Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

I Think We Just Found a Transformer!

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)One could ask why they keep making these Transformers movies.  If one were to ask that, one would also have to ask why I never miss one.  But neither of these questions are without answers.  They keep making these movies because they make bank, and I keep watching them because they’re fun.  Really stupid fun, but fun nonetheless.  Let’s see if they can keep that streak alive as I review Transformers: Age of Extinction, written by Ehren Kruger, directed by Michael Bay, and starring Mark Wahlberg, Peter Cullen, Kelsey Grammer, Mark Ryan, Frank Welker, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, John Goodman, John DiMaggio, Ken Watanabe, Sophia Myles, Li Bingbing, Titus Welliver, and T.J. Miller.

Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is a ridiculously-named struggling inventor/single parent out of Texas that comes across a beaten up old diesel truck that turns out to be the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen).  Having a Transformer in your midst has become quite a dangerous proposition as the head of an elite CIA unit named Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) has been tasked with hunting down the remaining Decepticons, but ever the over-achiever he has decided to hunt down Autobots while he’s at it, with the help of a Transformer bounty hunter named Lockdown (Mark Ryan).  Helping Optimus escape puts Cade, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and her boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) on the lam as they work with Optimus to uncover a joint effort between the CIA and a robotics corporation called KSI to build their own Transformers.

They did it again!  They made another Transformers movie that is completely stupid and poorly-written, but fun enough to make me look forward to the next stupid mess.  Let us not fool ourselves into thinking these movies are anything they’re not.  They’re so dumb, but they jingle their explosive keys in front of your face enough that you might not even notice that most of the people in the movie can barely string a sentence together.  But I noticed!  I notice when people say things like, “My face is my warrant.”  I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but I heard them say it, and if they’re going to continue making people say things like that, I’m going to revoke their ability to make their characters say words in their movies.  It’s not like they need them, or use them correctly for that matter.  When they’re allowed to use words, they’ll sometimes even create their own words to equally stupid effect.  Like “Transformium.”  Not since I heard a person utter the word “Unobtainium” in a movie had a word caused my nose to bleed in a movie theater.

And that’s just the dialogue!  Don’t think that the plot itself was seamless.  I mean, we can all get behind the fact that it was Transformers that brought about the end of the dinosaurs.  Except those stupid scientists that think it was an ice age or a meteor, but we all know what’s up.  One thing I didn’t understand is how Tessa’s boyfriend Shane knew that he was needed at the Yeager farm when the CIA showed up.  And if Optimus could repair himself completely by just driving by a clean diesel, then why would he be in such bad shape when Cade found him?  I can’t be on the freeway more than about a minute without seeing a diesel but Optimus couldn’t have repaired himself on his way up from Mexico?

But like I said, I don’t see these movies for the words attributed to it.  The only words that would interest me in looking through a script for this movie would be while looking through the pages to see “explodes.”  This movie won’t let you down for that.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll still get a rush out of watching Optimus Prime bust out a sword and go to town on some bad guys, and you won’t be let down watching Bumblebee throw a boat at some baddies either.  The only real problem I took with the action in the movie was with the Dinobots.  When they showed up, they were awesome, but they took so long to get to them!  They didn’t really show up until the last 20 minutes of the movie.  They were the main reason I was excited to see this movie!  I appreciate that they made good with them when they got around to them, but it was so much two and a half hours of foreplay is a little extreme.  Oh wait, I had one other problem.  It was the part where the rally car jumped out of the window of that building with the most ridiculously convenient ramp in history.  Two I-beams pointing out a window, conveniently the same distance apart as the wheels on said rally car and, the exact same distance from the window as a rally car can jump, an inexplicably created half-pipe for it to land in.

The performances were all what they needed to be in this movie, and you couldn’t really expect or need much more than what they offered.  I still resent the silliness of the name Cade Yeager.  And, as if the name Cade Yeager wasn’t silly enough, he constantly tried to prove he deserved that name with equally silly things to say.  My personal favorite was his plea to a fellow inventor played by Stanley Tucci.  He says, “I know you have a conscience because you’re an inventor, like me?”  What the hell is that supposed to mean?  Are inventors notoriously conscientious?  Sure, some inventors gave us great things like the car and internet porn, but someone also invented terrible things like the atomic bomb and Kristen Stewart.  The fact that he was an inventor didn’t really work out that well either.  The movie expects me to believe that he’s up to the task of aiding in the repair of an alien robot but all he’s ever been able to do on his own is make a robot that can shoot a basketball into a hoop and a robot that can transport a beer 4 feet in 20 minutes.  They also never really bothered to explain how an inventor (a job typically reserved for people that look like the cast of Revenge of the Nerds) turned out to be ripped like Marky Mark Wahlberg.  Nicola Peltz was kind of a twat as his teenaged daughter, but she was probably only there as the occasional eye candy.  Her boyfriend was a piece of shit too.  What kind of boyfriend would say, “I like to be fresh when I’m making out with your daughter,” to his girlfriend’s dad?  Even a dad that was not overprotective would beat your ass for that.  I had a couple problems with the Transformers as well.  I enjoy that Bumblebee typically only speaks in movie quotes, but when he says, “Hey you guys,” at one point in the movie how could you not have chosen the clip of Sloth from Goonies to say that?  Fail, movie!  I also didn’t understand the character Drift at all.  Why does the Bugatti Veyron turn into a Japanese Samurai?  I don’t know much about cars, but the name Bugatti Veyron doesn’t sound Japanese to me.

No logical individual could go into Transformers: Age of Extinction expecting much more out of it than what the movie delivers.  Fairly pointless story and terrible dialogue, but with plenty enough things exploding to make you forget how stupid the movie is because you’re having fun.  Shut off your brain and enjoy.  An active brain won’t help you enjoy this movie at all.  Transformers: Age of Extinction gets “You gotta have faith, Prime.  Maybe not in who we are, but who we can be” out of “Sweetie, get my alien gun!”

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The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

Bah Weep Gragnah Weep Nini Bong!

The Transformers: The Movie (1986)A friend of mine named LaCharizard was once really excited about requesting movies for me to review, but I never really got around to any of them.  I think what kept me from fulfilling her request for today’s movie is that I was worried about it ruining my nostalgia.  I had been a big fan of this franchise when I was a child and didn’t want watching it in my adulthood to make me realize that it was actually a piece of shit as my ill-fated purchase of Bobby’s World on DVD had.  Should I rather not just allow myself to believe I liked it and never find out if I still would?  No!  Mainly because LaCharizard was alphabetically next on my list and this movie appealed to me more than her other requests … and because she’s named after my favorite Pokémon.  And that’s why I decided to watch The Transformers: The Movie, written by Ron Friedman, directed by Nelson Shin, and including the voices of Peter Cullen, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Orson Welles, Robert Stack, Frank Welker, Lionel Stander, Chris Latta, Susan Blu, John Moschitta Jr., Scatman Crothers, Casey Kasem, and Corey Burton.

In the far distant futuristic year … 2005 … the giant robot Galactus rip-off named Unicron (Orson Welles) is roaming around the universe eating planets.  The evil transforming robots known as the Decepticons (lead by Megatron [Leonard Nimoy]) leads an ambush on the Autobot city called … Autobot City.  In the fight, Ultra Magnus (Robert Stack) gets off a signal to Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), who arrives to join the fight but is mortally wounded in the fight with Megatron.  After the Decepticon retreat, Optimus passes the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, telling him that it will show them the light in their darkest hour.  After passing on the Matrix, Optimus passes on himself.  In deep space, Megatron is marooned by his second-in-command Starscream (Chris Latta), but is rescued by Unicron, who fixes him and turns him into Galvatron in exchange for the destruction of the Matrix.  Can the Autobots stop them?  CUE SHITTY 80’S MUSIC!

There!  My childhood is ruined!  Good work, LaCharizard!  I am totally gonna sick LaBlastoise on you!!  In truth, this was not a good movie but I don’t really feel as if my childhood is destroyed.  I think I knew this movie would be cheesy, and I was right.  Keeping my expectations low helped me to just watch this movie for the humor of it.  Not the intentional humor, mind you.  The best joke they could come up with was calling the Decepticons “Decepticreeps.”  Good one, bro.  I would’ve gone with Decepticunts, but then parents might have frowned on my choices.  The story of this movie is pretty dumb, but pretty ballsy as well.  They kill off so many Autobots in this movie, including Optimus Prime!  That takes balls.  I don’t really like it because Hot-Rod seemed like a tool and Rodimus Prime was Hasbro stealing my patented porn name, but it does take balls to kill your main hero early into your movie.  And it took even more balls for them to resist the temptation to slap that “You Got the Touch” over the scene when Optimus died.  Speaking of which…

This movie is the 80’s.  I thought the soundtrack was supplied by Ratt, and every other scene of music was a person using his Casio keyboard as a punching bag.  And what’s worse is that they really seemed to have no regard for the music that they chose to make sense or to sound appropriate for the situation where they were using it.  Look at Stan Bush’s classic song “The Touch,” as later famously covered by Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.  That song was in this movie!  It was like a joke!  What does that song have to do with Optimus Prime transforming?!  I know the second line is “You got the power!” but what is he touching?  And then they use “Dare to Be Stupid” during a big battle with a robotic Mongol horde in a junkyard.  And they definitely did dare to be stupid, but it has nothing to do with the scene, and doesn’t even sound like appropriate music for a fight scene.  That being said, I do love some Weird Al.  I also feel like the animation of this movie doesn’t really hold up that well.  It’s okay, but even Saturday morning cartoons nowadays look way better than this movie.  And the sound mix of this movie never really seemed right.  First of all, it seems weird for the giant, planet-devouring robot to make chomping sounds when it absorbs a planet.  It should be Om Nom Nom or nothing!  And at other points in this movie, it seemed like they just plum forgot to put sound effects in, like the whole scene when Optimus was giving the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus.  Apparently, opening his chest and pulling a glowing orb out is completely silent.  Who knew?

One of the most impressive things about the cast of this movie is that it was one of the great Orson Welles’ final performances.  So Kudos to him.  The voice cast of the movie did a good job.  The only problem I had was with Frank Welker.  I like Frank Welker a lot, but that Wheelie character was annoying as hell.  Every time he had to speak, he had to rhyme.  And I had to sigh.  But there are plenty of problems with the characters.  First of all, Megatron.  He’s the biggest villain in the Transformers universe, surrounded by robots that turn into jets and diesels and dinosaurs and this guy … turns into a tiny pistol that is 1/10th his size.  …And must be fired by one of his allies.  What could ever be lamer than that?  Oh wait … there’s an Autobot that turns into a microscope.  Okay, you win.  And of course, there are two Transformers that turn into cassette player boom boxes, just in case you forgot this was the 80’s.  Truth be told, I’ve always had a soft spot for Soundwave for some reason, but his transformation is inarguably lame.  Oh, if you did forget that this movie is in the 80’s, the kid in this movie rides a hoverboard.  He probably used to use a pink one like a bojo until he got stuck over a lake, ‘cause those things don’t work on water unless you’ve got power.  Also, the Decepticon Astrotrain turns into a train that looks awfully similar to Doc Brown’s train from Back to the Future 3.  And Astrotrain is stupid.  Not only because his name is stupid, but because the Decepticons were riding inside him fighting about who would take over with Megatron gone and he never thought to suggest the choice between them making him the leader or being jettisoned out of his ass into deep space.

The Transformers: The Movie might still be able to entertain children, but I even doubt that.  The story is pretty simple, but if they have any love for the Transformers going into it, they’ll probably be bummed out by how many of their favorite characters are killed off, only to be replaced by someone that would call himself Rodimus Prime with a straight face.  This movie is also horribly dated by the 80est of 80’s music that has ever 80’sed.  But, thankfully, I did not find that this movie was able to destroy my nostalgic love for the Transformers.  I just regarded it as a goofy movie that was fun to make fun of.  But there’s still not much reason to watch it.  The Transformers: The Movie gets “I’ve got better things to do tonight than die” out of “Did we have to let them detonate three-quarters of the ship?”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2012 and 2013)

We’re in For a Show, Kid.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2012 and 2013)Today’s review is brought to you by Smodcast. Well, Kevin Smith and Smodcast are in no way paying me to write this review, but it probably wouldn’t have come to pass if it weren’t for Kevin Smith. I listen to numerous Kevin Smith podcasts, and I think I’ve heard him rave about today’s movies on a few different podcasts he’s taken part in. The movies are based on some comic books that meant a lot to Smith, but I had never read. I had attempted to read them, but I found them a little verbose and not as visually interesting as the comic books that I tend to go for. Then these movies came out, and Smith loved them. If I remember correctly, he stated that he is brought to tears by the retelling. After hearing him talk these movies up numerous times, I finally decided that they begged a rental. And that brings me to review Part One and Part Two of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, based on the comic books by Frank Miller, screenplay by Bob Goodman, directed by Jay Oliva, and starring the voices of Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, David Selby, Ariel Winter, Mark Valley, Wade Williams, Maria Canals Barrera, Robin Atkin Downes, Paget Brewster, Michael McKean, Gary Anthony Williams, Tress MacNeille, Grey DeLisle, Bruce Timm, Conan O’Brien, and Frank Welker.

Part One. The government has banned superheroes. Billionaire Bruce Wayne (Peter Weller) retires from crime fighting as the Batman. But, without the Batman, Police Commissioner James Gordon (David Selby) is left to fight a losing battle against the gangs of Gotham City. Harvey Dent (Wade Williams), having undergone surgery to repair his face, relapses and returns to crime. Bruce also relapses, succumbing to the gangs, Harvey’s reappearance, and the memory of his parents’ death, and returns to the cowl after saving the life of 13-year-old Carrie Kelley (Ariel Winter), who he starts training as his new Robin. But Batman’s return may have other consequences…

Part Two. Batman’s return brings the return of the Joker (Michael Emerson), who remained in a catatonic state in an asylum in Batman’s absence, his life having no purpose. Joker intends to make his big debut on a talk show interview, and Batman determines to stop him, even though he must get through Commissioner Gordon’s successor, Ellen Yindel (Maria Canals Barrera), to do so. But making such a public showing of the Batman’s return comes with another danger: the government may send Superman (Mark Valley), who works as a government operative now, to deal with the vigilante detective.

I was really happy with this movie. I knew that the comic books were well-written and entertaining, but I’m too easily bored by reading to make it through. Turning these into a movie was the perfect way to enjoy the story without any of that annoying reading stuff. And the story is definitely one that’s worth getting into your brain, either by reading or by watching. I start into the movie a little closed off because I don’t like seeing Batman retire, but I also understand the world that Miller creates that leads to Batman retiring. And then I like it even more when Batman comes back because of Two-Face. But if Two-Face no longer has two faces, doesn’t he have to change his name to Harvey Face or Scary Face? Plus, don’t they already have a villain that walks around with his face wrapped up like a mummy? Hush or something? I also thought it was cool that the movie shows us what it’s like to be an aging Batman, in the shadows planning his move against a group of criminals, and then you get to see a little bit of what it’s like to be one of the criminals, getting beaten down by the Batman, but not knowing where it’s coming from. But really, I feel like I was more excited to get to part two of the story. Part one does a lot of hinting at bigger things on the horizon. I was waiting to see what would happen with Superman, and I was waiting to see what would happen with the Joker. The relationship between the Joker and Batman has always been a fascinating one. I really liked Kevin’s Smith’s take on it in the comic book series Batman: Cacophony, and that one seems to take some ideas from Dark Knight Returns in things like the fact that the Joker is catatonic in a world without Batman and only comes back when Batman does, and Joker says something to that effect in Smith’s book. But the talk in Smith’s book was only a preamble to what happens further along in the timeline in this story, and it is an epic conclusion to their relationship to be sure. I also knew that part two would include a showdown between Batman and Superman, which I was very excited for. Mainly because I hate Superman. Such a goodie two-shoes son of a bitch. And not even a bright one! Why would he shove a train to a halt to save one blind man on the tracks when he could’ve just … I don’t know … picked him up and carried him off of the tracks instead of demolishing a train by shoving it to a stop? Fuckin’ douche…

I really don’t have a lot to say about the look of the movies. I wouldn’t say that I “liked” it, per se, but I do respect that they captured the look of the comics very well. I just wasn’t that big of a fan of the look of the comics. It works very well either way, but it’s not really my bag. I also like how the fights are realized in the movie. They’re very effective. It’s kind of like watching a UFC fight … in mud … between Batman and a mutant guy with spikey nipples … Also, I was a fan of that Bruno chick, or as I called her “Swastika Titties.” Swa-stick-ons? Swa-tit-kas? I don’t know, you work it out.

I found myself very conflicted by the voices in the movie. I liked them all, but I kept feeling myself missing the people that I had become more familiar with. Batman’s voice for me has pretty much always been Kevin Conroy from Batman: The Animated Series, which may have been one of the first times I heard him speak. Either that or Pete Holmes imitating Christian Bale. Those are my Batman voices. The same could be said for the Joker. No one does Joker like Mark Hamill. Peter Weller and Michael Emerson do good jobs, but my brain is so resistant to change that I will probably always shy away from any deviation.

If you’re anything like me, you should definitely go out and buy Parts One and Two of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It allows you to experience Frank Miller’s fantastic story of the aging Batman and his return to crime-fighting without all that tedious reading. They capture the comic book entirely, as best I can tell from my limited skimming of the graphic novels many years ago. Definitely worth buying for any comic book fans, Batman fans, and people who lack the attention span to read things. Of course, if that’s you, I doubt you made it to the end of this review. I wouldn’t have read it all, that’s for sure. Part Two is way better in my opinion because it has the fights with the Joker and Superman, but you kind of need Part One to set it all up. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns gets “It took years and cost a fortune. Luckily, I had both” out of “This isn’t a mud hole. It’s an operating table. And I’m the surgeon.”

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The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones (1988)

That’s Grass.  I Read About it in Ancient History.

Friendboss Josh requests the darndest things.  He requested today’s movie a while ago, but it felt like it was the most inappropriate time to review it immediately after I reviewed Magic Mike.  Today’s movie is a kids movie that answers a question I’m sure someone must’ve asked about what would happen if two of the most famous families in children’s cartoon history met, so suffice to say the movie won’t be banging it’s cock against my head as I write the review.  I don’t recall being that big of a fan of either of these two cartoons in my youth, nor do I really remember having seen this movie before today, so I get to go in fresh for my review of The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, written by Don Nelson and Arthur Alsberg, directed by Don Lusk, and starring the voices of George O’Hanlon, Henry Corden, Mel Blanc, Penny Singleton, Jean Vander Pyl, Julie McWhirter, Daws Butler, Janet Waldo, Jon Bauman, Hamilton Camp, Don Messick, John Stephenson, Brenda Vaccaro, and Frank Welker.

George Jetson (George O’Hanlon) is having trouble at work as his boss, Mr. Spacely (Mel Blanc), is finding all of his business ideas are being preempted by his rival, Cogswell (Daws Butler), but he finds it easier to blame George.  When George investigates, he finds out that his trusted computer R.U.D.I. (Don Messick) has been seduced by Cogswell’s computer, S.A.R.A. (Janet Waldo).  Thousands of years in the past, Wilma Flintstone (Jean Vander Pyl) and Betty Rubble (Julie McWhirter) are trying to convince their husbands, Fred (Henry Corden) and Barney (Mel Blanc), to take them on a nice vacation, but Fred gets it in his head to gamble his savings to make more money to take them on a nicer vacation, succeeding only to get him and Barney fired when their boss, Mr. Slate (John Stephenson), finds out that they skipped work.  Fred and Barney try to take their wives on a much cheaper camping trip instead, but they’re none too pleased.  It’s not made much better by the fact that George Jetson’s son, Elroy (Daws Butler), accidentally used his time machine to take his family back in time to the Flintstone’s era.  After a couple of mix ups, the Flintstones wind up in the future and the Jetsons are stuck in the past.  Then hilarity ensues.  Also, George’s daughter, Judy (Janet Waldo), spends most of the movie being a whiny bitch.

This movie was not fun times for me.  It felt like it was way too long even though it was only an hour and a half.  It just seemed like it was an easy idea, hastily thrown together.  I’m sure some people probably thought it would be an interesting idea to see what would happen if the two biggest families in Hanna-Barbera came together.  They were wrong.  They just took the idea and put in every possible combination, got the last drops of their ideas out, and ended it when they were spent.  First the Jetsons and the Flintstones meet in Bedrock.  Let’s have Fred try to use George’s futuristic stuff to help with Fred’s cornball idea to get his job back.  Out of ideas?  Alright, the Flintstones are in the future and the Jetsons are in the past.  Then they get famous and enjoy it for a bit, but then they don’t like it anymore.  Now we put both families in the future.  Gold!  Out of ideas.  Wrap it up quickly and put a price tag on this mamma jamma.  I don’t know if even kids would still find interest in this movie.  It’s mostly slapstick humor that I’m sure they’d be okay with, like people falling down and running into things, but I can’t imagine very many adults still finding this interesting.  What?  The Flintstones want to vacation to Honolurock?  Okay, you’ve won me over.  That’s just good writing right there.  They do have a couple of attempts at some funny wordplay, in their defense, that some parents might have liked.  They’re not funny, but they’re present.  There’s also a pretty good deal of humor in the movie that was even over my head, as I was only 4 when this movie originally came out, making some of their references fly right past me, so much so that I might not even have been aware they were trying.  I would say the biggest problem I had with the movie was that they shouldn’t have done it in the first place.  Putting the Jetsons and the Flintstones together only really serves to cement the idea that they were basically the same stories, just set thousands of years apart, and showing that there was not a lot of creativity in either one.  Another problem I had was with Judy’s whole story.  All she did in the entire movie was bitch and moan about how her rock star boyfriend left her for groupies.  Then she goes back in time and falls in love with his prehistoric equivalent, who then does the same thing to her.  If the prehistoric rocker was truly interested in you on a deeper level, he would’ve clubbed you over the head and raped you, as was their custom.  The time machine also became a source of irritation for me.  It would break whenever the plot needed it to.  I get that.  You need some reason for them to stick around when they don’t like it anymore so you can mine those comedy nuggets out of the situation, but it seriously broke like 20 times in the movie.  The worst one was the last time, when it broke just as the Jetsons had returned to the future and the Flintstones were ready to return to the past.  It was extra annoying because it broke and the Flintstones were talking about what they would do in the future, and then it just turned out their car had absorbed the time-travel juice (or whatever) so they went back anyway.  Why even bother having the machine break again if you were just going to make up some stupid solution a minute later?

I suppose I didn’t have any real problem with any of the voices in this movie.  They didn’t write it, so it’s not their fault.  They just came in and said the words that were written.  I would say that viewing the families through my adult eyes shows me that Fred Flintstone is a douchebag.  This mother fucker is always looking for a way to swindle someone, or use someone, or whatever it takes to be an asshole.  He’s about five minutes into meeting the oblivious George Jetson before he’s laughing to Barney about how he’s going to use George’s future technology, while acting like he’s his friend to get access to it.  Dick.  Also, Judy was a whiny bitch.  I would’ve asked that she be escorted out of the movie if I didn’t want to bang her so bad.  Was she over 18?  I’ll just believe that she was.  Also, why does Mr. Spacely have a Hitler moustache?  Seems like bad form to me.

The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones does not hold up as far as I’m concerned but, having never really been a fan, I also don’t know that I would have ever enjoyed the movie.  I’m sure kids will find it interesting enough as plenty of people fall down, but once you’re old enough to say the words, “To Hell with this crap,” I’m sure you’ve outgrown it.  After that time it’s just got a few sparse attempts at wordplay and some references I’ll have to run past my mom to understand.  The movie just wound up being a boring movie that enlightened me only to the fact that the Jetsons and the Flintstones are basically the same thing.  With as difficult as I’m sure this movie is to find, it’s not worth your time.  The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones gets “Yabba Dabba Don’t” out of “And they can’t kaputt it back together again!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Gremlins (1984)

I Make the Illogical Logical.

I don’t know what’s up with Fabio’s obsession with little green men movies recently.  The last movie I reviewed for him was Troll 2 which should have made me ban him from making requests forever, but when that review brought a lot of eyes to my site, I felt like I should give old Fabio another chance.  And sure, I guess you could say I’m to blame for his back to back little green men requests because I chose to do this movie first out of a large list of movies he requested of me, and it’s also true that none of the OTHER movies he requested have little green men in them, but … I lost my train of thought…  Anyways, I picked this movie because it seemed like more fun than the other movies he requested, and I also just found out that I have a very special connection to this movie as it came out exactly one year after I was born.  Will that translate into love for the movie?  Here’s my review of Gremlins, written by Chris Columbus, directed by Joe Dante, and starring Zach Galligan, Howie Mandel, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Frances Lee McCain, Corey Feldman, Frank Welker, Keye Luke, John Louie, Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Polly Holliday, and Judge Reinhold.

Inventor Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) visits a small antique store in Chinatown, looking to peddle his wares and possibly find a Christmas present for his son, Billy (Zach Galligan).  He fails to sell his inventions, but he does find something he wants to give to his son.  It’s a tiny, relentlessly adorable creature known as a Mogwai (voiced by Howie Mandel).  But Randall keeps his failure alive by failing to purchase the Mogwai because the shop’s owner, Mr. Wing (Keye Luke), refuses to sell it, saying that too much responsibility comes with owning a Mogwai.  Wing’s grandson (John Louie) gives it to Randall anyway, but warns him that there are three things you have to keep in mind when taking care of a Mogwai: they will die in direct sunlight, never get them wet, and never feed them after midnight.  He gives the Mogwai to Billy and they nickname him Gizmo.  And, since rules were set for the care of Gizmo, you know that it will not be long before they’re all broken.  When Billy accidentally gets the Mogwai wet, it doesn’t divide, it multiplies.  The 5 new Mogwai are much less well-behaved than Gizmo and one of them chews the wires of Billy’s clock.  Not knowing the time, he accidentally feeds the new 5 Mogwai after midnight, causing them to create cocoons and turn into the little green men that Fabio was waiting for.

I would say that Gremlins holds up as a cute movie, but not really a good one.  It’s not bad, but I never really found it that interesting.  It’s pretty much just a monster movie, but one that attempts for comedy that I never really noticed.  I suppose you could call it a dark comedy, but I’ve never really cared for dark comedies.  In the case of this movie, I found a couple of things funny, but mostly just felt like they may have been trying to do something funny but it wasn’t so I didn’t know if it was even supposed to be.  There were also a few parts that I found funny, but I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to.  Like Phoebe Cates’ story about why she hates Christmas because that’s when, in an attempt to surprise her and her family, her father tried to climb down the chimney, got stuck, and died.  Sure, that might not SOUND funny, but I just kept thinking, “Well, technically he DID surprise you, right?”  I also probably wasn’t supposed to find it funny when Judge Reinhold tried to hit on Phoebe Cates by saying that he has cable.  And she DIDN’T give him her vagina right then and there!  THAT’S FUCKIN’ CRAZY!!  The later portion of the movie is where it picks up the speed, but not really the quality.  Sure, it’s when the gremlins finally show up, but it’s also just a bunch of scenes of varying degrees of goofiness of the gremlins causing some minor mayhem.  The ending’s kind of a bummer as well.

I can’t say that I was impressed by any of the performances.  Zach Galligan didn’t impress me, and he was supposed to be our lead character.  There was even at least one point where he pissed me off because he’s supposed to be our hero in the movie, but this douche still intentionally puts water on Gizmo when it seemed to obviously cause it a great deal of pain.  The first time was a legitimate accident, but taking him to the scientist dude and doing it again to show it off was just a dick move.  I also thought his mom, played by Frances Lee McCain, looked like a potential psychopath.  Just something about her face.  It was not lessened when she brutalized three gremlins in her kitchen.  Polly Holliday was cartoonishly evil as Mrs. Deagle, coming off as a live action Cruella DeVille.  Phoebe Cates didn’t do much for me beyond her looks.  Speaking of which, Gizmo is ridiculously adorable.  It doesn’t necessarily hold up in most parts, but hand puppets and animatronics was all they really had at the time, so it was as good as it could be.

Gremlins was not able to reclaim its past glory with me.  I remember thinking it was great when I was much younger, but I don’t think I’ve really seen it in its entirety since then, only catching chunks of it or its sequel on TV occasionally.  Watching it today, none of the comedy works for me anymore, and then it’s just a pretty goofy monster movie.  The performances aren’t particularly great, but Gizmo is still cute as hell.  You’ve probably already seen the movie by now, and if you haven’t I feel like it’s a movie that everyone should have watched at least once, but it’s not the most entertaining thing you can find nowadays.  Worth one watch, but probably not a re-watch.  Gremlins gets “Bye Billy” out of “Get out of my kitchen!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Independence Day (1996)

Welcome to Earth!

The third part in this contest brings me to my guilty pleasure genre: disaster movies!  Disaster movies, if done well, are a combination of various different genres.  They’re mostly action based, they always attempt drama (they don’t always get there), and they’re generally science fiction.  Usually corny and dumb, but mostly lots of fun.  Today’s movie exemplifies the genre, at least in my mind.  If the movie doesn’t exemplify the genre, the director certainly does.  Almost every movie I can think of that this guy has done has been a disaster movie.  And I’ve actually liked the majority of them, dumb and cheesy though they may be.  And so, as the biggest and the most fun in the genre, and the movie that best exemplifies the genre for me, I had no choice but to give my favorite disaster movie to Independence Day, written by Dean Devlin, written and directed by Roland Emmerich, and starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, Vivica A. Fox, Harry Connick Jr., Margaret Colin, Judd Hirsch, Harvey Fierstein, Robert Loggia, Mary McDonnell, Mae Whitman, James Rebhorn, Adam Baldwin, Brent Spiner, James Duval, and Frank Welker.

On July 2nd, a signal appears in outer space, between the Earth and the moon.  Spirits are lifted temporarily when the giant curiosity slows down and stops before hitting Earth, but then it gets more curious when it “splits” into smaller pieces and enters the Earth’s atmosphere, first appearing as strange clouds that seem like they’re on fire, but changing to reveal that they are massive alien spaceships that then settle over the Earth’s major cities.  David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) discovers a transmission in the satellite signal that he first thinks is just going to go away, but soon realizes that it’s a countdown to an attack.  He collects his father, Julius (Judd Hirsch), and rushes to Washington to warn his ex-wife, Constance (Margaret Colin), who is the Communications Director at the White House.  With the president, Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), they barely manage to escape.  Also going on, a drunken crop duster named Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) escapes with his broken family, Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) takes part in an aerial assault on the aliens that he alone survives, and we go to Area 51 where scientists like Dr. Brackish Okun (Brent Spiner) have been studying these aliens in secret since some of them crashed here in 1947.

Roland Emmerich has got to be one of the best directors in the big dumb action category.  The story is pretty basic alien invasion fare that’s been going down pretty much since movies were invented, but it does it so well and makes it so fun that I can’t help but love the thing.  How can you not get behind the heroes of the movie when these fuckin’ aliens come down here and get all rowdy for no reason, laying siege to the biggest cities in the world?  It’s the easy way to get the audience invested in the movie, and it works on me.  Of course, I don’t know how much the other countries of the world will be invested near the end.  I mean, they all get involved in taking down the aliens, but it was all America’s idea.  FUCK YEAH!  It’s certainly not the brightest of movies, but I doubt it was trying to be.  From what I’ve read, they spent 4 weeks working on the script and 13 months on the production.  They knew what they were doing.  But I’m not like most film critics.  A movie doesn’t have to have a message or intelligence or something important about it; it just needs to be entertaining.  That’s what entertainment is supposed to do.  And how could you say Independence Day wasn’t entertaining?!  It’s impossible!  It’s at least impossible to finish that sentence before I slap you in the mouth.  As corny as it is, how can you not get amped by the “Today we celebrate our Independence Day!” speech?  Watching it again almost inspired me to drive to the airport, steal a jet, and fly it up the butthole of an alien spacecraft.  And the ending is entirely satisfying.  Obviously, there are stupid things that happen in this movie, but none so stupid that they ruin the experience.  I would say it was probably in bad taste for the president to joke that he was in bed with a young brunette to his wife.  Not because adultery is bad (he is the president, what do you expect?), but because the young brunette was his nine year old daughter.  I don’t get behind the idea that the super advanced aliens wearing the biomechanical armor can be knocked unconscious for several hours by one punch from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  Probably not as much as I wouldn’t get behind the idea of letting the drunken guy who can’t even formulate the sentence, “I’m a pilot.  I can fly,” without stumbling into the driver’s seat of a jet fighter.  Also, early on in the movie, it’s a little on the nose to have one of the scientists playing the R.E.M. song “End of the World”.

The performances did exactly what they were supposed to in this movie.  You probably couldn’t say that any of them impressed, but they all performed adequately.  It’s kind of hard to say who the main character in this movie is though because they have about 4 main characters in separate stories that come together at the end.  You have Will Smith’s story, Bill Pullman’s story, Jeff Goldblum’s story, and Randy Quaid’s story.  Will Smith was just becoming a superstar around this point, but he show’s what makes him a superstar in this movie.  Both charming and funny in his role, he makes for a very likeable character.  I had problems with other people in his story though.  First, Vivica A. Fox.  She’s pretty and dances in a bikini at one point, but I had already gotten fairly mad at her for her reaction to Smith getting called to the base when the aliens showed up.  Bitch, you want to marry a guy that’s in the military!  What do you think’s going to happen when a threat to America shows up?  Also, Harry Connick Jr. was usually really annoying, definitely not funny, and possibly gay.  Something about the way he kept calling Will Smith “Big Daddy” – in a post BioShock world – seems gay to me.  Pullman was strange to me in this movie.  He didn’t do a bad job, but he’s got this smug raspiness to every line delivery, making ever sentence end with a smug sounding “uh”.  His wife also made me mad because she was so naïve that, when Vivica A. Fox said that she was “a dancer”, this bitch automatically goes to ballet.  Yeah, ‘cause that’s a common occupation in America.  Also, his daughter was Mae Whitman, who was in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  That’s all I have to say about her.  Goldblum acted just like Goldblum, but he was good at it.  His dad was a little weird.  I don’t know if this is how Judd Hirsch always acts in movies, but I couldn’t help but wonder if Jackie Mason was unavailable.  Quaid plays a good drunk, but I hated pretty much everyone in his family.  His younger son was a pussy and his daughter was a whore.  Well, she never had sex with anyone in the movie, but she did fall in love with and try to have sex with about three different guys through the course of the movie, and usually within 5 minutes of meeting them.  I also assume that James Duval (who played Miguel Casse, the oldest son) never really got famous because the world already has one Keanu Reeves and doesn’t require another.

Independence Day still stands up as the shining example of how to get past the limitations of your story with fantastic special effects, spectacle, and all around fun factor.  Even after all these years, it still stands up as the most fun disaster movie that I was able to think of.  It’s what Roland Emmerich does best.  I probably don’t need to recommend this movie as I have a hard time believing that anyone has managed to not see it by the point in their life where they could be reading this.  If you haven’t, do it.  Independence Day gets “You Don’t Actually Think They Spend $20,000 on a Hammer, $30,000 on a Toilet Seat, Do You?” out of “Yes yes.  Without the ‘oops’.”

Congratulations goes to my sister, Katie, for not only guessing my favorite disaster movie, but also guessing my runner up disaster movie, Armageddon.  That just proves that she’s Country Strong.

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Chipmunk Adventure (1987)

David, Are You Drunk?

I had actually found this movie for the purpose of reviewing many months before it was requested of me.  And when it was actually requested of me, I was very excited.  This movie was a staple in my childhood.  I don’t really remember being that huge of a fan of the characters that star in this movie, but I can only assume that I was.  Whether I was or not, I distinctly remember loving this movie in my childhood.  But watching this kind of movie is dangerous as it risks ruining a fond childhood memory.  Though it has not yet done it in the course of my reviews, it’s happened before with things like Bobby’s World.  I used to love that show when I was a kid, but when I purchased a DVD of it in adulthood, I found it extremely painful to sit through.  I hope that my Friendboss Josh has not caused another Bobby’s World situation today.  We’ll find out in my review of The Chipmunk Adventure, written by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman, directed by Janice Karman, and starring the voices of Ross Bagdasarian Jr., Janice Karman, Susan Tyrrell, Anthony De Longis, Dody Goodman, Frank Welker, Ken Sansom, and Nancy Cartwright.

David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian Jr.) is leaving to Europe on a business trip and leaving his … sons? … the Chipmunks – Alvin (Bagdasarian), Simon (Bagdasarian), and Theordore (Janice Karman) – in the care of Ms. Miller (Dody Goodman).  A little later, Alvin is playing an arcade game version of Around the World in Thirty Days against Brittany (Karman), the leader of the Chipettes – with Jeanette (Karman) and Eleanor (Karman).  The game starts an argument between Alvin and Brittany about who would actually be faster in a race around the world.  Coincidentally, two diamond smugglers named Claudia (Susan Tyrrell) and Klaus Vorstein (Anthony De Longis) are sitting in the same restaurant discussing their need for inconspicuous people to go around the world and make their diamond drops in various places.  They tell the chipmunks that they are just two eccentric billionaires that would like to give them the opportunity to actually hold a race.  Each team will follow a separate route and drop off a doll that is made in their own likeness, picking up a doll with the likeness of the opposing team.  The winner of the race will receive $100,000.  After tricking Miss Miller, the chipmunks set off on their adventure to unwittingly deliver blood diamonds around the globe.  It probably won’t go smoothly for either team, but I’m sure they’ll overcome … with the power of music!

Buckle in, people.  I’ve got a lot to say about this movie and the concept behind it.  That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie because I did.  I can’t say for sure if I liked it more than I should have given my own predisposition towards liking it, but I was still very fond of the movie.  I grant that it’s definitely a children’s movie, but I think it’s still enjoyable.  The story can’t really be called the most creative thing because the bulk of it can be said to be based on Around the World in 80 Days, and the story that gets the Chipmunks involved in that is a little impractical.  As crazy as these two criminals may have been, it just does not seem like the brightest of ideas to hand millions of dollars in diamonds and cash to six bickering children.  And even if it was a good idea, how the hell did these criminals get all of this set up in what seemed to be a matter of 12 hours?  They had set up detailed routes, two hot air balloons, hand-crafted dolls in the likeness of the two separate teams filled with diamonds and cash, and just as elaborate methods of making the drop which involve things like a robotic sombrero that switches the dolls and things built into ancient Mayan temples.  If they had the time to set all of this crap up, I’m sure they’re ingenious enough to make the drops themselves.  Well, they’ll get what’s coming to them in the end.  Of course, though the two bad guys acted completely evil, I was never fully sure what they were doing that was illegal in the first place.  It’s not illegal to sell diamonds as far as I know, and I was given no information to lead me to believe that the diamonds were acquired in a dishonest fashion.  Maybe they don’t get into that kind of thing in a kid’s movie.  There was also a part in the movie where the Chipmunks were captured by cannibals and Theodore was made their God.  They eventually decided they were going to sacrifice the three of them, which just made me mad that Pirates of the Caribbean so clearly ripped this idea off from this movie.  Hey, Loni!  The look of the movie was also pretty good.  The backgrounds were very pretty and usually very colorful and the animation was over the top, but appropriate.  I felt it wasn’t always realistic, like when they went to Mexico and the place was clean and there wasn’t a donkey show in sight.

One thing that amused me about this movie was that almost every predicament that the two teams got themselves into could be solved with a song and dance routine.  One such occasion was when the Chipettes had been captured by a young Arabian prince.  They found the dolls they needed in a room with snakes all over the place as guards.  They turned to each other and said, “How do we get our dolls back?” to which I replied, “Duh!  With a song and dance number!”  And it turns out I was right!  The good thing about them solving every problem with a song and dance routine was that the songs were really catchy and I enjoyed every one of them.  I especially liked the song they sang when they met up at one point and decided to see who could “out rock” the other by singing a song called The Girls and Boys of Rock and Roll.  When I was trying to remember this movie before I rewatched it, this was the moment I remembered the most clearly.  I really liked the song, but it occurred to me that, if they indeed intended to see who was able to out rock the other team, it may have been a good decision to have an audience present.  Neither team is going to be impartial enough to give it to their opponent, so you really didn’t solve anything, did you?

One major question I had about this movie will most likely never be answered in any of the movies: When are these chipmunks going to bang it out already?  They seem to me to be clearly designed to be carbon copies of each other with different genitalia, so it just seems inevitable.  But then I started thinking: What would happen if these chipmunks got together?  My belief is that Alvin and Brittany would be furiously on-again, off-again in their relationship, their egos being far too big to stick around with the other for too long.  They would probably remarry each other 27 times before they finally just killed each other.  Simon and Jeanette would work out perfectly together, and their relationship would probably give themselves the time and the intelligence to cure some major disease.  Unfortunately, I don’t see a good future in store for Theodore and Eleanor.  Sure, they’d get along great, and probably love each other very much.  The problem would be that they would still love each other no matter what they looked like, and they both love eating so much that they would become morbidly obese, and then just become morbid (dead).  Of course, they could just get lucky and lose a foot to the diabetes.

The characters in the movie are pretty one dimensional, but it’s what we expect.  I think you can also get a bit of a sign of the times from this.  You see, Simon is the intelligent one in the Chipmunks, and he’s usually right about everything he says.  When he tells the Chipettes that they shouldn’t head in a certain direction because he read that there was a hurricane coming, he was right.  The sign of the times from this is that the smart one of the Chipettes never really seemed that intelligent, and in this case had to ask Simon his opinion on which direction they should go because, though she’s smart amongst the other ladies, she’s still inferior to the man.  I can get behind the idea of them being too stubborn to change direction, and even to think that Simon would tell them something to make them go in the wrong direction, but when you’ve been told a hurricane is in that direction and you’re flying directly towards thundering black clouds, maybe you get it through your thick skull.  It was also funny to me that the two bad henchmen in the movie were a black dude and a Mexican dude.  Granted, the two main villains were white, or at least white-ish in the case of the guy.  I felt like the villains hammed it up a little much, but I suppose that’s not atypical for a cartoon.  But why did Miss Miller look like Cruella DeVille if she really let herself go?  She was a perfectly nice lady.  And if Eleanor was the Theodore of the Chipettes, why was she only slightly chubby?  Just hate fatties, do ya movie?!  I caught myself criticizing something stupid at one point when I started asking why the baby penguin was wearing a locket around it’s neck with a picture of it’s parents.  Since it was just an animal, I assumed that the people that took the baby penguin put that around it’s neck to torment it, which is just a dick move.  Later, when I saw the scenes of the baby penguin in it’s crib in the igloo it lived in with it’s parents, I began to realize the problem in my logic with complaining about anthropomorphizing animals in a movie about talking chipmunks.

Sure, I had a lot to say about The Chipmunk Adventures, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane.  The story was fairly basic and there were plenty of things that didn’t make sense, but the songs that can solve any problem are so catchy that I didn’t care.  The characters are all fairly one dimensional and have nothing resembling a character arc, but you would only be looking for that if you for some reason were watching this and completely unaware of the fact that you were watching a kid’s movie.  I found the movie still holds up as completely enjoyable, and those of you with kids will have even more reason to watch it.  I don’t really know where you’ll find a copy of this, but I’m sure you can get a DVD somewhere.  The Chipmunk Adventure gets “Well, somebody has to win the race” out of “That’s enough, you guys!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.