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Cinema Dispatch: Kubo and the Two Strings

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Kubo and the Two Strings and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by Travis Knight

While Disney and Dreamworks are constantly fighting over dominance for CG animated features, studios like Aardman and Laika are still making an argument for more traditional forms of animation with films like Paranorman and The Pirates.  Now we’ve got this movie which hopes to stand alongside some of the bigger hits this summer like Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets while also finding a spot in theaters just as the latter is starting to leave and Pete’s Dragon is under performing.  Can the latest Laika creation not only manage to be an excellent film but be the big hit to end the summer with, or is this movie all style and no substance?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows young Kubo (Art Parkinson) who’s living with his mother in a cave that’s within walking distance of a nearby village.  Why are they living there?  Well apparently Kubo’s mother is the daughter of some super powerful dude known as the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) who can do… stuff.  Okay, I’m not sure what his powers are, but he ripped out one of Kubo’s eyes when he was an infant, and his mother just barely managed to get away with him; though at a severe price as she was injured during the escape and now suffers from memory loss.  That only leaves Kubo to take care of her (though I’m not sure how they survived long enough for him to be able to do that) and he makes money by using his magic powers to put on fantastic origami shows for the people of the village.  Seriously, Kubo’s got some badass magic powers that he’s able to conjure up with his Shamisen which can put on very elaborate stop-motion performances by Origami dolls, and you’d think that powers like this would either earn him enough to move his mom into a nice home or would brand him as a witch.  Still, things seems to be going well as Kubo goes about his day to day life busking for coins on the sidewalk, when he stays out too late one night which gives the Moon King a chance to find him (I guess that guy can see everything at night) and sends out his daughters, who are also Kubo’s aunts (Rooney Mara), to find him.  Kubo’s mother however manages to find him first and uses her remaining magic to send him off somewhere else while also bringing a charm to life in the form of a monkey (Charlize Theron) because apparently Kubo’s mother can do that.  From there, we’ve got a whole lot more exposition as apparently the monkey knows what Kubo needs to do next and the end up finding a Beetle Samurai (Matthew McConaughey) to tag along on their adventure.  Can Kubo stop his evil grandfather and save his mother?  How exactly does this monkey know all this stuff if it’s only been alive for like a day or so? Most importantly, how many MacGuffins do they plan to stick in this movie!?

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“We have to find the sacred armor that was created by your father that can protect you from the Moon King so that-“     “YOU’RE A TALKING MONKEY!!”     “…yes.  Did you hear what I said?”     “We need to find some stuff?”     “Good enough.  Let’s go.”

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Cinema Dispatch: 2015 Catch Up

Like any decent film critic, I’ve had a couple of movies that I promised myself I would eventually get to, but then they ended up slipping through the cracks for so long that I had given up hope on ever getting back to them.  Well no more I say!  Not only am I catching up on two movies I saw in 2015 that I never got to talk about, I have just recently had the chance to watch two other films from 2015 that are definitely worth discussing!  So without procrastinating another second, here are four movies from the past year that I now have the chance to review!!

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

Directed by Barry Levinson

Ah yes.  The one where Bill Murray saves Afghanistan.  See, THIS movie got a bit crowded out because it came to theaters the same week as Jem and the Holograms and The Last Witch Hunter.  CLEARLY I was very busy at the time writing reviews for two of the worst movies of the year and things just snowballed after that to the point that I never got my thoughts down on this movie.  It may have been the best movie of that week by a long shot, but that’s not saying a hell of a whole lot considering the not so stiff competition it was up against.  Is it any good without the direct comparison to the garbage it was surrounded by when it was at the box office?  Let’s find out!!

Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) is a guy who will try to get you to fall for anything, and probably believes half the bullshit that he’s spewing.  At one time he was a somewhat successful manager to some big acts, but nowadays he just hangs out in his hotel room/office scamming wannabe singers out of some cash while trying to promote one of  his clients Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel) who might actually have a bit of talent if he can just get her a break.  Opportunity comes a knocking one night where a military man sees her perform and suggest that Richie take her on a USO tour in Afghanistan which is supposed to pay very well with only a slight chance of death in the process.  Richie’s all on board but Ronnie eventually reveals that she’s not into being somewhere that rough and not long after arriving in Kabul, she robs him of all his money as well as his passport; leaving him without any identification and in debt to the mercenary (Bruce Willis) who got Ronnie out of the country and was only given half his fee in the process with promises that Richie had the rest.  Will he be able to scramble up enough money to pay back the mercenary and get his ass out of the country?  Well that actually becomes pretty moot as the REAL plot involves a young woman in a nearby village named Salima Khan (Leem Lubany) who can sing like an angel but will be killed if anyone in her fundamentalist village (and almost anyone her in her fundamentalist country apparently) hears her do it.  Richie though sees fame and fortune in the story and eventually convinces her to join an American Idol like competition (Afghan Star) which has never had a female singer on before, and the rest of the movie is basically the fallout of that with Richie learning some lessons about himself along the way!

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“I co-wrote this one from Stevie Nicks back in 1990.  She didn’t like the lyrics, but we got a top 100 hit out of it.  SOMETIMES IT’S A BITCH!!  SOMETIMES IT’S A BREEZE!!!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Pan

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Pan and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Joe Wright

Raise your hand if you were dying to hear the untold story of how Peter Pan got to Neverland?  Anyone?  So who exactly is this movie for!?  Well I guess we’re about to find out because after MONTHS of having to see that trailer, the movie is finally in theaters!  Will it be yet another prequel that fails to bring anything new to the table and is soon forgotten, or is it unlike pretty much every other prequel ever made?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about young Peter (Levi Miller) who’s stuck in a British Orphanage during World War Two who as you’d expect is a precocious brat who doesn’t take well to authorities.  The orphanage is run by a corrupt nun who reminds me of the Trunchbull from Matilda (except she’s far less likeable) and it seems that she has a side business going where she sells the orphans to space pirates for profit and so that she can keep their rations all to herself.  I’m sorry, what?

“Mother Superior!  There are clowns and drag queens taking us away!!”     “GO BACK TO SLEEP GOD DAMN IT!!!!”

“Mother Superior!  There are clowns and drag queens taking us away!!”     “GO BACK TO SLEEP GOD DAMN IT!!!!”

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