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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014 film)

I was born in 1985 and, like most kids my age, I was brought up a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I grew up watching the cartoon show on TV. I remember watching the first movie in theaters and somersaulting down the aisles and practicing my karate moves. I had all the toys, the classic toys, the ones where you had to punch the weapons out from the brown plastic thing that held them together. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you never had real Ninja Turtle toys. I still rock Ninja Turtle gear. I have a few shirts and a few pairs of boxers featuring my favorite reptilian warriors. The Ninja Turtles were a big part of my childhood, and that’s why I was scared to see how Michael Bay would butcher the franchise in the 2014 cinematic reboot.

I didn’t see the Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in theaters because I was pretty sure that it was going to suck and I didn’t want to waste my money on it. It came out on Netflix last month, so I caved in and watched it. It wasn’t half bad. It wasn’t half good either, but it really wasn’t terrible. They changed the origin story a little bit. They made April O’Neil way more important than she should have been. She’s the main character for some stupid reason. The film follows her journey as she tries to become a respected journalist. They should have focused more on the Ninja Turtles. The movie is called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not April O’Neil and the TMNT.

            They changed a lot of minor things, but they still stay somewhat true to the comics. The Ninja Turtles all have the same names, weapons, and colors as they do in the comics. They live in the sewer and eat pizza. Leonardo is still the leader, Donatello is still the smart one, Michelangelo is still the party dude, and Raphael is still the rebel and badass. They were all raised and trained by Splinter, only Splinter’s origin story is slightly modified. They changed his character arc to include him teaching himself martial arts after he was mutated. I always thought that he learned by imitating his master before he got mutated. Not a big change, just a huge middle finger to my childhood.

The action scenes and set pieces were all satisfactory. My biggest complaint would be that some action scenes were too chaotic and hard to follow. Imagine Transformers only with turtles instead of robots and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Other than that, it was the fiasco that I was hoping it would be. It was entertaining and that’s all you expect from a blockbuster with over a hundred million-dollar budget. I still prefer the Ninja Turtles from my youth, but the next generation of kids deserve Ninja Turtles of their own.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

TMNT-Quad-FINAL

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The Rock (film, not an actual rock)

Michael Bay makes crazy blockbusters like Transformers and Bad Boys. His whole theory about filmmaking is if you have lots of explosions and loud noises, no one will realize that the movie sucks. The Rock is a perfect example of this style of shoddy filmmaking. If you only saw one movie during the summer of 1996, it was probably Independence Day. If you saw two movies, this might have been one of them.

A group of rogue Force Recon Marines lead by Brigadier General Frank Hummel (Ed Harris) take control of a bunch of  chemical weapons, get themselves some hostages, and threaten to attack San Francisco unless the US government pays a ransom to the families of deceased Force Recon Marines that died in action and were buried without honor or recognition. Nicholas Cage plays Dr. Stanley Goodspeed, a chemical weapons specialist with the FBI. He gets called in for his expertise, despite his lack of work in the field.

The FBI must sneak onto Alcatraz in order to free the hostages, stop the rogue Marines, and save San Francisco. The only one who can help them sneak into the Rock is the only one who successfully escaped it, a former spy named John Mason (Sean Connery). Mason is an unofficial prisoner, on paper he doesn’t exist. So naturally he’s not too keen to help the FBI.

There’s a lot of bullshit that happens in the movie. There’s a pretty ridiculous car chase through the SF streets involving a Hummer and a Ferrari. There’s a bunch of revelations, like the villain is not actually bad, he just wants what he deserves. You sympathize for him, he’s a victim of an uncaring government, just like John Mason.

A lot of stuff happens. I could tell you about all the little plot developments, but I’m lazy and don’t want to. Shit happens, shit gets resolved, and things blow up, but San Francisco doesn’t.

Nicholas Cage won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Leaving Las Vegas. He followed that amazing performance by starring in The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off. That’s an interesting career choice, you win the highest award for your work and celebrate by becoming a parody of yourself. Nick Cage and Cuba Gooding, Jr. should go bowling together.

Nicholas Cage used to be an actor. Sometimes he still does act. But in most of his movies he’s just a performer. This is the start of his paycheck movies, where he will do whatever project for the money. Sean Connery has a cool voice and can get away with saying all kinds of mediocre shit that sounds awesome because of his crazy accent. Ed Harris a good actor, but this is kind of a waste of his talent.

The Rock is not a bad movie. It’s not a good movie. It’s just a movie with explosions and actors reciting dialog. There’s no reason to see this movie if you haven’t yet.

Critically Rated at 10/17

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Team America: World Police

The world is in trouble, and only Team America: World Police can save it. Trey Parker and Matt Stone created South Park, and they are back on the big screen again, and this time they have puppets. Trey Parker is a genius. Matt Stone is lucky he works with a genius.  And we get to watch what they create.

Team America is a parody of Michael Bay movies and other action films, done with marionettes. The puppets are top of the line, the sets are impressive and detailed, and the script is very witty and clever. But they never let you forget the fact that the characters are puppets. They play around with it, showing the puppets looking at real life Washington D.C. monuments, using regular house cats as jaguars, and even knocking a puppet over with the camera. The fight choreography looks like as amateur as you can get, but is hysterical because of the intense music they use.

An actor by the name of Gary Johnston is recruited to join Team America, because they believe he has the acting ability to save the world. He’s reluctant to join at first, but decides that he must give up his dreams for freedom. Meanwhile Kim Jong Il is planning a peace ceremony hosted by Alec Baldwin as a diversion to launch a global terror attack. Can Gary’s acting ability help Team America save the world?

Not only is this a great comedy, but it’s a terrific musical. There are some memorable songs like “America, Fuck Yeah”, “Freedom Isn’t Free”, “I’m So Ronery”, and the “Montage” song. “Freedom Isn’t Free” is one of the best country songs of the last ten years.

It’s a very political movie obviously, but you’ll notice they don’t bash George W. Bush. He’s not even mentioned in the movie at all. The opening scene in Paris where the team saves the day but destroys the city sums up how the world views Americans and how Americans view themselves. And there are hardcore puppet sex scenes.

This is a funny movie. It is a smart movie. It pisses a lot of people off, but it makes a lot of people happy. A good piece of art will be controversial. That’s what this movie is, art. Trey Parker is an artist. Matt Stone is lucky he knows an artist.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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