Cinema Dispatch: 2022 May Catch Up

So how’s everyone else enjoying their Spring? Lots of sunshine and pretty flowers? Well for me it’s been nonstop rain, a tornado warning, and a broken toilet that cost a bunch of money to fix, so things have been just a tiny bit hectic over here. That’s certainly a reason why my movie reviews have been a little late recently, but thanks to streaming services and studios becoming less confident about their theatrical releases, it’s now easier than ever to catch up on stuff in a timely fashion! To wit, I have three movie reviews for your enjoyment and to hopefully distract from the fact that I haven’t seen the new Top Gun movie yet!

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Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is owned by Walt Disney Pictures

Directed by Akiva Schaffer

The former stars of the nineties animated show Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers have gone through a lot since its cancellation all those years ago with Chip (John Mulaney) selling out and going corporate while Dale (Andy Samberg) trying to make it work all these years later; banking on the nostalgia adults have for his glory days and selling signed photos at conventions to keep himself afloat. To make matters worse, they ended the show on pretty bad terms so they’ve hardly spoken to each other since then, but fate brings them back together as one of the cast members of that show Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) is in deep with the cartoon mafia and gets kidnapped right after calling both of them for help. With their friend’s life in the balance, Chip & Dale must put aside their differences and work together to scourge the LA Underworld (or at least the nostalgic cartoon version of it) to save their friend and perhaps even come back together after being apart for so long.

I’m either gonna be too harsh on this movie because I’m a giant sourpuss or I’m gonna be too nice to this for fear of looking like a giant sourpuss. It occupies a very strange place for me as I do genuinely enjoy a lot about this movie, but I still can’t quite get behind it for reasons that… well probably make me look like a giant sourpuss. Before we get into that, let me just say that I got a decent amount of laughs in this and I was genuinely tickled by a lot of the imagination on display. There are some deep-cut references that certainly appealed to me, and concepts like the putty captain and the puppet chef were well-realized and fun to watch on screen. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that the inclusion of Ugly Sonic has me convinced that he should get his own spin-off series because they were just that funny! It’s almost like the nineties kids finally got the Roger Rabbit sequel we always wanted to see as the movie’s use of nostalgia, however cynical it may be, is at least cleverly realized with some very funny premises throughout. I love the idea of turning the objects of nostalgia that are the lifeblood of the convention scene and making them the literal guests trying to make a few bucks at rickety card tables with tri-fold boards of merch. It’s clear that the creative behind this are of my particular generation, both with the nostalgia for all this nineties crap and the subsequent decades of nostalgia baiting entertainment, so it gets more than a few points for some level of authenticity even if the movie leans far too heavily on it which I guess brings us to what’s wrong with the movie. The thing is that you can only rely on sight gags and nostalgia for so long before the movie has to start standing on its story and this is where the movie just doesn’t work for me. I didn’t find Chip or Dale particularly endearing as characters, nor did I find the plot all that interesting with the mystery being pretty threadbare. Now I could avoid being a giant sourpuss here and chalk this up to being a kid’s movie where a swift pace and lighthearted tone can carry an otherwise simplistic storyline, but I feel the age and density of so many of the references means that it’s aiming a bit higher than it wants to admit. Do kids even know who the Rescue Rangers are? Heck, are kids gonna get any of the Disney Afternoon jokes in here; let alone the references to more adult-oriented stuff like South Park or the general concept of bootleg movies? It’s a movie that clearly wants to have its cake and eat it; setting its targets squarely on a Millennial audience while hiding behind the Gen Z for its immature and simplistic storytelling. Perhaps it splits the difference evenly enough that both groups will get at least something out of this and I can’t deny the moments I enjoyed throughout, so it gets a little bit of a pass from me but this trick isn’t gonna work indefinitely. Millennials will get sick of 90s-stalgia just as everyone got sick of 80s-stalgia about a decade ago, and what is that gonna leave us with? 2000s-stalgia? I mean it’d be nice if I got my Megas XLR reboot, but still…

3 out of 5
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: 2022 May Catch Up”

Cinema Dispatch: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Jason Reitman

I was a pretty big fan of the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot and am still a bit salty that we never got a sequel to it, so seeing the trailers and just how much the studio was backtracking to safe and familiar nostalgia was pretty demoralizing to see and left me with a bad feeling about this.  A Stranger Things knockoff that revels in the legacy of the first two films while grabbing a mostly indie director who just so happens to be the son of the original films’ director just felt like too many ideas on how to make this a MARKETABLE Ghostbusters movie instead of a GOOD one.  Still, Reitman is a good director and the buzz so far has been good for the movie, so perhaps I’m being a bit overly critical before even seeing the darn thing.  Did my low expectations set me up for a pleasant surprise that finds the balance between mining nostalgia and finding new ideas, or is this a cynical paycheck from a guy whose complicated history with this franchise landed him in the director’s chair long before he ever picked up a camera?  Let’s find out!!

Many years after the events of the first movie (and the second presumably), Egon Spengler has made a new life of sorts in a total nothing town somewhere in the Midwest, and while it’s probably not much of a spoiler considering that the actor is no longer with us, he has recently died under mysterious circumstances, and his estranged daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) has come to settle his affairs as well as start a new life for her and her two kids Phoebe and Trevor (Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard).  While packing up his things though, Phoebe finds the PKE Meter as well as Egon’s ghostbusting Batcave, and Trevor starts to see some strange things around town; especially while hanging out with Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) at the nearby mine, which is… a thing kids do I guess?  In any case, Phoebe starts to investigate the strange occurrences in the town with her paranormal podcasting friend named Podcast (Logan Kim), but more importantly starts to learn more about her grandfather and, by extension, herself.  That, and her Summer School teacher (Paul Rudd) is a total nerd who was obsessed with the Ghostbusters when he was a kid, and so the stage is set for the next generation to take up the mantel once these strange things around town turn into STRANGER things!  What was Egon doing in this Podunk town in the first place, and is there more than just his old eighties crap that he’s left behind for his family?  How will Phoebe and Trevor deal with their newly discovered legacy, and why was their mother hiding it from them all this time?  Do you think in thirty years someone will try to do one of these for the 2016 Ghostbusters movie?  I mean how ELSE are we supposed to get a sequel!?

“Is this thing environmentally friendly?” “I don’t know, maybe we should check with the EPA.” “Yeah, they may not be perfect but it’s not like they’re full petty jerks who just want to disrupt small businesses.” “Hashtag Green New Deal!!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Avengers: Endgame

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Avengers: Endgame and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

My displeasure of Infinity War is well documented in both my review and the follow up piece I did, so I was frankly not looking forward to this one.  Still, the two films they’ve done since then, Ant-Man and The Wasp as well as Captain Marvel, were really great entries in the genre and confirmed that Marvel could still make a great film if they wanted to, and if nothing else it’ll be worth ripping off this Band-Aid once and for all and letting things get back on track before Thanos butting his ugly purple head in.  So hey, if I HAVE to be here I might as well try and find something to enjoy about it!  Is this the perfect conclusion to not just Infinity War but to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it currently exists, or does the first iteration of this franchise and these characters continue the utter disappointment from the LAST time we saw them?  Let’s find out!!

After the events of Infinity War which (SPOILER ALERT) ended with Thanos (Josh Brolin snapping his fingers and wiping out half of all living creatures in the universe, the remaining Avengers are stuck in a world on the brink of collapsing and with no real way to fix things. I  mean, they could go after Thanos and kick his head around a bit, especially now that Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is here to provide some cosmic backup, but would that even fix anything at this point?  The real question is whether or not those people can be brought back, Thanos or not, and after some time with no ideas they get a visit from one of the lesser known among them Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) who might just have the answer they’re looking for what with his experiences in the Quantum Realm and all that entails.  The remaining Avengers which include Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), uh… whatever name Rhodes is going under now (Don Cheadle), as well as honorary members Rocket (Bradly Cooper and Sean Gunn) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), and a barely held together Hawkeye (Jeremey Renner), now have a mission in place (and a rather odd one at that) to bring things back to the way they were before, but it’s incredibly risky and could actually make things worse if they DON’T succeed.  At even less than half their usual strength since everyone is still dealing with the trauma of what happened can The Avengers manage to pull off one more spectacular feat of heroism against the one foe they couldn’t overcome?  What dangers will they have to face along the way, and are all of them able to confront them with steadfast determination and the will necessary to succeed?  If this IS gonna be the last one of THIS specific kind of Marvel movie… maybe we could get a Star Wars crossover?  I mean it’s now or never, right?

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I’ll also settle for a movie where Captain America beats up those THE LAST JEDI IS SJW PROPAGANDA jerks.

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Cinema Dispatch: Ant-Man and the Wasp

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Ant-Man and the Wasp and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Peyton Reed

The first Ant-Man is easily one of my favorite Marvel films and has always felt like an outlier in the MCU because (incoming pun VERY much intended) it knew the value of going small.  The fate of the world wasn’t at stake, it didn’t involve Gods, Kings, or vast armies of convenient cannon fodder; rather it was a heist film about a guy who basically just needed a job and got wrapped up in a while bunch of sci-fi nonsense!  It was fun, it was light, and it didn’t have the weight of a dozen other films dragging it down which, given my lukewarm reception to the more recent BIG TEAM UP MOVIES, is just the kind of Marvel film I could really use right about now.  Seriously, I couldn’t IMAGINE a better time to make a goofy palate cleanser than in the wake of Infinity Bore which I’m STILL feeling rather grumpy about and could certainly use something like this to take my mind off of it.  Does this manage to be the perfect antidote to the overly serious and bombastic Avengers film that preceded it, or does the specter of that film loom large enough over the MCU that even THIS series cannot escape from its massive shadow?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in that period between Civil War and Infinity War where The Avengers are basically split up but no one is all that freaked out about it.  Spider-Man is doing his thing on the East Coast, Black Panther is dealing with his kingly duties in Wakanda, and it turns out that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been doing… nothing.  Yeah, it turns out that after helping Captain America in Civil War and taking a plea deal with the US government, he’s under house arrest and hasn’t been doing his Ant-Man thing in a while; especially since the Sokovia Accords (ugh…) have an odd stipulation that the people who MADE the tech he used are JUST as responsible as he is and need to face similar punishments.  Well jeez, I kinda wish we ACTUALLY had that with gun manufacturers, but what it means here is that Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne (Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly) are on the run and decidedly not talking to Scott for putting them in this situation in the first place… not that they could considering he’s under house arrest.  Jeez, kind of a downer way to start the movie, BUT things get better once Scott starts having night terrors about the Quantum Realm and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is the mother of Hope and the wife of Hank, and manages to get this message to those two who swiftly kidnap him MERE DAYS BEFORE HIS HOUSE ARREST IS UP!  It turns out that the two of them have been continuing their research while running from the law (pretty easy to do when you have the ability to shrink) and they’re VERY close to making a tunnel to the Quantum Realm (that place you go to if you shrink TOO SMALL and where Janet ended up after doing so on a mission) but apparently Scott has some connection to it and potentially to Janet due to him somehow escaping it in the first film.  Okay, so Scott helps them with the Tunnel and with any clues he may have about Janet from his dreams, and then they just drop him off at his house before the cops realize he’s gone!  Easy enough, right!?  Well… not exactly.  Throw in some wannabe gangsters looking to snag their research for profit (led by professional scumbag Walton Goggins), a mysterious woman who has bad ass phasing powers (Hanna John-Kamen) trying to steal their research for reasons OTHER than profit, and all of a sudden it looks like Scott might end up going to jail for twenty years because he got caught up in some giant caper yet again and could get caught out of the house at any moment by FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) who is just itching to put him away for good!  Can Scott, Hope, and Hank find out what happened to Janet and maybe save her from the Quantum Realm?  What exactly is the mystery phasing lady after, and just how far will she go to get her hands on their research?  When they get that glove away from Thanos, can we use the Time Stone to go back and make EVERY Marvel movie about Ant-Man and The Wasp?

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“Captain Ant-merica!  Guardians of the Colony!  Thor; Ragna-wasp!”     “Yeah, I’m sure Paul Feig is gonna put those on a marque.”     “Well you won’t know until you ask him!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Sausage Party

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Sausage Party and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures

Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon

I’m pretty sure I’ve been hearing this movie for at least five years and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have been trying to get this made for even longer than that.  I’m not sure how it took so much work to get this movie made as both of them are bankable stars and this movie ended up costing next to nothing (ten million is nothing in terms of Hollywood features), but regardless of whatever strife they had to work through, the day has finally come for us to see a movie about dicks, vaginas, and assholes being played by hotdogs, buns, and bagels.  Does this movie end up being a classy as fuck masterpiece for the ages, or was all that effort for naught and this is just a giant steaming load of lameness?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the misadventures of several food items in this one grocery store known as Shopwell’s, but for the most part our focus is on Frank the Sausage (Seth Rogen).  He’s living the perfect sausage life; namely staying fresh inside his package and praising the Gods every day in the hopes that he will be chosen to leave the store and enter the great beyond!  Well he’s also praying that he can nail that hot little number in the bun package, Brenda Bunson (Kristen Wiig), but he’s got to keep those urges in check.  After all, the Gods only want FRESH food that isn’t tainted with sin!  Now all the food in this store (and presumably all the other stores in the world) seem to all follow this belief system where the humans are Gods taking them to a promised land, but as we all know humans tend to be to total assholes and will end up eating them instead which is SUPER fucked up!  The day finally comes for Frank, his other sausage buddies (Carl and Barry played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera), and Brenda as one of the Gods chooses them and they’re put in its holy shopping cart.  Of course, things don’t go quite as planned as the shopping cart runs into another one; splattering a lot of the food in a very gruesome manner and knocking both Frank and Brenda (along with a few other items) out of the cart and into the store… OUT OF THEIR PACKAGES!!  Now you may have assumed that the shopping carts collided due to bad luck.  Not quite so, as a jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) had seen some shit and jumped out of the cart after telling the rest of the food how fucked they are, and that was the cause of the crash.  Why is this important?  Well there was one person listening the entire time, and that was Frank!  So on top of getting back inside a sausage package (along with Brenda who needs to find a bun package) Frank is on a journey to find out the truth and if what Honey Mustard was saying had any merit to it!  Can Frank discover the dark secrets that the world outside the grocery store holds?  Will this inevitably create a schism between him and Brenda, the latter of which still has faith in the Gods and their divine plan?  And what about Carl and Barry!?  WHAT THE FUCK IS GONNA HAPPEN TO THEM!?

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Oh, you know… probably nothing good.

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Cinema Dispatch: Captain America: Civil War

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Captain America: Civil War and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

The Marvel money machine has deigned to appease the masses with the next chapter in their long running story about people in tights (or robo-tights) that STILL manages to be more character driven and exquisitely crafted than any number of big blockbusters that have tried to challenge Marvel to their title as king of the cinematic landscape (*cough* Batman v Superman *cough*).  Now we have another entry in the Captain America series which actually looks like an Avengers movie more than anything else.  Does Marvel once again show us what makes the Captain America movies so unique within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or has the whole enterprise gotten too massive to tell a simple story about one man throwing his mighty shield?  Let’s find out!!

The main thrust of the narrative in this movie is the Avengers having the whole “collateral damage” thing come back to bite them in the ass.  It’s been building up for a while, but when an operation in Nigeria goes south after the bad guy blows himself up and the blast is redirected by Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) into a nearby building and killing eleven people in the process, it seems that the world powers have no choice but to step in.  Of course, the guy had stolen a biological weapon that could have killed THOUSANDS but no one wants to bring that up apparently.  Anyway, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) seems to be in a bad place right now and the guilt over his actions in the last ten or so movies are starting to eat away at him, so when the US government and the UN come to the Avengers with some international regulations, he jumps at the opportunity to get them all on board.  The biggest opponent to this new form of oversight though is Captain America (Chris Evans) who sees the writing on the wall and the possibility of those checking their power using that for nefarious ends.  Things only get worse when a UN meeting in Vienna about the new Avenger regulations (known as the Sokovia Accords) gets bombed as part of a terrorist attack and the only suspect is Bucky Barnes The Winter Solider (Sebastian Stan) who if you recall from the second Captain America movie escaped his captors and has been laying low ever since.  Not only is everyone and their grandma after this guy, but Captain America is the only one convinced that he could not have done it which makes it that much harder to keep the government, the other Avengers, and a new super hero Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) off of his back.  Can he clear Bucky’s name before the world leaders put a bullet in both their heads?  Who really DID bomb the UN meeting?  Will he be able to convince his fellow Avengers as well as Tony that the Sokovia Accords will lead to more harm than good?  Most importantly, how many cameos are they gonna squeeze into this!?

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“Did you guys kidnap me?”     “Yup.”     “That’s AWESOME!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ant-Man

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Ant-Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Peyton Reed

Marvel films have gotten quite a bit of criticism recently which is to be expected with a studio that has become so omnipresent in popular culture.  When something gets this big, it’s only natural that a lot more voices enter the conversation which means that the overall discussion turns into a diverse mix of varying opinions, and not all of them are going to be positive.  Still, it seems that with Ant-Man, Marvel is trying to expand what these movies can be with this one primarily being a heist film rather than what we usually get from this studio, though it hasn’t been a smooth ride what with the original director (Edgar Wright) leaving production partway through.  Does this movie succeed in tweaking the formula that made the other films a success, or has the shaky production surrounding this film led to a sub-par outing for a studio trying desperately to convince us that they’re totally going to keep up this track record of excellence for the next decade?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with a flashback to that most infamous of decades, the eighties.  Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) is at the height of his career and is respected by all his peers.  Unfortunately, it turns out to be 1889 and just like Michael Douglas, Hank’s career is about to take a turn for the worse.  He’s working for Shield (which is actually Hydra but whatever) and is the discoverer of what is known as the Pym Particle.  Essentially, he made super science goo that makes things shrink which makes aid goo super valuable.  Valuable enough that Shield is going behind his back and trying to recreate the formula which is enough for him to quit his job and he vows to let the secret formula die with him.

Michael Douglas’s secret to his success on the other hand is something he’s willing to tell everyone.  Spoiler alert:  It’s his dick.
Michael Douglas’s secret to his success on the other hand is something he’s willing to tell everyone.  Spoiler alert:  It’s his dick.

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