Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)


The 99% Cheese Pizza.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)I, as many other longtime fans of these movies, was a little nervous going into the movie. That was mostly because of the rumors I had heard before the movie’s release and because of one name attached to the project: Michael Bay. When I’m going to see a stupid action movie, I’m perfectly comfortable seeing that name attached, but when the property is one that I’ve loved since my youth, I fear that all of the memories of the things I loved with spontaneously combust in my brain. But I could not allow the movie to pass me by because I love the property too much, and that’s why I went to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, written by Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Evan Daugherty, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, produced by Michael Bay, and starring Megan Fox, Tony Shalhoub, Johnny Knoxville, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Tohoru Masamune, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Minae Noji, Whoopi Goldberg, Abby Elliott, and Taran Killam.

April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is a reporter for Channel 6 news in New York that hopes to graduate from fluff pieces into serious news by researching a gang called the Foot Clan. Her investigation eventually gets her stuck in a hostage situation that is broken up by some unseen vigilantes. She follows their trail up to a rooftop where she discovers (and photographs) 4 giant, young adult, genetically altered, unseen warrior amphibians. …They should come up with a better name. These turtles delete her pictures, but introduce themselves as Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), and Donatello (Jeremy Howard). Eventually, they take April to meet their master, an elderly, mutant, sensei rodent named Splinter (Tony Shalhoub), and the group discover that the leader of the Foot Clan, the Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), is trying to poison the city and use the turtles’ blood to make sure the Foot Clan are the only ones that survive.

I predicted the outcome of seeing this movie pretty well. The movie wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible enough that it ruined my entire childhood and caused my brain to combust in my skull. That would make writing this review rather difficult. The movie was what it was. It was fairly dumb, but entirely tolerable. As with most fans of things, I found that I didn’t really appreciate some of the changes that were made. For instance, this movie decided that the Foot Clan was so named because “they step over people.” Yeah? It’s not because they’re foot soldiers? Also, since when does the Foot Clan use guns? They were supposed to be ninjas like the turtles! And since they’re ninjas, their preferred form of martial arts would obviously be karate, right? Because they decided that ninjutsu was entirely overrated and too predictable? Well that all makes perfect sense. I would also say that I normally find product placement a little icky, but it would have been a travesty to not have some form of pizza product placement in this movie. Strangely, they went with Pizza Hut, so I assume the turtle’s choices are somewhat limited by living in the sewer. I mean, they live in New York City. There must be any number of better pizza options nearby. And Papa John’s delivers too, so they have no excuse.

I’m sure we’ve all seen what the turtles look like and are capable of reaching our own conclusions based on that. But you’re reading this so I assume you’re at least vaguely interested in my opinion. I liked how they looked … except for the nostrils. That made them look weird to me. I would also argue that some of their getups were a bit too busy for my taste. They have natural armor, so why are they wearing armor on top of that? And wouldn’t it get annoying to be doing flips and such with Michelangelo’s puka shells and gold necklaces flying into his face? Also, Splinter just looked icky. And more so than usual. Besides those minor gripes, I was mostly satisfied with the look and the action in the movie, especially the downhill diesel sledding scene that can be seen in the trailer for the movie. That scene was pretty ridictacular.

The cast did a decent enough job in the movie. I wish they had played more towards Megan Fox’s sexuality as they have in every other movie of hers I’ve seen. Mainly because she’s hot and she doesn’t seem to have much more to offer than that. She certainly doesn’t play her characters as if they were intelligent, or at least good at decision making. I mean, she saved the turtles and the rat from the burning building, but it was never addressed that she attempted to save her father at all? William Fichtner did a good job too, but at one point he said, “April has arrived early,” when April O’Neil arrived. I know he didn’t write the line, but it gets associated with him because it came out of his mouth. I didn’t have too many problems with the turtles themselves. I mean, Leonardo did all the leading, Donatello did machines, Raphael was cool, but a little crude, and Michelangelo was just a party dude. I did appreciate that they did Michelangelo well enough that he leaned more towards funny than annoying. It’s a fine line to walk with that character.

I would highly recommend going into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with low expectations. It might be the only way it doesn’t disappoint, especially for fans of the Turtles. It’s not bad enough to ruin the brand, but it’s not good enough that I can fully recommend it. It’s just okay. The story is simple and unimpressive, the action is fine, the turtles look a little weird and Splinter looks icky, and the performances are fine. If you’re comfortable with that, see the movie. Otherwise, it’s probably only really worth a RedBox. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gets “So they’re aliens? No, that’s stupid. They’re turtles” out of “Hey, have you seen that video where the cat is playing Chopsticks with chopsticks?”

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Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)


Don’t Flatter Yourself.

I decided to take a vacation for my birthday.  The first part of the vacation was occupied with the contest that just finished, but I decided that it was also a good time to head to the theater and see some of the movies that were there.  I set the vote out to Facebook to see what people wanted to me to do with my free time and the result was almost unanimous.  My friends cried in unison, “Make fun of Kristen Stewart some more!”  The movie that was voted on the most was Snow White and the Huntsman.  This is a movie I had the vaguest of interest in seeing, but most of that was taken away by the involvement of Kristen Stewart.  Let’s see how it went in my review of Snow White and the Huntsman, written by Evan Daugherty, directed by Rupert Sanders, and starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Johnny Harris, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Ray Winstone, Brian Gleeson, Vincent Regan, Noah Huntley, Liberty Ross, Lily Cole, and Christopher Obi Ogugua.

A Queen (Liberty Ross) wishes she could have a hot daughter.  She forgets to wish that the daughter could act.  Later, the Queen gives birth to a daughter she names Snow White and, later still, dies.  Her husband, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), is inconsolable, and a mysterious army decides to attack while he’s weak.  The King’s army defeats the phantom army of glass soldiers and finds a beautiful woman named Ravenna (Charlize Theron) locked up as their prisoner.  He falls in love with her and marries her the next day, but Ravenna – a powerful and evil sorceress – kills him to take his kingdom, having Snow White imprisoned.  The kingdom turns dark, corrupted by the evil queen as Ravenna drains beautiful women from the village of their youth and beauty to keep herself young and bangin’.  When Snow White comes of age (now Kristen Stewart), Ravenna’s mirror (Christopher Obi Ogugua) tells her that Snow White is the fairest of them and her mere existence is draining her of her powers, but she can become immortal and not have to steal hotness from others if she kills Snow White.  When Ravenna sends her brother, Finn (Sam Spruell), to retrieve Snow White, she manages to escape into the Dark Forest.  With the promise of bringing his dead wife back from the dead, Ravenna convinces Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to venture into the forest to bring her back.

This movie surprised me.  It definitely has a few things going for it, but it also has things holding it back.  Starting off with the story: it’s actually pretty solid.  It’s a cool, slightly darker take on the old story we’re all familiar with, and it works pretty well.  Sure, it’s kind of a sign that Hollywood is running out of ideas, but I don’t mind it.  In fact, if they intend to turn all old Disney movies into dark, epic, action movies, I’m casting my vote for Sleeping Beauty to be next.  I want to see a live-action version of Maleficent, damnit!  On the other hand, you really can’t give the story that much credit since it’s based largely on the old story of Snow White.  The stuff they added was pretty cool.  I liked the idea of the group of people that would intentionally scar their faces so that the Queen wouldn’t have any interest in them.  Of course, I didn’t appreciate them acting like Snow White hadn’t made her sacrifice yet.  Yeah, she didn’t put a scar on her face, but she did spend 15 years in a dungeon shortly after losing both of her parents to the Queen.  So fuck your scarred face right off, how about that?  I also didn’t understand when Ravenna got pissed at her brother for Snow White escaping.  I say blame the goddamned mirror!  You had her locked up for 15 years and he didn’t say shit.  He could’ve mentioned that she was the solution to all of Ravenna’s problems a long time ago.  Also, the first encounter with the scar-faced people goes to show you that if you’re surrounded by people with bows and arrows, saying, “We mean you no harm,” will get you out of it.  Either that or just say, “I don’t want to harm you all.”  I can’t blame this movie for it as it was part of the original story, but it still strikes me as weird that either necrophilia or date rape saves the day when you make out with an unconscious girl that just bit a roofied apple.  So the story was fine, but I will say that the ending of the movie was pretty disappointing.  First, you know exactly what’s going to happen to the Queen and how.  I won’t spoil it or anything, but I think you can guess when the Huntsman shows Snow White how to use a dagger, and I shouldn’t be able to predict what’s going to happen in your movie in the first 20 minutes of it.  After that, the ending was kind of lackluster and the romantic angle was never finished.  They left it like there would be a sequel, but I have no idea how that would work out.

The look was probably my favorite part of the movie.  All of the sets and scenery and CG looked really good and stylized and artistically satisfying.  All the visual aspects of the movie worked really well for me.  I really liked the little acid trip that Snow White goes on when she gets into the Dark Forest.  It reminded me of the scenes in Batman Begins when the Scarecrow drug gets used on people.  The Magic Mirror was also a cool effect, having it drain out of the mirror and turn into a gilded Ring Wraith from Lord of the Rings.  Speaking of which, the part where they were crossing the mountain seemed like it really wanted to be Lord of the Rings.  All of the Queen’s magic looked really cool and stylish, though some of them served no real purpose.  The Queen bathing in milk served no purpose but to almost show us Charlize naked, and the part with her eating the hearts out of birds was pointless and just for gross value.  The fights had their moments.  Most of them were hand to hand combat that was fairly well realized, but I found myself more interested in the close-range bow and arrow fighting stuff.  That was pretty cool.

When reaching the performance part of my review, many of you would think that I’d have more than a few jokes prepared for Kristen Stewart.  Yup!  She’s still awful.  But, I would say this is possibly the least awful she’s been.  I only counted 2 of her random Bella-style sighs in this movie, which has to be a record for her.  I had heard someone make this joke before watching the movie and I shared it with my friend Greg and it was all he could think about during the movie, but Kristen Stewart will not close her mouth.  Once you start paying attention to it, it becomes more and more ridiculous how true it is.  One of my biggest issues with this movie ruined the entire concept: what definition of the word “fairer” gives Kristen Stewart the Edge over Charlize Theron?  I was literally tracking the time in the movie where I would consider Stewart to be fairer and, even with all the aging makeup and prosthesis that they used on Theron, Stewart maybe won the contest for about 5 minutes in this movie.  And I was still thinking about it.  When the dwarves were talking about how their ailments went away when Snow White was around, I got confused because every time Kristen Stewart comes around I get a headache and diarrhea.  I don’t know if it’s more to blame on Stewart or the writers, but her big, inspirational speech was a failure as far as I was concerned.  Also, “You can’t have my heart,” is your big closing line?  That’s the worst “I just killed you and here’s my zinger” line I’ve ever heard.  Charlize Theron is gorgeous and I would like to have her babies.  That being said, she kind of overacted in parts of this movie.  I’m sorry baby, but you did.  Can we just get over this and get back to the loving?  Well, if I can’t have her, maybe I can have Chris Hemsworth.  I don’t wanna sound queer or nothin’, but I’d really like to have sex with him.  Beyond the physical, he’s really good at the fighting, and actually pulled off his emotional scenes very well.  The dwarves of the movie didn’t do a whole lot to impress, but I was impressed by who they got to play them.  People like Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, and Nick Frost were dwarves.  I thought that much was awesome and they all did a fine enough job, but I feel like real midgets were probably pissed.  You could’ve at least got some Dinklage in there for some midge-cred.

Altogether, Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t ground breaking either.  The look and artistic style of the movie is the best part.  After that, the story is just trying to make a dark version of an old story, and some decent action to go along with it.  Kristen Stewart’s in it, so you shouldn’t expect much by way of performances, and you’d be right.  Especially when you can’t get past the fact that everyone in this movie is so crazy that any one of them would say that Kristen Stewart is fairer than Charlize Theron.  No way, man.  I don’t recommend you pay good money to see this in theaters; it’s not really worth that much.  But seeing it in RedBox wouldn’t be that bad.  Snow White and the Huntsman gets “Beauty is my power” out of “You have eyes huntsman, but you cannot see!”

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