Cinema Dispatch: Free Guy

Free Guy and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios

Directed by Shawn Levy

When the Pandemic started over a year ago, this was one of the movies that got pushed back to try and court a big audience once things had settled down, and sadly it seems to have waited JUST long enough to catch the brunt of the Delta variant that has people gun-shy about going back to theaters once again. Still, even when the trailers for this were coming out in the pre-pandemic work, it was not something I was looking forward to as it looked like a cash grab from Ryan Reynolds; using his post-Deadpool clout to score a HUGE payday with something that KINDA resembles his usual shtick. Then again, Reynolds isn’t a guy who takes on roles lightly, especially SINCE Deadpool, and his other big cash grab movie Detective Pikachu turned out to be one of the best video game movies ever made! Can he make lightening strike twice with this send up of the AAA Game Industry, or is the video game curse one that even Ryan Reynolds can’t overcome more than once?

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is an NPC going about his day to day life in an online sandbox game known as Free City; basically if Grand Theft Auto 5’s online mode was smashed together with a not-so-self-aware version of the Saints Row series. Guy is no one of particular note in the game, he isn’t giving people quests or running in-app purchase storefront; instead he’s just a banker who’s daily routine involves getting stuck up by criminals multiple times a day as players complete the Bank Heist mission for XP. All of this is way over Guy’s head who along with his fellow NPCs doesn’t even know they are in a video game; they are just living their lives day to day and this is what it looks like! That is until Guy runs into a player named Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) who seems familiar in some way and makes him start to think differently than before; so much so that he decides to take the glasses that these robbers are always wearing and discovers the user interface that’s hidden from all the NPCs. With this new world opening up to him, Guy goes after Molotov and even tries to make Free City a better place to live by stopping crime and being a Good Guy which gets him XP of his own and catches the attention of streamers out there; confused by this character (who they mistake as an actual player) trying to do GOOD things in the game. This attention however does not go unnoticed by the developers and the studio head Antwan (Taika Waititi) who is none too happy with someone trying to break their profitable game loop; especially right before the release of their sequel that will make Guy and his world obsolete. Will Guy’s quest for self-determination and heroism ultimately spell doom for himself and everything he holds dear? Who is this mysterious woman that he has fallen for, and what is her connection to the developers of the game itself? How can Ryan Reynolds be so dorky AND so cool at the same time!?

“Excelsior, Mo-Fos.”
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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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Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 8

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The Mandalorian is owned by Disney

Directed by Taika Waititi

Would it be inappropriate to do the Darth Vader “NOOOO” right now?  Because I feel like doing the Darth Vader “NOOOO” right now.  I don’t want this season to be over!  Heck, I need this show more than I did BEFORE seeing The Rise of Skywalker!  What am I supposed to do between now and whenever the heck season 2 comes out!?  Read fan fiction!?  Play that Star Wars Destiny thing!?  On top of that, what is Disney Plus supposed to offer me between now and then?  They don’t even have the Goofy sports cartoons, let alone the REALLY good stuff like No Smoking!!  Does this season end on a high note which would make it the best Star Wars thing since The Last Jedi, or will this be a bigger disappointment to everyone than The Return of Skywalker?  Let’s find out!!  Oh, and today I think we’ll go with… Walter and Jesse.  I know we used a DIFFERENT Walter last time, but I had no idea that Gus was going to show up in that episode, so I’m using that name again for this one!!

The episode begins right after the end of the last one; with two storm troopers on speeder bikes heading back to the city to deliver Jesse to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and they are waiting just on the outskirts for a signal that it’s okay to bring the little bugger to him.  What happens next is one of the best scenes in the entire series as the two Stormtroopers played by Adam Pally and Jason Sudeikis just start chatting and doing random incidental things for like five minutes!  They argue, they shoot their blasters at a tin can (missing obviously), and they even punch Jesse in the head a few times just so you don’t forget that they’re jerks.  I’ve always had a fascination with henchmen and I love it whenever something like this takes a moment to give them the spotlight, and this scene doesn’t disappoint as it is simultaneously REALLY funny but also distressing as they really do clock that kid a couple of times which makes you hope that he uses his force powers to snap their necks and leave their corpses in hilarious poses.   Disney?  If you want to throw a few costumes at me, I will make you a storm trooper series!  Just say the word!!  Sadly this isn’t the entirety of the episode, but the scene does have a great payoff as the IG-unit (now the IG-Nanny I guess) shows up, rips one guy’s arm out of its socket and bashes the other’s head repeatedly into his own speeder.  Luckily the other speeder remained unharmed and IG-Nanny goes off with Jesse to presumably somewhere safe.  My question is where was the IG-Nanny when Nick Nolte was running to the ship?  He was within spitting distance of it, and yet IG-Nanny couldn’t have provided some cover fire!?

Continue reading “Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 8”

Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 7

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The Mandalorian is owned by Disney

Directed by Deborah Chow

We’re back with the further adventures of Mando and Baby, though frankly I would have preferred if they had just waited a week to release this episode instead of releasing it so soon after the last one.  This is the busiest time of the year and you throw THIS at me at the same time I’m doing a million other things; INCLUDING watching your new Star Wars movie!?  So if you’re wondering why this is so late, that would be the reason; because Disney are huge jerks for giving us too much to enjoy all at once!  In any case, even with a few minor bumps in the road here and there I’ve enjoyed every episode of this series and will certainly be sad to see the season come to an end in just a few more days.  Does this episode continue give us high quality Star Wars adventure on the small screen, or are they hoping to give us an episode so bad that we won’t be knocking on their door every day to give us season two right the heck now?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with… Let’s go with Walter and Buddy (Tis the season!) flying around in their space ship when Walter gets a message from Carl Weathers who we haven’t seen since episode three.  It’s a very interesting one that sets up yet another trope of the classic western and pulp movies; i.e. the convoluted double cross where Carl Weathers offers Walter a chance to clear his name with the guild if he goes on one more assignment for them.  It turns out that The Guild trusting Werner Herzog and his fascists militia turned out to be a bad idea (WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED!?) as Herzog has since grown his forces and has basically taken over the planet of Navarro which is where all this started and where Carl Weathers resides. If Walter will come back with the baby and go through a mock exchange with Buddy to Herzog, that will get him close enough to put a bullet in the man’s head; ending his rule, ending the chase, and clearing Walter’s name once and for all.  It’s a very enticing offer to be sure, but the amount of trust that Walter is being asked to impart to Carl Weathers is high and at any step in this process it could turn out to be one big trap.  That’s why he needs a few cards close to his chest if he’s going to go through with this, and what better backup than Cara Dune (Gina Carano) who already help Walter protect the kid back in episode four, so perhaps she can be trusted to not stab him in the back; especially when she finds out that the dude they’re bumping off is an ex-Imperial scumbag.  Apparently that’s a bit of a sore spot for her, but as with everything in this episode there’s always the threat of mistrust and double cross so I’d keep my eye on her just in case!

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Cinema Dispatch: Jojo Rabbit

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Jojo Rabbit and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Taika Waititi

I don’t know if I’d classify this as Oscar Bait even though it’s set in World War II which is like half the criteria right there, but it’s certainly a film that’s been on everyone’s radars for months now; somewhat due to the controversial subject matter, but mostly because of the filmmaker behind it who’s really blown up in the last few years and for good reason.  Thor: Ragnarok was one of the most exciting films in that Phase of the Marvel franchise, and everything we’ve seen of him since then has only increased his status in the public eye.  Now we have his first directorial film since Ragnarok which is a satire of Fascism at a time that couldn’t be more relevant, so you can’t say that the guy doesn’t swing for the fences!  Is this a brutal and necessary take down of the ideology that’s been infecting global politics for a few years now, or is the film just not equipped to tackle such a heavy subject matter no matter how much talent there is behind it?  Let’s find out!!

Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany who wants nothing more than to become a true fighter for the cause and even has Hitler as his imaginary friend that gives him pep talks and dubious advice.  He hopes that the camp he’s about to attend for the Hitler Youth will be the turning point in his life as he becomes a TRUE man and uses the skills he will learn to not only fight for the Aryan race, but become Hitler’s right hand man as they exterminate the dastardly Jews off the face of the Earth!  Yeah… Jojo is kind of a messed up kid all things considered, but he’s also seemingly too sensitive to REALLY become the monster that the rest of the Nazis around him have become, and he gets the nickname Jojo Rabbit when he refuses to kill a rabbit to prove his manhood.  Instead he tries to throw a grenade which goes horribly wrong and leaves him with a bunch of scars on his face and a leg that doesn’t work as well as it used to.  Because of this he has to spend more time at home with his mother (Scarlett Johansson) who he suspects may not be fully on board with this whole “Nazi” thing; a suspicion confirmed when he finds out that she’s been protecting a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) who’s been living in a secret room within the walls of the house; specifically the walls in the room of Jojo’s sister who seems to have died at some point during the war.  With his own family seeming to turn against the ideology he loves and the man he believes to be a hero, will Jojo come to terms with the failings of the Nazi ideology and join his mother in resisting their influences?  The allied powers seem to be advancing on his village, so will he have to fight against them at some point despite his bad leg and lack of a killer instinct?  If Hitler is such a good leader, then why hasn’t he fixed all this kid’s problems and made him a true blue Nazi solider?  Checkmate, ten year old kid!!

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“Jojo, it’s just not gonna work out.”     “What are you saying?”     “Look, it’s not you; it’s me!  We can still be pen pals though!”

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Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 1

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The Mandalorian is owned by Disney

Directed by Dave Filoni

Since Disney+ is the new hotness and so are the shows that Disney will be producing for it, I figured I’d check out the Star Wars show (which is set about five years after Return of the Jedi) and let you know if it’s worth your time and attention!  It’s being made by Jon Faverau which is a good sign as even the movies I’m not too fond of like The Jungle Book and The Lion King are still notable for their technical achievements, and the amount of money Disney is putting into this show is absolutely ludicrous which means at least the visual side of things will be interesting to see unfold.  Heck, if nothing else a production of THIS scale, if it’s destined to fail, can only fail in the most SPECTACULAR of ways, and I want a front row seat if it’s going to be one big hot mess!  Does Disney’s latest venture into the Star Wars universe provide an intriguing introduction into a part of the universe we’ve yet to see on screen, or is this an underwhelming attempt to further cash in on their very expensive license?  Let’s find out!!

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I knew nothing about this series going into it, and by the end of the first episode it was kind of exactly what I never knew I wanted out of a Star Wars series.  It’s almost childish in just how much it appeals to the basest of my tastes, and yet it never sinks into being crude or garish with it.  It’s a fan film made by professionals; not wanting to subvert the source material to their own ends but to give us a glimpse at something we haven’t seen in this world before.

If there’s anything it reminds of specifically it’s Solo which has a similar stylistic bent to it as both of these draw from cowboy stories, old fashioned machismo, and plenty of gun play to satisfy your action cravings.  Where this one differs though is that where Solo was about charm and wit, this is much more about stoicism and grit which is a valid approach to take as long as its handled well, and I think they do a fine job of it here.  The opening scene of the episode where THE MANDALORIAN (Pedro Pascal) silently walks into a bar, immediately gets the heat from local tough guys, and then cleans house with barely any effort, is taken whole cloth from any number of cheesy B-movies or old school action anime, but seeing it in the Star Wars universe and done with a decent enough budget is definitely novel if nothing else.  So why is it that THE MANDALORIAN is in this bar in the middle of nowhere in the first place?  Well the tough guys were hassling this blue guy (Horatio Sanz) and after THE MANDALORIAN tears them to pieces, we find out that said blue guy is actually his target.  He drags him back to wherever it is bounty hunters take their captives.  This return trip includes a cameo from none other than Brian Posehn who drives them from the bar to their ship, and during this scene we learn that THE MANDALORIAN has a problem with droids that we’ll no doubt get further into in later episodes.

Continue reading “Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 1”

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: Thor: Ragnarok

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

Directed by Taika Waititi

After the rather disappointing Thor: The Dark World (HOW DO YOU WASTE THE BEST DOCTOR WHO IN SUCH A BLAND VILLAIN ROLE!?) I wasn’t really looking forward to what they’d do with this character in his solo films and was more interested to see if he’d show up in a bunch of the other movies instead.  Once those initial trailers hit with the heavy emphasis on fantastical Jack Kirby inspired designs and the rocking Led Zeppelin soundtrack, there seemed to be hope in this franchise digging itself out of the pit the sequel left it in.  At the very least, it LOOKED a lot pretty with much more vibrant colors, and it even manages to drag Jeff Goldblum into the MCU which in and of itself would make this movie worthy of existing even if everything else ends up being awful.  Does Thor’s third chance at the plate end up being one of the best films in the entire MCU, or did they just throw a lot of flash and money at a franchise that is just unable to find its place after telling the origin story?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) trying to find out what the heck Ragnarok is which was hinted at ALL the way back in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Remember when he left the team to take a bath and saw some visions?  Yeah, apparently it was all foreshadowing of the destruction of Asgard in a calamity known as Ragnarok, so Thor is basically trying to find a way to stop it… whatever it may be.  In the meantime though, he manages to find out that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken the place of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who is actually alright as Loki basically stuck his ass in a retirement home on Earth, but when Thor goes down there to bring him back to the throne it turns out that he’s all out of time and disappears in a cloud of energy or something.  If that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that one of the things he was doing when he was alive was keeping a hereto unknown daughter of his named Hela (Cate Blanchett) in some sort of magic prison which breaks as soon as he’s dead and so she’s come back for revenge against her family and all of Asgard.  Both Loki and Thor are dealt with rather quickly with the latter losing his famed hammer Mjolnir and landing on some mystery planet where he is captured by a mysterious woman (Tessa Thompson) and dragged to the planet’s ruler known as THE GRANDMASTER (Jeff Goldblum).  The once mighty God of Thunder and son of Odin is now put in chains and is forced to fight in gladiatorial matches in order to somehow earn his freedom and eventually find his way back home before Hela puts it inextricably under her vengeful thumb.  Can Thor find a way to escape the barbaric society run by the most fabulous of dictators?  What familiar faces will he find on this planet that can hopefully help him on his journey home?  How the heck is Thor gonna get around now that he doesn’t have his magic propeller hammer!?

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“THE GOD OF THUNDER DOESN’T NEED A HAMMER!  I JUST NEED TO FLAP MY ARMS REALLY FAST!!”     “Okay… well good luck with that!”

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