs a crack team of weirdos to go in there and destroy a secret project known only as Starfish that is hidden below a research facility in the center of the country’s capital, and while some of them like Bloodsport Peacemaker, and arguably even Harley Quinn (Idris Elba, John Cena, and Margot Robbie), some of the others just seem to be there to either be cannon fodder or to just get them out of the prison system’s hair.  I mean seriously what are you supposed to do with a guy like King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) and some dude named THE POLKA-DOT MAN (Davis Dastmalchian)?  There are several others assigned to this mission such as Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) and the always dependable Rick Flag as the leader (Joel Kinnaman), but it doesn’t take long for things to go sideways and for the team to have to more or less wing it as they try to find a way into the city undetected so they can kidnap the country’s super-scientist known as The Thinker (Peter Capaldi) to get them inside the research base and just figure it out from there.  Can this rag-tag group of super-losers save America from whatever this Project Starfish is and secure their freedom in the process?  What isn’t Amanda Waller telling them about the mission and just how much is at stake if they end up failing?  I mean whatever happens it can’t be as bad as having one of your own team members take over a city and turn everyone into her zombie servants.  Sure it’s a low bar to clear, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

“Honestly, I think we can write this off as a learning experience.”     “Hungry.”     “See?  The shark guy gets it!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Fast & Furious 9

Fast & Furious 9 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Justin Lin

It looks like movies are back (at least for those who can safely vaccinate, which if you haven’t and are able to then do it please!) and what a better way to kick off the summer season than with another Fast & Furious movie!?  Gotta admit, I was not on the F&F train for over a decade and it wasn’t until Fate of the Furious that I finally gave the franchise a chance.  It’s a mixed bag to be sure, but the latter half of the franchise has been quite impressive as big budget spectacles though and the more professional wrestlers they throw into the mix the more I look forward to seeing them!  So after a year of global misery and despair, is this action blockbuster we need to celebrate our slow but sure recovery, or has the Fast Franchise gassed out right when we needed it the most?  Let’s find out!!

Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) have been living the quiet life with Dom’s son Bryan out in the country, but this peace is not meant to last as Roman, Tej, and Ramsey (Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Nathalie Emmanuel) show up with a distress message from the mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and they are forced to come out of retirement to find him and find what he was trying to protect.  Sadly they don’t find the former, but the latter is a piece of some sort of doomsday device that is pretty much the SAME doomsday device these last few movies have had, and it gets taken right from under their noses by a mysterious jacked dude (John Cena) who also drives cars, has a cross necklace, and keeps staring menacingly at Dom.  Turns out that this is none other than Jakob; Dom’s long lost brother!  Not only must Dom and the crew stop Jakob and who he’s working for from getting the other pieces of the Doomsday Device, Dom must confront his past and perhaps even realize his own mistakes before they threaten to throw the world into utter chaos!  Will Dom be able to face his brother and bring an end to his maniacal schemes?  Who else has a stake in this Doomsday Device, and will they prove to be an ally or a hindrance to the Fast & Furious family?  Speaking of family, are we sure Dom and Jakob aren’t actually cousins, or were their parents’ genes an ethnic roulette wheel?

Come on, Cena! Do the U CAN’T SEE ME! You know you want to!!
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Cinema Dispatch: Fantasy Island

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Fantasy Island and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Jeff Wadlow

The only thing I know about the TV show is that it had Khan from Star Trek and Nick Nack from The Man with the Golden Gun, but even still turning it into a horror film seems like a dubious prospect at best.  What, there weren’t enough Twilight Zone episodes to adapt or Creepshow sequels to pump out that we have to now start reaching for non-horror properties to try and squeeze out yet another February horror film?  I mean I guess it COULD be good!  Stranger things have happened, certainly.  Is this brilliant reinterpretation of a classic seventies television show, or were we better off with Wild Wild West being the most embarrassing remake of a TV series from that era?  Let’s find out!!

Gwen, Patrick, JD, Brax, and Melanie (Maggie Q, Austin Stowell, Ryan Hansen, Jimmy O Yang, and Lucy Hale) have all won a free trip to the mysterious FANTASY ISLAND which is run by the equally mysterious Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) who is known for his also equally mysterious ability to grant your greatest fantasy while visiting the island!  For JD and Brax, they want to party like rock stars, for Gwen she wants to get back what she’s lost, for Patrick he wants to be a solider, and for Melanie she wants to get revenge on her school bully.  All of which are simple enough to fulfill for the enigmatic Mr. Roarke, but as the fantasies come to fruition there are monkey paw style twists and turns that make their visit not quite as spectacular as they had hoped they would be; particularly when spooky and outright dangerous stuff begins to happen.  They must somehow work through their own turbulent fantasies and eventually with each other to stop whatever dark fate is expected to befall them and to find out the secret of the island as well as Mr. Roarke’s uncanny power.  Can this rag tag group of nobodies who may or may not have some sort of dark past figure out a way to escape the island in one piece?  What exactly is Mr. Roarke’s end goal here, and are there some dark secrets in his closet as well?  If my fantasy was to have unlimited fantasies, would he have to find a way to make that work?

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“What is your greatest wish today?”     “I want to see you get your suit dirty.”     “…”     “DO IT!  CHOP CHOP!!”     “Oh, it’s going to be one of these days…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Brightburn

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Brightburn and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by David Yarovesky

I’ve only had this movie vaguely on my radar for some time now (which frankly is a lot more than MOST movies but that’s another discussion) and I was certainly interested to see what it was, but more importantly I wasn’t quite sure what it was ultimately ABOUT which piqued my interest more than anything else.  Was it truly just a kid with super powers killing people?  Would there be some sort of They Live or even Frailty kind of twist at the end to explain his actions?  It’s a fascinating premise to basically take the Superman origin story and turn it into that of a villain, but evil kid movies aren’t the easiest thing to pull off well and we’ve had at least ONE example this year of Hollywood screwing that up spectacularly.  Is this the dark and twisted superhero horror movie we’ve all been waiting for, or is this just more horror tripe with a trendy coat of paint on it?  Let’s find out!!

Brandon Breyer (Jackson Dunn) is your typical Midwest tween.  He works on his parents’ farm, he goes to school every day, and oh yeah he’s an alien who crash landed when he was a baby and has been raised by his parents Tori and Kyle (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) since then.  He’s not aware of that though, but it’s also something that’s not TOO easy to hide; especially since Space Puberty is turning out to be quite a bit more INTENSE than the Earthling variety!  Brandon begins to pick up on the fact that he’s a little bit different from others, what with his invulnerability and eye lasers, and eventually things come to a head as Tori and Kyle have to figure out the best way to handle the fact that their adopted son has UNSPEAKABLE COSMIC POWERS.  You know, sending him to his room without dinner isn’t gonna work all that well when he can rip your heart out with his bare hands and then fly to the arcade.  Brandon seems to understand this little power differential as well, not to mention that his alien side might not be from the most humble and good natured parts of the universe which can only spell trouble as he gets more and more proficient with his powers.  Can Tori and Kyle instill enough self-control and empathy into this brat before he starts burning Pepe memes into the corn fields?  Just how powerful can Brandon get, and is there any way to stop him if he goes too far?  See, this is why everyone needs an Uncle Ben.  Neither Tori nor Kyle have a brother named Ben, and that’s why this is all happening in the first place!!

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“Remember, son; with Great Power comes Great Responsibility.”     “So… because I CAN met out vigilante justice, that gives me the right to do so?”     “Uh… who wants ice cream!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by James Gunn

Sequels are not an easy thing to pull off in the world of Hollywood tent poles, at least critically.  Financially they’re almost certain to get as much if not more money than the film that came before it just off of buzz and familiarity alone, but rarely do we get sequels that areas critically beloved as the original film, provided of course the original was great to begin with.  For every Dark Knight we get, there’s a Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Terminator Genisys, Batman v Superman, and The Dark Knight Rises.  As great as Marvel is at churning out success after success from their cinematic universe, they aren’t immune to this either with Iron Man 2 and Thor 2, while both very watchable films, being low points for the company… at least until Iron Fist, but I’m ready to forget that ever happened if everyone else is too.  Can they manage to avoid those pitfalls with the sequel to the riskiest movie the studio has made date, or was the goofy and offbeat success of the first one truly a case of catching lightening in a bottle?  Let’s find out!!

After the events of the first movie where these five misfits managed to save the Galaxy through the power of Friendship (I hear it’s magic!), the newly formed Guardians of the Galaxy began taking odd jobs around said galaxy in order to cash in on their reputation.  The job that movie starts out on is a bit different though as the payment they are after is not money but Gamora’s sister Nebula (Zoe Saldana as the former and Karen Gillian as the latter) who was left for dead after the Xander incident, and Gamora plans on taking her to the Nova Corp to face justice.  Of course with five screw ups in the team, one of them is bound to do SOMETHING wrong and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) inexplicably robs their employers who are quick to find out and start hunting the Guardians down.  Fortunately, The Most Interesting Man in the Universe, though you can call him Ego (Kurt Russell), manages to save them all and reveals that he is in fact the long lost father of Star-Lord (Chirs Pratt)!  Well isn’t THAT convenient!?  He offers to take them to his home planet while the ship is being repaired, so Star-Lord, Gamora, and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) go with dear old dad while Rocket and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) stay behind to fix the ship and watch over Nebula.  Of course, things are never as simple as they seem, what with Ego’s assistant Mantis (Pom Klementieff) who appears to be hiding something or the fact that the planet the Guardians burned go ahead and hire Yondu (Michael Rooker) to hunt them down.  Can the Guardians escape their own demise once again and somehow find a way to smooth all this over?  Will Star-Lord accept the father who was never there for him his entire life, and how will that affect the life he’s built without him?  How awesome is it that this is the SECOND movie this year that Kurt Russell is in, alongside a wrestler, which will CLEARLY make a billion dollars!?

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Are we sure this guy isn’t REALLY a celestial being walking among mere mortals?

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