Tag Archives: Universal Pictures

Cinema Dispatch: Hobbs & Shaw

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Hobbs & Shaw and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by David Leitch

You know what movie I’ve recently watched again?  Face/Off!  Seriously, isn’t that like THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE!?  Great performances, over the top action, doves, it’s got it all!  I’ve always had a soft spot for action movies like that where two awesome actors are either working together or fighting one another while ludicrous action is going on around them.  It’s my excuse for still liking Central Intelligence, and it’s also why I found myself really excited to see this movie.  That trailer with the goofy song choice, the laughable premise, and Idris Elba being the most awesome Terminator imaginable hit all the right buttons for me, and throwing in John “THE DWAYNE” Rockson together with America’s favorite British dude Jason Statham was just the icing on the cake!  Can this spin-off of the most absurd action franchise of all time manage to excel past what came before it, or was moving the focus away from the main cast as bad an idea now as it was when they did it in Tokyo Drift?  Let’s find out!!

After the events of Fate of the Furious, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are no longer in jail because… I guess saving the world gives you a free pass, and are going about their daily lives as the most interesting men in the universe; living in nice houses, driving nice cars, and kicking random bad guy butts whenever the need arises.  The best part is that neither one of them has to see the other one since they live in entirely different countries working for entirely different bosses, and can just leave each other in peace, because I guess they don’t like each other anymore for some reason.  Well too bad for them!  Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) gets swept up in some global crisis involving a deadly robo-virus and is being hunted down by deadly robo-MAN Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), so Hobbs and Shaw have to put aside their differences and work together to keep the virus Hattie selflessly injected into herself from falling into the wrong hands, and to find some way to cure her before her insides turn to mush.  Can these three action heroes with coolness to spare but baggage for days outsmart the perfect cyborg human and whatever EVIL organization he works for?  Will they find the cure for this virus inside of a fast moving car or at the end of a gun barrel!?  I wonder if the next one will be Hobbs & Shaw vs. The Fast and the Furious…

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“Looks like I’ve got to take you in again, Dom.”     “And I’m the bad guy still.”     “And I’m here as well!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Yesterday

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

Directed by Danny Boyle

This may be a movie about music from fifty years ago, yet the premise is even older than that as the idea of a hapless someone getting a shortcut to fame and fortune is one of the most basic cornerstones of literature.  When you take that premise and make it about something other than say measurable wealth and status (i.e. Aladdin) to instead focus on some sort of perceived skill or art form (i.e. music), you can run into a few issues; namely that you have to sell the audience on the perceived greatness of something that is rather subjective.  You either have to play into the impossibility of someone ACTUALLY making the greatest music ever like with Tenacious D’s Tribute or even Fish Story, or your stuck trying to write it yourself and just ignore the disconnect (*cough* Harsh Mistress *cough*).  The workaround for all that though is what we’ve got here which is a jukebox musical of sorts where the songs being played are widely considered (at least somewhat) to be the greatest of all time, and in this era where Musical Biopics are now in vogue, it was probably the best way for yet another Beatles tribute to stand out among the crowd.  So then!  Does this movie manage to capture the magic of that one band from Liverpool, or will this be a bigger stain on their legacy than Magical Mystery Tour THE MOVIE?  Let’s find out!!

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is the typical struggling artist who spends his time stocking store shelves between gigs that no one bothers to see.  His manager and best friend Ellie (Lily James) still believes in him and his amazing songwriting skills, but if it hasn’t happened yet then it probably isn’t going to happen and so he decides that now is the time to hang it up.  The universe on the other hand has other plans for him because as he’s riding home on his bike that night, there’s a global power outage that no one ever finds an explanation for but did lead to Jack getting hit with a bus; breaking his guitar, his front teeth, and his spirit even more.  After a lengthy recovery though, he soon realizes that no one remembers who The Beatles or any of their amazing songs.  You know, songs like Yesterday, A Hard Day’s Night, and… others.  Okay, so there were A LOT of songs, but Jack can surely remember enough of them to finally have a chance to be the musical star he’s always wanted to be!  I mean these songs are culturally important and should exist in some form for the betterment of mankind, so Jack is practically doing a public service here, right!?  So that’s what Jack does as he starts recording classic tracks like I Want to Hold Your Hand and Let it Be (seemingly unconcerned with the arc the band took in their music) as well as songs like Back in the USSR which sounds a bit retro now, but still jams!  It takes a bit of time, but he does eventually start to get a following and it seems like all that success is just around the corner if he can just stick it out through the hardships and machinations of the music industry, but with so much changing so quickly and his loved ones seeming to get further and further away from him, is this truly what Jack wants now?  On top of that, if HE remembers who The Beatles are then there has to be other’s out there too, right?  Can he keep up the lies before this house of cards comes crumbling down, or will everyone be cool with it since no one knows who the fudge John Paul George and Ringo are anyway?  Most importantly, is he gonna get a mediocre Hanna-Barbera cartoon as well!?

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“Thank you everyone, and make sure to watch my web series!  We are sponsored by Audible!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Secret Life of Pets 2

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The Secret Life of Pets 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures and Illumination

Directed by Chris Renaud

I remember the first movie having one of the most aggressive ad campaigns I’d seen since I started reviewing movies, and yet this one was much more subdued.  I only saw the trailer a few times leading up to its release, but while that certainly kept me from being ANNOYED by the movie it didn’t really do much to improve my expectations.  The first one was a C grade knock off of Toy Story, and while it wasn’t ALL bad it didn’t leave much of an impression outside of Jenny Slate’s performance and a few seconds of Andrew WK music to liven things up.  Can the sequel manage to improve where the last one came up short, or will this be a lazy cash grab on the success of the first one with similarly mediocre results?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film, Max and Duke (Patton Oswalt and Eric Stonestreet) have been getting along with their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in their peaceful New York life.  However, things change once Katie meets the man of her dreams Chuck (Peter Holmes), and cut to about five years later where Katie and Chuck have a kid named Liam (Henry Lynch) who Max is at first hesitant about but becomes quickly attached to.  The added stress of watching over a child however is starting to give Max some unhealthy habits, but maybe an upcoming vacation in the country with Chuck’s family and their dog Rooster (Harrison Ford) will be just what Max needs to relax!  While he’s off on his trip, Gidget (Jenny Slate) has been entrusted to watch his favorite toy which she loses almost immediately, and Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart) has become some sort of animal saving super hero who’s latest mission is to help a Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) save a tiger who’s being abused by a VERY evil looking circus run by a bunch of dudes with Russian accents and permanent sneers; one of whom is played by Nick Kroll.  Will Max get over his nervous tendencies now that he’s around nature and the stern advice of Rooster?  Can the other pets shore up their subplots before the running time exceeds ninety minutes?  Is Illumination trying to sell us four episodes of an unaired TV series as a full length movie!?

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“WHY, NETFLIX!?  WHY WOULDN’T YOU HAVE US!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ma

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Ma and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions

Directed by Tate Taylor

The only reason this movie has gotten on anyone’s radar is because of Octavia Spencer, and frankly it did its job quite well.  Sure, sometimes a horror film will pick up some serious talent like the new IT movie coming up or when Helen Mirren was in that crappy Winchester movie, but somehow this feels even MORE of a surprise and a genuine selling point.  IT’s gonna sell itself no matter what, but by having one of the most popular actors of the moment (and in the prime of their career) showing up and starring in your crappy horror movie is a coup that very few films can boast, and yet somehow there she is; on all the posters, in all the trailers, and even having an Executive Producer credit to boot! What was it about this movie that convinced such a great actor to whole heartedly come on board, and was worth her immense talent and valuable time to do so?  Let’s find out!!

Sue Ann Ellington (Octavia Spencer) is just your typical small town citizen.  She works as a vet, she walks her dog, and on occasion it seems that she can be convinced to buy alcohol for the local high school kids.  At least that’s what Maggie (Diana Silvers) finds out when she asks her to do it as she walks by the liquor store, and being the new kid in town she needs to deliver on the goods if she wants to get in with the popular kids.  One of the popular kids is Andy (Corey Fogelmanis) who Sue Ann seems to recognize, and after a moment’s consideration decides to get them the booze they need.  Not only that, she ends up opening her basement to them and other kids in the neighborhood as a safe and secluded area to drink where they won’t have to worry about cops and where Sue Ann will make sure no one gets their keys back if they can’t drive.  In fact, everyone seems to be so enamored with her that they start to call her Ma and everyone wants to hang out at her house!  However, things are not as rosy as they seem which Maggie picks up on after a while and she seems to have a dark side to her that’s just barely hidden beneath the surface.  Perhaps it has to do with Andy’s dad (Luke Evans) who she knows from years ago?  Maybe even Maggie’s mom (Juliette Lewis) who used to live here but moved away many years ago before returning?  Well they’re all gonna find out eventually because Ma’s house seems to slowly turned from party central to a house of horrors!  Will these kids learn of the terrible secrets lurking in Ma’s house as well as her tragic backstory?  What is Ma planning now that she has the children of this town wrapped around her finger, and can she somehow realize what she’s doing is wrong before it’s too late?  Okay, seriously.  Did Octavia Spencer lose a bet or something to be in this movie?

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“RELEASE ME!!”     “Not until we make thirty million on opening weekend.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Little

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

Directed by Tina Gordon

I don’t know about this one.  I got this trailer a few times and while it did have a few funny gags here and there, it seemed like only a step or two above Night School which I would conclusively say is damning with faint praise considering how I’m guessing only half of you even remember what that was.  Still!  It’s always a good idea to give a comedy NOT from a straight male perspective a chance because if nothing else it’s unlikely to be as toxic and mean spirited as say Daddy’s Home 2 or Fist Fight, and the LAST time we got a female centered update on a well-known comedy (this being a clear inversion of Tom Hank’s Big) was the eminently enjoyable What Men Want, so perhaps there’s something here that’s not shining through in the trailers!  Could this be a comedy classic in the making, or am I expecting too much from yet another cash grab to soak up a few bucks between Shazam and Avengers?  Let’s find out!!

Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) is a hard as nails (i.e. abusive) owner of a tech company that believes time not spent crunching is time wasted, and no one at the office likes her; least of all her assistant April (Issa Rae) who puts up with it because… well that’s what we ALL have to do when we have crappy jobs.  Jordan however messes with the wrong person one day as a young girl at the office calls her out for her attitude and uses her magic wand to put a curse on her.  Now I’d have preferred if she went up to her face and whispered the word “littler” to her, but in any case the magic seems to have taken effect as she wakes up the next day as her thirteen year old self (Marsai Martin).  Now fortunately for Jordan, April takes this whole situation rather well and agrees to help cover for her at work until they can get this fixed, but through a rather convoluted set of circumstances, Jordan has to be enrolled in school THAT VERY DAY OR ELSE APRIL WILL GET ARRESTED… for reasons.  Oh, and on top of that there’s a big pitch scheduled at the office in two days to try and keep the company’s most valuable client and April is SO not ready for that which means she has to learn to be a leader as Jordan learns to be… less of a jerk I guess?  Anyway, will Jordan find a way to return to her normal self before and even learn a valuable less at the same time?  Will April become the active go getter who can get things done in an economy that will otherwise chew her up and spit her out?  Wait, why does she need glasses when she’s little but not when she’s an adult?  Does she have contacts that no longer fit, or did the laser eye surgery somehow reverse itself?  DID HER BABY TEETH GROW BACK!?

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I mean there’s no reason this CAN’T also be a live action Detective Conan movie, right?

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Cinema Dispatch: Us

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

Directed by Jordan Peele

After Get Out, it was almost a certainty that Jordan Peele would become one of the predominate voices in the industry, but as is the case with any director who comes out the gate that strongly there’s always the question of how they’re gonna follow it up; hence the term Sophomore Slump.  Michael Cimino, Richard Kelly, Joe Cornish, they’ve all had underwhelming second films and it’s not that hard to see why.  Bigger budgets and more creative freedom means that a lot of filmmakers will pursue their passion project which may or may not appeal to as many people (or let’s be honest, aren’t as good ideas as they think they are) which rubs up against the very high expectations to follow up their first film with something even better.  Will that be the fate of Jordan Peele’s follow up to Get Out, or is he destined to buck the trend and give us a new experience that’s just as fantastic?  Let’s find out!!

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) is your average middle class woman with the perfect family consisting of her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and her children Zora and Jason (Shahadi Wright and Evan Alex) who head to their summer home for a much needed vacation.  Said vacation however is somewhat bittersweet as it used to belong to Adelaide’s mother before she died and on top of that Adelaide has some less than perfect memories of the place.  You see, back when she was a child she and her parents took a visit to the boardwalk where she wandered off and ran into a little girl who looked EXACTLY like her.  What happened next is something of a mystery, but the point is that it was a very traumatizing moment and the memory of it has put her on edge the entire time they’re there.  It turns out she was RIGHT to be fearful however because in the middle of the night a family of four who look just like them (played by the same actors) and refer to themselves as THE TETHERED break in and start being SUPER creepy around the family with some sort of deadly scheme in mind.  I think it goes Step 1: Murder, Step 2: … , and Step 3: Profit, but whatever the end goal may be the Wilson family is gonna need to find a way to fight back and survive this horrid night by any means necessary.  Can Adelaide and face her greatest fear in the form of the doppelganger she saw so long ago?  What exactly are THE TETHERED after, and do their ambitions extend beyond just torturing this one family for funsies?  What if Thanos’s plan wasn’t just to wipe out half of humanity, but to replace them with evil versions of the other half!?  JORDAN PEELE IS NOW CONFIRMED FOR THE MCU!!

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“I didn’t survive the attack on Wakanda just for this crap!  Wait, did I survive?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Happy Death Day 2U

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Happy Death Day 2U and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher Landon

Man, I’ve been sitting on this one for almost two weeks.  I don’t know what happened!  Even though I saw it right when it was released a bunch of movies came out and this went on the back burner!  It certainly had a lot to live up to considering that the first movie was one of my favorite films of 2017; not to mention that a sequel seemed like the worst idea ever as the first movie felt so complete in its story.  Bill Murray never made Groundhog’s Day 2, and probably for the same reason he never did a Ghostbusters 3; it would have been a terrible idea!  ANYWAY, before I say something that’ll REALLY tick people off, does this pointless sequel manage to justify its own existence, or are we doomed to yet another brilliant movie made to churn out sequels until you forgot why you liked the darn thing in the first place!?  Let’s find out!!

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) having discovered who it was that was trying to kill her and closing the time loop that put her in a Groundhog’s day scenario is living the good life!  She woke up and it was a different day, and that guy Carter (Israel Boussard) who helped her out all those times but has no memory of it is making out with her!  Yup, it looks like easy street for Ol’ Gelbman!  Oh wait!  Carter’s roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) seems to be stuck in a time loop of his own!  How did THAT happen?  Hm… maybe it has to do with quantum reactor that Ryan and his two classmates (Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin) have been working on!  Wait, what?  So all this time, it was a giant science thingy in the basement that somehow made Tree relive that day over and over again?  Huh.  Well okay then!  So that mystery that didn’t need solving is now solved, but what ISN’T solved is why things are still acting up in the space time continuum after she managed to close the loop?  Well before she can find out, things get a LITTLE bit out of control and the quantum thingy… explodes I guess, and puts Tree back into her original loop.  OR DID IT!?  It turns out that she’s not just back reliving Monday the eighteenth over and over again; she’s doing it in a parallel universe where things are significantly different in ways that Tree is gonna have to discover the hard way!  Can Tree and the science squad manage to figure out how to work the darn machine and send her back to her own universe?  Will this universe actually have something in it that Tree desperately needs, and will she give up her old life to live here?  If the killer from the first movie isn’t the killer in THIS universe, then who IS the killer!?

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“OLD MAN BLUMHOUSE!?”     “That’s right!  I wanted to make horror movies even cheaper so I just started stabbing teenagers myself!  And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for SAG-AFTRA regulations!!”

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