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Snake Eyes – G.I. Joe Origins: We all lose this game

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Director: Robert Schwentke

Studio: Paramount Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG 13

No ninjas can stop all the spoilers!

The origin story of the notoriously silent G.I. Joe ninja loner, Snake Eyes (Henry Golding).

Inevitably, we begin our journey with Snakey as a nameless son, hiding out with his Father (Steven Allerick) in a sort of self-imposed witness protection. After a few moments of father-son bonding in the woods, this idyllic life is shattered when the bad guys come and execute his Father in a rather Cobra style, complete with dice-rolling and the pronouncement of, “Snake eyes – you lose!”

A flurry of kicks and punches later, we catch up with young man Snakey, engaging in cage-fights with Yakuza, being recruited by Yakuza boss Kenta (Takehiro Hira) to smuggle things into Los Angeles, and in general well on his merry way to getting himself killed for underworld interference, just like his Father. He’s even taken the name of his Father’s killer – Snake Eyes. And while it makes sense to have an animal predator name when trying to move through the Asian gangster world, it takes a special kind of psycho to take the name of your father’s murderer while you work on becoming strong enough to take them out.

After a botched execution command and a rather improbable save through a horde of Yakuza and cage fighters, Snakey makes the acquaintance of Tommy Arashikage (Andrew Koji), the heir apparent of the Arashikage ninja clan. And nothing would do but for Tommy to take Snakey back to the Arashikage clan compound and insist on having Snakey go through several trials to prove his worthiness of joining the Arashikage clan and becoming a ninja!

Or it would be if Snakey didn’t have the inevitable ulterior motives. As it turns out, minor spoilers that frankly we knew damn well were coming but anyway here we go, Snake Eyes is actually working for Kenta to take out the gemstone power source of the Arashikage ninja clan from within, and if he can manage that Kenta has promised him the name of his fathers killer. … Because everything Snakey has learned about the underworld being honorable so far still holds true, right? Right?!

About here we will begin dropping amusing anecdotes, things we’ve learned from watching ‘Snake Eyes’ already:

#1 Ninja are more honorable than Yakuza. At least, they think so.

#2 Everyone in Japan carries a sword apparently, openly, on the street, it’s like the necessary umbrella only much more deadly.

Here is also where we pause for reflection, as Snakey begins his testing to prove his body and mind worthy of becoming a ninja of the Arashikage clan, aided and goaded on often at the same time by the likes of Blind Master (Peter Mensah) and Hard Master (Iko Uwais). Those of us who knew and loved the G.I. Joe cartoons when we were young, or even liked the slapsticky live-action films that came out years back, know that Tommy Arashikage is destined to become Storm Shadow, one of Cobras’ elite warriors and Snake Eyes’ own personal nemesis. So this entire montage of anticipatory training and then testing in the Arashikage family compound is, while visually striking and even amusing to watch, an exercise in futility. And the three giant CGI anacondas guarding the Arashikage family treasure, the gemstone of power, that Snakey has to beat somehow or another, are a gleeful hop and a skip far past ridiculousness.

#3 Because if an ancient ninja clan is going to have a giant terrifying freaking anaconda snake as a test, might as well go whole-hog and have not one but three!

So Snakey has managed to throw everything into chaos, steal the gemstone of power of the Arashikage clan with the intention of giving it over to Kenta and, unbeknownst to him, the entire Cobra bad guy collective. Looks like it’s time for yet another improbable save and new-info-dump from everyone’s favorite lady Joe, Agent Scarlett (Samara Weaving)! And of course, the bad guys are consolidating their power with the dubious help of Cobra, which means introducing yet another beloved female character of the ‘G.I. Joe’ universe, that black bodysuit-wearing Cobra femme fatale known only as the Baroness (Ursula Corbero)!

#4 How could you guys do that to the Baroness’ hair? How?! It’s like her signature mane has been chopped short with a chainsaw and shellacked into not moving – ever!

Lots and lots of beautifully choreographed fighting ensues, aided by legendary ‘The Raid’ star Iko Uwais and Japan’s heavyweight stunt coordinator, Kenji Tanikagi, and that turns out to be one of the films saving graces. (It sure isn’t the convoluted and gaping-holed plot.) The interactions between Snakey and Tommy, as they both struggle for a place to hold their own, whether it’s the long ancient history of the Arashikage clans ascension or the fairly constant if the nagging presence of the long-standing counter-terrorism unit G.I. Joes and their enemies the Cobra collective, affecting Snakey’s entire family without realizing it, demonstrate the crushing weight of familial expectations and the common desire to break free. The trouble that neither Tommy nor Snakey want to acknowledge, is that some problems can’t actually be solved by gorgeously beating the snot out of it!

#5 BTW, Samara Weaving as Scarlett was a bomb choice, and she kicks serious ass for the few moments she’s sporadically on-screen when she’s not being used as a plot-drive clue-x4 device.

For a supposed soft reboot of the entire ‘G.I. Joe’ film universe, ‘Snake Eyes’ told as an origin story, present-tense explanatory break and even future presence is fraught with storytelling misses, plot holes, and “you’d automatically know this stuff if you were a real fan” moments, but, it is wonderfully shot and the fight scenes, of which there are a plethora of styles and gloriously cheeky moments, are great fun to watch!

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American Horror Story: Delicate

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As most of us are already aware, the 12th Season of AHS has been fraught with all kinds of differences to the previous seasons, mainly in that this is the first one to be based entirely off a novel, ‘Delicate Condition’ by Danielle Valentine. The first half of the season aired in October 2023 to mediocre reviews, while the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production and airing delays for the latter half of the season, and the episodes of Part 2 were all cut to less than an hour long apiece. And none of that is even getting into the disjointed attempt at storytelling for Season 12, so let’s dive into this! 

Meet Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts), former young ling star of Hollywood now struggling to recapture fame as an adult, who wants a baby, very very badly. Bad enough to drive herself and her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry) through multiple unsuccessful rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), bad enough to keep trying no matter how crushing each failure turns out to be, bad enough to involve her purported best friend and bougie publicist Siobhan Corbyn (Kim Kardashian) in her struggles, and maybe, just maybe, bad enough to give up on a burgeoning resurgence of her career after interest in her comeback role for The Auteur begins garnering her Oscar-worthy attention. 

So, Anna and Dex are going to go through yet another round of IVF, likely one of their last attempts at it, from a different doctor, Dr. Andrew Hill (Denis O’Hare), and clinic based on Siobhan’s recommendation. And already, strange things are beginning to happen to Anna – her appointments that she set herself begin springing up incorrectly, a doom saying woman called Preacher (Julia White) shows up spouting warnings about trusting no one, dire warnings appear in unlikely places, and BTW, it seems as though long-suffering but good-nurtured Dex has a side-piece too. It doesn’t help that Dex’s new partner at his art gallery, Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), bears a striking resemblance to his dead ex-wife Adeline, either. Those spiked emerald heels start appearing weirdly too, and it seems as though no one will listen to Anna as she grows more and more suspicious that some sort of sinister cult has designs on her as-yet-unborn baby. At the same time, Anna tries to live the life of a successful returning actress, attending parties and gallery openings while draping her rapidly-expanding middle in shimmering fabrics and actively ‘campaigning’ for that little golden statue that most actors covet. Competition is fierce, even among her co-stars of The Auteur, and while Anna wants to be supportive of her fellow entertainers, she clearly appears to be incapable of doing both at the same time – wanting the baby and the little gold award at the same time is too much to ask, apparently. 

Elsewhere, mostly in the past, various women in states of desperation formed from one situation or another are visited by sinister-looking women in prim black dresses, headgear reminiscent of – to me anyway – an odd cross betwixt birds and bunnies, my guess is an ostensive nod to fertility in general, and a general feeling of blood-bound witchery about them at critical moments of crossroad choices. 

Though the second half of the season moves a good deal faster than the first, the attempts at callbacks and reminder flashes to Part 1 hit with all the impact of a dropped bag of garbage onto their friends Talia’s (Julia Canfield) borrowed bougie kitchen floor – splat, into incomprehensible silence, from all parties, both characters and audience, concerned. Even the reminders that, in Part 1 of Delicate Dex’s mother Virginia Harding (Debra Monk) did indeed have perfectly valid memories of abuse at the hands of a black cult and Dex’s own father Dex Sr. (Reed Birney), the revelation pales and peels away in the face of Dex’s true parentage. 

Which brings us back around full circle kinda sorta, to the only real character worth a damn in this entire miserable season of strange feminism and aspirations of world domination through a kind of idiotic Rosemary’s Baby nightmare scenario, we should have known she’d steal the show when Kardashian was cast for it, Siobhan Corbyn, leader of the blood cult her high and mighty (old) self. Throughout the whole show her character has remained exactly the same, and it’s a wonder Anna can stare at her all stupefied while Siobhan does her villain speech at the end of the last episode. Siobhan never masked her ambition or greed, her mysterious protective vibe and even deep love for Anna, and can always be counted on to have secret plans of her own, already in motion, bitch. 

The idea that Anna herself was used as a surrogate for Siobhan and her incestuous eugenicist plans, plus the sweet little demon baby she just birthed, has an ironic the-world-is-tilting-the-wrong-way kind of witchy madness to it. Sure, Anna really can have it all, the baby and the golden statue, if only she joins the patriarchy-crushing cabal of blood witches with world domination plans, got it. 

I have questions, or I would have, but things are moving on and Anna is being saved by … Dex’s dead ex, Adaline the former member of the coven right okay her, she’s going to show back up and offer Anna a simple chant to Hestia her patron Goddess, and that is somehow enough to deal with Siobhan entirely – poof. And finally, after all that rigamarole, decades of planning and scheming and witchy plotting finally settled, Anna really can have it all as a White Witch of Hollywood, heaven help us, with her perfectly human baby and that damned little golden statue, clutched in an only slightly desperate grip. 

As with any season of AHS there are a great deal of statements that could be implied just under the skin of the season – the canker way of ambition, the millenia-old pain of a woman giving birth, the savagery and bloodshed that comes with bringing forth life, pushback against both the patriarchy and ultra-feminism, the absolute desperation of humans wanting to have a child, and perhaps strangest and most open to interpretation of all, what it means to be feminine. The worlds population of women who can’t or don’t or simply won’t have children, for any reason or none, are relegated to servants, expendable servants at that, for this new world order that Siobhan is proposing, and that is far too close a comfort to things like outright slavery. A dictator is a dictator, no matter how great she looks in those emerald spiked heels. 

It’s not the really beautiful grotesquerie that Ryan Murphy and his AHS gang are often known for, nor is it utterly terrible and should be burned at the stake. What Delicate should be, is put back together with missing and cut footage, an hour long per episode again come on folks, fleshed some more of Siobhan’s baby-stealing adventures in the past and given us an actual reason to like anything about the whiny Anna, at least the Part 2 we as longtime AHS fans deserve. Toss in some more spidery hijinks! Give us the actual origin of those weird feather bunny-ear headdresses! 

American Horror Story Delicate the whole season can be seen on FX! 

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Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

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Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

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Netflix’s Upcoming Thriller ‘Trigger Warning’ Promises Action-Packed Intrigue”

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Get ready to buckle up for an adrenaline-fueled ride as Netflix prepares to drop its latest original thriller, “Trigger Warning,” on June 21, 2024. Directed by Mouly Surya and boasting an all-star cast, including Jessica Alba, Mark Webber, Tone Bell, Jake Weary, Gabriel Basso, Anthony Michael Hall, Kaiwi Lyman, and Hari Dhillon, this film is set to keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

The plot centers around Special Forces commando Parker, portrayed by the talented Jessica Alba. Parker’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives the heartbreaking news of her father’s sudden passing, prompting her to return to her hometown. As she steps into her new role as the owner of the family bar, Parker quickly realizes that there’s more to her father’s death than meets the eye.

Reconnecting with figures from her past, including her former flame turned sheriff, Jesse (Mark Webber), and his volatile brother, Elvis (Jake Weary), Parker finds herself embroiled in a dangerous web of deceit and violence. With the influential Senator Swann (Anthony Michael Hall) casting a shadow over the town, Parker must navigate treacherous waters to uncover the truth about her father’s demise.

As tensions rise and alliances shift, Parker taps into her elite commando training, determined to unravel the mysteries plaguing Swann County. Assisted by her covert ops partner and hacker, Spider (Tone Bell), and the enigmatic local dealer, Mike (Gabriel Basso), Parker embarks on a perilous journey filled with twists and turns.

Penned by John Brancato & Josh Olson and Halley Gross, “Trigger Warning” promises to deliver a gripping narrative packed with action, suspense, and unexpected revelations. With a powerhouse cast bringing the characters to life and a talented creative team behind the scenes, this Netflix original is primed to captivate audiences worldwide.

Produced by Erica Lee, Basil Iwanyk, and Esther Hornstein, “Trigger Warning” offers a thrilling glimpse into the murky depths of small-town politics and criminal underworlds. With its pulse-pounding action sequences and compelling storyline, this film is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Mark your calendars for June 21, 2024, as “Trigger Warning” arrives on Netflix, ready to ignite your senses and keep you guessing until the credits roll. Don’t miss out on this adrenaline-charged cinematic experience that promises to be the ultimate summer blockbuster.

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