Monday, August 11, 2014

What I Really Think: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(Spoilers Ahead)

I’ve been a bit of a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles most of my life.  I liked the original cartoon as a kid, and have kept one eye on the property since then.  Trying to watch the new versions that have come out along the way.  The property has had low and hight points it’s entire life.  There most recent outing is…okay.  

Overall, I enjoyed the movie.  It was fun to watch in the moment but it’s certainly not a good movie.  There were some missed opportunities, and some interesting innovations.  This movie’s base is with the original cartoon.  This is unfortunate, because there have been a lot of interesting story innovations since then that I would’ve liked to have seen used.  

I liked that they connected to the turtle’s history to April’s own.  It’s an innovation that I’m surprised hadn’t been used before.  I’m still disappointed they didn’t find a proper redhead to paly April, but her yellow jacket was a nice node to the original yellow jumpsuit.  April’s O’Neil is one of the aspects that changes the most between TMNT incarnations.  And while I liked the new backstory, April herself wasn’t very interesting.  

The villains are a weak point as well.  The plan doesn’t make much sense, but I could excuse that.  What really pains me is seeing Shredder sidelined to boring side villain status.  His mecha armor wasn’t quite terrible, but it was really over the top.  One of the strengths of the TMNT story, especially over recent years, has been the dynamic and history between Splinter and Shredder.  There was none of that here, they were essentially strangers.  And that just left both of the characters feeling flat.  I really wished they would’ve played up that emotional connection between the two, it could’ve added a lot to the movie.  They didn’t need this whole plot to infect people and then cure them to make even more money. Money is not an interesting motivation for villains.  

The turtles themselves, I liked.  They all had the expected personalities and bounced off each other nicely.  I do feel like Donatello was underutilized though.  I liked the humor Michelangelo brought (as expected).  A little more character motivations and growth would’ve been nice, but as it was okay as-is.  

Overall, I enjoyed the movie.   I would be willing to see it again sometime.  But definitely not a high point for the franchise. 

What I Really Think: Guardians of the Galaxy

(Spoiler’s Ahead)

I went into Guardians of the Galaxy hoping for a humorous and exciting romp and fortunately that’s exactly what Marvel delivered.  This movie is a lot of fun almost from beginning to end (the opening scene is a bit heavy).  The characters were fun and interesting, with Groot and Rocket stealing the show.  Quill was a lot of fun the whole time.  I liked Gamora more than expected.  She was more than just the grim assassin I was afraid we’d get and I like how she’s tied into the larger mythology.  Drax was a bit flat, but overall he worked fine too.  Everyone had their own motivations and for the first half of the movie it’s basically them forced together by circumstance and bouncing off each other.  All of which is a lot of fun.  And that’s pretty much the best way to sum up this movie.  A lot of fun. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What I Really Think: Lucy

I went into Lucy with low expectations.  The meme that people only use some small fractional amount of their brainpower long ago wore thin on me.  The trailers and ads were clear Lucy was embracing this trope wholeheartedly.  So I braced for that fact going in.  I had hoped the action and the exploration of someone becoming super smart and powerful would make up for the weak premise.  Unfortunately it failed to rise above its own weak premise.   

The movie still had its strong points.  The first act is quite good and her getting caught up in this drug deal is very interesting.   The only problem was you already knew from the trailers where all that was going, so there wasn’t really any suspense.  I also liked that her mission became passing on her knowledge.  That’s a good message, but I’m not sure if that’s the message of the movie overall.  The film definitely had a message it was trying to convey, but I’m not sure what it was.  

Unfortunately, I felt like I saw most of the interesting bits of action and her abilities in the trailer.  And I constantly had to choke down my reflex of seeing the science errors in the movie.  Ultimately the movie was predictable and didn’t really have enough interesting things happen along the way.   And the character of Lucy once she becomes smart really doesn’t engender much sympathy.  The concept of someone getting smarter is really interesting, and I think there’s a lot of really interesting concepts to explore there.  But this movie doesn’t explore them.  

I would rate Lucy fairly low on the scale of movies I’ve seen this year.  If you think you’re interested because it looks like some fun superpower action I’d encourage you to think twice before going.