Tag Archives: Movie Review

Cinema Dispatch: Captive State

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Captive State and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by Rupert Wyatt

I still haven’t seen those Planet of the Apes movies, but I hear they’re pretty good; especially that first one which I recall being a rather big surprise for people.  The guy’s only done a few other things since then, none of which I’ve seen, but hey!  If you’re gonna go in without context, try to go all the way!  I mean seriously, I hadn’t seen a trailer or even heard about this movie until I was trying to figure out what I was going to see after Captain Marvel, so this is one big question mark for me which is USUALLY a good thing in trying to get the most out of that initial experience, but it also means that I can easily get smacked up the head by something bafflingly awful which is its own special kind of torment.  Will this movie I know nothing about live up to the expectations I don’t have for it, or will I be utterly disappointed by how bad this completely out of the blue failed to be as good as I envisioned it to be?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place after aliens have already come down, kicked our butts, and have taken over everything; not so much to destroy the planet, but more like colonization where they keep us in line and plunder our natural resources.  In Chicago, Gabriel (Ashton Sanders) is eking out an okay existence along with everyone else, but his late brother Rafe (Jonathan Majors) was part of a resistance movement that tried to attack the aliens and now he’s trying to do the same thing.  However, there are a few roadblocks that are in his way.  For one, there’s already a resistance movement making headway towards destroying the alien’s base in Chicago (some underground facility) which makes his paltry efforts seem inconsequential, and on top of that his late dad’s best friend William (John Goodman) is a cop that’s keeping an eye on him and also keeping an eye on anyone who maybe planning further terrorist attacks against their alien overlords.  This has been made somewhat easy because for some reason everyone now has a bug (it’s unclear if its literally or figuratively) implanted in their necks to keep track of their movements at all time, and of course the authorities have gone all police state to keep people in line.  Can this resistance group actually make a serious blow against their oppressors, and will Gabriel somehow be a key part to their plan without him even knowing it?  What will William do when push comes to shove and he has to take decisive action against those who he’s sworn to stop from inciting more violence and angering the aliens?  Is the twist gonna be that the aliens are actually Krypotnians, because this looks A LOT like Man of Steel.

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“That spaceship crashed SIX YEARS AGO, and Superman STILL hasn’t cleaned it up.”     “Dude just cares about Metropolis.  He’s got no time for the little guys out here.”

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Cinema Dispatch: A Madea Family Funeral

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A Madea Family Funeral and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Tyler Perry

It’s Perry time once again and I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER!!  Oh who am I kidding!?  I cannot keep up the charade any longer!  I am definitely not looking forward to this guy trying to make a movie with nothing more than a living room, a couple costumes, and an absolute disdain for the art of editing.  I’ve had to sit through Boo 1 AND Boo 2 already!  You think I’m proud of that!?  Now we’ve got this movie that he’s claiming will be the last time we see Madea (as bad as these are I STILL want to see a Madea movie where she takes on the alt right and punches Richard Spencer in the face) which would hopefully means it’s a culmination of everything he’s learned as a filmmakers after all these years, but I think we all know better than to assume he’s thought that far ahead.  Can Tyler Perry send off his signature character with an emotionally satisfying swan song, or is this just like ALL the others which… actually would still be pretty fitting all things considered?  Let’s find out!!

Madea, Joe, Hattie, and Aunt Bam (Tyler Perry, Tyler Perry, Patrice Lovely, and Cassi Davis) are doing their own thing at Brian’s house (Tyler Perry again) but what’s ACTUALLY going on is that one of  Madea’s numerous relatives is having an anniversary party that all the grown kids on that side of the family are preparing for.  We’ve got the couple of the hour Anthony and Vianne (Derek Morgan and Jen Harper), their naïve yet good hearted son Jessie with his girlfriend Renee (Rome Flynn and Quin Walters), their older son AJ who’s a Tyler Perry stock villain along with his rich wife Gia (Courtney Burrell and Aeriél Miranda), and their daughter Sylvia with her husband Will (Ciera Payton and David Otunga) who are… just kinda there.  Oh, and also Uncle Heathrow (Tyler Perry AGAIN) who’s the WACKY relative who’s obnoxiously sexist humor everyone just kind of puts up with.  Anyway, while the party is getting ready and Madea and co are on their way, someone dies.  I’m not gonna spoil who, but what this means is that everyone’s gotta plan for a funeral now which involves Madea taking charge and being SUPER WACKY about it while everyone else who’s actually important to the story start to have their secrets bubble to the surface which could tear this entire family apart.  Can Madea pull off a successful funeral with only a minimal amount of mishaps in horror of the recently deceased?  What is everyone in this family hiding, and just how much popcorn should we get to watch it unfold?  Has any else noticed that there’s ALWAYS drama whenever Madea comes around?  It’s like whenever Jessica Fletcher visits a place and someone JUST SO HAPPENS to get murdered, only one of them doesn’t do a darn thing to actually help the situation.

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“Look here!  I’ve got me some drama bombs and I’m not afraid to use them!  I will ruin each one of your lives and make forty million dollars filming it!  DO YOU HEAR ME!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Greta

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Greta and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by Neil Jordan

Is it just me, or are we about to get a tidal wave of horror movies?  Sure, we’ve already had stuff like Escape Room and The Prodigy wasting space at the multiplex, but we’re just coming off of Happy Death Day 2U before getting this film, and we’ve still got Us and Pet Semetary coming out soon, not to mention that EVIL Superman movie and the one where Octavia Spencer kills a bunch of bratty teenagers just over the horizon!  Can this movie about the perils of making friends with Isabelle Huppert prove to be the standout horror movie in an already crowded field, or will this be lost in the shuffle like so many other movies trying to grab onto this popular (and affordable) genre?  Let’s find out!!

Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) is your typical millennial living in the city with her roommate Erica (Maik Monroe) and one day she finds a purse all by its lonesome that she decides to return it to its owner because she’s such a nice person!  Said purse is owned by Great (Isabelle Huppert) who lives alone and spends her time playing the piano to drown out the neighbors who always seem to be banging on her walls, and the two become quick friends.  Maybe they have genuine interests or maybe their using each other to fill a hole they have in their lives (Frances’s mother recently died and Great’s daughter is supposedly off in France), but whatever the case may be they both seem to be much more happy now that they’ve got each other as friends!  Now that sounds like a fun movie on its own, but as it turns out Greta is hiding something as Frances finds a half dozen of the same purse in her one of Greta’s cupboards which means she DIDN’T lose her purse and intentionally left it for someone to find!  Why would she do that!?  Well the correct answer is WHO CARES because the answer is probably not a good one and so Frances decides to bail and cut all contact with Greta.  Not an easy task as it turns out as she won’t stop calling her apartment, leaving lengthy voicemails, and even showing up at her place of work to try and stay in touch with her.  With the police unable (or possibly unwilling) to help Frances out, she decides to take matters into her own hands and find out more about Greta which leads to even more mysteries and even a few answers she may not like.  Can Frances find a way to extract Greta from her life without putting herself or her loved ones in danger?  What is Greta really after, and just how far will she go to get it?  Did you know Isabelle Huppert was supposed to be in the Suspiria remake back when David Gordon Green was supposed to direct it?  Maybe THAT’S what this is all about!!

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“Did you put in a good word for me, Chloë?”     “Yeah… of course!”     “YOU LIAR!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Isn’t It Romantic

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Isn’t it Romantic and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

This review is going up PRETTY darn late considering it’s been out for over three weeks now, but I have a VERY good reason for taking my time with it!  Okay, maybe not a GOOD reason, but the truth is that I got a serious case of writers block thinking about this movie.  Yeah, the mid-February release is the one that locked up my brain for a lot longer than I’d care to admit.  How could that be!?  In the year that already brought us Glass and Serenity, THIS is the one I had trouble wrapping my head around!?  Could it be that this is a multi-layered and nuanced examination of relationships and the media surrounding them, or is it just kind of… meh, but in ways that aren’t particularly interesting to write about?  Let’s find out!!

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a young woman struggling to make it in the big city and has abandoned love to focus on her career which isn’t going to great either because she’s a smart and overly competent woman who isn’t taken seriously at the workplace.  Her best friend Josh (Adam DeVine) has a crush on her, her girlfriend Whitney (Betty Gilpin) is a bit quirky but always encouraging, and the new hotshot with a million dollar smile Blake (Liam Hemsowrth) is ignoring her ideas to his own detriment because she has some brilliant plans for his next project.  Sounds a bit clichéd if you ask me, even the part about Natalie being cynical about love and calling out other Romantic Comedies for being unrealistic, but after suffering a concussion in a WACKY mugging scene, she wakes up and finds herself in a ROMANTIC COMEDYTM where everyone is a model, the colors are boosted up to eleven, and people will break out into song occasionally.  Natalie may be fully aware that she’s stuck in a Meg Ryan movie by way of Baz Luhrmann, but the question is how the heck does she get out of here?  Is this Back to the Future rules where she has to recreate the incident that got her there, or is this Groundhog Day rules where she has to fulfil some sort of destiny before she’s allowed to leave?  Well she’s gonna have to try both at least, and when the first one doesn’t work out she starts to pursue the hunk-tastic Blake because of course that’s who she’ll end up with in these kind of stories and starts going to the motions as best as she can; which includes living in her overpriced apartment, starring in makeover montages, and even having an offensive gay best friend stereotype named Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) who lives next door and always pops up whenever he’s needed!  Can Natalie survive this nightmare of high fashion, shallow problems, and unrealistic romance long enough to get back to her normal life of muted colors and an unfulfilling work environment?  Will Blake be the key to her escape, or is there something ELSE she should be looking for instead?  Doesn’t this feel a bit like a chicken and egg situation where figuring out if the cliché is more clichéd than the critique on the cliché?

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“I REJECT YOUR REALITY AND SUBSTITUTE IT WITH MY OWN!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Happy Death Day 2U

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Happy Death Day 2U and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher Landon

Man, I’ve been sitting on this one for almost two weeks.  I don’t know what happened!  Even though I saw it right when it was released a bunch of movies came out and this went on the back burner!  It certainly had a lot to live up to considering that the first movie was one of my favorite films of 2017; not to mention that a sequel seemed like the worst idea ever as the first movie felt so complete in its story.  Bill Murray never made Groundhog’s Day 2, and probably for the same reason he never did a Ghostbusters 3; it would have been a terrible idea!  ANYWAY, before I say something that’ll REALLY tick people off, does this pointless sequel manage to justify its own existence, or are we doomed to yet another brilliant movie made to churn out sequels until you forgot why you liked the darn thing in the first place!?  Let’s find out!!

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) having discovered who it was that was trying to kill her and closing the time loop that put her in a Groundhog’s day scenario is living the good life!  She woke up and it was a different day, and that guy Carter (Israel Boussard) who helped her out all those times but has no memory of it is making out with her!  Yup, it looks like easy street for Ol’ Gelbman!  Oh wait!  Carter’s roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) seems to be stuck in a time loop of his own!  How did THAT happen?  Hm… maybe it has to do with quantum reactor that Ryan and his two classmates (Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin) have been working on!  Wait, what?  So all this time, it was a giant science thingy in the basement that somehow made Tree relive that day over and over again?  Huh.  Well okay then!  So that mystery that didn’t need solving is now solved, but what ISN’T solved is why things are still acting up in the space time continuum after she managed to close the loop?  Well before she can find out, things get a LITTLE bit out of control and the quantum thingy… explodes I guess, and puts Tree back into her original loop.  OR DID IT!?  It turns out that she’s not just back reliving Monday the eighteenth over and over again; she’s doing it in a parallel universe where things are significantly different in ways that Tree is gonna have to discover the hard way!  Can Tree and the science squad manage to figure out how to work the darn machine and send her back to her own universe?  Will this universe actually have something in it that Tree desperately needs, and will she give up her old life to live here?  If the killer from the first movie isn’t the killer in THIS universe, then who IS the killer!?

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“OLD MAN BLUMHOUSE!?”     “That’s right!  I wanted to make horror movies even cheaper so I just started stabbing teenagers myself!  And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for SAG-AFTRA regulations!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Fighting with My Family

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Fighting with My Family and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Stephen Merchant

There really should be more wrestling movies!  Not movies starring wrestlers because… well after forty years we’ve managed about three good actors out of it, but movies ABOUT wrestling!  Beyond the Mat?  Good documentary!  The Wrestler?  Great movie!  With those two examples, I rest my case!  In the hopes of rectifying this situation, we’ve got WWE Studios along with Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson producing a biopic of sorts that tells the life story of one of its more recent superstars Saraya-Jade Bevis, known by her ring name Paige!  Can the combined efforts of The WWE, Dwayneson The Rockson Johnson, and even the talents of Stephen Merchant who they roped in to write and direct this thing, bring us an entertaining and heartfelt movie about one of the world’s most popular sports, or are we in for another low rent outing from the studio known for mediocre horror movies, straight to DVD action flicks, and Hannah-Barbara crossovers?  Let’s find out!!

Saraya (Florence Pugh) is your typical teenager girl in your typical wrestling family.  Her parents (Nick Frost and Lena Headey) have trained her to be an in-ring superstar and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) is training to be a superstar in his own right.  The family owns a rather notable indie wrestling promotion in England known as the World Association of Wrestling, but even with their comparatively high profile as a company they’re still struggling in a country that doesn’t seem to care much for independent wrestling promotions.  That’s why Saraya and Zak have been training in the hopes of getting the attention of the WWE which will not only propel them to the levels of fame and adulation that they’ve always wanted but will also give them a few bucks to send back home whenever WAW ticket sales fall short.  Their chance does eventually come when the WWE and NXT (the training program for potential wrestlers) visit England to put on a show and field some new talent; all of whom will be tested by one of their most seasoned trainers (Vince Vaughn) to see if they have what it takes.  The good news is that Saraya does indeed have what it takes!  The bad news is that Zak does not and so she has to leave her family behind to pursue her dreams while has to stay behind and fail to live out his.  Can Saraya survive the harsh challenges of the NXT boot camp and keep her head on straight despite being so far from home?  What will Zak do now that he’s failed at the one thing he’s been training his whole life for?  How intense do family dinners get when you know everyone there can power bomb you into the mashed potatoes?

 

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“All I’m saying is that Halloween Havoc isn’t as bad as people say it is.”     “What about the flash paper!?”     “WHAT IF I STAB THESE CHOPSTICKS IN YOUR EYES AND SHOVE EGGROLLS DOWN YOUR THROAT!?”     “Honey, I think we should probably have this discussion elsewhere.  THE LIVING ROOM IN FIVE MINUTES!!  IT’LL ALL BE SETTLED ONCE AND FOR ALL!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Alita: Battle Angel

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Alita: Battle Angel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Man, I don’t know the first thing about this series!  Every time you find out about ONE legendary anime that defined the genre, there pops up another dozen or so that you need to catch up on as well, and I’m a busy guy!  I don’t have time to catch up with the stuff I already need to; let alone this one that I’m only now aware of because the movie is coming out!  Speaking of which, wasn’t this supposed to come out like a year ago?  Granted, the amount of CG on display here is staggering and I can see even the SLIGHTEST hitch in post-production causing massive delays, but being a February burn off instead of summer blockbuster or even winding up in the post-summer slowdown period seems like a bad sign.  I don’t know, this is clearly one of those movies that have SO much passion and resources behind them that it can either be a total masterpiece or a hilarious disaster with almost no chance for landing in-between.  Are we talking Mad Max: Fury Road, or Battlefield Earth?  In either case, we should strap in just to be on the safe side!  Let’s find out!!

IN THE YEAR THREE THOUSAND (or some other far off date), the world has basically been reduced to two major cities, Iron City below and the sky city of Zalem above, after the devastation of THE FALL which was a big war hundreds of years ago.  Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is a robo-doctor (as in he fixes robots; not that he is himself a robotic doctor) who scavenges through the trash tossed down by Zalem for useable parts to keep his clinic open for those in need, but one day he finds far more than eh could have ever imagined!  He finds the remnants of some kind of robot which he takes home and learns has a human brain as well as some other unique parts which he attaches to a spare robo-body he had lying around and brings her back to life; giving her the name Alita which no doubt has some significance we’ll learn about later on in the movie.  Alita 9Rosa Salazar) has no memory of who she was before being tossed in the garbage which is sad to be sure, but the local badboy Hugo (Keean Johnson) as well as the totally rad sport of Motorball at least help to pass the time as she tries to find answers to her past.  Well needless to say as the movie goes along, we find answers to more and more of these questions which lead to Alita being put in more and more danger as others discover who she is as well.  Primarily, she starts getting pursued by the local kingpin Vector (Mahershala Ali) who has connections to everyone in town; including Dr. Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) who is helping him in exchange for a chance to reach the shiny city in the sky.  Along the way she’ll make friends, encounter enemies, and even have to deal with insufferable douchebags like the robo-bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) who coincidentally seems to hold yet another piece to Alita’s past.  Can Alita survive long enough in this harsh world to learn who she really is?  Just how powerful is she, and how far will she go to protect those she cares about?  Wait, so if she was built to be an ULTIMATE WARRIOR, why did they give her the brain of a teenager!?

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“I know Kung-Fu!”     “Fine, but make sure you know the source of the program before you install it into your robo-hard drive.”     “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!  YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD!!”

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