I think it’s time for Wonder Woman to get the blockbuster treatment.


One major complaint in the super hero saturated movie market is the lack of female protagonists. Sure, we’ve got Pepper Potts, in Iron Man, Black Widow in The Avengers, and Catwoman in the latest Batman movie; but it’s blatantly obvious that women, for the most part, take a back seat to their male counterparts in the majority of comic book adaptations. This truth makes the glaringly obvious omission of a blockbuster scale Wonder Woman movie that much more conspicuous. It’s a risky step, for sure. I mean, as far as comic book movies go, there are the tent-pole figures that sell the most tickets. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Wolverine etc. etc. X-Men may be the biggest “equal opportunity” franchise for women in the  superhero business to date, but after watching 2009’s animated Wonder Woman, I can’t help but feel like studios and audiences are missing out on something pretty big.

    To be honest, Wonder Woman wasn’t particularly on my “to watch” radar until Ryan Partlow recommended it. It was available for free streaming on my Amazon Prime account, so I bit. Wonder Woman is, unsurprisingly, an origins tale. Which was good, because I knew very little about her. The Amazonians, after a pretty sweet battle with Aries, are granted an island where they can be safe from the depravity of man. Centuries later, a fighter pilot crash lands in their midst and, long story short, Diana (voiced by Keri Russell), the princess of Themyscira Island is chosen to escort him back to his homeland. About the same time, Aries escapes from his prison and begins wreaking havoc on earth as he attempts to gain power in order to take over Mount Olympus. What begins as a simple escort mission, quickly becomes a bid to save humanity. But they never explained her invisible jet. Not even a little.

    With a short 74 minute run-time, Wonder Woman uses the time to efficiently tell a compelling origin story and discuss themes largely overlooked by the genre. The tone of the movie is largely focused on the role of women in society, taking shots at the chauvinistic “nature of man”. It’s a discussion that is surprisingly balanced with the use of  Dianna’s male counterpart, modern day fighter pilot  Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion). Steve Trevor serves as a vessel to showcase the best and worst of what mankind as a societal whole has to offer. What makes the Amazonian women weak is the very thing that sets them apart from humanity, their solitude from the outside world. Diana serves as a bridge between the two worlds, protecting both from stronger forces.

    The film itself looks like a weekly Saturday morning cartoon. That being said, it’s quite a bit more violent than what you’ll catch on the Cartoon Network on the weekends. The action sequences are intense, but not overshadowing to the overall plot. The story is concise and simple, but feels very fresh coming from an entirely new perspective. The voice casting was dead on, Fillion in particular is proving quite proficient in this type of role. Wonder Woman is absolute proof that you can make a superhero film with a strong female lead and have it be successful.

Ben Affleck: The Caped Crusader?


     Well, that’s it folks. They didn’t choose Karl Urban to play Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel. While he was never really a consideration (as far as I can tell) it would have been a welcomed addition to the film cannon. We’re going to be dealing with a slightly older, wiser Batman in this film, someone that’s been through it all and can really carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, so they chose Daredevil Ben Affleck. This revelation is somewhat unsettling to a lot of people, as they remember Affleck’s previous stint in the superhero business as a bit of a let down. We’ve seen extremes with his career, but lately I’ve been convinced that Affleck is certainly maturing into his career and I’m optimistic for this choice, despite the fact that this is someone I hadn’t even considered as a possibility for the role.

Argo was probably my favorite film to be released last year, and a lot of this is thanks to Affleck’s ability to carry the film. He’s been around the game long enough ,and has been actively involved not only in the acting aspect of movies, but he’s had more than his fair share of time behind the camera as well. I have to believe that someone at his caliber should be able to manage the role of Batman. We’re going to be dealing with a less active, older and more brooding Dark Knight, or so we assume. Affleck seems to have perfected the brooding and somber role, however my concern is the grit involved with the role. While we’ve seen him be serious and deal with weighty dramatic roles, I have yet to see him give a convincingly frightening “batman growl”.

I think it’s going to come down to the role that Batman plays in Superman vs Batman. Bear in mind, this is a sequel to Man of Steel, I have to believe it’s going to be more about Superman than Batman, but that remains to be seen. If that’s the case, the part of Batman could easily be tailored to fit Affleck’s style. And again, it’s going to come down to how the movie plays out. We’ve seen the tone of this Superman universe, and it’s close to The Dark Knight Trilogy of the Nolanverse, but not quite the same. Man of Steel is a much lighter movie, which will allow for, perhaps, a more traditional Batman setting which will allow for a bit more lunacy  with Batman’s style of weaponry and actions, allowing a greater flexibility in the portrayal of the character.

I’ve given my initial thoughts on Batman vs Superman, and I remain optimistic. This is too big of a deal to be screwed up. The danger is that the hype machine is being ramped up to unprecedented and dangerous levels. And now they threw in Ben Affleck into the mix. I honestly have no idea what to expect at this point, but I know I’m excited at the prospect of what this could be. Shmee, however doesn’t seem too excited.


I’m Looking Forward To: Dear Mr. Watterson



The emergence of Kickstarter has managed to bring about a number of awesome things that would otherwise not had the funding to exist. Today I want to point some attention to a project that started in that haven for unique ideas by drawing attention to a documentary film that I cannot wait to see. Dear Mr. Watterson explores one of the single best comic strips to ever grace the pages of a newspaper; Calvin and Hobbes. The film interviews a number of people that have been influenced by the strip in an attempt to define what makes the comic so endearing to anyone that reads it. The movie is not about finding out what Bill Watterson has to say about his creation, rather it appears to be a simple thank you note. Watterson’s long running strip ended over a decade ago, and since then he has kept an extremely low profile, something that the filmmakers respect. Calvin and Hobbes continues to be one of my favorite pieces of reading material. My coffee table is littered with multiple collections showcasing some of the best that that particular art form has to offer. I am seriously pretty excited about this movie. Check out the website here for more information and watch the trailer below!


Initial Thoughts on Batman vs Superman


    So, if you hadn’t heard, Batman and Superman are going to be in a movie together circa 2015. That’s right, I wasn’t there personally for the announcement, but Hall H at Comic-con in San Diego just about exploded after a A Batman logo appeared behind a Superman logo, announcing the imminent screen acquaintance between DC comics two tent-pole characters.  Each of these characters has a long and lucrative cinematic history and are easily the two most recognizable superheroes of all time. With the success of the Marvel film franchise in recent years, it’s  no surprise that DC wants in on that action now that they know the film media is more than capable of supporting multiple heroes from different franchises. I’m excited about this prospect of a crossover film; but that’s mostly just because I’m a sucker for crossovers. I remember when I was in the hospital at six years old due to a burst appendix. I had access to a butt-load of movies. When I saw that there was a Flintstones Meets the Jetsons movie, my appendix just about burst again. I love Chris Nolan’s Batman franchise, and Zack Snyder presented my favorite Superman movie of the lot, so I was pumped when I heard about this. After the initial excitement, however, I realize I have some genuine concerns with the prospect of a Batman vs Superman movie. Here they are:


1. Batman and Superman don’t have enough screen history to be at war.

It is positively chilling to listen to Man of Steel actor Harry Lennix recite Bruce Wayne’s speech to Superman shortly after beating him in hand to hand combat. It’s one of the most pivotal moments in the DC canon. However, it doesn’t happen until Clark and Bruce have spent a literal lifetime in each others stories. There is only a slight reference to the Batman franchise in Man of Steel and absolutely nothing about Superman in the Batman movies, so I find it hard to swallow that the next Batman movie we get will face the Caped Crusader against Sups. Batman and Superman don’t play nice, everyone knows that. But it’s going to be a mightier leap than Superman can muster to throw these two into battle and maintain a cohesive story line without drastically overstating the purpose of a film that is potentially titled Batman vs Superman.


2. The new Batman wouldn’t stand a chance.

If we’re following the Nolan universe at all, we have to face the fact that JGL’s character is taking over for Bruce Wayne. He’s got a lot of spunk, but even Bruce at the end of Dark Knight Rises wouldn’t stand a chance against Superman. Did you see Man of Steel? It would take a lot more than Fox’s toys to compete against Superman. Batman’s history is a lot more cartoony than Nolan let on, and Superman is nothing BUT an exaggerated caricature of grandeur, so they, under normal circumstances, would fit perfectly into each others universes. However the way the current DC universe is set up in film they wouldn’t cross over well. That being said, it’s a well known comic trope to have multiple universes, they very easily could present a different Bruce Wayne with an entirely new style.


3. They have a common goal.

I understand this is something the comics deal with, both have a common goal with different ways of doling out injustice. That being said, how will it work on screen? All we know of Batman shows him working, mostly, within the boarders of Gotham city. Gotham is Batman’s biggest concern, that’s his job; protect Gotham. Going back to concern number 1. There isn’t enough screen history for him to both expand his area of expertise AND perpetuate a war with Superman. On the other side of the coin, Superman certainly has bigger fish to fry than dealing with a lone vigilante who is cleaning up the streets of a single city.

    Those are my concerns. I am well aware that some if not all of them will be addressed and put to rest when the movie actually comes out. I really hope that that happens. If the movie doesn’t just focus on an ill-conceived grudge match between Superman and Batman it would work. Also, I think it MAY need to be established that we’re in an alternate universe than the “Nolanverse”, it just might be necessary, despite the fact that Nolan was involved with Man of Steel we’re dealing with a world that now has a hero with legitimate superpowers. In order to contend with that, you may have to get a little bit more colorful than a Batmobile/tank. I’m still “super” excited about the movie. We’ve been experiencing a veritable golden age of comic book films, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Warner Brothers and DC manage to pull this off, I know I’m certainly rooting for them.

“Unbreakable” would not be a good description of Shyamalan’s career.


   One of the more baffling career swerves in recent Hollywood history has to be that of M. Night Shyamalan. The man is known for having a career that started strong, he was considered a visionary, then with each new movie released with his name attached, his status fell. If there had been a graft of his movies showing the level of quality, he would have started in the mid to high level and then plummeted to the bottom, where The Last Air Bender rightfully rests. Really, it’s a shame, because I loved The Sixth Sense and enjoyed Signs despite it’s mixed reviews.  He either lost sight, or never had it and was just lucky with a few movies. That being said, I will always enjoy the first three movies of his that I’ve seen. The aforementioned Signs and The Sixth Sense were both a blast, but today we’re talking about one that often is overlooked; Unbreakable.


    Sixth Sense wasn’t M Night’s first movie, but it was the one that got peoples attention, it was his break. Shyamalan had proved that he could confuse and scare an audience while bringing in a ton of money at the same time. The next project he embarked on was Unbreakable, an homage to the comic book genre, with characters that weren’t actually from any comics. Bruce Willis plays security guard David Dunn. Dunn is a seemingly ordinary man, up until he becomes the sole survivor of a horrific train crash which he walks away from with not even a scratch. Dunn’s life is full of obstacles, so he’s not eager to investigate this strange addition. However, comic book enthusiast Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson) makes it his personal duty to make Dunn look into his past and see if he perhaps shares some of the heroic supernatural tendencies of the characters that fill the pages that consume his life. Price suffers from a disease that renders his bones as brittle as glass; he’s fragile. Price has always wondered if he had an opposite, someone that was not fragile; someone that is unbreakable. Dunn reluctantly looks into this theory, along the way discovering more about himself than he anticipated.


    The remarkable thing about Unbreakable, in regards to Shyamalan’s portfolio, is that it’s actually pretty great. He’s always had a thing for interesting coloring and whimsical cinematography, which is perfect for a film that’s supposed to look and feel like a comic book. He wrote an interesting origin story, one that never really delves too much into the actual theatrics that almost every hero gets caught up in. Rather, it’s an origin story about a man that’s just slightly above ordinary discovering himself and what responsibilities he must shoulder with his self discovery. The movie offers us a pretty fascinating character arc which seems minuscule at first, but on a second glance is simply subtle, which are two very different things. It’s a subtle arc that shows a flawed man, turn into a flawed man that realizes he is capable of carrying much more than he has been, both emotionally and physically. It’s a discovery of responsibility.

Shyamalan seems to strive in films where the pacing is slow enough for him to flesh out some interesting ideas. Later in his career he may have gotten sidetracked by over the top ideas and sacrificed the fiber of a good story for a cheap twist (arguably, he’s done this early in his career). Unbreakable is surprising because it’s both a comic book movie, and relatively slow paced; two traits that don’t go hand in hand. However, despite two opposing aspects, the film works. It’s as dark as a comic book movie should be, it tells an interesting story about a reluctant hero, and it’s done without many of the cliché comic book tropes of the time. Honestly, it’s a shame that a man capable of producing something of this caliber has become synonymous with the crappy movies he consistently comes out with. Well, here’s to the good old days, I guess.

Wrapping up the case for the Turtles: TMNT



Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

This is it, the final installment into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise until the Michael Bay produced re-boot happens sometime next year. While I will continue to remain overly optimistic about the project until proven wrong, it is getting harder and harder to not groan at some of the casting and artistic choices he’s taken. Anywho, where were we? Ah, yes! TMNT the fourth and final chapter in the original Turtle saga. When we last left the Turtles they had visited ancient japan in a zany and pun-ridden adventure to save April. This plot line essentially left us waiting 14 years for another movie. Perhaps it was the rapid succession that the first three films came onto the scene that made public movie goers a bit weary, but thankfully, we got to see the four reptilian crime fighting brothers in action once again. This time, the whole thing is wrapped in a medium that may have been more suited to their particular needs.


TMNT, although a direct sequel to the previous three live action movies, is completely computer animated. As impressive as Henson’s costumes were, and as cool as it was to see Casey Jones and April as real life actors for the first time on screen, it becomes immediately apparent that the turtles are just as comfortable in an animated environment as a live action one, perhaps more so. The film picks up on the Turtles roughly a year (perhaps more?) after their last adventure. Leonardo left for leadership training/self discovery in the forests of south America. He is eventually discovered by April, who is no longer a reporter but a procurer of rare artifacts. April convinces him that his year absence from his brothers has put the Turtle team on stand still indefinitely. He returns just as a group of stone warriors and monsters begins to tear apart the city. Before they can confront the monsters however, they must learn a valuable lesson about the importance of teamwork and they value of differences.


The basic message of this film is as obvious and as blatant as a locker room pep talk. Work together, you’re only as strong as your weakest link etc. etc. But in a way, that’s what the Turtles are all about, so it’s unsurprising. The story actually holds up quite well in spite of certain dialogue issues. The characters have changed slightly, overly emphasizing the differences in personality. The biggest and most annoying change happens with Michelangelo, who has kept his jokester demeanor, but is significantly dumbed down to the point of irritation. Goofy wit is exchanged for dimwittedness. And what the whole plot boils down to is the conflict between Raph and Leo, with the most emotionally charged scene being a martial arts battle between the two of them.


Visually, this movie nailed it. It uses a mixture of vibrant colors with dark shadows to convey the unique universe that has become home to the Turtles, and the cinematography allows for some truly cool looking action sequences that are unparalleled in the series. The voice acting is pretty great as well, particularly with the addition of Mako, who voices Splinter. While different than any other version, Mako brings a surprising range to the character, with more humor but the same amount of weight and seriousness behind his words and warnings.


TMNT found it’s stride early on in the opening sequence. By the time the logo flashes onto the screen I was already amped up for the return of the pizza loving, heroes in a half shell. While script issues are obvious (a problem that has plagued every Turtles movie) TMNT steps it up visually and compliments it all with a story that fits the animated world that the franchise cozies into. The film both ties in nicely with the previous three movies, while at the same time giving hope of a continuation of the animated re-boot . The end of the film promised an animated sequel with old enemies returning. Instead, they handed the reigns to Michael Bay. That, however, will never discredit the four film series that gave the Turtles a shot at the big screen, with incredible results.

The (Ever Dwindling) Case for the Turtles: Part 3



Part 1    Part 2    Part 4

Well, going into this whole “tell why I like the turtle franchise” series I knew that I was going to have to confront what is almost universally known as the worst of the bunch. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III uses the ever popular time-travel-trope in an attempt to maintain the momentum that the first two movies managed to generate. I feel like a review of the movie isn’t going to help my case for why I love this series, so rather, I’ll give a brief synopsis of the film and then a list of why it was actually, somewhat enjoyable to see the Turtles succumb to a new level of mediocrity.

      Turtles in Time as I’ve come to call it, mostly due to the NES game that far surpasses the movie, presents us with our favorite heroes in a half-shell shortly after they’ve defeated Shredder for a second time (and this time for good). April is en rout for a much needed vacation, and, for reasons I will never be able to understand, decides to give the Turtles some radical (read: terrible) gifts from a flea market before heading out. Among the random assortment of thrift store rubbish is an ancient scepter that she thinks looked Japanese, so she naturally picks it up for Splinter. Naturally, things go horribly wrong when the scepter turns out to be an ancient time machine that hurtles April into ancient Japan, while simultaneously throttling the emperors rebellious son into the future in her place. No surprise, the Turtles head back after her, leaving a slightly confused Casey Jones to watch over the emperors son, as well as four of the emperors royal guards who swapped places with the turtles. A number of challenges await the turtles in the past, namely finding April and the time scepter so they can get back home. There is also the rebellion they decide to help out… since they’re in town. The Turtles find themselves face to face with a group of traders that seek to bring firepower to the side of the oppressive emperor.

That’s the long and the short of it, and I’ll just give you a quick heads up on some of the negative aspects of it. The script and dialogue is worse than the other two films combined, the turtles aren’t done by Jim Henson so they look weird, the time scepter plot makes less sense than the turtles origin story and the ridiculousness level is at an all time high. That’s just to name a few problems, but what makes it worth watching? Lets do this in list form, shall we?



  1. Time Travel: The over-used time travel schtick was one of the worst things about it, but it was also one of the best things about it. Getting the Turtles out of their regular environment was something that needed to be done, they had been fighting the same bad guy for two films in the same city with very little change. Also, the way the time scepter works is that if someone in the past, the scepter it activates at the same time in the future. Which, in linear terms makes absolutely no sense. Making the only plausible explanation is that the two time lines are in separate universes. Given the turtles history with other dimensions (namely X) this makes perfect sense, and actually ads to the canon quite nicely
  2. Higher Production Value: You’re not going to be watching the best period piece by any stretch of the imagination, that’s evident by the majority of the actors they hired. Still, it was pretty fun seeing all the sets and costumes look like they jumped out of ancient Japan. The traders even added a little swash-buckle to the franchise, and that’s always nice.
  3. Casey Came Back: Casey Jones’ absence from Secret of the Ooze, was inexcusable. He was easily the most entertaining part of the first movie, and he’s back in the third one. It’s a shame his role is slightly watered down and takes second fiddle to the main plot, but he brings about the few laughs that the film has to offer as the babysitter of ancient warriors in modern day New York.
  4. It’s Still the Turtles: The movie wasn’t great, but it hadn’t sunk to a level that the poorly made live action TV show would become. Most of the bad dialogue and corny jokes are excusable because the this franchise is so unique. Very few studios would take on a project like this. A live action film about four mutant Ninja Turtles going back in time to aid a rebellion in ancient Japan doesn’t really sound like something you would see outside of the SyFy channel; but this was different, everyone in 1993 wanted to see just that.


It’s sad to see the franchise sink to the level that Turtles III sank to, however it isn’t without it’s merits. We get a chance to see the turtles in a new environment fighting new enemies with some overly formulaic jokes and pop culture references. It’s certainly worth watching, at least once while powering through the four movies that comprise this series. Sure, it’s the film that stopped production of TMNT movies for a solid 14 years, but it wasn’t the end for the Turtles quite yet.


The case for the Turtles part 2: The Secret of the Ooze


Part 1 Part 3 Part 4

 It is universally recognized that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is not as good as its predecessor (which, itself, was hardly loved by critics). I took it upon myself to re-watching my favorite childhood franchise, start to finish and see just how it’s held up these past few decades. The heroes in a half-shell had their work cut out for them in their previous movie, and against all odds they were victorious over both the foot clan and the box office naysayers of 1990. With huge success the Turtles were green-lit for a second movie. Some of the major changes in the sequel came in the form of new characters, a more cartoony feel, a much larger budget, and less usage of the Turtles signature weapons. Not that the weapons weren’t there, just that many people complained about how dark and violent the first movie was. Their wishes were accommodated, despite consideration for if it would effect the movie at all.


Secret of the Ooze delves more deeply into the origins of the Turtles history. The angsty reptiles meet new friends and fight new enemies as they attempt to piece together the fragments of their past that has been dredged up quite unexpectedly. The mutigent that created them has been discovered to be toxic waste which is being disposed of by a scientific research firm. The foot clan decides that they want some mutants on their side (who wouldn’t, right?) and swipe the last bottle of the ooze in order to create Toka and Razar a pair of giant monstrosities the do the bidding of their master. Not only do the turtles have to stop Toka and Razar, they’re forced to confront the foot Clan once more. Shredder wanted a crime empire in the first Turtles movie, but in the follow up he’s after a much more enticing dish…revenge!

As was the case from the first movie, there is absolutely no lack of corny dialogue and bad puns. We’re treated to a veritable barrage of early 90s slang mixed with exaggerated teenaged emotions encapsulated in the shell of four giant turtles. The violence in the movie is toned down, but the budget is ramped up. While it’s certainly more akin to the cartoon than Turtles I the bigger budget allows for a more polished feel to the whole experience. At the time, the audience of the franchise was overwhelmingly children. Because of this, the Turtles walked a fine line between good family entertainment and hard hitting martial arts.

Secret of the Ooze is thoroughly enjoyable; at least I find it so. As a child this was my favorite of the three Turtle films I was accustomed to watching, and it’s undoubtedly attributed to three things. 1) A more polished sense of action. Sure, the weapons were used little to none in this film, but the action sequences were visually more entertaining and sleek than the first film. 2) The jokes land better than the previous installment. All the jokes in the franchise are groan worthy, but even watching the films now, I found the humor to be much more pungent in Ooze. 3) Vanilla Ice. As this came out in, arguably, the strangest decade I’ve had the privilege to live through, I absolutely found Vanilla Ice’s rendition of “Go Ninja” so compelling that it became my anthem for years. While these reasons stood strong for my childhood, I can’t help but realize just how mistaken I was. As fun as The Secret of the Ooze is, it shadows in comparison to the film that started the film franchise.

The Case for The “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Part 1



Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

I am more than willing to admit that my love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise comes from a fierce dedication to the cartoons I watched throughout the course of my childhood. I’m willing to admit that I overlook glaringly obvious flaws in the film franchise because of the integral part that the heroes in a half-shell played in my development of appreciation of popular culture. Here’s the thing; for those not initiated with the turtle franchise (including my wife), the idea of four giant mutated turtles learning ninjutsu from a mutated rat-human hybrid to fight crime in New York City is a little hard to swallow. Critically speaking, the films were not well received. Thankfully, the general public received the Turtles much better than the critics would have hoped. We’re now 23 years past the release of the first Turtle movie; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t enter into the movie realm blindly. A devout following from both the comic books as well as the children’s cartoon showed that there certainly was a market for the turtles. The first movie pits the turtles against the rise of the foot clans attack on New York City. Shredder is recruiting youths in an effort to create a crime empire in the big apple. As the film progresses the fight becomes more personal, to the point that by the end of the film it’s an all out grudge match between Shredder and the Turtles. April O’Neil and Casey Jones are two human allies to the turtles. O’Neil is a news reporter for a local channel while Casey Jones is a vigilante crime fighter with a major affinity for sports.

The flaws in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t few. We’re treated to some terrible dialogue including some of the corniest one liners committed to film, a clunky back story, the idea that a Ninja master would stoop to stealing electronics for money, the overall silliness of the movie makes it feel like a live action cartoon. Oh, wait; maybe it’s supposed to be that way. We’re dealing with a concept that is quite literally a live action cartoon. Sure the hockey lines cause you to groan at times, and they’re not always delivered the best. The turtles are juvenile and angsty, but they are teenagers. It’s something you have to chalk up to taste, but if you can get past the eye-roll factor that comes with the concept then you can have an absolute blast.

The set pieces, visuals, cinematography and costumes all seemed to have oozed out of the neon colored cartoon and into the live action film. Not since Dick Tracey have I seen a movie come so close to accurately portraying it’s animated nature into a real world setting. This inaugural Turtles film laid the groundwork for future sequels. It takes itself serious enough to be an a decent action/adventure film, yet remains silly enough to be a kids movie; though many would argue it is far darker than most, mostly due to it’s dedication to the source material from the comic books. The stunts and action sequences in the film are spectacular. This is well before stylized editing saturated the action elements of films, so we find ourselves content to watch a brawl unfold in real time. The thing with the turtles is, they’re in a fairly bulky costume, yet are incredibly agile. The imagination doesn’t need to stretch too far to allow for the believability of martial artist turtles. My friend and fellow blogger Ryan Partlow pointed out an interesting fact about this movie: At the time, it was the highest grossing independent movie ever made.

It’s an odd ball feature that allows for a nostalgic peak into the past. The Turtles themselves have been incredibly prevalent in pop culture, even having a current running cartoon. We are (unfortunately) going to be getting a Michael Bay Turtles movie in the near future as well. If you are uninitiated to the franchise, or haven’t seen this one in years it’s worth watching. certain aspects have not aged well, but as a whole it is still entertaining and, honestly, the most creative gimmick of it’s time. The Turtles have transcended multiple generations, and at this rate will continue to do so.

Alternatives to 2012s Top Grossing Movies

Without a doubt, 2012 had plenty of entertaining movies with mass appeal with which to slop the hoard of cinephiles and assuage their glutton for moving pictures. The box office stats certainly show a trend in the types of movies that people enjoy watching, and it was absolutely no surprise. Action/adventure seems to always get people out to the theaters, particularly those originating from comic books and consisting of monumentally large budgets. I thought it might be fun to take a look at the top 5 grossing films from this year and pair them with lesser seen alternative films that compliment them quite nicely. I will admit that at the time of writing this list I have not seen the 3rd and 5th top grossing movies from this year, so my recommendations will be educated guesses..

5. Ice Age: Continental Drift 

As I mentioned before, this is one of the films I didn’t see this year. Having seen two and a half of the previous Ice Age films, I think I have a pretty good idea of what this one was all about. These movies are pretty much the animated kiddie staples for the box office; giving parents a few hours of respite from their little monsters while offering as little artistic value as possible. It’s for this reason I recommend my favorite animated movie of the year ParaNorman.

ParaNorman could easily be viewed as an animated sequel to The Sixth Sense. It follows a young boy named Norman who is the only one in his town capable of seeing and communicating with the dead.  When a curse summons a group of zombies from their graves, it’s up to Norman to stop the carnage. It’s essentially a “my first zombie movie”, in that it presents horror movie themes and scenarios in a childlike and visually fun environment. Paring excellent voice acting with interesting and engaging animation allows it to be engrossing both visually and through its narrative.


4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit was my favorite movie of 2012, and I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. It was the best fantasy movie I’ve seen in years. Everyone pretty much knew what to expect going into this due to the wild success of The Lord of the Rings and we certainly weren’t disappointed.

There is another fantasy movie that features a young and unlikely hero embarking on a quest of immeasurable importance (come to think of it there are probably thousands of fantasy films with the exact same basic premise.) The Dark Crystal is a film that is often referred to, but rarely seen. Jim Henson created a fascinating world filled with a ridiculous amount of puppets. Behind the scenes are probably twice as many people controlling these same puppets. Henson created some of the best creatures on film which is part of what makes The Dark Crystal so intriguing. It’s darker than anything The Muppets have starred in and not as lighthearted and “fun” as Labrynth offering a side of the Henson legacy that is rarely seen.



3.  Skyfall

Skyfall is one of the movies that I really regret missing. I have every intention to see it when it’s released on DVD and Blu-Ray, however for this post I’ll have to refer to my knowledge of past Bond movies and recommend based on what I know. When figuring out what movie to recommend with Skyfall I eventually thought about some things that make the bond character so enjoyable to watch. Bond is a skilled assassin, he’s able to adapt to different situations and environments and he’s able to keep his head when he’s in terrible danger. The titular character in the movie Hanna shares many of these qualities with one major difference. She’s a 15 year old girl.

Hannah is trained by her ex CIA father to be a skilled assassin from the age of two. Throughout the course of the film we see her put various skills to use as she’s on the run, hunted by the CIA. The movie takes cinematic liberty, treating us to exciting and visually unique action and chase sequences. The story can be a bit confusing at times, but the dead-on character acting from everyone involved makes it well worth the watch.



2. The Dark Knight Rises


This was another movie that I really loved. As a matter of fact, there are few Batman movies I don’t like (namely Batman and Robin) so I’m going to cheat a little bit and offer up another of the Dark Knight’s many cinematic tributes.

Batman the Animated Series is fantastic. They provided excellent quality cartoons that, although kid-friendly, certainly didn’t shy too far from the source material. The series produced a number of feature length movies, among them was Mask of the Phantasm. The film used the signature dark style of the series which used black paper as a starting background for the frames in lieu of white to maintain that same dark feel. In this film, Batman is blamed for the deaths of numerous crime bosses, the murders are actually being committed by another masked and caped vigilante. This puts Batman in a position that forces him to save and protect his enemies while keeping his own demons at bay.



1. The Avengers

I’m pretty sure everyone reading this has seen The Avengers; Marvels all star masterpiece was the highest grossing movie of the year. Joss Whedon delivered a super hero tour de force that left the entire world impressed with what he accomplished. For this reason I want to recommend another movie written and directed by Joss Whedon: Serenity.

The differences between Serenity and The Avengers is staggering. One is based on a successful comic book empire, preceded by dozens of movies over the past few decades culminating in the mega-blockbuster that was The Avengers. and then there is Serenity; a film that almost wasn’t made, continuing a TV show that was cancelled with only 14 episode completed. Still, Firefly (the television show that preceded the movie) and Serenity gained a large cult following. The show had a fairly simple plot, it followed a band of guns-for-hire that took whatever jobs they could, legal or otherwise. It was a fun mixture of the Science/Fiction and Western genres. The movie was a chance to both tie up loose ends and wish the loyal fans of the franchise a well deserved goodbye. There is no need to see Firefly before Serenity (I hadn’t even heard of Firefly) though it may make it more enjoyable. The catchy-sometimes-corny  dialogue and ever-so-slightly melodramatic tones create a dramatic mixture of sci-fi, comedy and adventure that feels like Indiana Jones in space.