Monthly Archives: June 2016

Finding Dory movie review

 

13 years ago, Pixar released (to me) it’s all time greatest film; Finding Nemo. Toy Story had set the bar and Nemo had completely surpassed it. It seemed like that was it-in a world where sequels were on the rise, Nemo would be one of the few that was just by itself.

And now we’re presented with Finding Dory; a companion piece to Finding Nemo. And I have to say…after thirteen years of waiting….it’s well worth the wait.

What’s the story? Well a year has taken place after the events of Finding Nemo. Marlin, Nemo and Dory are back in their nook of the world, when suddenly while on a school field trip, Dory’s memory is triggered and is on a desperate search to find her family. Marlin and Nemo are taken along for the ride as they must cross the ocean once again to the “Jewel of Morro Bay”; a Marine Life Institute. Along the way, it’s Dory this time who meets a cast of colorful characters on her journey to find home.

Literally there’s nothing wrong with this movie so let’s just talk about all the good stuff. There’s a lot.

  • The CHARACTERS

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    • Once again, the characters are incredible. I’ll talk about the new ones first-Bailey the Beluga Whale, Destiny a whale shark, two seals, and Hank an octopus with only seven legs, are all funny and well written-each contributing it’s own way to help Dory. My favorites were Hank and Destiny. Hank was a scene stealer. The old crowd make a welcome return-Crush the now 151 year old sea turtle provides the means to get to California; the East Australian Current once again.
      • Marlin. I could really write an entire separate article on this character and Dory. About how this film is a huge double character study. Because his character isn’t perfectly reformed and changed after his trip across the ocean. Sure he’s a bit less stern, but he still goes into manic states, and is still overprotective-and even tries to deny things he’s done. To see him grow completely and utterly as a character-to see him take fault and responsibility for those he hurt and done, is really refreshing. Marlin here finally admits some things that he couldn’t have done before due to pride, and thus grows. There’s a wonderful scene in the pipes, and another wonderful scene with him and Dory towards the end. It’s these two scenes that SHOW you how much Marlin has grown and changed.
      • Dory. Dory here is the center of the film. Unlike most main characters where (while they have good personalities) for the most part they’re just okay-it’s the side characters that take over and become more interesting. Here, Dory doesn’t suffer that. She completely holds the film, and Ellen does a wonderful job selling both the serious heart wrenching drama scenes Pixar is best at and the comedy Pixar is known for. What’s interesting about her character, is while you can understand Dory’s plight of her memory problem, you can also understand why certain fish would get annoyed, particularly with Marlin. She’s certainly an all around interesting character.
  • The VOICE ACTING
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Finding Dory 2016; Ellen DeGeneres with dr Andrew Stanton

    • Once again, everyone brings their A Game here. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres and Andrew Stanton return as Marlin, Dory and Crush the turtle. Ty Burrell voices Bailey, the Beluga Whale, Eugene Levy is Charlie, Kaitlin Olson is Destiny the Whale Shark, and Diane Keaton voices Jenny. Ed O’Neil voiced Hank the octopus. The emotional scenes are so well acted, and every line was just well performed. At least this time I knew immediately who Dory was. After Finding Nemo had premiered….Sad to say that it took me a long, LONG time before I would realize who Dory was voiced by. Once again, with voice acting, as you see above this paragraph, actors don’t have much to go on other than a few photos, maybe a few barely rendered scenes, and their own instincts. They have to really rely on their director and themselves to bring these characters to life.
  • The ANIMATION
    • At this point it’s almost pointless to talk about Pixar animation. Even their most disappointing, pointless films have had great to stunning animation. The way animation can capture so many emotions on the face in the span of seconds fascinates me. When there were extreme close ups of Dory you could see she doesn’t have scales like Marlin or Nemo her skin is different. She also still has the scars from her and Marlin’s run in with the Jellyfish Forest. The lighting from the Kelp Forest was nice and eerie, and the aquarium looked great and how they all managed to get to the different exhibits and how those looked was great too.
  • The SCRIPT
    • In some ways…this film is in fact better than the first. In one important way, is the script. Here the characters are given more time to just breathe, and let you experience the journey. With the first, there was a simple goal-find Nemo. It’s a fine goal, and the movie is still to me Pixar’s best yet…sometimes it felt a bit slow, and the message a bit hammered in. it’s a good message, but maybe I’d skip when a moment when they’re in the whale, or when they’re talking to the turtle. Here? I’d skip the first 5 minutes-I’d start the movie when they’re getting chased by this giant squid-after Marlin yells at Dory for putting Nemo at risk and his son in shock, it’s Marlin who sets this journey into motion. The way the characters interact with each other is great-nothing felt forced, nothing felt too rushed or not worked on enough…There’s a saying that if you have to tell your story through flashbacks you’re doing something wrong in film…but here…it works because it adds to the mystery of the film. There were about 3 powerhouse scenes; when Dory finds out what happened to her parents and goes into shock (I’ll explain later), when Dory and Marlin and Nemo are in the pipes, and a scene revolving around her parents and shells.
  • The CINEMATOGRAPHY
    • There’s this scene where Dory is with other blue tang and Marlin and Nemo. She finds out what may have happened, through Marlin who has to unfortunately explain it to her. She then goes into this state of shock-I’m not sure how but through animation PIXAR did this amazing “Double vision” you often see in film when people are about to black out. It then becomes this incredible Point of View shot where Dory can’t hear a thing going on around her until she’s back into the ocean in front of the institute. As someone who’s had a few panic attacks here or there….that scene was spot on-you feel out of control you don’t pay attention to anything going on around you, you just try to think of a way to calm yourself down. That whole scene is one of my favorites in the film.

CONCLUSION

Like with Finding Nemo, while there’s a lot to talk about in Finding Dory review wise, not so much since…it’s so good. It’s easier to talk about the bad films than the good-with the good you say what’s good and move on. With bad films, you can just clamor on and on and on. This film builds upon this universe in a good way-the returning characters contribute to the story in unique and important ways. And they address a lot of Marlin’s issues as a character from the first film over here. There are some things that might annoy people-the first ten minutes feel strikingly familiar and Marlin’s constant going on and on about their journey can get annoying but this is thirteen years since people may have seen the first; maybe Pixar felt they needed to be reminded of Finding Nemo. All in all, it’s just as perfect as the original.

Is it BETTER than the original? Welllllllllll………………

For now….I’ll just go ahead and give it 5/5 stars how about that?

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Comment below what Pixar movie is the BEST of the best?

Finding Nemo (2003) Movie Review

In a world where fish have personalities, and have lives of their own, the life of clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) is shaken when his only son Nemo is taken from him by divers. He goes on an oeanwide journey to find his son, meeting a friendly but forgetful blue tang fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a cool sea turtle Crush, and many other creatures-learning a valuable lesson along the way.

So the question is….Does Finding Nemo still hold up after being out and about in public for thirteen years?

Well….That’s a definite yes. With an attraction at Walt Disney World Resort where you can talk to Crush, or ride in a sub at Disneyland and now with a “companion piece” which is a much nicer term for a film like Finding Dory out and breaking all sorts of records at the box office, Finding Nemo’s staying power seems to be going strong. But why? Let’s take a look.

  • The ANIMATION
    • The ocean is a stunning, dangerous, beautifully gorgeous place. And even though this movie was released in 2003 and production years before, when CGI wasn’t at the place it is now, the film holds up extremely well in blu-ray and Digital HD. The lighting, the flowing animation, the way the characters are designed, the sound effects of the water….everything is done just beautifully.
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Meet Marlin and Dory; two fantastic leads and one of cinema’s BEST dads.

  • The CHARACTERS
    • All of the characters are wonderful. Especially the two leads Marlin and Dory. It’s important the audience like your leads; they don’t like your leads they very well won’t like your movie. Thankfully, these leads are wonderful. Marlin’s character is more than understandable after the horrific loss he suffered at the movie’s prologue at the hands of a nasty predator known as a barracuda. He’s manic, overbearing, over-protective, distrusting, and just downright neurotic type of fish. His exact counterpart is Dory; a fun-loving, lives in the moment regal blue-tang. His adventurous son Nemo is cute to a degree, the Tank Gang is funny and holds up the subplot well enough and the characters Marlin meets along the way are funny and memorable. Particularly Crush dudes.Also Marlin is one of cinema’s BEST dads ever. For a lot of reasons-in particular his sheer determination to find his son.
  • The SOUNDTRACK
    • The soundtrack completely fits the movie; mysterious, energetic, depressing, and just relaxing. Exactly like the movie, and exactly like the ocean in which this takes place.
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FINDING NEMO, Ellen DeGeneres, director Andrew Stanton at a recording session, 2003, (c) Walt Disney

  • The VOICE ACTING
    • Everyone brings their A game in this movie. It actually took me a LONG while after this movie was released before I even knew Dory was voiced by THE Ellen. Albert Brooks does a remarkable job on Marlin, and Alexander Gould as Nemo, Willem Dafoe as Gill (go figure eh?), Geoffry Rush as Nigel a pelican, and Andrew Stanton as the 150 year old sea turtle Crush, bring about wonderful and memorable characters. Voice acting often revolves around actors just in a booth surrounded by pictures of their characters and how the director wants them to read their lines. It’s a hard task to pull off well and these guys did over the moon amazing. Albert Brooks in particular really sells Marlin’s misery and woes in the beginning and his determination to find his son.
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One of cinema’s best dads ever right here.

  • The LESSON
    • The lesson for this movie is more so for parents than kids. Marlin as stated before is overbearing and over-protective, and doesn’t seem to lose traits completely in Finding Dory. He only slightly overcomes these traits during his epic voyage….Which is what happens in real life. He slowly but surely comes out of his scales, and learns the value of having friends, of trusting others (there are quite a few scenes that almost hammer this in for Marlin but not to the point of “ok we get it already”) and in the end, he learns to let his son go. Which is the lesson here; go to the ends of the earth for your child, but learn when it’s time to let them go. More often than not, an animation (which typically are seen as “just for kids” movies) have lessons thus geared for the children. So for an animation from Pixar no less to have a lesson for adults isn’t something you see everyday.

The CONCLUSION

In the end, there are plenty of reasons why Finding Nemo is still remembered, still regarded as one of Pixar’s BEST films, won the Academy Award for Best Animation, and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It’s just a wonderful, heartfelt story about a father’s determination to save his son, and a father’s journey to grow as a character. Sometimes the movie can be a little to dialogue heavy, but for the most part, the movie just breathes. This movie is all about “Show don’t tell”; it just lets the audience experience this beautiful world Pixar has created. It’s no wonder they decided to create the sequel/Companion piece Finding Dory.

Finding Nemo deserves nothing short, of a 5/5 from me.

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Also every dad ever should watch this movie with their kids.

Top 10 BEST Gravity Falls Episodes

 Gravity Falls was one of the BEST shows on Disney. Smart, funny, eccentric AS EVER, with weird characters, relatable characters, good heroes, amazing INCREDIBLE, DANGEROUS villains (okay villain it’s Bill Cipher people Gideon was just okay compared to that guy) and an incredible fun story not just for kids but young adults too….And just plain adults seeing as internet star Doug Walker and his brother got very much into the show…Like every show, there are highlights, and flaws. However, with Gravity Falls, there seem to be only highlights as there are no BAD episodes…Lesser ones sure. But more great episodes rather than bad…And here is a list of what I think are the best of the show.

THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME SPOILERS IN THIS LIST. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. But really if you haven’t seen the show….Short version is go watch it.

 

 

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This episode features the first REAL look at the supernatural in this show…And introduced a little CREEPER.

 1) The Hand That Rocks the Mabel

I almost kept this one off the list, but it was the one that got me into the show and for good reason. This episode introduced the little creeper known as Gideon Gleeful, the child “psychic”. This is the one that Gideon and Mabel try dating….it doesn’t really work and she needs the help of her twin to decide what to do. The way Gideon “Comes on” to poor Mabel is reminiscent of Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The way Mabel steps up and is able to put an end to things with his amulet was nice, and the Pines laughing it up in the shack was fun…But that’s not what got me into the show. Nope. It was the ending. There’s always an episode in TV that makes you swear, or gasp. The ending to this….Made me do both. In complete and utter SHOCK. After seeing the second Journal, I was HOOKED.

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Wonder what’s the deal with Stan’s machine? You need to keep watching to find out…

2) Tourist Trapped

A good fun episode to kickstart a good fun yet relatively serious show. We get our introduction to Dipper and Mabel, and some of the first look at the weirdness that is Gravity Falls, Oregon. We also get a fun look at their Great Uncle “Grunkle” Stan, who may not be what he seems. The two siblings are immediately likeable for different reasons, and their first encounter with the strange and paranormal is with the gnomes. Who you’d think wouldn’t be all that dangerous. This episode is well paced, and a good start to the series….but what made me interested in the mystery aspect of this show….Was the ending…See Stan has this vending machine…

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Geeeee wonder what inspired this episode…

3) Blendin’s Game

This episode is low on the list because while the Tron themed Blendin’ vs The Pines Twins was fun, this episode sheds some light on the loveable goof Soos. He does have quite the sad backstory regarding his father, and the resolution at the end is just full of feels. This episode also really highlights just how well Dipper and Mabel work together regardless of their differing personalities. If this episode didn’t have the Soos plot though, I would’ve traded it out for another filler episode. This episode makes you really feel for Soos.

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 4) Summerween

Who doesn’t love Halloween? It’s by far MY favorite holiday. It’s a day both adults AND kids can have fun, and the one night it’s completely okay for kids to go to strangers and ask for sweets. In Gravity Falls, they have their summerween-Halloween in the summer. This episode has a special homage to Spirited Away, once again focuses on the Wendy/Dipper one sided thing, and is just a solid episode. It should be noted that when Mabel was upset with Dipper, it was the first time she simply wouldn’t speak to her brother. It also was the first to hint at Mabel’s fear of growing up and facing the future…Something that would come into play later on.

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Oh this is a KIDS show? Who’d have thought…

5) Into the Bunker

Yet another legit dark and scary episode from this show. There were some moments in this episode as well as others that had me going “Yeesh”…wonder how a kid would react to a shapeshifter taking on this hideous form of both Mabel and Dipper…Of the ominous warning the shapeshifter leaves for Dipper “this is the last form you’ll ever TAKE.” Good luck sleeping tonight indeed after this episode. It’s a simple fun adventure into the author of the journals’ bunker, where the group encounter the shapeshifter, and Dipper finally comes to terms with his failed crush on Wendy. Kind of a filler episode when you think about it, yet during the episode, that’s the last thought on your mind. It’s an episode that furthers the need, this insatiable thirst for knowledge and of finding out who the author really is.

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You know….FOR KIDS.

6) Northwest Mansion Noir

Oh It’s amazing what children’s programming can get away with. Dirty sexual innuendos, dirty jokes “no no finger prints” is a great example of that one, or just a straight up horror episode that’ll be fun for the kids. There’s no terrifying Bill Cipher in this one (not physically at least) and Dipper instead has to deal with a very malevolent spirit out for vengeance against the Northwest family. This episode is clearly an ode to a lot of good horror films as well as Thriller. There’s a nice shot in particular that’s a great callback to Nightmare on Elm Street. We also get a nice “redemption” or sympathetic story with Pacifica, with indicators of child abuse through a simple ringing of a bell. Yeesh. And there’s also nice horror filled moments of Dipper being turned into wood in a pose that’s pretty similar to that of the shapeshiter’s final form (a screaming Dipper), BLOOD LIKE ACTUAL BLOOD dripping form the eyes and mouths of animal heads while they chant “ancient sins” and we get to see a lumberjack AXED off pretty much on screen….you know….FOR KIDS. This episode also ends on a more omnious note, with ignored warnings of the end times, and a final shot of Bill Cipher on a burning tapestry above people screaming and cowering in fear….Again….VERY kid friendly this show.

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The episode that spawned the dreaded BillDip ship…That’s not as bad as twincest though…..damn internet.

7) Sock Opera

Who doesn’t love this show’s villain? Fun, funny, smart (seemingly I call his bluff on being able to see everything), cunning, manic, hilarious, and downright scary AF. He makes his return to the show in this episode and WOW….Did people ever find a new ship to launch in Bill/Dipper aka Bipper (shudders)…There’s even a fun theory that comes from this episode…Because Dipper makes a rookie mistake in trusting Cipher and making a deal-since the demon needed a “puppet”. Dipper thought he’d use of his twin’s sock puppets for her show she’s putting on for her crush of the week. When Bill Cipher takes over his body, it’s a race against time and the demon to get to the journal before he does and restore Dipper back to his body.

This episode is FULL of whacky humor thanks to Cipher. Again he’s a great mix of funny and terrifying. A lot of good funny quotes are in this episodes. “Boy these arms are DURABLE.” And “Oh hey children fighting…I can SELL this.” Are among them. It also won’t be the only time Cipher utters “eenie meenie miney YOU” when making a decision.

This is an episode that had little dark moments thanks to Bipper (Bill when inhabiting Dipper), but was mostly lighthearted and outrageous thanks to that sock opera Mabel did.

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Stan’s been holding out on his family…And it all comes to a head this episode…

8) Not What he Seems

Holy CHRIST ON A CHEESESTICK WHAT A LOADED EPISODE. I mean we didn’t find out much just the fact that Grunkle Stan knew all along about the journals, was using them to rebuild this dangerous machine, and has a twin brother Grunkle Ford. This episode was completely LOADED from start to finish, and set up the rest of the season quite nicely when one thinks on it. It’s fascinating that here out of all episodes you see how different Dipper and Mabel are and wonder how they ever make their relationship as siblings as close as it is; Dipper makes like the journal and ”trusts no one” while Mabel’s motto becomes “I still believe”. It also sheds some light on the characters that hasn’t yet come out of the darkness-how far Dipper will go as long as his heart is in the right place, what Grunkle Stan is willing to do for his family, and how far Mabel Pines is willing to trust someone she cares about. The episode is emotional, high staked, and has one of the biggest “holy $%#!” moments in cartoon history at the end. What a great mid-season finale.

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The episode that introduced fan favorite villain Bill Cipher.

9) Dreamscaperers

This is a part one episode to the season 1 finale; it takes place almost entirely in Grunkle Stan’s mind, and it’s our first true look at the main villain-Bill Cipher a dream demon. For some, he was funny but not threatening. For others, he was an immediate threat from the get go. His manic personality and unpredictable behavior make him on par with some of the great Disney feature film villains. He was extremely well executed and would become a HUGE fan favorite (come on not ONE damn Illuminati joke or reference? Aside from Bill himself? For SHAME Mr. Hirsch) This episode also really helps develop Stan’s relationship with Dipper as well. Featuring a fun fantasy fight between our heroes and Cipher, all around it’s a great episode and great buildup to the season 1 finale.

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The end of something truly wonderful…

10) The Weirdmageddon Trilogy

Is it cheating if I put the entire trilogy of the series finale on this list? I can’t help it; first seeing what Cipher has done to the Falls, then dealing with that aftermath as well as finding and freeing Mabel, and the final epic showdown between the Pines family and Bill Cipher brings this series to a close in an epic and touching way. We see how dangerous Cipher truly is in this episode, while it was hinted at in some episodes prior, this trilogy, “Take Back the Falls” in particular, really hammered home “This villain is DANGEROUS.” Especially when he straight up states “I have some children I need to make into CORPSES.” Good job Disney on terrifying a new generation of children through Cipher. The way everything is wrapped up is a BIT like LOTR but there are several “Endings” that hit home-Dipper’s monologue, and when it seems Grunkle Stan has lost his memory for good. It was just a nice bittersweet ending to such an extremely wonderful show.

This show exemplifies everything great about cartoons today. There was real effort put into this, and the ending left with a bittersweet note, with us longing to return to the Falls. We still have the show while the characters have their memories. Those are my favorite/best episodes…comment down below which were your favorite.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Movie Review

 

So the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie has hit theaters…What’s the plot this time?

The Turtles must once again save New York City from an escaped Shredder. Not only that, but they must face off against the mutants Beebop and Rocksteady-characters that sound more than familiar to those who grew up with the 80s cartoon-and Baxter Stockman when they learn that the Shredder has teamed up with Stockman to bring a creature known as Krang to Earth. However, with rifts forming between the brothers, it’ll be harder than they thought to take out these new enemies.

….I don’t think I need to mention how simple this plot is right? Good. Now…

This movie….This freaking movie!

Good job David Green, Michael Bay and team.

Let’s get right to it cause there’s a lot to go over here.

The GOOD

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What they do, how they act, what they say it all felt very real and natural. And they look GREAT.

  • The TURTLES
    • Like in the first film, the Turtles are phenomenal in this. While in the first film though, they felt like they just barely got them right, here….They’re legit characters. They watch basketball games-and I guess vehemently support the Knicks?-they fight, they argue, they have legit roles in their ragtag group. Not only that but you get a feeling for the first time who’s the oldest, second oldest, third oldest, and finally the youngest-that being Michelangelo. There’s a nice moment-not going to go into TOO many spoilers-where Mikey is in trouble, and all the turtles rally to save him, all exclaiming to never mess with their little brother. The tensions between the siblings felt real and was much better executed here than in the first, or even in the 2007 animated film. You empathize with their plight of not being able to go out in public for fearing what might happen, and their interactions with Splinter and April feel very much real-much more so than the first. Their CGI was also much better here. The first felt like it was really just testing the waters-seeing what they could and couldn’t get away with. Now that they’ve made money off the first, they clearly put that to use here. The Turtles are incredibly expressive, and the extreme close ups of their faces really allow you to see their detail this time since there’s not an ounce of shaky cam in this film.
  • The ACTION

    • ONCE AGAIN the action in this is just stellar. It’s few and far between, but the opening shot of the turtles doing their run through the city, the shots and angles and camera movement make it feel like we’re there at times with these guys. The highway chase scene is fun and enjoyable to watch. It’s here you get a first good look at how expressive these guys are now.
    • There’s a replicated shot from the first film of them sliding on their shells through the sewers and it works. They use their huge size to their advantage here whereas in the first film it was just jarring to see them so huge. Here you’re not only used to it but expect them to use it and they do. The shots and angles during the airplane landing and subsequent fight within that cargo plane and going from that to the Amazon River in Brazil….I feel like them going to South America was also a callback to the 2007 film, in which Leo had gone to the Amazon to focus on his training….Anyways The action sequence here is like a solid 5-8 minutes long and none of it is wasted. It’s just as exciting as the mountain chase scene from the first film if not more so since this time they’re dealing with river rapids rather than gravity. And when the Turtles were forced under water not only was the image of them under water crystal clear but steady as well. It was a still shot. Now speaking of the cinematography…
  • The CINEMATOGRAPHY

    • Oh….My…GOD. I could gush about this for days. The sheer opening shot of the camera sweeping over NYC with the intro music feels big and bombastic, only for the moment to be playfully interrupted by the loveable turtles on patrol. After that fun moment-thanks to Michelangelo of course-they quickly get back to their nightly run. Rushing from the Chrysler Building straight down into the sewers; the camera steadily following them the whole time. There was not an OUNCE of shaky cam in this movie. Close ups of Donatello allowed us to see he added new gear-a cell on his shoulder and an upgraded Bo staff. While he still kept his electric ends, it looks like this time it’s made of metal rather than wood. The slow motion was used better here as well. While there was almost too much of it. There’s one amazing 360 shot-I’m not gonna say where lest I spoil it for you-and unlike the first film, there are actual still shots. When Mikey joins the Halloween parade and comes across a familiar figure from other Bay films, that’s a nice still. When they’re on the plane another still shot. When Leo was confiding with his master….a nice medium close up still shot of the two of them simply talking. It was a nice quiet moment between father and eldest son and we thankfully weren’t distracted by a constantly moving camera like in the first film. Overall the cinematography here was simply gorgeous to look at.
  • The VISUAL EFFECTS….Sort of.
    • This is sort of a mixed bag for me. One the one hand, the Turtles look much better than in the first film…they’re much more expressive, much more detailed, and thanks to the several still shots and close ups, we get to actually SEE that detail that went into these characters. Bebob and Rocksteady…are kind of jarring and off putting to look at. The portal effects were cool and different. Krang….GROSS. OMG WHAT THE HELL. Ugh.
  • The MEGAN FOX
    • Much like in the first film, Megan does a good job here. She’s clearly having fun with it, and her interactions with the brothers feels much more natural here than in the first film. She’s casually chilling with them in allies while Casey Jones-we’re gonna get to him-is freaking out, she laughs with them, she conspires with them, she looks like she’s right at home. While she’s much more in the background and a minor character here, she does contribute to the turtles and to the plot. To put it simply…she does more in this movie AND the first movie, than Lois Lane did in either Man of Steel or BvS. Oh yeah. I went there.
  • The ACTING….Sort of.
    • Again, another mixed bag. The Turtles’ actors (Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard) all do a splendid job. Megan Fox, splendid job. Splinter’s actor (Tony Shalhoub) wonderful….COMPLETELY improved from his role as Splinter in the first film. Shredder was great, and even Vern was great and useful to the plot. The rest…eh. I didn’t like Tyler Perry as Stockman and I felt like Casey Jones-again we’re getting to him-was just THERE-his reaction to the Turtles felt more annoying than anything and I’m glad that the Turtles completely messed with him at first-and Laura Linney was also just kind of THERE.
  • The MUSICAL SCORE

    • Something I hardly comment on in film is the soundtrack. Either because I forget to, or because it was forgettable. This film’s score should be mentioned because Steve Jablonksy-a LONG time partner of Michael Bay-did an AMAZING job with this film’s score.The music for the most part really fit with each scene, adding to the scene as well as blending in and becoming part of the diegetic sounds rather than non-diegetic. Also some of the scores are just beautiful, big and bombastic.

So with all the praises I’m singing about the film, you’d think I think it’s damn near perfect right? Well….it’s not. It’s got some problems. Not as glaring as the first but…there’s problems. There’s gonna be a FEW spoilers in this so WARNING.

The BAD

  • The KRANG
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Like….What? WHAT? No. Where’s the REAL threat called SHREDDER?

    • Here’s the thing…I’m not an 80s kid. I’m not a 90s kid. I’m a 2000s kid. I didn’t grow up with the 80s turtles or the 90s turtles but the 2003 turtles. That iteration is known for being among the darkest of iterations and darkest cartoons of its time. While it dealt with aliens called Utrom’s it never dealt with Krang. I was only introduced really to him through Turtles Forever….and WOW. He’s….he looked bad. He was annoying. I call BS that he was able to so easily overpower the turtles. I’m hoping he’s either done better in the third film, or just omitted entirely.
  • The SHREDDER….Kind of.
    • While the Shredder was great and menacing and wonderfully handled…he took a BACKSEAT to this KRANG GUY. From what I remember the Shredder was the Turtles’ ultimate enemy. They constantly have to try and stop him cause he keeps coming back. He shouldn’t have taken a backseat to anyone MUCH LESS this hideous gross brain looking thing.
  • The CASEY JONES
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Meet Jason Vor-I mean Casey Jones…He doesn’t do much.

    • Ohhhhh maaaaan. This DUDE. Oh what a wasted character. Sure he does things like try and track down Beebop and Rocksteady, help April and Vern in the climax, and interact kind of with the turtles…but the Casey I know would’ve taken to the turtles pretty quickly after a nasty little run in with Raph. Rph and Casey have a lot in common, so it’s natural that they gravitate toward each other and become quick friends. Here….they’re not friends. They’re just allies. He’s there for the ride. He’s meant to be an audience avatar but we already have an audience avatar through the turtles and April. So he’s kind of useless.

The CONCLUSION

This film is MILES AND MILES better than the first. They listened to the criticisms and thought “What can we do to improve?” the acting, the music, the turtles, the pacing, the interactions, the dialogue, it’s all well done. I only had a few gripes with this movie overall. There are problems with this, but unlike the first, they aren’t glaring, and almost easy to overlook. It knows what it is, and rolls with it. It’s silly, fun, serious, action packed, and filled with character growth. The stakes are higher here, and it does what a sequel should do; grow and expand the universe that’s set up in the first film. Grow and expand the characters. Add new characters. Make sure your characters have stuff to do. This film does all that. You know what you like though. You should know from the trailers and such if you’re going to like this film.

For me, it was an incredibly fun ride…..but it’s not perfect.  I’m going to give it a 3.5/5 stars. Just above average but still really fun.

3-5stars

Comment Question: what was your favorite and least favorite part in this movie? Beware for potential spoilers in the comments. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 Movie Review

Oh Michael Bay…..After four Transformers films you should really know what to expect from him in film from now on. Little to no character development, little to no character at all, weird stupid humor, baysplosions, but good action and set pieces.

Now before we get to the review, there’s a bit of history to cover with the Turtles.

This is a thirty plus year old franchise that started as a comic, then became toys, then became the-for whatever reason-MUCH BELOVED cartoon of the 80s-then live action 90s films-then another cartoon in the 2003-THE BEST ninja turtle iteration in my opinion….Then another cartoon in 2012, and finally the Bayturtles of 2014.

The plot of this newest iteration is that when the Foot Clan-this time as some sort of militia?-try to take over the city, the Turtles team up with reporter April O’Neil-played by Miss Megan Fox-to try and save the city.

The Good

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  • The TURTLES
    • Everything about these guys is SPOT ON. They did their research-there’s a lot of it to go through trust me-and got the personalities down. Their design is a bit wonky at first, but it grows on you. They’re easily the tallest and beefiest of the turtles to date. Certainly much taller than my 2003 counterparts. But like my 2003 counterparts, they each have distinctive character traits-aside from their gear-that sets them apart. It’s a bit annoying to me that Donatello has all of his science gear ON his person all the time. Even if you’re a newcomer to the series, they make it clear who’s who on the team. The movie mostly focuses on Raphael out of all the Ninja Turtles, so the others don’t get as much limelight but for what they are, I enjoyed the heck outta them.
  • The MEGAN FOX
    • Yep…Leave all the comments you want but I liked Megan Fox here. She actually disappeared into April several times throughout the film. Especially in the beginning- you really get the feel that “okay this is April this is what she’d do.” She’s doing these kind of wonky stories and isn’t happy about where she is. She knows she’s meant to do bigger things and the way she peruses this new story about the Turtles is definitely April to a T. I actually miss the scientist April from the 2003 show though; since that was her way into the Turtles’ world-finding out about Stockman’s plan and fleeing for her life ending up in the sewers, being rescued, and becoming their eyes in the city. But the reporter April is the OG April so again, for what it is, isn’t not that bad. At times, you can see she really cares about this. Others…less so.
  • The ACTION SEQUENCES

    • I could really gush about the action in this for days. While the film at times suffers from unbelievable shaky cam-gross-the action is pretty impressive. Particularly the mountain chase scene. Perhaps because it wasn’t just the Turtles vs the Foot, but it was also Turtles vs Foot vs Gravity. And with all of those elements it makes for a great fun action scene. The way the Turtles are first introduced-fighting the Foot in the subway-is also very good. They kept to the shadow rule of how ninja operate, and were quick and efficient in getting in and out…Only to get caught by April later. Another good action scene was the final fight between the Turtles and the Shredder. Just like in the comics, and 2003 version, this Shredder whoops butt for days. The turtles aren’t a match at first. In fact, it’s April who saves the turtles-and Splinter-not once but twice in this film. She’s definitely a proactive protagonist rather than a passive one.

  • The ELEVATOR SCENE
    • Not much to say about this particular scene other than if the movie focused more on moments like this between the Turtles….It wouldn’t have been hated on AS much….I think. It was just a fun little moment between the brothers before what could’ve been their final mission. And it was also a nice instrumental call back to a certain….Ninja rap if you will. And OMG IT’S A FREAKING STILL SHOT. REMEMBER THOSE HOLLYWOOD?!

The BAD

While there are a few good things in this movie….they don’t outshine the bad unfortunately.

  • The SPLINTER
    • Splinter in every iteration-from the toons to the comics-is seen as a wise mentor, a father figure to the Turtles. While they got the “father figure” part down-if only by mentioning it….Splinter was hardly in this one and when he was he felt like a jerk. The one cool scene with him was his fight against the Shredder, in which he actually uses his tail as a weapon, which he has done on occasion in the 2003 cartoon. I’m not really sure how it can grow in length or not though. Also his design isn’t really that good.
  • The CINEMATOGRAPHY
    • Wow…..I hate shaky cam. I really do. And there’s almost an overabundance of it in this movie. While there are some cool shots-good extreme close ups of the Turtles’ weapons, good close ups of the Turtles themselves….for the most part the aesthetics were bland and boring. Except again for the mountain chase scene. With Michael Bay CGI he always seems to like that shaky cam, as if to try and distract us from the fact that yes these Turtles are CGI. Also he does this “Trick” where he constantly wants the camera to move, as if what’s going on is important but there’s nothing important going on. It’s an old trick and I’m hoping more people will catch onto this.
  • The SCRIPT
    • At times the script feels natural, like in the beginning it was very tight, very real. The conversations between Vern and April felt like things characters would say, Whoopie Goldberg’s character felt like a character, yet at other times….it just feels like a lot of exposition. I’m hoping this is fixed in the sequel. Dear Hollywood…we don’t need everything spoon fed to us. We ARE smarter than you give us credit for. The script’s not BAD but it’s not good either….
  • The SHREDDER
    • Remember when the trailers were first out, and the casting was first out, and the Shredder was gonna be William Fitchner and everyone freaked out and he was recast? Almost like an afterthought? Yep. That’s when the internet should just…keep it’s mouth shut. Fitchner was a better villain than the Shredder. Simply cause he was yucking it up and having fun with the role he was given. “I’m gonna be rich. Like…Stupid Rich.” The Shredder just felt THERE. And for whatever reason he was the only one who spoke Japanese. He never really spoke that language in the 2003 cartoon but I guess they wanted to hammer it in that “this is the Shredder guys we promise.” He almost takes a backseat until he fights the Turtles and Splinter, and then again takes a backseat until the final fight. Also his suit is pretty much a mini-Transformer and doesn’t look like a Shredder suit.
  • The CONNECTIONS
    • With characters and interactions, you have to make sure there’s a REASON for them to all be there. April is always-whether she’s a teenager or a scientist or a reporter-the Turtles connection to the human world. To topside New York. She has to have a reason to be with them in the first place. Shredder has to have a reason to hate Splinter and go after the Turtles. In the 2003 cartoon, it was cause Shredder killed Splinter’s owner or master. Splinter escaped and somehow got into contact with the mutagen. Here, they try to give them a connecting backstory, but at times it felt forced. There’s a connection THERE but it is VERY THIN at best.

The CONCLUSION

Overall, the film isn’t TERRIBLE like people like to make it out to be. It’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You have to know what to expect with anything regarding this franchise. It’s fun, it’s stupid, it’s serious, it’s silly. What draws people to this franchise is the characters; the Turtles themselves. We see ourselves in the Turtles-the tough loner, the goofball, the shy quiet scientist, the leader. There are things the movie gets right; the action, the dialogue at times, and the Turtles especially. There’s enough froth in this movie to keep the right people entertained at the least. For me, I was surprisingly entertained and had a good time with it. The more I watch this movie, the more I end up liking it. It has good moments, mainly thanks to Michelangelo. Also gotta give it credit for ending on like a nice light note. Good job Hollywood you’re learning….Not all action films have to be dark and dreary after a certain horrible event that happened in 2001.

I’m going to give TMNT2014 a 2.5/5. It’s right under an average movie. It’s not terrible, I had fun.2.5 out of 5

Comment Question: Who’s your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? Mine…Donatello forever.

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