Tag Archives: Movie Review

Cinema Dispatch: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment and EuropaCorp

Directed by Luc Besson

As much as I would like a new Sci-Fi franchise to bring a bit of variety and challenge the Disney Monolith, I just couldn’t see this movie as anything more than a REALLY expensive mistake.  Maybe that’s more of a commentary on the current state of Blockbuster Cinema than an observation of the movie itself (though the ho-hum trailers certainly didn’t help), but a movie THIS expensive looking based around a series of graphic novels that (as far as I can tell) didn’t end up having THAT much reach outside of its native France looked like the kind of disaster that can only be made by people REALLY passionate about what they’re doing.  Now sometimes China can pick up the slack like it did with Pacific Rim which was a GOOD movie, but then other times not even they can save a doomed production like John Carter.  Still, that’s all secondary when talking about whether a movie is good or not, and while the trailers didn’t really impressive me, there were certainly glimpses of something that could be great if the filmmaker knew how to take advantage of it.  Does this movie manage to be a science fiction classic despite its box office prospects, or was everyone asleep at the wheel while Luc Besson spent an untold fortune bringing this comic book to life?  Let’s find out!!

Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne) are two space agents working for the Human government who are basically paid to be bad asses across the galaxy and supposedly have the ability to travel through time which I guess we’ll have to wait to see in the sequel.  Anyway, Valerian is having dreams about some lost civilization whose planet was destroyed but he has no idea if these are premonitions of the future or something that happened long ago.  Either way, his latest mission with Laureline JUST SO HAPPENS to converge with these mysterious dreams as there are a band of terrorists of sorts from an unknown race (I BET VALERIAN KNOWS WHO THEY ARE!) that are trying to get their hands on a rare MacGuffin Creature that Laureline is protecting as well as the current military leader of the Human government General Arün Filitt (Clive Owen).  They manage to get the latter, but the former is still safely tucked away and both Valerian and Laureline, despite the protestations of their new commanding officer (Sam Spruell) try to chase them down.  Valerian gets lost in the chase as do the terrorists, and so Laureline has to find him and then the both of them can these aliens who kidnapped the general… unless of course shenanigans with other aliens happen along the way, but that could NEVER happen in the city of a thousand planets, right!?  Will Valerian and Laureline stop this new threat before it’s too late!?  What is their ultimate goal once they have both the general and the MacGuffin Creature?  Will Valerian be the next ACTION STAR to dominate the silver screen!?  Well… probably not, but can he and Laureline STILL save the City of a Thousand Planets!?

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“Before I pull this trigger, you’ve gotta ask yourself one thing.  ‘Does this guy look silly in these glasses?’  Well?  DOES he, punk!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Big Sick

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The Big Sick and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate

Directed by Michael Showalter

I try to keep up with who the big up and coming comedians are, but I often find myself under a giant rock when something like this comes out starring a guy who I’ve CERTAINLY seen in other movies like Fist Fight and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but wasn’t aware of his output beyond that.  I’ve never seen Silicon Valley which seems to be Kumail Nanjiani’s biggest role to date (though he DID play Prismo in Adventure Time) so this is gonna be the first time that I’ve seen him in a starring role as opposed to a funny secondary character in REALLY mediocre or outright awful comedies, and apparently it’s somewhat autobiographical which makes it even MORE representative of what this guy is all about.  Does Kumail’s big debut as a leading man in his own life story manage to hit the mark and hopefully launch him into super stardom, or is this just a failed vanity project whose only purpose will be as a piece of trivia for Silicon Valley fans?  Let’s find out!

The movie is based on the real story about Kumail Nanjiani’s relationship with Emily V Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan but Emily V Gordon is the co-writer here) and the hardships they had to endure along the way.  Kumail is living the Stand-Up Comedy dream of a crappy apartment and shitty comedy club gigs while Emily is working towards her masters in Psychology when the two of them meet and quickly fall for each other.   Sadly, life keeps getting in the way of their happiness as Kumail’s mother and father (Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Kher) still expect him to marry a Pakistani woman and he doesn’t have the heart to either confront his parents about this or to tell Emily about their plans for him.  Things eventually come to a head, I won’t spoil too much here, but there’s a tragedy that happens where Emily is in the hospital and Kumail has no idea what to do; especially when her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) enter the picture and are immediately skeptical of Kumail.  Now Kumail is stuck in the worst of all cases; trying to coddle two sets of parents who are looking out for their kids and making terrible mistakes, and also trying to figure out exactly what he wants and how hard he’s willing to fight for it.  Will Emily overcome whatever illness has struck her so severely?  Will the two of them manage to overcome whatever issues they may have and properly fight for each other’s happiness?   Does anyone else think this might be a new benchmark for romantic comedies!?  Maybe not one of the BEST, but it sure feels like it’s gonna have an impact, right!?

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“This is a lot like Annie Hall!”     “Hmm… let’s not.”     “Yeah, you’re right.  Uh… Groundhog Day?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Wish Upon

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Wish Upon and all the images you see in this review are owned by Broad Green Pictures and Orion Pictures

Directed by John R Leonetti

Geez, while everyone else is going to see the new Planet of the Apes movie, I’m stuck watching the horror movie they dumped in theaters to “compete” with it.  Sigh… well, you never know!  We got a fair amount of REALLY solid horror movies last year and while there were a few at the absolute bottom of the barrel (*cough* Incarnate *cough*) even the more average fare was above what was normally expected.  Maybe now that the bad stuff is out the way like The Bye Bye Man (ugh…), we can finally get to some of the better horror movies… right?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows Clare Shannon (Joey King) will soon be the latest victim of some sort of mysterious Chinese wish box that her dad Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe) had found while dumpster diving.  Is that like a job you can make a living off of?  He doesn’t seem to do anything else in the movie.  Anyway, just for a lark it seems, she makes a wish while holding the box and sure enough it comes true!  However, the box comes with a terrible price that she’s not made aware of immediately where every wish ends with someone she knows getting killed in very ludicrous ways, and surely there are MORE consequences to be found if she continues to use it!  Will she manage to figure out the mysteries of this magic box before it’s too late?  Will the new life she gets from making these wishes turn out to be everything she’s always dreamed of?  What if she wishes for the box not to kill anyone, or even infinite wishes!?  WHAT THEN!?

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“I wish that I had the power to grant my own wishes and that you would disintegrate.”     “WHAT!?  SHE SOMEHOW OUTSMARTED ME!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Spider-Man: Homecoming and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures

Directed by Jon Watts

So after a decade of crappy reboots and custody battles, Spider-Man is finally gonna start living with BOTH his parents; sticking with Sony but being able to visit Disney on the weekends.  To celebrate these two studios begrudgingly working together to make a lot of money, we have the third reboot of the Spider-Man franchise getting a whole move all its own with a little from column Sony and a little from column MCU.  Considering how bad things had gotten for the character with the two Amazing Spider-Man movies and how reliable the MCU is when it comes to making above average blockbusters, it’s unlikely that this will end up a disappointment for anyone who’s been hoping to see a Spider-Man movie with the official Marvel stamp of approval, but if it can ONLY manage to be better than the previous iteration… well I can hardly think of a more textbook definition of Damning with Faint Praise.  Does this manage to stand on its own as a great film, or has Marvel finally met its match by having to work with another studio for once!?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up right after Civil War where Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is spending his day doing his Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man thing, but is getting antsy over the fact that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) won’t return his calls.  Neither will Happy (Jon Favreau) who’s supposed to be keeping an eye on him and is clearly doing a poor job of it since even a LITTLE bit of attention might have kept him from doing something stupid!  Said stupid thing is when he starts tracking down a group of alien gun smuggles head up by Adrian Toomes who played by Michael Keaton (Oh hey!  I guess he DID live long enough to become the villain!) and soon finds himself in over his head.  Not only does he have to deal with REAL tough guys instead of street thugs, he also has to deal with the problems of being a teenager such as having a crush on a senior named Liz (Laura Harrier) trying to sneak around Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and having to deal with his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) who accidently found out his secret identity.  Can Spider-Man stop the bad guys AND get his math homework done?  Will Tony Stark eventually notice him once he takes down such a dangerous criminal, or will that only make things worse between them?  Oh I’m sure he can handle all this!  He’s a super hero, right!?

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SYMBOLISM!!

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Cinema Dispatch: The House

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

Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen

While everyone else was looking forward to yet another Spider-Man movie or that new Thor film, I was waiting on bated breath for the new Will Ferrell comedy!  Now sure, the guy hasn’t been at the top of his game lately, but more often than not he still manages to have a certain amount of charm and charisma that keeps his more mediocre movies at least somewhat entertaining (*cough* Daddy’s Home *cough*) so at the very least his presence usually means I won’t be tearing my seat up in frustration while sitting in the theater.  What really sold me on this movie though is that it co-stars Amy Poehler who along with Kaitlin Olson is one of the most underrated comedians out there and really SHOULD be headlining big blockbusters along the current greats like Kevin Hart and Melissa McCarthy.  Not only that, but the premise was actually pretty interesting with its sights firmly aimed at the ridiculousness of college tuition fees and the burden it places on students who want ta chance at great opportunities and the parents who are stuck with the extortionist bills.  Being one of those unlucky bastards still paying off his student loans, I can certainly relate!  Does this movie manage to take full advantage of its extremely talented cast and solid premise to deliver one of the funniest films of the year, or have the filmmakers squandered a fantastic opportunity to make something great?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the mild mannered middle class Johansen family, made up of Scott, Kate, and Alex (Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Ryan Simpkins), taking a tour of Alex’s dream college that they can JUST barely afford since she won a local scholarship for being such a good student.  Of course, the city council led up by Bob Schaeffer (Nick Kroll) has decided to divert the scholarship funds towards making a gaudy and impractical local swimming pool (complete with water slides and a food court) w which gives Scott and Kate only three months to come up with tuition money or else Alex can’t go to college.  Fortunately, they have a friend named Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) who’s teetering on the edge of total instability after his wife left him and comes up with an idea to not only make them the money they need for Alex’s education but to get him some extra cash so the bank doesn’t foreclose on his house and hopefully get his life back on track enough to win over his soon to be ex-wife.  The plan?  Use his absurdly large house to set up an illegal casino for all the local housewives and working dads (and vice versa) to unwind and lose a shit load of money!  If Scott and Kate can just hold it together for a month, they can make just enough money to pay for Alex’s tuition and close up shop before the one cop in town (Rob Huebel) or even that asshole Bob Schaeffer find out what they’re doing.  Can Scott, Kate, and Frank keep things from getting out of hand in the high stakes world of illegal gambling?  Look, we’ve ALL seen Casino so it can’t be THAT hard, right?

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“SOMEONE GET AN ICE PACK!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Baby Driver

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Baby Driver and all the images you see in this review are owned by TriStar Pictures

Directed by Edgar Wright

Summer is in full swing and they’re bringing out the big guns!  No, not Transformers surprisingly enough which is floundering at the box office.  We’re talking about this latest Edgar Wright feature that every film critic has been waiting for!  Everything about this movie looks great, from the trailers and casting all the way down to the soundtrack that brings to mind Scott Pilgrim in how it’s integrated into the narrative.  Does this manage to be yet another entry in Wright’s sterling career, or is this car chase film a huge wreck waiting to happen?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the titular Baby (Ansel Elgort) waiting in a car and listening to his music while three bandits named Buddy, Griff, and Darling (Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Eiza González) are robbing a bank.  Once the trio get back to the car, Baby proceeds to put The Transporter to shame by driving with as much skill and wacky collateral damage as the Blues Brothers could in their heyday; somehow managing to avoid the cops and get away scot free!  It turns out that Baby’s been doing these kind of jobs for a while now as he’s under the thumb of a local mobster named Doc (Kevin Spacey) who recognized the kid’s skills and has been putting them to good use for some time now.  Luckily for Baby, he’s just about to pay off whatever debt he owes to Doc and is ready to start his new life that will be free of crime and will hopefully involve a waitress at a local diner named Debora (Lily James) who he’s had his eye on for a while.  Of course, nothing goes as well as Baby hopes it does and his chance to get out ends up digging himself even further in doing more jobs with even more erratic and dangerous criminals such as Bats (Jamie Foxx) who has it out for Baby right from the start.  Can Baby find a way to break free whatever it is that Doc is continuing to hold over him?  Will this next heist be the one that breaks his perfect driving record?  Wait, did I just hear Handsome Boy Modeling School!?

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Sure he’s a good driver, but he’s also a radio hog!  Will you let someone else pick a song for once!?

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Cinema Dispatch: The Bad Batch

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The Bad Batch and all the images you see in this review are owned by Neon

Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour

So has anyone else heard of this?  I certainly hadn’t heard of it until I was looking up movies to watch during a trip I was taking, and once I saw the cast I was IMMEDIATELY excited to see just what the hell it is!  We’ve got two actors who are quite possibly in the prime of their careers (Jason Momoa and Keanu Reeves) and they even managed to fish Jim Carrey out of obscurity who’s been one of my favorite actors since I was a kid; personal stuff and recent filmography notwithstanding.  How the hell did this movie manage to fly under the radar!?  Is it one of those weird obscurities that’ll be a treasured masterpiece to its target audience, or is this movie unsalvageable even with its all-star cast which is why it was dumped as a limited release?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with a woman named Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) being dropped off in some desert wasteland which appears to be the dumping ground for “societal undesirables” that this dystopian future government has set up in Texas.  I don’t know why they don’t just shoot them in the head instead of letting them wander the desert with no water, food, or supplies, but whatever.  The point is that she’s in a harsh and lawless world filled with other terrible people that want to hunt and eat everyone they come across.  That’s right, we’re dealing with cannibals in this movie that honestly probably don’t NEED to be eating people (there are scenes that confirm editable plant life exists out here) but just like the extra protein I guess.  The bad news is that she gets caught rather early and loses an arm and a leg (literally), but the good news is that she escapes and manages to make it to a cannibal free sanctuary city known as Comfort ran by what is essentially a cult leader named The Dream (Keanu Reeves).  A bit on the nose, but I guess when you don’t have TV to watch, you basically have to add theatrics to your own life just to keep things interesting.  Anyway, from there we’re basically following Arlen who’s trying to find her place in this harsh and merciless world as well as meet a colorful cast of wasteland wanders who have their own shit to deal with, such as another cannibal known as The Miami Man (Jason Momoa), a wandering hermit who’s pretty much a True Neutral in all this (Jim Carrey), and even a little girl (Jayda Fink) who winds up with Arlen after a… particularly grim confrontation.  Will Arlen lose her soul in a world that never rewards those who are Good Samaritans?  Just what does The Dream have planned for the people of Comfort, and is it any less awful than what The Miami Man does?  Is this what a Mad Max movie would be like without the cars, interesting characters, fast pace, and exceptional cinematography!?

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“Well this is another fine mess you got yourself into!”

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