Saturday, November 15, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Jonathan Liebesman, 2014) Review

For those unaware, 2012 saw the start of a new TV show based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's good. It's damn good and is currently one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment. Now I'm sure you nostalgia blinded people won't believe that anything can be better than your precious 80s show and yes, it was good...emphasis on "was". It's very dated now and the new show delivers much more on what the old show established. Let's see what happens when the mindset behind the Transformers films gets a hold of the franchise. Let's find out.

New York City is under threat by the Foot Clan led by a villain known as the Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) who has a hold on everything of importance thanks to high connections. Their reign is challenged by four mutated turtles taught in the art of Ninjutsu: Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville) Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) who fight to protect New York as well as a reporter named April O'Neil (Megan Fox) who stumbled upon the Foot Clan's plans and is in need of protection from them.

I'm going to say this. You're probably not going to like it but I'm going to say it anyway. I enjoyed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Does that means it's a good film. Not entirely. The plot is pretty bad as it is almost a complete retelling of The Amazing Spider-Man right down to the collapsing tower during the climax (that's not even a spoiler. They shoved that in every trailer!). A problem also rises in that they made the turtles the best characters (naturally) meaning that every scene they're off screen you feel like you're wasting your time.

So what then? This is just a generic action film? No. It is a Ninja Turtles film. They nail the personalities of the four turtles and, dare I say, the look fine. I know that everyone was concerned about how they look seeing as they were made more realistic with nostrils and lips but they fit into the look the film is going for and, just like the modern show, have different statures and face shape. I love that they've started to do this with recent TMNT stuff to make them more unique and less samey. Really, my only issue with their designs is why Donatello wears glasses. Yes, I get it! He's a nerd but look at the show. The 2012 Donnie is easily the best version of the character (thank you, Rob Paulsen). As for the human characters, it is fair to say that this is Megan Fox's best acting (not that that's saying much). The main reason is that she isn't really used for sex appeal and is allowed to just play a character. The surprise for me, though, was Will Arnett. When he was cast, I assumed he was going to be a cringe worthy comic relief on the side lines but instead we get a competent yet generally funny character who holds their own and has his fair share of proper moments. William Fichtner is wasted though especially when his character isn't even given any closure. He just disappears during the climax. Wasted.

One of my biggest worries about the film was that it would lose the comedic and lighthearted side the franchise is known for. Luckily that isn't the case as I found myself laughing out loud many times throughout. From the turtles pumped on Adrenalin to the out of nowhere elevator scene, there is no fear about the lack of humour. I will admit there were a few moments that were pointless and not funny but, overall, I would label this as a funny film. The action is also great but after the phenomenal action from Captain America: The Winter Soldier earlier this year, it falls a bit short...although the snow chase scene was one of the films highlights.

So all in all, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not a childhood destroying abomination. While the original film is arguably a more 'pure' TMNT experience, this one doesn't do too bad. The action is cool, the humour is retained, the turtles are well captured and it just looks good however the story definitely takes away from it. Maybe because I'm a huge fan of the current show that I was clamouring for something more like that but overall I did find myself enjoying it. You can quote me on this: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not a disaster. I would recommend it for those that like the franchise and know not to take it seriously...but the 2012 show is still the best version of TMNT...just throwing that in still.

The story is cliche but it's the little things that make this one worth a watch just don't take it too seriously.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Rover (David Michôd, 2014) Review

Continuing on with this week of 2014 catch-up now with The Rover. This one definetly went under the radar as I hadn't even heard of it when it was around earlier this year but I suppose that's one of the perks of studying on a film course. So this little indie film that no-one had heard of is next in line for my review and it's time to take a look. I guess the problem with indie films is that there isn't much to say in the introduction. It's a's independently funded...let's take a look.

Set in a dystopian future, a drifter named Eric (Guy Pearce) is left scouring the outback for his only possession left in this world - his car. When he tracks down an abandoned member of the gang who stole his car (Robert Pattinson), the two join together to find Eric's car and return Rey to the gang who rejected him.

I suppose one of the best things about this film is that we can finally close the case on Robert Pattinson and call him a good actor, because he is. Maybe it's just because he works well alongside Guy Pearce, also giving a good performance. It is hard to talk about them independently because they are a duo for the long run and...remind me of a certain other duo. Yeah, I would be lying if I said that this film didn't remind me of Breaking Bad, especially the portrayal of the protagonists. Their relationship and chemistry is also pitch perfect Walter White and Jesse Pinkman terratory. Even the themes and content is remenisent with the steps Eric will go to get his car back and the unbalanced revenge tactics. It's fascinating to see these two together but they work so well it makes you want to see more of them.

While the main focus, the duo, is well done, the rest of the film does come up short in comparsion. The film is set in a dystopian future and it therefore needs to look bland and lifeless (and the opening borders on Mad Max...especially since both films are Australian) but there is a lot of time dedicated to...nothing. I'm fine with lingering shots, just look at 12 Years a Slave, but it's weirdly implemented here. The first shot of Eric you'd swear was your DVD freezing. It lingers for way too long and drags because the film hasn't established anything yet. Sure, we learn more as it goes on (and the journey is the best part anyway) but it sure takes it's time. I suppose I can't really fault it as, with only two main characters, it doesn't have much to work with but I've seen better with only one character (All is Lost and Gravity).

The Rover is interesting and I do believe it is worth a watch purely down to the chemistry between Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson who deliver great performances. I would definetely recommend to Breaking Bad fans, that's for sure. While it does have pacing issues mainly because of the lack of things to work with at times, it still leads to a good conclusion but hey, the journey is what matters in this films. Join me next week for some ninjutsu and pizza, dude! COWABUNGA! (or Booyakasha because I prefer the new show...)

While it has issues in the writing department, the acting is great and you feel satisfied by the journey to undertake.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014) Review

This one is late. Really, really late but I have good reason. Like I said in my previous reviews back early October, I can only use the internet when outside of my accomodation. It sucks, I know, but I have some free time and three films from 2014 to review that are...relativly new so I can get away with the lateness of this one. After Se7en and Fight Club, I have been won over by David Fincher and had heard about his latest film, Gone Girl. So now that I've seen it, let's take a look and see how it stacks up against his previous titles.

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne are married couple whose world comes crashing down after Nick returns home one night to find the house in a mess and Amy missing. After days without a word, the press come down hard on Nick over the dissapearence of his wife as people begin to speculate about his connection to her dissapearence. To try and prove otherwise, Nick goes to people her can trust and people from Amy's past such as her ex-boyfriend Desi (Neil Patrick Harris).

Throw this one on the pile of 'great films that leave me fuming with rage' along side Watchmen and The Hunt. Heck, Gone Girl even taps into the reason as to why those two films make me so angry when watching them. They are fantastic films, as is Gone Girl, but injustice and the mindlessness of scared, stupid people just make me incredibly angry as a topic. As a critic, I have to be open to these things but they hit a cord with me. Gone Girl dives into both topics really well (maybe too well) and I can't fault a good script and narrative for such. They nail exactly what I hate about these topics and make me think deeper into why exactly I do. It does a fantastic job of doing so.

Looking on a more technical level, Gone Girl also delivers well on this department. The acting is fantastic with Rosamund Pike playing a very torn character beautifully and Ben Affleck's delivers naivety very well. They're performances coupled with the script leave you guessing throughout the entire picture as the film runs on the idea of doubt and making you reconsider everything you've built up. It's also incredbly to say that Tyler Perry can act and be one of the characters I really can get behind in this whole debacle. The whole idea of doubt is exemplified by Neil Patrick Harris' character. His backstory makes you want to avoid him but his attitude throughout the rest of the film makes you think he may have intentions even if he actually doesn't. A very complicated character that Neil Patrick Harris was key for.

Gone Girl makes me angry. It's a well written and performed film that is sure to be in the Oscar bracket this year but the themes and topics hit hard. I've seen my fair share of unpleasent but poignant films like 12 Years a Slave that are fantastic films but leave a bad taste in the mouth because of diving into the taboo. Gone Girl is this for me but is well worth watching. It isn't Fincher's best film as I feel his previous films have exceeded but it's poignant, thought provoking and keeps you guessing. What more could you ask for...except a happier film to watch after so you aren't angry for the rest of the day.

Risky yet rewarding. This is a fantastically written and performed piece from the new king of suspence.