Michael Bay

August 11, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 (Matt’s Take)

BEFUDDLED

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles –Befuddled

I consider myself pretty leveled headed and reasonably arbitrary when it comes to film, TV, and pretty much anything else. I give most anything a chance and I try to watch anything for the purpose of having my say in an argument. The worst thing you can run into is a conversation with someone who one, doesn’t have frame of reference of a topic, and two, simply tries to flame you into an argument and put you on the defensive. It’s common for these two things to happen in this day and age of Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, etc. I just wanted to preface all of this before I get into this review of THIS GENERATION’S “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” produced (not directed people) by the grand auteur Michael Bay. It’s a befuddling experience in nostalgia, childhood, and finding my place in the world.
“Turtles” is the origin story of everyone’s favorite heroes in a half shell, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. In this adventure they are tasked with stopping The Shredder and politico Eric Sacks from destroying New York City. With the help of April O’Neil and cameraman/news van driver Vernon Fenwick, the turtles have to save the day while finding out about their past. This is the basic plot, if I was to tell you anymore, I’d only confuse you and probably myself.
Where does one start with this film. My first thought when watching this was “did I just miss the first part of the movie?” I literally thought I was dropped into the middle of a film. There was no character development and characters are shown as you should already known who they are. As a life-long Turtle fan it’s a good thing I didn’t need to know who everyone was or I would have been lost. However, even with knowing who most of these characters are, this new adventure is befuddling and the way most of the characters are portrayed is simply, sad.
One of the main arguments that most fans made was the new look of the Turtles. After watching the film, that was something that really didn’t bother me, and honestly, it never bothered me in the first place. Despite the departure from the comic book, cartoon, and original film, you have to know what mutation does to something(s). When something is mutated things change from the molecular level and not everything will look the same. Bottom line, I like the look of the new Turtles. I also liked the look of Splinter, and from it’s base form, I liked the look of the new Shredder suit. I understand the need to upgrade things from an aesthetic standpoint, but this brings me to how characters are portrayed.
The main gripe about these Turtles is their likeability. I honestly didn’t like them. Sure, if you’re a kid you might like the fart jokes, and their rocket skateboards or nerd glasses, since “geek chic” isn’t something going away anytime soon. Just an aside, and to educate those less informed, the “geek” derives from people in the old circus sideshows that would bite the heads off of chickens. Just putting that out there. But aside from Raphael, who I think they kept as close to the comic, TV, and film versions, I just didn’t like the personalities, especially Michelangelo. His dialogue was irritating and it made him seem like a douche-bag teenager with ADD, and this brings me to his “relationship” with April O’Neil, played by Megan Fox. Where does one begin here. Unlike Judith Hoag, or even Paige Turco, Fox provides nothing of substance or memorability to one of the key figures in Turtle history. Her blank stare and vapid dialogue are hard to really get past, and I can only wonder what could have been with another actress in that role. First, give me a REAL redhead; Anna Kendrick would have been great in this role, almost perfect if you ask me, but of course I’m partial to Ms. Kendrick. Back to the dialogue. There was an air of weird stalker/rapeiness that seemed to permeate off of Mikey. Yes, he’s a teenager and his turtle hormones are running wild, but wow was it uncomfortable. 

Now, I don’t want to make this a bash-fest, because there were scenes that I really liked about this film. Contrary to popular belief, I thought the re-imagining of the Turtles’ origin was actually pretty interesting. It kept the overall spirit, but it added an extra wrinkle that will likely come into play if they decide to keep this franchise going, which I’m sure they will. Two, like I said before, I liked Raphael. I thought they made him a bad-ass and he really was he backbone of the film. Donatello wasn’t bad either, and him being my favorite Turtle, I thought it was an interesting take, but I think they played up the nerd angle a little too hard, and this is coming from a nerd. Finally, I loved the snow chase that closes the second act of the film. It looked great and showed something the film lacked a lot of; the Turtles acting like a team. It was an engrossing sequence and it made me forget about much of the things that bothered me up to that point. But, low and beyond, to take me out of the zone, we get a shot of Megan Fox’s ass. I get it, and I understand why it’s in this film, but come on…..

Overall, I’m not the biggest fan of this version of my beloved Ninja Turtles, but I can see why some people will love it and will call it THEIR TMNT, just like I still consider Tim Burton’s “Batman” as MY “Batman,” and this generation will consider Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” THEIR Batman. If anything, after seeing this version of TMNT it re-affirms my love for the 1980s cartoon and the film from 1990. See this new version of the “Turtles” at your own risk.

Fun Fact: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created the “Turtles” to poke fun at some of the biggest comic books of the 1980’s including Frank Miller’s run of “Daredevil.”

May 3, 2014

Simplistic Sneak Peek Ep. 4

On this installment of Simplistic Sneak Peek, Matthew, Justin and DJ take a look at trailers for upcoming television shows including Jack Bauer’s 24 return, Damon Lindeloff’s HBO show Leftovers, and Michael Bay’s…(sigh)…new TNT show The Last Ship.  And just for kicks, the boys keep it on a Michael Bay tip and look at the 2nd trailer for the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  I got a “tip” for Michael Bay…stay away from Thundercats, Gargoyles, and Centurions if you know what’s good for you, nostalgia killer.  Anyway, you can check out the links to these trailers below if you haven’t seen them, then click the video above to see Matthew, Justin, and DJ’s thoughts about them.

 24: Live Another Day Trailer

The Leftovers Trailer

The Last Ship Trailer

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trailer #2

March 30, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: March 2014 Edition

Here’s a drinking game.  Take a shot every time the boys mention Michael Bay’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  No, wait…you’ll be dead in like 10 minutes.  Okay, take a shot every time they insult Michael Bay’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  No, no, you’ll be dead in about the same amount of time.  Neal DaSouza fills in for an ailing Matthew Stewart and helps discuss various members of the cinematic animal kingdom.  From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Alvin And The Chipmunks, to something called Rastamouse.  (And you thought anthropomorphic turtles was disturbing.)  The boys also air more dirty laundry in their most embarrassing segment, Simply Ashamed, and each pick their favorite non-Marvel Studios Marvel movie.  I got my fingers crossed for Howard The Duck.  All that and more on the March edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

 Show Notes:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trailer
X-Men Days Of Future Past Trailer
Constantine Promotional Picture
Ben McKenzie As James Gordon
Alvin And The Chipmunks Animated Movie
Rainbow Bright The Movie
Dragnet Rap Song
Don’t Be A Menace Cop Scene With Bernie Mac
Rasta Mouse

Music Notes:
Birds & Brass By Sort Of Soul
Its A Shame Remix By The Spinners
Lawyers, Guns, And Money By Warren Zevon
The Best By Tina Turner


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.
Click HERE to listen to podcast

Check us out on FacebookTwitterYouTubeLetterboxd, and Pinterest

October 31, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: October Edition

 The boys are back with another hard-hitting, face-melting, knee-slapping, balls-to-the-wall edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  October draws to a close with Halloween on their minds as they breakdown the best Horror Monsters/Villains/Demons of all-time.

The boys also vent their anger in another round of “Hey F%*khead” and no one is safe.  Everyone from Julliane Hough to Michael Bay are ripped limb from limb for their stupidity and overall douchebaggery.

Add in some TV talk, Casper the Friendly Rapist, and a barn-full of shenanigans and you got a podcast worth downloading and listening to while you’re running on the elliptical machine.  Enjoy!

Show Notes:

Julianne Hough in Blackface
Chris Brown Still Beating People
History of Halloween
Scariest Horror Villains

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

Check us out on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

March 30, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (DJ’s Take)

BETTER

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.  I hate Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise.  I made many points as to why they are lowest common denominator fodder and a tried and true example of bad filmmaking alone.  But to be honest, I hated it mainly because it was a tactical strike to my nostalgia.  I am an 80s baby.  Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, TMNT, He-Man, Voltron, M.A.S.K., DuckTales, TaleSpinRescue Rangers, Silverhawks, Gobots, HeathcliffCenturions, Dino-RidersDanger Mouse, Count Duckula, and many more shows practically raised me.  Yes, looking back at them now, I can see they were cheesy.  However, I still love them because they spoke to me.  They spoke to a me that I wasn’t fully aware of at the time.  They filled in the gaps of love and companionship my family left me to fill when they were not around.  They developed my entertainment pallet.  They developed my right and wrong meter.  They are virtually time portals to my childhood.  And if they stayed that way I would be happy with that.  So, if you are going to remake them…if you’re going to bring them back to modern day…changing things…changing their DNA to shoehorn them into modern sensibilities…it literally hurts me.  Every instance of Michael Bay’s corruption of Transformers makes me feel like Marty McFly looking at that photograph of he and his family and watching himself slowly disappear.

I bring up Bay here because of the financial success of his Bayformers, other studios followed suit seeing as the almighty dollar is their guiding light.  Stephen Sommers (A director I can’t believe I used to like) fired another Trident missile into my memories when he brought G.I. Joe to the the big screen.  It was almost as if he was copying off of Bay’s test in school.  It was predictable, trite, comically bad entertainment.  My only hope was that like an ebola virus, the franchise would flare up and die out so fast, it wouldn’t be able to spread.  Then, it was announced that a sequel was on the horizon and it would be directed by the guy who did the Step Up films and Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never.  I felt like Dustin Hoffman in Outbreak.  However, after seeing G.I. Joe: Retaliation  I am relieved to say that it is much BETTER than I expected.  Understand that I was expecting the EBOLA VIRUS!   So to say it is BETTER isn’t saying that it is a great film.  It still has logic problems and cheesy moments and lackluster effects.  But it more effectively fits the tone a G.I. Joe film should have and offer up enough fan service an old school Joe fan would want in order to be able to walk out of the theater under their own power.

I mentioned this in my last review but it bares repeating.  The Expendables works because it acknowledges the performers’ nostalgic roots.  It gives the fans of these performers what they want.  You want Arnold to say ‘I’ll be back’?  Fine.  You want someone to say yippee ki yah?  There you go.  You want a Van Damme spin kick?  Here’s two.  You want a bloody, bullet riddled, fire fight for ten straight minutes?  We’ll give you twenty.  It isn’t complicated to make films that are based purely on nostalgia like Transformers and G.I. Joe.  This isn’t The Master or Tree of Life.  Keep its simple and give the people what they want.  Popcorn films like these have longer legs that way.  Ask Joss Whedon.  Yes, Transformers made money.  A crazy amount of money.  But does anyone…ANYONE hold it in high regard?

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is burdened by cleaning out the closet of the previous film’s storyline.  A terrorist group called Cobra have an operative impersonating The President and reeking havoc on the Joes and the world.  A team of surviving Joes must clear their names and take down Cobra before its too late.  Simple.  Director Jon M. Chu seemed to have done his research on what failed in the first film and done research on the material in general.  It shows in the little nuances Joe fans would notice.  A faceplate for Cobra Commander, an Uzi for Snake Eyes, an Australian accent for Firefly, a blindfold for Jinx.  Its those little things that show me he actually cares about the material and doesn’t just want to use the property as a bridge to show off his directoral talent.  It comes across that the Joes in this film seem to actually be capable soldiers with varying skills, the way the show was intended.  That as apposed to the bumbling, excelerator suit wearing, dummies in the previous film.  Men and women who seemed to be working for Maxwell Smart instead of the United States armed services.

Dwayne Johnson takes the lead in this and does an solid job.  Much BETTER than the laughable Marlon Waynes and the cameoing Channing Tatum.  The one thing that I thought the first G.I. Joe film got right was Ray Park’s Snake Eyes.  Though, Sommers even tried to screw him up too by putting a mouth on a masked man who DOESN’T TALK.  But I digress.  He is the only thankful carry over from the first film.  His action scenes with rival Storm Shadow are worth the price of admission alone.  Bruce Willis is trying much more in this than he did in his own tent pole franchise and I really liked Adrianne Palicki’s Lady Jaye.  However, the performances aren’t all roses.  Jonathan Pryce is still a bit over the top as the faux President/Zartan.  The ball was dropped by casting the wooden D.J. Cotrona as Flint.  A character who is supposed to be the more charismatic version of Duke merely slinks by unnoticed and unremarkably through this film.   And I’m not even going to get into how bad RZA is as Blind Master.  I think it is the overall camaraderie of both teams that allow you to be able to dismiss the bad apples.

By the level of improvement this film has made from The Rise Of Cobra, it would take about two more films before I could consider it a must watch franchise.  However, I think I’m going to have to settle for the fact that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is just BETTER than expected and breathe a sigh of relief that I haven’t fully disappeared.  Be a real American hero…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

February 9, 2013

London Calling: V For Vendetta

FORGOTTEN

With the Oscar season here and the summer movie season fast approaching, I wanted to talk about a film I think fits into both.  Now comic book films are usually shrugged off as just popcorn fluff.  Most times, they are.  To this day, however, there hasn’t been a comic book film that has challenged me intellectually more than V For Vendetta.  It is one of the most intelligently made, beautifully shot, well performed films of the genre.  But sadly for some reason, it is FORGOTTEN.
V For Vendetta plot revolves around a knife wielding masked terrorist/freedom fighter trying to take down an oppressive British government in the not too distant future.  I put terrorist/freedom fighter because the film blurs the line between the two.  It makes you question the difference and presents the perspective of people on either side of the chaos.  Some would argue that the character of V is clearly the hero and the government is bad.  However, when you really get into the specifics of V’s acts, it is hard to paint him as a true blue hero.  Even an antihero for that matter.  Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.  V is out for vengeance, admittedly so.  He kills in cold blood.  He kills innocents.  He kidnaps.  He tortures.  He does whatever it takes to accomplish his goals.  You might say the ends justify his means, but his acts seen through a different spectrum can easily be construed as terror.  That is why I love this film.  It can be dissected and analyzed even to this day.  The Avengers is my favorite comic book movie of all time, however, V For Vendetta is much meatier when it comes to substance.
Comic book legend Alan Moore is famous for angrily dismissing and disavowing any adaptations of his work.  This is thanks primarily to the abysmal League Of Extraordinary Gentleman.  I wish he’d take a slightly lighter stance on this though.  It might be easy for me to say but, films aren’t bad solely because the filmmakers take liberties with the source material.  I detest Michael Bay’s Transformer films and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man not just because they changed things.  I detest them because they are poorly written, horribly performed, lowest common denominator catering tripe.  Their changes weren’t done to add anything new or stimulating to the material.  They were made for convenience sake.  The same cannot be said for V For Vendetta.  Yes, V is a warmer character in the film than he was in the comic book.  However, I think that makes him even more complicated when compared to the coldness of his methods.  Yes, the fascist vs. anarchist theme was more liberal vs. neo-conservatism.  However, that is a lot timelier for today’s political atmosphere and still has the nod to the fascist’s ideas of purity from the comic book.  My point being that the alterations made in V For Vendetta do not weaken it as a story.  It merely updates it. 
The Wachowskis, the source material meddlers in this case, exist in a weird place for me as a film fan.  I was highly disappointed with their conclusion of The Matrix trilogy, but still respect the fact they always take crazy chances.  They entrusted the directing duties to long time collaborator James McTeigue, while staying on to write and produce.  However, their fingerprints are still all over this picture.  Finding and concentrating on the heart of their cinematic worlds is a common Wachowski m.o..  Where a film like V For Vendetta could have just fallen into the basic action vehicle cliché, the Wachowskis don’t let it.  There are genuinely moving moments in the film that still stun me.  The action scenes are terrific, but always serve as a tool to tell the story.  Not the other way around.
Before The Dark Knight came along, V For Vendetta was my choice for best ensemble cast performance in a comic book film.  Strange category, I know.  However, it is always a relief and a thrill for me when I see great talent trying to do great work in a genre film such as a comic book movie.  It thrilled me in History Of Violence, it thrilled me in The Dark Knight, and it thrilled me in V For Vendetta.  It is still a common misconception that the genre should be treated the way Schumacher treated Batman.  But there can be some amazing work turned in with the cape and cowl subset.  For example, this is by far my favorite performance by Hugo Weaving.  Yes, even more than his iconic Agent Smith.  Odd, seeing as we never see his face and that he was a last second replacement for James Purefoy.  Despite his Oscar, I’d put Weaving’s V right up there with Ledger’s Joker.  To accomplish the subtleties of V’s rage, anguish, humor and theatricality through an emotionless mask with only a voice is no small feat.  Portman, who I’ve loved since Leon: The Professional, seems to be playing a stereotypical damsel at first.  Much like she did in Thor.  However, Evey has the strongest arc in the film.  Her performance highpoint happens during the film’s big twist.  Her emotional journey during the four minute long scene hints at the Oscar caliber performance she had in her in the years to come.  Other than the leads, you have stellar supporting performances from John Hurt, Stephen Fry, Roger Allam, and the unsung anchor of the film, Stephen Rea.  There is absolutely no phoning it in here.
V For Vendetta doesn’t get nearly as much love as it should.  Even from it’s creator.  It seems to get misplaced amongst it’s lesser comic book movie brethren   For me, however, it is a film that shall never be FORGOT.  Remember, remember…to watch it….then tell me I’m wrong.  

October 21, 2012

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Word Association

The second feature for the upcoming Simplistic Reviews Podcast proves that all you need to make a great game show is a simple concept, catchy music, and a rather unorthodox announcer.  Welcome to Word Association.

Welcome to the new home of SimplisticReviews.net - We're currently still working on the site. You might notice a few issues, please be patient with us. Thanks! (Store also in testing — no orders shall be fulfilled.)
Scroll to top