Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

The turtles are back in a more family friendly--either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the viewer--and well-balanced story. The plot digs deeper into the back-story of the ooze that transformed all of the dudes into surf-slang talking' ninjas, and it leaves the viewer watching a more concrete story. Because of this, the film succeeds in avoiding the sequel-cliché of being redundant because it answers and develops things that the preceding film didn't do. Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap"--and also the presences of Vanilla Ice himself--may have been appropriate for viewers at the turn of the decade, but watching it anytime after 1992 is just cringe-worthy. Also, very peeving, is Tokka and Rahzar being obvious substitutes for Bebop and Rocksteady. However, its few flaws don't reflect the overall film… at least, not too heavily, that is. Aside from Tokka and Rahzar, who actually become likable the more times you watch the movie (if you're willing), the film should be complimented for being strikingly similar to the 1987 animated series that popularized the franchise.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

The story of the turtles gets even more far-fetched in this inferior installment, with the turtles going back in time to 1603 Japan. The Jim Henson's Creature Shop obviously didn't provide for the turtles, which is a major blow to the overall production. There are a couple of pros that save the film from being a total disaster, including: the return of Casey Jones (Koteas), who's reprisal may make some fans feel that the second installment had a void with his omission; some fun parallels between 1603 Japan and the turtles' life in 1993 New York; wonderful set production for the Japan scenes; and well-developed new characters. While the omission of any references to the Foot Clan may heavily separate this film from the others in the series, it executes an entertaining and solid story. It's also nice to see the turtles and Splinter are still living in the abandoned underground train station from the second film, as well as Turco NOT suffering a recast of April O'Neal like Hoag did; which shows some attempt at continuity despite its major differences from the first two. However, the flaws are too great for its pros to overcome mediocre status. Right from the get-go the movie seems like a lost cause, with the opening credits being accompanied by a ridiculously, terribly unnecessary, spontaneous turtle-dance. Also, couldn't they have found a way to throw Chief Stern (Serra) in for some extra comedic-relief and continuity?

Dark Water

Yoshimi Matsubara (Kuroki) is a newly divorced mother that moves into an old apartment with her six-year-old daughter Ikuko (Kanno) where creepy things begin happening, which include a strange little girl and a water leakage from the ceiling. Falls into many ghost story clichés, but director Hideo Nakata executes the development and scares wonderfully. The tension builds to a satisfying conclusion, but the conclusion story-wise is a bit of a disappointment; specifically the film's obvious theme of water that seems all unnecessary when the film finally ends. Most people will see it for the scares, and they will be most satisfied.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The turtles hit the big screen in their live-action debut, the heroes themselves created by the Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London, a result better than any CGI-effect done twenty-years later. The plot is an interesting one, with the turtles embarking on a journey to rescue their Master Splinter from their archenemy Shredder. The film becomes flawed with the overall mood, which includes everything from elements of darkness from the original comics to the lighthearted family gags of the successful animated television program, which results ultimately in an indecisive production. At least the sequels knew what they were aiming for.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Lee Daniels pulls no punches and doesn't let anything get in his way of delivering a brilliantly heartbreaking story, based on the novel "Push" by Ramona "Sapphire" Lofton. The title character, Claireece "Precious" Jones, embarks on many social issues throughout her tragic story, including: HIV/AIDS, incest/rape, illiteracy and teen pregnancy. Amateur Gabourey Sidibe won the role at an audition she randomly decided to attend, but there couldn't possibly have been a better person to have been cast. One of film's greatest debut performances. Mo'Nique and Paula Patton should also be noted for their greatest performances of their careers so far.


Clive Barker's classic about an unfaithful wife (Higgins) who must bring her dead lover (Chapman/Smith) human-sacrifices to recreate his body that was the sodomized into little pieces by Cenobites, S&M demons from Hell. But his escape from Hell soon leads the Cenobites to Earth. Solid story delivered by a talented cast. The film satisfies with gross outs, but the Cenobites are too wimpy to deliver any scares. Ooh, there's a guy with pins sticking out of his head… how scary! All in all, the lead cast, the solid story and the gross outs make "Hellraiser" a definite worthwhile horror film. Pinhead (Bradley) is credited as Lead Cenobite, as his name wasn't coined until the sequel "Hellbound: Hellraiser II".

Monday, May 10, 2010

Julie & Julia

An interesting adaptation of Child's autobiography "My Life in France" and Powell's memoir. The film contrasts the lives of two different women in two different parts of the world, and comes full circle with the experience of cooking; one a culinary chef and inspiration, the other an aspiring cook inspired by Child's recipes. Streep and Adams are as good as usual, but once again the latter's performance is overshadowed much like it was in "Doubt", also by the veteran Streep. Masked as a chick-flick, but is really an intelligent and well-constructed film that everyone can enjoy. The wonderful settings from New York to Paris, with an enjoyable presence of Stanley Tucci as Child's husband are pluses. Certainly a film not to judge by its cover.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (V)

"Family Guy" direct-to-video movie is actually nothing more than three episode edited together: "Stewie B. Goode", "Bango Was His Name, Oh!" and "Stewie's Excellent Adventure". Pretty much, the plots of Stewie having a near death experience, Stewie going on a road trip and Stewie going to the future--in respective to the episodes listed--are weaved to make an uneven plot with a camel hump story-arc. The worst part is, the movie isn't even that funny. It's as if the creators realized they made some terrible episodes and found that each story revolved mostly around Stewie, so they smashed three unfunny episodes with a common theme together in a lazy attempt to make it three times as funny. The "Family Guy" series gets a lot of undeserved criticism, but "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story" certainly gives you an idea of where the insults are coming from. Rightfully mocked in "Family Guy: Road to Rupert (#5.9)". Its few good laughs, plus the self-awareness of the creators who addressed the overriding flaws in a quick joke in "Road to Rupert" earns it a couple of extra brownie points. If you're trying to get into "Family Guy", this is a bad place to start.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A bland, dull and unnecessary remake of Wes Craven's 1984 classic of the same name. Like the original, this film captures the nightmarish qualities during dream sequences, however it lingers too long and frequently in the scares of Freddy approaching rather than getting to the point. All the actors do a wonderful job at reinventing characters, especially Haley as the new Freddy (Englund played Kruger in ten films!), however the remake doesn't do as good of a job reinventing a classic movie. The creativity is turned down a few notches, with Freddy choosing to just slice and stab his victims rather than pull anything not overdone and not expected.