Cinema Dispatch: The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by James Gunn

I was more positive than not about the first Suicide Squad movie, but there was absolutely a ceiling to how much I could appreciate it and frankly, I don’t think David Ayers getting his own AYERS CUT would end up improving things.  It was a lot of good ideas and solid performances wrapped up in a script that felt half-baked at best and an editing job that struggled mightily to wrangle it all into something coherent.  Fortunately, Warner Bros and the DCEU are in a much better position now as they’ve toned down the excessive budgets and improved the overall quality and tone of the films.  Best of all, they got James Gunn to direct it who’s made some of the best movies in the genre with his Guardians of the Galaxy films!  Sounds like the makings of a darn good movie to me, but are we looking at a perfect storm of awesomeness or are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment?  Let’s find out!!

Task Force X is a secret government program that is the brainchild of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and uses dangerous criminals to take on missions that are too dangerous for anyone else.  When there’s a regime change in a South American country to a government that is not so US friendly, Waller needs a crack team of weirdos to go in there and destroy a secret project known only as Starfish that is hidden below a research facility in the center of the country’s capital, and while some of them like Bloodsport Peacemaker, and arguably even Harley Quinn (Idris Elba, John Cena, and Margot Robbie), some of the others just seem to be there to either be cannon fodder or to just get them out of the prison system’s hair.  I mean seriously what are you supposed to do with a guy like King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) and some dude named THE POLKA-DOT MAN (Davis Dastmalchian)?  There are several others assigned to this mission such as Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) and the always dependable Rick Flag as the leader (Joel Kinnaman), but it doesn’t take long for things to go sideways and for the team to have to more or less wing it as they try to find a way into the city undetected so they can kidnap the country’s super-scientist known as The Thinker (Peter Capaldi) to get them inside the research base and just figure it out from there.  Can this rag-tag group of super-losers save America from whatever this Project Starfish is and secure their freedom in the process?  What isn’t Amanda Waller telling them about the mission and just how much is at stake if they end up failing?  I mean whatever happens it can’t be as bad as having one of your own team members take over a city and turn everyone into her zombie servants.  Sure it’s a low bar to clear, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

“Honestly, I think we can write this off as a learning experience.”     “Hungry.”     “See?  The shark guy gets it!”
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Cinema Dispatch: The Invisible Man

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

Directed by Leigh Whannell

You know what movies I should really get around to?  The Hollow Man films.  I don’t know much about them other than they’re about a REALLY creep dude who becomes invisible, but it seems like that idea is alive and well in this which I guess you could call… a reboot?  I mean I WISH it was part of the Dark Universe and that that was still a thing, but whatever you want to call this latest spin on the formula from Universal AND my often beloved but frequently beloathed Blumhouse, it’s certainly a film that’s caught my attention!  Personally, I’m REALLY excited for this as the trailer looked very good (if a bit too revealing ironically enough) and frankly it looked like the kind of sequel to The Boy that we should have had instead of whatever the heck Brahms 2: Boy Harder was supposed to be.  Not only that but with this season being such a bad time for horror movies including Blumhouse’s OTHER reboot from two weeks ago, it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Does 2020 finally have a mainstream horror film that isn’t a total embarrassment to the genre, or is this another case of good marketing covering up a mediocre film?  Let’s find out!!

Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) has been living with her boyfriend Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) for some time now but has finally decided to leave him due to his controlling and abusive behavior in this relationship, and despite only doing so by the skin of her teeth she does manage to escape with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and starts living with her friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid).  Still, the road to recovery is a long one and despite not living under his roof anymore she still can’t shake the feeling that he’s around every corner and will find a way to ruin her life; especially since he’s some big shot genius scientist who promised to do just that if she ever left.  However, good news arrives as Cecilia learns that Adrian is dead and she will inherit a huge chunk of money in the process!  Everything’s starting to look up now… except that strange things keep happening around the house.  Did she leave the oven on?  Was that knife on the floor before?  Is someone taking pictures of her while she’s sleeping?  As these strange occurrences start to escalate, it becomes clear to Cecilia that Adrian MUST still be alive and that he found some way to turn invisible using his some sort of super science which admittedly sounds a bit out there as far as explanations go, but considering the title of this movie I think it’s right on the money.  Will Cecilia be able to stop Adrian from running her life from beyond the grave?  Will anyone believe her story, especially when the strange occurrences get more and more violent and people are starting to suspect her of being behind them?  How the heck did he turn himself invisible anyway!?  Super reflective body paint!?

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“First the Green Goblin, and now this…”

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Cinema Dispatch: A Wrinkle in Time

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A Wrinkle in Time and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Ava DuVernay

I actually have read the book that this movie is based on, and what I remember about it is… that I read the book.  Yeah, the big concern that I had with this film after seeing the trailers is that this material is NOT gonna be easy to adapt as the source material is pretty abstract and kinda confusing from what I recall which can work for a book that you’re supposed to sit there and absorb at your own pace, but is less likely to come together as well when put on the big screen.  Still, while the trailers were very vague and didn’t give much of an indication of what the story would be about, the imagery was striking and the director behind it is someone who is coming up in a big way in Hollywood, so maybe there’s a chance to pull this adaptation off given the resources behind it.  Will this be the next touchstone for all ages cinema like ET, The Neverending Story, or about eighty percent of Pixar’s output, or is this one of those films that goes big and then fails hard?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Meg Murry (Storm Reid) who is the daughter of Dr. Kate Murray and Dr. Alex Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine); the latter of whom just up and disappeared four years ago and leaving his family to wonder what the heck happened to him and if he will ever return.  Naturally this doesn’t sit well with Meg who’s been having trouble in school lately due to bullying from kids who… I guess think it’s funny to make fun of a girl for her dad disappearing, and really only confides in her little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) who’s surprisingly smart for his age and has started making friends with three mysterious women who just randomly show up every once in a while.  After a particularly rough stretch at school where Meg bashes a girl’s face in with a basketball (TOTALLY deserved by the way), she makes a new friend in the form of Calvin (Levi Miller) who seems to be at least a tertiary part of the three mysterious women’s plans, and said mystery women finally confirm for Meg that her dad is STILL alive somewhere.  The only catch is that he’s halfway across the universe, BUT that won’t prove to be much of a problem because it turns out that humans can ACTUALLY travel across time and space using only the power of their minds; something that the three mystery ladies demonstrate by taking her, Calvin, and Christopher Wallace to the last known location of their dad which is some planet very far away.  We learn that the three mystery ladies are in fact Miss Who, Miss Whatsit, and Miss Which (Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey) and they’re some sort of cosmic entities that exist to help people across space and time fight injustices across the universe; and THEY manage to do it WITHOUT a blue police box!  So now that Meg and Christopher Wallace have a solid lead on where to find their dad, what will they (along with Calvin) have to face in order to find him?  Well, PROBABLY the black mystery ooze floating through space known as The Darkness as well as The It (no, not THAT It) which is growing and expanding at an alarming rate and will surely make it to Earth before too long.  Will Meg, Charles Wallace manage to save their father from whatever it is that has kept him under lock and key for the last four years?  What can The Misses teach this trio of children about the universe that will prepare them for the fight ahead?  Did Ava DuVernay manage to make a more psychedelic and drug fueled film on Disney’s dime than Doctor Strange!?  One SPECIFICALLY aimed at young kids!?

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“I AM INTERFACED!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Sleight

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Sleight and all the images you see in this review are owned by WWE Studios, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing, and Universal Pictures

Directed by JD Dillard

If I ever decide to write a screenplay, I have two ideas.  One of them I’m still gonna keep to myself, but the other was a fake-documentary about a street magician who ACTUALLY had magic powers.  I hadn’t really thought of it past that point (no idea what the conflict would be), but when I saw the trailer to Sleight it looked like someone had made a much better version of my idea and I couldn’t wait to see it.  That kind of magic (or should I say MAGIC!) has always been of great interest to me, whether it’s Penn & Teller’s unique brand of magic comedy, the soft spot I have for at least the second Now You See Me movie, or even Zatanna from DC Comics who is one of my favorite super heroes of all time.  Mixing that with a sort of low key X-Men origin story seemed like the kind of movie that would easily be one of my favorites of the year, and that’s saying something considering how good the movies have been so far!  Does this manage to exceed my expectations as a pseudo-superhero movie with card tricks and drug dealers, or does this all devolve into a mess of poorly thought out ideas and wasted potential?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the adventures of Bo (Jacob Latimore); a mild mannered young man with a little sister Tina (Storm Reid), a penchant for magic tricks, and a side job selling drugs to keep a roof over their heads.  Now that last thing might sound rather risky to be doing, even if he doesn’t have much of a choice (both his parents are dead), but then again… who else would be better at hiding drugs than a master of sleight of hand!?  Well I can think of at least ONE kind of person who’d be better!  A master of sleight of hand who ALSO has super powers!  Now he doesn’t make his powers obvious, but he clearly is using some sort of subtle manipulation of objects around him that no actual magician would have, so on top of being bad ass with a deck of cards he can ALSO avoid police suspicion with the way he can hide his products.  This has led to him being a rather good dealer which is good news for his supplier Angelo (Dulé Hill) who wants to bring Bo deeper into his organization.  On top of dealing with that and his kid sister, he also manages to meet a nice girl named Holly (Seychelle Gabriel) who he wants to be there for as well but Angelo pulling him closer keeps pushing him further away from them.  Eventually things come to a head with Angelo and Bo has to find a way to get out from under his thumb once and for all, even if it means doing something he’s never wanted to do with the gifts he’s been given.  Will BO be able to protect everyone he loves before Angelo takes everything away from him?  What exactly is the nature of his powers and how did he get them?  I wonder what his magician name would be.  Bo the Benevolent?

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“With great power comes great responsibility.  Now what Spider-Man never got is that that responsibility can take many forms!  He chose to save people, which is nice, but not for me.  Instead, I’ve decided to BLOW THEIR MINDS!!”

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