Shell on Earth!

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Directed by: Jonathan Liebsman

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fitchner, Tohoro Masamune, and for some reason Whoopi Goldberg.

Plot: Genetically mutated turtles trained in the martial arts battle Shredder and his army who are terrorizing New York. Just like they did in the 80’s comic book. And the 80’s animated series. And the 90’s live action film series. And the 90’s live action TV series. And the second animated series. And the CGI animated movie in 2007. And the third animated series.

Rating: PG-13 for martial arts violence and the near death of a friggin talking CG rat.

Unless you’re a bear living in the pacific northwest for the past thirty years (and congratulations to you – most Grizzlies don’t live past 25) you’ve probably heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

These “heroes in a half shell” have been fighting bad guys and scarfing pizza for generations of fans on TV and in movies. Plus, the turtles have had their names slapped on tons of merchandise over the years. including toys, videogames, bed sheets:

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and breakfast cereal!

 Nothing says “you’re famous” like a sugar loaded cereal with pizza shaped marshmallows!

Their first live action movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) was a huge hit with fans. The two sequels that followed were moderate successes, which is amazing considering one of the films featured an appearance by everybody’s least favorite 1990’s white man – Vanilla Ice.

Pictured: The beginning of the end.

Pictured: The beginning of the end.

After a two decade break from the big screen, the TMNT returned big time in the big budget action movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This reboot is produced by Transformers guru Michael Bay, so it’s chockfull of explosions, destruction of property, slow motion explosions and slow motion destruction of property. Oh, and our teenage turtles (along with Master Splinter are now computer generated which makes them look even more freakish even for creatures that live in a New York City Sewer.

TV reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox, who looks about as Irish as a San Genaro festival) is looking for a great story that will make her top dog at her station, but her bosses want her to keep doing fluff stories while everyone else reports on the dangerous Foot Clan, an armed gang that has been looting and terrorizing New York City. Against the advice of her lunkheaded cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett, who really needs to start saying no to a script or two), April strikes out on her own to track down this powerful crime organization.

While observing a Foot Clan robbery at the docks, April sees a quartet of ninja warriors take out the Clan and foil he robbery. A few days later the same mysterious group lays a smackdown on a squad of Foot Clan soldiers who took hostages in a subway station. Intrepid April learns the identities of the four vigilantes who have the courage to stand up to the evil Foot Clan: They’re the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

and great googamoogle are they scary looking!

April befriends the freakish ninjas and learns from their Master Splinter that they were part of a lab experiment run by (surprise!) April’s late Father and his partner Eric Sack (William Fitchner) to test a miracle mutagen that would cure all diseases, even that toe fungus thing that makes your feet all gross.

A lab fire destroyed the research lab and killed April’s father, but young April rescued a lab rat and four tiny turtles and set them loose in the sewer, where they mutated into giant walking talking creatures who know ninjitsu and bicker like any other loveable sitcom family!

But Sachs, now an evil billionaire is hell-bent on making more evil billions by capturing the turtles and using their blood to make an antidote for a virus he’s about to unleash on the unsuspecting citizens of New York City!

Oh, did I mention that Sachs is in cahoots with Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), the maniacal  leader of the Foot Clan? He is. I told you – Sachs is evil!

TMNT as I said before, is loaded with plenty of action, violence, and mayhem, which can be expected from a Michael Bay production. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much you enjoy Michael Bay’s movies. I happen to enjoy Bay’s movies as much as I enjoy a trip to the dentist for a long slow root canal while fighting a very bad stomach flu, but your love of the Bayman might differ.

 But on a positive note, at the midway point of the movie there’s an extended chase down the side of a snow covered mountain that answers a question I’ve been pondering for two decades: can the shell of a mutant ninja turtle crush a Humvee?

The answer is yes. I can move on with my life now.

 

 

Ronin Holiday!

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47 Ronin (2013)

Directed by: Carl Rinsch

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Jin Akanishi

Plot: A few hundred years ago in Japan, a group of disgraced Samurai vow revenge when their lord is dishonored and murdered by the treacherous lord Kira.  And for some reason Keanu Reeves is there too.

Rating: PG-13 for swords and the stabbing and slashing that comes with swords.

The swords and samurai epic 47 Ronin takes place in medieval Japan, where according to the narrator, Emperors and Lords ruled the land, Samurais protected them with honor, and there was magic, witchcraft, and dragons.

Hey, you weren’t there. How do you know there weren’t any dragons? They probably rode them around like horses or kept them as pets. We really can’t be sure. Even Wikipedia doesn’t know. I checked.

One day Lord Asano, leader of the Ako domain, finds a little boy lost in the woods. The boy appears to possess magic powers, but Asano decides to take him home to his city, but since the boy is half English, his status among the townspeople and the Samurai is somewhere between village leper and a three legged dog. The half Japanese boy Kai grows up to be Keanu Reeves, who as an adult is still scorned by the Samurai, particularly Asano’s chief Samurai Oishi (Sanada) but is secretly dating Asano’s daughter Princess Miko (Shibasaki) because she’s attracted to unpopular bad boys her Dad won’t allow in the house and on the carpet.

Asano and Miko are pleased as punch because the big honcho of Japan – The Shogun is visiting Ako to inspect things and to make sure everyone is Japanese enough I guess. But evil Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) with the help of his sexy Witch (Rinko Kikuchi) has a plan to mess things up at the big Samurai duel and humiliate Asano. Kai tries to stop Kira’s treacherous plans, but since he’s half English he’s beaten like a drum at Burning Man and a disgraced Asano must commit seppuku (a real ugly form of suicide) because The Shogun is a real hardass.

Oishi and his warriors are now Ronin, master less Samurai who must live the rest of their lives in shame and never seek revenge against the man who dissed their master. Oishi is thrown in a dungeon to keep him from going all stabby on Lord Kira, who plans to marry Miko in a year and take over Ako.

Nearly a year later Oishi is released from captivity. Kira thinks he has broken Oishi’s will to seek revenge, but Oishi is determined now more than ever to go extra stabby on Kira before he can take over his kingdom.

Note to all bad guys out there – never release the man who wants to kill you from the dungeon a week before your big plan is about to come to fruition! Come on! That’s on page one of the bad guy manual! Get your head out of your back porch rookie!

Anyhoo, Oishi sets out to reassemble his army and stop Kira. He first sets free Kai who has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for an infielder and a minor league prospect and..

Oh. Sorry, Kai was sold to a band of pirates and spends his days fighting in an arena of death.

I think I would prefer the latter. I’ve seen the Pirates play.

Oishi, Kai, and Oishi’s son Chikara (Jin Akanishi) locate the other Ronin, who have conveniently been living in the woods about a mile outside of Ako and together form a plan to take out Kira or die trying.

47 Ronin moves along as Kai meets up with some mystical dudes he knew as a kid who inform him he’s got magic powers that enable him to do incredible things very much like another Character Reeves played in another action epic 15 years earlier minus the long dark coats, the endless gunfire, and that Morpheus “he’s the one” crap.

Oishi and the Ronin bluff their way back into their old castle where Kira and reluctant Bride to be Miko are having a party on the eve of their wedding. Swords are drawn, armies clash, witches do witch stuff, foes are vanquished, and the palace caterers have a lot of cleaning up to do when the smoke clears. Unfortunately Oishi, Kai, and the Ronin don’t ride off happily into the sunset because they signed an oath to kill themselves when they avenge their Master’s death.

Which they do.

And then the movie is over.

Um…yay?

47 Ronin is a valiant effort by everyone involved, but the results are more “direct to DVD” than “big time blockbuster.”

Plus, you see this menacing tattoo covered guy with the flintlock pistol who is featured prominently on the movie poster?

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Nice ink bro.

He’s in the movie for three seconds.

I kid you not. This freak has a smaller part in 47 Ronin than Stan Lee in every Marvel movie, and he’s hanging with Keanu on the one sheet. No, don’t put Oishi or Chikara on there, give the tattoo boy with one line second billing!

I guess it’s all about who you know. Typical Hollywood!

Movie Characters You Want on Your Side. Always. Part Four!

If superhero movies have taught us anything, it’s a team of awesome and capable characters are better than one when it comes to kicking butt.

Iron Man? Good. Iron Man plus Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow? Skadoosh.

Without teamwork, you are lost. And without Lost, we never would have known about the Dharma Initiative.

Actually, not sure if that’s a bad thing.

Anyhoo, here’s another list of badass movie characters you’d want on your team when trouble comes calling.

rocketgrootNames: Rocket and Groot

Occupation: Bounty Hunters, galactic lawbreakers

As Seen In: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Pros: Rocket is a technological genius, hacker, escape artist. Groot is Groot. Cons: Rocket is homicidal, Groot is….well he’s Groot.

The Deal: It would be hard as heck to find a duo that did more damage on screen in 2014 than Rocket the Racoon and his houseplant/muscle Groot. Rocket is feisty, murderous and angry, and Groot is kind, gentle and strong. They’re the Odd Couple for the new century! Who wouldn’t want them on the team? Plus Groot can really bust a move.

Shining Moment: We are Groot.

World-Of-Hunger-Games-katniss-everdeen-30213084-2560-1690Name: Katniss Everdeen

Occupation: Game Show Contestant, Over thrower of Evil Governments

As Seen In: A bunch of those Hunger Games movies.

Pros: Expert archer, brave and selfless. Cons: Dates idiots.

The Deal: Not just another pretty face, Katniss is a plucky gal who doesn’t like to play games; especially when  that game is a twisted reality show that’s a gory fight to the death. But Katniss took her first appearance on The Hunger Games and became a symbol of a strength and bravery, making her the perfect leader for a revolution. So if you need a team member to make a rousing speech, Katniss is the one to go to. Plus she can kill lots of bad guys with her bow and arrow. Winning!

Shining Moment: That flaming dress. All kinds of fabulous, girlfriend!

hellboyName: Hellboy

Occupation: Paranormal investigator, monster puncher

As Seen In: Hellboy (2004), Hellboy: The Golden Army (2008)

Pros: Practically indestructible. Cons: Smoker, eats a lot, cat person

The Deal: You want muscle? Hellboy has muscle to spare. It’s probably because he’s a demon from Hell. I hear most Hellspawn are pretty jacked. But it’s okay, he’s on our side. As a lead investigator for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, Hellboy has seen a lot of weird stuff, and has a huge assortment of weapons to combat weird stuff, so keep him fed and try to ignore his huge collection of pet cats, and things will be hunky and dory.

Shining Moment: Dropping a huge gear on Kroenen in Hellboy. Big time pwnage.

martin-riggsName: Martin Riggs

Occupation: LAPD Detective, suicidal loner

As Seen In: Lethal Weapon 1-4

Pros: Martial arts master, very good with guns. Cons: Uses lots of ammo, could be crazy, smoker.

The Deal: Look up loose cannon in Wikipedia, and you’ll see a picture of Martin Riggs firing hundreds of bullets at bad guys while destroying a ton of police and city property. He loves to break stuff. Like Hellboy, Riggs is pretty much indestructible. He’s been shot, stabbed, hit by cars, yet he keeps coming back for his weekly paycheck. Don’t let him show you that trick he does with his shoulder. Not pretty.

Shining Moment: Beating the crap out of Gary Busey in the first Lethal Weapon. You deserve a medal, dude.

And finally:

Morgan-Freeman-in-Universals-Bruce-Almighty-2003-1 Name: Any character played by Morgan Freeman

Occupation: Doesn’t matter. He’s Morgan Freeman.

As Seen In: Wherever he is needed.

Pros: Have you heard his voice? Cons: Shut up.

The Deal: Whatever character Morgan Freeman plays is really good at what he does. From outfitting Batman to fixing a crippled dolphin, the man has skills. Use them!

Shining Moment: Didn’t you get the memo?

This is DVD Critics Corner’s 100th post. Thanks for reading.

 

What if Godzilla was One of Us?

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 GODZILLA (2014)

Director: Gareth Edwards

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, and Bryan Cranston

Plot: A bunch of horrifying creatures terrorize a city and the world is powerless to stop them! Wait, that’s the plot of Smurfs 2.  

Rating: PG-13 for CG explosions and destruction of perfectly good real estate.

Godzilla is a gigantic lizard/dinosaur type creature who rises out of the ocean every once in a while to teach the children of Japan valuable lessons about friendship and love, and if time permitting, fight other monsters.

The original Godzilla films featured men in monster suits fighting on sets with miniaturized buildings that were stepped on and crushed while model planes on wires flew over their rubber heads, thus proving that early monster movies were really flipping fun to make.

In 1998 Godzilla was reborn as a fully computer generated monster in Roland Emmerich’s actioner Godzilla, unfortunately audiences didn’t warm up to this high tech addition to the franchise. Probably because the mighty Godzilla the king of the monsters was brought down by Matthew Broderick.

and his adorable little hat!

and his adorable little hat!

After a 16 year vacation the big green dinosaur we all know and love returned to the big screen earlier this year in a movie entitled (wait for it…) Godzilla. This modernized version doesn’t have rubber monster suits and hoards of Japanese extras running in terror.  But is does have the guy from Breaking Bad, Kick-Ass from Kick-Ass, and the Olsen sister who can actually act.

So that’s a good thing. Right?

In 1999, a mining expedition in the Philippines unearth some huge dinosaur like creatures. One of them swims towards Japan where it causes a nuclear powerplant to overload killing lots of scientists and the wife of plant manager Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, the guy from Breaking Bad). 15 years later Brody with the help of his Navy officer son Ford (the kid from Kick-Ass) return to the plant to find out what exactly happened and instead find a bunch of scientists from the top secret Project Monarch milling about. Before Brody can exclaim “I knew there was a conspiracy!” he’s killed when a giant creature explodes out of the ground and flies away, leaving Ford to be the lead actor for the rest of the movie.

Soon Ford, Project Monarch scientist Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and the United States Navy are racing across the globe to stop these giant creatures now dubbed MOTUS – yes there are two of them now as another one shows up and crushes the Vegas strip. I guess he couldn’t get Brittany Spears tickets.

Oh woe is us! If only there were a larger creature out there somewhere who could rise from the depths to battle these giant MOTUS and bring peace to the planet?

TA-DAAAH!!!

TA-DAAAH!!!

Godzilla turns into a battle royale as our title character steps into the ring against the two MOTUS who look like a praying mantis on a bad day.  Unfortunately the battle takes place in San Francisco, which gets flattened in the process. But don’t worry, it’s just a computer generated San Francisco so stomp those buildings Godzilla! It’s not like all those people are real or anything!

Godzilla is a well made update of the classic monster movies many of us watched on a Saturday afternoon when we were kids.  I’m all for a good updating of a classic film, but I miss the poorly dubbed dialogue andlow budget cheesiness that made those movies so special.

The miniature buildings, tiny pyrotechnics, and radio controlled tanks are gone. And so is the fun.

Sometimes the new isn’t as appealing as the old.

More Movie News!

Dear readers,

Tom Levier, creator and writer of DVD Critics Corner is on a temporary sabbatical and was unable to cover this breaking news story. In his place, we have recruited Tom’s 74 year old uncle Jack.

SOME KIND OF SUPERHERO MOVIE TRAILER IS ON THE INTERNET NOW

by Jack Levier

Apparently there’s a trailer for some kind of new movie that’s all over the internet that I’m supposed to tell you about. It’s got superheroes in it which is what all the movies are about these days. What’s with all the superheroes? Bunch of showoffs if you ask me. Anyway, this group of superheroes are called the Adventures or something, and they’re a team that protects the planet when Superman isn’t around I guess.

The members of The Adventures are Captain America, Iron Guy, the green thing, that guy with the hammer, the red haired girl, and bow and arrow man. The trailer has them running around and breaking stuff, and the green thing and Iron Guy fight for some reason, the red haired girl drives a motorcycle and there’s some robot who wants to kill them all. Superman isn’t in this movie. My grandson says he’s part of another comic book universe like I’m supposed to know what that means.  He has a lip ring. Like that’s going to get him a good job.

Anyway, here’s the trailer to this Adventures movie which doesn’t come out for another seven months. I don’t think it will be a hit. But what do I know? I’m still waiting for them to bring back Flash Gordon. Now HE was a super hero.

3 Days of the Costner!

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3 Days to Kill (2014)

Director: McG

Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard

Plot: Aging CIA agent with serious health problems tries to get some family time in but is forced to do one last job because the CIA hates families!

Rating: PG-13 for gunplay, explosions, and close quarter punchin’ and kickin’.

Hey kids. Let me tel you all about this movie I just watched! It stars an aging movie star who plays a badass assassin…

No, its not Taken.

Anyway, he has a young daughter he’s trying to shield from his dangerous career but…

No, it’s not Taken 2.

It’s written by Luc Besson and it has some car chases and gunfights and..

No! Its not Taken 3, which is coming to a theater near you on January 9, 2015!

Why do we always have to argue when I’m doing the blog?

 3 Days to Kill stars Kevin Costner, the untouchable man who danced with wolves and fielded dreams in Waterworld.  He plays Ethan Renner, a veteran CIA spy on a mission with his team to capture a pale bad guy known as The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis) who is trying to sell a dirty bomb to some dirty people. Unfortunately, things turn south as the often do in these movies and bullets start flying and stuff gets blown up and lots of European guys get dead.  Oh, and the Albino escapes.

Feeling a bit under the weather after the disasterous mission, Ethan gets a checkup from his CIA doctor and finds out he’s got a brain tumor that will kill him faster than Message in a Bottle killed his comeback in 1999.

Hoping to make the most of the last few months he has, Ethan heads back to Paris to reconnect with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and his daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) who he abandoned long ago for the demands of his job. Christine barely tolerates his return and Zooey knows very little about her Dad, and wonders if he is in fact a travelling salesman as he claims to be. Maybe it’s because he always smells like gunpowder and is covered in fresh bruises whenever he visits.

But before Ethan can book is first daddy/daughter day, he is approached by another CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard) who makes him an offer the former Prince of Thieves cannot refuse: find and kill The Albino’s boss, a man known only as The Wolf, and Ethan will receive an experimental drug that will cure him.

Ethan is not so sure if he can trust Vivi, but since she gives him a sample of the treatment for free, and since he has to do something during the day when Zooey is at school, he takes the job.

Before we continue with the review, I’d like to go of on a slight tangent.

Look, I know we as movie viewers are expected to suspend disbelief a bit when we watch these CIA spy type films, but Vivi is without a doubt the worst secret agent in the history of movies.

First, she maintains a “low profile” by wearing a Lady Gaga wig and dressing like a European dominatrix:

A spy blending in with the citizens of Paris.

Second, in keeping  with the “I’m a spy so I must maintain a low profile” thing, she tools around Paris at breakneck speed in a sports car:

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!!! No one will pay any attention to us!

Screeeeech! No one will pay any attention to us!

And finally, Viv the super covert /don’t attract any attention/ leave no traces/ top secret spy racks up a body count  that rivals the opening 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan:

They were dead when I got here!

 Just so we are clear, WORST. SPY. EVER.

Okay, tangent over. I won’t pick on Vivi any more. I’m sure leather corsets are in the CIA budget somewhere.

Anyhoo, the rest of 3 Days to Kill jumps back and forth between Ethan trying to win back his estranged daughter and Ethan trying to hunt down and kill The Wolf. There’s also subplots involving the African family squatting in Ethan’s old apartment, and a henchman for The Albino who Ethan kidnaps for information then kidnaps a few more times to ask him for parental advice when he learns the guy has teenage daughters of his own.

See? A top secret CIA spy has regular problems just like the rest of us regular Joes!

3 Days to Kill draws to a rousing and bullet riddled climax when Ethan’s two worlds collide during a huge party at the penthouse apartment owned by the family of Zooey’s boyfriend. You thought your Mom and Dad meeting your sweetheart’s Mom and Dad for the first time was awkward, you should try it with gunplay! Hoo boy! I hope the caterers brought some extra bandages!

Despite having the writer from Taken, the father/daughter dynamic of Taken, and the European setting of Taken, I have to admit I was not taken at all by 3 Days to Kill. Costner took the director’s note to look tired and sickly and ran with it, because he looks like he’d rather be someplace else the entire movie, and Amber Heard’s character is from a completely different movie altogether.

That movie is about the WORST. SPY. EVER.

Sorry.

A DVD Critic’s Corner Back to School Quiz!

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lily, Orlando Bloom

Plot: Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf pals continue their journey to fight a dragon and kill things.

Rating: PG-13 for swords clashing and scary monsters monstering.

Good day, class!

It’s September, and that means it’s time for the little miscreants – sorry, students to return to school for another fun filled year of readin’, writin’, and that stuff you do with numbers that makes no sense whatsoever.

Since the younglings will be facing a whole bunch of tests in the coming weeks, I though it would be a hoot if we took a quiz based on a DVD I recently viewed – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, directed by Peter Jackson.

So take out a sheet of paper and a pencil and we will begin. Keep your eyes on your own papers please, and no cheating or you’ll have to eat the food in the cafeteria as punishment.

Let’s begin!

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a continuation of an epic movie saga based on a series of books by:

A) J.R.R. Tolkian

B) R.J.R Nabisco

C) J.R.J.R.R. Tolllkiann Jr.

D) That fat guy with the hat who writes Game of Thrones.

2. In this movie, Bilbo and his Dwarf companions:

A) Continue their journey to Lonely Mountain to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom.

B) Fight deadly adversaries at every turn.

C) Resist the urge to stop and bathe once in a while.

D) All of the above.

3. When giant spiders capture the dwarves and wrap them up in their webs, Bilbo frees them by using:

A) A huge rolled up newspaper.

B)  The magical One Ring Bilbo stole from Gollum in the previous movie.

C) A can of Raid Giant CG Ant, Roach, and Spider Killer.

D) His glorious singing voice, which charmed the spiders into making Bilbo their King!

4. The Wood Elves:

A) Have a long standing animosity for the Dwarf race.

B) Are unwilling to help the Dwarves in their quest to defeat Smaug.

C) All dress like they’re in some 1970’s glam rock band.

5. Evangeline Lily plays Tauriel, an elf warrior who:

A) Is Chief of the Elvenking’s guards.

B) Goes against the Elvenking’s wishes and helps Bilbo and the Dwarves

C) Is one of only two chicks in all of Middle Earth! Seriously, this movie is one giant sausage fest!

6. Azog and his Orc army are still chasing our heroes because:

A) Azog wants to kill Thorin like he killed Thorin’s father decades earlier.

B) He wants to destroy all Darves.

C) He’s just a giant, evil, asshole.

D) All of the above.

7. At the climax of the movie, Bilbo sneaks into Lonely Mountain and meets Smaug. Smaug:

A) is a fierce dragon with immense powers.

B) holds captive the vast treasure of the Dwarf kingdom – a literal mountain of gold!

C) is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the popular BBC series Sherlock.

D) Which is totally awesome, by the way. I cant wait for the next series.

E) Martin Freeman is great in that show too. They make a great team.

F) Wait, what are we talking about?

8. While watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I thought:

A) This is another well made film by Peter Jackson.

B) The fight scenes were exciting and the effects were amazing!

C) Did everyone in New Zealand work on this movie?

D) Orlando Bloom is the prettiest elf of them all!

Please pass your papers forward. I will grade them sometime between Friday and never.

Z is for Zombie, that’s good enough for me!

World-War-Z-header

WORLD WAR Z (2013)

Director: Marc Forster

Starring: Brad Pitt, Marielle Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokoena

Plot: In your head, In your head, Zombie! Zombie!

Rating: PG-13 for violent zombie rampages that aren’t gory enough to warrant an R rating.

 A zombie apocalypse? No thank you. Count me out compadre. No siree-bob.

Why? They’re noisy, frightening, and disgusting and nothing good ever comes from them. Basically  a zombie apocalypse is like the Coachella Music Festival minus the hippies.

But when a global pandemic turns everyone into bloodthirsty zombies, you’ll be glad Brad Pitt is on your side and not me.

Trust me. I don’t do well under pressure. I burst into tears when Starbucks is out of Cranberry Orange Scones.

On a beautiful morning in Philadelphia, retired United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is having breakfast with his beautiful wife and daughters, who are also by some amazing coincidence beautiful too!  Their perfect TV commercial family world is blown to heck when a mysterious viral outbreak rumbles through Philadelphia, turning normal citizens into violent bloodthirsty maniacs with a taste for human flesh. And no, I’m not talking about Phillies fans, I’m talking Zombies!

And these aren’t the usual shuffle along at one mile an hour zombies you see in the movies – these are the stampede at you full speed and climb up buildings to get to you zombies which is totally unfair for a guy like me who can barely break the 20 minute mile on the treadmill.  So I guess slowpokes like me are zombie food before the opening credits are over. Great, a zombie and I’m in Philadelphia. Not sure which is worse.

Anyhoo, Gerry and his family manage to escape Philly and head for the safety of Newark New Jersey, where the zombie outbreak has also taken place, but very few people notice. Luckily, Gerry puts a call to his best buddy, UN Deputy Secretary Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) who picks up the Lane family in a chopper and takes them to a Navy ship in the ocean where the remnants of the United Stated government are trying to figure out how to stop the zombies while voting on who is the next secretary of transportation.

And so Gerry begins a one man journey to find out where the zombie virus originated and how to stop it before the entire world is destroyed. He heads to South Korea, where there are zombies and some clues to the origin of the outbreak, then to Jerusalem where there are more zombies and more clues, then finally to a remote World Health Organization lab in Cardiff where he figures out a cure, but the ingredients to the cure are in a sealed off section of the compound which are surrounded by – wait for it – zombies!

World War Z moves along at a pretty urgent pace as Brad Pitt tries to stay one step ahead of the zombie hoards that are engulfing the planet. The movie hints of a possible sequel, but since this movie didn’t make a ton of money I’d say this is a one shot zombie apocalypse.

 I’ll say one thing about World War Z:  With the entire world in flames and society as we know it collapsing it’s good to know that the airplanes are still running frequent flights around the globe. Of course, you and I aren’t superstars like Brad Pitt, so if we had to fly across country to stop a zombie apocalypse there’s a really good chance we’d have to change planes in Denver and have at least a two hour layover in Atlanta.

Why is it always a layover in Atlanta?

If You Build It, Everything Will Be Awesome!

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THE LEGO MOVIE (2014)

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, and Will Ferrell

Synopsis: Everything is awesome.

Rating: PG for Lego type violence and brick on brick action.

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that shakes the very foundation of your being and rocks you to your very core.

The Lego Movie is such a movie.

What exactly makes The Lego Movie such an exceptional standout in a sea of lesser movies?

Is it the wonderful visuals? The funny voice work by a very funny cast? The perfect blending of story and humor with a thoughtful message about learning to put down the instruction manual from time to time and follow your own path?

Nope. it’s the Legos.  Every movie should have Legos. And every movie that has been made would be better if it had Legos.

The Hunger Games? Decent movie. The Hunger Games with Legos? Super awesome!

Jaws? Great movie. Jaws with Legos? Boom.

R.I.P.D? You know what, let’s skip that one…

If you haven’t seen The Lego Movie yet, then for Heaven sake screw it together and buy a copy! I mean, here’s a brief synopsis lf this charming tale of fun and adventure:

In the all Lego universe, happy go lucky Emmet (Chris Pratt) happily goes about his life in the city of Bricksburg, getting up early, driving safely, and doing his construction job with a positive attitude and a smile on his face.  One day Emmet catches the pretty and mysterious Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) snooping around the construction site, and while chasing her discovers the mysterious Piece of Resistance, an object that has been prophesized to save the Lego universe.

Now Emmet the ordinary becomes Emmet “The Special,” the being destined to stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who wants to used his Kragle superweapon to freeze everyone and everything in the universe.

I know what you’re thinking – is Emmet truly “The Special?” Well…maybe. Not quite. Sort of. Not really. But thankfully he has a team of Master Builders in his corner to help guide our goofy but lovable protagonist along to find his courage and train him to become The Special. They are the aforementioned Wyldestyle, the mysterious blind wizard Vitruvious (Morgan Freeman) who offers all kinds of wisdom and advice, and superhero extraordinaire Batman (Will Arnett) who offers no help whatsoever.

Emmet and his pals travel from one amazing Lego world to another, trying to stay one step ahead of Lord Business and his Super Secret Police which is lead by Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), a cop with personality issues. Can Emmet become a Master Builder and put an end to Lord Business’ plans to really mess up Taco Tuesday?

The Lego Movie is a glorious, enjoyable action fantasy with lots of humor and a heartwarming ending.  If you watch this movie and aren’t charmed down to your shorts by this movie, we can no longer be friends.  Seriously, I will un-friend you on the spot if you don’t love this movie. This is what it’s come down to. I am drawing a line in the sand here compadre.

But I wouldn’t worry. You’re going to love The Lego Movie, and we’re going to be friends for a long, long time.  Can I crash at your place for a few weeks?

 

Home Is Where The Kicking Is!

homefront-movie-review-jason-stathamHOMEFRONT (2013

Directed by: Gary Fleder

Starring: Jason Statham, Izabela Vidovic, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Clancy Brown, James Franco

Plot: An ex-DEA guy moves to a quiet town with his daughter and runs afoul of some meth dealing rednecks and killer bikers who are just dying to get their asses kicked because the ex-DEA guy is Jason Statham!

Rating: R for bad language, a little sex, meth cooking, and a glorious amount of kicking and punching!

I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I don’t know much about it. I know they celebrate Mardi Gras, shiny beads are valued currency, and vomiting in the streets is encouraged.

New Orleans is in Louisiana, another place I know very little about except from what I’ve learned from the various movies I have seen.  According to action/thriller type movies Louisiana is one giant swamp. Seriously, the swamp is everywhere! Also, just about everyone in Louisiana lives along the swamp in a decrepit old shack with a rickety porch. Rich people live in giant mansions or plantations that are pretty but still in a swamp, so they’re “swamp pretty.” Oh, and there are alligators everywhere, because in the opening credits of every movie set in Louisiana they have a shot of a giant gator slithering into a murky swamp.  But the most important thing I’ve learned about Louisiana from the movies is that the people who live there are vicious bunch of greasy loons who don’t own shirts with sleeves that really hate you and want to kill you.

And I thought New Jersey was unpleasant in spots.

Okay, I’m sure the real life Louisiana is a wonderful place. But movie Louisiana is a rough and terrifying place, especially if you’re Jason Statham and you just moved into town with your daughter like in the movie Homefront.  I mean, how can you hope your kid will make honor roll this year if murderous meth addicted rednecks want to kill you? It’s the worry of every modern day parent I’m sure.

Undercover DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) has infiltrated a biker gang that is about to make a meth deal so huge Walter White would flip his pork pie hat. But since this is a movie, Broker’s cover is blown and the deal goes to heck, leading to a massive gun battle which kills several cops and bikers and leaves Broker with a death mark on his head by the gang’s leader Danny T (Chuck Zito) who really hates going to jail when his drug deals go wrong.

Two years later, Broker (now a widower) has moved to a small Louisiana town with his cute daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovoc) hoping to put the violent DEA years behind him and have a life that doesn’t involve pretending to be a greasy biker.  Their awesome Daddy-Daughter time is short lived when Maddy kicks the crap out of a bully one day in the schoolyard.

The bully’s Mom Cassie (Kate Bosworth), the queen of the greasy meth addicts demands revenge, and when her equally greasy husband nearly gets his spleen handed to him when he picks a fight with Broker, Cassie calls upon her brother Gator Bodine (James Franco) to bring to bring balance to their white trash world by killing the brooding stranger and his pretty daughter.

It turns out Gator is also the local meth dealer who has the sheriff in his pocket and evil on his mind.  When Broker easily dispatches two of Gator’s thugs at a gas station (seriously, would you take a swing at a a brooding bald guy with a “I love beating people to death” bumper sticker on his truck?), Gator breaks into Broker’s house and discovers files that reveal Broker’s secret undercover past.

With his newfound information, Gator contacts his girlfriend/meth business partner Sheryl (Winona Ryder, seriously) who happens to know the biker gang that Broker infiltrated years before because she used to be a meth addicted biker whore before she became a meth addicted drug dealer. Hey, everyone chases success in his or her own way.

Sheryl informs Danny T she knows where his old buddy Broker is hiding, hoping to leverage this info into a mega south eastern drug distribution deal for her and Gator’s meth business. But wouldn’t ya know it, dangerous meth dealing bikers just can’t be trusted, and Danny T dispatches a hit squad led by the sadistically greasy Cyrus (Frank Grillo) to kill Broker, Maddy, and probably Sheryl and Gator if they don’t go along with the plan.

It’s a home invasion of the hillbilly kind as the evil bikers attack Broker’s house with more firepower than your average Marine platoon. But since the home belongs to action hero extraordinaire Jason Statham, a man who kicks the crap out of more people before breakfast than you do before a million breakfasts, you know little Maddy is going to have a safe place to call home when the smoke clears.

Hopefully the house is still standing.

Homefront is by no means an original movie – there have been lots of films featuring a hero up against bad guys who run the town – but the final five minutes of the movie are well worth the rental, particularly if you’re not a fan of the sometimes off putting James Franco. I won’t spoil it for you, but Jason Statham does to Franco what millions of people wanted to do to him after his dreadful co-hosting of the Oscars in 2011.

Thanks Jason. We owe ya one.

 

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