Benicio del Toro is Swiper in Dora the Explorer Movie

It seems like the Dora the Explorer film news is just getting stranger. Now, veteran actor Benicio del Toro has signed on to voice Swiper the Fox in the live-action adaptation of the hit cartoon series. The movie, which stars Isabella Moner of Transformers: The Last Knight fame, has wrapped production but Swiper is expected to be all CGI.

Dora the Explorer also has Michael Pena and Eva Longoria in its cast and is directed by James Bobin from a screenplay by Nicholas Stoller. Bobin directed The Muppets and Alice Through the Looking Glass for Disney, while Stoller wrote the screenplay for the former. The film is expected to be released August 2, 2019.

Now, I should preface by saying I’ve never seen a single episode of Dora the Explorer, though I understand the structure and framework of the show, but the more talent joining up with the film is only a good sign. I’m a fan of Bobin and Stoller’s work behind the camera and the great cast in front of it only sounds better with del Toro’s addition.

From what I understand, Swiper is the villain of the film so having a villainous voice could work. What’s concerning me, though, is that this film is sounding more and more Bay-ed as we go on. There was a now-debunked rumor that Michael Bay was heavily involved in production here just like with his Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and both of those franchises are not favoring too well at the moment (though Bumblebee may change that for the Transformers). All I’m saying is that Paramount Pictures is pushing this movie down a strange avenue.

Hopefully, I’m wrong, and the addition of del Toro still sends good vibes to the Dora the Explorer movie. I’m waiting on the first trailer for a better indicator of where we stand with this one, so I’ll keep you posted.

But what do you think? Is Benicio del Toro the right choice to voice Swiper? Where do you stand on the live-action Dora the Explorer movie? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[Editorial] Yes, I’ve Seen Footage from Transformers: The Last Knight

Hey everyone, I thought I would share some takeaways from a recent screening I attended in which Transformers: The Last Knight footage was revealed. I should note that we were told early on that some of the footage was incomplete, but overall, I got the sense that most of it was.

The footage started with an introduction from director Michael Bay who walked the audience through the process of creating and filming with IMAX 3D cameras, and he informed us that this film was the first to be entirely shot in IMAX 3D.

We are then presented with what I expect to be the opening, involving King Arthur battling a Cybertronian dragon and a major battle in the past.

We also see the introduction of Izabella and her Autobot friend Sqweeks as well as Canopy, the garbage-Autobot revealed in promotional material. Canopy seems like a tremendously stupid idea, but I liked what I saw from Izabella and Sqweeks.

We are reintroduced to Cade Yeager (played by Mark Wahlberg), who returns from Transformers: Age of Extinction, who has now taken up residence at a junkyard with Bumblebee and Grimlock, the Dinobot recently introduced in the previous installment. Grimlock seems to be taking on the personality of a pet dog, which I thought was kind of funny, but I also imagine that it won’t make the fanbase too happy.

We also got our first look at Anthony Hopkins’ character as he is the one who sets Cade on his quest. He also has some fun rapport with his Autobot caretaker which I though was pretty good.

All in all, there weren’t a whole lot of surprises in the viewing, but at least I didn’t have a whole lot of groans. The movie looks like standard Transformers fare, but at least it has a new writing team after the writer’s room created 14-plus Transformers films over a year ago. Let’s just hope Michael Bay didn’t inject too much bayhem here.

Are you excited for Transformers: The Last Knight? What’s your favorite installment of the franchise? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

[Happy 20th Birthday!] Bad Boys (1995)

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Tea Leoni, Tcheky Karyo, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano

Screenplay: Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland, Doug Richardson

118 mins. Rated R for intense violent action and pervasive strong language.

 

I just watched Bad Boys for the second time. The first viewing I had was sometime after the sequel, Bad Boys II, was released. I was upset I hadn’t seen the original film and therefore could not witness the explosive spectacle of a film, so I changed that. I watched it. I somehow remember the film being…how do I put it, less terrible?

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Bad Boys is a buddy cop film about partners Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence, TV’s Partners, Big Momma’s House) and Mike Lowry (Will Smith, Men in Black, Focus). Burnett is a married man with a couple kids who dreams of less complicated days. Lowry is a newly rich single man who likes to get down and dirty with the ladies. When one of Lowry’s special ones is shot down in a hail of gunfire, her friend Julie (Tea Leoni, TV’s Madam Secretary, Deep Impact) goes to Lowry for help. She ends up believing that Burnett is Lowry and seeking out protection from him. As the two cops play some stupid version of Trading Places, there is also a bad guy doing…something. This is Bad Boys.

Bad Boys is the feature film debut of director Michael Bay (Transformers, Pain & Gain), and it also gives some of his less-awful work, though he still valued explosions over character development (what develops a character more than almost dying constantly, right?).

The two leads have enough chemistry to really build a franchise akin to Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop, but the script merely bastardizes the two series by ripping them off too much instead of forging a new path for itself, and the mistaken identity Freaky Friday conceit that envelops the film falls flat almost instantly and is drug along for the entire film’s runtime instead of abandoned early on like it should have been.

The villain Fouchet (Tcheky Karyo, TV’s The Missing, The Patriot) is a cardboard cutout with little memorable features. I just watched it and I can’t even really recall his purpose. He is neither fleshed out enough to feel real of sinister enough to be terrifying.

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Michael Bay’s Bad Boys is a bad film. I feel like Lawrence and Smith could play with their buddy cop relationship well if only the script was serviceable enough to give them room to play. For the most part, their talent is completely wasted and overshadowed by the “Things Blowing Up” route Bay’s directing takes them.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, click here.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, Bingbing Li, T.J. Miller

Screenplay: Ehren Kruger

165 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo.

 

It has been seven years since Transformers came out. I can’t believe I’m sitting here writing a review of the fourth film in this series, Transformers: Age of Extinction. This film is a bit of a departure in that it takes place five years after The Battle of Chicago, as it is referred to (which took place in Dark of the Moon) and features an entirely new cast of characters. Literally, nobody returns to this franchise for the fourth film except some of the voice actors for the Transformers.

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This installment introduces us to Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights, Ted 2), a novice inventor, and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz, TV’s Bates Motel, The Last Airbender). Cade is a picker who scavenges for parts to use in his various inventions. He and his assistant Lucas (T.J. Miller, Cloverfield, Big Hero 6) come across a truck in an old abandoned theater and take it home to discover it is Optimus Prime in hiding. A government official named Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer, TV’s Cheers, The Expendables 3) has hired a human hitman (Titus Welliver, The Town, Promised Land) and a bounty hunter Decepticon named Lockdown to hunt down and destroy the remaining Transformers. Meanwhile, a big-time business named Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci, The Hunger Games, Muppets Most Wanted) is developing new technology incorporating Autobot tech and using it to build his own Transformers.

The plot is at least a new direction for this series. I was getting tired of the limited character development of Shia LaBeouf. This film isn’t great, but it certainly epitomizes the Michael Bay promise: likable trash. I had a lot of fun watching this movie. It just felt newer, and it had a lot more in terms of acting prowess (from Wahlberg, Tucci, Grammer, and Miller). The plot runs on for damn near forever, but I’ve come to expect that from this series and I didn’t feel as restless as I had from the last few movies.

I also absolutely love the design of the new Transformers in this installment. Hound (voiced by John Goodman) is a new Autobot who plays off like an old army colonel. He is an absolutely fantastic and angry beast who actually transforms to have a cigar in his mouth, too. Drift (voiced by Ken Watanabe) is a samurai who has blades that come from his transformation into an Apache helicopter. The faces are so well-defined that this is the first Transformers movie where I know all the Transformers based on looks. These are different characters.

And then there’s Lockdown. This is a complex character who is joining the US government to take on the Autobots and also has plans of his own.

I enjoyed this movie more so than I thought, and perhaps that comes from hearing all these bad reviews coming out of this movie’s initial release. I guess I had my hopes down.

One major flaw came from Galvatron, who is one of the new lead villains, a man-made Decepticon who feels so underdeveloped that it becomes really tough to fear him.

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All in all, this was more fun than expected. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, because you will be here awhile, and non-Transformers fans need not apply.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

What did you think of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction? Did it transform into a masterpiece or did you “Roll Out” of the theater? Let me know!

 

For my review of Transformers, click here.

For my review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, click here.

For my review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, click here.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Ken Jeong, John Malkovitch, Frances McDormand

Screenplay: Ehren Kruger

154 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Visual Effects

 

C’mon, people. Robots are fighting. Things are blowing up. Of course it is a Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pain & Gain) movie!

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Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, Lawless, Fury) is now finished with college and trying to make a life for himself. His only claim to fame is saving the world twice, which he isn’t allowed to mention (even though I’m pretty sure that he is called out in the previous film by name over the television airwaves, so I imagine he wouldn’t have to hide it). He has a new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Mad Max: Fury Road) and a new home, but no job until he meets Bruce Brazos (John Malkovitch, TV’s Crossbones, Dangerous Liaisons) who grants him one. Meanwhile, the Autobots and NEST are coming under heavy fire from Charlotte Mearing (Frances McDormand, Fargo, Promised Land) who believes that NEST should be restructured or disassembled. The Autobots have been busy trying to uncover the mystery of an Autobot ship that crashed on the moon and caused the space race.

Screenwriter Ehren Kruger (The Ring, Blood & Chocolate) seems to have learned from the mistakes made in the previous installment. The basic plot structure of this film has reeled it back to where it becomes very simplistic. In fact, the finale of the film is the entire last half. Now, I will admit that there are definite pacing issues. So much of the minutia of the first hour feels unimportant until the major event about halfway through, involving an invasion of Chicago. Once that happens, there are a lot of Chicago set pieces. A lot. I mean it. The film could’ve chopped a few scenes off. Two and a half hours long is reaching for a Transformers movie until they learn about how plot and character development  work.

The actors and actresses seem better in this film when compared to the previous installment. Patrick Dempsey (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, Valentine’s Day) is one notable exception as Dylan, Carly’s boss who helps Sam get his job but has some secrets of his own. He is absolutely awful, and I like him normally. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley actually succeeds at performing worse than Megan Fox did. I don’t know how, but she did.

We get a lot of awesome battles, specifically a few involving Shockwave, a massive beast of a Decepticon who can take down skyscrapers with ease. The visual effects continue to impress in this series.

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon doesn’t get nearly as much right as the original film, but is more of an achievement than Revenge of the Fallen was. It gets a lot more on track, but it still comes down to likable trash. Worth a see, but still mostly for major fans.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Turturro

Screenplay: Ehren Krueger, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

150 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

 

I was extremely surprised that I enjoyed Michael Bay’s Transformers. I had convinced myself all the way up to the premiere night that I was in for a long slow burn of disappointment. I was wrong. I had fun. That was a similar case with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the 2009 sequel featuring Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, Lawless, Fury) heading to college and trying to balance his life and relationships with Mikaela (Megan Fox, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, This is 40) with that of Bumblebee and the Transformers. I found the film to be an occasionally enjoyable romp with much lower quality of technical achievement. I didn’t think the movie was boring, but I felt like they had stretched the premise of the first film without offering anything new of merit. It felt like a big budget movie with absolutely no forward momentum for its characters. It looked nice, but really nothing special.

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Sam Witwicky is college bound. Unfortunately, his Autobot friends are challenged by threats old and new including the reanimation of Megatron and the reemergence of an exiled Transformer known only as The Fallen. The remaining Autobots have joined with new allies as well as a human tactical team called NEST, featuring old friends Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel, TV’s Las Vegas, Scenic Route) and USAF Master Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Black Nativity). Before leaving for college, Sam uncovers a piece of the Allspark which gives him visions of Autobot language and clues leading him around the world in search of a mystical tool that can save his friends and defeat The Fallen.

After multiple viewings, I began to notice how none of the plot actually made a whole lot of sense. The convoluted quest Sam finds himself on is strange as it is leading him to something he doesn’t even need yet. It isn’t until partway through the quest that he actually has a use for what he is looking for.

Shia LaBeouf’s performance is downright underwhelming. If there was an award for yelling “Bumblebee!” as many times as you can, he might win, but performances don’t really matter when the script is so shotty. We have to blame the writer’s strike, which caused the death of several terrific television series and a screenplay that wasn’t ready entering production. Disappointing, too, because if waited on, I’m sure the film would have been more successful, but this team just didn’t have the time to actually create an organic story. This is more jerry-rigged.

Ehren Kruger (The Ring, Blood and Chocolate) added some underwhelming touches to the original material drafted by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), and I feel like he was too attached to the material as he was quoted as being a major Transformers fan. Of course he can’t do justice to the film. Too much pressure.

I didn’t really hate all the annoying characters (I tend to believe that Jar Jar Binks is needed in Episode I to prove that some aliens are going to be annoying as shit), but there was a lot of them, ranging from Autobots to humans.

The big win of the film is Devastator, a Decepticon comprised of several moving parts and automobiles. That was some great creature design.

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If given the option, find a copy of this film in its IMAX edition because the only major element of this film that works is the Visual Effects (even if Bay does continue to show us the robots transforming just because). This movie will delight fans of the Transformers brand, but likely no one else.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, click here.

Transformers (2007)

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Anderson, Megan Fox, Rachael Taylor, John Turturro, Jon Voight

Screenplay: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

144 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor, and language.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Visual Effects

 

I had a conversation once with a friend who told me something very profound and possibly the best description of director Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pain & Gain). He said, “Michael Bay makes likable trash.” It’s true. None of his films are very well put together, so going into them with the thought process that you are reviewing a Best Picture nominee would be a mistake. You have to take it at face value.

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That being said, I think Transformers is one of his best works. It stars Shia LaBeouf (Lawless, Fury) as Sam Witwicky, a teenager who just wants a car. He wants something that is his, something that he thinks will make him unique. He quickly finds out how true that is when he comes across the realization that his newly acquired vehicle is actually a robot in disguise named Bumblebee. Bumblebee is an Autobot, a good guy, and he isn’t the only Transformer on Earth. In fact, Sam soon finds himself entangled in a battle between the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, led by an unknown force. Sam only has romantic interest Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, This is 40) to assist him as he is hunted by the mysterious government agency Sector 7 and its leader Agent Simmons (John Turturro, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Exodus: Gods and Kings). Meanwhile, a military base in Qatar is attacked by Decepticon forces, leading Captain William Lennox (Josh Duhamel, TV’s Las Vegas, Scenic Route) and USAF Tech Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Black Nativity) across the desert in search of rescue and answers.

I walked into Transformers expecting crap, but what I got was a fun romp that didn’t take itself very seriously and worked for that very reason. It had a lighthearted screenplay from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and strong actors in the roles, with the exception of Megan Fox who essentially fills the role of Boobs and Ass very nicely, but is little more than a thing to look at when the robots aren’t fighting. Bay doesn’t take his source material very seriously either, and I think that is why it works so well. He was reported as almost turning down the film based on the fact that he didn’t know or like the Transformers line. The same can be said of J.J. Abrams when he took the role of director on the Star Trek films. He wasn’t a fan of them and therefore came at the material from an unclaimed perspective.

I think that is one of the reasons that the sequels to Transformers suffer from so many more flaws, but the original film is a good time. Most of the production’s technical aspects are nothing too exciting, but the post-production work with the visual effects is astounding and if you asked me, and of course you are, I think that it got robbed the Oscar in visual effects that year.

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Have fun with this movie. I did. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much fun I had. It had some pretty likable trash indeed.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

31 Days of Horror: Day 6 – Resident Evil (2002)

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Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, Colin Salmon

Screenplay: Paul W.S. Anderson

100 mins. Rated R for strong sci-fi/horror violence, language and sexuality/nudity.

 

I think every video game player in the world has played Resident Evil at some point. My association with it came from Resident Evil 2 for the Playstation. My brother had it, and I would sneak into his room, watch the opening cinematic, and die really quickly before turning off the system and running back into my room before he noticed. I never thought much more of it until I heard that a film version was coming out, on my birthday, no less.

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Resident Evil is, in essence, a prequel to the game series and beginning of a franchise with five films and a sixth on the way. It is the story of Alice (Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element, Faces in the Crowd), who awakens in a mansion with amnesia. She very quickly finds that not all is even close to what it seems as her home is attacked by several commandos, among them Rain (Michelle Rodriguez, Avatar, Machete Kills). She is taken to an underground facility beneath her “beard” home where, hours earlier, a deadly virus was unleashed on its employees, turning them into the undead. Now, she and another civilian, Matt (Eric Mabius, TV’s Ugly Betty, The Crow: Salvation) must discover the secrets behind the facility known as The Hive and the artificial intelligence known as The Red Queen governing its walls.

It is tough to grade Resident Evil on its merits as a technical film. Movies based on video games have a separate code of ethics to abide by. I wasn’t watching it to be ready for the Academy Awards that year. I was just hoping it didn’t suck. While not being a massively important film, it was an enjoyable and fun ride. The cast was comprised of actors having a lot of fun with the action set pieces, among them series star Jovovich, the only actress to appear in each installment thus far.

We understand that many of these characters will not survive. It is almost a sure thing that Rain won’t, given that she is the female Sean Bean.

Writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson (Death Race) can definitely create some awesome moments, though, and he crafted his movie as though it were a game. He did the same with the film adaptation of Mortal Kombat. A great writer he is not. A great director he is not. A maker of fun films he is. Almost like Michael Bay, Anderson creates some amazing action but little more. Definitely still leagues ahead of Uwe Boll, Anderson seems more like Ang Lee by comparison.

The score, with assistance by Marilyn Manson, helps further the fact that we are dealing with popcorn and eye candy.

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Resident Evil remains one of the stronger entries of the series, and given the enjoyment I felt while watching, definitely belongs on the list of better video game movies.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

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Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Cast: Megan Fox, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszak, Noel Fisher, Will Arnett, Danny Woodburn, William Fichter, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub

Screenplay: John Applebaum, Andre Nemec, Evan Daugherty

101 mins.  Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.

 

 

The Ninja Turtles are back! Go Ninja Go Ninja Go!, and while they may not be the same Teenage Mutants that we knew from previous installments, and they may not be as good yet, fans who are willing to jump in and evolve with the franchise will find some thrills here.

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This year’s TMNT sees our fabled turtles meeting up with April O’Neil (Megan Fox, Transformers, This is 40) and her partner Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett, TV’s Bojack Horseman, The Lego Movie) to stop an evil corporate tycoon (William Fichter, The Dark Knight, Elysium) allied with the vicious Shredder from unleashing a fatal toxin the general public. Pretty normal fare, I know that, and it isn’t all winners, so let’s break it down.

Megan Fox is just terrible. She is the worst April O’Neil I have ever seen, and it isn’t particularly difficult as far as roles go. Luckily she has some solid help from the always wonderful Will Arnett as Vernon, the video guy that wants in April’s jumpsuit. Arnett is the absolute saving grace performer here, as he gives nods to his other likable roles (did anybody else see him make the parmesan mustard sandwich from Arrested Development?) and provides us with exactly what this picture sometimes lacked: levity.

My only other major character qualm is in the form of the ruthless Shredder, a very underdeveloped monstrosity who serves only as the “final boss” of this video game of a film. In the inevitable sequel, I want more Shredder. I want to know Shredder like I did in the live-action 90s predecessor.

The turtles are much more developed individuals, and I can see the similarities between this incarnation and the 2003 animated series. I like that we see some more fleshed out characters, the animosity and rivalry between Leonardo and Raphael, the often giggle-able Michelangelo, and the kooky and odd machine-freak Donatello.

The major win here is the effects. I know watching the trailer made my stomach churn as I imagined really badly animated turtles, but thankfully, some solid fixing up before the release made this an extravaganza.

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Well, this incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wasn’t perfect by any means, but I would disagree with former Turtle performer Robbie Rist, who at one time claimed that Michael Bay was sodomizing the characters (please South Park, do not dig too deeply into this). I think that these are turtles with room to grow and develop further, and to be honest, I didn’t really find them cringe-worthy (a fear I had previously held). This movie is fun. I already hear rumblings of a sequel and I hope that the creative team is willing to take time to listen to the feedback they received for this initial outing and use it to make the second installment worthy of the TMNT moniker. For now though, I had a lot of fun at the theater, and if you see this film willing to actually give it a go, I think you will be presently surprised.

 

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

So what did you think of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Did you enjoy some ninja pizza or did your enjoyment vanish quickly without trace? Let me know!

 

For my review of Jonathan Liebesman’s Darkness Falls, click here.

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