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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – movie review
TMNJ (2014) is a mixed, live action / computer generated / science fiction / action / comedy film based on the characters of the same name which I assume was released aimed at the pre-teen market and / or adults needing to feel nostalgic.  It is a reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series from the 1990’s (and cartoon TV series from the 1980’s).   The film stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, and William Fichtner as the main live actors.  The Turtles are computer generated with voice-overs.
Full disclosure:  I am coming to this party late.  I have never seen a single episode from the series or any of the prior movies.  Consequently, my review is only of this movie – well, with the popular culture facts I was aware of.
So, there is a rat (“Splinter”) who raises four genetically modified turtles in the sewers of New York City.  The rat teaches them the martial art of Ninjitsu.  The four turtles are named after four famous Renaissance artists: Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael.  I’m not sure why.  The only explanation was the genetic experiment they were party to was called “The Renaissance Project”.   Anyway, the turtles are raised to fight crime – mainly the “Foot Clan” which is led by another martial arts expert named “Shredder” (who has a vague resemblance to “Edward Scissorhands” in an Iron-Man suit).  I gather that if you are familiar with either the TV show or the prior movies all of this is standard background.
Basically, the movie is action, one-liners, action, special effects, pause for family overcomes all message, more action, more special effects, and end with credits.  I think the movie was supposed to be more comedic, but Fox and Arnett couldn’t carry it off and their bits fell flat.
Was the movie any good?  Acting?  Special effects and action?  Yes.  No.  And, pretty good.
Good!?  Really?   Yes.  The movie was actually enjoyable.  It wasn’t great or original or anything like that, but it was modestly fun and I’d watch it again.  Acting?  Fair to poor.  Fichtner was acceptable (barely), Fox is attractive enough, but can’t really act, and Arnett is just plain bad (awful).  To be honest, aside from the CGI Turtles, Splinter and Shredder are the two best “actors / characters” in the movie.  The Turtles “make” the movie and either you can get into them or you can’t.  I did, so I enjoyed the movie.  All humans (actors) are just along for the ride.
Special effects and action?  Like I said, pretty good.  Enough to keep my attention and enjoy the film.  There’s a lot to quibble about, but that’s mostly the plot and actors and not the FXs.
Final recommendation: moderate for a normal person who’s into comic-book action movies.  I think “highly recommended” for the pre-teen target audience.  Reasonable action and special effects, together with the teen-age banter between the Turtles make this an enjoyable film.
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On This Day In:
2014 Book Return
2013 Keep Writing Your Truths
Perilous Times For The U.S. Military
2012 The Victor
2011 Forging Away At My Deadlines
2010 Try This With Your Shoes…

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Last night I finished binge viewing the new Marvel super-hero series “Daredevil” on Netflix.  My initial reaction was / is: “Wow!!”  Charlie Cox plays Matt Murdock (the good guy) and (so far) Vincent D’onofrio plays the arch-enemy (the bad guy) Wilson Fisk aka: the Kingpin.  This is comic-book storytelling writ large in a 13 hour multi-episode/chapter story for the first season of the Netflix show/series meant for adults.
First off, this is not a show for young children.  I would give it a solid “R” rating for graphic violence and topics.  I am less bothered by the “adult” language because it is infrequent and consistent with the storylines.  If any use of foul language upsets you, you will have a problem with this show.  Like I said, “meant for adults”.
The show is dark and gritty in an oily, smudgy, inner-urban way.  Even when it’s sunlight out, the city mostly looks run-down.  Now, I’ve only been to New York City once and I’ve never been to Hell’s Kitchen, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the show’s rendition of the area, but that’s the impression I came away with.  That’s not good or bad, it’s just the impression I have.  This is important because this is the “goal” for the protagonist and antagonist is to “win” Hell’s Kitchen and help to drive it’s fate into the future.  Of course, the good-guy wants it for the benefit of the common man, while the bad-guy wants it for his own wealth and ego aggrandizement.
I think it is a sign of the times that TV / Internet shows are now using corporate malfeasance and greed as the new “evil” in our urban society.  This show has a heavy political/economic tone/message which has been infrequent or absent in recent years (at least since the early to mid-Reagan Presidency).  So, it seems, we are coming full circle…  Within this context we are asked two additional questions: can one person make a difference; and, how far can a “good” person go before they become a “bad” person.
There are, of course, multiple levels to review this show:  Netflix / binge-ing, super-hero action series, TV drama.  Let’s start with binge viewing:  I did this.  Two days/nights, eight episodes and then the concluding five the following night.  It’s a long haul, but it’s “worth” it.  The stories are well told.  The characters have time to develop depth and quirks which add to the stories.  This is not a story which could have easily been translated into a 2 or 3 hour movie format.  So, yes, the Netflix streaming worked very well (IMHO).  The only question is would I have watched the same episode 4 to 6 times before the next one came out if they were released one per week.  I don’t know – almost certainly – at least when I was younger – for certain.  Does Netflix “lose” by this?  I guess it depends on how many times I go back to re-watch.  I must admit to being a fan of the instant gratification of seeing the next episode immediately if I want to.
Super-hero actions series:  graphic violence and very well sequenced fight scenes.   Interestingly, characters get hurt and take time to heal across episodes.  Is the “graphic” violence necessary to the story?  No.  I don’t think it really is required, but it does add a sense of realism lacking in most TV shows and action movies.  After one of the beheadings, I said to myself: “That could never make it on regular TV!”  Of course, there is no realism in the amount of punishment the hero takes (and survives), but then you have to remember: it’s not just TV, it’s a comic-book adaptation.
TV drama:  Excellent!  Good vs evil and one person making a difference are always (to me) story arcs of interest.  This show tells a story (as unrealistic as it may be) and the characters develop.  Even characters who seem major because they span multiple episodes – are introduced, developed, breathe, have a life beyond the main arc, and (frequently) die.  But, it is mostly very good drama.  To be honest, I was surprised at the quality of the writing and acting.
Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!  This sets a much higher bar for TV series super-heroes – particularly comic-book based.
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On This Day In:
2014 I Blame Robocop
2013 Future Trustees
2012 Praise Not The Day…
2011 Educated Living

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