Author: Matthew

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

I suppose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could have been a whole heck of a lot worse than it wound up being. I say this while acknowledging that it isn’t a good movie. It feels long at 100 minutes. It has some incredibly dumb moments — points so dumb that you have to laugh at how dumb it is. The final action scene is lackluster and repetitive. The new back story to the characters … didn’t actually bother me that much, but I’m sure hardcore fans of the franchise will hate it. And the plot is formulaic and way, way too convenient. But — and this is a big but — I didn’t hate it. It was stupid enough to be funny. Much of the action is genuinely good, especially any scenes involving hand-to-hand combat. The CGI is competent, even if it’s initially really off-putting. It looks weird, but not bad, I guess. And, yes, the film was produced — but not directed by, as some people have erroneously claimed — by Michael Bay, and its lead is Megan Fox. It will get irrational hate for both of these, even though neither of them is the problem. The film’s lead is April O’Neil (Fox), a reporter for one of the big networks in New York City, but stuck doing silly stories instead of the hard-hitting stories she wants to be...

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Bullet to the Head (2013)

Assuming you’re completely okay with a straight-faced, no-nonsense, action movie starring a past-retirement-age Sylvester Stallone, you’re probably going to have a good time with Bullet to the Head, which works on more than one level. It’s a competent buddy-cop movie, a decent revenge-thriller, contains elements of film noir, and also functions as a throwback to junky action films of the 1980s. Pack all of that into a 90-minute ride, and you’ve got yourself a good time at the movies. We begin with the death of a man and an injury to his partner. Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) — seriously, that’s his name — and Louis (Jon Seda) pull off a job — they’re hitmen — and go to a bar for some celebratory drinks. Here, another hitman, Keegan (Jason Momoa), stabs Louis to death and tries to kill Jimmy, only to be driven away by the older man. Now, Louis is dead and Jimmy wants revenge. He’s going to fight his way to the top of the criminal ladder in order to find out who ordered his and Louis’ death, and then take out that person. Meanwhile, a Detective from outside the town, Taylor Kwan (Sung Kang), is sent to investigate the murder that Jimmy and Louis pulled off earlier. Upon discovering Louis’ death, he winds up tracking down Jimmy and offers to team up with the hitman to take...

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The Signal (2014)

You have no idea how much I hoped that The Signal would work. From its mysterious trailer to its first … two acts, really, this is a film that seemed like it would be one of those sci-fi thrillers that anyone who saw it would be unable to stop talking about it. But it eventually becomes a completely different movie, and that doesn’t work to its benefit. Some groaner-level plot twists take us out of the story, and the mystery winds up being less interesting the more we find out about it. Our movie initially follows three MIT students, Nic (Brenton Thwaites), Haley (Olivia Cooke), and Jonah (Beau Knapp). Nic and Haley are a couple, and the three are on a cross-country road trip to help Haley move. They’ve also been dealing with a hacker calling himself NOMAD, who in an early scene breaks into their computer. They track him down and decide to confront him. The first change in direction is here, as the film briefly diverges into found-footage horror. They approach the house of this NOMAD fellow, go inside, look around, and then … Haley is puller into the sky, the camera fades to black, and then Nic, our lead, wakes up in a room sitting across from Dr. William Damon (Laurence Fishburne), who tells him that he and his friends were abducted by aliens. Yeah, that...

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The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

So a girl, Hazel (Shailene Woodley), has had cancer for a while now. Thanks to an experimental drug, she’s managed to survive much longer than doctors initially gave her, although she has to constantly wear breathing tubes and can’t do anything even remotely strenuous. Walking up and down stairs requires taking a break. She’s aware of her current situation. Things could take a turn for the worse at any moment. She knows she is not long for this world. We know this is going to be a tearjerking story. At a cancer support group, Hazel meets Augustus (Ansel Elgort), with whom she is immediately enamored. Why? Because he’s cute, smart, nice, and pretends to smoke cigarettes, making him a bad boy. He lost a leg to cancer when he was younger, although you wouldn’t know it unless he told you. He falls in love with her, two. The two then spend almost every waking moment either together or in communication with each other. But self-aware Hazel doesn’t want to be with him since she knows she might die soon. He doesn’t care, and eventually we overcome that obstacle. Where does the film lead from there? Well, you can probably take a decent enough guess. You might be wrong, though, as the film does throw a couple of decent twists into the mix. I mean, the plot winds up being...

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Behaving Badly (2014)

Question: How did a movie like Behaving Badly get a cast like the one that it did? This is a low-budget teen comedy that features the likes of Mary-Louise Parker, Elisabeth Shue, Heather Graham, Cary Elwes, Jason Lee, Selena Gomez, and Dylan McDermott. Those aren’t no-name actors. And it’s not like they just have cameos, either. A couple of them play multiple roles, and many of them are in the film for its majority. I just don’t see how the filmmakers enticed a cast of this level to appear in the movie. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s just puzzling. The film is led by Rick Stevens (Nat Wolff), who begins the film telling us that he’s messed everything up. We then rewind two weeks to find out exactly how. Here’s what goes down. He sleeps with his best friend’s mother (Shue), he makes a bet with a mobster’s son that he’ll be able to woo and sleep with his crush, Nina (Gomez) in two weeks’ time, his mother (Parker) tries to kill herself, his father (Elwes) is … doing something, and everyone seems to be up to no good and everything is getting worse by the minute. We get to watch all of these events unfold. Rick tries — and for the most part is successful — to woo Nina. Rick’s mother, an alcoholic, slowly gets worse and worse...

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