action, adventure, comedy, movie, movie review, superhero

January 28th, 2018 Movie – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze

teenage mutant ninja turtles 2

As expected of any superhero movie, if the first one is successful, then a sequel is sure to follow. That was definitely the case for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as it seemed like the studio almost immediately got to work on a sequel when they realized how big of a hit the first movie was. When I first saw the trailers for this movie, I remember thinking that it didn’t look as good as the first one, seeming to focus more on the comedy, and making it seem stupider as a result. I didn’t go to see this in theaters but I do remember renting it on video so my little brothers could watch it. So let’s see how today’s movie stands up as I watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze.

The plot: In New York City, a pizza delivery boy name Keno is delivering some pizzas to April O’Neil’s new apartment when he notices some vans with several boxes parked across the street. Heading to the shopping center, he finds 3 guys stealing some stuff and after attracting their attention, uses his martial arts skills to knock them out, only to see several more men show up. Suddenly, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show up and place Keno in a trash can to keep him out of trouble, then proceed to deal with the crooks. When they are finished, they send Keno to call the police and when he gets back, he finds the Turtles gone, as well as the pizzas but the money for them is placed in the bag. April returns to her apartment just as the Turtles come back and asks if they have had any luck finding a new place to live and Raphael suggests they go to their old home but Leonardo says that would not be smart since the Foot knows where that is. As Raphael and Leonardo argue over why that matters, since Raphael believes the Foot isn’t a problem since Shredder is dead, Splinter shows up and says that they must return to the underground. Meanwhile, the remains of the Foot Clan are meeting in the junkyard and Tatsu, expressing his anger over the situation, says he is in charge now but they are all shocked when the Shredder appears. The Shredder tells Tatsu to send his best ninja to follow April, as she will lead them to Splinter and the Turtles, so that he can get his revenge on them. The next day, April is doing a report on TGRI’s (Techno Global Research Institute) efforts in cleaning up a toxic spill and interviews the head scientist, Professor Jordan Perry. At the apartment, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are watching the news report and Raphael wants to change the channel but Splinter tells him not to touch the TV, as he stares intently at the screen. After the interview, some of the TGRI workers find some dandelions that have grown to gigantic proportions and go to alert Jordan, who says a canister must have been buried there and leaked, but unknown to them, Freddy, the Foot soldier that is undercover as part of April’s camera crew, finds one of the flowers and takes it to the junkyard to show Shredder. When Shredder sees the flower, he says that whatever caused this might be useful and orders Tatsu to gather his best men and grab Jordan. At April’s apartment, April returns to her apartment and the Turtles tell her that Splinter has been on the roof ever since he saw her report when Splinter comes down and asks that they join him. On the roof, Splinter reveals the broken canister that contained the ooze that transformed them and when he puts the pieces together, they learn that it came from TGRI, and Splinter says they have to find out if there are more canisters, as it could cause great trouble to the city. At TGRI, Jordan is working on getting rid of the remaining canisters of the ooze and as he prepares the last canister for disposal, Tatsu and the Foot show up and grab it and Jordan. The Turtles show up at TGRI and Donatello discovers that all of the canisters have been disposed of except for one. Suddenly, the see Tatsu and the Foot with the canister and they attempt to get it back from them but fail. Returning to April’s apartment, the Turtles decide to go ahead and move out, as they feel April isn’t safe if the Foot are still around and looking for them. Before they leave, Keno shows up with a free pizza and manages to get inside her apartment and discovers the Turtles and Splinter. Splinter explains how they came to be and Keno says that the Foot is recruiting any teenager that knows martial arts. He offers to infiltrate the Foot and find out where the ooze is and Raphael agrees with him but Splinter and the others say it is too dangerous. The Turtles head down into the sewers to find a new place to live but Raphael gets fed up and decides to leave. As the others keep looking for a new home, Michelangelo falls into an abandoned subway tunnel, which they feel will be perfect as their new home. Meanwhile, Shredder has Jordan use the ooze on a wolf and snapping turtle, causing them to mutate into giant creatures. However, the two creatures have the intelligence of infants, imprinting on Shredder as their surrogate mother. Shredder orders Tatsu to destroy them but Jordan appeals to Shredder, saying that they might not be smart but their great strength could be useful to him. The next day, Raphael meets with Keno and has him go try to sign up to be part of the Foot Clan, helping him pass the test to get in. Keno is taken to the Foot’s headquarters in the junkyard and Raphael says they should go tell the others when he sees the Shredder in a nearby building. Not believing what he saw, Raphael goes to take a closer look but they end up being spotted by Tatsu, so Raphael starts fighting the Foot to allow Keno to escape and tell the others, but Raphael ends up getting captured. Keno runs back to April’s apartment, where he meets her outside and tells her about Raphael being captured. The Turtles head to the junkyard to rescue Raphael but end up getting captured, and Shredder reveals himself and has them maneuvered over a bed of sharpened metal scraps. Splinter uses a bow and arrow to free the Turtles from the net, and they begin fighting the Foot to rescue Raphael when Shredder yells out for his new creations, Tokka and Rahzar. The two creatures easily overpower the Turtles and during the fight, Donatello is thrown into the building where Jordan is being held and he manages to rescue him. Michelangelo finds a manhole cover and the Turtles and Jordan manage to get away from Tokka and Rahzar. Afterwards, Shredder decides to send Tokka and Rahzar out into the city and have them begin destroying the area. The next day, April is interviewing Police Chief Sterns and afterwards, she is grabbed by a Foot soldier and dragged into an alley, where Freddy reveals himself and gives her a message for the Turtles. April contacts the Turtles, who bring her to their new home, and explains that Shredder wants them to head to a construction yard to face Tokka and Rahzar or else Shredder will unleash them on Central Park. Realizing they have no choice, the Turtles prepare to head to the construction yard but Jordan stops them, saying he has an idea. Having Keno go pick up some supplies, Jordan fashions an anti-mutagen to use against Tokka and Rahzar but says that they have to eat it. Michelangelo comes up with an idea and the Turtles head to the construction yard, where they find the Foot surrounding the open area. Shredder calls out Tokka and Rahzar but before they start fighting, Michelangelo offers them a pre-fight doughnut. Tokka and Rahzar each eat one but when Tokka grabs a second one, he discovers the frozen anti-mutagen inside it and begins fighting the Turtles. The Turtles are thrown out of the construction yard and into a nearby club, where Vanilla Ice is performing. As the crowd reacts in shock at the fight, Vanilla Ice begins singing about what is going on, calling it the Ninja Rap. Jordan shows up and speaks with Donatello, and realizes that Tokka and Rahzar’s burping is slowing the anti-mutagen’s affect but grabs a fire extinguisher, saying they can use that to introduce more CO2 into their system to speed up the anti-mutagen. The Turtles manage to knock Tokka and Rahzar down, then spray the extinguishers into their mouths, rendering the two unconscious. The Foot shows up and the Turtles easily defeat them, as well as Tatsu, then start dancing and make their way on stage. Shredder appears and holds up the last container of ooze, saying that he will make more mutants to fight the Turtles but Keno shows up and kicks the ooze out of his hand, which Jordan quickly grabs and leaves the club with it.. Shredder grabs a hostage and threatens to douse her with the small vial of ooze that he has but Raphael throws Keno into him, causing Shredder to release his hostage, and Michelangelo uses a keytar, with the speakers turned up, to send Shredder flying out of the club. The Turtles follow after him only to discover that Shredder has drank the ooze, turning him into a Super Shredder. Super Shredder begins to tear down the docks that they are on, sending it crashing down on top of him but the Turtles dive into the water and mange to swim to safety. Later, Splinter is watching the news, where April reads a note from Jordan thanking the Turtles by name. When the Turtles return home, Splinter asks if they were seen and they tell him no, as they practice the art of invisibility, but he holds up a newspaper, with their picture on the front page, and tells them to practice harder, quoting the Ninja Rap song as they start their punishment.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze met with negative results from the critics, holding a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Not only is the movie’s juvenile dialogue unbearable for adults, but the turtles’ dopey and casual attitude towards physical violence makes them poor kids’ role models.” Ernie Reyes Jr. was the fight double for Donatello in the original movie and the producers liked him so much that they wrote the character of Keno into the sequel just so they could have him in it and replace Casey Jones, who they felt was too violent. While it had a bigger budget, the movie was not as successful as it’s predecessor, earning $78.6 million off of a $25 million budget.

This movie is such a disappointment compared to the original one. I did like Paige Turco, who replaced Judith Hoag as April O’Neil, and I loved Ernie Reyes Jr. (Keno), who matched up incredibly well with Raphael in attitude and personality. The story honestly felt a little weak, as if they wanted to try and create Rocksteady and Bebop, the mutated villains from the cartoon, without actually using those characters. The fight scenes with the ninjas was pretty good, and Ernie Reyes Jr. was fantastic in his fight scenes, but the scenes with Tokka and Rahzar were just so slow paced in comparison that it wasn’t even funny. And of course, we have the whole scene in the club and “Ninja Rap”. Pardon my language for a minute but, fuck this movie for giving us that fucking song. Ok, got that out of my system. Anyways, there are some good parts but on the whole, it doesn’t come close to the original.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, horror, movie, movie review

October 23rd, 2017 Movie – Spawn

spawn

Today marks the beginning of almost a solid week of superhero movies. Unfortunately, we start off with one that was a real disappointment. See, back in the early 90’s, there was a breakaway from Marvel of several of their top illustrators, who had wanted to maintain the copyrights for characters they created, thus giving birth to Image comics. One of the most popular comics in that new company was “Spawn”, created by Todd McFarlane. Now Spawn was a definitely a darker, and bloodier, comic than what most fans expected (similar to the Punisher) and it made sense that someone might try to make a movie off based of the comics. Unfortunately, the end result was a little less than desired and I, having a tendency to torture myself with my movie choices at times, decided to buy it just to work on my superhero movie collection. So let’s get this headache over with as I watch today’s movie, Spawn.

The plot: In Hong Kong, Special Forces operative Al Simmons takes over an airport control tower, where he then fires a missile to take out his target before detonating the launcher to remove all traces of his being there, unaware that he is being observed by a man named Cogliostro. Back in the US, Jason Wynn, the head of the agency that Al works for, is meeting with a demon known as Violator, who has promised to give Wynn world domination in exchange of certain favors and asks for one last favor, kill Al Simmons. Some time later, Al and his friend/partner Terry Fitzgerald are heading to work and after showing Al the paper discussing the civilian deaths in the latest operation, Terry comments about how several of Wynn’s ops seem to have more civilian casualties and that he is going to keep an eye on Wynn. Al goes to Wynn’s office and tells him he wants out, causing him to be taunted by Wynn’s bodyguard/assassin Jessica Priest, and Wynn tells him he will have him transferred after completing one last mission. Al is sent to North Korea to destroy a bioweapon facility but when he gets there, he finds the place is already prepared to blow and Wynn waiting for him. Al tries to stop Wynn from releasing the gas, as there is a village nearby, but he is shot by Priest, who then pours an accelerant onto him and Wynn sets him on fire. Al calls out his wife Wanda’s name before collapsing to the ground just as the plant explodes. 5 years later, a horribly burned Al is shown to be alive and in the top of an old church, where Violator is watching him. Al climbs down from the church and finds himself in an alley where the homeless live, and Cogliostro attempts to talk to him but Al shoves him aside so Cogliostro gives him a coat to help hide his burned face and skin. Al heads to his home to find Wanda is now married to Terry and they have a daughter, Cyan. When Cyan chases after her dog Spaz, who had recognized Al, and offers Al some candy but Wanda sees them and grabs her away from him. Wanda yells for Terry, who tells Al to leave and Violator, who was dressed up to perform for the party, grabs Al and leaves with him. Returning to the alley, Violator explains that Al promised to lead the Demon Malebolgia’s army in exchange for getting to be with Wanda again, taking Al to his grave to show him that he died. The pain causes Al’s necroplasm armor to emerge and Violator dubs him Spawn. Back in the alley, Spawn realizes the usefulness of his armor in getting his revenge on Wynn and he heads for Wynn’s new company only to be confronted by Cogliostro, who tries to stop him but when Spawn continues on his path, Cogliostro summons a blade and debates on if he needs to use it. Al breaks into Wynn’s new company, A-6, and steals some of their weapons, then follows Wynn and Terry to a reception at a nearby embassy. Spawn breaks in and confronts Wynn, who is shocked to see what Al has become. Spawn then confronts Terry and asks him how he could betray him and Terry, shocked at see Al there, tells him that Wanda was devastated when Al died and he was taking care of her when they fell in love. Priest and a security team arrive and attack Spawn and though he is shot, his wounds heal and he manages to kill Priest before being blasted out of a window, where he uses his armor to escape from the police. As Wynn watches Priest’s body being taken away, he sees Violator nearby and goes to talk with him, angry at what had happened. Violator calms him down and tells him that he should get a device attached to his heart which will release the Heat-16, the new bioweapon Wynn has developed, worldwide if his heart stops beating, which will serve as a deterrent from anyone killing him. Spawn heads to where Wanda is giving a lecture about the effects of Heat 16, realizing how Wynn has been using him all this time. When Cyan runs off after Spaz and falls, Spawn helps her up and carries her to where Wanda can find her, just as Terry shows up and takes them home but Spaz ends up staying with Spawn and returns to the alley with him. In the alley, Spawn starts to befriend a homeless boy name Zack when Violator shows up and Spawn attacks him. Violator then transforms into his demonic form and easily beats Spawn, eventually throwing him into the bent spires of an iron fence. Violator changes back into the clown and taunts Spawn about going to see Wanda before he leaves. Cogliostro appears and pulls off of the fence, then threatens to kill Spawn but when Spawn seems to have calmed down, he retracts his blade. Cogliostro then starts training Spawn in how to use his armor and abilities. Spawn then goes to save Wanda and Cyan from Violator, who stalls Spawn as he makes his way there. Meanwhile, Terry had made copies of Wynn’s files and was sending them to a local news channel in order to take down Wynn when Wynn shows up and takes them hostage. When Spawn shows up, he finds Wanda held captive, with Wynn threatening to kill her unless Spawn agrees to lead Hell’s armies. When Spawn refuses, Wynn stabs Wanda and Spawn proceeds to attack Wynn, threatening to kill him. Wynn says if he dies then everyone dies, including Cyan, and Spawn uses his powers to remove the device from Wynn’s heart, preventing the Heat 16 from being dispersed. As Spawn approaches Wanda’s body, she suddenly comes to life and attacks him, slashing his throat and revealing that she was actually a disguised Violator. Cogliostro appears and saves Spawn, chasing Violator back to Hell, and after Spawn heals himself, Violator grabs them both and drags them back to Hell. Cogliostro attacks Violator but he is easily beaten and thrown aside before Spawn starts attacking him and manages to stab him in the neck, causing Violator to retreat. Spawn is then confronted by Malebolgia and his army of hellspawn, who tells Spawn to lead his army or die. Spawn refuses, then uses his powers to attack the hellspawn but when he finds himself about to be overrun, he grabs Cogliostro and returns to Earth. As the two rest form their adventures, Cogliostro explains that he had been fighting the war for centuries and was waiting for a new Hellspawn to take his place and believed Al was that one. When Violator reappears and attacks Spawn, Spawn uses his chains to cut of Violators head, who taunts them one last time before disappearing back to Hell. Outside, Terry gives an interview to the press concerning Wynn’s activities while back in the alley, Spawn has taken up residence there as the homeless’s protector.

Spawn was panned by the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Spawn is an overbearing, over-violent film that adds little to the comic book adaptation genre.” The movie originally had a budget of $20 million but due to all of the special effects needed in the movie, New Line cinemas decided to double the budget to $40 million. Despite the low ratings from the critics, the movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $87.8 million worldwide and a sequel was planned but it fell into “developmental hell” and ended up being cancelled but a reboot has been announced and is scheduled to start filming in 2018.

This was an absolute disappointment of a movie, made even more so by the fact that there was a successful animated series on HBO that was way better. The acting was ok, with Michael Jai White (Spawn) and John Leguizamo doing decent jobs in their roles. The plot was essentially an origin story and I know there were some changes compared to the comics but it has been so long since I read them that I don’t know what they all were. I do think the changes that they made to the movie to drop it from an R-rating to a PG-13 did hurt it a lot, as the HBO series did a much better job with the subject material. The special effects that they spent so much money on honestly looked terrible, which is surprising as the effects in some other movies that came out that year were much better with a smaller budget. I’m hoping that the reboot might be better but in the meantime, I will watch the animated series if I want to get my fix.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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