Tag Archives: Taika Waititi

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.

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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: 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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