Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Childrens Think It’s AWE-some!


Tagline: Mysterious. Dangerous. Reptilious. You’ve never seen heroes like this.

Year: 2014           Runtime: 101 min

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Writer: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Evan Daugherty

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fitchner

Synopsis (from IMDb):

“A group of mutated warriors face off against an evil kingpin who wants to take over New York.”

There are three types who will see this film: (1) fans of the comic book (2) spastic pre-teen children and (3) movie critics.

If you’re a fan of the comics, especially the ORIGINAL (read in the smuggest, slack-jawed drawl of self-importance), this movie, like everything that was done to the franchise after said ORIGINAL, is whore’s crap. Same goes for movie critics, unless you’re an ass-licking liar looking for favors. Then it’s Tony the Tiger all the way, “It’s Grrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaaattttttt!”

If you’re a spastic pre-teen children, you’ll fall in with the ass-licking liars: you’ll love it. Ultimately it doesn’t matter ‘cos you’ll forget the whole damned thing before you reach the light of the lobby, but eh. At least your parent(s) had an hour and forty minutes of peace.

Honestly, TMNT falls somewhere in between Hercules and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s a movie about 15 year old, mutated box turtles who are ninjas, and it actually has 15 year old, mutated box turtles who are ninjas, making it better than Hercules. Yet, because it’s about 15 year old, mutated box turtles who are ninjas, filtered through Nickelodeon’s lens focusing it on spastic pre-teen children, it’s less entertaining than Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Captain America was focused on spastic teen/young adult childrens, thus making it more appealing to the refined tastes of viewers like myself.

So, if you’ve got spastic pre-teen children, or a nephew/niece that fits the description, TMNT will get them out of your hair for about 101 minutes.


Guardians of the Galaxy: Pure Viewing Satisfaction

Guardians of the Galaxy

Tagline: All heroes start somewhere.

Year: 2014           Runtime: 121 min

Director: James Gunn

Writer: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Disel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista

Synopsis (from the official website):

“Brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.”

FINALLY! The summer movie we’ve been waiting for. After the flop that was Hercules, I was ready to write off this season as another ho-hum summer. But damned if James Gunn didn’t sucker punch the apathy right out of me. What’s more, he did so with an unknown franchise (to the general public, Comic Nerd, not you). Brilliant.

Guardians of the Galaxy is for people who like scoundrels, people who love Han Solo BECAUSE he shot first. From the trailers you can tell Starlord (Chris Pratt) is a smart-assed Captain Mal type. Pratt owns the character. What’s cooler is there’s another bad boy: Rocket. Rocket is the raccoon who has the bodyguard tree thing, Groot. Kinda like Han Solo and Chewy. But Rocket’s not some Solo knock off. He’s Han Solo meets Bender B. Rodriguez. Pure AWE-some. Bam!

Han Solo was the character who defined the ultimate in cool for me and my generation. I can see Starlord, and/or Rocket, being that for this generation. Guardians of the Galaxy has all the cool effects and fights and what have you, but it excels because you love the characters. You’ve got to see this in the theaters, possibly several times. I know I will. You will not be disappointed.

Thank you, James Gunn, for restoring my faith in Hollywood’s ability to make wildly entertaining movies. Now get back to work on Guardians of the Galaxy 2.


Lucy: Proof a Little Knowledge is a Bad Thing

Film Title: Lucy

Tagline: The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%.

Year: 2014           Runtime: 90 min

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi

Synopsis: (from the official website):

“Lucy, an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.”

“The mind is a terrible thing to waste. Knowledge is power. Platitudes are smart. I think I’ll make a movie!”—Besson

From the trailer Lucy looked like it might be an interesting movie. For the most part it was. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) gets an overdose of some drugs that increase her brain’s functioning. A’ight. This extra “functioning” amounts to super powers. Cool. The more her brain works, the more powers she has. Sweet. She kicks ass, particularly those who implanted the stuff in her. Noice! She seeks help from Morgan Freeman (Duh! Who wouldn’t in her situation. He’s a professor of brain studies at some university and has a soothing voice to help calm your nerves, which are all ablaze ‘cos of the situation.)

At this point you start to wonder, where are we going with all of this? This is where Besson kicks you in the throat. He either watched too many Nova reruns, or got a hold of the Eyewitness Big Book on the Brain, or both. Therein he was inspired by some of the fun facts about the universe, the brain, pregnancy hormones, and international jurisdiction laws. This mixture cooked up the moral of the story:

“We were given life a billion years ago, and now you know what to do with it.” —Lucy

Yeah. Go to Taipei. They’ve got the good shit there. It’ll give you superpowers. Better still, if you overdose, the side effect is evolution to a higher plane of existence. Take that, potheads! Yeah, ODing on marijuana never killed anyone, but did it ever cause someone to evolve? Put that in your bong and smoke it.

Lucy could have been a decent action film with a strong female lead. But rather than make a straight forward movie, Besson, following the French school of filmmaking, bogged it down with clever French philosophy, i.e. pretentious bullshit. Aldous Huxley expressed it best when he wrote: Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons—that’s French philosophy.

Lucy is worth watching, just not paying for. Wait for it to come out on Netflix.


Hercules: Hercules is the Cake


Tagline: Before he was a legend, he has a man.

Year: 2014          Runtime: 89 min

Director: Brett Ratner

Writer: Ryan Condall (screenplay) & Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane

Synopsis (from the official website):

“Both man and myth, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) leads a band of mercenaries to help end a bloody civil war in the land of Thrace and return the rightful king to his throne. A tormented soul from birth, Hercules has the strength of a God but feels the suffering of a human.”

The Cake is a Lie

“Before he was a legend, he was a man.”

Uhm, no. He was, is, and always will be a fictional character. Thanks for fucking that up. Twice in one Summer Hollywood has managed to completely miss the mark with something that should have been a slam dunk (see Godzilla). SO glad to paid $15 to see a regular dude do some regular dude stuff.

Why in the hell would someone do this? My first thought—and I’m sure this is still partially the case considering Peter Berg was a driving force behind this—“Some dumb ass producer thinks he’s creating something clever.” But that wasn’t the case. My research turned up the root cause, i.e. Steve Moore, the writer of Radical Comics Hercules The Thracian Wars, which this movie is based on. The answer is in an interview where Steve says: “I think it basically comes down to the fact that I wanted, as much as possible, to treat Hercules as a real person, rather than some sort of superhero, which is a genre I detest and which, fortunately, I’ve always managed to avoid writing.”

In other words it’s like Tim Burton, who would “never read a comic book” making a Batman movie.

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Even when I tried to be generous, looking beyond the bait and switch, which was a Herculean labor in itself, the “heroic journey” the movie portrays isn’t all that heroic. Yeah, Hercules kicks ass, but I don’t really care about him, much less his band of merry men (and woman) who perpetuate the lie. The one thing that would make him more sympathetic, his wife and children, are glossed over. Honestly, after the fist five minutes I was ready for the movie to end.

This movie fails on all levels. Don’t bother watching it, even if it’s free. You’ve got better this to do with you life, like grow throbbing hemorrhoids from sitting on the toilet too long. I’m sad to write that because I like Dwayne Johnson a lot, but Hercules is a sun-bleached log of shit that needs disposing. The sooner it’s out of sight the sooner we can forget it ever happened. I was really hoping this would be something big for Johnson to hang his hat on, like Schwarzenegger’s Conan. Something iconic. Nope.

Sigh. Maybe next time, Rock.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Maddening

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Year: 2014          Runtime: 130 min

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback

Starring: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis

Synopsis (from the official website):

“A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.”

I left the theater gritting my teeth. I was frustrated, but not with the movie. I quite enjoyed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. So far the series has been a good reboot. What I was experiencing was something else, a petulance gnawing at me. It was like riding a slow elevator to the 100th floor that’s quietly playing the muzak version of Justin Bieber. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was angry.

And then I realized it was the movie. Or, more specifically, the pig-ignorant characters. Both human and ape. What a shower of bastards. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes the world’s population is a plague of thick idiots who are indifferent to anyone other than themselves. This is obviously a transparent metaphor for the radical jackasses fucking up society today: Palestine and Israel, Democrats and Republicans, terrorists (religious, eco, or otherwise) and the entitled, etc.

But their jackassery goes beyond simply putting fingers in their ears and chanting “la la la la la la la la!” Both sides deliberately work to undermine the one shaky shot that could save lives, simply to settle a score. It’s acutely ironic because the eye for an eye policy is usually aimed at something completely innocent—but isn’t that always the case? For instance, the simian flu killed people, so the humans need to kill the apes. This is conveniently forgetting that humans were the ones who made the virus. Humans tortured apes, so apes need to kill the humans. This is conveniently forgetting most humans died from the simian flu and resulting anarchy, meaning the torturers are long gone.

Truly different sides of the same coin.The movies ends with the set up to war between the humans and apes. The war will decimate what’s left of both man and ape. The film seems to suggest the only way to achieve peace is through the total annihilation of one or the other. And here’s the truly maddening part, as a metaphor for the world today, annihilation is exactly where we’re headed.

I suppose that by firing me up the movie achieved it’s goal, assuming that’s what it wanted. Or perhaps I’m just a cantankerous fool and I completely missed the point. The film is definitely worth seeing. If you have heart disease, or high blood pressure, just be sure to take your medicine first.


Deliver Us From Evil: The People Are Strange Story

Edgar Ramirez Tagline: You haven’t seen true evil

Year: 2014          Runtime: 118 min

Director: Scott Derrickson

Writer: Scott Derrickson (screenplay), Paul Harris Boardman (screenplay)

Starring: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn

Synopsis (from the official website):

“In DELIVER US FROM EVIL, New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramírez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Inspired by the book, which details Sarchie’s bone-chilling real-life cases.”

One can’t make a demon possession film and not have his/her movie compared to The Exorcist. How does Deliver Us From Evil stack up? Like gooey legos left in the sun on a hot summer day—not very well.

Deliver Us From Evil is an A&E true crime version of The Exorcist. While more entertaining than actually interacting with your crazy Aunt Jolene when you’re forced to dinner at her house, it’s only mildly entertaining if you’re out for an evening at the cinema. And at the current prices “mildly entertaining” isn’t worth it.

But it’s based on a “true story.”

Because a film is a true story, or based on real events, or whatever similar bullshit wording, isn’t impressive. It’s just another cheap gimmick like 3D, or smell-o-vision, or “from Academy Award winner…” How about spending your time and efforts on making the good film and not buzz worthy marketing?

More than being based on the real-life cases of Ralph Sarchie, this is the dramatization of The Door’s song, “People Are Strange.” Whoever secured the rights to use the song also decided to use the FUCK out of the song. It worked as an allusion the first time it came up, but then they kept using it, putting it in just loud enough to pick out from the rest of the sound, at inappropriate places (like in the middle of the big exorcism), so much so that it becomes an earworm that will drive you crazy for days to come.

“Faces come out of the rain…” And it’s ALWAYS raining in this movie. Aaaaaaaagggggghhhhhh!

And while that’s distracting enough, then there’s Joel McHale. You know, the host from The Soup. I’m not saying he is bad actor. As the smart-ass partner he is great. As a knife fighting bad-ass always looking to get into a scrap… Eh. That’s a stretch. He’s like the chartered accountant who wants to jump right into being a lion tamer. There’s a couple in between steps which are necessary that one needs to take. Unfortunately the casting director was no vocational guidance counsellor and threw him into the den before he was ready.

There is a good suspenseful atmosphere, and some good horror moments, and Édgar Ramírez’s flawed priest is really good, but taken in total Deliver Us From Evil falls well short of the bar set by The Exorcist. At best, Deliver Us From Evil should be relegated to watch “if it happens to be the only thing starting” when you’re flipping through the channels. Or if you’re stuck with Aunt Jolene.


Transformers: Age of Extinction: McSupersized Is Not Always Worth It

Transformers Age of Extinction

Tagline: Prepare for extinction.

Year: 2014          Runtime: 165 min

Director: Michael Bay

Writer: Ehren Kruger

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor

Synopsis (from the official website):

“As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history… while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in it’s crosshairs.

With the help of a new cast of humans (led by Mark Wahlberg), Optimus Prime and the Autobots rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet. In an incredible adventure, they are swept up in a war of good and evil, ultimately leading to a climactic battle across the world.”

I don’t know if it is natural, or just natural to Americans, to want the most you can get for your money. Though not necessarily bad, per se, super sized for the sake of super size can be problematic. Transformers: Age of Extinction is a perfect example of this.

First off, it’s a summer blockbuster Michael Bay film about giant robots, based on a line of toys. To expect anything other than spectacle is self-deception of the highest calibre. The action is insanely over the top, but someone going to see this film is expecting action so we can cut it some slack here.

Second, Transformers: Age of Extinction has a 2 hour and 45 minutes runtime. This is the movie’s biggest problem. There was a young boy, maybe 5 or 6, literally bouncing in his seat the majority of the movie. Thing is, I didn’t notice him because he was distracting me. I noticed him because I was fidgety, too. If Bay would shave an hour off this movie it would be a great summer blockbuster. As it is, it’s just too much.

I have a running theory that filmmakers are making movies longer to give the audience their money’s worth. That would be why the plot has so much going on. So much so that it fails to give the audience an enjoyable experience. What it does is more akin to Alex’s forced viewing in Clockwork Orange. At least Alex got eye drops to sooth his sore eyes.

That said, Transformers: Age of Extinction isn’t terrible. I like Mark Wahlberg more than Shia LaBeouf. This, I suppose, is debatable, so take it or leave it. As for the story, this time around the plot wasn’t as contrived so as to get to the action like in the second and third movies. Actually, the start of this movie is probably the most believable of the franchise. Finally, while there was too much action, it was better than being disappointed with the lack of Godzilla in the recent Godzilla movie.  If you like the franchise, it’s worth watching. Just do so somewhere you can pause it and take a break.

One thing I did miss this time round was Bonecrusher, the mastiff, which was in the first three films. I’m a sucker for big dogs and his presence is missed, even if he was just a very minor character. I hope his absence is because he’s living the good life on some isle with all the bones he can crush.