Monthly Archives: August 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Well, here it is. The big one. The return of the heroes in a half shell to the big screen. I’ve made it very clear in the past year that I’m a huge fan of the TMNT, so I was very nervous about my favorite fighting family’s newest film. I was not disappointed. Then again, I went in with dirt low expectations anyway, so that’s not too much of an accomplishment. There is a ton I have to say about it, so instead of breaking it down to the good, the bad, and the ugly, I’ll just list what stood out to me in the movie in no particular order. There will be spoilers. You have been warned.

The Comic Book Style Opening and Narration: The opening scene and narration, animated in a comic book-like style, was fantastic. It looks cool and is a great shout out to the original comic and style of flashback of the 2012 series.

April O’Neal: You may have well just called this April O’Neal the Movie. The first quarter of the film is wasted on April trying to get a scoop and the Turtles are barely there. It wouldn’t be so bad if she was an interesting character, but she was as interesting as watching painting dry and just would not leave. Meghan Fox just did not make a good April. She held a perpetual look of dull surprise, with her mouth hanging open more than Bella Swan and was gasping for breath so much that I was beginning to wonder if she was asthmatic. To top off all of that, the way the camera lingers on her, showing exactly why Meghan Fox was picked: to objectify her. No joke, there is a scene where a character crashes the truck that he was driving because he was so busy staring at her butt. The majority of Mikey’s jokes are about how he thinks she’s hot. There’s also the issue that the Turtles owe everything to her, right down to their names. She’s even the one who defeats the Shredder in the end. Not the Turtles or Splinter, who have trained as ninjas practically all their lives, it’s the April who ends up killing the Turtles’ arch nemesis. All things considered, since Shredder was the one who caused the death of her dad, he’s more her enemy than the Turtles’. This is because…

There is No Mention of Hamato Yoshi: One of the defining aspects of Splinter and Shredder’s characters is their intense rivalry. Whether by mutation or murder, the man, Hamato Yoshi is dead. Splinter his avenger and their rivalry is one of the bitterest in comic book history. In the movie’s origin, Splinter is simply a mutated and highly intelligent rat. Without any mention of Hamato Yoshi, the mutual hatred is gone, and so has a lot of the drama in their battle. While their battle in the movie is really well done, it lacks the dramatic weight of this rivalry and feels a lot less satisfying.

The Action Scenes Are Very Cool: Being a movie with Micheal Bay attached to it, many of the explosion laden action scenes are a ton of fun and where the movie really shines. After the somewhat boring first half, the movie really picks up at around the time the Turtles have in their battle on the Subway. It’s a definite step up from the opening plot where April wants to become a respectable reporter. This is where the movie goes from excruciatingly boring to silly and fun. The action scenes alone are almost worth slogging through the boring beginning.

There Are Many Pointless Characters: What was Verne doing here? All he does is flirt with April, drive the getaway car, and fight Eric Sacks. Two out of three of these actions would and should have been done by April herself. Nothing in the movie would have been lost if they had edited him out of the script. Well, maybe one thing, but we didn’t need another male gaze shot and more awkward flirtations with April anyway. Speaking of Eric Sacks, he ended taking the parts of Karai and Baxter Stockman because everyone kicked up an understandable fuss over him being the Shredder. That managed to void all three characters because why have Karai and Stockman when you could have Sacks and vise versa? What saddens me most is the fact that Karai goes from the complex and interesting Anti Villain from the two most recent animated series and the Mirage comics to the token dark sexy chick that does absolutely nothing. They left out all of the parts that makes her a great character–namely the conflict between her duty and what is right and the mutual respect between her and Leo–so she also could be edited out of the film or replaced by a lamp and nothing would have changed.

The Turtles Themselves: Shockingly, I didn’t hate them. With the exception of Donatello waving a neon sign saying IN CASE YOU DON’T GET IT, I’M A NERD in every other line of his dialogue, they actually stayed very true to themselves. Out of the five Ninja Turtles movies, these Turtles behaved the the most in character. I was the most nervous about Leonardo because writers have a tendency to make him a jerk just to make Raph look in the right for rebelling. To do this, they’d completely ignore all of Leo’s character development in order to martyr the preferred brother. When I came into the theater, I expected my favorite Turtle’s characterization to be skewered worse than Superman murdering Zod. I expected to rant about how we’ve seen Raph go from “Grr I’m a loner so don’t boss me around” to “teamwork is awesome” in practically every iteration of the character, and that I’m sick of it, but surprisingly it didn’t happen. They treated Leonardo with dignity and actually made Raph look in the wrong for whining about his brother being bossy. The arc is still there, but due to another issue that I’ll get to in a minute, it’s somewhat downplayed. When the brothers are onscreen, they behave just like that: brothers. There are even scenes that I though I’d hate from the trailer and the online footage that was actually quite good in the context of the film. One example is the elevator scene. In the scene, the Turtles are taking an elevator up to face the Shredder for the climax. Mikey starts clanging his nunchucks to the beat of the elevator beeps. Slowly but surely, the other Turtles join in with their own weapons and they do this until the doors open. When I first saw the scene online, I cringed because I thought it would be a major mood killer. In the film though, it worked because it had significance. It was the brothers realizing that they might not all make it out alive so they may as well have one last fun moment together.That being said, I wish we had more of the Turtles because they were easily the best parts of the film. Unfortunately, the movie wastes most of its time on April when it could be developing the Turtles’ relationships. I mentioned the ever popular loner Raphael character arc being in the movie, but barely there. It’s hinted at but nothing is done with it. In the end, he just starts a blubbering confession about his love for his brothers seemingly out of nowhere and suddenly decides that teamwork is awesome, especially is Leo is the leader. Because this personality trait is rarely touched upon in the movie, the confession lacks the dramatic weight it should have had. While Leo is well done, Raph deferring to his leadership doesn’t make much sense because Leo hasn’t really proved himself to be a good leader. He’s just leader now because that’s his character in every other iteration. I guess I’ll chalk that change up to the near death experiences.

Overall, is this worth a watch? Yes, but wait until it’s on cable. Out of the five theatrical movies, this one is probably the second best, but considering the competition is Vanilla Ice randomly rapping, the Turtles traveling back in time, and stone warriors hunting for thirteen monsters and messy characterizations, that isn’t saying much. The first movie is still by far the best, but this is enjoyable despite the Swiss cheese plot, terrible villain motivations, the loss of very important relationships between characters,  obviously re-shot scenes, the pointless characters, and way too much focus on April. When the Turtles were one screen, the movie got so much more fun and enjoyable. I even got past their and Splinters’ somewhat grotesque designs. They all behaved in character and were likable. I can only hope they focus on the Turtles more in the sequel. This is by no means a good movie, but once you slog through the first twenty minutes, it gets to be really entertaining. I guess the reason I’m not angry is because there is nothing particularly offensive to me. The low expectations I had didn’t hurt my opinion either. I knew it wasn’t going to be a masterpiece going in, so I just went along for the ride. I knew that, even if the movie was going to be bad, there was still plenty of other great Ninja Turtle stories out there. For example, the trailer to the season two finale of the current cartoon looks awesome. Seriously, if you haven’t checked it out, look it up. My theories for the future of the cartoon are as follows: 1. They’re adapting my favorite Turtles storyline, the What Goes Around Comes Around/Shredder Strikes Back arc with Leo in the Finale. I believe this because Leo is seen fighting the Foot alone, is barely interacting with his brothers in the trailer and April is essentially replacing him as the fourth member of the group. 2. Splinter will be captured be the Kraang. This is supported by scenes being shown of the Kraang attacking the lair. Whether or not he’s rescued by the end of the episode, I don’t know, but I doubt it. 3. The ending will be a bit of a downer, with the Turtles exiled to Northampton Massachusetts as per tradition. Leo is badly injured, and the Turtles are recover from a Pyrrhic victory. This is supported by the Ninja Turtles Panel at the San Diego Comic Con, where they mentioned that the Turtles will be leaving New York.  Of course, these is just my personal theories, and are probably wrong, but a girl can dream. Now, if you excuse me, I have a Tome of some sort that I need to find.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s Avengers level good, and this is coming from someone who considers the Avengers one of her favorite movies. In a few ways, it’s even better than the penultimate Marvel movie, mainly because the Avengers had the advantage of all its heroes being established in other films. In this movie, we have to meet each of the characters, learn all of their backstories, set up the plot, give their protagonists character arcs, set up the Nova Corps, set up the Kree race and their personalities, set up future events in the Marvel cinematic universe, explain the Infinity Stones, have a Stan Lee cameo, and have the actual plot. That is a lot to do for one film, and the writers pulled it off like it was nothing. More that that, they did it with pizzazz. That’s how much I like this movie: I actually used the word pizzazz. The plot may have been a little simplistic, but I’m okay with that, because, again, look at all they had to establish in the space of two hours. While the plot held little surprises, the characters had plenty. One example would be the opening scene with the adult Starlord. It’s one of the most epic cases of mood whiplash I’ve ever seen, and it was hilarious. This movie is full of moments where you think the scene is going to be serious, but it suddenly it does something so unexpectedly funny that you just have to laugh.

All of the characters are awesome, but the two that stand out are Rocket and Groot. Bradley Cooper just hit his portrayal of Rocket right out of the park. He’s snarky, tough, wacky, and likable enough that he has the audience’s sympathy when something terrible happens to him. I didn’t even see CGI, I saw a talking raccoon. The same goes for Groot. For a giant talking tree that turns some of the villains’ soldiers into Kree kabobs, he is surprising cute. He only says three words, but Vin Diesel packs those words so much emotion and the CGI was so good that I could tell exactly what he was thinking and feeling.

Overall, is this worth a watch? Yes. The visuals are awesome, the humor is actually funny, the characters are all great, and this movie does a lot in establishing the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The writers knew when to be silly, when to be serious, and how to seamlessly transition between the two moods with it feeling disjointed and at odds with itself. While the villain could have used more humor, but he’s intimidating enough that he’s somewhat memorable. So what are you waiting for? Watch it now and I am Groot.

Kirin pulled an old leather suitcase out from under her parent’s bed. Dragging the suitcase to the clean laundry pile, she sat down and stuffed a few t-shirts, some jeans and other necessities inside.

“Where’re ya goin’?” Textbox asked. Kirin looked up from the two iron daggers she was comparing. “And where’d you get those nice knives?”

“I was just thinking about the warning future me gave me a few months back.The name Fairy Creek seemed familiar, but I had trouble remembering where I’d heard it before. Then it struck me, Fairy Creek is what we’d called a place where my little sister and I used to play before we lived here. We had this friend who lived in the neighborhood and she used to tell us all about the fairies that lived there. For a while, I thought it was just pretend, but now I’m not so sure. I mean with all the weirdness going on, there it is possible that there was something there, right?” she explained as she  placed the shorter of the two daggers in her suitcase.

“I dunno. Because of wibbly wobbly universy wersy stuff, you might have actually seen future you, or a possible future you, or maybe it was a you in name only. These are other dimensions, remember? We could’ve just seen an alternate universe version of yourself, and that tome thingy might not even exist. And even if it did, you accidentally might call Cthulu or something,” Textbox said. Kirin raised her eyebrows.

“Now I must be going crazy, because you’re actually making sense,” she marveled but then added “Then again, what if she was the future me? If that book has the key to saving the world, then I shouldn’t sit around twiddling my thumbs as the great vagueness comes to destroy everything. That alone is worth checking it out.” She finished packing and zipped up the suitcase.

“Okay. Why not? I mean–“

“Textbox, if you say “what’s the worst that could happen?” I swear I’ll smack you.” Kirin rolled her eyes. “I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.”

“But before you go, isn’t there something you want to see first ? A certain movie with four giant talking turtles.” Kirin took a deep breath. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but then shut it.

“You’re right. My terrible priorities strike again.”

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Amazing Spider-man #649

Hello, I’m a unicorn, and it’s our one year anniversary!

birthday-cake

WHOOOOOO!!!!!!!

It has been a busy year, with aliens from other dimensions knocking at my door and hiding in my closet, making new friends, new enemies, discovering an inter-dimensional highway in my basement, forcing myself through one of the worst books I’ve ever read, and having a voice in the head of a superhero from another dimension named Textbox attach himself to me and my house. My life has gotten weird.

And it only gets weirder from here.

That’s comforting. For this very special review, I thought I’d go back to my roots with another issue of the Spider-man arc that started it all: Spider-man Big Time. In all honesty, when I look back at the review, I think it was a bit harsh. I still find Carlie Cooper annoying and the scene where Peter and MJ laugh at the idea of their marriage still makes me angry, but I respect that the writer is finally letting Spidey catch a break and that he’s called out for acting childish. Do I like the story arc? No, but it isn’t nearly as bad as I made it out to be.

Previously on Spider-man Big Time: Peter, through his own stupidity, is out of a job and an apartment. While he’s looking to crash at a friend’s house, Aunt May is trying to get him a job at Horizon Labs. He scores an interview and gets the job after saving his potential boss  from an experiment gone awry. Meanwhile, two reporters named Ben Ulrich and  Norah are investigating a Green Goblin gang, someone’s experimenting on a Venom bonded Scorpion and a mysterious person has it out for Mayor J Jonah Jameson.

And now for the review: Our comic opens with the Hobgoblin shooting at soldiers in the South American Dictatorship of Delvadia. This is dated a few weeks ago, and a voiceover talks about how he’s just evil enough for the job. The job isn’t specified, it’s just a vague thing that they need HobbyGobby to do, like maybe work as that telemarketer that always calls at dinner time, or literally steal candy from babies. It’s revealed that the HobbyGobby is talking to a cowboy named Montana. We cut to present day, where they talk more about this vague job with none other than the Kingpin. He wants to be sure that HobbyGobby is his man by asking him to “say it”. To which Hobgoblin replies “I’m your Hobgoblin.” In slight seriousness, that dialogue gave me Twilight flashbacks, and that is not okay. Hobgoblin is given a dossier and heads to one of Norman Osborne’s old Goblin hideouts. HobbyGobby literally sniffs out Ben, the reporter with a crush on Norah. Hobby lifts Ben by the collar and is about to kill him when Ben starts laughing maniacally. Apparently his hyena-like laughter shorts out people’s brains or something, because the Hobgoblin falls to his knees, clutching his head in pain. Ben takes this opportunity to kill HobbyGobby by beheading him. I’d make a pun about how HobbyGobby used to have a good head on his shoulders, but if I do I think I’ll be the one losing my head. Ben decides to take up the mantle of the Hobgoblin and to use the previous Goblin’s head as a paperweight.

We cut to Norah, who is going undercover in a Goblin Gang. They’re revealed to just be a bunch of racists, which Norah wises up to pretty quickly. Unfortunately, one of the members realizes that she’s not who she says she is. Norah is rescued by Spidey and the–

Butt Cat!

You mean the Black Cat.

No, I mean the Butt Cat. Just look how she’s drawn:

Anna-toe-mee: when what you're seeing isn't anatomy.

Anna-toe-mee: when what you’re seeing isn’t anatomy.

You’re right, she is the Butt Cat. I loved Felicia in the 90’s Animated series, but man, this is bad, and it’s not even the worst example. In every panel, she twists her body in impossible angles so her boobs and butt are seen at the same time. It took me a second to realize what was going on in this panel. It looked like she was falling on the mook bottom first, not that she was kicking him in such a ridiculous way. That cannot be a comfortable  way to kick someone. After the mooks are all tied up in a neat little package for the police, Spidey rushes home to get a good nights sleep before starting his new job.

As soon as he puts away his suit, there is a knock at the door. It is none other than the Relationship Sue herself, Carlie Cooper. I really hate this character. She’s always shilled as the perfect match, even by Mary Jane, and is just plain grating. Any post One More Day love interest for Peter was going to get some heat, but making them “too perfect” for one another just makes things worse. It feels like her creator is jumping up and down saying “See? MJ, the wife of Peter for nearly twenty years and the mother of his child, isn’t the perfect match for him! It’s this nerdy Gwen Stacy wannabe who is basically a composite of every single love interest he’s had, even the other characters agree!” One of my favorite moments from a later issue is when MJ echoes every readers’ sentiments by wishing that Carlie would just jump off a cliff. I know it’s meant to show her as jealous and a little mean spirited, but I couldn’t help agreeing. Carlie Cooper, please jump off a cliff. That way I won’t have to suffer through another scene where she nearly discovers Peter’s secret identity like the one in this issue.

The next day, at the new offices of the Daily Bugle, Robbie Robertson  is giving a rousing speech about the future of the Bugle. His son, Randy, and Phil Ulrich show up. Ben is jealous because Randy and Norah are an item, and Norah decides to drop the Goblin Gang investigation. That’s about all that happens.

We cut to Peter, who is woken up by Aunt May because she broke into his apartment to make him breakfast, pick out his clothes, and hold his hand all the way to the first day of his new job. Look, I know Peter often acts infantile, but this is ridiculous. He’s a grown man. The end of the scene is a little sweet, but the buildup is a bit weird. I mean, imagine your mom breaking into your house on the first day of your job. That’s some Doctor Phil episode fodder right there.

In a brief interlude, Mayor Jameson’s son gives up his day to receive the key to the city so Spider-man can have it. Meanwhile, a group of scientists are studying the Scorpion while the Beetle talks about how the Scorpion die without a venom or a venom substitute.

Peter meets two other scientists working in the lab. One is a hippy named Bella and the other is a pipsqueak genius named Uatu. After the obligatory “with great power comes great responsibility” line from his new boss, he spends the day struggling to come up with an invention. Peter, being the genre savvy person that he is, tempts fate by thinking that he needs a Spidey problem in order to come up with an idea. Of course, because the three fates have a sense of humor, the new Hobgoblin shows up at precisely that moment. When Peter show up as Spidey to fight, Bengoblin does the hyena laugh from before, and the comic ends with Spidey at his mercy.

Overall, I’m not a huge fan of the comic. it’s not necessarily the story-line that bothers me, it’s the little things like how Peter acts less mature than a middle schooler, Carlie Cooper being Carlie Cooper, and the art. The majority of the issues I have can be summed up with this image:

At first, it looks okay, but look at the lack of lips on Peter and Aunt May. It makes them look like scarecrows. The artist seems to have an aversion to lips, so it feels off. I know there are people who like the style, but I really don’t care for it. I was definitely too  harsh on the last issue, but this story-line just isn’t my favorite. Instead, I’d recommend reading Maximum Carnage, which was controversial, but I really enjoyed it, and Kraven’s Last Hunt, which was fantastic. Don’t get it confused with Kraven’s First Hunt, which was not very good, and I might get around to reviewing one day.

And finally, I want to say thank you to all my readers for their support and making me feel welcome in this wide and scary place called the Internet. It’s been one long, crazy year, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. May the next year be as fun and wacky as the last.

*All images belong to their respective owners.

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