Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of books, movies, music, and maybe even games.

Into the Storm

Into the Storm had a lot of tornadoes in it, but no sharks.  ZERO. Nary a one.

Into The StormOne of the tornadoes caught fire, and that kind of made up for it. Another one was full of tractor trailers, and several tornadoes filled up on barn components. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that if you can name a common thing (but not a shark) this movie put that thing into a tornado.

Surprisingly, at least two of the tornadoes had Thorin Oakenshield in them, though he was in his six-two, beardless Richard Armitage form. No axe. Pocketknife.

Enough silliness. This movie was far more enjoyable than it had any real reason to be. The “found footage” conceit worked against it, at least to my tastes, but even when they were talking directly to the cameras for posterity, every character on screen was more interesting, more engaging, and more believable than the Megan Fox incarnation of April O’Neil. And I include the four characters who died in the first scene.

In 1996’s Twister our excuse for seeing lots of funnel clouds was that we were following storm chasers, and they were chasing storms pretty effectively. Into the Storm took a different approach, the “what do you mean there’s ANOTHER cell coming?” approach.

Remember that scene in Twister where Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt get to look up into the eye of the tornado? Into the Storm one-ups that moment in a beautiful way.

That said, Into the Storm is very much middle-of the-pack fare. It feels like a high-budget, made-for-TV movie, and I don’t think you have any reason to see it in theaters if Guardians of the Galaxy is still playing, and you still have movie money, and friends who have not yet seen Guardians of the Galaxy.  As of this writing, Into the Storm comes in at #15 for me for the year.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I think I’ve figured out what it is that Michael Bay is doing wrong.

I don’t know exactly how he does it, but what he seems to be doing is bringing really fun stories to the live-action silver screen while draining as much fun from them as possible. Then he bottles that fun and hoards it, no doubt as part of a nefarious plan to digress from the review and oh… okay, right.

TMNT-2014So. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s this scene where captured turtles are being drained, literally, with tubes, and it felt just a little too on the nose. Like “this is what I’m doing to this franchise, GET IT?”

It’s not all bad, though. The portrayal of the turtles themselves was fun. The character designs were spectacular, the performances were spot-on, and the dialog was pretty clever. Oh, and the downhill chase scene in the snow was pretty cool, too.

Sadly, the film follows the wrong POV. Perhaps a different actress or a different script could have gotten me to care about April O’Neil’s career as a journalist, but following her around was boring. Also Megan Fox failed completely to convince me that she was an ambitious reporter, anxious to get off of the fluff-piece-of-the-day beat. When the turtles weren’t on the screen, the movie dragged.

The audience at our 10:30pm showing seemed to be predominantly 20-something males, with a few 10-year-olds out late with their parents. This crowd laughed in many of the right places, but it sounded like nervous laughter. These were the laughs people make when they’re desperately hoping this is the point where the movie turns around and gets good. But it wasn’t. It never was. I joined them, laughing as if to believe, but it wasn’t enough.

Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did not destroy my childhood, nor did it ruin my enjoyment of the comics, the Nickelodeon series, or even the side-scrolling video game. It also did not clear the Threshold of Disappointment. If that region is a sewer, then the turtles of  metaphor are probably too on the nose. And their noses looked weird. And this review ended in a strange place.

Mugging Leprechauns Before Bed

I was in a terrible mood yesterday. Mostly it was a bad mental health day, which is sad because it was also our 21st wedding anniversary, but Sandra and I managed to have a nice day in spite of my metabolically induced crushing despair.

Right before bed I decided to do some reading, and I started back in on my brother Randy’s book, Mugging Leprechauns is Totally Legal.

I fell asleep with a smile on my face. That book is like magic.

Best Sixty-Seven Cents Ever

“Yet Another Zombie Defense Game,” normally $1.99, was on sale for $0.67. I bought a copy for me and had way more mindless fun than if I’d stuck 75 cents in an arcade game. So I bought three more copies and gifted them to my zombie-killing kids. Then my boys and I played together for about an hour and a half.

It’s a top-down, 3rd-person shooter with arrow keys for movement and the mouse for aiming, firing, and switching weapons. It’s played on a super-simple board — pavement with a single street lamp in the center. The zombies spawn at the edges and rush inward.

Survive the night and the next day you can shop for better weapons, ammo, etc.

Mindless, yes, but I had a great time with my sons. Yes, I’m in for more than just sixty-seven cents now. I’m in for $2.68 plus tax, but I stand by that subject line.