Friday, August 22, 2014

When The Game...Provides Movie Material


    Sports movies come around pretty frequently. Some are really good and others fail to live up to the ones that come before. When The Game Stands Tall is the latest to take on football. In this case, high school football. It's the story of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport. He has a different style of coaching and surprisingly doesn't preach the streak, but attempts to teach his players about life. When the streak ends his players must discover where the important things in life begin. 

    The movie has it's share of drama and emotional moments. Jim Caviezel is solid as the coach who is so committed to the team that his family takes a backseat. He is joined by Michael Chiklis who looks like he was born to play some form of football coach.  The film does a great job of demonstrating the power of the legendary win streak. If you have seen Friday Night Lights, then you're aware of how big high school football is in places around the country. Kids in some programs become local celebrities before they graduate.

    The film balances football with the drama that the players deal with. Father and sons collide in moral battles. Pressure to get beyond where you live. Violence that takes people too soon and pressure to live up to the incredible winning streak.

     The football is fun to watch and the film has it's share of dramatic moments. I don't think it will ever be Remember The Titans or Friday Night Lights, but it doesn't have to be. It is a different story. A legendary streak from a coach who set out to teach his players more than the game of football. A guy who tried to create men who knew what it meant to give back to their team and there community. It's not a big summer blockbuster. It will draw plenty of comparison to similar movies, but it in the end it does stand tall enough.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Missed Opportunities

     It has been a summer filled with mostly lackluster movies. Let's be honest X-Men, Captain America 2, and Guardians are the only movies that really deserve a summer movie mention. People will argue a few more, but I am going with the undeniable winners. I don't have the hatred for Michael Bay that a lot of people do. The first Transformers movie didn't ruin my childhood. Now Bay and company tackle Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is a tough one and I learned after watching this that not every cartoon merits live action. 

    The city of New York is being corrupted by the foot clan and the evil Shredder. The turtles fight crime in the cover of darkness until discovered by up and coming reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox). She tries to convince people of their existence only to lose her job and accidentally confide in her fathers former employer Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). She eventually discovers that the turtles were part of her fathers lab experiment and develops a friendship with the outcasts. They learn that the Shredder and Sacks plan to release a deadly toxin on the city and it is up to the turtles to stop them. 

   The heroes in a half shell have seen the big screen on four occasions. The most notable are the rubber suited classics from the 90's. The turtles are famous for immature comedy and silliness and the movie does hold true to that. They love pizza and are taught the art of the ninja from a talking rat. The movie is faithful to all of those source points. Make no mistake, the new turtles look much better.

   The redesign is the best part of the movie. The turtles are different sizes and their looks reflect their personalities. They still use their classic weapons and keep the distinctive colors intact. The fight scenes are fun and the movie has a few moments that work well. Shredder looks a bit robotic, but still better than the older movies. 

  The plot feels like a cartoon and is acted out accordingly. Fichtner isn't threatening, but it feels like it was on purpose. The movie seems to treat the audience like they are always nine years old. It never gets to intense on any level. I literally felt like I was watching a cartoon without the animation. 

  The plot is silly and simple and I am not a Megan Fox hater either, but it feels like she is the only one trying to take things seriously. Will Arnet seemed to need a pay check or has kids that he did it for. Fox seems to really try to convey emotion and it just seems even more cheesy. If they make Sharknado 3, Fox should be the lead. 

   It could have been more fun. The origin will anger fans of the original. I think the best turtle movie was the animated TMNT from a few years ago. To me, this is a franchise that really doesn't translate beyond a cartoon. It will make money and people will see it, but in the end it just lacks turtle power.