Month: September 2017

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Year: 1993
Directed By: Stuart Gillard
Written By: Stuart Gillard, based of characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

RYAN’S REVIEW

Let’s be honest here, if twice within a year was too much time to invest in Secret of the Ooze then twice in a lifetime is too much for this movie. I haven’t watched it and even skimming over the synopsis of the film seemed like I was over doing it.

Who thought this was a good idea? Even as a little kid I thought this was just ridiculous when it came out and I’m not going to venture into it again to get an adult impression. I remember it from when I was a kid. I’d moved on to X-Men by then and too cool for the Turtles but I still secretly looked forward to it. I didn’t expect much as the movie was obviously full blown shenanigans and I could recognize that even at 9 years old. It was a disappointing experience and probably my first in a derailed franchise that killed itself.

I would go on in time to see many franchises self destruct, some even rise from the ashes like a phoenix to get back on top, but this was definitely the first franchise I saw cave in on itself. Immediate examples that come to mind are Aliens, X-Men, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Terminator, ya know I didn’t think the list would just keep going like that but there have been so many I had to stop myself. X-men would be the phoenix that rose from the ashes of The Last Stand and into the glory that was Days of Future Past. Most franchises fail over time and it’s usually the third movie that takes the nose dive. This movie took a nose dive and hit the ground with a splat.

I’m sure I could watch this movie and come out of it with many interesting thoughts and points of view but I’m eager to start Halloween season. If there exists a time for time traveling turtles then I might find it one day but it isn’t now and and isn’t anytime soon. It’s time for ghosts and ghouls and I’ll close this out simply by saying it probably isn’t worth your time under any circumstance. I didn’t deem it worth mine even for a review.

NEXT MOVIE: TMNT (2007)

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Year: 1991
Directed By: Michael Pressman
Written By: Todd W. Langen, based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

 

RYAN’S REVIEW

OK full disclosure here, I haven’t watched this movie in order to review it. Oddly enough I found myself watching it with my kids sometime within the last six months and I think that gave me a good enough impression to go with. I’m like a freaking adult now, can’t be having two sittings of this movie within six months of one another. That would just be silly.

I distinctly remember this film coming to theaters, I was 7 at the time. There was a contest for coloring a picture of the turtles to get free tickets to the film. I specifically remember how much effort I put into it, not only the easy part of getting all the colors correct but also shading with crayons in a way that could rival my abilities as an adult. I put all the effort capable of a seven year old into that drawing and I was so proud to turn it in. When I got the call that my coloring had been selected I lost my shit. I felt like I had won because I was somehow a superior Turtles fan. I had poured my heart into something, probably for the first time in my life, and I had succeeded at it. Low and behold I realized years later that my dad was the manager of the theater that promoted the competition. A coincidence that can’t be overlooked as one reflects on life experiences.

That charming memory aside I loved this movie through and through when it came out and I saw it in the theater. I thought it far exceeded the original film and captured the humor that the turtles were capable of. Plus there were other mutants in this one! I have always been a fan of Toka and Raza, the capabilities of Jim Henson Creature Shop can never easily be overlooked. These guys were no Bebop and Rocksteady but they upped the ante for the turtles nonetheless.

Yet as I have gotten older I find myself revisiting this film now and again. I find that with each viewing I see more and more childish shenanigans. Things I started out blind to because of my childhood love suddenly started to come into focus. The ninja turtles don’t even really fight in this one. In fact they’re the motherfucking Harlem Globetrotters of combat! How can I knock this guy down without using any actual violence? Hmmmm we’re gonna need more props and gags.

The thing is I no longer know what to think about this movie. I watch this movie now and I want to sit here and tell you it’s garbage. Nothing but juvenile nonsense and it isn’t worth your time. However I have to consider the memories that come flooding back. I absolutely loved this movie when it came out and ignored all flaws for years following. Maybe this is a great movie because it captured me as part of the obvious target audience. Maybe what I think about it now fails in comparison to the magic I saw as a seven year old.

If nothing else this movie continued the turtle story line and deepened their characters. That can’t be said for the third in the franchise. I don’t think this movie was worth my time to sit down and watch again within a certain time frame. Upon deep consideration I would say that it is most definitely worth the time of your preteen child. Even though it is silly I think there is still plenty to like about the film for any Ninja Turtles fan.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Year: 1990
Directed By: Michael Pressman
Written By: Todd W Langen, based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

RYAN’S REVIEW

Like any normal boy in the late 80’s and early 90’s I was a huge Ninja Turtles fan. Those adolescent adjective experimenters were what I lived for. I spent my mornings watching the cartoons and my afternoons reenacting what I saw with my action figures. So in my youth and as a budding movie fan this was a movie I spent a lot of time with. I think it holds up well too after so many other attempts to capitalize on the property. I was raised on this movie and that makes me biased but I would stand by the statement that they have’t been able to match this in 27 years.

This movie is dark and gritty whereas all of the other incarnations are more light hearted and family friendly. In this movie you see the turtles face real danger, there are consequences to their actions, and occasionally they’re going to use mild colorful language. I love that it features kids turning to crime and smoking and stuff. Not because any of that is cool, it isn’t, but simply because it isn’t the kind of thing you would see done so casually in a movie these days.

The tone set by this film didn’t carry on to the sequels and that’s a shame. I think this was a success but the studios wanted something more family friendly thus we ended up with the silly sequels featuring Vanilla Ice and time travel. For this to be the starting point of the franchise I think the execs making the decisions should have considered that their audience was getting older as opposed to younger. When you go from gritty to silly you are only going to disappoint your audience.

I have become a grown up myself in the 27 years since this movie came out and I find that not only do I still enjoy it, but I’m still a sucker for anything Turtles. I have coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, and even a Leonardo action figure sitting on my desk at work. It’s Leo because he was the leader and all the figures that adorn my desk represent some form of leadership. He stands in attack mode next to a Negan sitting on a replica Iron Throne and holding Lucille. They sit below a large picture of Tony Soprano. In that I have Leo as a leader, Negan as a tyrant, and Tony as a boss. Nobody ever puts two and two together or even recognizes that it’s Negan (because it’s a comic toy, not a Jeffrey Dean Morgan PG version of the character) but that’s not the point. They stand in representation for me and I enjoy them.

Leonardo isn’t just any leader but an honorable and just one. He is the one his other brothers look to not only for leadership but for guidance and counsel. When my daughter brought me the action figure as a present one day I couldn’t help but make him a place on my desk where he fit right in with the theme of what was already established.

Despite all the snazzy things they are able to do in the newer films I still hold this one up as the best the any Ninja Turtle movie has to offer. It’s a raw and real movie about the Turtles that utilized animatronics rather than CGI. In this movie they did it the old fashion way, with the legendary Jim Henson company providing the special effects. I actually like the new films but these simpler turtles are still the ones that hold my heart.

I think this movie is worth the time of any Ninja Turtles fan but I think it can reach a wider audience than that. I can’t say this is a movie I have been asked about or spoken to anyone about in more than 20 years but I loved it as a kid and I still enjoy it today. I can’t say they were able to keep my support over the years with subpar sequels but this movie stands on its own two feet.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Team America: World Police

Year: 2004
Directed By: Trey Parker
Written By: Trey Parker and Matt Stone

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was in college when this movie came out and I specifically remember scraping money together for a chance to see it in the theater. Sure I needed every cent, food and expenses being what they were for a broke college kid, but this movie was a priority. All my anticipation and penny pinching was validated when I sat down to see it. I don’t know that I’d ever laughed so hard before and I appreciated the satire in all my adolescent political prowess. I’ve since seen it more times than I can count and I love it more with every viewing.

I think this is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, top 5 all time comedy hands down. The fact that it features puppets only makes it more impressive. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are nothing short of genius. I don’t know why they haven’t made more movies but I really wish they would. This proves it because it’s so unbelievably exceptional. Everything from the dialogue to the music is just perfect, and they did it with freakin puppets!

I am a proud American but I have not always been proud of my countries actions. This movie captures exactly how I felt back when I was involved and I cared. My political feelings aside, I don’t know that anything has ever summed up America quite like this:

It’s the attitude behind it, the inclusion of all things American from Walmart to Disney World. In a nutshell this is the country I have grown up in.

I love this movie. It’s just brilliant how ridiculous and serious it can be at the same time. It so flawlessly captures the ignorance, arrogance, and the entitlement of America as a nation. I love my country, but I can’t help but laugh. It is what it is and when you can’t change it you have no choice but to accept it. As an American though there is one thing you can’t forget…

As much as I love this movie there are two scenes I can’t stomach. Something too disgusting to watch is to be expected from Parker and Stone now and again. The two scenes I can’t and won’t watch are when Gary violently throws up for what seemed like forever because it is just so disgusting. The second is the sex scene. It’s funny at first, these two puppets are getting it on, but then it goes too far. And it keeps going, and when you think it’s gone as far as it can go it gets more perverse. It’s too much, but it’s easy enough to skip those two scenes and enjoy what it otherwise so perfect.

Back in 04 the leader of North Korea was just as crazy as the son is these days but he didn’t get the attention of the Saddams and Bin Ladens of the world. I have always thought it was hilarious that he got the spotlight in this film. Kim Jong un is crazy and has exceeded his father in gaining attention for threatening the world. Long before he rose to power his crazy sire was calling the shots and this movie serves as a great reminder of those times. I actually like this portrayal of Kim Jong il better even than Saddam in South Park. I love the scene when Hans Blix comes to inspect. “Ah no not fucking Hans Brix.” Blix’s threat that the UN will write them an angry letter is hilarious. Kim Jong il is a villain I always feel a bit bad for because..

I think special mention has to go to the people that brought this movie to life. The people behind the scenes that made the puppets and the work of the actual puppeteers who did such fantastic work. I don’t know who any of these people are but they are exceptional talents. I hope there is still work out there somewhere worthy of their skill. My disgust aside, what they were able to accomplish during the sex scene was pretty impressive. I love when things come to fisticuffs as well. The fighting that ultimately looks like dancing around is just hilarious. They are puppets after all and these puppeteers could only do so much to make the magic happen.

Love it or hate it you can’t help but laugh if you give this movie your attention. While there is plenty of truth said in jest you can’t take this movie too seriously or it is wasted on you. Trey Parker and Matt Stone create a lot of controversy, but they are two of the most talented comedians I have ever had the privilege of laughing at. If you somehow miss the boat on these two then you should catch up on your South Park, and give this movie a chance because you will rarely see anything funnier. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart, and I wouldn’t let my kids see it, but for any mature adult that doesn’t have a stick up their butt this is a must see.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

 

 

It (2017)

I really caught the fever for this one. As a huge Stephen King fan I spent the summer looking forward to The Dark Tower only to be deterred by the overwhelmingly bad reviews. I made my own journey to the top of the tower a few years ago and I couldn’t bring myself to make a trip to the theater for a version that would disappoint. So I’ve had an itch that needed to be scratched. All the anticipation left me with an unfulfilled fix I needed for Stephen King. As this movie approached I felt that itch grow more menacing, all my hopefulness and anticipation funneled from The Dark Tower and into It.

I have had really strong feelings about IT since reading the book about ten years ago. It left me so appalled that I even swore off King for a year or so before having my arm twisted into giving him another chance. If you’ve read the book I’ll just say it was that thing in the sewer when they were kids, it was too much for me. If you haven’t read the book then brace yourself before jumping into it, in fact I’ve told people for years that they shouldn’t read the book at all because it was all garbage.

I feel differently now. I realized in all the hype that was building in my mind that lots of things happen in a book ranging over 1000 pages and I shouldn’t discredit the entirety because of one thing that happened. So in the days approaching this film’s release I found myself giving the book a second chance. At less than a quarter into it now I find I have really enjoyed it this time around, I hope that thing in the sewer doesn’t happen this time…

The reviews that came out for this movie were really strong so I went into the theater with great expectations. So much so that I couldn’t even wait to see it and when plans to see the Thursday night premier fell through I was determined to see it at the first opportunity. I tried desperately to find a friend to see it with me at first showing on opening Friday but like most responsible adults they were all going to be at work at 1 PM on a Friday. I settled for going down to the office and basically kidnapping one of my co-workers so I didn’t have to sit in the theater by myself.

I wanted this movie to be amazing, I wanted a real and excellent adaptation of a Stephen King book, and above all I wanted this R rated version to scare me at least a little bit. I think the movie succeeded at all these things. I thought it was terrific and I can’t wait to see it again and really imprint it on my brain and memory.

The movie wasn’t entirely perfect and they made a few changes I didn’t like but it overwhelmingly exceeded all my lofty expectations enough for me to gladly overlook any shortcomings it had. I felt like the movie was a little rushed and would have been happy for it to have been longer for more depth. I also didn’t like most of the story changes but find them all acceptable in the bigger picture. Specifically what bothered me was the changing of Mike and Ben about who actually researched Derry’s past. Nevertheless the movie managed to get that back story into the film despite the limitation a 2 hour and 15 minute running time put on the story.

I loved this cast of young actors and marvel at what they were able to do. I only know Finn Wolfhard by name, because of Stranger Things, but they were all great. Wolfhard in particular as Richie Tozier was nothing short of fantastic any time he was on screen. He played such a different character than we saw on Stranger Things too, showing impressive range for his age. I really liked the kid who played Eddie and the girl who played Beverly. All the kids did a really great job though.

I thought Bill Skarsgard was excellent as Pennywise. I heard it criticized that he didn’t talk enough in the part but I didn’t think the character needed to talk much. I think he had large shoes to fill after Tim Curry’s iconic rendition in the role and it was important that he make it his own. Curry was a very vocal Pennywise while Skarsgard was a more visual. I think the version was particularly great because he had such a playful and horrific quality to him simultaneously. When he comes out of the cabinet all contorted or when he is literally bursting onto the scene he is very scary. He has a very childlike quality to him that makes him scarier.

I like that this movie tried to scare me without simply trying to make me feel uncomfortable. So much that passes for horror these days is simply what can be most shocking and/or gross. I saw plenty in this movie that was scary and didn’t have to resort to such gimmicks as torture porn and gore. This movie earned its R rating with language and content but not necessarily with violence or gore.

I really need to see this movie again before I can really sum it all up and discuss it properly. All I can say now is that I thought it was excellent and I want to see it again. If you find yourself on the fence about it then hop over to the yes side and check it out as soon as you can. I am incredibly excited to see how this movie performs at the box office as it ushers us into Halloween season. This movie is definitely worth your time to go see and it actually lives up to the hype.