Sunday, March 23, 2014

Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery

So kind of a odd review this time, a new Scooby Doo movie featuring the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars. This movie comes out tomorrow on the 25, and though I don't see it on, I would assume it will be there in a month like normal. So if you are familiar with Scooby-Doo, you know they like to do guest star spots, so seeing him paired with the likes of WWE's John Cena isn't that odd. However Scooby-Doo is pretty dated, and this movie takes place in modern times. Does Scooby's usual antics and style of humor hold up over the years?

Let us start with the basic story, and no I won't nerd out and go into the WWE history side of things. Imagine if Pro-Wrestling was real, and for whatever reason WWE decided to build its own City. This city is where all the Wrestlers, or Superstars as they are called, live and train. WrestleMania is the big event they put on at the end of the year, and is their largest PPV. Scooby and Shaggy win a trip to WWE city to see the ppv, and spend some time with the WWE superstars. As it always does, a mystery arises, and the gang has to solve it in order to save the day. The way they incorporate the WWE guys into the story, is they are the ones being target by the monster. So they have a reason to help out Mystery Inc while they try to solve the case. Anything else would go into spoiler territory, so I will just leave it at that. There was also a subplot about a uncle and his nephew Ruben. The uncle was a known name in wrestling, but got injured before he could win any really big matches. The uncle doesn't want his nephew wrestling, as he is afraid he will hurt himself as well. I felt they could have done more with this, as there is a great potential to talk to kids about these kind of situations. It is not abnormal for people to have dreams that there guardians are unable to understand after all. But in the end they never really get a chance to talk it out, and it just felt like a missed opportunity for a kids movie to actually have a good lesson. The story works well enough for a movie, though there is plenty of padding in order to lengthen its run time. Scooby has a dream sequence where he wrestles food so that he can eat it after he wins the match. Granted that is probably something Scooby would dream of, but it takes to long and serves no real purpose other then to remind you, hey this is a movie about wrestling. I also found they liked to name drop in the movie, and they did it far more frequently then I would have liked. I can understand them introducing each superstar, as some people will not know who they are. But having to say their name multiple times, every time they are on screen seems odd. They also say "WWE" far to often, as if they had to reach a quota of times plugged, in order to use the license. It doesn't detract much, but it was annoying.

However the actual use of the WWE superstars, and brand, was a positive overall. Seeing the superstars, most of which were voiced by themselves, interact with Mystery Inc turned out better then I would have thought. John Cena was the stand out role, as he tended to be the one usually paired with Scooby. One thing I really liked about it, was how they poked fun at the superstars in ring personas. Cena is known for his larger the life personality, and is often referred to as Super Cena as he tends to win matches were the odds are stacked against him. That carried over into the movie, and was used in a comical way. He performed feats of strength that no real person could do, and even helped fight the Bear Monster in hand to hand combat. Hearing his entrance music go off though, when he jumps in to save the day, will put a smile on any fan of his. And really that is the main thing here, this is a movie for the fans. The wrestlers are often spouting out their catchphrases, and seeing them acting out their characters in this environment just mad me happy. If you are a 6 year old, or a 30+ who is still a fan of WWE, this movie will have something for you.

Also while talking about the wrestlers, I figure I should point out they do fight in this movie. For me it was fine, but not exactly what I expected from Scooby-Doo. Scooby has done shows about wrestling before, but never with this much action. I don't think it comes off in a bad way however, and I would not consider it to violent for children by any means. You get John Cena in a match against Sin Cara. You get Scooby and Shaggy against Kane, and then a cage match to finish it all up. There are also training sequences, as well as Scooby-Doo's odd food fight dream. They also catch the bad guy this time, by beating them down in said cage match. Thinking back on it, not exactly what I would have expected from this franchise, but it works given the guest stars.

So the wrestlers work well, but how does Scooby hold up over the years? And which version of Scooby do we even get? If you are a younger fan, you are probably familiar with the recent series Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. Why I enjoyed this series, it was very different from old school Scooby-Doo. The gang are high schoolers, and the monsters are usually real instead of people in costumes. As this is the most recent version of the show, I was surprised to see they went with the classic variation where monsters don't exist. It was nice to see the 70's version though, and the voices sounded enough like the originals, which I guess would have bothered nobody but me had they not. The humor is very similar to the old show, and they even re-used some old gags. Stuff like running down a hallway with many doors, and then coming out of random ones and causing a pile-up. Not sure if that humor would work on new viewers, but old fans will enjoy seeing it. Still this is a kids movie, and I think they will be able to enjoy it for what it is.

In the end we have a passable story, and a mystery that you will have solved about 20 minutes into the movie. The first half is a little weak and slow, but the 2nd half more the makes up for it. There are some attempts at good lessons for the kids, but mostly they fall flat or go un-used. A little padding in order to get that full length, instead of a hour long special, and some odd action sequences to round it out. So is it worth buying for you young ones, or older wrestling fans? Yes and no, or no and yes given the order I worded that. If you like Scooby-Doo, this movie will not really do much for you. The antics and gags that made Scooby work are present, but take a back seat to the inclusion of WWE! I used the ! because they yell WWE at you so damn often during the film. Also I figure most younger people now know the more recent variation of the Scooby-Doo franchise, and would be confused as to who these people are, and why they are so different. If your a WWE fan, well you will enjoy this more. Seeing a comical approach to the superstars was oddly satisfying. And seeing The Miz taken out by a ghost bear put a huge smile on my face. If you like both the Doo and the E, well then you are who this movie was made for. Go enjoy it

Friday, March 7, 2014


So let me start this off by saying, I have somehow never seen any of the other Carrie movies, nor have I read the book. That always seems to catch people by surprise. Apparently everybody has seen a Carrie before, and everybody has a favorite. So I don't know Carrie, I can not compare this to other Carrie. This will not be a long review, just a few thoughts and feelings about the movie.

I once read somewhere that if Chloe Moretz got somewhere around 27 more on screen kills, she would have the highest on screen kill count of any female actress in the states. The current record holder is Kill Bill's Uma Thurman. In Kickass 2 she got 7 or so, but everybody thought Carrie would net her enough to claim the title. I didn't count for myself, but I can tell you she falls very short. That alone pretty much sums up my feelings for this movie, it fell short.

The story is simple enough. A girl is born to a overly religious mother who then abuses her mentally causing issues for the girl later on in life. She is unable to interact with people in a normal way, and becomes a target of bullies at her school. The rest is what comes from that, and how it turns Carrie into the super powered killer she becomes.

This feels like a odd thing to say, but it felt like the movie held itself back to much. We had a pretty nasty birthing scene at the beginning, but then when the actual violence happens we get very little. The movie builds itself up with a slow burn, it makes you think there is a big pay off coming. But at the end it just sort of fizzles out, and never really delivers on that. Seeing her exact her revenge was interesting, but not satisfying. According to my wife, who has seen multiple other Carrie movies, this one was very tame compared to those. The effect looked decent, and I would have enjoyed seeing more of them and more chaos. The movie just never really seemed to pick up, and the story could only carry it so far.

The actual characters were interesting, and the story and dialogue kept me interested until the end. So not everything was bad about the film. It actually was a solid experience for the most part. Julianne Moore played crazy pretty well, and seeing her interact with Carrie was usually entertaining if for no other reason then shock value. I also really liked Judy Greer's character, the gym teacher Ms. Desjarden. She did got to say pretty much what you wanted to during the film. Still though, keeping me interested doesn't matter to much if it never comes to anything.

In the end I would have a hard time reccomending this movie to others. If you just loved Carrie and wanted to see how the new one turned out, go for it. Anybody else can probally get away with skipping it. Even for a redbox, I felt let down by it.

Going into the movie, I thought Carrie's power was she could set people on fire with her mind. I have no idea why I thought that, but it was just what I knew about Carrie, that was her thing. That apparently amused my wife. I kept asking her when she was going to light somebody up, she never corrected me though.

Thor: The Dark World

Thor is kind of a odd hero for me. Much like Superman, I never really cared for or enjoyed him in the comics. The first Thor movie was okay, but not something I really enjoyed. Given how little I had seen on the new movie, I did not go into it with high hopes. After Marvel made the avengers movie though, I figured I would have to give this one a shot. I liked Thor in that movie, so maybe they would find a way to win me over with Dark World. It feels kind of weird to say it, but the thing I was looking forward to the most was the after the credits stinger.

So did the movie win me over? Well it was certainly different then the first one. They had a much smaller scale story with far less going on. They had less characters and focused more on Thor the God then Thor the man. The changes did seem to work in its favor though, and really created a better overall flow. I don't think the Thor movies will ever be at the level most people tend to put the Iron Man ones, but this was a good step forward for the franchise.

The story is based on Malekith the Dark elv. There is a artifact that will allow him to destroy the nine realms, earth is one of them, but it can only be used for a short window of time. The movie starts with some history, and shows the Dark Elves fighting the Asguardians led by Thor's grandfather. Malekith tries to activate the weapon, however the Asguardians are able to hold him off long enough that the chance passes by. They win the fight, but Malekith sacrifices his army in order to allow himself to escape. The weapon is hidden, and remains so for years. Skip to present time and to Jane Foster, Natalie Portman's character. The 9 realms are aligning themselves, which is what causes the weapon to activate. It also causes rifts to open up on the different worlds creating weird events. One allows Jane to find the weapon, which alerts Malekith and he sets off in search of it and her.

Most of the story revolves around Malekith trying to destroy the realms. By focusing on a single event the story actually comes off feeling much tighter then the original movie did. Thor is able to focus solely on what is ahead of him instead of dealing with that and trying to adjust to midguard or earth. Plus once the action starts, and the story takes off, it really doesn't slow down to much. The movie had a good pacing throughout, and it didn't have any real problem areas or weak scenes that I can think of. I even enjoyed the Humor, Chris Evans cameo was a stand out moment. As was seeing Thor forced to use public transportation due to loosing his ability to fly.

The effects were good, but honestly we have come to expect that from Marvel. They have the money and ability to make everything look damn good if they want to. The elves have these black hole grenades that were easily the best effects in the movie. They toss them, and then the grenade creates a black hole sucking up everything around it. They looked fantastic, and caused by far the coolest death in the movie. Everything else was top shelf as well, from the ships to the portals. I am sure there is something to complain about here, but I didn't catch whatever it was. And with Guardians of the Galaxy coming up, where at least 2/5ths of the team is cgi, I am very confident about how well they will end up looking.

So this is a action movie, how did the fights turn out? Hit or miss in some areas, but always entertaining. Most of the action looked great, and all of the battles ended up coming across positively. That being said, Thor's fighting style does not always end up looking that good on screen. Some of his hammer shots just looked bad, and seeing the Dark Elves stop firing there guns long enough for the Asguardians to close into melee range was infuriating. I understand a close range battle is more fun to watch, but it looked horrible how they transitioned into it. The final battle though was fantastic, and really closed out the film in a strong way. The realms are all coming together so there are portals everywhere, and the battle takes place across multiple worlds on different fronts. It really was a cool concept, and it was executed greatly.

While the first movie had a strong focus on Thor and Foster, this one really doesn't. They do have a few scenes were they try to focus on the relationship between then, but most of the movie doesn't deal with it. I felt that was the right choice here. Instead of seeing Thor deal with his feelings, and his desire to stay on earth, we get a movie about him flying around and beating people up. But we still get some closure on the romantic front, so it is kind of a best of both worlds thing.

So Thor: The Dark World. Action was good, story was enjoyable and had some solid humor. The effects were impressive, and I enjoyed the direction they took the Thor character. Was this a better movie then the first? Absolutely it was. My only real disappointment with it was that I waited until redbox carried the movie to see it. I may still not care for Thor in the comics, but the movie Thor has my support now. And that is something I did not expect to say going into it.