Guardians Of The Galaxy vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

guardians-galaxy-movie-previewI have been, for the better part of 4 months, waiting to see “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” It appeared to be EVERYTHING I could want in a movie. It had action, suspense, the Marvel name, action heroes I’d never heard of before, a talking raccoon AND a WALKING TREE?!?! For crying out loud!!!! That sounded AWESOME!!! So…it was with great anticipation that I waited to see “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” For 4 months. After 1 month, I was pretty sure I could wait it out. “Captain America” was a rockin’ good time and I had “Godzilla” and a couple other flicks in between to quell my thirst for the summer blockbuster so…I waited patiently. And then “Godzilla” kinda sucked. And so did “Spiderman.” And “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” was kinda “Eh.” And then I found myself backtracking and watching movies like “Divergent” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2” to kill the time. So then July hit and “GOTG” was EVERYWHERE! It was an ONSLAUGHT of promotion. Even Vin Deisel, the guy VOICING the walking tree character that only says 3 words, was promoting the movie! It was an deluge of promotion and so….when I walked into the theater to FINALLY see this blockbuster that I had waited so long for, it is safe to say I had rather high expectations.

I am happy to report….my expectations were realized. Now…let’s not get too crazy here. “GOTG” is NOT “The Avengers.” That movie is the pinnacle of the Marvel world, in my opinion, and the next Avengers movie has a LOT to live up to. But this little flick, with it’s odd characters and unknown commodities, was the perfect summer movie and it quenched my thirst for something new wrapped up in a familiar package. Let’s be straight up here, shall we? I am a summer blockbuster nut. I LOVE big, bombastic, explosive, fun flicks that get my engine revved up and that make me want to jump around and get all happy and stuff. And this movie made me giddy! All of the 5 main characters are excellent. I loved Chris Pratt as “Star Lord,” an average guy who finds himself wrapped up and a crisis so extreme that he’s forced to become something he’s not. Zoe Saldana is good as the green-skinned beauty, Gamora. If there was one downside to this movie it’s that they set Gamora up as a vicious fighting machine, however we get to see very little of that side of her. Yes…she has her fight moments but I never really could see her as being the lethal warrior that they set her up to be. Dave Bautista is the super strong dude called Drax. He does a fine job and manages to get some laughs. The 2 animated characters are also a pivotal part of the movie with Rocket the Raccoon being the mechanic expert (he can build super cool stuff like MacGyver) and Groot being the loveable but deadly talking, walking tree that literally only says 3 words (and one has to wonder how much Vin got paid to do THAT gig). There are also appearances by Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly & Benicio Del Toro and they all fit the bill.

The plot? Well…it’s all Marvel. And if you know anything about the Marvel Universe right now, it’s all about Thanos. After making a brief appearance at the end of The Avengers, super bad guy Thanos has been all the rage on fan boy websites and comic book chats. Thanos is the destroyer of worlds and apparently he is on a collision course for Earth. The Marvel universe has been laid out in many parts, with Captain America 2 and GOFG being a part of the 2nd wave of films that, I assume, are leading up to “The Avengers 3” sometime in 2017 or 2018 where they will face off against Thanos. Everything that Marvel has done up to this point has been leading somewhere and GOFG continues that effort. Everyone in this movie is after an orb with mystical powers. When Star Lord finds it, it sets up a chain reaction of events that pulls the Guardians together and forces them to work as a team to defend the galaxy against Ronan The Accuser, a henchman for Thanos and a traitor who attempts to take the orb for his own use.

If you love action & adventure in the same vein as “Star Wars” or “Star Trek,” you will undoubtedly love “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” Comparing it to anything else this summer would be a disservice however, considering that a week later, a movie with 4 animated turtles that fight like ninjas and love pizza hit the theaters, I guess it’s what I’m gonna do.

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-movieHere’s the deal…I had ZERO interest in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” when I saw the trailer. I had ZERO interest in EVER seeing it once I heard that Michael Bay was involved with it. And I certainly wasn’t gonna pony up money to see it in 3D. Buuuuuut…that’s exactly what I did when some of my colleagues voted to see it this week. So, begrudgingly, I went. And oddly enough…I had a good time!

What do I know about TMNT? Nothing. Unlike the hours spent scouring the internet and preparing for Guardians Of The Galaxy, I had no idea what TMNT was about. And THAT is probably why I enjoyed it. I went into this movie thinking it was totally gonna suck. And truthfully…there’s a lot of reason why I shouldn’t have liked it. Plot holes, bad dialogue, ridiculous characters, dumb situations. They’re all in this flick. But the funny thing is…unlike some movies that take themselves so seriously (see “Amazing Spiderman 2”), this movie never steps away from what it is…and action adventure for kids. Sure…it DOES have Megan Fox in it. And as a red-blooded American male, I admit that going into it, that might have been possibly the ONLY selling point it had going for it. However I was proven wrong time & time again as the Turtles moved briskly from one set piece to another, fighting their way to the finish line as they faced off against their nemesis, a ninja warrior named “Shredder.” The plot really is kinda simple and silly so it’s not worth mentioning (however there is a similar plot that was used in “The Amazing Spider-Man 1”) but I’m imagining you can kinda figure it out without putting much thought into what happens at the end.

Nevertheless…I found “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to be a really fun time and I actually LOVED the 3D in this film! The animators of the turtles did a fantastic job (they really do look real!) and I was really impressed with the way the animators and director of this movie blended the turtles into the movie. Overall, a decent effort from the Michael Bay camp. For once.

So in the battle of these 2 summer behemoths, I gotta give the edge to Guardians however…if you like your action a little more dumbed down and you happen to like 6 foot talkin’ turtles? Well…ya can’t go wrong there either.

“Guardians Of The Galaxy” Overall Grade: A- (Don’t bother with 3D)

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Overall Grade: B- (DEFINITELY see it in 3D)

Friends With Kids

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What would happen if Harry & Sally had a baby BEFORE they decided to become a couple? This is the premise of this little rom com that was written and directed by its star player, Jennifer Westfeldt. No where nearly as engaging as “When Harry Met Sally,” this film is stuffed full of awkward moments and throughout the entire movie, I was hoping something would happen at the end that might pull it out of the pile of other fluffy films based on similar premises but alas…no.

Julie & Jason have been best buds since college (or maybe high school…whatever) and, as the years have gone on, neither have found their “other.” Meanwhile, their friends have begun to procreate and, with the new cuddle bugs running and screaming and pooping everywhere, their relationships seem to be taking a turn for the worse. This sets the wheels in motion. Why don’t Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) have a baby without getting married? They’re already best friends, they already know everything about each other and, in this way, they don’t have to deal with the lack of romantic spontaneity that seems to come with being married! It’s a great idea! Or is it?

I don’t know what to think of this movie. There are certainly parts of it that are fun and interesting. However much of it is spent spinning its wheels with much wasted talent (Kristen Wiig is simply a name on the marquee in this movie) and very little plot to go on. So much of it is spent trying to over-evaluate if Julie & Jason are making the right decision, could they be good as a couple, yada yada yada, that eventually it wore me down and I found myself just wanting it to end. It’s one thing to be a romantic comedy about friends falling in love. But it’s another thing when the friends are dead set on NOT falling in love and then having to go through the motions of every OTHER rom com in order to get to the end of the movie.

There might have been a decent premise here if they had cut it short by maybe 25 minutes, but as it stands, “Friends With Kids” is simply a retread of several other bad romantic comedies that have been made over the years. With as much talent that was involved (Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd), this should have been a good movie. As it stands, it’s mostly a lot of wasted opportunity with a few cute moments but hardly worth the almost 2 hour running time.

Overall Rating: C-

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

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Megan Fox is in this film. Just an FYI…

I really enjoyed the first Transformers, so after seeing the trailer for this one, I was totally excited! But then the reviews started coming in…and then I was a little worried. But of course I had to go see it for myself on the big screen and I am happy to report…I was not disappointed.

First thing you should know is that it is a very long film. So taking an infant might be an issue. This apparently did not matter to a family who had a child who cried through the entire film in a packed theater on a Sunday night. Also, although this film might seem like a kiddie vehicle (seeing as how it is based on a toy line), it is NOT for kids under 13 (which might be why it’s rated PG-13). There is lots of cussing and violence and some disturbing images.

Okay…so that’s out of the way…let’s get to my review.

The action in this film is SPECTACULAR! The CGI is seemless and the robots and humans interact flawlessly. I was in constant amazement of how Michael Bay created some of the scenes that he did. Most of the battle scenes are some of the coolest since “Lord of the Rings” and the sheer amount of firepower that must have been used during filming is very impressive.

The cast does a great job acting with blue screen because every scene where there are robots and people, it actually seems like they are looking at the Autobots. From Shia LeBouf (who totally sucked in the last Indy Jones film) to John Turturro, everyone plays their part very well. This ain’t “Schindler’s List”, so there is obviously a scale in which to grade for a popcorn flick, and everyone carried their weight in this one. Especially Julie White, who plays Shia’s mom, Jusy Whitwicky. She gets some pretty funny scenes and steals some of the early comedic moments.

Megan Fox is hot.

I could tell you the plot but it is very convoluted and somewhat suspect, so I’ll boil it down to this…the Decepticons are looking to steal our sun and an evil lord known as The Fallen has returned to help in that process. It’s up to Sam Whitwicky (Shia) & the Autobots to stop them. Of course that is the REALLY abbreviated version of it. The film takes almost 20 minutes to tell the same thing that I just did in a sentence, but that’s okay…because I paid $10 to see this film and I could care less as long as there is a lot of explosions and cool robots and battle scenes. The plot is secondary. And in this film, Bay does action sequences like nobody’s business!

Megan Fox is hot.

So my final tally for this summer treat? If you liked the first one, you’re gonna LOVE this one! You can actually SEE the Transformers fight in this film (no more crazy editing like in the first one) and all the robots are awesome! Megan Fox is hot. The pace is set at 11 and everything moves pretty quickly despite the long run time. Oh…and Megan Fox is hot.

Overall Rating: A-