Tag Archives: Universal Pictures

Cinema Dispatch: Sleight

SLEIGHTCD0

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?

SLEIGHTCD1

“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!!”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: The Fate of the Furious

F8OTF0

Fate of the Furious and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by F Gary Gray

I hope all of you out there appreciate what I do for you!  A week ago, I had never even SEEN a Fast and the Furious movie, and yet I managed to binge watch ALL SEVEN OF THEM so that I can properly review this new one as the series now has a continuity more dense than the freaking Terminator, and that’s SUPPOSED to be convoluted!  I HAD TO WATCH TOKYO DRIFT FOR YOU PEOPLE!!  Sigh… alright, well it’s not like I even HATED any of the movies (other than Tokyo Drift) as most of them are at least DECENT if not all that engaging.  For me though, they didn’t pick up until part six when the BUDGET finally started to match the VISION that was always there, because let’s face it; Fast and the Furious was NEVER a serious series.  It was ALWAYS balls to the wall insanity, just at different degrees depending on what they could afford (except for Tokyo Drift which was just garbage).  So with the last two films finally managing to reach the potential this series was always capable of, does that trend continue with this film?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in Cuba where Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) have settled down since the last movie where their house got blown up, and they’re doing their typical first act shtick of racing cars, talking about family, and forging new friendships!  That is until a super hacker hilariously named CIPHER (Charlize Theron) corners Dom at one point and shows him something that will CHANGE EVERYTHING FOREVER!!  Cut to a few days later where good ol’ Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) calls him and the rest of the crew up (Tyrese Gibson, Chirs Bridges, and Nathalie Emmanuel) to do another mission.  Everything goes according to plan except… DOM BETRAYS THEM!!  Their mission was to take an EMP from someplace in German (for reasons that I’m sure make sense) but he crashes Hobbs’s car right at the end and takes it for himself; leaving Hobbs to get thrown in jail back in America which JUST SO HAPPENS to be the same jail that Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is locked in as well… and they get cells right across from each other because reasons.  So now it’s up to our favorite crew of street racers along with Frank Petty (Kurt Russel) from the last movie who’s the leader of some sort of spy organization as well as his new protégé of sorts Eric Reisner (Scott Eastwood) to find out what Dom is doing, what CIPHER wants from him, and hopefully how to solve all this without taking him out as well.  Just what is the reason that Dom betrayed the one thing he cares about more than anything which is FAMILY?  Just what is CIPHER planning, and is it bad enough that the crew may have no other choice than to take Dom out?  Will Vin Diesel FINALLY give that Oscar performance he’s been hoping for!?

F8OTF1

“I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!!  SLLLLLUUURRRP!”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Get Out

getoutcd0

Get Out and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Jordan Peele

2016 turned out to be a fantastic year for horror movies; not just for the ones that ended up on my best of the year list, but also the ones that aimed to be middle of the road seemed to step up their game and try harder than you’d normally expect from the genre. Now sure, 2017 started with The Bye Bye Man, but even 2016 had some low points with The Forest and Incarnate.  Plus, we’ve also gotten the excellent, if problematic, Split not too long ago which is already one of the better films this year; horror or otherwise.  Now we’ve finally gotten to the BIG one which is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut that’s been getting a lot of positive buzz from when it was first announced all the way up to now with those Fancy Schmancy “professional” critics who are raving about it after they saw the “Critics Screenings”.  Well I had to drive thirty miles in the rain AND hail to see this damn thing, so it BETTER be as good as everyone is saying it is!  Is this thoughtful and well-crafted horror film that everyone says it is and that we desperately need right now, or did the hype machine get out of control with this movie which admittedly can sometimes happen with horror films?  Heck, I wasn’t the biggest fan of You’re Next, and that movie was instantly touted as a classic of the genre!  Anyway, let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) heading off to meet her family for the first time in what is sure to be a painfully awkward experience for everyone.  Sure enough, Mr. and Mrs. Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are just as “down” and “hip with the youngsters” as you’d imagine from older white people, but Chris seems to know what he as getting into and is just taking everything in stride until he get back home after the weekend is over.  Of course, things only get worse as Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) enters the picture is an obnoxious dweeb as well as a bunch of the Armitage’s other white friends who are VERY excited to meet Chris.  On top of that the Armitage’s have two black servants, Georgina and Walter (Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson), who look to have gotten the Stepford Wives treatment, though only Chris seems to be noticing this.  Tensions mount higher and higher as more clues are uncovered by Chris and it’s starting to seem that he may be in more danger than he initially realized.  Can he get out before he becomes the victim of whatever these white people have planned?  What happened to Georgina and Walter that has them acting so strange?  Did we SERIOUSLY get one of the best movies of the year from the guy who co-wrote Keanu?  That wasn’t a BAD movie, but god DAMN is this a step up!!

getoutcd1

Fucking white people.  Not only are we pulling this crazy shit, but we’re doing it in the rumpus room!?

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: The Great Wall

thegreatwallcd0

The Great Wall and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Picture and China Film Group

Directed by Zhang Yimou

Hey, Disney can’t be the ONLY company making all that money all over the world, right?  Sure, they have Star Wars and Marvel on their side, but there’s certainly room for even more movies that go for a global audience.  Hell, we’ve already got a few we can name off already like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Warcraft, or even the last loathsome Transformers movie which inexplicable set the third act in China.  Still, this particular movie is something different as it’s a US/China co-production that is legitimately one of those instead of a Hollywood film that had some of it done in China.  This is an acclaimed Chinese director with stars from his own country AND the US with financial backing from Universal and a script from Hollywood writers.  Hell, the fact that this movie ACTUALLY has Chinese subtitles yet is STILL getting a wide release in the US is noteworthy in and of itself!  Did all that effort ultimately pay off, or is this a lousy way to kick off this new era in filmmaking?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with William and Pero (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) running their ass off across the Gobi desert in hopes of outrunning the bandits chasing them and also finding out the secret to BLACK POWDER (i.e. gunpowder) from the Chinese once they find someone to ask about it.  Unfortunately for them, they wind up at The Great Wall where a secret army of warriors assigned to guard the wall (how can they be secret if they’re base of operations can be seen from space?) and they aren’t too friendly to tourists.  Fortunately for them (or maybe not so fortunately), they arrived on the EXACT DATE that an army of monsters that comes around every sixty years (I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be aliens) are set to attack and try to break the wall down so as to siege the country behind it.  Because of this, General Shao and the chief strategist Wang (Zhang Hanyu and Andy Lau) who run this secret military called The Nameless Order don’t have the time to lock them in a dungeon and so they get a chance to prove their worth by slicing up a few monsters as well.  This gives them a brief stay of execution and even the respect of some of the members there including Commander Lin Mae (Jing Tian) and an ill prepared lower solider named Peng Yong (Lu Han).  Of course, these newcomers ALSO get the attention of Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe) who’s… a prisoner I think?  He came to China 25 years ago for BLACK POWDER as well, and I guess The Nameless Order just won’t let the dude leave; a fate that both William and Pero fear awaits them if they stick around too long.  So it looks like they have a dilemma on their hands!  Take what Black Powder the order has and leave them to fight on their own, or do what they can to help and hope they can finagle a way out once the dust has settled.  Will they make the right choice in the end?  What does the order have planned to fight this monstrous threat?  How much were they hoping Matt Damon would bring in?  A hundred million?  Two hundred million?

thegreatwallcd1

Wait, HOW much did that last Bourne movie make!?

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Split

splitcd0

Split and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by M Night Shyamalan

We all want Shyamalan to have a comeback and to find a way to make up for the last fifteen years of his career; especially when it includes such unmitigated disasters like After Earth, The Last Airbender, or even The Happening which is fun to watch but for none of the reasons he intended it to be.  Now he did manage to knock out at least one decent film recently which was The Visit, but it was also a clear sign of how far his status has fallen that he was picking up Blumhouse scraps on a dopey premise with a found footage gimmick.  Now it WAS probably the best thing he made since Signs, but even with that it still wasn’t all that great and wasn’t something that I could imagine a dozen other much less accomplished directors directing along with three other direct to video horror films that year.  With this movie though, it seems he’s making a much more earnest effort; not just a paycheck to keep his name relevant, but an honest attempt to make the next great M Night movie that we’ve been waiting for since Bush won reelection.  Does the latest M Night thriller finally bring him back into the spotlight, or is this the final curtain call for the much maligned filmmaker?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the teenagers, Claire, Marcia, and Casey (Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, and Anya Taylor-Joy), being kidnapped by a mysterious dude for clearly nefarious purposes.  Once they wake up from this… spray the guy uses (do they actually make Knock Out spray?), they find themselves in some sort of basement with two beds, a small bathroom, and a locked door.  Not long after they wake up, they are confronted by their captor Dennis (James McAvoy) who doesn’t give much details but makes it clear that he isn’t about to let them go.  Sometime later, they meet Patricia (James McAvoy) who apologizes for Dennis’s rude behavior, and eventually they meet young Hedwig (James McAvoy) who tells them they’re all screwed.  Now if you couldn’t pick up on it yet, or you haven’t seen the trailers, these are all the same person as their captor, given name Kevin, has Dissociative Identity Disorder and is said to have 23 distinct personalities, though maybe five or six are relevant to the movie.  From there, the movie just builds the tension as more time passes and the women are dreading what their captor has planned for them which, according to Hedwig, are PROBABLY not good things.  While that’s going on, Kevin’s therapist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) is getting messages from one of his identities, Barry, claiming that they DESPERATLEY need to see her, but whenever he comes in, he seems perfectly fine and is sorry to be wasting her time.  Hm…  So just what does Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig have planned for the women in his basement?  Will the good doctor find out that everything is certainly NOT fine before it’s too late?  What exactly are those other identities we don’t to see really like?

 

splitcd1

“Did Igor bring you here so we can work on our experiments?  I mean, I prefer the bodies to be cold BEFORE I bring them back to life, but I can work with this.”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Sing

singcd0

Sing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Garth Jennings

It seems that Illumination’s business model is to just hammer us over and over again with constant advertisements and marketing pushes for whatever movie that will soon (and not so soon) be hitting theaters.  We see it with The Minions invading everything from ironic T-shirts to toilet brushes, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who got REAL sick of those Secret Life of Pets trailers about four months before the damn movie came out.  At least with Sing, Illumination had a decent enough premise on its hand and the trailers only got better as time went on. Still, that’s the same strategy that Suicide Squad had, and while I didn’t HATE it, the trailers were clearly selling a film that the ACTUAL movie couldn’t live up to.  Will that be the case here with Illuminations latest effort to take over the world with marketable CG characters, or is there something genuinely great here from a studio that’s only made fluff so far?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is rather simple as it’s about a theater owning koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who gets desperate enough to rip off American Idol and naturally becomes the talk of the town once he holds open auditions.  Our heroes are a gorilla with daddy issues named Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who’s right out of the Marge Simpson School of quiet desperation, a shy but talented elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly), and a too cool for school porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson) who’s relationship with her boyfriend is being strained by this competition.  I guess I should also mention Mike the Mouse (Seth MacFarlane), but calling him a hero is a bit of a stretch as he’s the one who REALLY wants to win by any means necessary.  Of course, noting goes quite as well as it should, what with Buster’s finances in total disarray and his talent dealing with their own problems at home that threaten to derail this singing competition as much as Buster’s inability to keep the lights on.  Will this competition be exactly what Buster needs to save his theater and what everyone else needs to change their lives for the better?  What kind of shenanigans does Mike have up his tiny sleeves that can cause big problems for everyone else?  Is anyone else feeling a distinct lack of Billy Joel in this movie filled with so many oldies!?

singcd1

“We didn’t start the fire!  It was always burning since the world’s been turning!!”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Incarnate

incarnatecd0

Incarnate and all the images you see in this review are owned by Blumhouse Tilt, High Top Releasing, and Universal Pictures

Directed by Brad Peyton

I go to see a lot of movies, and I don’t think I saw a single trailer for this at any of them; not even other horror films or Blumhouse productions.  That seems pretty strange though considering they’ve got a well-known actor in here with Aaron Eckhart who may not be quite A list, but should be enough to sell a movie like this, and yet it seems to have slipped completely under the radar.  That’s usually a bad sign, but it’s not always the case as films like last year’s We Are Your Friends was a movie I never heard of until I went to the theater to see it, and that turned out to be pretty solid; especially compared to other Zac Effron outings like Dirty Grandpa and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.  Maybe the same is true for this little horror flick.  I mean… it’s possible… right?  Either way, let’s find out!!

The movie begins as most demon possession movies do with a young child getting his soul hijacked from some horrifying hell spawn with the victim here being Cameron (David Mazouz) who seems to catch it from this homeless woman as the demons here apparently jump from host to host.  Naturally, the Vatican is all over this and sends out one of their representatives (Catalina Sandino Moreno) to keep an eye on things, but it soon becomes clear that conventional methods are gonna take care of it this time.  Instead, she calls upon… Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart)!  Who is he?  Well he’s some guy who looks to have watched Inception a few too many times and has come up with a new exorcism technique where he goes into the mind of those possessed and convince their subconscious or whatever to reject the monster that is feeding off of their soul.  Of course, Dr. Ember isn’t some bright eyed idealist who’s doing this for the good of mankind!  He has a DARK PAST full of TRAGEDY and WOE, and the techniques he’s developed were all in service of killing ONE DEMON SPECIFICALLY who has something to do with said tragic past.  Of course, it JUST SO HAPPENS (or maybe not?) that the kid is being possessed by that ONE SPECIFIC DEMON, so Dr. Ember begrudgingly takes the case along with his two hipster tech brats Riley and Oliver (Emily Jackson and Keir O’Donnell).  Will Dr. Ember finally gets the vengeance that has eluded him all these years?  Will he be able to save Cameron in the process, or will Ember see him as expendable in the pursuit of a greater goal?  What… exactly did I just sit though?

incarnatecd1

“Maybe I will do that I, Frankenstein sequel after all.  It wasn’t THAT bad, was it?”

Continue reading