Tag Archives: Universal Pictures

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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Cinema Dispatch: Blockers

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

Directed by Kay Cannon

Blockers?  Seriously?  We’re all PRETENDING that’s what the movie is called!?  IT’S COCK BLOCKERS!  They’re not even being subtle about it considering THEY PUT A ROOSTER ON THE POSTER!!  I don’t know why, but the first time I saw the trailer and the subsequent poster for it, this one aspect REALLY annoyed me and I ended up feeling rather down on the trailer overall.  What, John Cena’s gonna try to sell us on him being a comedy star by shoving stuff up his butt?  Been there, done that!  Sure they had Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz on hand to steady the ship and keep things on track, but I didn’t really see much to this movie that I hadn’t seen in a hundred other comedies before it.  In the last week or so however, the early buzz for this movie started to get REALLY strong and people were praising it all over the place!  Is there a chance that I was WRONG about this movie!?  BUT THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!  You all come to read this because I’m ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING, right!?  Well I guess we’ll have to see if my skills at predicting movies based on trailers are top notch or if Universal was merely doing a bad job of selling a gem they had on their hands.  Does this film live up to the hype, or was I right all along!?  Let’s find out!!

Kayla, Julie, and Sam (Geraldine Viswanathan, Kathryn Newton, and Gideon Adlon) are the high school seniors who are ready to finally graduate but not before going to their prom which is the biggest day in a young teenager’s life, at least according to this movie.  I don’t know about you, but I brought a book to my prom instead of a date, so I guess I have trouble relating to that, but it’s made clear that this is a special night to THEM and they even decided that that will be the night they’ll lose their virginity!  One wants to do it then so that it would be a perfect night, another figures it’s as good a time as any to get it over with, and the last one is a closeted lesbian or wants to get in on the bonding experience and at least TRY to see if she’s maybe into the opposite sex before committing to the queer identity.  Too bad that their parents get wind of this idea and have decided to… block them from getting laid that night!  The parents in question include Kayla’s dad Mitchell (John Cena) as the super serious and incredibly dorky one, Julie’s mother Lisa (Leslie Mann) who’s a single parent and is afraid that her daughter is making a terrible mistake, and Sam’s father Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) who has his own reasons for going along with this that include wanting to reconnect with his daughter since he’s been more or less absent since he divorced her mother.  Will they be successful in stopping their daughters from having either the best night or the worst night of their lives?  What other issues have they all been hiding from that will be forced to the forefront in this wacky adventure?  Can John Cena properly atone for being in the god awful Mel Gibson movie!?

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“This is MUCH better than doing Daddy’s Home 3!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Pacific Rim Uprising

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Pacific Rim Uprising and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Steven S DeKnight

Hey, remember when Pacific Rim was a thing?  Yeah, it REALLY feels like a long time ago at this point, doesn’t it?  I mean, it DID come out five years ago, but with The Shape of Water showing us what Guillermo del Toro is really capable of when he puts everything he’s got into a movie (and not just special effects),Pacific Rim is feeling more and more like an afterthought in his career.  That being said, it WAS a really well made movie with a great turn by Charlie Day as a befuddled super science, and it led to him and his co-star Burn Gorman teaming up again for one of the best episodes of It’s Always Sunny; Flowers for Charlie!  Now we’ve got a sequel that doesn’t have del Toro in the director’s chair and looks to be more of a big budgeted Transformers competitor instead of the more methodical and intense vibe of the first film which certainly isn’t a BAD direction to take the series in, but will they be able to pull it off?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place ten years after the events of the first film where Jake (John Boyega) who is the son of Idris Elba’s General Stacker Pentecost is NOT living up to his father’s legacy and is instead bumming around one of the many cities that were more or less abandoned after being hit by a Kaiju attack.  Jake doesn’t like to play by the rules and would rather spending his time ripping parts out of retired giant robots known as Jaegers than to join the Pan Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) and continue his father’s legacy while also preparing for the next inevitable Kaiju attack.  Too bad for Jake though because he runs into a fellow street hustler named Amara (Cailee Spaeny) who’s made her own mini-Jaeger but is soon busted along with Jake for having an illegal robot which is a thing now I guess.  Anyway, Jake is faced with some serious jail time if he the cops throw the book at him, but his sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) who is a General in the PPDC offers him one more chance to set his life straight.  Join back up with the PPDC and train some new recruits which will include Amara whose impressive robot making skills has caught the PPDC’s attention.  So that’s it, right?  It’s basically Top Gun but with robots!  Well… not quite.  While this is going on, we ALSO have to worry about the PPDC losing their favor with the rest of the world as a tech company led up by Liwen Shao (Jing Tian) has developed Jaeger drones that can be piloted by ONE person instead of two, and can do so remotely which will pilots from having to climb into the robots themselves.  Seems like a good idea, but if you know ANYTHING about sci-fi movies, there’s always some unforeseen consequences to overly mechanizing jobs that humans are also doing; ESPECIALLY jobs which involve deadly weapons!  Not only that, but while this squabble is taking place, there are hints here and there that the Kaiju may be returning sooner than they all think!  Can the PPDC and the Shao Corporation come to an understanding before even bigger threats will tear them both apart?  Will Jake be able to finally stop running from his TORTURED BACKSTORY PAST (mostly involving Daddy Issues) in order to succeed in the one place where he truly belongs?  Any chance we can just forget about that Power Rangers movie and just let the filmmakers behind this make one that’s ACTUALLY good?

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“IT’S MORPHING TIME!!”     “The heck it is!  No way I’m wearing spandex in this thing!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Snowman

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

Directed by Tomas Alfredson

Is anyone else super excited to see this movie?  There’s something innately appealing about a serial killer movie, as morbid as that sounds, mostly because I feel they’re one of the purest forms of a Good Guy vs Bad Guy story that pits two characters against each other in a battle of wits to see who comes out on top!  Face/Off, Death Note, Silence of the Lambs, Sherlock; the list goes on and on and I always find them to be at least somewhat enjoyable… though I have never seen that Alex Cross movie which I hear is so bad it’d probably ruin the whole genre for me.  At least this movie looks better than THAT film did and from the trailers it looks like a rather interesting murder mystery with a neat little gimmick for the killer that certainly sets them apart from your typical slasher.  Will this be another great film to add to the list, or will all the hopes I had for this melt into a sad little puddle like a snowman left in the sun for far too long?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the adventure of the hilariously named Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) and if you think that’s just a poor translation; the writer of the book this is based on ALSO wrote a book called Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder.  Anyway, Detective Hole is a complete and utter wreck when we catch up with him as he’s constantly drinking and sleeping on park benches despite the fact that he’s supposedly a legendary detective who’s solved all sorts of difficult cases… I think. The latest mystery he’s tasked to solve is a series of disappearances which may end up being homicides and he’s got a fresh new detective out of the academy named Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) to help and/or annoy him as he tries to find a connection between them.  I’m not sure if he figures out that the connection is a snowman being built in front of the home of each victim (the movie is rather bad at conveying information) but that seems to be the killer’s signature; hence the title.  Detective Hole has to get to the bottom of this case soon; not only to save whoever the killer’s next victim is, but because the killer seems to have taken a liking to the drunk detective and may be targeting him or his loved ones soon if he can’t catch him first.  Can Detective Hole figure out who’s been kidnapping these people and cutting them to pieces; despite his hilarious name?  Doe these recent kidnappings have anything to do with a case from six years ago that was led by Detective Gert Rafto (Val Kilmer) who died under mysterious circumstances?  Seriously, did anyone read the script to this before filming?  Were there pages missing or did someone ACTUALLY think that this all made sense?

 

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Seems like a lot of effort just to make a point.  Wait… what was the point again?

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Cinema Dispatch: Happy Death Day

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Happy Death Day and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher B. Landon

There are very few premises that will get more on board with a film than “like Groundhog’s Day, but…” and honestly I’m not even sure why.  That movie is certainly a phenomenally crafted comedy that I revisit from time to time, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite films of all time.  I guess it really is just how great of an idea that premise really is as I see it as basically THE perfect interpretation of a Bottle Film (it allows limitless possibilities while also having an enormous constraint) and its one of the few ideas that gets me to eagerly start putting together scenarios of what I would do in that situation.  Throw a murder mystery in the middle of it, and you have something that could be not just a GREAT film, but an absolute classic for the genre!  Can this movie POSSIBLY reach the lofty goals that it sets for itself, or will this be a bigger waste of time than Before I Fall?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Tree (Jessica Rothe) waking up in an unknown dorm room with a guy she doesn’t really know named Carter (Israel Broussard) and heads back to her sorority so she can ignore the fact that today is her birthday.  She ignores calls from her dad (Jason Bayle), brushes off her roommate Lori (Ruby Modine) who’s at least making an attempt to make her birthday a little bit nicer, and just goes through her usual routine as if there’s nothing special about today; even going to see the married professor she’s sleeping with (Charles Aitken).  At the end of the day, when she’s heading to her own surprise party, it turns out today is NOT going to be a normal day because someone in a crappy baby mask (the school’s mascot… for some reason) stabs her and she… wakes up in the same dorm room she did that morning.  Same guy, same day, same ignored phone calls from dad.  Oh, and also the same murder.  Clearly she’s doomed to repeat the same day over and over again until she finds out just who it is that’s killing her each night which may not be an easy thing to do considering how many people she manages to piss off on a regular basis, though murder DOES seem to be a bit extreme to be just anyone she knows so she’ll need to narrow down the suspects as each night (and each death) brings her closer to the truth.  Will Tree be able to put an end to this endless cycle of misery and stabbings by unmasking the one person on campus who wants her dead?  Is every day TRULY a repeat of the last, or does something linger every time the clock goes backwards?  Just how many absurd and hilarious ways will Tree have to experience the ice cold hand of death before this is all over!?

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“OH MY GOD!  THEY KILLED TREE!!”     “YOU BASTARDS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: American Made

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

Directed by Doug Liman

Hollywood?  We need to talk.  I know that you love to make movies about people (usually white dudes) who catch a lucky break or have one useful skill that pays off which launches them into fame, fortune, and eventual ruin, but I think it’s time to stop.  Look, Wolf of Wall Street was wonderful and so was that Nicolas Cage movie from 2005, but these are starting to get stale and repetitive; especially with this film that looks so paint by numbers and generic that even Tom Cruise can barely seem to bring anything to the material.  Still, bad trailers and a tired premise don’t ALWAYS spell doom for a movie, and Tom Cruise can really be THAT good in a movie so as to keep it engaging even if everything else is working against it.  Does this film manage to avoid the pitfalls that so many films before it have fallen into, or are we scraping the bottom of the barrel to find just ONE more interesting story about a dude who found an odd way to strike it rich?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is supposedly based on the real life story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) who was your run of the mill airline pilot who was making some extra cash by smuggling in Cuban Cigars.  His actions don’t go unnoticed by the mysterious Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is a CIA agent looking to make his mark and believes he has found it in this pilot that he easily convinces to quit his job and start working for the US Government.  His patriotic duty turns out to be driving a plane with a camera on it so he can take pictures of Central American communist freedom fighters that the US has an interest in repressing and these pictures prove to be invaluable to that cause.  Eventually he gets bigger missions such as delivering intel to Manuel Noriega, running guns to the Contra fighters in Nicaragua, and even running cocaine for the cartel which isn’t QUITE what the CIA had in mind but they certainly aren’t gonna stop him from doing it.  Of course, with the CIA apparently doing all this on the down low, Barry not only starts catching the ire of other government organizations like the FBI and DEA, but also runs the risk of losing his sweetheart deals with the Cartel which is led up by Pablo Escobar (Maunicio Mejia).  Throw in some family drama with his wife (Sarah Wright) who is kept in the dark for a lot of this and his brother in law (Caleb Landry Jones) who’s a total fuck up that knows too much and you’re looking at a powder keg ready to explode right in Barry’s handsome face!  Will Barry find a way to keep the balancing act going indefinitely?  How far will the US Government under Reagan go to get what it wants and what will that eventually mean for Barry?  Wait, is this what the Top Gun sequel will be about!?

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“Without Goose, things just kinda went downhill for me…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Girls Trip

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

Directed by Malcolm D Lee

I am so not looking forward to this one.  They just kept playing that trailer over and OVER again in front of everything I saw, and I never once found it funny; especially that joke (and I use the term loosely) about infectious diseases NOT being spread through the rectum.  Are we supposed to laugh because it’s ignorant?  I don’t know, but all that said it’s got a decent enough looking cast and trailers don’t ALWAYS accurately reflect the finished product.  Maybe there’s a chance this will turn out fine!  That’s possible, right!?  Well let’s find out!!

The movie is about four friends who were besties in college, but then life happened and they started to drift away as they found love, careers, and other things that kept them busy.  We’ve got Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) who’s a self-help celebrity married to some dude named Stewart (Mike Colter), Lisa Cooper (Jada Pinkett Smith) who’s a divorcee as well as a helicopter mom, Sasha Franklin (Queen Latifah) who was going to be a great journalist but is stuck writing about celebrity gossip on her blog, Dina (Tiffany Haddish) who’s… well THE WILD CARD I guess.  Anyway, the titular trip of the movie happens when Ryan has an opportunity to get a TV show and is meeting up with the TV executives in New Orleans while she’s ALSO giving a speech at a women’s conference of some kind; both of which by the way are happening over the same weekend as the Essence Music Festival.  Given this once in a lifetime opportunity, she decides to call up her friends and invite them for a wild weekend which will surely be filled with shenanigans and wine coolers!  Of course, things don’t go as planned as all four of them have issues that bubble up to the surface during the trip and Ryan is at risk of losing that TV show deal if things get too far out of hand.  Can Ryan keep things under control between her wild friends and even her husband long enough to get what she’s always wanted?  Will Sasha betray her best friend once she gets her hands on some juicy gossip about her and her love life?  Will the other two resolve… whatever story arcs THEY have!?

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A selfie stick is the PERFECT accessory for any occasion… IN BED!!

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