Review: Ghostbusters (no spoilers)


In the opening scene of the new Ghostbusters reboot, a tour guide is giving a tour of a haunted house. “At the time that it was built, it was the height of luxury,” he says. “It had such features as a face-bidet and an anti-Irish security fence.” Gesturing into a sitting room, he adds, “Rumor has it that this is where P.T. Barnum first had the idea to enslave elephants.” Continue reading


Review: Captain America Civil War

I caught a showing of Captain America: Civil War this afternoon with my writing and movie buddy R.K. Bentley. It was a much better Avengers movie than the last Avengers movie, and frankly I’m glad Joss Whedon wasn’t involved in this one because it was all the better for it.


Keep your friends close and your enemies so close…you’re almost…kissing…

Marvel is getting itself into dangerous territory, though, with this enormous library of intra-referential movies. Civil War is at its best if you’ve seen Captain America, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Ant Man, and probably a couple of the Spider-Man movies. If you haven’t seen half of those movies—at the very least both Captain Americas and the second Avengers movie—then Civil War is a bit of a confusing mess.

Luckily I’d seen all of those except Ant Man, and I was able to figure that bit out from the context. The movie expects you’ve seen them and doesn’t explain more than the minimum. I pity anyone who’s trying to get into the franchise with this movie.

Spoilers ahead! Continue reading

Dawn of Justice: Not As Bad As You’ve Been Led to Believe


Late in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Jonathan Kent tells Superman about a time when he was a child and the river at the farm was flooding its banks. He says he and his father spent hours filling sandbags to keep the river from flooding their fields and ruining everything. Eventually they succeeded, and returned home as heroes. Except while they celebrated, the diverted river flooded the neighbors’ farm, and the scream of the drowning horses haunted him for years afterward.

That’s the theme of Dawn of Justice—the idea that saving the day has consequences. Continue reading


Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-movie-posterLet me start this spoiler-free review by saying that I had extremely low expectations for this movie. I don’t read reviews before I see a movie, but I’d seen headlines, and I was prepared for this to be the utter destruction of my childhood. I was…pleasantly surprised?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, directed by Michael Bay, was a poorly written but entertaining movie, and my childhood survived with only a few bruises. It’s a modern reboot of the 90s cartoon show and movies, though thankfully goes more for “campy” than “gritty”. In this reincarnation, the turtles and their rat father figure/sensei Splinter were lab animals. An experiment with some alien goo turned them into grotesque parodies of their canon personalities. Leonardo, always the leader, is quiet and stoic and has very few lines. Rafael has gone from broody rebel to nine-foot-tall hulking brute whose secret is that he’s always angry. Michelangelo, no longer a California surfer, is now a keyboard-cat-loving dudebro, which is surprisingly endearing. And Donatello—oh Donny. Donny, Donny, Donny. What did they do to you? Donatello, instead of being the quiet, bookish brother who I had a crush on when I was ten, is a gangly mouth-breathing hacker nerd with taped glasses and a penchant for speaking like nerds do in movies but no sentient being has ever spoken in real life. I cringed every time he was on the screen.

April O’Neil, played by Megan Fox, was a disappointment. She’s a hot but expressionless news anchor who’s always doing fluff pieces but dreams of being an investigative reporter. Her idea of “investigative reporting” is doing an ill-conceived Nancy Drew impression and getting in trouble a lot. At one point she sneakily takes pictures of a crime in progress, except that she has the camera turned around backwards and is actually taking pictures of her own face. I don’t think that was in the script.

The plot was too stupid to talk about, so let’s skip that part.

Ultimately, it was enjoyable, especially once it got away from April’s search for a real news story and focused on the turtles. They had some funny moments, and you got the impression that they really had grown up with only each other for company. Their interactions were the best part of the movie, and are what saved the movie from being utter drivel. The fight scenes seemed to take place in an oddly frictionless environment, but they were exhilarating. I enjoyed seeing the turtles in the modern world, talking about watching Lost and doing Nolanverse Batman impressions. I wish there had been some character development—literally the only character development in the entire movie was Rafael learning the same lesson he learns in every single movie, which is that he’s a follower, not a leader—but that seems to be too much to ask for action movies these days.

I’d rank it far below every other TMNT movie (yes, even Turtles in Time) but I might consider adding it to my collection someday, just for the sake of nostalgia. I’d give it 3 stars out of 5, though that includes half a star for the theme song cameo at the end of the movie. Don’t watch it in theaters. Wait for it to come out on Netflix and keep your expectations low, and you’ll be fine.


Movie Dissection: Pacific Rim

I saw Pacific Rim last Saturday as part of my low-key birthday entertainment. I’d had pretty high hopes for this movie, especially given the many good reviews I’d seen. Ultimately, although I thought it was entertaining and it might even be something I’d buy, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Spoilers below the cut.

Continue reading