Screen Junkies » Movie reviews http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:46:38 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 Review: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 15:00:38 +0000 bgoldstein http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263852 Despite all the fanboy hand-wringing, TMNT is not the childhood-defiling catastrophe that so many people predicted it would be. It’s also not a very good movie.

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By Dan Murrell

The Ninja Turtles franchise reminds me of my old high school: it’s very close to my heart and I had a lot of fun with it when I was young, but clinging to it would be a discouraging sign that I’m still living in the past.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seeks to update the franchise for a new generation, and it succeeds, in that it’s the same loud, dumb action film that we’ve come to expect from summer blockbusters. This film marks the first time that the Turtles have been on-screen in a live-action feature in over 20 years. While the three previous live-action films hold sentimental value to a generation of adults, the truth of the matter is that they aren’t very good. Some things never change.

I would say that the origin of the Ninja Turtles needs no explanation, but this film disagrees with me, as it spends a good chunk of its first hour retelling how our heroes came to be. I will give the movie credit for taking the story in a new direction. It’s a head-scratching new direction, but at least it’s original. It also adheres to Article 1 of the Modern Law of Reboots, which states that every character has to have known each other for their entire lives. At this point, I’m expecting Batman v Superman to open with a young Bruce Wayne cradling his dead parents’ bodies under the wreckage of baby Kal-El’s crashed spaceship.

The rest of the plot swings wildly between overly simplistic and needlessly complicated. I pine for the days when radioactive goo falling into a sewer grate passed as an acceptable superhero origin. It mainly boils down to the Turtles versus the Shredder, who may or may not be played by William Fichtner, who may or may not be a bad guy pretending to be good. The marketing has decided to be coy about it, so I’ll play along.

One plot point that does surface, for the second time this summer, is the villain’s quest for the heroes’ blood and the substances within. This is the third blockbuster movie in two years (after Star Trek Into Darkness and The Amazing Spider-Man 2) to use magic blood as a McGuffin, making it the strangest Hollywood trend since the rise of Liam Neeson as an action star. It does, however, lead to my favorite line in the movie: “I want you to drain every ounce of their blood. Even if it kills them.” I’m no molecular biologist, but I’ll go ahead and say that, yes, draining every ounce of any living being’s blood would definitely kill it.

Shockingly, the thing the film gets absolutely right is also the thing it has been most criticized for: the Turtles themselves. Despite the uproar over their new design (and they do still look slightly creepy), I bought these Ninja Turtles as a fun band of brothers out to do good. The voice work is solid, though Alan Ritchson’s Raphael sounds like a guy doing a bad Mark Wahlberg impression — much like Mark Wahlberg himself in Transformers: Age of Extinction. The biggest misstep is the casting of Tony Shalhoub as Splinter. Shalhoub is a fine actor, but his soft tones just don’t sound right coming out of a five-foot-tall anthropomorphized rat. When the action kicks in, though, the characters really shine and I felt some of that old magic kick back in.

The human side of the movie is more of a mixed bag. Megan Fox dominates the movie’s running time as April O’Neil, giving the exact performance that we’ve all come to expect from her. I think we’ve seen all the shades of Megan Fox that we’re going to see at this point. Will Arnett, as April’s cameraman Vern, is on-hand for comic relief, which succeeds mainly because Will Arnett is an inherently funny person. Abby Elliott gets a couple of nice moments as April’s roommate. William Fichtner does the best he can do with the character he’s given, though he often has to do the film’s heavy-lifting with a bunch of ridiculous exposition. And the rest of the actors, including Whoopi Goldberg and Taran Killam, are on-screen briefly in roles that could generously be described as thankless.

Despite all the fanboy hand-wringing, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not the childhood-defiling catastrophe that so many people predicted it would be. It’s also not a very good movie. It’s too dumb, too underwritten and too uneven to call a success. It’s certainly not meant for the adults who grew up with the Turtles; even the callbacks to the original series seem forced and halfhearted. I’m also not sure it will land with kids, who might find the first hour too dark and tedious. But if the movie does succeed, it has laid the groundwork for what could be a fun series of movies with this group of Turtles. With the right story and the right balance of action and humor, I could see a sequel to this film being a lot of fun; and, much like my old high school, I might find myself dropping by for a little while to enjoy the memories.

Grade: C-

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Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/review-guardians-of-the-galaxy/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/review-guardians-of-the-galaxy/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 16:42:24 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=263643 Guardians of the Galaxy can best be described as a two-hour montage set to a 1970's Jock Jams mixtape (and that's a good thing).

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By Jared Jones

It’s rather fitting that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy would be the first film I’d review for Screen Junkies, as it’s a movie that seems damn near impossible to critique. Sure, Guardians adheres to many of the conventions we’ve come to expect from a comic book movie (dead parents, cryptically-introduced characters who speak entirely in exposition, etc.), and betrays most of its plot conventions before they are even established, but its absolute refusal to take itself seriously doesn’t exactly open the door for criticism.

Of course, then you see a wisecracking racoon unleash a barrage of machine gun fire while riding on the back of a talking treebeast, and you nearly pass out from the deluge of blood that rushes from your head to your nerd boner.

Guardians of the Galaxy can best be described as a two-hour montage set to a 1970′s Jock Jams mixtape, complete with some of the most intense and plain beautiful CGI your puny eyes may ever gaze upon. It’s the kind of movie Pete Hammond would describe as an “uproarious, fun-filled thrill ride!” while sucking on the taint of whatever PR firm had hired him to write it. For once, his blatant hyperbole would be accurate.

The story is a rather familiar one in terms of comic book adaptations: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is abducted by a gang of intergalactic mercenaries (led by the always delightful Michael Rooker) after watching his mother succumb to cancer, and twenty some-odd years later, he is roaming the galaxy as a common, if wickedly inventive thief. That is, until he stumbles upon the Infinity Stone capable of destroying entire civilizations (DUN-DUN-DUN!) and is forced to band together with a crew of misfits and miscreants in order to save the galaxy. Yadda yadda yadda hijinks ensue.

But yes, back to the CGI. As someone who has always preferred his world-building to take place in our actual world, even I must admit that Guardians was able to create the kind of exceptionally detailed, fully realized CGI-scapes that make paying the extra $10 for 3D glasses worth it. Not that I have to, being a fancy film critic that I am now and all (*spins bow tie*). The post-opening credits scene, which sees Quill a.k.a “Star Lord” shimmy his way across a barren planet to steal the Casket of Ancient Winters/Tesseract/whatever, was the highlight for me in that regard. The whole sequence plays out like a steampunk take on the 1912 Utah opening from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and if you can’t get into that, the door is right over there.

That said, the inevitable success of Guardians will ultimately (and rightfully) be attributed to its cast and the witty repartee they develop. Marvel movies — and really, any comic book adaptation — only shine when they opt for the absurdist route, in my opinion, and director James Gunn‘s script never once pauses to talk about “destiny” or “fate” or whatever hackneyed cliches often punctuate comic book faire. A gravel-voiced Christian Bale speaking in platitudes about the moral weight that comes with being a cape-wearing crime fighter? I fart in your general direction, sir. A gravel-voiced Dave Bautista discussing his inability to understand metaphor? I’ll take two, please.

*Every* character in Guardians is the comic relief, Zoe Saldana‘s somewhat flat Gamora excluded, and that’s what makes the movie such a fun, effortless experience to watch. That, and the breakneck pace at which the film itself moves, because good God, does this flick hustle information past you like an irritated flight attendant on a frat bro-filled plane to Spring Break, Cancun. But on top of it all, Guardians of the Galaxy is just funny, plain and simple. Who would’ve guessed that a WWE star not named The Rock has legitimate comedic timing, or that Vin Diesel repeating the same line of dialogue over and over and over again would never not be hilarious? Spoiler alert: Bautista kills it, and I want a baby Groot-sized potted plant on my desk ASAP.

If I could lob one legitimate criticism at Guardians, it would be that of its villains. As I’ve noticed in more and more blockbuster action movies to come out in recent years, Guardians in the Galaxy would like you to believe that its bad guys — mainly, the Vader-esque Ronan — are all-powerful, menacing, genocidal killers, yet it never really commits to that narrative or establishes what exactly is motivating them (other than the classic standby of “world destruction”). Ronan and his cronies are merely blips on the radar who pop up when needed to cause a little mayhem, but they never really give the impression that they possess the destructive power that warrants the fear they instill.

Guardians’ PG-13 rating is most likely to blame for the movie’s lack of any real stakes or sense of impending doom, and I guess that’s forgivable. But just once, I’d like to see a quote unquote “popcorn flick” have the balls to actually commit to decisions it makes. If you’re going to kill off a character, kill off a character. If you’re going to have one character betray another, maybe establish a relationship between the two that last more than 30 seconds to give said betrayal some actual gravitas.

It’s a minor complaint in an otherwise glowing review, but something Marvel should maybe consider when developing Guardians of the Galaxy 2-8. Oh, did you not know that this movie is going to a box office juggernaut greenlit for a sequel by night’s end? Or that Chris Pratt is probably the next king of the box office? Because yeah, that’s all about to happen.

Grade: B+

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Honest Previews: “Non-Stop” with Liam Neeson http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/honest-previews-non-stop-with-liam-neeson/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/honest-previews-non-stop-with-liam-neeson/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 21:53:39 +0000 Georgie Guinane http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=259803 Get ready to see one more movie that will leave you planning to never board a plane again!!

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Get ready to see one more movie that will leave you planning to never board a plane again!! #Flight #FlightPlan #SnakesOnAPlane #SoulPlane #NonStop

In Non-Stop, Liam Neeson plays a US Air Marshall whose job is to not let anyone hijack the plane, kill anyone on the plane, or attempt go to the bathroom while the “Fasten Your Seatbelt” sign has been turned on, on the plane. (So you’d better hold that shit in, or he will find you and kill you with his very particular set of skills on that toilet, bitch.) 

The entire film takes place on one non-stop flight, so don’t expect any time for romance! … HA!! Just kidding!  This is a movie, not real life!  Thus, THERE WILL BE ROMANCE ON THAT PLANE, DAMMIT.  My guess is he’s either getting off the plane with Julianne Moore or Michelle Dockery.  Mile High Club, perhaps?  Probably no—who do you think he is, older Jason Statham?!)

Plot: An anonymous source is sending Liam Neeson creepy texts, threatening to kill someone on the plane every 20 minutes if he doesn’t transfer $150 Million dollars to an account (WHAT AN ORIGINAL MOTIVE!)  Once people start dying and shit gets real, he’s got to find the passenger on the plane who’s the baddie.   PLOT TWIST: The baddie’s account is in Neeson’s name, so everybody in the Army goes batshit because everybody believes he’s the baddie, rather than the goodie he KNOWS HE IS… BUT IS HE????!!! OMG WHAT IF THIS IS JUST LIKE FIGHT CLUB?! What if this is… FLIGHT CLUB.  If that’s the case, then my guess is Julianne Moore is his Tyler Durden and wow what a terrible, hackneyed plot twist that would be…

Should you go see it?…

HELL. YES.  I will never tell you to not go see a movie in which Liam Neeson plays a badass hero with demons, who has a very limited amount of time to SAVE EVERYONE—which is every goddamn Liam Neeson movie, forever…

Watch the trailer and try to figure out which random extra is going to end up being the true villain!:

 

 

My guess is creepy baldie business guy, front and left. 

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The Film Cult Presents: The Wicker Man http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-wicker-man/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-wicker-man/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 19:12:46 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=259753 Oh, to go back to the days when naked people sang songs in circles on the solstice.

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

Let’s get the bad part out of the way. Nicolas Cage and the great Ellen Burstyn remade The Wicker Man in 2006 to devastating results. While the original holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the half-baked, pathetic remake maintains a strong 15% rating. If you ask me, that’s about fourteen percentages too generous. Let’s pretend it doesn’t exist. OK, great.

The Wicker Man is shrouded in mystery. Different versions of the film have floated around for years, the holy grail of which being an apparently 102-minute version that’s been lost for decades. A 99-minute director’s cut is the version upon which I base this review and the current standard. Perhaps one day we’ll all get to see the original 102-minute version. Then again, maybe one day we’ll all meet on Summerisle and have an orgy in the park. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The plot is simple and like any great story can be summed up in one sentence: A virgin police officer named Sergeant Howie travels to an island called Summerisle, populated by pagans, to investigate the kidnapping of a girl called Rowan. Weird ish goes down from the jump-off, when first no one on the island claims to have heard of Rowan, yet she has a mom, an empty grave, and a desk at the schoolhouse. Then, after being offended by all kinds of awesomely debauched pagan stuff—the aforementioned orgy in the park, the girl who must put a frog in her mouth, the umbilical cord on the tree—Sergeant Howie discovers a ritual human sacrifice is set to take place on May Day in order to bring back the island’s failed crops. After he’s presumably left the island, he dons a customary costume for the big day and (surprise!) it’s actually he who will burn in the wicker man on May Day.

Pagan Parade - The Wicker Man

This movie works for several reasons. The first is that it’s so straightforward. The viewer wonders, “No, this can’t be happening. Wait a tick, it is happening!” And then it happens. Bam! Roll credits. Its natural progression comes from writer Anthony Schaffer using as his source material the 1890 anthropological study by James Frazer called The Golden Bough. The annotated 1922 edition is worth picking up on Amazon. Within its hundreds of pages, Mr. Frazer describes the pagan rituals of tribes and communities from all over the planet, making his seminal work a grab-bag for weird human behavior. The point is, the rituals in The Wicker Man are real. Much like The Godfather is a compendium of mafia lore and stories, The Wicker Man is a smorgasbord of pagan fun. Oh, to go back to the days when people sang songs in circles on the solstice.

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‘Contagion’ Review: “It’s Like ‘Traffic’, But With A Disease Instead Of Drugs.” http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/contagion-review-%e2%80%9cit%e2%80%99s-like-traffic-but-with-a-disease-instead-of-drugs/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/contagion-review-%e2%80%9cit%e2%80%99s-like-traffic-but-with-a-disease-instead-of-drugs/#comments Fri, 09 Sep 2011 17:01:02 +0000 Penn Collins http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=227750 'Contagion' doesn't care if you feel bad for these people.

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“It’s like Traffic, but with a disease instead of drugs.”

Similar to director Steven Soderbergh’s other ensemble film portraying the far-reaching effects of an epidemic,

The result is a voyeuristic relationship with the characters that exists the same way one may watch ants scurry after their hill is kicked – You’re too busy watching them deal with it all to want to step inside their heads. Damon’s character seems to be the only one really tethered by emotion, as the rest of the cast seems to act out of dutiful obligation. The fact that five medical professionals are followed over the course of the outbreak puts the film in danger of becoming myopic in the same way the natural analog Outbreak was, but it never happens. The character investigations, again, with the exception of Damon are superficial enough and spiked with enough gravity and purpose that it makes for a compelling spectacle, but make no mistake: you’re here to watch these people do their jobs.

The fact that the film runs at only 105 minutes and still manages to address a six-month outbreak and still touch upon so many representative lives is a testament to efficiency in storytelling: calculated, but certainly not inhumane. At the end of the film you feel closer to the outbreak than you do the characters, which is an unnatural feeling, but Soderbergh’s intention all along.

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‘TERMINATOR SALVATION’ REVIEW http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/terminator-salvation-review/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/terminator-salvation-review/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 By Afrim, sole member of the Albanian Guard Hello, United States, for one time again. Is Afrim. Is you remember me? I tell you about movie Angels plus Demons. I back in internet café in Baltimore. I is having problems with travel visa and immigration police tell me I can no go back to Albania. Is okay, I have good bed for sleeping at house of my cousin Fatbardha. Is better than box of wood that I am sleeping in Tirana! Is kidding! I has very comfortable mule for sleeping.

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By Afrim, sole member of the Albanian Guard

Hello, United States, for one time again. Is Afrim. Is you remember me? I tell you about movie Angels plus Demons. I back in internet café in Baltimore. I is having problems with travel visa and immigration police tell me I can no go back to Albania. Is okay, I have good bed for sleeping at house of my cousin Fatbardha. Is better than box of wood that I am sleeping in Tirana! Is kidding! I has very comfortable mule for sleeping.

I having lots of free time waiting for Visa problem stop, so I see more American movies. I like cinema in United States. Chairs are comfortable, and police are not throwing you in jail when videotaping screen.

Today I see Terminator movie. Is called Terminator of Salvation. Is meaning maybe there is Jesus in future? Is take place in year 2018 about computer that want fight humans and it make robot for killing man. But humans are fight back and want stop computer. Is very action movie, have many exploding, and is have robot skeletons. Is remind me of robot I make in 1980s calling “Afrim the Robot.” But no made of metal, is made of brooms and skin of sheep. It no mean to kill and is not working most of time.

In movie, John Connor (is Christian Bale) is lead his human warriors to fight machines. He is find man who is think he is man, but is really robot. John Connor is not trusting robot even one who think is man, but is only hope to find Kyle Reese (is Anton Yelchin) to protects him. To destroy robots, John Connor must fight many different machines. There is swim robots, airplane robots and motorcycle robots.

I is fan of movie. Is direct by Irish rapping singer McG. I is never heard from him. Actors in movie very good. Christian Bale remind me of young Afrim because I very handsome. Also remind because I is yelling many times. I is expecting to see first Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, but is not in movie. I is hearing he is politician and am congratulating him. Is same way in Albania, James Belushi is make honorary governor of Tirana.

Movie is making me thinking for computers. Is problem in giving power to computer? Is possible computers want kill humans? If is possible, I is thinking Albania safe. Is because Albania not having many computers and we is still using MS-DOS.

I is also thinking, Swiss Guard is make everything with computers for protect the pope. If is problem with computer and is want kill humans, Pope is first to be killing. For that is when I return Tirana, I is sending Vatican “Afrim the Robot” for protect the pope. I is just being safe.

– AFRIM, Sole Member of the Albanian Guard

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