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Cinema Dispatch: Flatliners

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

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev

There are several movies a year that for whatever reason has trailers that will not stop playing in front of EVERYTHING I go to see.  I remember Our Brand is Crisis being one of them, The Fate of the Furious played pretty constantly, even Snatched was one that was hard to avoid!  This movie is certainly the latest to have that problem as I swear it was in front of every movie I’ve seen for the past three months and I’m finally happy for it to be released for no other reason than to stop seeing that trailer.  I’d never seen the original film until very recently, and while the premise itself seems strong enough to support at least too movies, the trailers didn’t fill me with much hope; not just because they played them ALL THE TIME, but because I couldn’t really wrap my head around what exactly it was that they were being haunted by.  I mean… I get it NOW since I watched the original, but with lines like “I did not know that the side effects would show up and start hunting us down”… yeah, it just felt like I was in for an uphill battle.  Still, remakes are a great opportunity to try something new (*cough* IT *cough*), so maybe there’s a chance that this will turn out just fine!  Will this manage to be just as good if not better than the original, or was this film… dead on arrival!?

Sorry.  Let’s uh… let’s find out.

The titular Flatliners of the film are a group of medical students who doing some messed up experiments in the basement in the hope of finding out the secrets of the afterlife.  The procedure which was concocted by Dr Courtney Holmes (Ellen Page) involves stopping someone’s heart (i.e. a flatline on an EKG machine) and letting them stay dead for a few minutes before reviving them.  Initially with the uncertain help of Sophia and Jamie (Kiersey Clemons and James Norton) the group eventually grows to include Marlo and Ray (Nina Dobrev and Diego Luna) and most of them end up doing it themselves as well.  At first it seems awesome as coming back from the dead apparently makes your brain SUPER strong, but eventually the SIDE EFFECTS start to kick in which complicates things for them.  They start to see things that aren’t really there (OR ARE THEY!?) and it eventually becomes nearly impossible to separate fantasy from reality.  Will the Flatliners find a way to stop whatever it is that’s haunting them?  Is there something in their past that is the key to doing so?  Seriously, why are they making it THIS easy for everyone to do the “dead on arrival” joke!?

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Cinema Dispatch: xXx: Return of Xander Cage

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by DJ Caruso

I know I’ve SEEN the first xXx movie, but the only things I can recall are a fake diner, non-lethal bullets with fake blood in them, and a bunch of scientist being killed by the bad guys because reasons.  Needless to say that it didn’t leave much of an impression on me considering how poorly I can recall it as well as the fact that I never felt the need to go back and rewatch it.  Still, what with The Fast and the Furious becoming the most popular international franchise outside of Marvel, they obviously had to milk this franchise again; something that didn’t seem to go well the last time they did it with Ice Cube, but I guess now that XANDER CAGE is back, we can take one more swing at it!  Does the return of Vin Diesel breathe new life into a franchise that’s been comatose for over a decade, or is this just one big Weekend at Bernie’s scheme gone even worse than any of us could imagine?  Let’s find out!!

The movie opens up with NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson), who I guess was in the first movie, trying to recruit some football player (as in Soccer) to be a member of xXx, though I’m not sure if that’s a title, the name of the organization, or both.  It doesn’t really matter though because both he and the football player (Neymar) are killed by a satellite that drops out of the sky.  Normally these burn up on reentry LONG before they could really cause THAT kind of damage on the ground, but this is no the movie to be asking those kinds of questions in.  The more important question is… WHO’S RESPONSIBLE!?  Well, government operative Jane Marke (Toni Collette) seems to have an idea of HOW if not exactly WHO as the government JUST SO HAPPENS to have some sort of box that serves NO OTHER PURPOSE than to drop satellites from the sky.  Okay… well the box is stolen by a bunch of badasses (Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, and Michael Bisping) which means the government has to find an EQUALLY badass person to hunt them down; namely Xander Cage (Vin Diesel).  It doesn’t take long for Jane to recruit him for the mission, and he brings along a crew of people with a certain set of skills to help him out.  Adele the sniper (Ruby Rose), Tennyson the stunt driver (Rory McCann),a nd of course Nicks the DJ (Kris Wu) because apparently you need one of those for this kind of mission.  Can this rag tag crew of Gatorade chugging XTREME athletes save the world before the OTHER Gatorade chugging XTREME athletes destroy it?  What was the government planning to do with that ridiculously specific doomsday device anyway?  Most importantly, does Vin Diesel look cool in this?

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“Would you fuck me?  I’d fuck me.”

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