Tag Archives: Movie Review

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.

Guardians of the Galaxy takes my top spot

I am, in a word, amazed.

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyGuardians of the Galaxy accomplished what The Avengers accomplished, and it did it without requiring four movies of character development. The filmmakers delivered an ensemble superhero space-opera, gave us five fully fleshed-out characters, and had us laughing and cheering (and stoically holding back tears) through the whole film.

This is one of those films I want to watch again, only with a notebook. I want to to study it and figure out how they did what they did. Lots of it was brilliant writing, but the actors sold those parts to me, and the director, the editors, and the huge crew of technical wizards sold me the whole universe, and a really rollicking story.

I had a blast. So yes, it takes my #1 slot for the year, and I don’t expect it to be displaced.

My eleven-year-old son also heartily recommends it. He said, and I quote, “this is the best movie,” jaw agape, at least twice during the film. He was cheering for the characters in the final scenes. I had to shush him, because he was starting to cheer louder than the other people in the theater.

[UPDATE:] As was pointed out to me on the Twitter, and I quote:

@ajchid: You liked the hilarious space opera about a group of heroic ruffians from diverse, morally ambiguous backgrounds? Hmm…

If you’re at this website reading this review because you read Schlock Mercenary, and you think that movies its creator enjoys might also tickle your fancy, there is a reasonable chance that you will love Guardians of the Galaxy because it scratches your “I want a Schlock Mercenary movie” itch. Assuming you have such an itch.

I don’t see Schlock Mercenary in Guardians of the Galaxy, but that’s the same me being able to immediately recognize my house in a neighborhood full of similarly-built houses — Schlock Mercenary is where I live, and Guardians of the Galaxy is a place where Marvel Studios invited me over for a party.

(Oh, yeah. Sergeant Schlock can totally be described as a blobby cross between Groot and Rocket, with “I want to eat that” substituted for “I want to steal that.”)


Watched The Croods Again. Still Loving It

I watched The Croods again this evening. I still love that movie. I especially love that Grog is our protagonist, and that this fact is not clear until after he throws his family to safety.

And I dearly love this moment:

(c) 2013, Dreamworks
(c) 2013, Dreamworks

I could talk at length about how cartooning is a shorthand meant to evoke emotion, and how that’s basically what Grog is doing, but the summary point will suffice. I totally identify with Grog in this film, and him turning out to be a cartoonist didn’t hurt one bit.