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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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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