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Little Monsters | SXSW Movie Review

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The other day my wife and I passed by a preschool, and I asked “Have you ever thought about how scary it must be to drop your kid off and have no idea what they’re doing? Who’s watching them and how do you know they’re taken care of?”

Yes, it’s a bit of a naive question from someone undoubtedly lacking the mental fortitude required to handle child-rearing, but the fear associated with trusting a group of strangers to protect and nurture your child during the day is a common one. Embracing it, director Abe Forsythe’s latest feature Little Monsters takes that ball of worry and manipulates it into an instrument for joy.

The film stars Alexander England as Dave, a washed-up man-baby musician who instantly falls for his nephew’s beautiful school teacher Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o). Seeing it as an opportunity to get closer to her, Dave signs up to accompany the class on a field trip to a local petting zoo. Unfortunately, the zoo is down the road from a zombie infested military complex who escape to find fresh meat. It’s up to Dave, Miss Caroline, and TV personality Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad) to protect the children from the undead and get them back to safety.

For a film listed as a Horror/Comedy Little Monsters leans heavily into its humorous side, so those looking for a scare should turn elsewhere. However, the film has plenty of fun with the gore, and decapitations abound as much as the jokes do. The decision to embrace the comedic is the correct one as the film secretly has more interest in the heartfelt, and what could have been a tonal mess blends together with sincerity.

Before the screening, Forsythe came out to reveal the inspiration for the film came from the anxiety he felt as his child started school. The director wanted to convey how strong he felt today’s teachers have to be to juggle numerous children while maintaining a calm and steady demeanor even in volatile situations. He pulls this off without question. The film is an ode to those who sacrifice so much to shape the minds of children, and because it has committed to its brand of comedy the underlying message never overwhelms. It lifts up the film during the slower moments.

Miss Caroline’s dedication to not only protecting the class physically but mentally as well is equal parts inspiring and ridiculous. Leading a “Wheels on the Bus” sing-along as a distraction from the horde of the undead on their tail is only the tip of the iceberg for the film. Nyong’o shines in her role, bouncing from a fairy godmother-esque teacher to a badass willing to stab anything alive or dead that threatens her class. She is the glue, and Gad is the glitter. He is playing to the rafters with an over the top performance that feels extreme even for this movie. It mostly lands, but will grate on the senses of a small sector of the audience.

Although it’s more comedy than horror, Little Monsters finds a way to shine amongst its peers thanks to an excellent cast and a lot of heart. You’ll be lost in laughter, and if you aren’t careful you’re bound to stumble into a patch of feelings you didn’t see coming.

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Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

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Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.

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Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2

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A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!

It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.

Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.

Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.

Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!

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Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!  

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If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one! 

Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive! 

So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise. 

Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party. 

The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe! 

Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now! 

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