Bad Boys for Life and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah
As I’m sure is true for many film fans out there, Michael Bay and I have a complicated relationship. On the one hand, being upset at the Michael Bay Aesthetic and the crappy Transformers movies has become kind of passé and is better left to the Cinema Sins and Razzie hacks of the world. Not only that, he’s more than capable of making REALLY great movies that are unique to his sensibilities; particularly Pain and Gain which is clearly his best film by a wide margin. Then again, he’s also the guy who indulges in racist and sexist caricatures in the service of crass humor, and his disdain for the audience and basically all of humanity may be an asset in some films but is also reflected in just how shoddily some of them are put together; incoherent plotting, choppy editing, and an oblivious tone on top of being unfunny and tasteless. I had never seen the Bad Boys movies until very recently and solely in preparation for this new one, and sure enough they contain everything I don’t like about the guy even if they are somewhat more tolerable than some of his later work; presumably due to Bruckheimer being the bigger name at the time which meant he could reign in some of Bay’s worst tendencies. Now all that said, we are going Bayless for this one as he doesn’t even have a producing credit on here, so at least there’s hope that these filmmakers with a fresh perspective can take what elements DID work in the originals while taking out some of their more pernicious aspects to send this franchise off right. Can we close this trilogy on a high note instead of get more of the same nonsense? Let’s find out!!
Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey (Martin Lawrence and Will Smith) are still Miami cops doing their Bad Boys shtick, and while it’s been a fun ride for both of them, Marcus is starting to look towards the back half of his life and doesn’t want it to be filled with more violence, rough schedules, and close calls. Mike on the other hand isn’t even SEEING this as the back half of his life and is trying harder than ever to stay fit, stay alert, and stay young despite the gray hairs showing in his beard. One fateful night while partying with the other cops including good ol’ Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano, a.k.a. JOEY PANTS!) Mike gets the biggest reality check of his life as some masked assassin tries to shoot him to death and almost succeeds. Marcus takes this as a sign to finally retire while Mike can only think of vengeance and wants his help in finding the person who did this to him, but perhaps Mike will have to go it alone. Even worse, he may have to try and find this person with the help of the youngsters at the station who are in some sort of advanced CSI crew named AMMO led up by Mike’s ex-girlfriend Rita (Paola Núñez) who isn’t thrilled about working with the guy either given his history of blowing things up and how personal this case is to him. Will Mike’s quest for vengeance end in him triumphing once again like he did so many times in the old days? Will Marcus stay true to his retirement and be there for his family, or is his bond with his best friend enough to get him on board for one last ride? Is it just me or is this like ten times more interesting than whatever was going on in the other films?
Bumblebee and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Travis Knight
The thing about Transformers, at least for me, is that it’s only ever existed as the Michael Bay movies. I never watched the original series, any of its spin-offs, and I’ve only played one of the games, so if nothing else this movie has a rather low bar to clear if it wants to be considered “good”. Now that said, it’s got some heavy competition right now what with the new Spider-Man movie not just being GOOD but PHENOMENAL, and there are plenty of others out right now that this isn’t gonna stack favorably against if it’s ONLY trying to be better than what Bay was putting out. Still, it’s got a lot going for it what with Hailee Steinfeld AND the recently launched into the mainstream John Cena filling out the cast along with the Laika animation guy stepping in for Bay this time around. Does this prequel manage to take this tired and overblown franchise in a fresh new direction, or is the engine underneath it still the same despite the shiny new coat of paint? Let’s find out!!
Back in the long ago days of the late eighties (when Sony Walkmans walked the Earth), the war for Cybertron was reaching its peak as the Decepticons had pushed the Autobot rebels off the planet with little hope of taking it back. The leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), has tasked B-127 (Dylan O’Brien) with scouting a far off planet that may serve as their new base of operations so they can regroup and finally stop the Decepticons once and for all; a desperate plan to be sure, but its not like anyone else is coming up wit ha better one. So B-127 speeds off to Earth but was followed by a Decepticon warrior! Oh no! The ensuing battle leaves the Decepticon dead, but it leaves a few humans worse for wear including Super Solider from Sector 7 Jack Burns (John Cena) as well as B-127 ending up heavily damaged (even losing his voice in the process) and… I guess robo-hibernates for some time to recharge his batteries. Some time passes (not sure if it’s months or years) and B-127 is found in a junkyard by Charlie Watson (Haille Steinfeld) who takes him home and manages to get him running again. He wakes up, shows himself to be a robot to Charlie albeit it with no memories which were all damaged in the fight, and… I think he accidentally sets off some sort of tracking beacon that two Decepticons (Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) a few planets away seem to have heard which conveniently gives us antagonists to fight against in the third act. Until then, Charlie names B-127 Bumblebee and tries to teach him how to blend in the human world while also taking him for joy rides, prank wars, and emotional character arcs for both her and her new robot buddy who’s not sure who he is or what his place in this strange world is. Will Charlie and Bumblebee learn to deal with their traumas and find a new lease on life by beating up robots and taking bullies down a peg? What will John Cena do when he finds out the robot that nearly killed him is still functional, and will it involve the Five Knuckle Shuffle? Wait a minute… finding a robot in a junkyard that was meant to fight off a hostile alien force but got lost along the way… isn’t this the plot to Megas XLR?
A Quiet Place and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by John Krasinski
We had quite a few good horror films last year like IT, Happy Death Day, and ESPECIALLY Get Out, but pickings have been a bit slim in the first third of 2018 with the only wide releases going to the fourth Insidious movie and the rather underwhelming Annihilation if you’d even want to count that. THANK GOODNESS that Platinum Dunes has stepped up to the plate because they’ve ALWAYS made good movies, am I right!? Okay, so the studio has a pretty shaky track record with some pretty awful remakes being their staple up until 2010, but they have gotten a bit better at picking movies what with The Purge series being under their banner and I even liked that Friday the 13th film they did, though I’m certainly in the minority on that one. This movie at least has been getting some positive buzz despite what I feel what I thought were rather underwhelming trailers, so maybe the steady improvement of Platinum Dunes productions will continue unabated! I mean as long as we forget about those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie… and the first Ouija movie. ANYWAY, does this latest thriller with a unique premise manage to be all it’s cracked up to be, or will the silence in the theater be less due to enraptured awe and more due to straight up boredom? Let’s find out!!
We begin this story in the near future where it seems that society has crumbled and the few remaining survivors are eking out a rather mundane existence as they try to avoid being hunted down by whatever it was that nearly wiped us all out. What is hunting them exactly? I don’t know, some sort of Silent Hill looking dudes with sharp claws that LOVE to slice and dice people whenever they can find them. The key to their success however turns out to be some EXCELLENT hearing skills, so in order to survive in this world you need to stay QUIET! At least the Abbott family has managed to make this new way of life work for them as Momma and Poppa (Emily Blunt and John Krasinski) have worked tirelessly to set up rules and precautions to protect their children and to keep their mouths shut! Sure, they lost ONE kid, but they’ve still got two left who know not to make even the SMALLEST of sounds if they want to survive, and there’s even another kid on the way which SEEMS like a bad idea considering how hard it is to reasonably explain to a baby that they’re crying is not very helpful at the moment, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there! Anyway, the eldest kid Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is having trouble dealing with the death of her little brother which she blames herself for and on top of that is deaf herself which makes it easier for her to communicate without sound but means that things might be a bit more dangerous if she can’t hear any approaching threats. At least she’s better equipped to handle what’s going on than her brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) who’s REALLY traumatized by everything that’s happened since the monsters came to town and spends most of his time being terrified about everything around him; not the MOST impracticable of positions to take, but it does cause some friction between him and his dad when he has trouble letting go of his fears to focus on the basic survival tasks at hand. So with one kid feeling guilty, another one scared of his own shadow, and a third one threatening to come out of their mother in the very near future, things may not be sustainable for that much longer no matter how much Super Dad tries to keep things firmly within his grasp. Can this family survive this terrifying threat for as long as it takes for someone to figure out how to destroy these creatures once and for all? Will they find a way to successfully have this baby and raise it without attracting the attention of the creatures that have the super strong hearing and extremely deadly claws? Seriously, how have you guys survived THIS long if knocking something over is enough to get these creatures to come a knocking!?
Transformers: The Last Knight and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Michael Bay
Good ol’ Patron Saint of all things wrong with cinema, Michael “The Boom Master” Bay! For a lot of film critics, he’s become something of a symbol for the worst that summer blockbusters have become even if that characterization is somewhat unfair. Heck, even I’m guilty of generalizing the dude to an extent as I’ve only managed to sit all the way through two of the Transformers movies (Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction; neither of which were the least bit tolerable) and I do genuinely like a few of his films such as Pain and Gain as well as The Rock. This is gonna be the first film of his that I will review for the site, so I don’t just want to parrot my usual talking points about Transformers being THE WORST THING EVAR (even if it’s probably true) and am gonna try to go into this with an open mind as well as a critical eye. Is there SOMETHING in this latest entry of the series that will be worth talking about and even appreciating, or are here to say the same shit for a franchise that makes too much money to ever need to change? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) landing back on Cybertron (I think) where he meets the creator of all Transformers (I think) known as Quintessa (Gemma Chan) who… wants to destroy Earth I think? I don’t know, but that’s where we start and we’ll get back to that eventually. From there, we find out that the humans no longer trust the Transformers (again) and have set up the Transformers Reaction Force (TRF) to hunt down any remaining Autobots and Decepticons which usually isn’t a great idea, but whatever. The few remaining Autobots from the last movie (including a few Dinobots) are being protected by Cade Yeager from Age of Extinction (Mark Whalberg) who’s now a fugitive from the law despite having a very visible base of operations in a junk yard. Anyway, he’s being chased by the humans as well as Megatron (Frank Welker) but during an admittedly decent action scene where the three factions come to a head, a strange human sized robot named Cogman (Jim Carter) informs Cade that an artifact he found holds the key to saving the world or whatever and jets him off to the UK along with Bumblebee (Erik Aadahl) to meet with his master Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins). The dude informs Cade that he’s got a destiny much bigger than his own, there’s a professor named Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock) who ALSO has a destiny much bigger than her own, and there’s a Cybertron MacGuffin somewhere that they need to find in order to fight off the impending doom brought about by Quintessa and a brainwashed Optimus Prime. Can Cade and his gang of rascally robot friend find the MacGuffin of Ultimate Destiny before it’s too late? Can Optimus Prime be brought back to his senses before he does something he’ll truly regret? WHY IS IT So HARD TO DESCRIBE THE PLOT TO A MOVIE ABOUT GIANT ROBOTS!?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Dave Green
The first Bay-Turtles movie was pretty damn awful. Maybe not as bad as the WORST Transformers film, but certainly no better than the arguably best one (Marky Mark for the win). With this one though, there seems to be a conscious effort to integrate more of what people ACTUALLY liked about the cartoon and incorporate it into the Bay-Turtles universe, so maybe a middle ground can be struck here between big budget extravagance and nostalgic sincerity. Does this manage to AT least be better than the first one? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up some time after the first one with the Turtles (Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, and Alan Ritchson) continuing their hero shtick in the shadows while Vernon (Will Arnet) is taking all the credit for defeating Shredder (now Brian Tee instead of Tohoru Masamune) and putting him in Jail. Eric Sacks by the way is not even mentioned here. At first they made him NOT The Shredder, and now they’ve retconned him out of existence! The turtles are restless about all the lack of kudos they get or kicking so much ass, but those concerns will be secondary soon enough as Shredder escapes jail with the help of Super Nerd Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and recruits two new soldiers in his army in the form of Bebop and Rocksteady (Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrelly AKA Sheamus) so that they can build a teleporter device that will bring Krang (Brad Garrett) and The Technodrome into our world. Oh, and I’m pretty sure April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is around doing something. So is Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). ANYWAY! Can the turtles stop Shredder from his latest evil schemes? Will they do as the title says and come out of the shadows to stop this latest threat? Seriously, how much longer before they do a crossover?