Tag Archives: Universal Pictures

Cinema Dispatch: Night School

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

Directed by Malcolm D Lee

It’s always good seeing Kevin Hart!  Okay, maybe not… BUT it’s always good to see Tiffany Haddish, right!?  Ehh… fine, these are two VERY talented comedians but they aren’t always in the best movies as is the case with A LOT of successful comedians.  Putting them together SHOULD be a match made in heaven, but then again maybe the filmmakers thought the script was so bad that even Hart couldn’t save it by himself.  In any case, we can hope that there are at least a few good jokes in here even if the premise and the trailers don’t seem to be promising all that much.  Does this movie manage to rise above expectations to be one of the better comedies this year, or are we doomed to suffer yet another mediocre effort from filmmakers and comedians who should be working on WAY more ambitious projects than this?  Let’s find out!!

Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) is your average Joe who is actually doing quite well for himself despite dropping out of high school and for reasons other than he’s a genius who went off to start his own company.  Instead, he’s managed to find a good job at a barbecue grill store and has set himself apart from his peers due to his world class skills in customer service!  I kind of find that hard to believe though considering he ends up accidentally blowing the place up not long after the movie starts.  You’d think someone as professional as he is wouldn’t have done something like that, but in any case Teddy is now without a job which is doubly a problem as he’s been living paycheck to paycheck for some time; refusing to tell his girlfriend Lisa who has a WAY more successful job (Megalyn Echikunwoke) that he’s not as well off as he lets on and that he could REALLY use a few bucks to ease the stress.  Luckily for Teddy though, his buddy Marvin (Ben Schwartz) JUST SO HAPPENS to have an even BETTER job for him all lined up… but he has to get his GED first!  To make matters worse, the principal of the high school (Taran Killam) is someone he had beef with in high school (for some reason…) and is not about to let old grievances die off, even if he can’t TECHNICALLY keep Teddy from going to night classes run by Professor Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) which I assume is the way she prefers to be addressed.  Can Teddy get his GED and that sweet new job without having his girlfriend finds out all of his deeply held and embarrassing secrets?  What wacky hijinks will he get into with a classroom full of eccentric odd balls that have their own reasons for getting their GED?  Can we send all six of the scriptwriters to night school?  I don’t know about you, but they could really use some brushing up if this is what they consider “professional” material.

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“Oh well.  I’m sure this will all make sense in the editing room!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Skyscraper

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

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

I for one will NEVER turn down a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson flick even if it looks as freaking ridiculous as this Die Hard knockoff looks to be!  The guy is an unstoppable force in Hollywood and the fact that almost all of his movies are least SOMEWHAT enjoyable is a good indication of why that’s the case.  This one looks to be no different in any significant way, but hey!  More of what we love from the guy can’t possibly be a bad thing… right?  Does this manage to be fun despite its silly premise and unbelievable set pieces, or is there a limit to what even THE ROCK is capable of carrying?  Let’s find out!!

Our hero is Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) who’s a former FBI… SWAT… Solider… something, who’s spent the last ten years working as a private security consultant.  See, he had to retire after… the incident, which may have taken one of his legs also led to him meeting his wife (Neve Campbell) who he then married and had two kids with (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell) so six of one half a dozen of the other!  Anyway, he’s landed his biggest job yet as a third party verifier of the security and safety systems that are put in place at THE PEARL.  What is THE PEARL you may ask?  Well it’s the largest skyscraper IN THE WORLD (it sure would suck if someone had to climb it later in the movie) that was built by Chinese billionaire Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) and is about to open its upper floors to renters; provided of course they pass Will’s safety check which will secure them a reasonable insurance policy!  Well as exciting as all that sounds, things start to go south as a crew of well-trained criminals (led by Roland Møller) not only infiltrate THE PEARL but also get total control of their security system, and they set fire to the upper floors in an attempt to smoke Zhao out of his penthouse and get whatever it is he’s hiding up there.  There’s just one problem!  Okay, actually two problems.  Will’s family was STAYING on one of those floors they just so happened to set on fire, and Will himself was outside THE PEARL as part of his security check and now needs to find a way inside.  So not only did you piss him off by putting his family in danger, you’re gonna force him to face heights, smoke, and absurdly high temperatures as well which is just gonna get him THAT much more angry at you!  Can Will somehow infilitrate the burning building and save his family before it’s too late?  What exactly is Zhao hiding, and is worth all the destruction these bad guys are causing?  Wait, is he SERIOUSLY gonna try to jump that!?

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FLAP YOUR GIANT MUSCULAR ARMS, DWAYNE!!

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Cinema Dispatch: The First Purge

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The First Purge and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Gerard McMurray

Do you realize that it’s ONLY been two years since the last Purge movie?  It feels like an ETERNITY since then, and that’s mostly due to the way that reality deviated in much worse way than Election Year had predicted, and we’re gonna be suffering through this waking nightmare for quite a bit longer; especially with the inevitable ideological shift of the Supreme Court.  Now the last movie managed to be my favorite movie of 2016 which puts me in a rather exclusive category of people who liked it more than La La Land, Arrival, and Moonlight, and I still stand by that decision no matter WHAT Rotten Tomatoes gave it!  The franchise has only gotten better with each movie, a feat that I a franchise has rarely if EVER pulled off, and the reason why is because the filmmakers BELIEVE in their premise and build upon it each time; expanding the lore, coming up with creative ways to murder, and most importantly hammering down and fine tuning its message that is stronger than most “respectable” movies that try to do the same thing.  With this one though, they’re not only going for their most radically political yet, but also make it a successful prequel which is rarely a good idea for ANY horror franchise.  Heck, do you even REMEMBER they did a prequel to The Thing or that Leatherface prequel from last year?  If there’s one franchise that has a chance of pulling it off though, it’s this one.  Does this movie manage to elevate the bar once again for smart and brazen horror films, or have they finally managed to bite off more than they can chew in a political climate that may be too hot for even THIS series to handle?  Let’s find out!!

With unemployment on the rise and an ineffective response from the government to fix it, the United States is breaking out in protests across the country which may SOUND like a reflection of our own time, but hold your horses!  We haven’t gotten to the takeover of the government by a Fascist political party!  Yes, in all this turmoil (much of it I assume is manufactured as a way to justify racist, classist, and nationalist policies), the New Founding Fathers of America gain enough popularity as a political party that they win the White House and presumably the other branches of government; paving the way for them to come up with a plan to fix everything by which I mean killing off poor people.  No wait!  We can’t be THAT blatant right away.  Let’s just call it… an experiment!  Yeah, that’ll work!  Using some rather sketchy science from a doctor of… something (Marisa Tomei), the NFFA has sectioned off Staten Island as the site of a sociological test to see if it’ll be the solution to increased crime rates which is, you guessed it, THE PURGE.  For twelve hours, paid volunteers who offered to stay on the island (and those who couldn’t afford to get off) will be able to commit ANY crime they wish, up to and including murder, and our tour guides for this night of horror Nya (Lex Scott Davis) who’s been organizing protests for this event from the beginning, her brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade) who’s considering partaking in the violence, and a local gangster named Dmitri (Y’Lan Noel) who has a history with Nya and is just as skeptical as she is of what’s REALLY gonna happen on this fateful night.  Will our heroes survive a night of unmitigated horrors doled out by fascist politicians and easy led fools?  Just how far will the government go to make this experiment the new law of the land, and will justice ever find its way back to them?  How is it that THIS franchise has never gotten an Oscar nomination, but everyone tripped over themselves to heap praise on Three Billboards when it’s message was a weak sauce version of the one in these films!?

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Now if Frances McDormand was IN the movie, THEN it might have a shot!

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Cinema Dispatch: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by J A Bayona

The first Jurassic World was one of my earliest reviews once I starting writing about films in theaters instead of just ones that were within arm’s reach, and I remember really liking a lot of it even if it did have some really bad moments throughout and a rather oblivious tone with the way it treats a lot of its cast.  After seeing Trevorrow’s follow up, The Book of Henry, it seems clear that he may not be the best at balancing disparate elements together; especially when compared to how seamlessly Spielberg combined the wonder of dinosaurs with their capacity for pure terror in the original Jurassic Park.  For this one though he’s taken a step back for a new director to try and get this goofy idea work once again even if the trailers make it look a LOT like The Lost World.  Can this franchise hold onto relevance for one more outing, or is finally time for this franchise to go extinct?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the last film, we find ourselves a few years out from the Jurassic World incident where everyone who’s still alive has moved on to something new and the dinosaurs on the island are simply left to their own devices.  However, it turns out that the island where a GIGANTIC THEME PART WAS OPERATING ONLY A HANDFUL OF YEARS AGO is sitting on top of an active volcano, so I guess that means the park was doomed either way.  This is a problem however because the island is the only place on Earth that is home to these magnificent killing machines, and several people around the world including a dinosaur protection organization led up by Calire Dearing from part one (Bryce Dallas Howard) are intent on finding them a new home before the volcano explodes.  She ends up getting the attention of Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) who I don’t THINK was in the original Jurassic Park but was apparently John Hammond’s business partner the whole time, and he has the resources to get those dinosaurs to safety.  Well that’s great, but why does he as well as his right hand man Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) need her?  So apparently, since she was an employee back then, she STILL has access to the security system (apparently that’s STILL up and running) and once she logs in, she can track the remaining dinosaurs on the island through GPS chips in their skin.  Even with that though, there’s still one creature that will surely elude them which JUST SO HAPPENS to be Blue the Veloceraptor from part one.  If only they knew some hunky bro who trained Blue and could potentially cox them to get in a cage and off the island.  Oh wait!  They DO know such a hunky bro!  Claire drafts Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to join them on this wild expedition along with two volunteers at the organization she works for; Franklin Webb to HACK INTO THE MAINFRAME or whatever and Dr Zia Rodriguez who’s a dinosaur vet (Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda).  With such a crack team as well as a paramilitary group to back them up led by a hard ass solider (Ted Levine), they’re ready to face anything on the island, but they better do it fast because that volcano can blow at ANY minute!  Why they couldn’t assemble this team together a month ago I have no idea, but I guess even SUPER rich guys like Mr. Lockwood can only do so much in a limited amount of time.  Can this unlikely rag tag of activists and bros manage to save these dinosaurs as well as locate Blue?  Why exactly are Lockwood and Eli ready to entrust all of this in their hands, and do they have plans that they’re keeping close to the chest?  Just what the hell do they mean by Fallen Kingdom anyway?  Could it be… the Kingdom of MAN!?

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The next one should be called Dawn of the Planet of the Dinosaurs!  T-REX WITH MACHINE GUNS!!

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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Halloween)

HALLOWEENTTCD0Halloween is owned by Universal Pictures and all the images you see in this trailer talk are the property of their respective owners

Directed by David Gordon Green

So it’s no surprise that we were gonna get another Halloween movie at some point.  In fact, last time I heard at least, it was going to be a sequel with Michael in jail on the day of his execution and running wild in the prison which would have been an INTERESTING idea I guess, it was eventually scrapped once Dimension lost the rights to the franchise in 2015.  Instead, we’re going back to basics with one last tale of Michael and Laurie resolving their differences with extreme acts of violence, and they even got Jamie Lee Curtis to take up the mantle one last time.  So now that we have a trailer, what do I think of it?  I guess I LIKE it, but I’m not in love with it.  Jamie Lee Curtis is always great, and David Gordon Green is an… interesting choice for director (this is the dude who did the stoner trifecta of Pineapple Express, Your Highness, and The Sitter), and yet it doesn’t seems suspiciously safe for a movie about a guy who commits vicious knife murders.

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“Hey, how’s it going?  Having a fun Halloween?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Breaking In

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

Directed by James McTeigue

I mean if nothing else, this can’t be a worse Mother’s Day film than Mother’s Day.  Well that’s a bit unfair as I DID like what I saw in the trailers which involved Gabriel Union kicking the crap out of a bunch of home invaders, and a basic premise like that is almost foolproof in how easy it is to at least make a COMPETENT thriller with it.  Does this latest entry in the genre prove to be a breath of fresh air and something wholly original, or is this yet another run of the mill action film that doesn’t live up to its marketing campaign?  Let’s find out!!

Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) is a mother of two (Seth Carr and Ajiona Alexus) whose father (Damien Leake) had recently died and she’s in charge with handling the estate.  She drives out with her kids to the dude’s summer home which is a giant fortress of a place with an extremely elaborate security system and a whole lot of bad memories if Shaun’s reactions are anything to go by.  Sadly the unpleasant memories are the least of her problems as she soon finds out that three criminals (Billy Burke, Levi Meaden, and Richard Cabal) were already there searching for the old man’s secret stash of cash.  Now that Shaun and her kids are there though, they have to readjust their plans and start taking hostages.  The good news is that they manage to get the kids.  The bad news?  Shaun slips right out of their hands and is now SUPER pissed!  Can Shaun save her family before the bad guys get desperate?  What secrets were her father hiding in the house, and are they worth killing for?  Will Shaun tap into her inner Liam Neeson and teach these bastards a lesson in who NOT to fuck with!?

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“If you let my children go now, that’ll be the end of it.  I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”     “Oh crap!  She saw that movie too!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Truth or Dare

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Truth or Dare and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Jeff Wadlow

Another day, another PRESENTED BY BLUMHOUSE film, which basically means it’s time to flip a coin! Heads Blumhouse wins, tails I lose but Blumhouse still makes a bunch of money! They’re certainly a studio that’s had their ups and downs as they’ve been responsible for getting films like Get Out and the Purge Franchise to the big screen, but are also responsible for The Gallows, at least half the Paranormal Activity movies, and that first Ouija movie. Now normally I’m at least SOMEWHAT aware when Blumhouse is putting out a horror film (at least one that has a shot of getting a wide release) but this one flew COMPLETELY under my radar which can only mean good things, right!? Does this film manage to rise above the underwhelming marketing it’s received and be a gem in its own right, or is this gonna be worse than Jem in its own right (yet ANOTHER of Blumhouse’s failures)? Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with a group of friends traveling to Mexico to celebrate Spring Break by drinking booze and eating nachos! One of the young women named Olivia (Lucy Hale) ends up meeting some cool dude named Carter (Landon Liboiron) and he leads the whole group to some abandoned church in the middle of nowhere to… I don’t know, party I guess? Doesn’t SEEM like the place to get wasted considering how much dirt and broken stuff is littering the floor, but Carter ends up convincing them to play a game of Truth or Dare. It goes… alright I guess, but Carter eventually flees and leaves Olivia with a warning; KEEP PLAYING THE GAME OR ELSE! Well THAT certainly seems weird. Anyway, the group heads back home to continue their college education, but soon enough ghostly figures and other strange occurrences compel them to continue the game with HORRIFIC results. Basically you can either do the challenge the ghostly visions propose which USUALLY involves hurting someone or hurting themselves, OR the ghosts will make them commit suicide because THAT’S not tasteless in the least! So I guess the game is on as each one of them has to take turns being tortured and risking death until… something happens I guess? I mean, that something is PROBABLY death considering there doesn’t seem to be a Get Out of Jail Free card for this situation, so… keep your chin up I guess! Can this group of friends find a way to outsmart this game that for whatever reason has followed them back home? What secrets will they learn about each other as the game continues, and how far will they be pushed to go just to survive? Did someone fall asleep at the wheel over at Blumhouse, because that’s the only excuse I can think of for how this managed to get past even THEIR lax standards!

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“I dare you to not suck, movie.”     “DAMN IT!  That’s a trap and you know it!”

 

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