Saturday, August 16, 2014


Richard Linklater should be my favorite filmmaker, his DAZED AND CONFUSED is one of my top ten favorite movies of all time. I have never seen a film of his I did not like. I just got back from seeing BOYHOOD, and after tonight Linklater might very well be my favorite filmmaker.

He has this amazing ability to make the uninteresting interesting. His first film (I think) SLACKER is about nothing. It's a day in the life look at a bunch of twenty-somethings living in Austin, Texas. The film has no real narrative plot and is just linear vignette's that seamlessly move from one scene and character to the next. Some of the characters in certain scenes get long winded and may seem boring but in some weird way it works. You realize, like it or not, that you're hanging out with these people. You're experiencing a film version of life.

BOYHOOD isn't just a 12 year look at the life of Mason, a boy from Texas. It's a 12 year snapshot of family and life itself. I mentioned SLACKER earlier because that film is very similar in that it uses a lot of the same structure as this one does. Each of the vignettes chronicle a year or so of Mason and his family's life.

As for a synopsis the best thing to say is that the film is about family, parenting, and of course growing up. To describe the plot would just be paragraph after paragraph of me telling you scenes. I wouldn't know where to begin or end without fear of really ruining the experience of seeing it for yourself?

What I can do is tell you what I liked about the film. Everything felt genuine. No bullshit. What I mean by that is there was nothing dramatic for dramatic sake. Two examples. One scene there is an abusive drunken stepfather who hits Mason's mom. Any other movie would make this a big “Oscar bait” moment. You know, if the mother was played by Barbra Streisand or something clichéd like that. Not here. The film acknowledges it, deals with it, and then moves on.

Another scene that I thought was smart was when Mason was in eighth grade and him and his buddies were hanging with high schoolers. The kids were just hanging out doing what teenagers do. They start messing around with a saw blade. Like I said before, in any other movie this would be some dramatic plot point for our little Mason to learn a “life lesson”. The scene doesn't teach us anything, thank god. It's just a snapshot showing us and reminding some what it was like to be a teenager.

The use of music to signify the passage of time was cool. Very cool. I just love stuff like that. They also used stuff like Harry Potter and the Nintendo Wii which was fine, but to me the use of music was the coolest and most effective trope.

The cast was amazing as well. Ellar Coltrane who played Mason was amazing, probably the best child actor I've seen in a long time if not ever. And the funny thing is, this is his first and probably only film. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, who played the parents were great.

This is the first time for a movie (that's not a summer blockbuster or genre picture) that I can honestly tell you to believe the hype. This is a masterpiece that needs to be seen! Go see it!

Highly recommended!

Friday, August 15, 2014


What happened? Really? What the heck happened with this franchise? I'll tell you what happened! PG-13, that's what happened! Something way more important than gory shoot em' up violence got sacrificed in this film, and that's attitude. The bad ass element that made the first two Expendables movies great is watered down if not gone. What we're left with is a pretty good GI:JOE movie for teenagers.

The film starts off promising with a jailbreak aboard a train. But by the second action sequence I was starting to worry a little bit, and sadly things did not get better in my opinion. You know the drill. Shaky camera, bloodless shootouts, jerky editing so you can't tell who's shooting who, and big super duper explosions to distract the audience and compensate for well thought out action scenes.

During a routine job the Expendables see a ghost. Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), co-founder of the Expendables and traitor thought to be dead is alive and well as a notorious arms dealer. The job all goes to hell when Conrad is identified and Barney Ross(Sylvester Stallone), the leader of the Expendables tries to end his ass. Conrad escapes but not without giving his former teammates a proper goodbye present by leaving one of them mortally wounded.

Shaken by what Conrad did Barney decides to disband the crew. Now it's out with the old and in with the new as Barney recruits some new blood. Plans for revenge quickly change as the CIA wants Barney and his team to bring Conrad in alive so he can go on trial for war crimes. The new team is young and full of energy but even with the aid of Barney they are no match for a seasoned old hat like Conrad Stonebanks. So it's up to Joe Christmas (Jason Statham) and the rest of the Expendables to save Barney and the new class of mercenaries.

This movie was just not for me. I was bias to begin with because of the PG-13 rating so that may have clouded my judgment from the start. I don't have a problem with PG-13 anything if the movie/story is good. What I have a problem with is that for this type of film it needs to be rated R. Period. But it is what it is so I can move on and make the best of it.

I was enjoying EXPENDABLES 3 for the most part, that was until it was time for Barney to recruit some new young blood. I was already two steps ahead, I knew he was going to get this new team only to get their asses handed to them by Conrad and had to get saved by the original bad asses. The idea of a new team didn't bother me, in fact I thought it was going to be kinda cool. But they messed it up. They messed it up big time. The new class of Expendables sucks. Not just the characters but the actors as well. Zero personality. I didn't care about these guys one bit. The original Expendables crew gets sidelined for a better part of the film for these punks? Screw you! No thanks!

At least the movie had some humor in it. Schwarzenegger had a few one liners that I laughed out loud at. Including a classic one that wasn't “I'll be back”! And I wanted more of Antonio Banderas who played a cool character Galgo, a mercenary who doesn't know how to shut up.

EXPENDABLES 3 was also the return of Wesley Snipes which sadly felt lackluster due to him only being in the movie for 30 minutes it felt like. Gotta make room for Kellan (Legend of Hercules) Lutz and MMA superstars who can't act I guess? It was good to see Wesley back nonetheless.

According to Stallone this is the final installment of the franchise, but I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of The Expendables: The New Class. (Sigh)

I recommend THE EXPENDABLES 3 as a matinée at best.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


So the new TMNT movie is not the train wreck I was expecting it to be. It's still not very good. A mediocre film at best. And the worst part isn't the subtle changes in the origin. Nor is it the films leading star Megan Fox. No, the biggest problem I had with this movie was the script. Uninteresting characters spewing out droll boring exposition. Scene after scene of characters telling us what's happened or what is about to happen.

I even think that director Jonathan Liebesman knew how boring the script was so he livened up scenes of people talking with dramatic close-ups and swooping pans. The film is shot well and looks nice but boring is boring.

In this latest incarnation of the popular franchise there are some minor changes, luckily none of them involve our favorite heroes in a half shell being from outer space.

Our story begins with fluff piece reporter April O'Neil trying to cover the story of a rampant crime wave by the mysterious Foot Clan. Hot on a lead she gets into trouble only to be saved by some strange looking heroes. Upon further investigation her super-hero like saviors turn out to be 6 foot tall walking, talking, ass kicking turtles. Not only does she become friends with them but things become a reunion of sorts when April finds out they used to be her pets when she was little.

Back when April was a young girl she had a pet rat and 4 turtles in her fathers lab. Her father was a scientist working on a experiment with mutagen and cell regeneration. One day the lab goes up in a gulf of flames killing April's father.

Excited by all of this, April tries to break the news about the cities new saviors. No one at work believes her and she gets fired for such a crazy idea. The only person that believes her is Eric Sacks, her fathers colleague. Unfortunately Mr. Sacks is a servant to Shredder and his Foot Clan. Eric betrays the trust of April and wants to capture the Ninja Turtles and use their mutagen blood as a ransom, for he and Shredder have a plan to unleash a toxin upon NYC. And the mutagen is the only cure.

Man this movie is kinda lame.

Not only is the climax of the film stolen out of the ending to THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (nothing like grabbing low hanging fruit guys). But your villains motives are stupid and make zero sense. The character Eric Sacks going turncoat is dumb and doesn't gel at all, but that's what you get for such poorly written characters. I wanna focus on how poorly they treated Shredder, the arch nemesis of the Ninja Turtles.

Remember those slight changes I was talking about? Like the Turtles being April's pets when she was younger. That didn't bother me. the change that was odd to me was the fact that Master Splinter and Shredder did not have a past together. Usually how it goes is Splinter was a pet rat to Hamato Yoshi a ninjutsu master. Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki (who later becomes Shredder) are bitter rivals. It's TMNT scripture. Here it's only kinda sorta alluded to.

The filmmakers leave it up to the audience/fans to already know the back story. That's bad storytelling, especially if your movie is a reboot or whatever. It's the same problem I had with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 and the friendship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. Do they or do they not know each other? Oh? They are best friends remember, because the comics and previous unconnected films said so. Minor issue I understand, but it's just so sloppy in my opinion.

So back to my issue with the climax of TMNT. At the beginning of the film it's pretty apparent that Shredder knows nothing of the mysterious ninjas kicking Foot Clan ass up and down NYC. So fast forward to the big fight between Splinter and Shredder. I may have missed something? But to my knowledge this is the first encounter with these two. So when Splinter yells “SHREDDER”!!! His proper response should be “Yes...and you are...”? As I write this it does sound like a nitpick and I think I've made my point so I'll move on. But again like I said, poor storytelling.

On the subject of Shredder, you can tell Micheal Bay was a producer on this because Shredder must shop at the same store as Optimus Prime! My gosh where did Shredder get his outfit, freaking Cuisinart? The guy looks like an all purpose kitchen utensil from hell! How can he freaking move in that thing? My suspension of disbelief runs pretty high, but I had to laugh out loud a number of times. It's just too much.

Okay now to the good stuff, the mediocre stuff I should say. I liked how the Ninja Turtles look. The motion capture looked pretty good when the environment was them fighting at night on the roof tops or in a warehouse. What I didn't care for was whenever the action took place in their sewer home. There the action was too much CGI and it felt like I was watching a cut scene from a video game. Other than that it was fine.

Now to address the elephant in the room of TMNT which is none other than the star of the picture herself, Miss Megan Fox. Boy, is she a terrible actress. I remember thinking she did an okay job playing a emotionless demon in JENNIFER'S BODY. Come to find out she's just naturally emotionless. I'll end my criticism on that because what's left to say about her acting that hasn't been said already.

I know it sounds like I hated this movie but I didn't, the issues I have with it just stick out like a sore thumb. The more that I am bored with a movie the more I tend to pick up on laziness.

I give TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES a moderate recommendation. Catch a matinée or wait for Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Someone pinch me because I must be dreaming. Let's go back to summer of 2012 and the midnight showing of MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS. The auditorium is full and everyone in attendance saw comic book movie history. The excitement of what we all saw was deafening to our ears. Then the post credit scene happened. For those that did not know, they just saw a giant purple guy. But, for the rest of us Marvel Studios just blew our freaking minds. Thanos! Thanos just made an appearance in the MCU! I was shocked that the powers that be were taking it this far. The flood gates have be opened.

With introducing Thanos in the MCU the possibilities of where Marvel Studios took us in the future are now endless. Every comic geek leaving the theater that night knew that a Infinity Gauntlet adaptation was on the horizon. My first thought was the next time we see Thanos will be in the second Thor movie. Nope. Phase II was going to grace us with a new addition to the MCU, and that new film would be GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.

Wait. What? A talking raccoon and a giant tree alien? Um, no thanks Disney but some things should be left on paper. No kidding. It wasn't until last years Guardians panel at San Diego Comic Con that I was 100% on board for this new Marvel movie. Sure I was going to see it, but until that first glimpse of production I really felt this was going to be the dud that would send Disney into a panic. Then the first trailer hit, and at that moment I knew all was well (for me anyways).

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is awesome! Total 110% space opera. It's every thing I imagined it would be and a whole lot more. Star Wars, Flash Gordon, and most importantly the Marvel Cosmic Universe. My knowledge of this Marvel sub genre is limited. I read a few Silver Surfer issues here and there along with one or two of those Marvel Universe books. So I knew what a Kree, Ronan, and The Collector were. There is a good balance here to make the die hard geeks happy and to keep movie fans from getting bored from cosmic who's who.

The Marvel Cosmic Universe is something I never thought we would see on the silver screen. It took this long to get a Marvel team-up movie so why would we ever see one set in a galaxy far far away? It's kinda sad now really because I don't think the MCU can surprise us anymore? Really the only surprise Disney has left is paying Sony a dump truck size amount of money for the rights of Spider-Man. Sony you've really messed things up.

Outlaw Peter Quill,(or Star Lord as he likes to be called ) goes after a mysterious artifact with a rather large bounty on it. Several people want the artifact including Ronan the Accuser, a Kree Empire terrorist. The Kree Empire, long time enemies of the Nova Empire are about to make peace with one another. This does not bode well with Ronan so he makes a deal with Thanos. Thanos will destroy the home world of the Nova Empire in exchange for the mysterious artifact. This mysterious artifact is in fact a orb containing one of the most powerful items in the universe.

Ronan learns that Quill is in possession of the orb and sends assassin Gamora to retrieve it. The odds do not look so good for Quill who is being hunted by bounty hunters Rocket and Groot. And now added to the mix is Gamora. After an amazing action sequence the four are arrested and sent to prison.

In lock down they all get to know each other pretty well. During that time they meet Drax the Destroyer, who ends up being some much needed muscle. After their escape the five of them band together with a plan to sell the orb for the biggest payday they have ever seen. The group quickly learn of the contents of the orb, a infinity stone. One of the most powerful objects in the known universe.

Ronan acquires the infinity stone and sets out to destroy the Nova Empire himself without the aid of Thanos. Will our group of “heroes” high tail it to the far reaches of space to avoid destruction? Or will the Guardians of the Galaxy try and save the Nova Empire with what is destined to be a glorious suicide mission!

I cannot praise this movie enough! See this film as soon as you can. I'm going again as soon as I finish writing this review.

Everyone does a wonderful job in this thing. The biggest surprise for me was how great Dave Batista was as Drax the Destroyer. His character takes everything seriously and is not familiar with metaphors. It's wonderfully done. Zoe Saldana is great as always (big fan) as the assassin Gamora. But it's Rocket and Groot who steal the show. Meet the new Han Solo and Chewbacca. Like I mentioned earlier this film is total space opera. Complete Star Wars wheelhouse. The other standout is Chris Pratt as Peter Quill. This guy is on fire right now. With this, his sitcom, and JURASSIC WORLD coming up he's kinda like the new Bruce Willis.

The Guardians cast is perfect but my favorite character of the film was Yondu, played by Michael Rooker. I am a huge Michael Rooker fan. He always does an amazing job. Yondu, leader of the Ravagers is so bad ass in this. And he has the most coolest weapon in the MCU. We better see more of him come AVENGERS III time!

With the exception of Loki, villains have been one of the weak elements in these films. With Ronan the Accuser it gets a little better but not quite. He's like Darth Vader but a one note Darth Vader. I'm sure next year James Spader as Ultron will shut me up, in fact I'm counting on it. And speaking of villains GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY gives us are real first look at Thanos. Stellar job by Josh Brolin. Things are about to get real in the MCU.

Eventually the Guardians will cross paths with The Avengers and I'm sure it'll be cool, but hopefully they won't get to carried away with it. I love this film so much I want these films to go their separate way from The Avengers. Sadly we know Disney won't let that happen (ANT-MAN).

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is highly recommended!