Tag Archives: Movie Review

Cinema Dispatch: Downhill

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Downhill and all the images you see in this review are owned by Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Let’s see… I don’t remember seeing any trailers for this, I didn’t know it was coming out until the day before I saw it, and I haven’t even seen Veep yet.  Yeah, not sure what to say about this one going into it, especially since Sonic The Hedgehog took up all my attention last weekend.  But hey, I’m sure SOMEONE out there is excited for this film, right?  It made it to Sundance!  Did SONIC make it to Sundance?  I think NOT!  Yeah okay, it’s got a good cast but Will Ferrell hasn’t been on the best of streaks lately so I’m giving this about a fifty-fifty shot at being any good.  Does it manage to beat the odds and be the surprise hit of the weekend, or will the only thing people remember about this is that it’s the film that tried to take on the Blue Furball on his opening weekend?  Let’s find out!!

Pete and Billie Staunton (Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) have taken their sons Finn and Emerson (Julian Grey and Ammon Jacob Ford) to the Alps for a family vacation which frankly Pete really needed as his father died a mere eight months ago and he’s been shaken up about it ever since.  You know how these things go however; the kids would rather just be on their screens all day, the busy schedule means everyone is tired, and all this extra effort and tension is bubbling up repressed negativity in unexpected ways.  Perhaps the MOST unexpected way though is what Pete ends up doing that puts a huge damper on things for the rest of the trip!  At one point the family is enjoying their lunch on the patio when an avalanche starts to approach, and like what any of us would do (what, you WOULDN’T do this?) Pete grabs his phone and skedaddles while Billie clings to the kids and hopes that they don’t all die in the snowfall.  They don’t of course, but darn it if Pete running away didn’t become the biggest buzzkill of this entire trip, and it calls into question quite a lot about their lives, their relationships, and where this family is headed.  Will Billie and Pete find a way to come back together after this bizarre event has torn them apart?  Will their kids be able to cope with the fact that their dad left them for dead and is barely even acknowledging this fact?  Seriously, what kind of excuse could Pete POSSIBLY come up with to explain that?  At that point you might as well just drop a smoke bomb and disappear for the rest of your life.

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“Hey, where were you guys?”     “WHAT!?”     “Yeah, I was over there waiting for you.  What, you didn’t get my text?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Sonic the Hedgehog

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Sonic the Hedgehog and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Jeff Fowler

Remember when that first Sonic the Hedgehog trailer came out with the horrifying monster design?  Good times!  I do wish that design stuck around a bit longer though because I REALLY wanted a plushie of that ghastly version of Sonic so he can sleep with me in my bed and devour my nightmares, but then again the redesign looks pretty good and will surely add a lot to this movie!  Yeah, it could almost be an inspirational tale of a studio realizing its mistake and actually taking proactive steps to correct it if it wasn’t for the fact that the studio that made the new design a possibility crunched to do it and closed down as soon as the work is done!  Sounds like Paramount should have gotten a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, but in any case the story of this film has finally come to its conclusion and we’re all on pins and needles to find out how it all ends!  Was Sonic’s face lift enough hto save this movie from being a total train wreck, or is there only so much that you can polish a turd before you’re just wasting perfectly good polish?  Let’s find out!!

Sonic the Hedgehog (Ben Schwartz) is a happy go lucky blue alien that calls himself a hedgehog for some reason who was teleported to Earth to escape from bad guys when he was but a wee lad.  Now that he’s grown up to the ripe old age of… sort of teenager, he’s starting to realize that spending all his time hiding in the woods just outside the town of Green Hills is leaving him with a lot of emotional scars and abandonment issues, and one day he has a super powered moment of angst that knocks out all the power on the West Coast.  The super power blast is enough for the US government to call in Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) who wants to track down whatever caused the anomaly and uses its powers for his insidious and tax payer funded ends, so now Sonic has to escape from this planet to go to ANOTHER planet where I guess he’ll be even safer.  To transport himself there he has a bag of magic rings that open ports to wherever it is he needs to go, but through wacky happenstance and poor timing his rings get lost in San Francisco which he has no idea how to get to.  Fortunately the local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), after being somewhat responsible for Sonic losing the rings decides to take this strange creature across state lines to the city of San Francisco so he can get the rings and get the heck out of Dodge.  It shall not be a straightforward road trip however as Robotnik is hot on their heels and is ready to not only dissect Sonic in the name of Sonic but ruin Tom’s life as well in pursuit of his prey.  Can Sonic and Tom make it to San Francisco before Robotnik and the US government find a way to stop them?  Will Sonic learn valuable lessons about friendship along the way and perhaps find a true home instead of just jumping from place to place on his own?

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“AM I PRETTY ENOUGH FOR YOU NOW!?  WILL YOU FINALLY PUT A RING ON IT!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Cathy Yan

I was probably on the kinder end of things than most people when it came to Suicide Squad; the DCCU’s attempt to be fun and wacky that ended up having all the edge of a limited edition holo-foil issue of Spawn from 1994.  In its own tacky cobbled together way it did manage to eek out a bit of charm, but what people mostly remember from the movie was the performances; namely one Harley Quinn played with gusto by the phenomenal Margot Robbie.  Now that we’re more or less in DCCU 2.0, it makes sense for this character to be given another shot away from the baggage of the movie that came before; even from the studio itself as Robbie basically put this thing together with Warner Bros maintaining a mostly hands off approach.  Is this the breakout hit that Warner Bros has been hoping for yet could never make themselves, or is this a desperate Hail Mary that misses by a mile?  Let’s find out!!

Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) has had a rough go of it lately.  She grew up with scary nuns, she had a string of bad relationships, she did at least get her college degree and became a psychiatrist but even THAT didn’t work out when she met some dude in clown makeup, and on top of that she had to fight a an ancient demon witch person or else have a bomb explode in her neck!  Fortunately she’s out of prison and she even dumped the clown dude so she’s ready to start her life anew!  A new pet, roller derby, and COPIOUS amounts of alcohol to deal with the unresolved feelings that she’s left with now that she’s single and away from the clown that made her life miserable.  BUT ENOUGH ABOUT DAVID AYER (Ba-dum-tiss!), with the Joker in her rearview mirror it has given her a lot more freedom but also the ire of ALL the people they screwed over in the past, and as the one on the short end of this breakup some of them are ready to take their vengeance!  One such vengeance taker is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) who’s a mid-range mob boss with a hot temper, enough toxic masculinity to smother ALL the adorable baby ducklings of the world, and an alter ego just one step below Taser Face; BLACK MASK!  Complete with second rate Die Hardman cosplay!  Him and his associate Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) are not only after Harley but ALSO after a diamond that somehow ended up in the hands of a young street hustler named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and so perhaps there’s a way to kill two birds with one stone there, and on top of ALL that we also have a singer at Victor’s club named Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) who’s looking for a way out of the life, a mysterious crossbow killer (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’s hunting down gangsters, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) who’s stuck trying to untangle all these messy knots.  Will Harley Quinn escape the payback that’s owed to her after working with the Joker for so long?  Why is Roman so intent on getting this diamond, and who else may be gunning for it?  Why DO they end up calling themselves the Birds of Prey anyway?

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“What, you don’t think it sounds cool and intimidating?”     “Hey, as long as you don’t put a bomb in my neck, I’m fine with anything!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Gretel & Hansel

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Gretel & Hansel and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Oz Perkins

Sigh… a gritty reboot of the Hansel & Gretel?  Did you happened to catch that tagline; A GRIM Fairy Tale?  Yeah, something tells me this isn’t going to be good, AND YET there has been a decent amount of buzz surrounding this which surprised the heck out of me!  It’s not like February has a much better reputation for movies than January does, especially when it comes to horror, so if they really did have something here wouldn’t they have saved it for a better time?  I don’t know, maybe studios think that Get Out being the exception to this rule means it’s the new strategic time slot for quick horror bucks.  In any case, is this the surprise gem that people having been saying it is, or is this yet another chance for me to be a Grumpy Gus at a mediocre horror film?  Let’s find out!!

You know the story of Hansel & Gretel?  Well then you know the story of Gretel & Hansel!  Two kids are kicked out of their home because medieval times sucked for the working class and they get taken in by a witch who gives them food but has a hidden agenda.  Naturally there’s more to it, but it’s all about adding details than going off and doing its own thing as Gretel (Sophia Lillis) is the older sister taking care of her younger brother (Sam Leakey) and the witch (Alice Krige) is a more complicated presence in the movie.  At first she appears to be benevolent if a bit cagey as she not only feeds the kids bellies but their minds as well with meaningful chores, games of chess, and even teaching the little boy how to sharpen an axe so he can live out his dream of being a woodcutter.  Hey, at least it’s better than being a YouTuber or god help us a Twitch Streamer!  As the two stay at the house and learn more about her as well as the history of this house, things might just be going in a sinister direction that will force them to flee for their lives or perhaps it’s all a giant misunderstanding and they will end up being the aggressors in this story against an innocent and charitable older woman.  Will Gretel and Hansel become victims of a scheme that the witch is COOKING up for them?  Will Gretel perhaps be tempted down a dark path by the small TASTE of magic that the witch offers to her from time to time?  Do I have THYME to do OLIVE the food puns in the world before I get to the TOAST POINT!?

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Frankly, I don’t think there’s MUSHROOM left for jokes in this BERRY serious review!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Rhythm Section

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The Rhythm Section and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Reed Morano

One of the unique selling points of this movie is that it’s produced by EON productions, and this is pretty significant considering they’ve only made four other films that weren’t in the Bond Franchise since its inception way back in 1961.  Now I love me a good Bond film and they have certainly been some really good ones in the recent past (Spectre notwithstanding), so seeing their logo on a film is intriguing if nothing else; but sadly the reason I can focus so much on a production company is that there’s simply not much else about this movie that’s catching my eye.  It looks way too much like other films I’ve seen in the last few years like American Assassin and The Foreigner; all of which span the range from nothing particularly impressive to outright terrible.  Can this latest spy thriller manage to rise above its peers with the help of the Broccoli family, or is this yet another dime a dozen spy films that won’t have even half the shelf-life of the worst Bond film?  Let’s find out!!

Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) has gone through a rough patch in her life.  She was doing alright, but then her entire family died in a plane crash that may or may not have been terrorism (pretty sure that’s the first thing the government would figure out, but whatever) and has spent the last months in a spiraling depression.  No home, no job, working as a sex worker because I guess that’s what grieving people do (did she not have friends or even second cousins that didn’t die?), but an unspeakable rage has built up inside of her that must be satiated by VENGEANCE!  Fortunately a reporter (Raza Jaffrey) comes along and tells her exactly who the bad guys are and where to find them, so she tries to shoot the terrorist in the face but blows the opportunity instead of his brain matter; leading her to be in even more danger and getting the reporter killed in the process.  The only hope left is the reporter’s source which is an ex-MI6 agent known as B (Jude Law) who begrudgingly agrees to train her so that she can take revenge PROPERLY next time.  Will she be able to train her body to be a perfect killing machine and finally exact vengeance on those who murdered her family?  What twists and turns will throw her off her path as she learns more and more about the complicated network of spies, extremists, and opportunists that facilitated the attack in the first place?  I mean I’m PRETTY sure she can pull this off!  She already fought off a shark, so how hard could this be!?

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“Wow!  This is SO much easier with a gun!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Gentlemen

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The Gentlemen and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Films

Directed by Guy Ritchie

So hey!  Now that we’re talked about our collective complicated relationship with Michael Bay, we might as well get to Guy Ritchie as well!  I actually haven’t seen most of his movies, even the ones that everyone else seems to like (no, I haven’t seen Snatch) but the general consensus is well known and can be seen even in the few films I’ve sat through; an over reliance of style over substance which coupled with the wrong material is utterly disastrous.  He SOMEHOW didn’t crash and burn with Aladdin even if that isn’t a great movie, but King Arthur was an absolute garbage fire of a movie; one that I’m sure we’ll all have fun laughing about for years to come.  Then again, his adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a surprising fun little ride, and with him returning to his comfort zone for this movie maybe he’ll get back into the groove of things and give us something truly enjoyable once again!  Can Guy Ritchie still knock it out of the park when he’s doing the one thing we know he’s good at?  Let’s find out!!

Told to us by way of Fletcher the journalist (Hugh Grant), Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is the biggest grower and distributor of marijuana in the UK, and despite being so successful and sacrificing so much to keep his business afloat, well he’s approaching that age where there are more important things and so he decides it’s time to sell it.  His buyer to be is the much more respectable Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) who will need to pay a pretty penny for it as that kind of infrastructure will be primed to make BILLIONS once pot is legalized in the UK, but as it turns out there’s someone else vying for a chance to get it from Mickey; namely the Chinese-British gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding) who’s uncle George (Tom Wu) basically controls all the other drugs in the country.  Mickey isn’t planning on selling to anyone else though and politely tells him to shove it which was probably the right move to make but still ends up causing headache for Mickey and his crew including his right hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) who coincidently is the person that Fletcher is telling this story to.  Kind of seems odd that he’s telling Raymond about things that he was already there for, but Fletcher assures him that there’s a twist to this story that he won’t see coming and is one that he’s certain Raymond and Mickey will be more than willing to pay twenty MILLION dollars to find out.  With so much at stake, what will Mickey do (or perhaps have already done given the framing device) to keep his empire from crumbling right before the big sale?  What could Fletcher possibly have that Raymond and Mickey don’t already know, and is it really worth as much as he says it is?  Will this be the redemption of both Charlie Hunnam and Guy Ritchie after that disastrous King Arthur movie!?

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“Is that what I think it is?”     “Yup. Every blu ray copy of King Arthur.”     “I think I’m gonna be sick.”     “Don’t lose your nerve now; you KNOW what needs to be done.  I’ll get the hammers.”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Turning

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The Turning and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Floria Sigismondi

January being the bad month for movies hasn’t ALWAYS been true as interesting stuff like has come out in years past, but it seems that aside from the ONE exception of The Boy, it’s always true for horror movie; something we’ve already seen this year with The Grudge. I certainly didn’t see much to get excited for in the trailers leading up to this, and even having a big name like Finn Wolfhard didn’t do much to capture my interest, but I’ve been blindsided by unassuming movies before and perhaps this will be the one to break the January horror film rule! Okay fine, it probably won’t be, but let’s find out anyway!!

Kate Mandell (Mackenzie Davis) has landed the job of lifetime as she’s hired by a very rich family to tutor the young daughter Flora (Brooklynn Prince) in their giant house on their giant estate. It starts off well enough as Flora is friendly and eager to learn, but the housekeeper Miss Grose (Barbara Marten) is rather cagey on the details that led to this position being open (up to and including the details on the death of the parents), and Miles the older brother (Finn Wolfhard) unexpectedly returns home from boarding school which means she has to babysit him and curb his rather disturbing attitude. While all this is going on, spooky things keep on happening that may involve a groundskeeper that died not long before Kate took the position, or maybe it has something to do with the family itself. Whatever the case may be, Kate is besieged by visions, nightmares, and that creep Miles from all sides which might just be enough to drive her mad. Can she solve the various mysterious about this house and the family that occupies it? What will she do when it becomes harder and harder to discern the spooky ghost stuff from reality? Does anyone else get the sense that Finn Wolfhard was REALLY banking on that Disney/Sony deal actually falling through?

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“I CAN BE SPIDER-MAN! LOOK!!” “That’s… not quite what we’re looking for, but we’ll keep your head shot on file.”

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