Ryan Reynolds plays a really nice guy in a crapsack world.
This movie isn’t the first one about a video game character developing sentience, with previous entries ranging from Disney’s Tron (sort-of) to at least one incarnation of Mega Man to the Christopher Lambert vehicle Nirvana. In fact, the craptastic movie Serenity from last year had that plot. However, this movie manages to both update and reinvigorate the concept in ways that make it feel fresh and interesting. A big part of that is that Ryan Reynolds manages to play a sincerely good character with good motivations while still being an unbelievably skilled badass. It’s fun to watch him be a hero and to fight for the underdog. Moreover, the film addresses an interesting point about human nature and why we choose certain things as recreation, particularly violently killing and tormenting other humanoids.
Guy (Reynolds) lives in Free City, a sandbox video game which mostly allows players to commit random acts of mayhem in a city populated by NPCs like Guy. His best friend is Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), a security guard at the bank Guy works at, which gets robbed regularly, though the pair never seem to mind. Things change when Guy spots a player named Molotov (Jodie Comer), who leads Guy to steal a pair of the sunglasses that separate NPCs from Players. He tries to connect with Molotov, who is actually a woman named Millie that believes that Free City was based on stolen code, created by her and her friend Keys (Joe Keery), by its supposed creator Antwan (Taika Waititi). As Antwan plans on releasing a new version of Free City soon, Millie and Guy have to help each other save the digital world (not the one from Digimon).
Part of what makes this movie work is that there are two plots running simultaneously, both Millie’s quest to prove that Antwan stole her code and Guy’s quest for Millie, and they do a great job moving between them. It makes Guy’s awesome action sequences and moments of self-reflection more impactful when balanced with Millie’s more complex and mundane plans to try to thwart Antwan. It’s great that even though Guy is ostensibly the protagonist and Antwan the villain, they never are operating in the same world. The interplay between the real and virtual worlds keeps either from getting boring.
As far as action and humor goes, this movie manages to do both very well. It has some scenes that are, possibly intentionally, reminiscent of Deadpool. It’s weird that, in some ways, this movie manages to do in a few minutes what Ready Player One tried to do for almost two hours. There is a great scene in this movie where Guy gets to be the pop culture blending protagonist that I really wanted to see in Ready Player One, but since Guy does it organically and without commenting too heavily on it, it’s more fun. It’s also interesting that the movie’s plot involves people recognizing that Guy sticking up for the NPCs is something that speaks to our own inner selves. Why do people prefer killing fictional characters rather than being a hero and keeping them safe? Is that a sign that humanity is more prone to violence or just that those are the options that are most fed to us? Well, the movie actually gives an interesting answer at the end, although whether it’s true or not is up to the viewer. Either way, I like that there’s something to chew on for the viewer.
Overall, I really recommend this movie, particularly if you’re a fan of Ryan Reynolds. It has some good jokes, some good action, and some stuff to ponder.
Rick finally achieves his collection of giant robots and starts a mafia.
While Rick and Morty have used a lot of anime references over their run, this is probably the most blatant use of an anime property, doing an entire episode around a thin Voltron parody mixed with a mafia movie. The two aspects occasionally feel like they shouldn’t work together, but the episode manages to mostly pull it off. It literally has a song saying that it’s “a bit of pasta with an anime combined.” It does require a number of seemingly out-of-character moments by the Smith family, including Jerry retreating to being a completely pathetic attention seeker and Summer being willing to endanger Rick’s health in exchange for his affection. The show seems to care less about character development this season, though, so maybe that’s just how it rolls right now.
The episode starts off with Rick, Morty, and Summer (Justin Roiland and Spencer Grammer) heading to Boob World, an amusement park that Summer only gets invited to because it gets them in for free. This gets interrupted by Rick finding the Blue GoTron Ferret, a giant magical robot that completes Rick’s collection. Rick quickly gets Beth and Jerry (Sarah Chalke and Chris Parnell) to join the trio as pilots of the five ferrets that join together to form the monster-fighting robot GoTron. However, Rick quickly gets bored with this status quo and invites four other Smith-Sanchez families from four other universes to join him with their Gotron Ferrets so that they can join together to form the even bigger “GoGoTron.” Naturally, these five families become a mafia-like organization and while Morty tries to rein Rick in, Summer pushes him to go further. Eventually, Morty is on the outs with his family and is threatened by a group of anime characters to stop using the Ferrets. When he gets back, a rejected Rick attacks a meeting of the families and Morty gets blamed. Summer similarly gets kicked out when she tries to moderate Rick, who has hired the anime characters as pilots. They naturally betray Rick and try to kill him, but the rest of the Smith family save him using Morty and Summer’s incest baby. It’s then revealed that all of the GoTron monsters are actually trying to help spread the cure for AIDS rather than kill humanity, but the portal they use makes them naked and they cannot be understood by humans.
I’m not a huge fan of this episode, but I do admit that the mixing of the giant robot anime and mafia genres is actually pretty damned great. It’s something I would never have considered before now, despite the fact that a lot of anime involve some aspect of organized crime. The biggest problem is that they kind of get mired in the second act and the final fall from grace of Rick isn’t quite set up as well as it should be. I get that it’s supposed to mirror Scarface, with Rick even having a lair like Tony Montana and using the line “say hello to my little me” before revealing a Rick-shaped machine gun, but it still just doesn’t have the same “push it to the limit” feeling before that happens. Also, I’m not a fan of the fact that we keep bringing back the giant incest baby as a character. We had better get a big payout for this in the finale.
Overall, I give this episode a
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you next week.
NEXT – 49: Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort
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It’s the exact right kind of dumb and fun.
On some level, this movie seemed like the perfect film for Dwayne Johnson, because much of this movie feels similar to the adventure horror-comedy film The Mummy and Johnson’s first film was The Mummy Returns. Admittedly, he probably wants us to forget that because of the horrible CGI Scorpion King in that movie, but it still feels good to see The Rock take on the role of the adventurer for this film. He’s funny, he’s quirky, he’s quippy, he’s charming, and, as a bonus, he looks like he could benchpress the boat on which most of the film takes place. He’s everything you want in a protagonist in this kind of story.
Johnson plays Frank Wolff, a skipper who does tourist trips along the Amazon River which are replete with terrible puns and bad jokes. He owes money to local harbormaster Nilo (Paul Giamatti), which leads him to offer his services to Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), a botanist searching for a flower that cures all disease. Lily, along with her brother, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), are being pursued by the German Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), who seeks to use the cure-all to help Germany win World War I. Unfortunately for Frank and Lily, it turns out that the flower is also connected to the conquest of Don Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez), who is not quite as dead as you’d expect for someone born in the 1500s. This will be the real rumble in the jungle.
As much as I love Johnson and his willingness to deliver absolutely terrible jokes with a straight face, I also have to give a lot of credit in this film to Emily Blunt. Unlike most “strong” female protagonists in these kinds of films that end up devolving into damsels in distress, Blunt’s portrayal of Lily starts as being extremely competent and mostly maintains that throughout the film. She often has to rely on Frank for some things, because of his expertise at piloting the boat and surviving in the jungle, but even when the film seems like she’s going to end up being the helpless victim, it actually gives her a consistent level of skills that enable her to get out of trouble on her own. Blunt’s chemistry with Johnson is also great, although their relationship develops at a bit of an inconsistent pace. Actually, pacing is pretty much the biggest negative in the film on the whole.
Other positives in the film include Whitehall’s fun portrayal of MacGregor, one of the first openly gay main characters in a Disney film, and Veronica Falcon’s portrayal of Trader Sam, the character that probably aged the worst from the original ride. The updating of Sam’s character was done organically enough that hopefully it won’t anger people who believe that nostalgia has to consist of being fed the same thing repeatedly. The creature designs in the film, while not the best CGI I’ve seen, are very creative, particularly the undead conquistadors. Jesse Plemons, as he usually does, plays a creepy villainous character that seems completely unhinged most of the time.
Overall, if you like fun adventure movies, this will be right up your alley.
Seriously, this show is like My Little Pony meets Cronenberg.
When you think of a show about a character that jumps from one world into a completely different fantasy setting, you probably always assume that character is going to be human. This show cleverly goes in the exact opposite direction, with the main character being a horse who journeys through a fantastic world trying to find her human rider. Along the way, she meets a cast of colorful characters and has amazing adventures, only most of the characters and adventures, while presented as cartoonish and fun, are deeply unsettling when you think about them. I have to give a lot of credit to whoever pitched this initially, they either lied tremendously or managed to convince Netflix to give a lot of money to a crazy idea.
Horse (Kimiko Glenn) is a warhorse who is separated from her Rider (Jessie Mueller) during a war with an army of minotaurs. Horse ends up being transported by a mystical artifact to a cartoonish place called Centaurworld where almost everything is half-animal and half-human. She meets a group of centaurs who agree to help her: Alpaca centaur Wammawink (Megan Hilty), zebra centaur Zulius (Parvesh Cheena), finch centaur Ched (Chris Diamantopoulos), gerenuk centaur Glendale (Megan Nicole Dong), and giraffe centaur Durpleton (Josh Radnor). Together, the group must travel through Centaurworld to find all of the pieces of Horse’s artifact and hopefully reunite her with Rider.
In the first episode of the show, we see the gritty reality that Horse comes from where everything is animated with a lot more shading and a darker palette than the rest of the series, which only makes the colorful cartoonish animation of Centaurworld more pronounced. Horse, notably, starts out with her original animation, which makes her stand out more among the characters. As the series progresses, however, Horse starts to slowly change to resemble Centaurworld’s animation and, much to her horror, takes on some of Centaurworld’s ridiculous magical nature. Centaurworld, like the worlds of My Little Pony or Rainbow Brite, is filled with singing and logic-breaking magical characters, something that contrasts with Horse’s sword-and-sorcery world, so a lot of her arc is adjusting to this new normal. However, while Centaurworld is colorful, a lot of the character traits are genuinely unpleasant. For example, the centaurs shoot tiny copies of themselves out, which tend to just start screaming and running around in terror at being surrounded by giants. At some points, it appears they just kill themselves, something that their normal-sized counterparts seem to just ignore. Tons of other elements of the characters are similarly messed-up. So, while you may enjoy the show for the fun song numbers or crazy designs, you might also enjoy the twisted sense of humor that comes from these elements.
Overall, solid show, just… be warned.
The series that basically defines “sit back and enjoy the ride” is still going.
Do you remember how you saw the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie? It’s funny how much I feel it dates me because I didn’t see it until I rented it on DVD. Same with the second film and Tokyo Drift and, by that point, I was mostly burned out on the series. I didn’t even consider seeing the fourth movie in the theaters, which admittedly I regret, because that completely changed the franchise on almost every level. I skipped the fourth and fifth films until I decided to watch the sixth film, only to discover that the movies I missed were probably the best in the series. Since seeing those, I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed these movies more and more because I finally started to get into all of the spectacle of it. They show you crazy stuff that you just couldn’t see anywhere else and that’s one of the most beautiful parts of movies as a medium. Since then, every movie has had to one-up the previous level of insanity and, against all odds, has mostly succeeded. This movie is no exception.
Two years after the events of The Fate of the Furious, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) are living a secluded life raising their son Brian. They’re approached by Roman, Tej, and Ramsey (Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel) about Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) capturing Cipher (Charlize Theron), Dom’s former blackmailer. However, the plane is attacked and taken down by none other than Jakob Toretto (John Cena), Dom’s never-before-mentioned brother. Dom needs to get the whole team together, including a still-alive Han Lue (Sung Kang) (It’s not a spoiler if it’s in the trailer) in order to stop his brother.
In a franchise that uses the word “family” approximately 300 times a movie, it’s a bit of a tough sell that Dom Toretto has a brother that he has somehow neglected to mention, despite the fact that his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), is a recurring character. Naturally, the movie shows us a falling out between the two brothers to try and explain it, but it still feels a bit contrived. Then again, it’s Fast and the Furious, so you quickly move past it and enjoy the ride. The stunts in this movie, naturally, obey only the laws of Fast and the Furious Physics, which is to say no real physics whatsoever. You have to suspend levels of disbelief equal to most fairy tales, but the movie absolutely makes that worth it. Some of the fight sequences that cross over with the driving sequences are equal parts ridiculous and awesome. In a surprising twist that adds a level to the film, the movie actually has one of the characters realize how ridiculous the escalation of events have gotten and point out that they all should be dead by now. There’s not much of a conclusion to this revelation, so I’m hoping it continues through the tenth movie.
Overall, solid film if you liked the rest of the franchise.
Turkeys apparently are great at politics.
I know that when I thought “what would a Rick and Morty Thanksgiving special be like,” I never conceived of a country song about soldiers paying the price of freedom by turning into turkeys. That’s why this show is worthwhile, because it sometimes gives us the stuff we didn’t know we wanted. This isn’t one of the more complicated episodes of this show, but it has a surprisingly solid subtext about mythologizing the past. If you aren’t interested in that, though, at least you get to see Rick and the President of the US played by Keith David messing with each other again. Oh, and the funniest Polio joke ever, which, admittedly, is not a super competitive category.
The episode starts with Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) trying to steal the US Constitution because apparently Nicolas Cage was right and there is a treasure map on it. Morty accidentally destroys it, so the President tries to trap the pair inside of the house. Rick reveals that he plans to become a turkey and get a Presidential pardon, something he does periodically in order to avoid consequences. The President, aware of Rick’s plan, has a bunch of soldiers turn into turkeys in order to thwart it, then ends up turning himself into a turkey as well. However, during the turkey-based fighting, the President’s tracking chip ends up in a random turkey who is then turned into a copy of the President. The Turkey-President bribes Congress, very easily, into allowing him to start an army of turkey supermen. Meanwhile, Rick, Morty, and the Real President join forces with the troops from before and break into the secret Thanksgiving vault under the Lincoln Memorial. It’s revealed that Americans have been fighting turkey dinosaurs since before the 1500s, when two groups of aliens, who look like Pilgrims and Native Americans, helped defeat them. The aliens are revived to help fight the turkey forces while Rick and Morty stop the Turkey-President from turning all turkeys to humans and the President fights his counterpart. They win, but Morty says he doesn’t know how to feel about America now. The President then just tells him to feel thankful. Later, a marine who was turned into a turkey has blueberry related PTSD only for the other citizens to say they don’t want to cover his healthcare.
Honestly, this episode is one of the most ridiculous joke episodes in the history of this show and that’s saying something. It’s like it throws out every ridiculous cliche while having a theme of undercutting Thanksgiving, American mythology, and the American Government. The first time I watched it, I thought it was a little underwhelming, but on rewatch I admit that a lot of the jokes really are pretty solid. Honestly, this episode might have my single favorite joke in Rick and Morty history when it is revealed that there is a giant half-spider FDR:
“He was a guinea pig for the polio vaccine. We asked ourselves: What walks the most?”
The sheer brilliant absurdity of this line makes me smile every single time.
Overall, pretty good episode. It’s just supposed to be fun and, for the most part, it is.
Be back on August 16th.
For people who want a bigger Beastars Fix.
I take a look at Netflix’s new story about discrimination. It’s solid.
Humanity is not alone. Since ancient times, the beastkin, humans who can shift into humanoid animal forms, have lived on Earth, but have been hated for as long as anyone can remember. They have finally managed to find refuge in Japan in Anima City, a metropolis built just for them. The newest arrival is Michiru Kagemore (Sumire Morohoshi/Cherami Leigh), a tanuki beastman, who was formerly a normal human high school girl until a year prior. Having grown sick of hiding from humans who now want to harm her, she heads to the city to find a cure for her condition. She gets caught up in a bombing attempt by terrorists and is saved by Shirou Ogami (Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ben Diskin), a wolf beastman with incredible strength and regenerative ability. Soon, Michiru finds herself embroiled in a massive conspiracy…
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I’m taking a break due to work being heavy, but this is now on HBO Max and everyone should check it out.
A girl and a masked slasher switch bodies. Hilarity and gore ensue.
For decades the people of Blissfield have been attacked by the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), a masked slasher. During one of his newest attacks, the Butcher acquires the dagger of La Dola. The next day, he attacks local teen Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton), who manages to survive after being stabbed in the shoulder after her police officer sister, Char (Dana Drori), arrives and scares the killer away. The next day, Millie awakes inside of the Butcher’s body and vice-versa. Now the murderer is plying his deadly trade in her body and she has to convince her best friends Nyla and Josh (Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich) to help her get her body back before the high school is a bloodbath.
Taking place in the same universe as
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