Cinema Dispatch: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Jon Watts

It’s been a rather underwhelming year for the superhero genre which once towered over the world.  The Pandemic has pushed the release schedule around several times which means we’re waiting longer for these movies, and to me, the MCU is having trouble finding their voice after Endgame put a pretty definitive end to the original story arc.  Frankly, the best we’ve gotten from the MCU in the last two years have been the Disney+ shows that may not always hit their marks but definitely have a lot of interesting ideas that probably wouldn’t work as a movie; even with these things being overly long for the most part.  Still, it’s hard not to get excited about another Spider-Man film; especially one as specifically targeted to my generation as this one is.  Does it manage to pull us out of the MCU funk and deliver on all the ludicrous promises the trailers have made, or is this going to be as convoluted and pointless as the Clone Saga; or even worse, One More Day?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has been revealed to the world as their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and this newfound celebrity (and infamy) has thrown his life into chaos.  Investigations from the government, a bunch of weirdos throwing bricks through his windows, and a very awkward school environment where half of them want to see him become their mascot and the other are hurling conspiracy-laden insults at him.  See, this is why you need to be rich or a soldier to do the Superhero thing; either commit to it full time or pay people to go outside for you!  It gets to be such a burden that Peter begs the MCU’s cool uncle Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to use his wizard magic to erase his identity from the mind of everyone in the universe.  Let’s just say that it had mixed results as the world doesn’t forget his identity, but there are now a bunch of villains running around who seem to know him; including Doctor Otto Octavius who has four robot arms (Alfred Molina), Max Dillon who has electricity powers (Jamie Foxx), Dr. Curt Connors who’s a lizard man (Rhys Ifans) Flint Marko who spends most of the movie as a human-shaped sandcastle for whatever reason (Thomas Haden Church), and of course Norman Osborne who still suffers from pretty severe mood swings (Willem Dafoe).  Now if you’ve kept up with the Spider-Man films for the last twenty years, those names should seem pretty familiar.  Sadly the Spider-Man of this universe didn’t get to see those movies, so he has to discover who all these people are, why they became villains in the first place, and if this confluence of inter-dimensional fan service can actually turn into a good thing for all involved.  Will Peter Parker, with the help of his friends, his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and his sorta-bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau), be able to stop these guys from tearing apart this universe and perhaps even get past their overwhelming hatred of wall-crawling superheroes?  Who else may have found their way into this universe, and what can they do to either help or hamper Peter’s attempts to fix everything?  So is J Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) also an inter-dimensional buzzkill, or is there no universe that can escape his ludicrous conspiracy theories and get-rich-quick schemes?

“Looks like they already turned you into an NFT.”     “Seriously?”     “Yup.  And it sold for five-hundred grand.”     “See THAT’S the kind of evil-doer I should be fighting.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Snowden

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Snowden and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films

Directed by Oliver Stone

So first we got the Sully movie, and now THIS!?  What’s other movies are we gonna get about things that just freaking happened?  Has someone already polished off a treatment for the Charles Ramsey story!?  Well at least as far as these recent OF THE MOMENT BIOPICS go, this one has some relevance outside of the one event it’s focused on; namely the current state of US (and global) surveillance programs.  Does this manage to be an interesting and nuanced take on how all this information came to light, or is it a thinly veiled propaganda piece that no one bothered to make into a compelling film?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the career of Edward Snowden (Joseph-Gordon Levitt).  Some guy you MIGHT have heard about a few years ago.  Spoiler Alert!  He stole documents from the NSA and revealed to the public the existence of certain programs they were using such as PRISM and XKeyscore.  That’s towards the end of the story though.  Where we start is with him being discharged from the army (broke both his legs) and instead choosing to serve his country by applying to the CIA and doing computer stuff for them.  He barely manages to get the job and ends up soaring above his peers, going from job to job and always being at the best wherever he was (or at least that’s how the movie tells it).  Unfortunately, he finds out the US security agencies are doing a bunch of shady shit, and he’s not only having to deal with the guilt of spying on US citizens in an unconstitutional manner, he’s also having to keep this secret from his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley).  Will his sense of obligation to his fellow man be too strong for him to keep his head down!?  Well we all know the answer to that, but how’s it gonna play out when ACADEMY AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR OLIVER STONE shows it to us!?

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Chances are he’ll lose his freaking mind at some point.

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Cinema Dispatch: Alice Through the Looking Glass

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Alice Through the Looking Glass and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by James Bobin

A sequel to a movie six years after everyone stopped caring about it!  THAT’S never gone wrong, am I right?  To be fair to Disney, the original film did make an astonishing amount of money (one BILLION worldwide) but this feels way too late to capitalize on whatever moment that first movie had.  Not only that, but it was also one of the early 3D films which I’m sure boosted the ticket sales, yet now we’re at a point where people are just sick of the gimmick, so it doesn’t even have THAT going for it.  Still, the first movie did manage to be pretty decent and the trailers for this looked very creative to say the least.  Can this manage to be a damn fine sequel that just needed a little extra time to fully come together, or is this a naked cash grab for everyone involved?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up three years after the first movie where Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has spent the intervening time traveling the world as a sea captain for Ascot family’s trading company (I think).  She returns to England at the start of the movie to see her mother (Lindsay Duncan) and plan the next trip with the company.  Unfortunately, the Ascot patriarch has died since she last returned and the one in charge of the company is his son Hamish (Leo Bill) who you may recall was set to be Alice’s husband in the first movie which didn’t end up panning out.  Now that this new guy is in charge (and he has a wounded ego) Alice is not only no longer employed as a sea captain, but for some reason is given an ultimatum to either sell her father’s boat or risk losing her mother’s house.  It gets worse when you find out that the mother has been working behind her back to make sure she gets fired so that she would have no choice but to “settle down” as all proper ladies do.  Well I’d say THAT’S enough stuff to stress over to make a trip to Wonderland seem like a wondrous vacation, right?  She gets led to the titular looking glass by the butterfly Absolem (Alan Rickman) and eventually finds the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) on the other side who is slowly dying and not quite so delightfully mad.  Apparently he found a modicum of proof that his family is still alive but no one else believes him so he’s going to slowly die of depression… I guess.  Alice has no choice but to go back in time to save the Hatter’s family from the Jaberwacki and has to face off against Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) to get that ability.  Will she be able to save the Hatter from his battle with depression?  What will she learn as she travels back to the glory days of Wonderland, and what must she risk in order to get the opportunity to do so?  Does anyone else notice that its’ a lot brighter this time around?

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“Did you bring the sunscreen?”     “The hell do you need sunscreen for?  YOU HAVE A HAT!!”

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