Now we’re talking about the very best movies in 2014. What are your picks? (more…)
Real Talk By: KJ
Set in the Batman Arkham Game universe, does this flick match the same quality of the Rocksteady developed outings? Continue reading “Batman: Assault on Arkham Movie Review”
I break down the newest movie from the Dragonball Z series. Is Battle of Gods true fan service, or a quick cash-in? Let’s find out now. (more…)
Real Talk By: Cmack The Don
It seems that every summer since Iron Man (2008), Marvel Studios has been making sure to bring us more and more pieces of their cinematic universe, slowly building the massive, diverse world that longtime comic book fans are used to, and with this years Guardians of the Galaxy, we see a huge step towards that expansion.
So far, we’ve had every single Marvel Studios flick be a piece of the larger Avengers story, with each major team member getting their own fleshed out movie that adds up to their part in the final team up. It was a brilliant way to make a team movie feel more balanced, the characters more meaningful and less cheated out of screen time. After all, if you watch The Avengers and want to see more of a given character, you can just watch their own movie. The point is, all the Marvel Studios have taken place on earth, with earthbound crime fighters, such as Captain America in Marvel’s other fantastic entry to their saga this year.
Guardians of the Galaxy breaks that earthbound pattern and takes the franchise to the outer limits of the cosmos, starting the introduction of characters, ideas, and concepts that will only make everything in these movies more rich and fleshed out. As a Marvel Comics fan, Guardians was one of the movies on their list for recent times that excited me most because of this, and I can happily say that the finished product is everything I was expecting and more.
Let’s start with the humor and overall feel of the movie. Marvel has a great strategy in making their own movies seem so varied and unique from one another, with the Winter Soldier feeling more like a fast paced thriller and action film, Guardians is a totally different feel to keep audiences from tiring of the Marvel universe on-screen. It is a contender for funniest Marvel Studios film yet, with laser fast one liners, sight gags, running jokes, and moments of random stupidity all well-balanced with a great cast of characters.
That’s the strongest point about it: the characters. Marvel has always been more about its characters than the complexity of its plots and story-lines, and that’s okay. When they’re represented right, their characters are so damn good. We see that in Guardians, an obscure team dating back to the late 60’s who were given a major overhaul in 2008 by writers Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett. Lanning and Abnett’s run was praised for being funny and not overly serious, while still maintaining complex characters and exciting situations. This perfectly sums up the movie also. The movie not only manages to balance comedy and drama well, but often does it impressively in the same scene, with the dialogue smoothly ping-ponging between tense to hilarious without seeming forced or like to much to process.
It’s true that the team is somewhat slimmed down from the comics, but movies are a different format and the film is busy enough as it is with the fantastic performances, costumes, and writing of the characters we do see. The movie manages to give us a feel for who these characters are in a very short amount of time, but it still doesn’t feel rushed. If I had to sum it up, I would say that the heart behind this is very obvious and evident, these characters aren’t as large of pop culture forces as the X-Men, or Spider-Man, and they don’t even try to make them into that with this movie. It revels in their obscurity, proudly addressing the idea that while The Avengers are the main stars of the show on earth, there’s a weird team whose members include a talking tree and raccoon somewhere out in the deep reaches of space that did just as much good as they did, they just aren’t as organized or recognized for it.
The largest criticism I would have for Guardians would be the villain, and the conflict surrounding him wasn’t really expanded upon that much. This sort of makes the main storyline seem a bit generic, and the villain as well by extension. Like I said earlier, the main characters are so strong, their interactions so engaging, that even though the plot is average or slightly above, I don’t think it affects the overall enjoyment of the movie. Knowing Marvel history and storylines will help you understand how big of a deal characters like Ronan the Accuser are, the nature of the Kree/Skrull war and how the Xandarians factor into it. It could easily pass you by in this film if you don’t know it that well, with you the viewer seeing Ronan and the alien races as fairly generic. I will say that this criticism might definitely be addressed with future Marvel Studios movies, they’re only just starting to branch out into the cosmic part of Marvel, and future movies would be able to show more and more.
Guardians is an excellent example of what a summer popcorn movie should be. Yes its loud and fun with great special effects, but behind that there are real, relate-able characters. Great performances, and a feeling that the cast and crew really believed in what they were creating, instead of it just being an empty cash in. If Marvel Studios continues developing a mini-franchise of Guardians within their current universe, the next crop of Star Wars movies have their work cut out for them. I have nothing but praise for Marvel being daring enough to use characters that aren’t as standard, didn’t have a mainstream representation, and are very offbeat. So to reference the movie’s excellent retro soundtrack, when it comes to the horizon of Marvel Studios films, it looks like things are only going to get brighter.
Guardians of The Galaxy gets
4 out of Five
+Strong Lead Cast of Heroes
+Great Special Effects
-Main plot is lacking
Real Talk By: KJ
The road to the rebooted Turtles was indeed chaotic. Everything from who would direct, to the plot itself. Would they be extraterrestrials? Did your childhood heroes get buried in the name of the mighty dollar? People give Michael Bay flack all the time. Disagreeing with his version of Transformers. The concern is that he would take the TMNT down too. Well, contrary to popular belief he is not handling direction duties. That job goes to Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of The Titans). It’s simply Bay money being tossed at the project. His Studio Platinum Dunes, and Industrial Light and Magic have put together some nice effects in the past. Still, Robots and Explosions are entirely different from sewer dwelling mutants. Right?
The super modernized designs threw people off. They have nostrils now. You know, like real turtles! Keep in mind they are mutated freaks, so the new appearances do make sense. Each Ninja has a unique look, that matches their personality. In hindsight, the results aren’t bad once you see everything play out on-screen. Enemy designs work too. The shredder always looks like a boss, regardless of the adaptation. Given some new tricks in this flick, he remains one of the toughest comic book villains. His foot soldiers, are less Ninja-like, using firearms instead of traditional weapons. They are thieves and crooks with obviously no honor. Sir Cmack brought that to my attention. We weren’t bothered by this update at all. Like all other versions, expect these thugs to get mangled by the good guys. Since the Turtles are the biggest they have ever been, each hit does serious damage. Watch the foot get tossed around like rag dolls.
Megan Fox plays News reporter April O’ Neil. She witnesses the TMNT fighting the foot, and wants to prove their existence. O’ Neil and her colleague Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), work together in the film to uncover this force. The human interactions while not as weak as a typical Transformers flick, certainly leave much to be desired. Arnett’s character was clearly intended to be a huge part of the comedic relief. Too many of his lines fall flat. Several supporting cast members have the same issue.
Thankfully Michelangelo’s (Noel Fisher) material was much better. He had plenty of laugh out loud moments, with his brothers trying everything just to get him to shut up. Despite their newer looks, how the turtles behave has been faithfully represented. Donatello (Jeremy Howard) is loaded-up with cool gizmos and gadgets. They are put to good use. Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville) is just trying his best to keep every one together. His character design is actually my favorite. Of course hot-head Raphael is in here as well. His aggressive nature was properly conveyed do to the solid performance by Alan Ritchson. Their voices match the CGI counterparts I have to say. Splinter (Tony Shalhoub) has his moments as well. The Big Rat is always ready to educate a friend or foe.
The origin of the ninjas has been tweaked. While it didn’t outright disappoint, the changes seemed unnecessary. It felt more like “It’s 2014 so we need to have our own version of the story. Just because”. The bad guys’ master plan wasn’t a shocker by any means. More of just a generic Saturday morning cartoon plot. If that was the goal, then mission accomplished.
Despite the 2014 look, the filmmakers clearly did some digging. There are nice references from the 30 year history of this franchise. The hardcore and casual will find some solid stuff. The games, comics, and a nice nod to the 1990 film can be witnessed.
Ultimately Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 was developed with the kids in mind. You knew it from the moment the Nickelodeon logo popped up on the screen. The movie has its violence, but doesn’t step out-of-bounds. Families can go see it and enjoy. We’re here to watch our four favorite turtles at the end of the day. Leo, Mikey, Don, and Raph, behave just as you remember them. In that regard, Liebesman keeps TMNT true to the source. If only the human element could have been as well-developed. While certainly flawed, at the end of the day it’s just a fun movie. So Laugh a little and see evil get shell-shocked.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Gets
3.5 out of Five
+Turtles you know and love
-Mixed performances from the humans