Cinema Dispatch: Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix

Directed by Zack Snyder

Considering everything that the guy has gone through in the last few years, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he took several years off instead of going back to making movies.  Still, it does seem to be his passion as Zack Snyder certainly makes film with an enthusiasm and gusto you don’t often see from big budget filmmakers, an d what better way to get back into the swing of things than to go back to his roots and make another zombie flick?  I’m certainly rooting for him, but is this the triumphant return that we’ve all been waiting for, or is he still a bit rusty from working on tent pole superhero movies for so long?  Let’s find out!!

Following a botched military transport, the ZOMBIE VIRUS infects the city of Las Vegas AND NOWHERE ELSE which is convenient because it means the US government can just build a giant wall around the city and leave the zombies to their own devices while also ensuring all the survivors are free from the zombie virus.  The state of things is tenuous at best however as the survivors are kept in camps near the city run by NOT-ICE-AGENTS, and since we’re living in a Capitalists hellscape even in our fantastical zombie films, people are sneaking in and out to try and scrounge up a bit of cash from the many casinos to perhaps make their lives better.  Because of this the US government has decided to nuke the city to kill off all the zombies which means it’s the PERFECT time to pull off the biggest heist of them all as a casino owner (Hiroyuki Sanada) hires a group of mercenaries, many of whom were part of the efforts to save survivors, to go into the city and take ALL the money from his vault mere days before the nuke is launched; money that would have probably would just burn to ashes anyway so it’s practically there BEGGING to be collected!  Our heroes are the ultimate Dad Guy named Scott (Dave Bautista), his friends Maria and Vanderohe (Ana de la Reguera and Omari Hardwick), a safe cracker named Ludwig (Matthias Schweighöfer), some dude who posts zombie shooting videos on YouTube as well as one of his cohorts (Raúl Castillo and Samantha Win), a pilot to get them out of there (Tig Notaro), and a Coyote who helps people get in and out of the city (Nora Arnezeder).  On top of that, Scott’s daughter (Ella Purnell) finds a way to tag along as she is searching for someone who got lost in the city during one of those casino runs, and there’s one dude hired by the casino owner (Garret Dillahunt) to keep an eye on things and perhaps has an agenda of his own.  With this rag tag group of bad asses and scumbags, can they pull off the ultimate heist without getting bit by a zombie or getting a face full of nuclear fallout?  Is this plan as straightforward as they were led to believe, and what have the zombies themselves been up to since being locked up in the city?  Do trained mercenaries just not watch movies, or do they assume that this is the ONE plan that won’t go wrong?

“If things get spicy in there, I’m just gonna call an Uber and get the heck out of there.”     “Yeah, I think the zombie blighted wasteland is outside their service area.”     “Sheesh.  So much for being a market disruptor.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Justice League v Justice League – Dawn of Judgement

Justice League 2017 & Justice League 2021 as well as all the images you see are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Both films directed by Zack Snyder

I can’t say I was ever looking forward to this day as I was one of the people who actually LIKED the original cut of Justice League and then spent the last four years seeing people opine (and worse) for a movie that they already got; not to mention the awful news that broke about how the reshoots went for Ray Fisher.  Still, Warner Bros is looking for ANY sort of cash cow to make their HBO Max service a success, so they threw a bunch of money at Zack Snyder and company to make an extended version of the movie they already made and feed into the LOST SNYDER CUT narrative that has been stuck with us for so long.  Now that the movie is finally out, was it worth all the hype and can it possibly justify the ridiculous over the top actions its most ardent supporters took?  Well obviously not, but instead of just doing a straight up review as the films are very similar in a lot of ways, I think it’d be much more interesting to take a look at what this new version gets right as well as where it falls short of the original cut.  Let’s get started, and beware of Spoilers ahead!!

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Something Good: The colors make more sense

The drastic change in pallets between the early trailers and the later ones was a definite sign that things were changing significantly and a lot of scenes in the movie ended up suffering for it.  Batman in particular always looked like an overstuffed sausage in bat-pants stuffed with pudding (which isn’t COMPLETELY gone but is much less prominent now), and there was a garishness to certain scenes where they pushed the colors up just a little bit too high.  The corrections here definitely fit more with what was being filmed and the pallet fits well with the new tone of the movie.

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Something Bad: The colors are more boring

And yet I just couldn’t get behind it.  Sure the colors didn’t always WORK, but for the most part they were bright and colorful which added a much needed cheeriness to a franchise that until then was stuck in its own morose grander.  Thankfully later movies like Shazam, Aquaman, and arguably even Wonder Woman 1984 built a brighter look from the ground up and the aesthetic fits better with those movies, but going back to this kind of look after those films is just deflating; even if it’s more competently done.  And I’m also going to throw this in here, I just don’t get why they insisted on using an IMAX aspect ratio for a moving going to a streaming service.  It’s distracting the whole way through and I never felt like it added anything.

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Cinema Dispatch: Justice League

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Justice League and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Zack Snyder

So… it’s not like anyone is looking forward to this movie and is willing to yell at critics over it, right!?  Sigh… now my opinions on Batman v Superman have been made quite clear on multiple occasions, but you know… with Wonder Woman and to a very VERY lesser extent Suicide Squad, I don’t think these films aren’t worth seeing.  Heck, even Batman v Superman is worth seeing in the sense that there’s so much to learn about NOT making a good movie from it!  I am absolutely not looking forward to this movie and I don’t expect it to be all that good, but I’m going to sit in my seat, watch all the crappy local car commercials, and then hope that I’m not just completely wasting my time and money being there.  I The fact that I’m expecting this to be bad is not the same as WANTING it to be bad or HOPING for it to be bad just to get some “outrage clickbait” out of it, because I don’t need any MORE things in my life to piss me off even if I get a hilarious and insightful review out of it.  I’d rather write hilarious and insightful review of GOOD movies!  So then… does Warner Bros and DC have what it takes to keep this franchise afloat after Wonder Woman became an critical and box office smash, or are we stuck with more of the same crap until these DCCU films stop making money for them?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins sometime after the events of Batman v Superman where (SPOILER ALERT!) the world is still reeling over the DEATH OF SUPERMAN!  Everyone’s moody, crime is on the rise, and to top things off, aliens have started invading Earth!  Yeah, that whole dream sequence with the Parademons in the last movie?  Well it’s not a full scale invasion just yet, but Batman’s swinging around Gotham City finding these space bugs all over the place and needs to figure out what the heck is going on!  Well it doesn’t take long for the TRUE threat to reveal himself as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who, now that Superman is deader than disco, feels confident enough to stage an all-out attack on Earth… for some reason.  I mean I GUESS he tried to take over the planet back when it was Middle Earth and Amazons, Green Lanterns, and I THINK Shazzam were able to stop him, so maybe he’s after this planet for revenge or something.  IT DOESN’T MATTER THOUGH!  What matters is that he’s gonna tear shit up and the world needs its most powerful champions to fight against him which includes the aforementioned Batman, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jasson Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).  Will the Justice League be able to put aside their differences and come together (right now!) in order to stop the greatest threat humanity has ever faced?  Just what is Steppenwolf’s master plan, and what other forces are in play that these mere mortals are only seeing the briefest glimpse of?  How much more leeway will we have to give WB just to make sure we keep getting Wonder Woman movies!?

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“For Justice!  For the Greater Good!  FOR BOX OFFICE VIABILITY!!”     “MY MAN!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Wonder Woman

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Wonder Woman and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Patty Jenkins

You know what they say!  FOURTH TIME’S THE CHARM!!  After three rather disappointing attempts by Warner Bros to turn the DC Universe into a viable competitor to the MCU, we’re at the last one before the big team up movie that could make or break this franchise going forward.  Don’t forget, the post Justice League movies are still in pre-production at this point with a lot of them either losing directors or still trying to find one.  If this movie AND Justice League turn out to be duds, it wouldn’t be the most out there idea for Warner Bros to finally pull the plug.  On top of that, this is the first Wonder Woman film ever made (outside of a TV movie starring Cathy lee Crosby) despite being very popular since her creation in 1941 and the fact that Superhero movies have been a big market; even before the MCU.  Heck, if someone was willing to make a Steel movie back in 1997, then surely we should have gotten a Wonder Woman film before now!  Needless to say that there is A LOT of pressure on this film to not just be good, but to be GREAT in order to justify its own existence for some people (probably the same people who had a problem with the casting in the latest Ghostbusters movie) and to clean up the mess that the three other movies left for her.  Can Wonder Woman live up to her name and show the world how to do this right, or has DC and Warner Bros managed to give us yet another disappointing slog that  could have been so much more?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins on the magical island of Themyscira; home to the Amazons who have isolated themselves from the rest of the world and are led by Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) who is dead set on keeping these rules in place.  However, her daughter Diana (Gal Gadot) proves to be much more than her mother gives her credit for and they are constantly clashing over her desires to be a true Amazon warrior that protects people over her mother’s insistence on keeping her safe.  Fate manages to bring all this to ahead however when a World War I pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) somehow manages to crash land in the waters near Themyscira which leads to the regiment of German soldiers chasing him to attack the island.  In the ensuing conflict, her mentor and aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) along with several others are killed but Themyscira is kept safe.  Diana’s eyes have been opened however and now she has no choice but to take Trevor back to where he came from and to fight the evil that has taken over the world.  She believes the war itself to be the work of the God of War Ares and hopes that by destroying him that the war can come to an end, and while Trevor knows a bit too much about humanity to buy this explanation, she IS gonna give him a ride home and she knows her way around a sword, so he agrees to take her to the front lines if she takes him back home.  Is it truly the work of a God that has turned these countries against each other, or will Diana have to learn the hard way just how terrible humans can be?  What plans do the German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and a master chemist Doctor Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya) have in store to turn this war on its head and to crush The Allied Powers?  Are we gonna get a bunch of losers talking crap about this movie because it stars a woman.  The answer to that is yes, but the IMPORTANT question is… should you care?  No.  The answer to that question is no.

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“Would you look at just how many fucks I give!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Top 10 Worst Movies of 2016

Alright, well we got through all the GOOD stuff, so now it’s time to remember 2016 the way it SHOULD be; as one never ending nightmare of awfulness and broken dreams.  There were no shortage of bad films this year which admittedly is true of ANY year, but the yearly ritual of remembering the worst of the worst must be maintained, and so I present the worst of what I had to sit through in the hopes that I can spare some of you the anguish that these films have caused me.  Well there’s no point in dragging it out.  Let’s get this over with.

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Dishonorable Mention: The Do-Over

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How bad is this movie?  It is so blisteringly awful that I couldn’t even finish the damn thing.  At one point (when I was truly naïve), I had decided to review all four of the Adam Sandler Netflix films as they came out and I managed to get through The Ridiculous 6 mostly unscathed.  This proved to be quite the fool’s errand however as the film they did AFTER that is so much worse.  I’ve got two thousand words already written about the movie, and I just abandoned that shit when we got to the part where Adam Sandler was fucking a blow up doll for no reason.  I managed to see MAYBE ten minutes or so after that where David Spade was creepily (and successfully) macking on the window of the guy who’s identity he stole before realizing that there’s no way in hell I’m finishing the rest of this even for the purposes of a review.  Neither of the main actors, Adam Sandler and David Spade, give the smallest of shits about this movie (the latter is straight up smiling during an emotionally distressing moment), the film is shot like a REALLY bad porno (Stormy Daniels is clearly a far better director than Steven Brill considering how flat and under lit everything is in here), and the film is just so unbearably mean spirited without the tiniest bit of legitimate humor to back it up… unless of course you think that Luis Luis Guzmán’s ball sweat dripping on David Spade’s forehead is the height of comic genius.  Adam Sandler is just going to continue regressing further and further into his own comfort zone; not unlike someone else on this list, but we’ll get to them soon enough.  Look, everyone knows better by this point than to take Adam Sandler seriously ever again, so you don’t need me to tell you that he’s made another crappy movie.  If you’ve already managed to avoid this one, then keep on doing so; especially considering how much great content Netflix produces that you can be watching instead of this garbage fire from a bunch of lazy hacks.

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Cinema Dispatch: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Zack Snyder

The day has finally come where DC and Warner Bros step up to the plate and take their best swing at catching up to Marvel before being left irrevocably behind the curve.  There is so much about this movie that could go right and can also go horribly wrong.  It’s the first movie that not only has Batman and Superman together, but is also the first appearance of Wonder Woman.  It’s taking a lot of inspiration from one of the most revered Batman stories of all time.  It’s setting up a DC universe that intends to rival that of Marvel Studios.  All of this CAN be great if they can pull it off, but the sheer magnitude of this release and the expectations from not only fans but the studio itself does not bode well for a director who is already hit or miss an on screen interpretation of Superman that has gotten heavily criticized.  Can they pull off the impossible as effortlessly as The Last Son of Krypton would, or is this going to be an atomic bomb of a mess that will shake Warner Bros to its very core?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins at the end of Man of Steel, only now we’re following Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) as he tries to save people in the city of Metropolis while Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman (Henry Cavill) are having their big smack down.  Needless to say that there’s not much he can do (especially outside of his Batman suit) and has to more or less sit there as the city falls apart around him due to these two men who have come from the sky and could crush all of humanity.  Cut to a year and a half later, and we see a world that is very much split on Superman.  Sometime between then and now there was apparently enough people who LIKED Superman to make him a memorial in the middle of Metropolis, but for the most part he’s being attacked on the news and constantly questioned about his true motivations.  One such Superman naysayer is Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) who is trying to manipulate the US military and members of Congress to give him access to all the resources they have on Krypton (mainly Zod’s ship and his lifeless corpse) as well as permission to import some Kryptonite that was found in India.  While Lex is working on that, he’s also working surreptitiously to undercut Superman’s acts of genuine good while laying traps and breadcrumbs for Batman (who I don’t believe he knows is actually Bruce Wayne) to become even more resolute that Superman has to be stopped before he becomes a true threat to humanity.  Along the way, we’ve got Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) keeping Superman’s spirits high while he grapples with a world that hates and fears him (Lois is also working on a story about clearing Superman’s associate with something bad that happened in Africa), and we also have Bruce’s faithful butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) trying to steer him on the right path and away from Superman.  Still, the punch up is inevitable if the title is any indication, and the two of them have to hash out their differences before eventually working together to fight Doomsday alongside their new ally Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).  Will they be able to stop Lex Luthor and his plans to… do bad things I guess?  Will the world FINALLY accept Superman after he fights ANOTHER city destroying bad guy?  Are they SERIOUSLY gonna try to launch an expansive DC film universe off of this movie?  Can we just get to Suicide Squad already?

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“What the fuck is going on!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad)

Not long ago, we got trailers for the upcoming DC Comics films, namely Superman v Batman and Suicide Squad.  Needless to say that both of them have been HUGE presences in entertainment media since they’ve come out with everyone giving their two cents about the trailers and what their movies will ultimately be about, and not one to avoid jumping on the bandwagon, I’ve decided to use my little platform to give you my thoughts on them as well.  Do they inspire confidence in DC’s unique direction to take their superhero films, or are they the further indication that they have no idea what the hell they’re doing over there other than desperately try to scramble together a cinematic universe after Marvel did it so effortlessly?  Let’s find out!!

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Batman v Superman

The trailer begins with what appears to be some sort of senate hear4ing where Superman is being brought before them to explain his actions in the previous film.  We also get to see that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis at the time of Zod’s attack and saw the destruction that these super humans can dish out.  From there we get to see as things escalate between the two with Batman coming out of retirement (I think) to get ready to fight Superman, while Clark Kent is still trying to figure out what his purpose on this planet is (I think).  If you’re wondering why I’m so uncertain about those things, it’s because the trailer does a pretty poor job conveying where in Batman’s history we are and giving us ANY reason to even give even the TINIEST of shits about Superman or understand him in any way.

“A LOT of bad shit went down when you dragged that alien through Metroplis, right?”     “…”     “I mean, I’m SURE you did the best you could, but there was quite a bit of damage in the process, right?”     “…meh.”     “Okay, fuck this.  GUILTY!!”
“A LOT of bad shit went down when you dragged that alien through Metroplis, right?”     “…”     “I mean, I’m SURE you did the best you could, but there was quite a bit of damage in the process, right?”     “…meh.”     “Okay, fuck this.  GUILTY!!”

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