Cinema Dispatch: Sing 2

Sing 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Garth Jennings

Was anyone expecting the first Sing to be anything more than cloying and treacly?  I mean it’s not like Illumination has a great track record for this kind of thing, especially with those toothless Seuss adaptations, but they somehow pulled it off with that movie which was sweet, sincere, and my favorite animated movie the year it came out!  The moment that it was over though, I knew that a sequel was coming and that it was probably going to be a bad idea.  The first one worked as its own story, so trying to fit another one on top of it seemed like typical sequel folly and an obvious attempt at a cash grab.  Then again, it’s not like I was expecting anything out of the first one and it managed to surprise me, so why not the sequel as well?  Can this movie capture the magic of the first film and give us the rare animated sequel that is just as satisfying as the first one, or should we just be glad that we got a good movie in the first place and write this one off as a mere victory lap from Illumination?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film, the Moon Theater is back and better than ever!  The all-star cast of Meena, Johnny, Rosita, and Gunter (Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, and Nick Kroll) are living their dreams and selling out shows every night; all of which should make Buster (Matthew McConaughey) who owns the theater very happy, right?  I mean that’s kind of the dream that they were all striving for in the first one!  Well… no.  Apparently, they all want to go to the Sing universe equivalent of Las Vegas and perform shows there; presumably next to furry versions of Blue Man Group and Carrot Top.  After a talent scout (Chelsea Peretti) brushes them off, Buster drags his cast as well as Ash (Scarlett Johansson) to the big city to prove that scout wrong and appeal to the biggest producer in the city; Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Carnavale).  Through some high-level schmoozing and a white lie here and there, he agrees to give them a shot; albeit it with quite a few strings attached.  They have three weeks to throw together a lavish Broadway-style show from scratch, they have to include Crystal’s daughter Porsha (Halsey) in some way, and they need to find rock legend Clay Calloway (Bono) so he can be a part of the show.  That last one, in particular, is going to be difficult as no one has seen or heard from him in fifteen years, but if Buster says he can get him, then by Jove, he’s gonna get him!  Can the crew pull off yet another amazing show, even with the added pressures of a bigger production and an overbearing executive?  What new challenges will our heroes face on their latest venture, and is this perhaps the end of the road for them?  I mean it’s not like Buster has a habit of getting in over his head, right?  Surely he knows what he’s doing!

“I don’t know, can we make it ten percent more heartfelt?  Which one of these dials adds more heart?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Halloween Kills

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

Directed by David Gordon Green

It looks like the only thing that could stop Michael Myers was a global Pandemic as this was supposed to come out last Halloween, but I guess any October is a good time to release a new installment of this series.  The 2018 film was a breath of fresh air in a franchise that went off the rails in several different ways, but the ending left me rather cold as it was clearly there to make room for a sequel instead of giving us a definitive end to the story.  Now that sequel is here so it’s time to find out if it was worth undercutting the dramatic conclusion to the last film to get one more story out of this new continuity.  Is this the proper conclusion we were hoping to get in the last movie, or should they have ended the series then and there?  Lets’ find out!!

Continuing where the last movie left off, Laurie Strode along with her daughter and granddaughter Karen and Allyson (Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak) are speeding away from her burning house with Michael Myers (James Judy Courtney and Nick Castle) trapped inside; a plan that seemed dubious when we saw it three years ago and now we can see exactly why as Michael manages to survive the fire and kills a bunch of firefighters in the process.  Over the course of the evening, it becomes clear to the whole town of Haddonfield that Michael Myers is still on the loose and wreaking havoc wherever he goes, so it’s up to the people of that town including a fully grown Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) to lead the charge and put an end to this murder once and for all!  While all this is going on, Laurie is in the hospital recovering from Michael’s attack and Karen is doing what she can to keep her family together despite Allyson being in the throes of grief and seeking revenge wherever she can find it.  Can this town put an end to this shadow that has been hanging over them since that fateful night in 1978?  What will it take to put Michael down once and for all, and is it something that can be done without losing more lives and perhaps even the soul of this town?  Seriously, Laurie.  You couldn’t put two in the head for good measure before lighting the house on fire?  Heck, you could have at least thrown a bit of gasoline on him!

If we don’t learn that Michael is actually a Highlander, I’m gonna start questioning the seriousness of this series!
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Cinema Dispatch: Candyman

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

Directed by Nia DaCosta

Candyman is an interesting franchise to be sure; Starting off as yet another Clive Barker adaptation but given enough changes when translated to film that it took on a lot of different meanings and ended up speaking to an often underserved audience.  Because of this place it holds in popular culture, who Candyman is and what he represents for a lot of people is something that I cannot truly opine on.  I’ve only seen the first movie which was a very solid horror film, but it’s in a genre that’s full of great works so it never stood out to me as much as other films in the genre have.  I AM however a pretty big fan of Jordan Peele’s work in the genre and while this isn’t directed by him, he did produce and write it which is a pretty good sign in my book!  Will this be another classic horror film that Jordan Peele had a hand in, or is trying to bring this franchise back ultimately a doomed prospect like so many other horror rebotos?  Let’s find out!!

Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is an artist in Chicago who got some popularity early on but has struggled to find success since then; not just because he’s seemingly out of inspiration but due to the limited spaces that the ART WORLD wish to see his work exist in.  After hearing a ghost story from his girlfriend’s brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) about a mysterious string of murders back in the nineties, he decides to investigate the area and runs across William (Colman Domingo) who gives him the story of Candyman (Tony Todd); a menacing figure covered in bees with a hook for a hand who will appear and kill you if you say his name five times in a mirror.  With this, Anthony has finally found an idea with exploring despite his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris) not seeing much there, and her suspicions only get worse when Anthony becomes more and more obsessed with the legend and the case that happened in the nineties.  With Anthony doing the work of spreading the story of Candyman, is he inadvertently bringing him back to resume his reign of terror?  With such a dangerous legend that could lead to so much death, why did William even tell Anthony about it, and will learning more about the history of Candyman uncover disturbing answers to that question?  If you only say his name four times, how long do you have to say it a fifth time before it counts?

“Candyman.  Candyman.  Candyman.  Candyman…”     “OH COME ON!”     “Ha-ha!  You’re trapped now!”     “What if I gave you some candy?”     “What candy, man?  I don’t see any.  OH CRAP-”     *SMASH*
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Cinema Dispatch: Old

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

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

M Night Shyamalan is far from my favorite filmmaker, but I’m always interested to see whatever it is he’s made whenever his name flashes by on a trailer with this film being no exception!  The conceit seemed decent enough in a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits sort of way which is definitely in his wheelhouse, but there was A LOT going on here that made this look both laughable and disturbing.  I guess that’s why we all keep giving him more and more chances as no matter how bad he burns us with movies like The Happening, Last Airbender, and After Earth, there’s always something to his thrillers that makes them unique among everything else that makes it to theaters.  Does he manage to knock it out of the park once again with this ghastly tale of time gone haywire, or will this tank so bad that he’ll have to make another low budget found footage movie as penance?  Let’s find out!!

A family of four with parents Guy and Prisca (Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps) as well as the young kids Trent and Maddox (Emun Elliott and Embeth Davidtz) are vacationing at a resort THAT THEY JUST SO HAPPENED TO FIND ON THE INTERNET where they cater to your every need in the most beautiful tropical paradise you’ve ever seen!  Not only that, they have a secret beach that is PERFECT for spending a day at, so the four of them head out there along with another family of four (Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Kathleen Chalfant, and Kyle Bailey) as well as a nice couple (Ken Leung and Nikki Amuka-Bird) to enjoy the day swimming relaxing!  Things go sideways fairly soon however as Trent finds a dead body which some mysterious guy who was already there (Aaron Pierre) seems to recognize, and not long after that the oldest among them start to get sick.  They try to leave but something is causing them to black out as soon as they try to step through the cavern that led them here, and to make matters worse the three kids all start to age rapidly.  Trent and Maddox (now played by Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie) and reaching adulthood within hours and everyone who has a medical condition is getting worse and worse as the seemingly fast passage of time is leaving their conditions untreated to rampage through their bodies.  With only hours to go before the adults grow old enough to die from age alone, can they find a way to escape this beach before losing all the time they have left?  What possible reason could there be for the beach being this way, and why were they put there in the first place?  If they get out of this alive, do the kids get like twenty birthday presents in a day?

“I want a car.”     “CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS LATER!?”
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Cinema Dispatch: The Forever Purge

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

Directed by Everardo Valerio Gout

The Purge sequels have been a favorite of mine since I started reviewing movies with the second and third one being fantastic examples of Carpenter-esque socially minded shlock action films, and even The First Purge managed to have much to wring another solid film out of the tired formula.  To keep it going with a fifth one though seems to be stretching it, and frankly the fact that I simply didn’t even know this movie EXISTED until about a month or two ago is not what I’d call a great sign.  Still, it’s amazing that any of these movies ended up working as well as they did and the world we are living through certainly gives Blumhouse and company more than enough material to work with for at least another film.  Is this a fun and familiar reminder of why we loved going to movies in the first place, or have the wheels finally fallen off this series just when people were most eager to go back to the theaters?  Let’s find out!!

Despite Senator Roan winning the presidency on a platform of ending The Purge, things are still the same by the start of this movie as the NFFA (New Founding Fathers of America) are back in power and the Purge is still on with nary a whisper of what happened in between.  None of this is of particular importance to Adela and Juan however (Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta) who are just trying to live their lives in Texas despite the prejudices of those who celebrate The Purge and even Juan’s employers who don’t but still don’t particularly care for him and his kind being around.  The two families ultimately end up on the same side though as this latest Purge Night doesn’t seem to go as planned as all the weirdos coming up with Busch League Jigsaw traps are still roaming the streets the next morning because this is the FOREVER PURGE and no one is gonna tell them to stop expressing themselves in the most violent and bigoted ways possible!  After Jan and one of his friends TT (Alejandro Edda) save his employers Dylan, Cassie, and Harper Tucker (Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, and Leven Rambin) from one of those Forever Purgers, they find Adela and start driving for the Mexico border as they are taking in refugees from America… BUT ONLY FOR THE NEXT SIX HOURS which sounds a bit arbitrary but it certainly gives our characters a ticking clock to race against as they try to make their way to El Paso without getting murdered by a bunch of White Supremacists who feel that their time is now to rise and up and kill everyone they don’t care for as well as anyone who dares to help them along the way.  Can these people from disparate backgrounds work together and escape America before they’re stuck in there for good, or will the bitterness between Dylan and Juan prove to be the undoing for both of their families?  Just how long can this Forever Purge go, and is this all just another sinister tactic from the NFAA?  Is it just me or does everything feel a bit half-hearted here?

Nice hat, dork.
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Cinema Dispatch: Fast & Furious 9

Fast & Furious 9 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Justin Lin

It looks like movies are back (at least for those who can safely vaccinate, which if you haven’t and are able to then do it please!) and what a better way to kick off the summer season than with another Fast & Furious movie!?  Gotta admit, I was not on the F&F train for over a decade and it wasn’t until Fate of the Furious that I finally gave the franchise a chance.  It’s a mixed bag to be sure, but the latter half of the franchise has been quite impressive as big budget spectacles though and the more professional wrestlers they throw into the mix the more I look forward to seeing them!  So after a year of global misery and despair, is this action blockbuster we need to celebrate our slow but sure recovery, or has the Fast Franchise gassed out right when we needed it the most?  Let’s find out!!

Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) have been living the quiet life with Dom’s son Bryan out in the country, but this peace is not meant to last as Roman, Tej, and Ramsey (Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Nathalie Emmanuel) show up with a distress message from the mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and they are forced to come out of retirement to find him and find what he was trying to protect.  Sadly they don’t find the former, but the latter is a piece of some sort of doomsday device that is pretty much the SAME doomsday device these last few movies have had, and it gets taken right from under their noses by a mysterious jacked dude (John Cena) who also drives cars, has a cross necklace, and keeps staring menacingly at Dom.  Turns out that this is none other than Jakob; Dom’s long lost brother!  Not only must Dom and the crew stop Jakob and who he’s working for from getting the other pieces of the Doomsday Device, Dom must confront his past and perhaps even realize his own mistakes before they threaten to throw the world into utter chaos!  Will Dom be able to face his brother and bring an end to his maniacal schemes?  Who else has a stake in this Doomsday Device, and will they prove to be an ally or a hindrance to the Fast & Furious family?  Speaking of family, are we sure Dom and Jakob aren’t actually cousins, or were their parents’ genes an ethnic roulette wheel?

Come on, Cena! Do the U CAN’T SEE ME! You know you want to!!
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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Halloween Kills)

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

The Halloween sequel from 2018 (which was actually the THIRD sequel to the original  movie; fourth if you count the sequel to the Rob Zombie reboot) had a VERY clear path to a sequel which I thought was to its detriment.  For me, finishing off the series, at least as far as Jamie Lee Curtis’s involvement with it, in one final definitive perfect movie would have been preferable to… well pretty much what they did the LAST time they brought Jamie Lee Curtis back.  In H20, she definitively killed Michael Myers and ended the nightmare, but then they made a sequel to bring him back and it was the worst Halloween film; yes, even worse than either cut of Curse.  Well despite my protestations, Universal and Blum House are going ahead with the sequel and we have our first trailer to check out.  Let’s see what they’ve got for us aside from a very awkward title!

Now it’s hard to say how any of it will work until we see the movie, but what’s interesting is that they are pretty much following the ORIGINAL sequel formula which is to have it take place on the same night after Laurie is taken to the hospital and have most of the action take place there.  They sort of did that at the start of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II as a misdirection before jumping ahead to several months later, but here they seem to be playing it fairly straight which COULD work I suppose, but so much of this trailer feels like retreading what we saw in the last movie.  Laurie is determined to kill Michael Myers, the cops are completely ineffectual, and somehow Michael manages to find the rest of Laurie’s family.  There also seems to be a shift in Laurie’s character based on the dialogue in this trailer which is raising some red flags for me as well.  In the last movie she was the only one who REALLY understood Michael, not as a fascinating glimpse into the human psyche like the podcasters or Dr. Sartain and not as a mere annoyance to be dealt with like the Sherriff, but as a mere mortal who is capable of great evil.  Her references to him being THE BOOGEYMAN as a coy put down of the myth people want to build up around him is also a defense mechanism to try and keep herself above everyone else and therefore justify her survivalist lifestyle.  Here, she’s talking about how each kill makes Michael grow stronger; like he’s a freaking Highlander.  Perhaps the lines are worded differently in the final film, but it feels like we’re going down the same road that the latter sequels did in making Michael more than he actually is.

“You ever see his eyes? They’re black eyes… soulless eyes, like a doll’s eyes…” “I mean he does wear a mask.” “THAT’S NOT THE POINT!!”
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Cinema Dispatch: The Hunt

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

Directed by Craig Zobel

Boy does this movie want us to think it has a chip on its shoulder!  I haven’t seen negative review quotes used this liberally since Freddy Got Fingered, which… okay, that might actually be a good sign because I do like that movie purely on its utter absurdity (THIS IS A FANCY RESTAURANT!!), but is not the usual calling card of studio confident in a film on its own merits.  Then again I can’t imagine Universal having any other bright ideas after the thing got pulled from theaters and certain segments of the media decided that THIS was the thing that’s going to destroy the fabric of our society.  Personally, I think we already got that film with London Has Fallen, but whatever it is that hyped this movie up so much, is there any way that it can live up to those expectations?  Let’s find out!!

A bunch of people wake up in the middle of a field with no idea where they are or how they go there.  They start to slowly move towards the center of this big field with a giant crate right in the middle that contains a whole lot of weapons and a pig for some reasons; the implications of which they don’t have long to ponder because they are immediately beset by gunfire, booby traps, and all manner of lethal armaments!  Some of them seem to carry themselves well enough (Betty Gilpin) while others are showing themselves to be MASSIVE jerks (Ike Barinholtz) who may or may not have it coming for various reasons; the least of which being that they’re in a horror movie and that’s usually the way things go.  Eventually though, it’s revealed that their attackers are a bunch of liberal yuppie yahoos (including but not limited to Glenn Howerton and Hillary Swank) who seem to be taking their 2016 frustrations out on a bunch of red necks and scumbags through a game facilitated by their massive wealth.  Is this all just one big excuse for that whole class warfare thing I’ve been hearing about to become literal, or is there more going on than what we’re initially led to believe?  Is this like Saw where the main villain has justifiable reasons for taking these people prisoner, or is it like Saw 4 where things just get ridiculous and asinine for no good reason?  Seriously, is it POSSIBLE for Ike Barinholtz to not be a scumbag in everything he plays?  I’d give fifty-fifty odds on some rich fool actually BELIEVING this guy to be monster and throw him in one these death games for real!

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“When I signed up for a sequel to Blockers, I was NOT expecting this!  WHERE IS MY AGENT!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Invisible Man

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

Directed by Leigh Whannell

You know what movies I should really get around to?  The Hollow Man films.  I don’t know much about them other than they’re about a REALLY creep dude who becomes invisible, but it seems like that idea is alive and well in this which I guess you could call… a reboot?  I mean I WISH it was part of the Dark Universe and that that was still a thing, but whatever you want to call this latest spin on the formula from Universal AND my often beloved but frequently beloathed Blumhouse, it’s certainly a film that’s caught my attention!  Personally, I’m REALLY excited for this as the trailer looked very good (if a bit too revealing ironically enough) and frankly it looked like the kind of sequel to The Boy that we should have had instead of whatever the heck Brahms 2: Boy Harder was supposed to be.  Not only that but with this season being such a bad time for horror movies including Blumhouse’s OTHER reboot from two weeks ago, it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Does 2020 finally have a mainstream horror film that isn’t a total embarrassment to the genre, or is this another case of good marketing covering up a mediocre film?  Let’s find out!!

Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) has been living with her boyfriend Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) for some time now but has finally decided to leave him due to his controlling and abusive behavior in this relationship, and despite only doing so by the skin of her teeth she does manage to escape with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and starts living with her friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid).  Still, the road to recovery is a long one and despite not living under his roof anymore she still can’t shake the feeling that he’s around every corner and will find a way to ruin her life; especially since he’s some big shot genius scientist who promised to do just that if she ever left.  However, good news arrives as Cecilia learns that Adrian is dead and she will inherit a huge chunk of money in the process!  Everything’s starting to look up now… except that strange things keep happening around the house.  Did she leave the oven on?  Was that knife on the floor before?  Is someone taking pictures of her while she’s sleeping?  As these strange occurrences start to escalate, it becomes clear to Cecilia that Adrian MUST still be alive and that he found some way to turn invisible using his some sort of super science which admittedly sounds a bit out there as far as explanations go, but considering the title of this movie I think it’s right on the money.  Will Cecilia be able to stop Adrian from running her life from beyond the grave?  Will anyone believe her story, especially when the strange occurrences get more and more violent and people are starting to suspect her of being behind them?  How the heck did he turn himself invisible anyway!?  Super reflective body paint!?

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“First the Green Goblin, and now this…”

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