Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
let me be clear - i have had ZERO desire to see this movie ever since the announcement it was being made. before the CGI turtle reveal, before the casting of Megan Fox, before EVERYTHING. that being said, i’m sure lots of parents are taking their kids to see the movie and these are the Turtles a new generation will grow up with and maybe they won’t like it at all and Generation X can hang onto the good Turtles and that’ll be that.
the main problem i have is the origin-story-in a blender that turned into the script - no mention of Splinter’s Japanese backstory or previous run-in with Shredder, despite all the ridiculous scars all over Shredder’s barely-seen bald head. i have a lot of problems with the plot, like how Splinter is ‘dead’ but gets revived from the Ooze somehow? we don’t see Casey Jones at all, not even homage or mention of him, but THANK GOD that sequel is already greenlit cause apparently he’ll be in there with hockey puck machine guns and a mech-suit or something. I’ll almost expect as much.
Now: the Turtles. personally, i think the voice-acting was ok. but they weren’t different enough in the same way the 90’s films’ Turtles were, and Splinter was VERY POORLY cast (sorry Tony Shalhoub). the other big problem, as most have mentioned, is just that there’s no explanations for why the Turtles are different from one another at all. the flashbacks even have them already growing up with their slants towards leadership, technology, being an asshole, and being… the youngest one. so they’re just that way because they have to be. I think the action was hard to follow the majority of the time, just like the Transformers films, and I didn’t expect any different. Megan Fox was Megan Fox, she played an ulterior character who should have been more important.
The Foot Clan aren’t ninjas anymore, they’re just militarized goons (not as interesting, but easier to beat up). Shredder is just a monster, a big metal monster. The only thing good about him was the fact that he seemed unbeatable - the same reason Darth Vader originally appeared so daunting. The Turtles are totally outmatched against him, and that’s the source of what makes the story interesting at all.
The one thing I actually did like was the opening sequence. It paid homage to the comic book origins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and set up the mysterious dwelling and trainings of the turtles well, it was simple and sweet. and then the rest of the movie starts and it’s all downhill from there.
1.5 out of 5.
Let’s Be Cops
for someone who doesn’t watch New Girl at all, this was a funny movie and i enjoyed it. i think the premise is actually REALLY realistic - provided you had a real uniform and money to just throw into pretending to be a cop. but the friendship was authentic, the danger was real, and the jokes were good. I thought it was a really entertaining film and probably not necessary to catch in theaters. it’ll be funny just on a TV. the casting was great, nothing too stand out. the only thing i found it suffering from was that the actual contrast between the real danger and the fake playing-around vibe wasn’t stark enough. the danger didn’t really feel that dangerous. it would’ve been a lot better actually if one of the main characters would have died at the end or something real like that. either way though, a pretty fun film.
3.5 out of 5.
this was a pretty entertaining movie, if you like an unstoppable god protagonist in control of LITERALLY EVERYTHING. that’s how the story goes and Morgan Freeman watches with little input because he has “no ideah.” the effects are kiiiind of interesting, but the story so quickly spirals into a power trip with no conflict and so so so many ethereal unfathomable concepts that it’s hard to be that interested anymore. also: the main plot point seems to “do lots of drugs. become a god,” which is probably not the intent, but it’s what i got. it’s worth watching once and then you can be done.
2 out of 5.
Dragonball Z: Battle Of Gods
a longer review, coming soon to fanpup (with more pictures!)
I remember the announcement for this film. I saw the trailer preceding some winter movie last year and I couldn’t believe it. Dragonball Z returning… to the big screen. I was gobsmacked and honestly, didn’t know how it would tie in to the totally wrapped-up series. But here I am, resolutely happy and satisfied with one of the best DBZ features I’ve seen. The story revolves around Beerus The Destroyer awakening from his decades of godly napping and searching for the rumored “Super Saiyan God,” which is news to everyone but the dragon, Shenlong. Beerus finds Goku training with King Kai (of course) and makes his way to Vegeta and all the Z fighters at Bulma’s birthday party. A sideplot involves child-aged Emperor Pilaf and friends trying to steal the Dragonballs, but being thwarted by little boy Trunks (who appears to be crushing on Mai). The culmination of Vegeta trying his darndest to keep Beerus happy with tasty buffet foods ends with a final battle between Goku and Beerus (who didn’t get pudding, so he decides to destroy Earth). The story seems about as straightforward as every other Dragonball Z plot, which is pretty expected. Whether it’s Garlic Jr., Freiza, or even the Saibaimen and Cell Jr. the stories are simple and it’s the nuances that set each saga apart from every other. Keeping that in mind, Battle Of Gods elevates the expectation of endless power-ups and fighting to a very fun romp in the Dragonball Z world (with fighting) – it does so by bringing a truly entertaining enemy to the table. We also get the blend of characters you definitely wanted to see again and personalities that shine through better at times than in the actual show. We get some mild swearing from Goku and Vegeta and, believe me, it’s pretty amazingly satisfying to hear them yell ‘DAMMIT’ in frustration when nothing they try against Beerus seems to work. The most satisfying thing about the fights and story between Goku and Beerus ends up in the end being the similarities between the two: both are self-proclaimed ‘strongest fighters in the universe,’ both take serious solace in their relationship with their masters, and both are almost schizophrenic in their demeanor (often jumping between happy-go-lucky foodies and serious fighters). That’s why he isn’t just a rehashing of Cell or Majiin Buu, who just want to be the strongest and kill everyone and be alone by themselves with all their great muscles and power.Tonally the film felt very much like the earlier episodes of Dragonball – we’re treated to so much humor and play within the characterization: Bulma’s tipsy on birthday wine, Shenlong almost hysterical at the presence of Beerus, lots and lots of good King Kai panic. We also get to see a real good smattering of most of Dragonball Z’s character lineup: All of Earth’s Saiyans and families (including Ox King and Hercule), Master Roshi, Krillin, Piccolo, Dende, King Kai, Kibito Kai, Old Supreme Kai, Shenlong, Emperor Pilaf and company… it’s almost like a reunion special, exaggerated by the setting of Bulma’s 38th birthday (oops spoiler!). For someone who grew up with these characters, and thinking the story has been told and it’s over – to revisit all these characters was really really great. Sure, they all don’t get equal screen time, but past the end of Dragonball who really ever thought Yamcha was that much of a help to anyone? The other great, almost hint-like throwback to Dragonball, was the occasional pull back to normal people wondering what the explosions in the sky and earthquakes are. It reminded me very much of the World Martial Arts Tournament and how amazed the spectators get when a young Goku smashes through a pillar and that gave me all the nostalgic feels. The downsides to the story were few and far between but present nonetheless: the main one being the screaming deus ex machina enabling Goku to become the Super Saiyan God (you’ll have to see it to find out what though). The film also showed off some cool 3D scenery with 2D fighting over it, which honestly is the weakest part of the whole thing. 3D just doesn’t fit into the animated paint-like style of the Dragonball Z world, at least not for me. It’s the kind of effect that screams, “LOOK DRAGONBALL Z IS BEING A MOVIE RIGHT NOW” and totally detracts from the experience. It was only sparingly peppered in, so it thankfully saved the movie from having much of a downfall.I actually never thought I’d be able to see a Dragonball movie in theaters and even after I’d seen it, I didn’t feel like I could believe it. This is pretty close to what I was expecting, but with a really good tone shift from what I sat down thinking I would see. For fans of Dragonball, and even first time viewers who don’t really know what it’s about, this is a great entry to the canon and new title to get on your shelf!
4 out of 5.
The Purge: Anarchy
My buddies from work and I went and saw this - they’d seen the first one and I have not. from what i know, the first takes place all surrounding one household family and everyone trying to get in and kill this random dude, so no far-reaching consequences REALLY of the story. however, this sequel pumps it up to be a couple people banding together through no fault of their own to stay alive overnight in downtown LA during The Purge. what we get is a more extended look into this alternate universe where crime only exists one night a year - rich people betting on gladiator style death matches, more roving gangs and threats, and then an antagonist semi-truck turret gun maniac, who apparently has a network of armed semis driving around and killing everyone they can find. there’s no story for this guy, but the ending sets him up to be important? it doesn’t really make sense so the payoff for the badass loner character isn’t really that great. i think it sets up for more sequels well and it’ll actually be interesting to see how the series continues to pan out. stay safe.
2.5 out of 5.
Guardians Of The Galaxy
What was first mentioned offhand in 2010 by director James Gunn is now leading the late-summer 2014 box office - and deservedly so. Guardians Of The Galaxy sets itself up as a quirky blend between the bounty hunters and outlaws of Star Wars and the heroic scale (pumped up to cosmic size) of The Avengers. In the first trailer any audiences saw we see the comedic tone set against grim action backed up by Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ and the feature length maintains that excellent mix. What stroke me as the brilliance of the direction was Gunn not finding a balance between all the components of humor, action, and introduction of these characters but blending all of it together so what get echoes back to the Millennium Falcon vs. TIE fighters sequence in the first Star Wars: one liners and strong characterization carrying the audiences attention through interesting action, quick pacing, and a story that’s deeper than the plain adventure Macguffin hunt, despite the self-aware line from Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Starlord, “it’s got a blue suitcase, Ark of the Covenant, Maltese Falcon kind of vibe.” The film opens in 1988 and the story holds onto that aesthetic despite jumping to present day thanks in large to the FANTASTIC soundtrack featuring killer classic rock & pop cuts from the 60’s and 70’s. In addition, each actor fits their role to a ‘T’ and you can’t even say any particular character steals the show because they all get their moments in the spotlight over the course of the film. Peppered in are great homages to pop culture, the actors’ past careers, and cameos from other Marvel characters (STAY AFTER THE CREDITS) that are rewarding the first time, let alone the next two times you see it. Top it off with some scenes with Thanos - FINALLY - and we see an excellent step immersing us further into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If for some reason you wasted your movie budget on TMNT this weekend, do yourself a favor and borrow some/sell a kidney/ open a lemonade stand - do whatever it takes to catch this movie in theaters.
Also seen on fanpup: http://www.fanpup.me/blog/contributor-review-guardians-of-the-galaxy
5 out of 5.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
it’s pretty incredible to see how motion capture is changing the landscape of filmmaking. if you showed this to an audience in the 60’s or 70’s - they would LOSE THEIR MINDS. everything is so perfectly done and realistic, it really is amazing to watch. the story itself is nothing really that new, it’s the same kind of blood feud-style Hatfield/McCoy kind of them versus us, with everything you might expect. including dissenters amongst the protagonist and families to protect and yada yada yada. you know how this goes. i did really like the set-up for more films and the symmetry of the beginning and ending. the scale of the fighting seemed a little unbelievable towards the end and it also kind of revealed the CGI a little, so what worked in intimate moments looked a little like a cartoon as the action got bigger and bigger. either way though, the film is VERY entertaining and leaves you in awe of Andy Serkis and company.
4.5 out of 5.
The Fault In Our Stars
the film is just as heartbreaking and wonderful as the book - John Green claims to have had no say while on-set for the film, but i’m sure his presence did something for the crew and cast to feel the pressure to bring Augustus and Hazel Grace to life in a realistic and true to the story manner. there’s a lot of things to herald and actually not much to nitpick - the film really does play out very much like the book. the story beats are all there and i heard LOTS OF SOBBING in the theater (including my own). the one gripe i have is the soundtrack, which kind of sticks out like a sore thumb for an adaptation like this. i think a good score pumps up the realism of films like this better than a pop (ok indie-alt) playlist so for me, those sequences were kind of awkward. either way, a pretty awesome homerun, i hope the success of this leads to more success for those Vlogbrothers; they certainly work hard enough to deserve it.
Edge Of Tomorrow
OK I HAVE BEEN REALLY REALLY BAD AT KEEPING UP WITH THE MOVIES I WATCH. here’s me getting back into it. i’m gonna keep reviews to the point.
I actually quite liked this movie, and agree with the studios that the title ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ doesn’t really fit - ICYMI: LIVE DIE REPEAT. it introduces this very-ethereal time travel mechanic based on half reincarnation, half the series finale of Futurama. Tom Cruise wakes up and is this special dude that can remember things between the point he’s become this time traveler and his death so he can adapt to the future of this alien invasion through this hive mind loophole. trust me, it makes more sense in the film… either way, really good and actually scary action - the aliens immediately put me on edge (which is probably how all movie aliens invading should be) and the mech-suits are pretty awesome in action. the problem i have with the film is that Tom Cruise is still just Tom Cruise and that’s… ok. but any actor could have been in the role and the movie would have been just as good (probably even better?). worth snagging on DVD though, check it out!
poor marketing got me on this one and it finally took me until now to sit down and watch it - it’s pretty fantastic. the music does indeed hearken back to the Disney Renaissance and the characterization puts the audience through it’s paces with not being predictable and staying entertaining throughout. the story was really great and the emphasis on Elsa and Anna and their relationship was fantastic and unrivaled in the rest of Disney’s catalog. Frozen was very much about two sisters and I think that’s actually a sign that Disney is going to start spreading out from typical story structure and the ‘damsel in distress’ model, which is exciting! and of course, Adele Dazeem rocks the house. love it love it love it.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
fresh out the theater last night and I gotta say, if there’s a superhero film that better handles film and comic canon, as well as retconning most of that film canon - it’s this one. and not that it was a bad thing, FAR FROM IT. the movie was great! such a perfect blend of old and new utilizing the actual comic mechanics and source material and established characters. the action was well choreographed and the acting was spot-on. McAvoy and Fassbender lead the charge for sure, with Jennifer Lawrence also doing a great job. For a film with an actually pretty complicated time travel plot with lots of characters, it was very well balanced and pushes the characters forward very well (while teasing for what’s to come - STAY AFTER THE CREDITS). only thing is for people unfamiliar with ALL THE X-MEN it’s tough to keep everything straight and get what’s happening and who is who, but that’s really the whole thing with comic book films, isn’t it? you gon’ wanna catch this in the theatahs.
3.75 out of 5.
this was the teasy monster reboot that Godzilla needed. people have complained about all the teases and not enough actual monster fighting but COME ONNNNN there’s more movies where there can be plenty! this was about Godzilla coming back and showing off his majesty, which the film did great. the part that upset me was the lack of human anything - we had Bryan Cranston who was great, pulled me right in - but then the focus shifts to his doofy son? nah. overall though, the film was great and sitting in the audience for it was well worth the money. much cheering, very monster. wow.
So this is what we get when a great DP directs: a pretty sloppy and poorly structured ‘techno-fear’ nonsensical snooze fest. it was seriously just really boring and the character motivations (for the most part) were all really irrational. i felt like i was supposed to be afraid of what computer-Johnny Depp was doing, but they were legitimately all really good technological advancements that I’m pretty sure science is, for the most part, actually pursuing. the cinematography itself had it’s moments, but also was nothing even close to Nolan film status. Johnny Depp was a boring computer and Kate Mara was little more than a creepy idiot. there’s a reason this puppy flopped so hard, so I’d say just skip it whether you’re paying for it or not.
1 out of 5.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
this film, more so than Wes Anderson’s previous work (besides perhaps Fantastic Mr. Fox), is a very interesting piece of cinema: it’s an example of a director testing himself and working within his means to reach out of his comfort zone. this is Anderson’s murder-mystery that so well pays homage to detective serials, prison break films, and even films like Clue in it’s mission to keep you entertained every step of the way. the production design of his films get better and better and in no way is Grand Budapest an exception - the marriage of three different time periods exceeds in telling the story within a story within a story (within a story?) excellently and uses setting to further the plot and characterization better than even Life Aquatic. the editing was so perfect as well, twists come truly as surprises and the cast reveals itself throughout in a charming and hilarious fashion. don’t miss this one.
The Raid: Redemption
what we have here is incredibly directed and the most creatively choreographed fighting and storytelling in modern action history. The Raid is an incredible non-stop tour de force of martial arts fighting that’s brutal and fuels itself as it just keeps going and going for the ENTIRE film. I watched this so I could watch the sequel that ups the ante (and still need to do that) and I’m ready to see how the sequel builds upon this 30 floor foundation of pure martial perfection. this is almost a Die Hard-esque everyman vs. the world tribute and it works so well - the combination of shocking violence and personal inflection makes for a film that’s so incredibly entertaining and just keeps you shouting OHHHH AHHH *teeth sucking sound at the pain you can’t even imagine* it’s incredible, if you haven’t seen it you should fix that.
4.25 out of 5.