Tag Archives: funny

Rock’s New Comedy Won’t Make Your ‘Top Five’

Top_Five_posterThere is a point at the beginning of “Top Five” when Chris Rock’s character says, “I don’t feel like doing funny movies anymore. I don’t feel funny”. Apparently he accomplished his goal because the movie he’s in isn’t all that funny.

Written, directed, and starring Chris Rock, “Top Five” tells the tale of Andre Allen (Rock), a former comedian who wants to be taken seriously as an actor, all while being shadowed by a journalist (Rosario Dawson) and dealing with the impending wedding with his reality star wife (Gabrielle Union).

Chris Rock is a great comedian, there’s no denying that, and even if he isn’t the greatest actor in the world, he still has produced some funny products the past decade. “Top Five” seems like it should work on paper, with Rock playing almost a version of himself, but it just doesn’t and for a comedy it isn’t that funny.

The cast looks impressive with the likes of Kevin Hart, Tracey Morgan and Cedric the Entertainer all popping up on the poster, but in reality this the Rock and Dawson show, with celebrities stopping by to cameo in one scene. Ironically it is the three scenes with Hart, Morgan and Cedric that each bring a little life and the biggest laughs to the screen, but the moment their characters exit you instantly miss them.

There are some tiny bits of inspired writing from Rock about how maybe we’re too tough on reality stars for having no real talent or how we expect too much from A-list celebrities, but those moments get lost watching scenes that go on for too long or are ruined by an awkwardly out-of-place crude joke.

I kept sitting through “Top Five” waiting and wanting it to pick up momentum and be funny, the kind of funny I know Chris Rock can bring, but it never does, and that is the film’s biggest problem: it is a comedy that just isn’t funny. The film never fully knows what kind of film it wants to be.

It wants to be taken seriously and address a man’s alcoholism? It throws is a montage with Cedric the Entertainer and two prostitutes. It wants to be filled with potty humor? It suddenly flips and makes some characters start a serious argument. Films like “Funny People” perfectly walk the lines of potty humor, drama and genuine laughs, but “Top Five” can’t.

The best part of “Top Five” is when Chris Rock’s character is shown doing standup, which makes sense because these are Rock’s roots. But a few celebrity cameos and a couple smart satirical moments can’t save a film that drags on and then suddenly just ends. I really, really wanted to like “Top Five” more than I did, if not for my sake then for Rock’s, but I could not.

Critics Rating: 5/10

‘Exodus’: The Book Was Better

Exodus2014Poster            Oh, Hollywood. Yet another example of one of your movies being not as good as the book on which it is based.

“Exodus: Gods and Kings” is the retelling of the age-old story about how Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt. Christian Bale stars as Moses, Joel Edgerton plays the Pharaoh Ramesses, and Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley and John Turturro all co-star. Ridley Scott directs.

Earlier this year we got another Bible epic, “Noah”, which was met to mixed responses but I personally enjoyed. Some people complained that director Darren Aronofsky took too much liberty with the story (you know, rock giants, and all), but I was for the most part willing to accept the film for what it was. And when compared to “Exodus”, “Noah” looks like a biblical masterpiece.

There is just so much going on in “Exodus” and almost none of it is done well, and even the parts that are properly executed have been done before and been done better. The plagues are all visually impressive, and we get some engaging bird’s eye shots of ancient Egypt, but I mean it’s 2014; if your film doesn’t have good CGI at this point then you’re well behind the eight ball.

Speaking of the plagues, the direction they chose to take them was interesting. Instead of direct punishment from God, the film places blame on natural causes and chain-of-events, such as the Nile becoming polluted and killing the fish, which led to an overabundance of frogs, and so forth.

The acting in the film is all pretty standard, even with Bale trying his best. He has a few riveting moments as the historical figure, but the script is so flat and the character development is so non-existent that his efforts are wasted.

The film begins with adult Moses and Ramesses going into battle, so we only learn of their relationship as adopted brothers through stories and narration. When Moses returns after nine years of banishment, we do not see how the two brothers’ relationship is strained or how having to become enemies has placed stress on them. The film simply continues to go through the motions.

Ramesses is a one-dimensional character, whom we root against simply because the movie tells us to. By the time the big confrontation at the Red Sea arrives, you feel no real urge to root for his demise or see him or his army defeated (I mean, kind of spoiler, but you’ve had over 3,000 years to read the story).

Finally, the running time of this movie. Oh my God, the run time. To paraphrase “The Social Network”, since this thing started I think I may have missed a birthday. After learning of his true identity, Moses is exiled from Egypt for nine years. In all honestly, it felt like this movie lasted longer than Moses’ banishment. It is so painfully paced and at times uneventful, I brainstormed this whole paragraph while watching the film.

“Exodus: Gods and Kings” has huge ambitions but it showed limited effort to try and meet them. Bale elevates a bland script to the best of his ability, and the plagues and parting of the Red Sea are all good looking, but the film as a whole feels empty, and scenes that should be emotionally stirring range from tedious to almost laughable. I will leave you with an imploration to watch “Noah”, a biblical film that at its height is grand and awe-striking, and at its low is still much better than anything “Exodus” thought it was.

Critics Rating: 3/10

Horrible Accurate Description of ‘Bosses 2’

Horrible_Bosses_2            The moment they announced “Horrible Bosses 2” was a thing I scratched my head. I loved the first film, it remains one of my favorite comedies of all-time, but it just didn’t have substance to warrant a sequel. Then director Seth Gordon said he wouldn’t be returning and he was replaced with Sean Anders. All these were red flags but I held up hope that the returning cast would make this sequel work.

They couldn’t.

“Horrible Bosses 2” follows Nick, Kurt and Dale (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) after they have quit their jobs and started their own business with their invention, The Shower Buddy. When they are scammed by an investor and his son (Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine), they decide their only course of action is to kidnap the son and hold him for ransom (because, duh).

I don’t really know where to start with this film, because it really is disappointing. Comedy sequels are rarely as good as the original (“22 Jump Street” excluded), but I expected “Horrible Bosses 2” to at least have the same tone as the first film. The writers of the original film, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, wrote a draft for this film but when Anders took over as director he and his writing partner John Morris reworked the script (the duo helped on the scripts of the scattershot but very funny “We’re the Millers” and “Hot Tub Time Machine”). Some of the first film’s bite and self-awareness still remain, but most of the jokes now are nothing more than poop and sex gags, which are Anders’ trademark.

The movie is paced in a way that just doesn’t work. It takes a full hour before the trio even discusses the kidnapping scheme, or at least it felt like that. This clearly was not an idea that could carry an entire film, so it was stretched by having an entire subplot involving Jennifer Aniston’s sex-crazed dentist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Jennifer Aniston, but when she starts to fantasize about 14-year-old boys at wrestling camp, you lost me.

Bateman, Day and Sudeikis (whom I love and believe is very underrated) all still have fun chemistry and give and take among each other, and Electro himself Jamie Foxx is back as Dean MF Jones, but they can’t save this sinking ship.

Christoph Waltz is criminally underused as the film’s antagonist (pun intended?), but there’s still something about seeing Hans Landa play a ruthless business man that put a smirk on my face. Pine seems to be having a blast as the spoiled son, who partners up with the trio in the hostage plan to get back at his dad. Kevin Spacey also returns for a few minutes as Dave Harken, but in the end that only made me miss the first film even more.

In retrospect, expectations for “Horrible Bosses 2” shouldn’t have been high, as they put “horrible” right in the title, alongside the number two, which is all this film is: poop.

There is a saving grace towards the end of the film with a few twists and an interestingly executed hostage plan, but that saving grace comes in the form of a bullet to the head, saving my soul from this unjustified, heart-crushing sequel.

Critics Rating: 4/10

‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’ Beautiful but Flawed

AcunityImagine you have the recipe for an amazing cake. You’ve made cakes before and they turned out pretty good. But this time, you put the cake in the oven and then take it out way before it’s done. You coat it with frosting and dash on some sprinkles so it looks pretty, but in the end it should have stayed in the oven for longer.

That’s pretty much “Assassin’s Creed Unity”.

“Unity” is the first release of the yearly franchise to come out exclusively on the new-gen consoles. Seeing as last year’s “Black Flag” was arguably one of the best in the series (which now totals eight games including “Unity” and the old-gen only “Rogue”) and having the ability to harness all that the new hardware is capable of, “Unity” could have, and should have, been fantastic. Instead it is a pretty good game that is beautiful to look at, but often frustrating to play.

Let’s start with the campaign. Set in the midst of the French Revolution, you play as Arno Dorian. Like pretty much every other Assassin in the series, Arno joins the Assassin Brotherhood because his father figure is murdered and the Assassins take him in. Arno is a pretty fun character; he is sarcastic and witty, and at the same time charming. There were a few lines he has throughout the story that actually made me laugh. All the historical characters you meet along the way, including Napoleon and Robespierre, are as fun and interesting as usual.

The campaign itself is pretty standard AC stuff. In true “Forrest Gump” style, you are almost always in the right place at the right time to experience a major historical event (oh, how convenient Arno gets imprisoned just a few weeks before the Storming of the Bastille!). However, unlike previous games, the Revolution setting takes a backseat to Arno’s quest for revenge and his (borderline creepy) romance with his adoptive sister. I wasn’t a fan of this as the whole reason we play Assassin’s Creed games is to visit in another time period, not watch the life of a single person who lived during it.

“Unity” is more customizable and less hand-holding that any other AC game, and it really works. On top of simply buying better weapons or outfits, you can now mix and match what you’re going to run around the streets of Paris in, and every outfit gives your different abilities and skills.

Main assassination missions are now a sandbox; the game simply gives you the target and that’s it. By doing various side tasks (such as stealing keys or starting a riot) you change what kind of opportunities you have to make the kill. I loved this aspect, and it increases the game’s replay value.


The combat system has changed from the previous two installments, and is now similar to that of ACII and Brotherhood, with the addition of a parry button. For the most part, this works. In previous AC games, no matter how many enemies surrounded you, you knew you were going to win because you could just wait to counter them all. In “Unity” the parrying system makes it more difficult to take on big crowds because you actually have to time your button mashing.

Online has changed and no longer has team deathmatch or player-versus-player modes. Instead you do missions, which is sometimes fun, at other times annoying; it’s pretty much “GTA V” online just set in Paris and with less team-killing. You carry over all the weapons and skills from the campaign, so you rely on your teammates to accomplish different things. Trouble occurs when one player in the game doesn’t have a mic, or no one in you group has a skill needed to complete an objective. The game doesn’t alert you prior as to what skills are needed, so in one instance I played through 20 minutes of a mission only having to end up quitting because no one in my game had the proper lockpick skill. Still, many of the missions are fun and a change of pace from single player.

The biggest problem with “Unity” is nothing to do with the gameplay or story, but with its design. Never before have I seen a game go from beautiful and life-like in one frame to nausea-inducing and glitchy in the next. I’m going to be honest: I have no idea how this game got greenlit for release. There were countless times I fell through the map, couldn’t make my way through the crowds of people, or saw a man on a roof shining the shoe of a guy who was on the street sitting in a chair that wasn’t there. One time I hit a guard with my pitchfork and he flew a hundred feet. Now I’m not an expert, but I don’t think any human possesses that much upper body strength.

“Assassin’s Creed Unity” is arguably among the weakest of the franchise, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a blast while playing it. It is for the most part a gorgeous game, with stunning recreations of real world events and structures, like the Notre Dame Cathedral. The game’s biggest flaw is that they forced the release of a product that never should have seen the light of day in its current state. The glitches and drops in frame rate really can get annoying, and at times directly affect your enjoyment of the game. “Unity” is in no way a bad game, and at times it is a great game in both scale and execution, but it is a bit of a letdown considering its historical setting and new generation capabilities.

Stewart’s Humor, Satire Shine Through in ‘Rosewater’

Rosewater_poster            A comedian taking on a serious film seems to be the trend this year. Michael Keaton and Steve Carrell are getting Oscar buzz for their roles in dramas “Birdman” and “Foxcatcher”, respectively, and now Jon Stewart temporarily trades in his Daily Show desk for a director’s chair with “Rosewater”.

Based on the true story, “Rosewater” tells the tale of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (played by Gael García Bernal) who was detained and tortured for 118 days in Iran during the 2009 presidential election. Jon Stewart produces, writes the script (based on Bahari’s novel) and directs his first major motion picture.

In a lot of ways, “Rosewater” is like “Argo”. Obvious Iran setting aside, the film, despite taking place in the past, holds a lot of views and opinions about current events. There are also some moments of black humor to ease up the serious moments, and nice integration of stock footage. However there are also a lot of reasons why “Rosewater” is not the next “Argo”.

Despite maybe not being the most obvious choice as a film debut, Stewart does a very good job on the film’s dramatic script. There are those moments of black humor, but he also almost always nails the inner-feelings of Bahari as his days in solitary confinement begin to stack up.

One of the things the film does well is giving the audience a sense of empathy towards Bahari’s interrogators. While at times it paints them as uninformed, it never makes them look out to be delirious or unintelligent, and they even make a few valid points as to why they have imprisoned Bahari (such as “the CIA was behind the 1593 Iran coup, so why not this one?”). A somewhat ironic moment was that a piece of “evidence” the interrogators used was one of Stewart’s own Daily Show interviews in which Bahari took part in, and the Iranians saw this as cooperation with “Satan America”.

Gael García Bernal gives a nimble performance as Bahari, starting off as a happy, dedicated journalist and towards the end of the film clearly beginning to break, both mentally and physically (just ignore the fact that in four months of captivity his beard doesn’t change lengths at all). However Bernal never quite seems to reach the same level of desperation as, say, Tom Hanks in “Cast Away”, and that is in part one of the film’s largest flaws.

The movie never truly builds to anything grand. Sure, we know how the story ends, but we also knew the ending to “Apollo 13” and “Captain Phillips” and those are two of the most suspenseful films of all-time (I’m sorry for all the Tom Hanks praising; I swear when I came up with all these examples the connection was not intentional). “Rosewater” is edited so it is scene after scene, and the tension that we as an audience should be feeling is not there.

“Rosewater” is a well-written, capably directed and importantly timed film that is just not as good as it could have been. Still, it was enjoyable or interesting all throughout, and stands as a nice resume builder for a man who should need no introduction to the world delivering of political and social messages.

Critics rating: 7/10

Bill Murray Shines as ‘St. Vincent’

St_Vincent_posterWelcome back, funny Bill Murray. After several years of making cameos and starring in indie dramas, Murray returns to his roots of comedy in “St. Vincent”, where he plays a cranky old drunk who is saddled with babysitting the son of his new neighbor, played by Melissa McCarthy. Hollywood rookie Theodore Melfi writes and directs.

It is a testament to a film when it can overcome all of its genre clichés and narrative familiarities and still be generally entertaining. “St. Vincent” is pretty standard, as we’ve seen the “grumpy guy bonds with the nerdy young kid and the two go on crazy adventures together” formula numerous times before (“Bad Santa” or “Bad Words”, for example). But in spite of all this, Murray shines in an honest, emotional and at times very funny performance.

Without Murray, chances are this movie would not work, and would have been stuck in the “schmaltzy and overdone” category. However Murray elevates the film with his dry wit, and it is a blast seeing him teach the young boy (played by Jaeden Lieberher) how to gamble on horses, mow dirt patches and stand up to bullies.

Melissa McCarthy, toning down her performance here, gives one of her best performances because she isn’t playing the swearing slob. She portrays a single mother who is simply trying to make a better life for her son, and in that he gets a few chuckles, but for the most part just displays true emotion and relatability.

The strongest points of the film are its opening act and its climax, for two very different reasons. The first scenes when we first meet Murray are genuinely funny and harken back to the golden days of his career. The final minutes of this scene are masterfully acted by the entire cast, especially Murray, who for much of the final scene speaks only with his facial expressions. The scene is very well done and will hit you right in the feels (seriously, I had a lump in my throat).

There is a point about halfway through “St. Vincent”, though, where the film seems to be aware that it is being too goofy and sentimental, and thinks it needs to fix this by adding extreme drama. This would have been fine, except the tone switch comes completely out of left field, and just doesn’t seem natural. Suddenly the movie becomes a dark, almost depressing drama, and it really just felt out of place. This likely falls on the shoulders of rookie director Melfi, but other than this one segment he does a great job mixing emotion and laughs, both with his direction and the script.

“St. Vincent” won’t win any awards for originality, but I really hope it wins something for Murray. He is the reason this film is as good and enjoyable as it is, and he alone is the reason to see this movie. It is an entertaining, multi-layered performance, and every scene he is not in, as few as there are, you notice his absence.

Critics Rating: 7/10

‘Annabelle’ Boring, Lazy and Unscary

Annabelle-posterThere’s a trend I’ve noticed with Hollywood in 2014: if a title of a film is simply a female name, then the end product is trash. First we had “Tammy”, then “Lucy” and now “Annabelle”.

A prequel/spin-off/rip-off of “The Conjuring”, “Annabelle” tells the tale of how the creepy little doll became possessed in the first place, and how it torments the lives of a married couple and their newborn baby. The couple is played by Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis (crazy first name, right?!) and the film is directed by John R. Leonetti.

I wasn’t the biggest “Conjuring” fan. I appreciated its production value and acting but I just didn’t find the film very scary. And like I said in my review, a horror film that isn’t scary is like a comedy without any laughs; it failed at its objective. That being said, if “Annabelle” was intended to be a horror film, then it botched even harder than “Conjuring” ever could have hoped to.

Nothing in this film works. Let’s start with the acting. It’s as wooden as the rocking chair that the Annabelle doll sits in the entire film. The actor’s deliveries are off and their emotions are non-existent. As my one friend brilliantly said to me, “you know you’re in trouble when the doll is the best actor in the movie.”

The script is just as awful as the acting. The plot makes no sense and puts no effort into explaining how Annabelle actually comes possessed, and it takes until the final scene to tell us why the demon is after the family. The dialogue is equally as dreadful. Like I’m perplexed as to how some of these scenes made it into the finished product. At one point the husband says “ha ha it’s true; everyone HATES her grandmother”. Like, in the most awkward tone possible. And nearly completely out of context to the conversation. That would mean the director had to have looked at that take and said, “Perfect! Cut. Print.”

Speaking of direction, Leonetti does nothing special here at all. All my issues with “Conjuring” aside, director James Wan (who produced “Annabelle”) knew how to build tension in a scene using practical effects (his mistake was never having much of the tension boil over and lead anywhere). Leonetti lingers on actors faces for too long and stares at a still Annabelle for extended durations. There were a couple interesting camera tricks he employs, such as showing a little girl running past an open door only to have her turn into a full-grown woman upon entering, but I think if you had simply put a camera on a tripod it would have done a more engaging job.

All of this could be forgiven if the film was scary, or even interesting, but “Annabelle” is neither. It is boring and uneventful, and by using all no-name actors to ensure the budget was as low as possible it’s not even like we have a big-name star to hold our hand (I would pay good money to see Nicolas Cage scream and throw the Annabelle doll).

I can go on and on bashing “Annabelle”, but then I would be just hurting my brain more than this film did by itself. It is a lazily constructed and awfully executed horror film that should be condemned alongside the demons that control its title character. The silver lining about nearing the end of this review is I will never have to revisit this film ever again. Well, except when I write my Year’s Worst Films list in December. Or until they milk yet another sequel out of this already dried up franchise and I have to relive it all over again…

Critics Rating: 3/10

‘Judge’ Clichéd, but Charasmatic

The_Judge_2014_film_poster                As if it needed to be confirmed, I don’t think there’s a more charismatic actor in the business than Robert Downey Jr. He once again lends his charm and talents to “The Judge”, in which he plays Hank, a slimy big city defense lawyer (is there any other kind?). When visiting his small hometown in Indiana for his mother’s funeral, Hank’s elderly father (played by Robert Duvall) is accused of murder, and Hank must defend now him. David Dobkin directs as Vera Farmiga and Billy Bob Thorton costar.

“The Judge” is an interesting movie. Not because it is perplexing or fresh (because it’s pretty straightforward and standard), but because it has moments of brilliance that are then followed by 10 very slow, sometimes awkwardly schmaltzy minutes. Honestly, the best thing I can compare it to is “Jersey Boys”: it’s overlong and at times too self-serious, but also has some soaring scenes and is certainly worth a view.

The best part of “Judge”, by far, is Downey and Duvall going at it. One of the film’s many clichés is that they are a father and son with a strained relationship, but they make sure that this plot point does not feel stale or derivative. Duvall growls and Downey does his fast-talking thing; it all elevates the film higher than it would have been in the hands of less-capable actors.

While the courtroom scenes aren’t as nail-biting or riveting as they could have or should have been, they are still entertaining, and seeing Downey spit out lawyer lingo will always make me say “shut up and take my money!”.

The director of the film, David Dobkin, is known for such classy dramas as “The Change-Up” and “Wedding Crashers” (sarcasm, of course). I can respect that he wants to make a serious Hollywood film but I can’t help but feel he’s a little out of place. It is a lot like Ruben Fleischer, who directed comedies “Zombieland” and “30 Minutes or Less”, then tried to make a serious film with “Gangster Squad”. My personal feelings for “Squad” aside, you can tell the film’s narrative and tone are not quite confident, or consistent, and that inhibits the movie from reaching higher levels.

Dobkin, who wrote the story for “Judge” as well, knows how to make a shot look pretty or show character emotion, but his scenes draw on too long, and moments of attempted humor will come at such random times that you aren’t sure whether to laugh or cringe.

Like I hinted at earlier, the movie has a lot of clichés. From the estranged son, to a character maybe having a daughter they never knew about, all the way to the diner full of townspeople with one of them literally saying “we’ve eaten breakfast here every week for over twenty years” (which is followed by you rolling your eyes). If there’s a book about “Things to Include in a Movie about a Small Town”, the screenwriter probably has it on his shelf.

“The Judge” is pretty much going to be as good as you thought it was going to be when you saw the trailer. If you’re like me and you thought, “oh, there’s a drama with forced comedic moments but will feature two great performances from the Roberts”, then you’ll enjoy yourself. If you thought, “this thing looks like a sappy, unfunny version of ‘My Cousin Vinny’ meets ‘Doc Hollywood’”, well then I can’t tell you you’re completely wrong; that’s how perplexing this movie is.

Critics Rating: 6/10

You Have the Right to Laugh at ‘Let’s Be Cops’

Let's_Be_Cops_posterWhat would happen if Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill finally stopped looking young enough for school and had to become actual patrol cops? Well, probably something like “Let’s Be Cops”, which features insane buddy cop chemistry between Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr.

“Let’s Be Cops” focuses on two down-on-their-luck friends who dress up as cops for a costume party, only to quickly realize that people believe they are actually police officers. They play along until they get mixed up with the mob, and have to put their fake badges on the line. Andy García and Rob Riggle costar as Luke Greenfield directs.

I am a huge fan of Jake Johnson. He is by and far the best part of the show “New Girl” and is memorable in smaller roles in films such as “21 Jump Street” and “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas”. Now he finally gets the opportunity to star in his own film, alongside fellow “New Girl” alum Damon Wayans Jr., and he does not disappoint.

The chemistry between Johnson and Wayans is what makes the movie. They have great back and forth, and you truly believe that these are two longtime friends from Ohio (which the film oddly feels the need to remind you of numerous times, for whatever reason). Whether it is improvising an interrogation, or simply telling the other one to “shut the [blank] up”, you can’t help but smile every time these two are on screen together.

“Let’s Be Cops” also has some very well done cinematography and editing, two aspects that don’t receive enough credit by the average filmgoer, especially when it comes to comedies. Cinematographer Daryn Okada has some beautiful pan-up shots of the Los Angeles skyline, and also infuses the film with some throwback TV cop drama-style techniques. Meanwhile, editors Bill Pankow and Jonathan Schwartz keep the film moving at a brisk pace and it makes for an enjoyable 104 minutes.

Now the script is a bit shotty, with some scenes featuring a joke and then cutting to the next scene quickly. In many cases the scene cut because you realize had it continued, the characters would be exposed as fake cops and the movie would be over right there (like waving their guns in a restaurant or driving their homemade police cruiser through the middle of a park). Also, much like last August’s “We’re the Millers”, “Let’s Be Cops” does begin to slow at the homestretch, because both films’ gimmick plots began to wear thin.

I laughed countless times watching “Let’s Be Cops”, and on more than one occasion I laughed very hard. True story: I missed gym session today (well, skipped it). Luckily, I still got a solid ab workout from watching this film. Get it? Because I laughed so often?! Ohhhh boy. I’m just too funny sometimes.

Critics Rating: 7/10

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ an Empty Shell

Teenage_Mutant_Ninja_Turtles_film_July_2014_poster            If I told you a film starred Megan Fox, was produced by Michael Bay and was directed by the guy behind “Battle Los Angeles”, you would probably not be interested. But wait! What if I also tell you that the very same movie was produced by Nickelodeon Studios? Interested now? If you’re over the age of eight, the answer is hopefully no, and the very film I just described to you is “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is based off the classic characters and follows them as they take on their first big challenge: The Shredder. That’s pretty much the extent of the plot of the film; giant talking turtles fighting a giant metal robot. Should be fun, right? (It’s not, though). Megan Fox, Will Arnett and William Fichtner star in non-reptile roles as Jonathan Liebesman directs.

I don’t think there’s a single person who thought this film was going to be good. First it took forever to get into production, and then Michael Bay annoyed everyone by saying the Turtles weren’t mutant but were actually aliens. And then there’s the fact that every film the director has made has a 5.8 on IMDb. Seems like there were a lot of red flags, and that was before the film’s awful trailer even debuted. If you’re waiting for a “however”, then don’t hold your breath; this film is every bit as not good as expected.

First things first the script is beyond bland. Every character in this film is a typecast, just a stereotypical personality that are found in most summer films. There’s the hot coworker who keeps asking the main character out, the boss who doesn’t believe the main character’s crazy story, and the reporter who wants bigger and better stories. People’s characterization is literally learned by lines by other characters (“you’re the most persistent person I’ve ever met, you know that?”)

There are aspects to “TMNT” that are head-scratchingly lazy. The film begins on the first day of spring, yet two scenes later the main character is at a snow-coated resort after a 20 minute drive from New York City. Why couldn’t the film take place in winter and erase this problem? I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is that I just put more time into thinking about this script than the writers did.

Oh, and the villain’s plot in this film is literally that of The Lizard’s in “The Amazing Spider-Man”, right down to infecting New York City with a chemical weapon by using a large antenna on top of a company’s skyscraper. Like I said. Lazy.

The action scenes, for the most part, are well-shot so I will give the film props where due. It is some fun seeing giant turtles throw human beings like they’re ragdolls into moving subway cars and trees, and the film does a good job at putting this on screen. However none of the action is engaging; it all feels contrived.

The Turtles really aren’t even the stars of the film, at least not for the first half. That honor falls into Megan Fox’s lap, and she does what she does best: gives a performance just passable enough to make us not hate her. When the Turtles do start to get screen time, it’s just potty humor and fan service references, neither of which work for a 20-year-old guy like me with limited Ninja Turtle knowledge.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” isn’t an awful movie, and it is not the pop-culture mockery many feared, but it is by no means good and is just barely watchable. A lot of the time the film is boring, and when it’s not boring it will still be so not fun that it will make you ask yourself: “what the actual shell am I watching?”

Critics Rating: 4/10