Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Despite their hue, not all TMNT films deserved to be greenlit.
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1984. Now almost 40 years later, what started as a comic book has inspired seven movies, five television series, and countless amounts of merchandise. This week the four ninja tortoises return in a new animated incarnation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Considering I’ve been a fan of the Turtles since six years old, this seems like the perfect time to put an official rating on four decades of movies. Some are gnarly, some tubular, and there’s always a whole lot of cowabunga.
Writers Note: This list doesn’t include the recent Netflix installment Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, a TV-movie crossover Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the live recording of the 1990 Coming Out of Their Shells stage show. That one you can catch on YouTube, although I don’t know why you would. Continue Reading →
A portrait of a closeted lesbian woman living in England during Margaret Thatcher’s oppressively homophobic 1980s reign, Georgia Oakley’s Blue Jean illustrates a unique paradox for a critic. How does one navigate criticizing a film’s self-imposed binaries while also accounting for the realities of a restrictive period, the gravity of the subject matter (and parallel current circumstances), and the differentiation of what is intended as cinematic affect and what constitutes clumsy filmmaking? Continue Reading →
Let's face it: At this point, you're either in for the overamped, Saturday-morning-cartoon lunacy of a Fast and Furious movie or you're not. Building from its humble roots as a 2001 street-racing Point Break riff to the gargantuan action tentpole it's after a whopping ten movies (eleven if you count Hobbs & Shaw), the series has built quite the convoluted lore over the decades. There are dead characters who come back to life (Sung Kang's Han), living characters who can never come back because their actors are no longer with us (see: Paul Walker's Brian), sworn enemies who join the familiar just one film later. It's dudebro soap opera, fueled by nitrous oxide and every weird, bonkers thing the filmmakers can think to do with a car. Continue Reading →
There's at once too much, and somehow not enough, of the whimsical DIY spirit of writer-director Robert Rodriguez in his latest film, the shaky B-thriller Hypnotic. The Austin native made his name in the halcyon days of '90s indie filmmaking, shooting his first feature (El Mariachi) for a mere $7,000 at the tender age of 23. Since then, he's leveraged that inventiveness into a cottage industry of his own based out of his hometown of Austin, Texas, whether it's kid-friendly fare (Spy Kids), big-budget CGI blockbusters (Alita: Battle Angel), moody noirs (Sin City) or grindhouse splatterfests (Planet Terror, From Dusk Till Dawn). Hypnotic is all and none of those things, a chintzy lo-fi Christopher Nolan riff that doesn't have nearly enough life to work. And yet, there are just enough charming elements to save it from outright dismissal. Continue Reading →
Crater begins centuries into the future in an era where man has colonized the Moon. Rather than being home to thriving cities, though, Earth’s only natural satellite is the site of a run-down mining colony. People toil away, hoping to make it to another luxurious planet known as Omega. This is where Caleb Channing (Isaiah Russell-Bailey) lives. It’s also where he receives the news that his miner father (Scott Mescudi) has died. As part of his death benefits, Caleb will be transferred, via 75 years of traveling, to the bustling world of Omega. Continue Reading →
Max’s latest docudrama is just one of many times real-life killers have been given attractive makeovers for TV
Premiering tomorrow on Max is Love & Death, the second (after Hulu’s Candy) of two miniseries in one year focusing on the 1980 murder of Texas housewife Betty Gore by her friend Candy Montgomery. Whereas Candy took a nuanced approach to the case, Love & Death is decidedly pro-Candy, treating her as a victim of circumstance, even though she (a) struck Betty Gore 41 times with an ax, (b) had no injuries to back up her self-defense claim, and (c) had been sleeping with Betty’s husband.
That generosity extended to the casting. The real, thoroughly average Candy Montgomery, as did many people when cigarette smoking was still popular, looked older than her 30 years, and the tight perm and extra large glasses frames she wore didn’t help (whoever talked her into that hairstyle should have been brought up on charges themselves). In Love and Death, she’s played by the ethereally lovely Elizabeth Olsen, whose saucer eyes immediately convey innocence. While Hulu’s version of Candy was played by Jessica Biel, another implausible choice, an attempt was made at drabbing her down. Olson’s babydoll face is unencumbered by either a wig, or unflattering glasses. If not for the fact that her character’s name is Candy Montgomery, you wouldn’t know who she’s supposed to be at all. Continue Reading →
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
It’s been almost 40 years since that little plumber in the red hat jumped into a warp pipe and into our hearts. Super Mario Bros., released for the original Nintendo system in the US in 1985, is still the perfect video game. It’s simple (you just got to jump around), it has iconic music, and its colorful world is hypnotic even with all those cute creatures trying to kill you. Continue Reading →
Shazam! Fury of the Gods
If only there were a word I could scream that would turn me into a superhero. I wouldn’t fight crime or fly in the heavens above. Instead, I would run really fast until time went backward. Then I would sprint into the DC Film offices circa 2020 and yell, “Please do not make Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Nobody needs this!” Alas, I have no such power. So, here we are. Continue Reading →
Palm Trees and Power Lines
Among the increasingly insane and dangerous culture wars we’ve found ourselves thrust into in recent years is whether or not merely explaining to a child what it means to be queer or transgender is inappropriate. For the rational-minded, it teaches children empathy and acceptance. For those less so, it’s akin to showing them pornography, and corrupting their innocence. The word “grooming” is used, although no one seems to know exactly what that means, except that it’s inflammatory and effectively shuts down any hope of a productive conversation. Continue Reading →
Jalmari Helander's WWII action flick glues Inglourious Basterds to Mad Max Fury Road, and it's a fist-pumping blast.
(This review is part of our 2022 Toronto International Film Festival coverage.)
Inglourious Basterds' Lt. Aldo Raine would be pretty proud of Jalmari Helander's gonzo spaghetti-Western-meets-WWII actioner Sisu; like he, the film is interested in "one thing, and one thing only... killin' Nazis." And so it goes with the TIFF 2022 Midnight Madness pick, a roaring rampage of revenge that commits to its stylized schtick -- even if that means it feels a little thin. Continue Reading →
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
When someone chooses to end their life, even if they’re open about their mental health struggles, it’s still often a shock to their friends and loved ones, who will then wrack their brains and agonize over whether they missed a sign that it was coming. The question always arises: how could they do that? They had so much to live for. They had so many people who cared about them. We’ve learned some pretty harsh lessons in the past decade about “what kind of person” commits suicide, first with Robin Williams in 2014, and then someone else who truly seemed to know how to grab life by the balls, Anthony Bourdain, in 2018. Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner is a moving film about Bourdain, arguably the most important modern travel documentarian, and his internal conflict over having a life most people only dream of, while feeling like he didn’t really deserve it. Continue Reading →