NerDFW Podcast Episode #14

You know, I never would have thought that I'd have the opportunity to say this again so soon, but the NerDFW Podcast is back!

Just kind of came out of nowhere, one month we're talking about wanting it back, then boom, Jason and I are sitting down recording. Moreover, we've got plans to sit down again next month or the month after, whatever works out better content-wise. But yes, we are back, and we're gonna keep things moving.
Without further adue...


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The boys are back in town. I mean, they never left...but they are back for this long awaited Episode 14 of the NerDFW Podcast. This time they will spoil everything, from Thor: Ragnarok, Stranger Things, and the futures of Marvel, 21st Century Fox, Pacific Rim, and the Nintendo.

Again, the is SPOILER HEAVY, so listen if you dare...but it's damn good to be back.

Find Episode 14 here at our NerDFW Podcast Feedburner.
You can also find Episode 14 of the NerDFW Podcast on iTunes.


Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

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Reviews: Star Trek Beyond, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad

I've got another hot set of reviews up for y'all. As always, I'll do my best not to get into plot details and whatnot, but

SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

You have been warned, so let's proceed.

Star Trek Beyond

The third installment of the "Reboot Series", this time was directed by Justin Lin, best known for directing the 3rd through 6th films in the Fast and Furious franchise. The big elements I see being drawn from his work are films that are high energy and very character driven, good elements to bring to the Star Trek franchise. The more interesting note for me was that Simon Pegg was one of the writer's of the screenplay. That's interesting for me because, while I would consider him on my list of favorite actors, I wouldn't count him among my favorite writers, given his work on this film.

This movie felt like it was written by a Star Trek fan. Is that a compliment? If I had said that the movie felt like it was written for Star Trek fans, then I feel like it would have been a compliment. It felt like Simon had taken all the best plot devices and stories that he had grown up with, spun them a bit, and crafted them into this movie. If they were trying to retell a very specific conflict, like the Wrath of Khan, it's alright then that it feels familiar, because it's supposed to. If it's a completely new expedition, as was promised, it shouldn't feel so familiar.
And that is my complaint right there...not that it didn't pack as much action as was needed, not that the acting was bad, not that the graphics or the music were sub par...it was that what was supposed to be the first genuinely new adventure for the reboot crew felt familiar.

They focused on a lot fewer characters this time around. The majority of the Enterprise crew didn't get a lot of action...hell Uhura didn't get more than a hand full of lines. I don't think she had more than 5 minutes of screen time. The focus this time was more around Kirk, Spock, Scotty, McCoy, the new white colored alien chick, the BBEG, and a few of his cronies. Sulu and Chekov got a little more play than other minor characters, but it was really downplayed. That's really unfortunate...R.I.P. Anton Yelchin. Another tragic death in a year when so many lives and careers like his have been cut so very short. I can't wait for 2016 to be over so that we can stop losing so many great entertainers.

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I can't really cut this movie too deeply. They did everything right...they just could have put a plot together that didn't pull so much from the shows, or just the other two movies. I mean, another BBEG with some kind of super weapon? Come on...get a bit more original. And, the motorcycle...what the hell was with that. That's not really much of a spoiler, but yea, there's some kind of ridiculous motorcycle scene.

Anyways, good movie...that could have been a great movie. Flashy lights, pulse pounding speed and action, characters deeply staring into the eyes of another, obligatory Rage Against the Machine song...good movie.

Star Trek Beyond
3 out of 5 stars

Jason Bourne

I don't know if Jason Bourne, the character... not Matt Damon the actor, but the character...was thrilled about "being back". He was given some immensely compelling motivation to take on this last fight, but I still felt like, at any given moment Bourne could have said, "No, I'm done, just leave me alone." The whole movie, he was on the verge of not giving a fuck. The only exception to that being the first 15-30 minutes or so of the movie, where he was exactly at zero fucks given.
I don't know exactly how much that has to say about director Paul Greengrass, but he's directed the bulk of the Bourne franchise(excluding Bourne Identity and Bourne Legacy), so he probably knows the character about as well as anyone does.

I also feel like this movie didn't have a lot of room to breathe. It's action on top of action on top of action. Every now and then we get a break to see what kind of action plan the CIA is putting together against Bourne and who he's trying to protect/ally with, but the action is pushing things forward.

I think part of the reason that Jason Bourne himself looks so ready to throw in the towel, is that he is just looking old. Don't get me wrong, he's still as buff and trim as a middle-aged black-ops agent ought to be who is still out in the field...but he's pushing greys. I'm aware that it's been 9 years since The Bourne Ultimatum was released, but does Jason Bourne ever get to settle down, or is he destined to become Jasold Brittle?

The Bourne Identity - 2002

The Bourne Identity - 2002

The Bourne Ultimatum - 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum - 2007

Jason Bourne - 2016

Jason Bourne - 2016

Given, thousand yard stare, but does that look like someone that would still be a threat in the field? Okay, yea, he'd still put my balls in my throat too. Moving on.

The new talent brought in does a lot to freshen up a franchise that is starting to get some mothballs. Tommy Lee Jones plays the unsympathetic and unfeeling CIA head honcho that is the latest tasked with the question of what to do about Bourne once evidence of him resurfaces. I don't feel like this was a much different performance than what he put on as "K" in Men In Black. You know...he's "seen some shit", so nothing really seems to emotionally affect him that much.
Alicia Vikander on the other hand, they write her in as being relatively green, as far as field work is concerned. Well, unless she's had some kind of special ops training(entirely possible), I'd expect a bit more alarmed of a reaction when shit starts to hit the fan than this...

Alicia Vikander's character looking concerned.

Alicia Vikander's character looking concerned.

That is literally the most alarmed I remember her looking all movie long.
Can we stop putting pretty girls in films just for the sake of looking pretty(Yea, I know, had to check, manhood is still attached)? I mean, if a person has some acting chops, by all means...act. But if we're just bringing in eye candy for the sake of having eye candy...I think we can find someone better. Supermodels don't always make the best actors, nah mean?
Sorry to put you on blast Alicia. It's not that I didn't enjoy your acting, but I just found myself wanting more fairly often. We cool?

This is still a very faithful Bourne movie; espionage, political cover ups, black-ops badassery, vehicular mayhem, and teams of people parked in front of computers in a war room that are continually flabbergasted. It's still a Bourne movie, but the franchise is just starting to strain itself and show its' age.

Jason Bourne
3.5 out of 5 stars

Suicide Squad

I am about to offend a lot of people, I'm sure...but I must do this.

Now, I think I managed to stay away from spoilers on my first two reviews, but I don't know how well I can do on this one, so if you really don't want to have anything ruined for you, and you really want to go into this movie with any kind of optimism...I'd be very hesitant to read any further. So...at your own risk...

When I first walked out of the theater after seeing this, I was relatively alright with what I had just seen. The longer I think about it though, the more and more I pick it apart, and my opinion of it wanes. Where do I begin...let's start with the thing that has received the most criticism, the Joker.

This iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime seems to most closely mirror the Joker from the animated series. The biggest mistake that most want to call out here is Mister J's relationship with Harley Quinn. In almost any iteration of the lore you can find, Harley Quinn is head over heals in love with, and infatuated with the Joker...the man that broke her and built her back up in his own image. From the Joker's perspective however, she is respected just about as much as any of his capable henchmen, but there is no love there...no infatuation. If he lost Harley, we might receive a short sentiment of despair or the like, but the Joker would move on. He certainly wouldn't pine for her, or move mountains to get her back.

That is one of the big areas where most want to say that Suicide Squad failed on the Joker, but I'm also aware that while they were trying to respect their source material, they were trying to do something new with the Joker.
No one has tried to recreate the performance that has preceded them. Jack Nicholson's take was very original, Heath Ledger took it too a dark new place, and Mark Hamill certainly wasn't looking to Cesar Romero for inspiration. Every new Joker has been a new take, so why are we judging Jared Leto's performance so hard for branching away from other sources in such a small way?
I won't say that it didn't bothered me, but it isn't something that I can really judge this movie for...for trying to be original.

In that same vein though, something that I do want to judge, is the use of tattoos on the Joker, which from everything I have heard is mostly the influence of David Ayer. This pulled the Joker as a character out of the movie so much for me. They are so self-referential, like on a Deadpool level. It's like this version of the Joker is aware of his own lore in our, the viewer's world, and is trying to connect with that lore through his tattoos.
Besides, I feel like a psychopath like him wouldn't express himself through tattoos...through art. I'd expect scars self-harm a lot sooner than I would expect the tattoos.

The only other character gripe I have is with Slipknot.
Now, I've danced around a lot of story element with this review so far, but I am about to straight up SPOIL some shit right here, so it you really don't want to know...I'll let you know when it's safe.

***SPOILERS***

Slipknot

Slipknot

Slipknot is a glorified plot device in this movie. He never gets properly introduced until the group is gearing up to go on mission. At which point they have him punch the fuck out of a female correctional officer for "mouthing off" to him. I felt like that was kind of an obvious foreshadow...turning the audience against him so that when he promptly dies to illustrate to the rest of the crew that they do indeed have bombs in their heads...no one so much as sheds a tear for him.
I didn't know much about Slipknot, but I'm sure he deserved better.

Oh, one more tiny thing before I drop the Spoilers flag...Katana...

Katana

Katana

In much the same way that they introduced Slipknot, right as the crew is leaving, Katana walks up and Rick Flagg says to the group something like, "Oh by the way, this is Katana...she has a sword that collects souls...she'll be watching my back." and everyone briefly sizes her up, shrugs, and moves on. And oh by the way, it doesn't get any better for her as the film goes on. After she is introduced as a glorifiedbodyguard for Flagg, the rest of the group is made clear after Slipknot gets the axe, that if Flagg dies, Waller will kill them all anyways. So everyone, really, is incentivized to keep Flagg alive anyways...Katana is a meaningless character in this movie...and I hate saying that, because I'm really like her as a character. This movie just uses her incredibly poorly.
So in essence, they spent time going into virtually everyone's backstory, Rick Flagg and Amanda Waller included, but Slipknot and Katana completely got the shoehorn treatment. As if they were a complete afterthought in the movie.

***/SPOILERS***

There was another scene that was just so poorly written, that it needs to be called out. I won't go into specifics, so as not to spoil anything, but it involves a notebook...with secrets in it. This notebook, after a series of small calamities is left laying out in the open, where one of our main characters finds said notebook, turn to precisely the right few pages to find some knowledge, and then proceeds to drop that heavy knowledge on the rest of the crew in a big, "Really?! This is why we're here?!" type scene.
They could not have been more obvious and deliberate about how that scene unfolded. Sloppy writing...resulting from hasty revisions that tried to balance the wants of the studio and the wants of the director.

I've got to go back to characters, because there is so much wrong with so many of them. Some of them they got right, and I will get to that, but I'm on a train of thought here, and don't want to abandon it yet, so...

Diablo

Diablo

Diablo was a character that they tried to inject a lot of drama and heartbreak into his backstory, but I failed to really connect with it, because of how sparsely they used himthroughout the film. When he finally did something impactful more than three quarters of the way through the film, it still didn't resonate with me at the end of the movie. Poor use of the character, not a bad character himself.

Killer Croc

Killer Croc

Killer Croc on the other hand was just a bad character. He had very few lines, and of the few that he had...he was just a black stereotype. Of note, he calls most girls shorty(if not all, can't remember at this point), and has a funny request involving BET. Other than that, he is brutish, scaly, and doesn't contribute all that much to the team. This was a waste of a character, especially considering how many characters they tried to jam together in this movie anyways.

Captain Boomerang

Captain Boomerang

I actually have nothing bad to say about Captain Boomerang. I thought he was hilarious, and a great addition to the team. My problem was with how little time they actually gave to him to shine. He only had like 2 or 3 really great moments, and in my mind they were probably some of the best spots of the film...but they were so short lived.

Enchantress/June Moone

Enchantress/June Moone

This character suffers from the same problem that Alicia Vikander's character did in Jason Bourne; pretty faces don't necessarily correlate to good acting chops. It looks like the majority of Cara Delevingne's career has been as an English model, and only broke into acting in the last 5 years or so...and it shows. Cara would do well to find herself a seasoned acting coach, because everything about Enchantress/June Moone fell flat. I am slamming this performance, and I hate to do it, because this character had so much potential. The arc that Enchantress/Moone follows is actually a pretty cool one, but Cara just did that arc no justice. I never saw Paper Towns, and I know that one performance is not much to really judge on, but this was just pretty weak.

Now I tell you about what I feel this film did well, and some of this honestly surprises me.

Deadshot/Floyd Lawton

Deadshot/Floyd Lawton

That's right...they did Deadshot well. I'm not going to go into how a black guy pulled off playing a dude named Floyd, but it worked. I wanted to hate this Will Smith version so much, especially because I loved the version from Arrow so much...but Will did well. I can even forgive some of his cheesy dialogue. I can't hate Will Smith's Deadshot, I like it, and that's all that needs to be said.

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn

Despite the numerous issues I found with Leto's portrayal of the Joker, I can't really pick many faults out for Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. Really the only thing I might fault is how hyper-sexualized the made Harley. How would they not though with Margot Robbie behind the hair dye, and how am I really going to complain?
I think she nailed all of Harley's mannerisms...the bubble gum fun-loving psychotic criminal cheerleader lived through her. Her New England accent was perfect, as well as all the "Mr. J"s and "Puddin"s she packed in there.

Sigh...this movie had so much potential, but it's faults were numerous and glaring. I initially left this movie wondering what I had just been through...trying to decide whether I was entertained by what I just saw, or not. It shouldn't be hard to be mindlessly entertained by a summer blockbuster action movie, but I sit here now still on the fence about it.

Suicide Squad
2.5 out of 5 stars

You stay classy San Diego...or, you know, wherever.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open,

Reviews: Warcraft, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Now You See Me 2

On the podcast, it was always hard talking about new movies, because we were always having to tiptoe around spoilers. Of all the horrible things that can come from the internet, and I've talked about playing a few games of "just the tip" with the deep web, nothing rates quite as high on the hate list as spoilers...or at least the people doing the spoiling with little to no warning. It's hard not to be that guy. A few minutes is hardly a lot of advanced notice to give, and we can't exactly tell you where to resume listening if you want to skip ahead.

Audio is tricky. Text is easy. All you have to do is go big and bold, and maybe say something like

SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

...and everyone easily gets the point.

Right? Does everyone get the point? Thought so...so without further ado, on with the show!

Warcraft: The Beginning

I'm going to preface this by saying that I have a strong bias; I've never played Warcraft or World of Warcraft. I had no idea going into this movie who any of the notable characters are in the series, what the idealogies are, or what any of the big caveats are of the games. It was clear that some knowledge of the universe in which this exists was a prerequisite to seeing this. Lothar...Durotan...Khadgar...Gul'dan... ...I spent the whole movie getting these characters confused, as character development seems to have been left largely in the hands of the game makers, who were far removed from the production of the film it seems.

As much as I can gather, this movie is the preface for where the original Warcraft game picks up. Before there was the war between the Alliance and the Horde, there was the Gate, bridging the two worlds of Draenor and Azeroth, fueled by a dark magic called Fel. The Orcs face extinction, as their home world of Draenor slowly dies, and the races of Azeroth now face the wrath of the Orc Horde as they try to claim a new home using the only form of negotiation they know...War.

This is as much as I've managed to gather about the lore of Warcraft from the film, and...I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there...I didn't like it. But, my reasons are obvious, so let's see if I can be objective about this.

My gripe primarily was with the lack of developing the characters, and establishing lore. This was definitely intended as a movie for existing fans of the Warcraft franchise, that already are firmly rooted in its adage and legend.
This movie wasn't made to bring in a larger fanbase, it was more made to cater to its already established fanbase, in my opinion anyways. And while I'm sure this will make some new fans of the franchise, this is a fan service movie.

The special effects were actually very good. I mean, this is CG dominated movie, so it kind of has to be. I think computer graphics haven't gotten to the point now though that that shouldn't even need to be a call out, but it's still something that means a lot to me. It's attention to detail.

The story, once you can finally get your head around it if you're uninitiated to the tribe, is pretty solid. A tale of multiple betrayals, the fall of a hero, the rise of a villain, and the genesis of a franchise.

The action is decent; magic and swordplay throughout. The biggest sets of armor I have ever seen, huge weapons, and large colorful spells. It's good.

The acting felt a little forced. The guy that played Lothar especially; he was all over the place with rage, macheesmo, and disdain. He couldn't find a tone that suited the character, so role had kind of a bipolar feel to it. And Medivh...could we please find a deific character type that has more ab and less flab? Also, someone that didn't look like they just did a line of coke in the green room. Not making accusations, just stating an opinion.

There was one saving grace on the acting/casting side...

Paula Patton is just...she's a lot of yes. Okay, her performance was a bit flat, but I believed more in her character than Lothar.

So, in summary...lacking in a broad audience appeal, and the acting/casting felt hollow, but the story and the visuals held it up quite a bit.

Warcraft: The Beginning
3 out of 5 stars

X-Men: Apocalypse

This is the third installment since they more or less rebooted the franchise with X-Men: First Class. Never mind that Days of Future Past went about crossing two alternate timelines with two sets of actors, and one of the most convoluted plot lines I've seen yet, I'm still counting it as a prequel movie.

Anyways, without giving away much more than what the TV ads did, One of the first of mutants, that lived back in the time of pharaoh era Egypt has been awoken...and he is pissed. En Sabah Nur is the name of this big baddie, reawakened back in the 80s(approximately 10 years past the events that changed the future in Days of Future Past)...and he is looking to rid the world of its'...weaknesses. Where his resistance was minimal in the past, he now has the X-Men to contend with.

We see the reintroduction this time of some of the X-Men staple characters; Scott Summers(Cyclops), Ororo Munroe(Storm), Jean Grey, and even Jubilee finally gets some face time. The only other character that is new to the silver screen is Psylocke(Ok, yes. She was in Last Stand, but I don't think she even had a speaking role, let alone screen time totalling more that 5 minutes, so :p ). Olivia Munn has been a long time favorite for me, so seeing her get the chance to suit up and be a badass is I feel a long time coming for me.

Now, the complaints I hear most about this movie are that En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse is not how he should be. Early renderings released to the public had him looking a lot like Ivan Ooze from the original Power Rangers movie.

They ended up making him a bit darker and a bit more ominous, but the theater version really wasn't all that different.

So yea, many didn't feel like Apocalypse lived up to looking like the badass that he was in the comics. Don't let that fool you though, he is still one of the most powerful mutants I have seen displayed in the movies, and I don't even know what the extent of his powers are.

Ok, brass tax. The action is the most intense I've see in any X-Men movie, and I'm including the first three with Patrick Stewart as the Professor and Ian McKellen as Magneto. The whole world is thrown into chaos. Everyone that can fight makes it out to the battlefield in this one, Charles even goes up against Apocalypse, one-on-one. Top marks as far as I'm concerned.

The casting was also great for me. Regardless of what you think about the visual look of Apocalypse, Oscar Isaac played that role like a fiddle. I've already expressed my approval of the "rebooted" cast of regulars, and they did not disappoint at all. McAvoy I think, is becoming the definitive Charles...I think he's at Patrick Stewart's level. And I mean no offense to Ian McKellan, none whatsoever, but I think that Michael Fassbender brings so much more intensity to the role of Magneto.

Don't even get me started with Mystique. I think you all know that I've got a thing for Jennifer Lawrence.

Just...yes. I mean...hngh. The thirst is strong.

The new guys killed it too. Scott Summers and Jean Grey felt as young as they ought to, and seeing them at that point when their powers were still out of control was really cool.

This is X-Men, so mentioning the graphics is kind of a moot point...of course they're spectacular.

The story is, well, same thing, different spin. It's up to them to save the world. It's not from a super mutant trying to start World War 3, or from there own pasts this time...but from a super mutant from the past that wants to bring about the apocalypse. Original concepts. 

All things considered, I thought this was a good summer movie. It's not going to win an oscar anytime soon, but it was a good couple of hours worth of eye candy.

X-Men: Apocalypse
3.5 out of 5 stars

Now You See Me 2

Right off the bat, this is going to be a hard sell. The obvious assumption going into this movie is that it is a film about magic. Going into this expecting what you got out of The Illusionist or The Prestige...will leave you very disappointed. The same can be said about the first one. Everyone said about the first movie that, if you instead went into it expecting more of a heist movie, that you would feel a lot better walking out that you got your monies worth.

::Sidebar:: Is that a real word, monies? Or is that something that greasy gangsters made up? Like irregardless. It doesn't feel real. ::/Sidebar::

So, the expectation might be then, that with the second movie here with the same thought that it might be a heist move...that our expectations might be much better managed.
Well, maybe...and maybe not. Is there magic...yes. Is there a heist...yes. You'd still be missing quite a bit, but I'm not about spoilers here, so there's not much more to say. I guess what I can say is that there are aspects of revenge, and secret societies at play here, and you're getting pretty close to the whole picture.

Meat and taters. A lot of what makes up the "4 Horsemen's" arsenal of magical tricks is misdirection and slight of hand. So, this is not largely an effects driven movie. Given that, what is used feels very situationally appropriate, and not blown out and overly flashy.

The casting/acting is a bit anomalous for me. I feel like most of these actors are typecast into certain situations.

Jessie Eisenberg: A pretentious know it all, and usually someone I quite dislike.
Dave Franco: A brainless, frat boy like partier.
Woody Harrelson: Adorexic, aloof, uncaring, and often time stoned.
Isla Fisher: Bubble headed, sex driven, and naive.

Well this time Jessie Eisenberg does end up in this same type of roll, but not in a capacity that makes me dislike him...Franco actually has some wit and charm in his character...Harrelson seems caring, concerned, and motivated...and Isla Fisher...has been replaced. Filling her perky, plucky, and titular role this time is Lizzy Caplan. I'll go ahead and say it...I usually am a sucker for redheads, but I didn't miss Isla Fisher with Caplan in her place. She added a zany and scatter-brained charm that was missing from Fisher's role in the first film, and I appreciated the inclusion.

Daniel Radcliffe was also given a role as a motivating factor for our Horsemen, and I've got to say...what the fuck is going on with Daniel Radcliffe?

It seems like all the other kids from Harry Potter grew up to be hot and charismatic. Radcliffe though must have drawn some sort of short straw. He now looks like someone's stereotypical uncle pedorapist. He's awkward as crap in this movie.

The plot and arc are where this movie got knocked down a bit the first time around, and it certainly isn't going to get any points back this time. So...

All things considered

Now You See Me 2
3 out of 5 stars

Until next time.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

The Good, The Bad, and the Awesome

Alright fanatics, before I really begin this post, I have a bit of a public service announcement...Wash the absolute crap out of your fruits and veggies!
There has been a bad strain of bacteria going around, called Listeria, that I think I may have just fought off. It's usually a meat and dairy associated bacteria, but it's finding its way around right now on improperly washed fruits and vegetables. I'm pretty sure I just defeated it, because I ate a prepackaged salad from Walmart on Monday, and have been in utter agony from about that time up until late in the afternoon the following Friday. I bet if my doctor knew about it, he could have given me the antibiotics, but was ignorant and just gave me something for the nausea.
Anyways, if you don't want to be laid out and exploding from everywhere, thoroughly wash all your produce you're bringing home.

Enough about the rabbit food, meat and potatoes. I've been out and seen a trio of films recently, and it's time to render my verdict.

Lucy

This one turned out to be a bit of an intellectual thriller, to be frank. I thought that this would be a relatively easy to follow Scarlett Johansson led sci-fi female ass-kicker. The first 30 minutes of it though more felt like a strangely edited documentary through the history of our understanding of intelligence and the evolution of thought and the human brain. And then...enter Lucy. If you've seen any of the trailers for the movie, you know some baddies have put a new form of drug in her stomach, and intend to use her as some kind of drug mule...which all goes awry when the packaging bursts inside her and begins to leak, jump-starting her powers. What follows is an interpretation of what might happen if one were to suddenly and violently unlock all the dormant parts of our brain...interrupted by intermittent bursts of ass-whoopings.
If you're looking for a nice flashy movie to turn off your brain, and vegetate to for and hour and a half, this isn't for you...you're going to need to do a little bit of thinking to follow along with this one. I'm not harping on this, I actually really enjoyed it, the requisite of a little mental give and take to keep the plot moving. This is one of those flicks that might require a second visit to completely wrap your head around, and a second visit I wouldn't at all mind paying.
Lucy - 8 out of 10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Let me preface this by saying that I went into this movie with significantly lowered expectations...like, I went ahead and took my bar and put it on the floor. I still loathed this movie.  I had heard that the original Chris Evans version of Captain America was pretty bad, lowered my expectations accordingly, and ended up kind of enjoying the movie having done so. This new ninja turtles is absolute rubbish. If you loved the ninja turtles as a kid, they have taken everything and completely corrupted it. I had to pay this movie the ultimate disrespect by walking out in the middle of it (I say the middle, it was probably right at the climax, regardless, I was done). Even though I'm not going to give any spoilers, it doesn't matter...they reveal the entire plot line right at the beginning. What I will tell you is that they have perverted the entire origin story of the turtles (MINOR SPOILERS) into some intentional lab experiment, and have turned April O'Neal into some kind of deific spiritual protector (/MINOR SPOILERS). Oh, and as you could have guessed, Megan Fox's acting was absolutely horrid. Will Arnett was no redeeming factor, his performance was good, but he was far from able to save it. Splinter was bad...no other way to say it, just bad. And the Shredder, there was no mystique to him, he was just some poorly developed baddy that didn't get a lot of screen time. The turtles themselves may have been the best part, and I still want to pick them apart. Johnny Knoxville, to his credit, did an amazing job voicing Leonardo. But, he has such a distinctive voice, all I could ever here was the Jackass member talking at us. Michelangelo constantly felt like a stoner. Donatello was the über nerd that was only given one real chance to be a badass, and that lasted all of about 20 seconds. Raphael is supposed to be dark and rebellious and broody, but Jesus, you almost thought that he was the black sheep, the shamed brother by how dejected he constantly acted.
I would love to sack all the blame for this atrocity on Michael Bay, as I've built up his pedestal so much, but he is not the sole contributor to this tragedy. Nickelodeon seems largely responsible for the revamp of the origin story, and the progression of the turtles into their teenage years. I'm so let down by the network, this is what they've become: destroying from my childhood that which I loved. I'm done, time to put this to bed.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) - 1 out of 10

Guardians of the Galaxy

Thank God that turtle movie wasn't the last one I saw over the weekend. I was able to exit this week with a bad taste in my mouth, but then came Guardians of the Galaxy...and it saved my week. There's no two ways around it, this movie was fantastic. Once again Marvel Studios, this time in the hands of Director James Gunn, has put together a big ensemble cast  movie, and fit everyone together correctly. The casting could not have been more perfect. Chris Pratt was fierce and funny, all at the appropriate times. Zoë Saldana was sexy, strong, independent, and driven. Dave Bautista continues the trend of pro wrestlers/fighters showing us that they can bring much more to the table than just a big set of muscles, but acting chops to boot. Bradley Cooper brought Rocket Raccoon to life, and in fact made me love a character that many months ago I swore I would hate. Even Vin Diesel was able to pack loads of variance of tone, empathy, and emotion into the one line that Groot was forced to repeat. His last utterance in the film...So. Many. Feels. Won't spoil it for you, but I'm sure you'll see it and get it. The secondary roles were really strong too, I really wish Michael Rooker had more screen time as Yondu. Lee Pace's Ronan the Accuser was perfectly dark and unfeeling, and Karen Gillan's Nebula... beautifully oozing with crazy daddy issues. Well casted, and well executed, but there was something else that held the entire movie together, and as an audio guy I am so glad to be able to say this...the music was the gravity that pulled everything together. Given embodiment in the form of Peter Quill's tape deck, and his "Awesome Mix" cassette, the playlist of hits from the 80's both serve as Quill's link to his home and past, as well give small plot points, comic relief, transition, and points of celebration throughout the film. The music is its' own character, and a crucial member of the cast. Guardians of the Galaxy is a good laugh, a fantastic voyage, and delicious eye candy for all to love.
Guardians of the Galaxy - 10 out of 10

Alright friends, family, and followers...it's time for me to retreat back behind the veil of the interwebz. I bid you farewell and adieu. Until next time.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

Thank You For Smoking (2006), another great ensemble cast movie.

Thank You For Smoking (2006), another great ensemble cast movie.

Destruction Porn

How's it going friends and followers? Sorry if you were looking for a post last week and I let you down. I've got no energy when I get home in the afternoon, and what energy I do have goes to the fur baby.

It's taken me a while to define my interactions with this puppy, as he is my roommate's and I'm not actually his master. But I'm all he's got for most afternoon, as my roommate gets mostly close-shifts at his job, so I have some mastership over him. This is what I've come up with...This puppy is like a Pokémon that's been traded to me from another trainer, and I don't have the badges yet to control him. And...he has really crappy attacks. Puppy, use your Leer attack on that cat...immediately hides behind me. Puppy, there's a wasp in the casa, use your Fury Swipes...plays with it, it gets away. Puppy, theres a cute girl walking the neighborhood, use your Charm attack...hey, that kinda works!

That, and the weird crap that's been going on at work...I don't really wanna get into it now, I just want to escape, into a good movie or something. Hey, this feels like a good time for a transition.

So, I've seen a couple of movies recently. Godzilla is a little old to talk about right now, but Transformers 4 is still topical, so let's render a verdict on that.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Oh...kay. So, several years after Optimus, Sentinel, and Megatron destroy Chicago in a battle over the transport of Cybertron to our planet, we find ourselves in a world where all Transformers are being hunted down and eliminated. The truces are over.
Any and all Autobots and Decepticons left have gone into hiding. I guess this was done so the could finally release Shia LaBeouf and Tyrese from their contracts with Michael Bay. Our protagonists are replaced with a garage inventor (Mark Wahlberg), his extremely hot and engineering smart daughter (Nicola Peltz), and her Aussie rally racing boyfriend (Jack Reynor). Marky Mark is supposed to be playing a died in the wool Texas boy, but he maintains his ever-present Boston accent. Wahlberg is like Sean Connery in that respect...he'll never do another accent (you remember Connery in "The Hunt for Red October"...yea, very convincing Russian submarine captain with that Scottish drawl).
I'm not going to reveal any plot points that aren't revealed in the marketing for the film, but let's talk about this movie poster that I posted above: Optimus Prime riding a huge dinosaur shaped Transformer. I thought as many of my friends did, that this was going to be an introduction of the "Beast Wars" bots back into the franchise. Nope, it's the Dinobots introduced in the original 1980's show. They were designed as primally strong but intellectually limited back in the show, but were simply described as legendary warriors in the movie. Anyways, once Optimus "tames" the Dinobots and mounts one (pictured above), I lost all sense of the semblance of plot. Actually, I felt like all plot was abandoned in the last film, "Dark of the Moon", and this is just a continuance of this...destruction porn.
Dark of the Moon made an attempt, which I felt wasn't present here. I feel like someone handed Michael Bay a script for Age of Extinction and he was just like, "Psh, nah, let's just blow 70% of the budget on explosions." The other 30%? It probably went to Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, and Stanley Tucci. Thank God for Stanley Tucci by the way...he was the only redeeming factor of this movie.
Alright...I've said my piece, and expressed my disdain for the film.
Transformers: Age of Extinction - 3 out of 10

If I could briefly continue my hatathon on Michael Bay, I saw my first theatrical trailer for the new Ninja Turtles movie while waiting for Transformers to start...

The first thing that occurs to me while watching this, is that the voice acting feels so horribly wrong, especially given what I remember from the original live action movies and the 90's cartoon. Why does Mikey sound like...well, a cholo? And the leader of the 4 brothers, what should be the voice of reason and wisdom...Leonardo...actually being voiced by Johnny Knoxville. Oh Jesus Christ. And William Fichtner as the Shredder. I'm sorry, Fichtner is a great actor, but the Shredder needs to be Japanese and have a martial arts background. Combined with Megan Fox as April, and all the weird crap adorning the turtles themselves...and how about the general monstrous look of the turtles?
[Sigh] I won't lie, I shed a few tears seeing this. I feel like it's destroying my childhood memory of the turtles.
Never forget...

Bay has his heart set on destroying my sense of nostalgia. Our only hope then may lie in the future, and this has been a pretty good summer so far for the box office. Here are the next 3 films I'm looking forward to seeing soon.

Earth to Echo - I know that A) It's only rated PG and most likely geared towards a much younger crowd...and more importantly, B) It is a Relativity Media production, and they haven't had a box office hit since...ever. Seriously, as defined by any movie that earns $100 million or more at the box office, they've never had one, never.
Still, it looks interesting. Thinking I might go and check it out this weekend.

Lucy - The smallest synopsis you could give it is...Scarlett Johansson kicks a lot of ass. Sold. The director is really good at doing the the femme fatale style too, so you know you'll be wanting it up until the second she rips your eyes out (I don't know if that actually happens, so don't take my word on it). Morgan Freeman doesn't hurt the chances of this movie destroying the box office. I'm all in.

Guardians of the Galaxy - Yea, I didn't think I'd want to see this one. I might have even wrote in my last blog how much it's going to suck. I'm coming around though, even for Rocket Raccoon. It looks like there are a lot of good personalities coming together here, including Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper)...kind of seems like Face (A-Team), just really small and furry and with a constant bad attitude. Zoë Saldana as Gamora, what an awesome choice. Marvel is just on top of it's game right now, especially with the success of Cap'n 'Murica 2. 

Alright kids, I'm gonna call it quits. I'll try and get back to you next week, but we'll see what kind of time I get. Till then amigos.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.