Saturday, August 9, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014): Review

This weekend I went and saw the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) movie and I was more hoping then expecting it to be any good.  I was disappointed in the movie but I know that it will be something that will thrill the younger kids who it seemed to be targeted for.  Besides a few Easter Eggs thrown in for the older generation it didn't really didn't do it for me.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) is a reboot of the Turtles movie franchise and besides some fun references to the movie has nothing to do with the 1990's movies.  It focus around journalist April O'Neil, played by Megan Fox, as she discovers that there are four Mutant Turtle Nina Teenagers (Donatello, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo) who are acting as vigilantes fighting against the criminal activity of the gang called The Foot Clan lead by a Ninja Master Shredder.  They have are the result of a science experiment and along with their Sensei and surrogate father Splinter they grew training in the art of ninjutsu.  Can April and the Turtles save New York city from the evil plan Shredder has planed and is there more to their background then April originally realized?
I think that some of the hardest things for me to get over for this movie is because I am quite attached to the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and that would be the way the turtles look and sound.  To me they just didn't have the right voices and their characterizations where just off to me.  Also they just looked weird.  I don't know why movies are doing these movies where there are tying to make the non human characters more human looking, and with the video game type graphics it was hard to look at the turtles.  To me the CGI was obvious and jarring while I was watching the movie and this made it really bad to watch.  I usually don't mind crappy action movies as long as they are fun to watch, but for this the CGI was very obvious and like I said seemed very video game-esq.Also it is important to note that Splinter just looked really bad, just horrible.

This movie also spend a lot of time trying to make the science of what is going on seem to make sense and to me this is unnecessary in movies.  I mean it is a movie, it can just be magic or a few throw away comments making it just be, I don't care for it to be explained in detail like it might actually happen in real life, like come on it a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie.  The stars are life-size turtles its already out there.
The one thing I did like about this movie in reference to some of the other big budget action movies that have been released lately it is had a villain that seemed formidable and that was actually a villain worth being a villain.  Shredder was cool and besides how they showed him outside of the suit too much is a guy who you believe others are scared of.

I was surprised that I didn't mind Megan Fox so much as April and it was more how she was too whiny of a character was and did not have the savvy that I want from her as a TMNT fan not that bugged me.  I liked her outfit especially the jacket as it was the correct color. The supporting cast was okay with William Fichtner as Eric Saks, Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick, and Whoopi Goldberg as April's Editor.
To me this movie was okay but had quite a bit to bug me as a 1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan and a child who was the right age for the whole Turtles phenomenon.  That being said I think that this movie will be something that younger kids would like and has the appeal for this new generation.  I have to remember that I am not hip to the young people and that to be teenagers today the turtles would have to have been born after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 came out in 1993.

My Rating: 1

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Review

When going into watch Guardians of the Galaxy I was expecting a fun, campy, big budget blockbuster movie and I am very happy to say that I wasn't disappointed.  Going in I was trying not to get my hopes up and this movie ended up meeting and exceeding what I hoped it would be.  It was fun, entertaining, with explosions, and kept me interested and didn't seem to lag anywhere.  I think that everyone should go see it so that I get a second installment because that is what I wanted when I left the movie theater, more.
Guardians of the Galaxy is the new Marvel Comics movie and it is different from the Avengers Movies as it takes a more fun, campy approach to the movie.  The Averages movies has some comedy and fun to it but all of them have a serious mien to them, Guardians, at least to me, was more focused around the fun and with a the ensemble of characters made it more difficult to have a truly serious movie. Plus it is set in space which just makes it more fun and brings out the childish glee in me.  Guardians is based around an ensemble of five characters.  First there is Peter Quill AKA Starlord, played by Chris Pratt, who is a boy born on earth but raised in space by Ravagers (space pirates); Gamora, played by Zoe Saladana, the adoptive daughter of Thanos who has a change of hart when she is assigned to help destroy the galaxy but instead teams up with the Guardians; Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, an genetically altered raccoon who is drawn into the plot by wanting money and  being a total badass; Grout, voiced by Vin Disel, a tree humanoid who has a heart of gold but fiercely protects those that he cares about, he also has serves as muscle for Rocket; and Drax, played by Dave Bautista, a man who doesn't get metaphors and is set on revenge against Ronan (the main villain of the movie) for killing his family.
  These five get together to try and save the Galaxy from Ronan, played by Lee Pace who is set on reeking havoc in the Galaxy. Can these five work together to save the Galaxy from destruction without turning on each other and overcome the obstacles that they face?
Like I said I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and am looking forward to seeing it again. I will not be surprised if it becomes one of the blockbuster movies that goes into my watching rotation when I want a fun big budget flick to watch.  It has explosions, banter between characters (which to me can make or break a movie and in this one the sometimes ridiculously stupid banter was fantastic), well balanced chemistry and interplay between characters, jokes and fun, and keeping the story going without spending too much time on any particular battle.  This movie had a really good pace and kept the story going but it did have a lot going on. 
It wasn't too complicated that it was hard to follow what was going on and wasn't that distracting but there were a lot of characters thrown in that if some where eliminated could have had more dedicated to them.  
The main negative for me in this movie is that I didn't really care for or think that the villains were scary.  Ronan felt like he was just their so that there could be the conflict that drew the Guardians together and keep them focused on the same mission while they bonded as a group. I think that if it focused more on Gamoras adopted sister Nebula, played by Karen Gilian, and built up the tension there and just the mysterious references to Ronan it would have been better or done the same thing with moving the plot forward without me thinking that the main villain of the movie was lame.
The CGI of the movie was well done, especially with Rocket and Group. I saw this movie in 3D and it mainly wasn't distracting, plus it did my favorite way to utilize 3D with things hovering in space and floating around.  I continue to think this is cool and like when it fits in organically with the movie and action sequences.
The action sequences where good and varied in tip, from hand to hand, to guns, to space ships and the pace kept movie so I never thought that they were extending a sequences just because they could.  They did do the thing that I will continue to complain about where there was really tight up fighting and jumping from clipped shot to shot.  I really just want the camera to back up and show what is going on.
Basically I really liked this movie and it was a lot of fun.  It is not a movie to be taken to seriously but to go in and just enjoy.  I liked the eighties references and the soundtrack had iconic songs to it.  It was the type of big budget campy fun that is enjoyable for the whole family.

My Rating: 3+

There is an extra scene at the very end of the credits (which run for about 8 min).  It is one that will be hit or miss for your enjoyment but seems to be there just for a fun reference.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014:): Trailer

Yesterday the first official trailer for the new Hobbit movie came out.
Watch Here:

I know that I am getting excited to see the final installment of the Hobbit Trilogy and hope that it a great ending to the entire movie series.  I cant wait until Christmas to see it.

Lucy (2014): Review

This weekend I went and saw the movie Lucy, which going into I was hoping would be entertaining because the previews had me intrigued.  I enjoyed many aspects of this movie but really is only for people who like a little of the more out there action movies or just care about some pretty cool action/fight sequences.
Lucy starts  Scarlet Johansson as a woman who is tricked to deliver a locked briefcase to Mr. Jang, played by Min-sik Choi.  She is forced into acting as a drug mule to run a new drug and ends up getting exposed to this drug in a huge dose.  This drug mucks with her biology and changes her brain so that it is working toward working at 100% capacity instead of the stated average human usage of 10%.  As she works to take down the drug ring and especially Mr. Jang, she seeks the advice of Professor Norman, played by Morgan Freeman.  Professor Norman is a leader in the theory of the what would happen in humans used more of their brain and how they would gain control of the world around them.

This movie was interesting but to me it was the pushing of this what would happen if we used 100% of our brain stuff that struggled to fit into the movie. I really liked the styling and cinematography of this movie.  The fight and action sequences where pretty cool and kept me entertained.  I liked that this movie was slightly different then the bigger budget action movies and had some grittiness to it.
The acting was good enough and although I tend to think that Scarlet Johansson is overrated she was fair in this movie and besides the blankness of her face at time was good as Lucy.  Morgan Freeman is definitely the one who is expected for being an explainer of the science the movie is based around I see exactly why he was chosen for his part.
To me it was the ending part of the movie that was the low point of the movie because it was the control of everything and why can she do certain things but not others that bothered me, but as it was just a ninety minute action movie it didn't drag on.
I would recommend this for people who like action movies as it was pretty standard in enjoyment, had a different-ish approach to the plot, and didn't overplay its hand and lose my interest.

My Rating: 2

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fifty Shades Of Grey: Official First Trailer

Today the first official trailer for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is released and it focuses very highly on the fact that this book/movie is focused around the sexual dynamics of its two main characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steel.

Watch it here:

I have been uncertain about how I feel about this movie being made and regardless of how the trailer was presented I am curious to see how this movie will be done.  I start out disappointed in this trailer because it doesn't show Ana falling into Christian's office which is the introduction to the book that I have in my which I was hoping for once it started with their meeting. I did really like how they used the the song "Crazy in Love" as it set a specific tone for the trailer, which I hope is not false advertising for the tone of the movie.

I am interested to see if the hype for the books will stay up through the release of the movie, because to me it seems like they made it a few years too late and that the buzz for these books has died down considerable.  Anyway are you excited for this movie to come out?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Snowpiercer (2014): Review

This weekend I went and saw the new movie Snowpiercer.  Snowpiercer was written and directed Joon-ho Bong and prior to my father suggesting going to see it, I hadn't really heard anything about it. This movie had the potential to be something and had a lot of great components about it but for me it never really came together.  Yes it was interesting and keep me focused throughout wondering how everything would come together and end but at the end I was just thinking I know he had a several points to make but none of them really shone as the main one.  It was worth a watch and had a great cast but is really only for people who don't mind action movies that don't really go anywhere, don't have the shininess of the big budget action movies, and leave you contemplating what did the director want me to get out of this.  It is more of a drama action movie.

Snowpiercer is a movie that is set seventeen years from now after the world has been sent into an ice age due to anti global warming chemicals that were put into the air.  Due to this all life on earth is gone except for the few thousand people who manage to board the Snowpiercer train, a self sustaining train that is able to protect those inside of it from the harsh weather conditions.  Within the train a class system has developed with those in the front of the train living in the lap of luxury and those in the tail of the train living in poverty.  In the tail end of the train you have Curtis, played by Chris Evens who is planning an uprising with his fellow tail-members to work their way to the front of the train and take over the engine.  He is helped by his second in command Edger, played by Jaime Bell, friend Tanya, played by Octavia Spencer, and mentor Gilliam, played by John Hurt. The seek the help of drug addict security expert Namgoong Minsoo, played by Kang-ho Song and his daughter Yona, played by Ah-sung Ko, to help them open the locked doors between train sections.  During their struggle to fight their way to the engine they are blocked by upper classed Minister Mason, played by Tilda Swinton.  Can Curtis make it to the engine and change his world, will Mr. Wilford, played by Ed Harris, the creator of the train keep his precisely set up world in order with Curtis challenging him?
Like I said this movie has a lot of things that had the potential to come together really well but it just never reached its full potential. Although it didn't ultimately become spectacular it was still worth watching for being a different type of action/drama then I have seen lately. The best thing for me in this movie was the cast.  It had a lot of actors that I tend to like and I think the chemistry between them was good.  There were some moments of over the top but overall it worked for me.  If it didn't have this cast it would have ended up being  a lot worse then it was.
This movie tried to have some great graphics and needed them to work for everything to come together.  For me it was easy to tell that the views outside of the train were CGI and that this movie didn't have the budget to really make it blend in with rest of what it was doing.  It also had a lot of close up action sequences and in this movie there were too much for me and I really just wanted it to back up the shot.
The story seemed to be alright but I didn't like how they weaved it together with what was going on in the present and the back stories of some of the characters.  There were things referenced throughout the movie the were then identified as meaning something later on but for me it didn't add to the experience it made me go I don't like that and wish they would have worked it out a little bit differently to still include the emotional scene but without such a guttural response from me.

This movie was more interesting and required more attention then a lot of the bigger budget action movies that have come out lately but it does have me wanting to see it again to try get a better grasp on all of what was going on.  That being said I wont pay money to see it again in theaters.

My Rating: 2

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014): Review

This weekend for Friday Night Movie Night I went and saw Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). I have been hoping that it would be enjoyable because I have been enjoying the big budget family orientated action movies lately but it is a Transformers movie so I wasn't trying to get my hopes up too much.  This movie ended up being exactly what I have come to expect form a Transformer movie so if you liked Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and Dark of the Moon (2011) you will like this one too.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is a sort of restart of the Michael Bay Transformers movies but continues on the same timeline set up in the previous three, just with switching out Shia Lebeouf for Mark Wahlberg.  Age of Extinction occurs five years after Dark of the Moon when the overall view of the Transformers are that they they are not wanted.  If any alien technology is found it is suppose to be reported to the government and a CIA black ops team  led by Harold Attinger, played by Kelsey Grammer, is hunting down and destroying all Transformers, both Autobot and Decepticon.  Mark Walhberg plays Cade Yeager, a single father to Tessa, played by Nicola Peltz, who is a screw up inventor who buys junk.  He ends up purchasing an old beat up truck which turns out to be Transformer Optimus Prime. When the government finds out that Cade has Optimus, Cade, Tessa, and Tessa's secret boyfriend Shane Dyson, played by Jack Reynor, go on the run, with the few remaining Autobots, trying to figure out who is helping the humans hunt down the Transformers and why. Lots of nonsense and big action sequences happen as it is discovered that Attinger is working with Lockdown, a outer space bounty hunter, to trade Optimus Prime for what is called a seed.  A seed is a thing that goes off and turns everything in a close radius into the metal that makes Transformers.  This metal is wanted by scientist Joshua Joyce, played by Stanley Tucci, to make their own human controlled Transformers . Can Cade and Optimus figure out what is happening and save the people/things they care about without the world being destroyed?
Like I said this movie is basically put together like the other late Transformer movies; it is too long, the battle sequences are stretched out way too long; the plot is convoluted and doesn't really fit together well; there are too many characters that we don't care about and weird things have to be added to give them something to do; you don't really care about any of the characters because you don't really understand much about them; the CGI graphics are really good and a lot of time has been spent on them; and overall the story doesn't go any where.
This movie is one that is basically just for the people who have liked the last two Transformer movies and younger boys.  There is lot cool concept in the movie and it is expressed with really cool stuff (CGI, Dinobots, Battles and guns) but there isnt really anything of value in it.  The reason that I enjoyed this movie is because I tend to like these big budget action movies and as long as there isnt anything too anoying I enjoyed it and the best part of the movie for me Stanley Tucci.  I found myself waiting for the parts where he was in the movie and the times that I laughed mainly revolved around him.  He saved the movie for me and keep me interested in the characters and I think that the movie could have worked him in more and should have spent more time on his story line then  the other stuff.  I also like John Goodman voicing Hound.
For me this movie will fall into the same group as the last two Transformer movies, I don't regret seeing it but don't foresee myself watching it again.

My Rating: 1

Additional note: can we stop trying to make the robots faces look so human, it is just weird, it is okay for robot faces to look like robots.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars (2014): Review

This weekend I went and saw The Fault in Our Stars which is the newest teen book adaptation, but don't let that prevent you from seeing this fantastic movie.  The Fault in Our Stars is the 2012 book of the same name written by John Green and is told from the view point of a seventeen year old girl who suffers from thyroid cancer that has effected her lungs.  This movie was absolutely fantastic and is a mush see for anyone who likes dramas, period. At the heart this is a coming of age story and experiencing your first love but that is not all that it is, there is something to connect with in this movie for everyone and all of the characters shine in their own right and have something interesting about them.  The characterization in the movie is just real and it is a testament to John Green's story and the decisions made by the filmmakers throughout the making of this movie.

The Fault in Our Stars is told through the perspective of Hazel Grace, played by Shailene Woodley, a seventeen year old girl who has been battling cancer her whole young life and is currently having problems with her lungs because of this.  While she is attending a cancer support group, which she only attends because her parents, played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell, want her to she meets Augustus (Gus), played by Ansel Elgort, and they develop a friendship and deep connection.  They go through a journey of developing feelings for each other while discussion over Hazel's favorite book An Imperial Affliction. Through the struggles of her family having to deal with Hazels health problems, Hazel and Gus travel to meet the author of An Imperial Affliction Von Houten, played by William Dafoe, in Amsterdam. This movie is a drama and therefor is a snapshot of the lives of the people involved and the struggles that they are going through either because of their own experiences with cancer or that of those around them.
This movie really connected with me and I was swept into the story from the very begining.  I have not read the book so do not know how faithfully accurate the movie is but I felt like the movie flowed well and there were not any holes in the story line. I was able to buy into the emotional journey Hazel went through and cared about the people she interacted with.  There wasn't a character in this movie that wasn't interesting in some way but no one stole the show. It seemed like they were all working together to be pieces of the puzzle that made this magnificent whole.  This also includes Nat Wolff who played Isaac, a friend of Gus and fellow support group member of Hazel; Lotte Verbeek, who played Von Housen's assistant Ledewij; and Mike Birbiglia, who played the leader of the support group.

This movie had a great balance, of emotional connection, caring for the characters, seeing their genuine affection for each other and moments of humor in all that was going on.  It was a great perspective to watch and a fantastic film. I recommend this for anyone who likes dramas and is something that is probably good for everyone to watch at some point. It is not necessary to see this movie on the big screen because the focus is the characters and what they are going through not any special effects or high def action.
I hope that this movie will get some sort of award recognition but as it is a teen focused drama and released in June we will have to see.

Basically I recommend that you see this movie but be prepared for the tear inducing moments.

My Rating: 4

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (2014): Review

This weekend there were two movie that came out that I have been waiting to see and the first one that I saw was the new Tom Cruise action movie Edge of Tomorrow.  Going into to this movie I was expecting a little more then I usually do with most alien attack/ special suit action movies because it is a Tom Cruise movie and I tend to like his action movies. I am happy to report that this was a solid movie and worth seeing for anyone who likes action movies.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014) is set in a future were the world is at war with an alien race called the Mimics, who crash landed in Europe and are spreading outward in an attempt to concur the Earth. Tom Cruise plays Major Cage, a man who has been working in Public Relations for the America Military trying to recruit people into joining the war and fighting in these super soldier suits.  When General Brigham, played by Brendan Gleeson, assigns Cage to film the initial wave of the next attach against the Mimics, Cage refuses and is sent into the war as a private charged with impersonating an officer and attempting to flee from duty.
 He is under the watch of Master Sargent Farrell, played by Bill Paxton, and the J squad. The J Squad includes: Jonas Armstrong as Skinner; Tony Way as Kimmel;  Kick Gurry as Griff; Franz Drameh as Ford; Dragomir Mrsic as Kuntz; and Charlotte Riley as Nance. Major now Private Cage tries to get people to listen to him but no one will and is suited up and deployed with the first wave against the Mimics in France.  When they make it to the beach, the Mimics are waiting for the attack and start a massive slaughter.  During this Cage is just trying to survive but ends up killing being killed by an Alpha Mimic and hijacking his power, which results in Cage living the same day over and over again, being reset every time he is killed.  While living this day over and over he eventually teams up with Sargent Rita Vrataski, played by Emily Blunt, who is famous for a previous battle with the mimics.  Rita helps Cage because she previously had the same power of restarting the day but lost it before she could kill the main alien called the Omega and ending the war.  Can Cage and Rita work together to find the Omega and kill the Mimics and what will this cost themselves and the people around them?
Like I said this a solid action movie and once again Tom Cruise has a good performance in this role.  Although I am not a general Tom Cruise fan, I have discovered over the years that I do like him in your standard actin role.  I don't really like when he goes out of this role but he is able to bring the right attitude to the role of the action hero.  In this movie, he is able to grow as a character from a person who you don't really like at the beginning of the film, to someone who has seen his share of battle and wants to save the world and the people he has come to care about. I think Tom Cruise does a good job of showing this change through the repetitive days and it was cut together in a way that took the audience along with him through this journey, although there are times when you have obviously missed many days as he figured things out and is frustrated by all the dead ends he has experienced.
I am impressed with the way that this movie was cut together, because with this kind of story it is very possible to get lost and not have any idea of what is going on or proper path to get the audience where we need to go.  There were moments where I wanted to see more of his repetitive day, and since it gave me enough to keep me interested and follow the story line, but still wanting to go back and watch it again, I would say that it did what it was suppose to do.

There was a lot of CGI in this movie and since I saw it in IMAX 3D there were lots of changes for this all to look really poorly done and too video game.  I am happy to say that the production value in this movie was high (another reason why Tom Cruise action movies tend to be better) and you can tell that the time and money was spent on this to make it come together.  Yes you can tell its CGI but it fits together without being obnoxious or pulling you out of the movie. The 3D added dimensions to the movie, especially all of the movements of the Mimic and this is one movie that I think benefits from being seen on the big screen and with the 3D. This movie does do the thing that I continue to hate in action movies, where it has scenes and sequences that are shoot really tight up to the actors and jump around, but the positives of what I just stated outweighed it for me.  There were also some bigger sweeping shots but not really during the actual action scenes.

I think what ultimately got me to give it a higher ranking then the standard action movie is that it has a great cast that had a fun dynamic together.  There were people who were interesting, who got screen time and some development, but did not pull away from the story of movie. I enjoyed all of the sequences between the J Squad and you could feel that although they were misfits they were a team.
I recommend that anyone who likes the bigger budget, robot/alien action movies go see this movie and while it is still in the theater.  The big screen really adds to the overall experience of the movie.

My Rating: 3