Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

TV Movie Review: Sharknado 2: The Second One (TV14 – 90 minutes)

I figured it would be appropriate to post this as a quick follow-up to my review of the original Sharknado.  Was the sequel better than the first?  No – but it certainly was crazier!  In case you had no clue about the SyFy channel’s first Sharknado – congrats on being able to successfully live under that rock.  It debuted in July of last year, and was instantly a huge internet hit.  Mainly because it was so unapologetically terrible that it was fantastic. 

Plans quickly went into place for SyFy to create a second one, with celebrities literally clamoring for the opportunity to pop in with cameos.  

The plot of this one (does it matter?  No, no it does not) begins with our hero Fin (yes, Fin) reconciled with his ex-wife April and flying to New York (where they are apparently from, even though that was never mentioned in the first movie) where she will be doing a book signing for her smash hit novel “How to Survive a Sharknado”.  This is a real book – which you can purchase at Amazon by following this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Survive-Sharknado-Other-Unnatural-Disasters/dp/0553418130/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406822969&sr=8-1&keywords=how+to+survive+a+sharknado I have already ordered my copy.  

While on the flight, the plane (which is being piloted by Robert Hayes – who probably picked a bad day to stop fearing sharks) flies into a sharknado that is making its way up the coast to New York City.  Sharks slam into the plane, kill both pilot and co-pilot, and Fin is forced to land the plane (because in addition to being a champion surfer, he can also land planes).  April loses a hand to a plane-shark.  Wil Wheaton and Kelly Osborne both lose their heads.  

After landing, Fin looks for his sister and their family, while warning the media of the impending doom.  April goes to the hospital, Fin calls his sister and has to go to the Mets stadium to rescue his brother-in-law and his nephew, along with his high school buddy, and high school sweetheart.  As they head back into Manhattan to meet up with Fin’s sister and her daughter, not one – but two Sharknados make landfall, and soon Manhattan is swarming with sharks. 

  • Once again, Ian Ziering wins this movie by overcommitting, and playing Fin way more serious than is necessary.  He does jump chainsaw first into another shark in this one, but slices right through it in midair – because you have to amp everything up a notch in a sequel.  He once again looks like he is having the absolute time of his life, and his enthusiasm spills out onto the audience. While he doesn't get the amazing finale in this one he had in the first, he does ride a shark through a Sharknado to impale it on the Empire State Building - so you know, victory.

  • Tara Reid once again seems to play the entire movie as if she was half asleep.  Although – in this one, after losing her hand, she does get to graft a weapon onto it – it’s not a chainsaw, but it is still pretty cool.  Also - Ziering does say to her, "next time when I ask you to give me a hand, don't take it so literally."  Genius.  Also - the shark he rides in the conclusion?  Still has her hand with the wedding ring on it inside.  The science is sound.

  • Vivica A. Fox plays Fin’s high school sweetie, Skye, who is thinking this is her second chance with Fin, because she didn’t know he and April have reconciled.  She quickly sets that aside and sets out to help him take out as may sharks as possible.  She’s sassy and entertaining, and I enjoyed watching her stomp through this nonsense.

  • Mark McGrath plays Fin’s brother in law Martin Brody.  Apparently, they used to be best buds in high school, but had a falling out when he married Fin’s sister.  He is exactly what you expect of Mark McGrath in a movie – but he does get to say, after watching Fin bounce across sharks from one car to the next “You just jumped the shark.”  Very clever.

  • Kari Wuhrer plays Ellen Brody, Fin’s Sister.  She gets to run from sharks in the harbor, then run from the tumbling head of the statue of Liberty as it careens down a street.  You heard me right.

  • Judah Friedlander played the other high school buddy, and since he wasn’t wearing his glasses, it took me a minute to recognize him.  He goes after some sharks with a huge baseball bat.

  • Kurt Angle play the NYC Fire Chief, oh, it’s true.  He puts on an impressive New York City accent, and seems awfully comfortable with turning over the saving of the city duties to Fin, who really is just some random surfer.  He helps Fin execute his totally crazy plan to freeze the sharknado.
  • Sandra ‘Pepa’ Denton – yes, that Pepa (where was Salt?  Surely they both could have been in this) plays another high school friend of Ellen.  She doesn’t make it all the way through, but she’s pretty awesome for the amount she was in.

  • There are literally too many celebrity cameos to mention, Kelly Osborne and Wil Wheaton on the plane were great, the fact that Robert Hayes was flying the plane was awesome – the fact that Matt Lauer and Al Roker gave weather updates every 15 to 20 minutes was fantastic.

  • Apparently one of the Shark Tank guys was in it, and he ironically did not get eaten by a shark (crushed by Statue of Liberty head) – Perez Hilton gets eaten by a subway shark at a subway station that had a Subway Subs ad on the wall over a bench on which sat Jared from Subway eating a sub – Sharks rain down on the Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan show – Strahan tackles a shark – Judd Hirsch plays a taxi driver – Biz Markie plays a pizza shop owner – and Andy Dick plays a police officer.

If you liked the first one, you will love this one.  It’s completely over-the-top bananas, and while the first one had some environmental messages (Global warming is causing superstorms!  Shark Finning is a horrible, cruel practice!), this one is really just a pile of nonsense made exclusively for the fans.  Check your brain at the door – you’ll love it.  

Also, again, anyone who points out that it couldn’t happen, the appropriate response is “the science is sound”.  If they complain that it’s poorly acted, poorly put together, or that the effects are poor – that is when you knunch them (remember, that’s a combo knee and punch at the same time).  Everyone needs a little brain-free fun every once and awhile.  SyFy will replay Sharknado and Sharknado 2 this Saturday – catch them.

10 out of 10 – The theme song – yes, there’s a theme song – will definitely get stuck in your head.  Bonus points for all the celebrity cameos; big points for the subway alligator that attacks to DPW workers, but then extra points for that alligator getting eaten by a shark.  Because yes.

Bonus Video 1: Don’t forget that Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda airs this coming Saturday.

Bonus Video 2: SDCC 2014 Sharknado panel

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Movie Review: Lucy (R – 90 minutes)

I love Luc Besson movies, at least, most of them.  He did the original La Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element, The Messenger, and was the producer/writer behind Kiss of the Dragon, The Transporter, District B13 and Unleashed (which also featured Morgan Freeman).  

His movies tend to be fast and slick action movies, with a little bit of thinking on top.   Lucy has that trademark, but really overdoes the thinking bit. 

Lucy tells the story of a young woman who seems to be a student in Asia, doing a lot of partying and hanging with a sketchy dude.  The dude wants her to carry a suitcase into a hotel, ask for Mr. Jang, and hand it over.  She attempts this, but instead gets snatched by Jang’s men who cut her open and stuff a bag of a new drug into her belly – along with the bellies of three other random dudes.  They plan to use them as drug mules.  While in holding before her flight, one of her captors kicks Lucy in the abdomen, causing the bag to rupture, and the drug to start leaking into her system.  Since the drug is similar to the drug in the movie Limitless and expands the percentage of the brain that can be used, Lucy starts getting some interesting side effects.  It begins with her not feeling any pain, and suddenly having memories that go all the way back to infancy.  As the drug works through her system, and she goes from the 10% we all use to 20% to 40%, and so on, she begins to be able to control her own cells, then control other people, then begin to … time travel?

  • Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Lucy – I just wish the awesome that was there in the beginning was maintained through the movie.  Nearing the end, she spends a lot of time just sitting in a chair and staring out into space with a blank look on her face. 

  • Morgan Freeman place Professor Norman, a neuroscientist who Lucy finds and instantly reads all his research.  Apparently if you could use 20% of your brain, you could read really fast, and remotely appear on people's hotel TVs - because brainpower and electricy.  He essentially gets all the exposition in this movie, but really, if you have Morgan Freeman, why not use him for that.  He really does narrate the end.  His narration at the beginning takes the form of him lecturing to a class about the brain.  As this happens, the movie intercuts stock footage, in a really interesting bit of editing.

  • Min-sik Choi, a Korean actor with lots of experience in Korean movies, plays Mr. Jang.  He’s vicious, he’s angry, and he’s very serious about getting his drugs back.  He’s also very upset when Lucy interrupts his tattoo appointment to stab him in the hands.  He then hunts her for the rest of the movie.

  • Egyptian actor Amr Waked, who was in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, plays French Police Captain Pierre Del Rio.  Lucy enlists his help to take down the other mules, and then to collect the drugs and track down the professor.

  • Julian Rhind-Tutt (you’d recognize him if you saw him – he was the partner in Keen Eddie, and if you haven’t seen any Keen Eddie – rent that now) shows up very briefly to explain what Mr. Jang is all about and what the plan is.  Basically, more exposition, which someone else had to do, because it’s not like Morgan Freeman can explain the drug dealer’s plan.
  • Pilou Asbaek plays the sketchy dude Richard who gets Lucy involved in this mess.  He doesn’t last long. 

The movie has a great premise, and Scarlett Johannsen is the perfect actress for it.  I really enjoyed the beginning, where she was just beginning to use her powers, but as the movie progresses, she does less and less.  I liked the bit with her seeing cell phone signals, being able to pick one out, then listen in to that conversation - even though I am not sure I buy that increased brain power would allow you to do that.  

The finale taking place as she sits in a chair - seriously, she's in that chair for what feels like 20 minutes.  The final 30% (as she goes from 70% to 100%) results in us being treated to seeing what Lucy sees, which turns out to be various moments through history, plus a great deal of space scenes (just colorful nebulas and random stars - and then what seems to be the destruction of the earth, and space jellyfish...seriously).  She even has a moment where she connects with the ‘Lucy’ that is regarded as one of the earliest forms of human (because that was mentioned earlier).  She does do all this while sitting in the aforementioned chair, and staring off into the distance with a blank look on her face.   And while it is interesting, and prompts you to think about the philosophical implications of us using all of our brainpower, honestly, it is a little boring in a movie.  That's more the subject of a NOVA special on PBS.  In a Luc Besson movie, I would have preferred the final act to be more action-y.  She gets out of control, and it takes the army to bring her down.  Like Chronicle, or something like that.  Instead, she sits in her chair and turns into a supercomputer - spoiler alert.  It would have been cooler, movie-wise, to see her continuing to use more and more increasingly amazing powers.  Oh well, I suppose I can consider that while sitting in this chair, and staring blankly off into space.

6 out of 10 – Lost points for the end being too long and boring.  Gained points for the cool stuff at the beginning.  Simultaneously gained and lost points for the airplane sequence.  It was cool – but did she really disintegrate?  And if she did, did chewing the drugs bring her back?  With all the other exposition scenes in this movie, we don’t have one for this bit of craziness?  And what the hell with doubling her hand?  That could have played out more interestingly.

Bonus Video 1:  Keen Eddie - rent this series now.

Bonus Video 2:  Fifth Element - one of the best movies ever.

Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews

Monday, July 21, 2014

TV Movie Review: Sharknado (TV14 – 86 minutes)

I don’t normally blog about TV movies, but I feel like this is a special occasion, after all, the sequel will premiere next week.  Sharknado really started as one of the SyFy channel’s typical Saturday night creature-feature movies.  In case you are unfamiliar, SyFy premieres these beautifully terrible movies usually about two a month.  They cover various genres (horror, fantasy, science-fiction), but my favorites are the ones featuring ridiculous creatures that go crazy and attack a bunch of people using CGI that is on the level of (or worse than) what you used to see on Hercules and Xena. 

Trademarks of these movies are D-list actors, terrible special effects, average to poor writing, and even worse acting.  While that sounds bad; in reality, that is what makes these movies great.  They are absolutely so terrible that they are epic.  Using the format Roger Corman developed in the 50s, every single person involved knows exactly the type of movie they are making, and when they commit to making something completely self-aware, the result is two hours of pure turn-off-your-brain entertainment.  There have been way too many of these to list, but most of them are available on Netflix now, so you should go back and check out of a few of the better (and remember, by better, I mean more entertaining) movies. 

Arachnoquake starred Edward Furlong (yes, the kid from T2) and Tracey Gold (yes, the girl from Growing Pains) and covered the perfectly believable story of an earthquake in New Orleans releasing fire-breathing giant spiders on the city.  In an environmental twist – the earthquake was caused by frakking, so this one had a message!

Ice Spiders is one of my favorites and stars Patrick Muldoon, Vanessa Williams and Thomas Calabro (I think those are all Melrose Place vets – but I am not positive on that) as well as the late, great, Stephen J. Cannell.  Scientists working in a secret lab near a ski resort have created giant spiders, which of course get loose and terrorize everyone at the resort.  It features insane shots of skiers jumping off moguls and getting attacked mid-air by terrible CGI spiders.  The environmental message with this one was more along the lines of “don’t mess with nature”.

There are two Mega Shark movies already – a third will premiere next week during SyFy’s Sharknado hype week.  Of the two existing; the first is Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus starring Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah “not Debbie” Gibson, but I prefer the second, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus starring Jaleel “not Urkel” White and Gary Stretch.  The environmental message with MegaShark I believe comes from an anti-global warming place.  Global Warming caused the glaciers to melt, which released the monsters.

There is the fantastic Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, which starred the aforementioned Deborah Gibson and her teen pop rival Tiffany.  I think there’s an environmental message with this one too, but I don’t remember it.

My absolutely favorite is Sharktopus (who earlier this year took on Mermantula, and next week will take on Pteracuda), where an evil scientist – played of course by Eric Roberts - creates a hybrid Shark/Octopus for the military, which then of course gets loose and goes crazy on a Mexican resort town.  The message with this one is the “don’t mess with nature’s genetics – and for sure don’t expect to control nature”.

There are many others (Sand Sharks, Dinoshark, Piranhaconda, etc.), and like I said – SyFy just throws them together and airs them regularly.  But last summer, something extraordinary happened.  Sharknado, which of course is about sharks in a tornado (the science is sound) became an internet sensation – I am not sure what it was about this one in particular, but it blew up on Twitter as everyone who was watching it got in on the fun, and commented all the way through.  And to be fair, this one is completely over the top.

It opens with the environmental message scene.  There is a suspicious scene between two businessmen on a boat – one is exchanging money for the other’s shark-finning catch (incidentally, shark finning is a brutal and disgusting practice – and anyone who does it should have their arms cut off, and then be thrown into the ocean – since that is what they are doing to sharks.  That’s basically my belief with any perpetrator of any kind of animal cruelty – they should have done to them what they are doing to the animals…but I digress) to make shark fin soup – at least, that is what implied.   They are off the coast of Mexico when this freak hurricane comes up.  We later learn that the hurricane is a result of global warming – so this movie has a double environmental message!   Basically, the scene serves to let you know there are a lot of sharks in one area of the ocean for some weird reason.  Meanwhile, we’re introduced to our hero Fin (yes, his name is Fin), a local surf-legend and bar owner.  There is a shark attack in the water while Fin and his Australian friend, Baz, are out surfing.  Again, really just to point out there is a surprising number of sharks around.  Fin, his bartender Nova (yes, her name is Nova), Baz, and a drunk bar patron, George, are all in the bar he owns on Santa Monica pier when the hurricane rolls in to L.A.  Since there were so many sharks in the area, they get swept into the town as the water rolls in.  Then, the hurricane produces three tornados, and sure enough – the sharks get swept up into the tornados, and then randomly come crashing down into different places and events, chomping the whole way.   Hey, the science is sound.

Fin and the gang head over to his ex-wife’s house to rescue her and his daughter, they lose her new boyfriend – he’s a bit of a dick, so it is not really a loss.  Then they head to the local flight school to rescue his son.  Along the way, he and his ex, April, realize they still have feelings for one another, because if a sharknado can’t get you in touch with your real feelings, nothing can.  Once they arrive at the flight school, they form a plan.  Essentially a tornado is circulating air currents, and if they can disrupt those currents, like with a bomb, then they can shut down the tornados filled with chomping sharks, right?  The science is sound.
They head to a hardware store to collect materials and weapons.  Nova presents an amazing monologue that explains why she hates sharks (one of the lines is, “And that’s why I hate sharks”), Fin picks up a chainsaw, and quickly follows the Ash rules for chainsaw wielding in genre battles – Groovy.  They build some bombs, and then Matt (Fin’s son) and Nova take a helicopter up into the air to defeat the sharknadoes.  They successfully eliminate two of them, but in the process of defeating the third, a shark clamps onto the bottom of their helicopter.  

Nova gets it loose, throws the last bomb, but falls out of the helicopter – directly into the mouth of Great White – who is flying by with its mouth open at that time.  Remember – the science is sound. 
Back on the ground, Fin and company are corralling residents of a retirement home into the building – because sharks are raining down everywhere, especially into their pool – they head out into the streets just as Matt lands.  Fin sees a Great White heading directly for his daughter, and tells her to duck, then runs and jumps directly into the mouth of the shark – chainsaw-first.  The family begins to grieve the loss of Fin, but then, you hear the chainsaw and he hacks his way out of the shark’s belly!  And, that is not all, after popping out, he reaches back in, and pulls out Nova!  After some CPR, she’s just fine.  The group rejoices, and the movie ends with a black screen and the word “Fin”.  Come on – that is brilliant.

  • There are several reasons why this particular piece of SyFy geninonsense (that’s the Syfy ability to combine genius and nonsense) was such a bigger hit than any of its others, but the main reason is Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard.  Ziering attacks this role and plays it with perfect over-the-top genuine-ness.  He is completely aware of how silly the situation is, but still allows Fin to be the perfect hero for the situation.

  • Tara Reid has never been a good actress, and that is especially evident here, it just happens to make sense in this role!  She seems to be half-asleep through most of the movie, and does spend some time yelling at Fin for trying to save everyone, what?

  • The great John Heard chews the scenery (yes, that’s a shark pun) as he plays bar patron George, and he looks like he is having the time of his life running from fake sharks, carrying his bar stool, and saving a dog.

  • Cassandra Scerbo plays Nova, and really, she’s pretty fantastic for this particular type of thing.  She was in one of the straight-to-DVD Bring it On sequels, and will reprise her role in the Sharknado sequel.  Thank goodness – how would New York survive without Nova and her hatred of sharks?

  • Jaason Simmons (yes the one who was the Australian on Baywatch for a while) played Baz Hogan, and he had some terrible one-liners right up until he was eliminated by falling sharks.

  • Chuck Hittinger plays Matt – and he does some impressive fake flying of a helicopter – and by impressive, I mean that it is the worst fake flying of a helicopter you have ever seen!

  • Aubrey Peeples plays the daughter Claudia, and she is mopey and broody, even when surrounded by Sharknadoes.

You can stream the original free on Amazon Prime, you can rent it on Netflix, and SyFy will replay it this week before the sequel airs on Wenesday, July 30th at 9/8c.  For the record, they had a contest for fans to name the sequel, and since it is taking place in New York, I suggested “Sharknado 2:  Taking A Bite Out Of The Big Apple”, which I felt was pretty strong, but could not compete with the winner, “Sharknado 2:  The Second One”.  Watch the first one, then watch the second, and please keep in mind – they are supposed to be terrible, and anyone who catches you watching them and tries to steal your joy by pointing out how poorly put together they are, just say, “yes, that’s the point, be quiet.”  If they try to point out anything in the movie that ‘could not happen’, that is when you respond, “The science is sound.”  Because seriously, anyone who tries to argue the science in one of these movies with you deserves a knunch.  That’s where you simultaneously knee and punch them – it takes some skill, but it’s worth it. 

10 out of 10 – absolute complete geninonsense.  Gained points for the sharks falling in the pool, gained points for rescuing the kids on the bus, gained points for John Heard, gained points for the shark in the flooded house, and gained all the points for Ian Ziering and his chainsaw at the end.

Bonus Video 1:  Trailer for Sharknado 2: The Second One

Bonus Video 2:  Trailer for MegaShark vs. MechaShark

Bonus Video 3:  Conan O’Brien will be in Sharknado vs. Pteracuda

Bonus Video 4: Cast Interviews

Monday, July 14, 2014

Movie Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction (PG13 – 165 minutes)

Someone described this movie as ‘almost three hours of pure “Bayhem”’.  And that, while a bit insane, is the absolute perfect description.  The reality is that Michael Bay is a complete maniac, and not a good guy.  He has been documented as having some crazy rage issues as well as being a rampaging sexist.  This is pretty obvious with the majority of his movies; they are all style and no substance.  He got his start directing music videos, and then became the reason Will Smith is a movie star because he is the one who added that shirtless running sequence in Bad Boys – and Will himself has stated that scene is why he has a movie career.  

In 2007, Bay appropriated the Transformers license from Hasboro toys, and turned the characters from the 80s animated series that was designed to sell toys to a movie that was also designed to sell toys. The first one featured effects by ILM; and some of the most amazing on-screen robots that there had ever been.  The subject matter fit Bay’s style perfectly, and while many aspects of the movie were nonsense, it definitely looked amazing.

In 2009, Bay got overexcited, and every small thing that people said they enjoyed in the first, he overcompensated by throwing way too much of it into the second, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  This included Megan Fox’s legs, and Sam’s parents.  I liked Tony Todd as “the Fallen”, but everything else was awful.

That one was really poorly received (with good reason, it was mostly terrible).  In 2011 Bay rebounded with the complete and utter destruction of Chicago, Patrick Dempsy, Leonard Nimoy’s voice, shots of Milwaukee (easily the best part, but I’m biased!) and a Buzz Aldrin cameo in Transformers:  Dark of the Moon.  I actually really liked this one, even though the majority of it makes no sense, and by this time,  Shia LaBeouf had really started to wear thin.

Each of these three has slightly increased the run time.  Transformers was 144 minutes, Revenge of the Fallen was 150 minutes, and Dark of the Moon was 154 minutes.  This new one, Age of Extinction, clocks in at 165.  That’s 2 hours and 45 minutes if you are keeping track.  Do not get the big drink at the theater.

In terms of story, this one takes place 5 years after the destruction of Chicago in the war between the Autobots (good guys) and Decepticons (bad guys).  Our government is hunting down and eliminating Transformers in general.  They state they are only eliminating the bad guys, but in the opening sequence, we see that the government faction has a Transformer bounty hunter they are working with to hunt down all transformers.  They capture and brutally kill Ratchet – a character we have grown to know and love from the other three movies, so it is really tough to watch him get shot down after he has surrendered.  The government turns over eliminated Transformers to a private research company that is using the destroyed ones to study and build their own.  Meanwhile, an ‘inventor’ in Texas (who seems to be from Boston originally, although that is never mentioned) stumbles across the remains of an old truck which turns out to be Optimus Prime, the leaders of the Autobots.  He, his friend, his daughter, and her secret Irish drag-racing boyfriend (yes, you heard that right) then set out to assist Prime and his compatriots in a battle against the government, the scientists, and the bounty hunter, resulting in Prime teaming up with some Imprisoned Dinobots, leading to some exceptionally cool visuals.

That is a short summary of the story, because really, story is second in this movie.  I read that the original Jurassic Park has only 19 minutes of dinosaur footage in it, and the most recent Iron Man movie had something like 25 minutes of actual Iron Man footage in it.  This movie has a ton of Transformer footage in it, and it looks amazing.  In terms of the human cast, they are pretty good this time around:
  • Mark Wahlberg steps in as the lead in this movie as the improbably named Cade Yeager.  He’s a poor ‘inventor’ working odd jobs in rural Texas to make enough money to send his 17 year old daughter to college, because he had her at 17 and wants her to have a better life.  Wahlberg is an infinite improvement over laBoeuf, he is far more action centric and you absolutely buy it when he picks up an alien gun and joins the fight, as opposed to LaBoeuf who spent most of his movies stuttering and running and screaming.  He is absolutely from Boston and not from anywhere near Texas, and one line that explained that would have been appreciated, but hey – whatever.  He worked great with Bay in Pain and Gain, and he works great with him in this.  He’s the perfect style of actor for a Bay-type of movie.

  • Stanley Tucci plays the scientist in question who wavers from villain to redeemed hero.  I was worried his character would be a rehash of the nonsense that John Tuturro brought to the others, but he’s much less annoying than that. 

  • Kelsey Grammer plays the lead evil government agent.  He’s slick, oily, and absolutely a villain.  He does a great job, and between this, Think Like A Man Too, The X-Men DOFP cameo, and Expendables 3 – having a big summer, even if it is vaguely the same character over and over!

  • Nicola Peltz plays Cade’s daughter, Tessa - the Bay-girl.  This is the standard ‘hot-chick’ in a Bay movie who is there just for her looks and for Bay to shoot in varying camera angles and with a light sheen of sweat on her face.  To her credit, she’s perfectly capable, and I enjoy that she steps up to help Optimus in the final battle.

  • Jack Reynor plays Shane, Tessa’s boyfriend who seems to be a Texas drag-racer by way of Dublin.  Cade had no idea his daughter was dating anyone, so the scenes of him dealing with Jack are interesting.  Also, there is a scene in which they explain that it’s not statutory rape for him to be with Tessa because of some weird loophole in Texas law.  That’s an actual scene in the movie.  I guess it makes sense!  Also - if they take the time to explain his accent, why do they not explain Whalberg's?

  • Titus Welliver (whose name you might not recognize, but whose face you certainly will) plays the government henchman.  He’s vicious and evil and is carrying out his orders as efficiently and cruelly as possible.

  • Sophia Myles (from that TV show Moonlight with Alex O’Laughlin before he was on Hawaii 50) plays a random role of a scientist (?) who seems to discover remains of the metal that the Transformers are made of – and that is the key for Tucci’s character to build more of them.  It’s a complicated bit of plot nonsense, but she does a fine job.

  • T.J. Miller plays T.J. Miller as a friend of Cade’s who seems to help with the business.  Spoiler alert – he doesn’t make it, and the way he bites it is exceptionally difficult to watch.  It’s brutal and unpleasant, and pushed the rating a bit, in my mind.

  • Bingbing Li plays Su Yuerning, who works with Tucci’s company in the Chinese department.  I will say the whole sequence shot in the ‘slums’ of Beijing was amazing.  The apartment buildings are insanely vertical, and it provided a really interesting background for the battle.

  • Also – Thomas Lennon plays Thomas Lennon as the White House Chief of Staff.  He’s very entertaining for about 60 seconds.
  • Voicing Optimus Prime is once again Peter Cullen – who did the voice even way back in the 80s animated series.  He’s fantastic.  Frank Welker does the voice for Galvatron, Ken Watanabe does the voice for Drift, John DiMaggio does the voice for Crosshairs, Mark Ryan does the voice for Lockdown (the bounty hunter), and John Goodman does the voice for Hound.  And there is a lot of John Goodman in this movie for a  movie that doesn’t have John Goodman in it.

Overall, I really enjoyed it.  It had some unique moments, it had some great visuals, and it was super entertaining.  The story wasn’t terrible, and the acting was fine.  I didn’t see it in 3D, but I’m sure it looks amazing in 3D.  The shot of Crosshairs using the parachutes is beautiful, the shot of Optimus on Grimlock is great, and the shot of Lockdown strutting in front of his ship is stunning.

8 out of 10 – Lost points for the length, but Gained points for no Shia.  Lost points for only having the Dinobots in the very end, but gained points because they were so cool.  Lost points for the brutal murder of Ratchet, and then making us watch as they were melting him down.  Lost points for Optimus once again taking too much of a beating for my taste, but gained points for Bumblebee still being awesome.  Gained points for the introduction of Galvatron, and explaining where they got the brain for him – and for that leading into perhaps the next movie?  Some one call Hugo Weaving and tell him to get ready.

Bonus Video 1:  I don’t care what people say – I love the movie Armageddon – it’s my favorite piece of Bayhem.

Bonus Video 2:  Everything wrong with Transformers 2
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Movie Review: Think Like A Man Too (PG13 – 106 minutes)

In 2012, Director Tim Story found a fun way to bring comedian Steve Harvey’s relationship advice book, “Act Like a Lady – Think Like A Man” to the screen.  He based the romantic comedy story around several couples, each in various stages of relationships with varying types of men and women.  The women are all slightly unsatisfied with their relationships, and all start to pick up Steve’s book, and use it to their advantage.  The men realize what is happening, and then use the book to their advantage to get the tables to turn back around. 

The movie was hilarious and charming and really – it was just as comedian Kevin Hart’s star was on the rise, so he really stole the movie.  In the sequel, the couples all head to Las Vegas for the wedding of Michael (the momma’s boy from the first movie) and Candace (the single mom from the first movie).   Mya and Zeke, Dominic and Lauren, Kristen and Jeremy, Bennett and Tish, Sonia, and Cedric are all back.  And again, Kevin Hart as Cedric steals the show.  

He rents a big suite at Ceaser’s Palace for the weekend, thinking he is getting it for $4000 a night (he’s not).  As the gang begins to arrive, we learn where each couple is at in their relationship.  Jeremy and Kristen are working on having a baby, Bennett and Tish are still happy parents, Candace is still trying to figure out how to deal with Michael’s overbearing mother (surprise! She showed up early in Vegas, and is trying to organize the bachelorette party).  Mya is still trying to deal with Zeke’s ‘player’ past, Dominic and Lauren are still trying to balance their careers and dreams with their relationship and Cedric is on leave from Gail for the weekend. 

The plot of the movie is very thin, but really, it is almost unnecessary – the movie exists to allow these performers to play.  Essentially, the women try to out-pre-wedding-party the guys.  It goes about as well as you would expect.  Cedric realizes the room is $40,000 a night, the girls do a Bel Biv DeVoe music video, and both parties end up in jail after an altercation at a strip club.  Tim Story again gives the cast freedom to be themselves, and that is what gives the movie its charm.

  • The first one became a Kevin Hart movie, this one is sold as a Kevin Hart movie.  That is a testament to Hart’s work ethic, and his hustle.  I find him to be one of the funniest stand ups working today, and he is great in this movie – almost as great as he was in About Last Night.  The scene where he first gets into the hotel room and runs circles through it is just flat-out funny.  And yes, Wendy Williams briefly cameos as Gail again – and Drake has a very random cameo with her.

  • Michael Ealy – who appeared with Hart earlier this year in About Last Night, once again plays ‘dreamer’ Dominic.  He dreams of owning his own restaurant, and gets offered a huge job opportunity in this movie, that he then has to consider turning down for the sake of his relationship with Lauren.

  • Taraji P. Henson plays ‘career woman’ Lauren.  She’s less powerful and dynamic in this movie than she was in the first, but there is just less for her to do in this one.  She also gets offered a huge job opportunity by her boss Kelsey Grammar (between this, Trans4mers, Expendables, and X-Men – he’s having quite a year) and then has to consider turning it down for the relationship.

  • Jerry Ferrara plays Jeremy – and while not quite the ‘non-committer’ stoner he was in the first movie, he does spend the majority of this movie worried about whether or not he’s ready to have kids.  He finally realizes he is after talking with his friends.  Dude, why did you not do that first?  Whatever.
  • Gabrielle Union plays Kristen, who has finally gotten Jeremy to marry her, and is now keeping him on a strict schedule so that they can have a baby as fast as possible.  She has even less to do than some of the other women, it was almost like they forgot she was in the movie.  That’s fine, if you are really desperate for some better Gabrielle Union action – go watch Bring it On again…but do not watch Bad Boys 2.

  • E “news” reporter Terrence Jenkins plays Michael and once again he’s obviously the weakest actor in the group.  To be honest, that’s fine, it doesn’t hurt the movie – but it is really clear.  Perhaps he will improve as he does more.  He really spends the movie doing the same thing he did in the first one, trying to balance his love for his mother with his love for his bride to be.  There is finally a confrontation between them in this one, and it works out as you expect.  I did enjoy that he kept talking about his college buddies Isaac and Terrell, and his friends where looking forward to meeting them, then they turned out to be Adam Brody and David Walton.  Both of them were underused, but were funny in the moments they had.
  • Regina Hall – who has been so hilarious for so long (think about all those Scary Movies, and was also in About Last Night, paired with Hart earlier this year) – plays Candace, who again has to balance her love for her son with her love for her husband to be.  I wish they had let her go a bit more, but that’s not her role in this.  Again, just go watch one of those insane Scary Movies – 3, 4, how many are there?

  • Jenifer Lewis again plays stereotype clingy mother Loretta in this movie, however, she is far less annoying in this one than in the previous one.  In the first movie she was unbearable, and I couldn’t believe no one had told her off, however, in this one, she takes the ladies out for a spa day, then wants to take them to see Dionne Warwick, instead of letting them go on with their Bachelorette plans.  They finally figure out they can set her up with Candace’s uncle Eddie, played by the absolutely delicious Dennis Haysbert (he gets his own smooth music every time he shows up).  She does still have some really mean one-liners directed at Candace – but less than in the first movie.  By the end of the first movie, I hated her because she was so mean.  She’s slightly less mean in this one – slightly.

  • Romany Malco plays Zeke and he’s slightly less annoying in this movie than he was in the first as well.  He is genuinely trying to give up his player past to focus on his relationship with Mya.
  • Meagan Good plays Mya, and she has designed the wedding dress, and is trying to stay focused on the new positive side of Zeke, but a run in with one of his old party pals as soon as they arrive scares her off a bit.

  • Gary Owen (who was also in Ride Along with Hart and Ice Cube, and has been a stand up for many years) once again plays Bennett, the big dumb happily married guy.  He is happy to be along, and his na├»ve joy helps make several scenes far more entertaining.

  • Wendi McLendon-Covey – the former Groundlings genius from Reno 911 plays Bennett’s wife Tish who comes along for the wedding, and was not planning on going out with the girls, as she doesn’t really know them.  However, they quickly bring her in, giving her a quick makeover from her ‘mom’ look, and dragging her along on their adventures.

  • La La Anthony shows up as Sonia – and I honestly could not remember her from the first movie.  I know she was in it – but I really did not remember her.  She suddenly was with the girls as they headed out for the evening, and there was no ‘arrival’ scene for her, which was strange.
  • There are some really fun cameos in this movie including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Fonzworth Bentley, George Wallace (who they clearly only had for an hour or so, since he seems to be edited into his shots), Cheryl Hines, and Coco – yes, that Coco.  She plays a stripper.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed the first movie.  This one was simple and fun with far less substance, but sometimes, that is exactly what you want as a reprieve from all the big-time summer blockbusters.  Okay – I never want a reprieve from that, but I still liked this movie.  Upside on this one, no Chris Brown cameo.  Downside on this one?  No Morris Chestnut cameo.

6 out of 10 – Gained points for Hart running through his room and his interactions with his butler.  Lost points for how mean Loretta is.  Gained points for the pool sequence, and how many times Hart told Owen to shut up.  Lost points for not having outtakes over the end credits – this is really a movie that I’m sure had dozens of them, and that would have been wonderful.  Gained points for the Bel Biv Devoe musical bit, and for Devoe showing up briefly – awesome, but then lost points for Good’s bit of it in which she just writhes on a couch – no, thank you.

Bonus Video 1:  Scary Movie 3 – with Hart, Hall, and lots of other funny people.  It's almost worth it for the scene in which Regina Hall beats the hell out of the "Ring" ghost.

Bonus Video 2:  The basketball sequence from the first one – just an excuse for Kevin Hart to be hilarious.

Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews