Friday, August 4, 2023

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Familyfaire: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023) PG In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, the Turtles wish they had ordinary lives, but that will never happen. With the help of Master Splinter (voiced by Jackie Chan) and April O’Neil (voiced by Ayo Edebiri), the guys are ready to take on their next foe. Unfortunately, it’s not just one bad guy, but a gang of mutants, led by a ‘Super Fly’ (voiced by Ice Cube), that want to destroy humans at all costs. The Turtles will need all their skills to defeat these mutants. Most of the TMNT films have been aimed at kids and have been, on the whole, pretty crappy. I am happy to say that through imaginative animation, whip-smart dialogue, a fun voice cast, and a plot that moves along at a fast pace, this film is right there with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse as one of the best-animated films of the year. Taking a franchise that has been around for over 30 years and making it seem new and relevant is a challenging undertaking, but this film has accomplished that and more. With a great villain (voiced by a very cool and funny Ice Cube) and a spunky, smart sidekick in April (voiced by the talented Ayo Edebiri), the film hits a lot more times than it misses (a few less vomit jokes, please) and both adults and kids will have a blast. Be sure to stay through the first portion of the closing credits for a bonus scene that fans of the TMNT gang will go nuts over.   My Rating: Full Price  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Meg 2: The Trench (2023) PG-13   Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), who, after his experience with Megalodon, is back and leading a daring research team on an exploratory dive into the ocean’s depths. Little does the team know that an illegal mining operation is about to unleash something worse than last time: there is more than one ancient creature hiding in the depths. The first half of this film is boring and takes forever to get going, and when it does, the action is done so poorly and so murky that I didn’t even know one of the characters was in trouble. The second half is what you are looking for, with the giant sharks and some bonus monsters going nuts. Statham looks like he was cashing in a paycheck and fresh addition to the cast; Jing Wu does as much action scenes as Jason does. That’s not surprising since making backing is from some Chinese companies, and about an eighth of the dialogue is not in English. The action picks up when we get into the sunlight, but it’s still idiotic, and some horrible editing mistakes jump out at you as big as the Megalodon’s do. So, stay home and watch some docs on dinosaurs or sharks, and you get as many thrills as this film gives you. Probably more.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Meg 2: The Trench    Now playing in theatres nationwide.

: Shortcomings (2023) R   Ben (Justin H. Min) is a failed filmmaker and a manager of a small theatre. Friends will tell you, Ben is a condescending jerk. His best friend, Alice (Sherry Cola), is hiding the fact that she is gay from her parents. They spend a lot of their time in San Francisco complaining about everything. When Ben’s girlfriend, Miko (Ally Maki), takes an internship in New York, Ben and Alice decide to go on a road trip to the ‘Big Apple’ to surprise Miko. Ben is about to get a taste of his own medicine. Let me tell you right off the bat that you will not like Ben, and this isn’t one of those films where Ben will change because of the ‘right girl’ or where he realizes he needs to change. In fact, I don’t think Ben will ever change, which is fine because the performance of Justin H. Min makes this a film to watch. The interplay between Ben and Alice is a lot of fun, including some witty phone calls between the two, where Alice lets Ben know what a jerk he is being. The film has a lot to say about culture, dating, and how Ben sees himself in the dating world. Shortcomings is a funny but hard-hitting look at a man who thinks the world revolves around him and how he thinks the dating world should work.   My Rating: Full Price  Shortcomings Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Dreamin’ Wild (2022) PG  The story of Donnie (Casey Affleck) and Joe (Walton Goggins), who, in the 1970s, made a record named Dreamin’ Wild. The record flopped, costing their father (Beau Bridges) his life savings and most of the family farm. Now, over 30 years later, a record producer has discovered the album, and the duo has another shot at the big time and redemption. This is a film about second chances, the love of family, and how we don’t want to disappoint our loved ones to a fault. At the film’s core is unconditional love and how chasing fame can be heartbreaking. Donnie is a man full of guilt, and when out of the blue, a record producer shows up wanting to give the brothers another chance of letting the world hear their music, it brings up all the heartbreak and sorrow that the past holds. I loved the soundtrack, with a lot of the film coming from the real Emerson brother’s songs, along with some great songs sung by Casey Affleck and, at times, Zooey Deschanel, who plays Donnie’s wife. Dreamin' Wild has a lot of heart and is ultimately about how love and forgiveness can overcome just about anything, as long as there is a song in your heart.  My Rating: Full Price  Dreamin' Wild Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
A Compassionate Spy (2022)   Ted Hall, who, at the age of 18, was recruited to join Robert Oppenheimer and his team to create the atomic bomb that ended WWII. Concerned that the U.S. would have a monopoly on the most powerful weapon ever created, Hall passed on crucial information about the bomb to the Soviets. Now, through the help of his wife of over 50 years, Joan, Ted’s story can finally be told. A fascinating portrait of a man and his wife who believed what he did was just and right. It’s pointed out that Hall gave the Russians much more sensitive secrets than the convicted and executed Rosenbergs did. This is about a man convinced that if he hadn’t done what he did, the US might have used the bomb on Russia. The film deals with the complexity of nuclear proliferation and how a man could do something that most would consider traitorous. Along with the 1981 documentary The Day After Trinity, this is a fine companion to the Christopher Nolan Oppenheimer film that has dominated the recent box office. It’s up to you to decide if he was a hero or a traitor.   My Rating: Full Price  A Compassionate Spy Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007) PG  Angus (Alex Etel) is a 12-year-old in Scotland who is trying to ‘be the man of the family’ while waiting for his father to come back from the war (WWII). He lives near a beach with his mother (Emily Watson) and his older sister (Priyanka Xi), where he finds a mysterious egg. He takes it back home, and it hatches a creature with an enormous appetite. Angus names his new friend Crusoe and soon Crusoe has grown too big to hide, so he puts it in a nearby body of water called Loch Ness. The Water Horse is a wonderful family film where the myth of the Loch Ness monster comes alive. Of course, there is a bad guy, a commander of a local unit (David Morrissey), who sets out to capture the monster. Add to the fun is Brian Cox, who plays the narrator, a man who hangs out at the local pub and tells stories about the monster. So sit back and join Angus on a quest to save his best friend.   My Rating: Full Price  The Water Horse Info  Available for rent/buy on Apple TV and Amazon.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem: Groom Artists

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Strays (2023) R Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) is a dog whose owner (Will Forte) has abandoned him in the city. A pack of stray dogs led by Bug (Jamie Foxx adopts Reggie), and they are off to find Reggie’s owner and get revenge. Strays is not a kid’s movie (to say the least). Directed by Josh Greenbaum (Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar) and written by Dan Perrault (American Vandal), the film will let you know what your dogs are thinking and talking about…and it’s not good.  Caution: The website and the trailer might not be appropriate for all ages.   Strays Website In theatres August 18th.

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