I have...no idea what to make of what I just saw. Going into this I… MoreI have...no idea what to make of what I just saw. Going into this I already had quite a number of apprehensions and concerns regarding this whole enterprise. Namely, Michael Bay overseeing another movie based on a beloved Gen X cultural property and all the inevitable backlash associated with that. And the result is kind of terrible, but not quite the catastrophe one might expect. In other words Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen this is not. And I have certainly seen worse movies this year. What plagues this movie is just how generic it is. The plot and raw structure is largely ripped off superhero movies complete with "magic blood" and "evil gas threatening the city" clichés (see Batman Begins and The Amazing Spider-Man). The dialogue is laughable and William Fichtner and yes even Megan Fox are underutilized with cardboard thin characters with questionable motivations and some of the worst dialogue this side of an Asylum production. The Turtles themselves are hulking, overpowered monstrosities - a change made, I assume to make them more comparable to superheroes. Even Shredder is unrecognizable, looking more like one of Iron Man's mech villains or X-Men's Silver Samurai.
What does work are a couple of the action scenes (the snow chase in particular) and the banter between our four heroes. The humor is a little more effective here than in the Transformers movies even if it is pop culture reference heavy. Basically, if action is going on or the Turtles are cracking jokes and smashing into vehicles it's tolerable. If those things are not on screen it's unbearable. Also credit must be given for the presence of only two explosions the entire movie. I assume this was because Michael Bay was a producer and not in the director's chair, otherwise we would have gotten one every five minutes minimum. So surprise, surprise - shit movie is in fact, shit. It seems the definitive version of the Turtles will remain the 1990 original. Yes the one with the awkward rubber suits. And no not the sequels. By the way could we ever get a version of the original black and white comic? You know the one that was kind of dark and weird? Yeah we could Sin City the hell out of that and make an interesting film. At least it would be better than this. In regards to the movie we do have, I can only recommend seeing it on Netflix or checking it out from your local library. I cannot advise spending any money toward it.
Initially considered one of the riskier ventures of summer 2014,… MoreInitially considered one of the riskier ventures of summer 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy is now a confirmed pop culture phenomenon and provides excellent escapism for audiences weary of formulaic contemporary blockbusters. It's also just plain fun. You know? Fun. Remember what that's like?
Based on an obscure series in the Cosmic Marvel universe, Guardians centers on a space-faring crew of rejects while bearing much in common with beloved nerd properties such as Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, and Outlaw Star. It is infused with a hefty dose of over-the-top action, colorful locations and characters, and the kind of quirky, referential humor that is en vogue these days - especially with my generation. And hey that 60's and 70's themed pop soundtrack worked. But you know what? This movie has something I didn't expect. This movie can be quite emotional at times, and not in an ironic or melodramatic sense. There are moments here that are depressingly sad. I may have felt this for...personal reasons. But more broadly the characters have lonely and unfortunate backgrounds and find meaning through their partnership and forced circumstances. This provides depth and makes this more than just imitation space opera for the masses. For that reason, I give my full endorsement.
Easily one of the more overlooked movies of 2014, A Most Wanted Man… MoreEasily one of the more overlooked movies of 2014, A Most Wanted Man takes the best elements of spy thriller fiction and cuts out the fat, leaving a well-woven, if detached, piece. It focuses entirely on a troubled German intelligence officer, expertly played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, hunting for Al Qaeda operatives in Hamburg. He and the supporting cast are given plenty of room to breathe and act, even if we are asked to take a group of Hollywood A-Listers sporting fake German accents seriously. In comparison to other recent movies in its sub-genre A Most Wanted Man is noticeably inferior to Zero Dark Thirty and the 2011 adaptation of another John Le Carré novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which were more successful in creating a memorably cold and cerebral atmosphere. However, it is more consistently entertaining and much easier to follow, which should be a plus for general audiences trying to catch Hoffman's last leading performance. That being said, the ending may come off as flat and anti-climactic to some. But in John Le Carré's world there are few, if any, winners and little solid resolution for those who live in the profession of cloak and dagger. So go see Phillip Seymour Hoffman punch out a drunken stranger and shove Rachel McAdams' back into a wall. Even if he fails to receive posthumous awards, he still deserves recognition as a skillful character actor.
Fun, blunt, and simple to a fault, Hercules provides much of the old… MoreFun, blunt, and simple to a fault, Hercules provides much of the old school fun rarely found in multiplexes these days. Months ago I forecast this movie as a minor success, while most people were predicting it to be both a Lone-Ranger-esque box office disaster and a terrible movie in general. Guess what? Neither is true, check the numbers bitches. And I personally was looking forward to seeing this because it appeared closer to the mythological character than the flop Legend of Hercules, or any other adaptation for that matter. (Yes Greeks, I said Hercules not Heracles. You lost the war - get over it.) Disappointingly, the movie strongly implies our hero's mythological origins are a matter of invention, but we still get to see him run around in a lion headdress and smash shit with a big ass club, so there's that.
The big show here is Dwayne Johnson who allows his immense physicality to act for him (comparable to Vin Diesel) in addition to some effective comedic timing. As a friend and colleague pointed out before, he actually does have some dramatic chops as seen in the overlooked Snitch, though little of that is used here. Hercules also benefits from much needed comic relief from Ian McShane and a nice second act twist that keeps things moving. Overall, it's a diverting mediocre excursion despite director Brett Ratner, and an excellent choice for a rental or a matinee showing. But not something you will want to add to your Blu-Ray collection or pay a full priced ticket for.