Film Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Also known as: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Origin (working title)
Release Date: October 5th, 2006 (Taiwan)
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Written by: Sheldon Turner, David J. Schow
Based on: The Texas Chain Saw Massacreby Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Music by: Steve Jabolonsky
Cast: Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, Lee Tergesen, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lew Temple

Next Entertainment, Platinum Dunes, New Line Cinema, 91 Minutes

Review:

“People may not remember what we say here tonight, but by God they’ll remember what we did.” – Sheriff Hoyt

For Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, I think the two original remakes are both pretty decent, this one being the second of the two, albeit a prequel to the first. The second attempt at a reboot was definitely worse and I’ll probably review those two movies at a later date.

I don’t like this one as much as the 2003 film with Jessica Biel but I do think that the writing, as far as telling the origin story of the killer family, was pretty damn solid and creative.

I’m not sure how much they thought about the family’s backstory in the 2003 movie but this one does interesting things in showing how the patriarch became Sheriff, how the uncle lost his legs, how the Sheriff lost his teeth and some other cool things that called back to details in the previous film that otherwise seemed unimportant. I love when writers do stuff like this, especially when having to add to the mythos that a different writer established.

Beyond that, everything else in this is incredibly derivative and there’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before and done better.

I did like Jordana Brewster and this was the only thing I knew her from other than the first Fast & Furious movie. In the years since, I’ve seen her in a lot and I really, really liked her on the Lethal Weapon television series.

Like the previous movie, I loved R. Lee Ermey in this one too. Man, he’s just such a good psycho asshole. He really ups the ante in this one, especially in regards to becoming the Sheriff.

The thing that was really working against this movie from the beginning, though, was that you knew no one could survive because it was a prequel. So the twist ending, where they want you to think the “final” girl escapes, wasn’t shocking at all. Also, it didn’t make sense unless Leatherface has the power of teleportation.

I understand why they made this movie; the 2003 remake was really successful. But honestly, this chapter didn’t really need to exist. I’m glad that they made the most out of the origin story stuff but beyond that, there’s just not much here. Still, it’s probably one of the better Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies because most of them are all just the same.

Rating: 5.5/10

Film Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Release Date: October 15th, 2003 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Written by: Scott Kosar
Based on: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Cast: Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, David Dorfman, John Larroquette (narrator)

Radar Pictures, Focus Features, New Line Cinema, 98 Minutes

Review:

“Excuse me, you mind getting the fuck outta my way, son?” – Sheriff Hoyt

Very few horror franchise reboots are good. This is one of the few that are and because of that, it kind of started a trend where a new generation of filmmakers, inspired by the old, started trying to resurrect the most iconic horror franchises of their youth.

I know many people that actually prefer this movie to the original. I don’t but I also don’t think that those people are insane, either. I think there actually is an argument to be made about it and it’s one of my favorite horror debates to listen to between people that actually know and are passionate about these movies.

I think that in 2003, I would’ve rated this much higher. Seeing it 18 years later, I do find some of the dialogue to be a bit cringe and poorly written. I also find some of the director’s choices in how he shoots certain sequences to be a bit weak and trope-riddled.

The biggest highlight of the film for me was Jessica Biel and not just because she looked fucking magnificent but because she really dived into this and gave a convincing performance. So much so, in fact, that I hadn’t seen a “final girl” this good in a decade or more at the time that this came out. Honestly, I think in that regard, she actually exceeds the vast majority of “final girls” in horror. Granted, it’d be hard to put anyone in front of Jamie Lee Curtis or Heather Langenkamp.

I also immensely enjoyed R. Lee Ermey in this, as the town sheriff who is actually a part of the killer family and directly related to this franchise’s top monster, Leatherface.

Ermey gave a performance on the same level as his best work. He committed to this role so greatly that you really want to see him get what he deserves in the end. When he does, it’s beyond fucking satisfying. Without Ermey and Biel, this would’ve probably just been a standard, cookie cutter, forgettable slasher flick.

Now the rest of the cast is pretty bad and it kind of bogs the film down in the scenes where it focuses on them. In fact, the stuff in the van at the beginning was pretty awful and it almost wrecked Jessica Biel but luckily, they didn’t stick to that too long and the horror started almost from the get go.

This is also plagued by the cinematic style of the time, which I didn’t like back then and still don’t like now. It’s nothing I’ve started to feel nostalgic for as time passes. What I’m referring to specifically is the overuse of color filters, which makes all films look unrealistic and like a music video. This may have started with David Fincher in Alien 3 but it’s something that would be used to death in just about every “hip” film of the mid-’90s to mid-’00s from Fincher’s other movies, The Matrix films, nearly all horror that wasn’t Scream, as well as action flicks and crime movies. It’s not such a big deal when used sparingly but it’s not here. The film is either unnaturally bronze or bluish green in every scene.

Still, the positives outweigh the negatives and this is a movie carried by two solid performances and a version of Leatherface that is the scariest of them all.

Rating: 6.25/10

Film Review: Bad Boys for Life (2020)

Also known as: Bad Boys 3 (working title)
Release Date: January 7th, 2020 (Berlin premiere)
Directed by: Adil & Bilall
Written by: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan
Based on: characters by George Gallo
Music by: Lorne Balfe
Cast: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Paola Núñez, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Jacob Scipio, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam, Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle, DJ Khaled, Michael Bay (cameo)

Columbia Pictures, 2.0 Entertainment, Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures Releasing, 124 Minutes

Review:

“Do you want your legacy to be muscle shirts and body counts?” – Detective Marcus Burnett

I thought it took way too long to get Bad Boys II but holy shit, this took a hell of a lot longer, coming out nearly seventeen years after that picture and a quarter of a century after the first movie!

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence still look good though and they’ve definitely still got it in them to give us another solid buddy cop flick.

I certainly enjoyed this, although it is the weakest of the three Bad Boys movies. But it’s still a worthwhile sequel that changed the lives of the characters in significant ways, which could set up interesting sequels, assuming they don’t wait too damn long next time.

While we should realistically be up to Bad Boys IX by now, I guess we’ve got to take what we can get but at least what we got here was pretty damn satisfactory.

The film gets right into the action and the comedy. It feels like we never left these guys, even if nearly two decades have passed. We also get Joe Pantoliano and Theresa Randle back but I was a bit disappointed that Tea Leoni didn’t show up or at least have her character mentioned because knowing her whereabouts after her good performance in the original movie would be nice.

Anyway, the film sees Will Smith’s Mike become the target in a revenge plot carried out by the son of a female Mexican kingpin that fancies herself a witch. We also learn that she is one of Mike’s ex-girlfriends and that their fling lines up with the age of her son. Spoiler alert: the witch’s kid is also Mike’s kid and Mike has to try and stop the guy from causing anymore harm while also trying to convince the kid that he didn’t know of his existence and that he wants to let him into his life.

Martin Lawrence’s Marcus is still the family man but he’s sick of all this shit, just like the well-aged Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon films. Marcus wants Mike to stop being reckless and to start cherishing his life, so that the two friends can eventually retire in peace and live their lives as best buds after their careers.

The film also introduces a cool SWAT-like squad that Mike starts working with. The squad is led by another one of Mike’s ex-girlfriends but also features several good characters that add a lot to the film and who also mesh well with the main characters and their chemistry.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film, as it’s been so long since the last one that I never thought a third one would even materialize. But man, I was pleasantly surprised and it actually made me hope for a fourth one, which has more or less been confirmed since this came out and performed really well.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the two other Bad Boys films, as well as other buddy cop classics like the Lethal Weapon movies and television show, as well as the Beverly Hills Cop film series.

Film Review: Bad Boys II (2003)

Also known as: Bad Around the World (working title)
Release Date: July 9th, 2003 (Westwood premiere)
Directed by: MIchael Bay
Written by: Ron Shelton, Jerry Stahl, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley
Based on: characters by George Gallo
Music by: Trevor Rabin
Cast: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Jordi Molla, Gabrielle Union, Peter Stormare, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano, John Salley, Otto Sanchez, Jon Seda, Oleg Taktarov, Michael Shannon, Henry Rollins, Dan Marino (cameo)

Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Columbia Pictures, 147 Minutes

Review:

“I’ve got so much brass up my ass that I can play the Star Spangled Banner.” – Captain Howard

This may be the most quintessential Michael Bay movie that I like. Honestly, it’s as good as a Bay film can be and it’s two leading stars just make every moment an enjoyable one.

I’m glad that I watched this again, after so many years, because it really builds off of the first film and ups the ante in a great way.

My only real complaint about it is that it’s a bit too long. I feel like some things could’ve been left out but Bay likes long movies with long action sequences and not too much plot getting in the way of the spectacle.

Still, this isn’t boring or slow, it just feels like it’s a half hour longer than it needs to be.

It’s well shot, competently edited and it displays the Bay style better than just about any other Bay movie. It’s certainly not a visual clusterfuck like his special effects heavy movies tend to be.

I also don’t think that this would’ve been anywhere near as good of a movie if it didn’t star Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. Those guys, especially in this era, were just gold and they have incredible chemistry, as their bond in the film comes across as genuine and real.

The film’s plot is a cookie cutter drug crime tale. There’s not much about it that sets it apart from similar films and the criminal activity isn’t all that impressive or creative. But, honestly, it doesn’t need to be. This is a movie that’s just supposed to be a fun, mostly mindless, popcorn flick and it succeeds at that, immensely.

I enjoyed the additions to the cast and thought that Gabrielle Union was solid, which is probably why her character, all these years later, got her own spin off television series. I may have to watch and review it after I check out the third Bad Boys movie.

In the end, this is just pure, unadulterated, unfiltered fun. It stars two guys everyone should love, doesn’t have a dull moment, is equally badass and hilarious and has some incredibly great action sequences that have not only stood the test of time but are still some of the best ever filmed.

I don’t say this often but hats off to Michael Bay.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Bad Boys films, as well as the Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop movies.

Film Review: Bad Boys (1995)

Also known as: Bulletproof Hearts (original script title)
Release Date: April 6th, 1995 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland, Doug Richardson, George Gallo
Music by: Mark Mancina
Cast: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Tea Leoni, Tcheky Karyo, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano, Nestor Serrano, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Imperioli, John Salley, Chris Mitchum, Kim Coates, Anna Thomson

Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films, 119 Minutes

Review:

“He steals our shit, kidnaps Julie, shoots at my wife. Oh, we beatin’ him down. We beatin’ him down!” – Marcus Burnett

I always liked the Bad Boys movies but I haven’t watched any of them since they were in the theater. I also haven’t seen the recent, third picture and I wanted to refresh my memory with the old ones before checking it out.

So going way back to 1995 was kind of cool. It was a turning point year in my personal life, as I moved from one parent’s house to another’s and with that, got to experience my later teenage years with more freedom and greater experiences.

The pairing of Martin Lawrence and Will Smith was just money, especially back then. And frankly, it worked so well, they’re still making these movies two and a half decades later, even if they take too damn long to actually make sequels. We could’ve been up to Bad Boys 9 by now and honestly, with these two, each film would’ve probably still been enjoyable. I mean, they are the second greatest buddy cop duo after Riggs and Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon film series.

I also like all the other characters in these guys’ orbit from Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle and the two other detectives that they have a professional rivalry with.

In this film, we also get Tea Leoni and I liked her so much with these guys that it was kind of a let down that she wasn’t in the second film, even in a cameo role. I’m not sure if she’s in the third but she was such a big part of this original film, I find it weird that she’s not even mentioned after it. Well, as far as I know, as I haven’t seen the third one yet.

The story is pretty cookie cutter, buddy cop stuff. The villain is a European shithead, which was also common with the action flicks of the ’80s and ’90s. The baddie is fairly generic and his acting skills aren’t all that up to par but he serves his purpose and gives these two awesome cops a target to take out.

This film has very strong Lethal Weapons and Beverly Hills Cop vibes about it. That’s a very good thing, as it kept cool buddy cop movies going into another decade, especially after the incredibly weak and disappointing misfire that was Beverly Hills Cop III in 1994.

Being that this is an early Michael Bay picture, it isn’t completely over the top and the action all feels plausible and real. I remember the second film in the series getting really insane and it felt less grounded in reality. This one keeps things pretty straightforward, pretty simple and very badass and cool.

Seeing this now, this is a film series I probably should’ve revisited since its chapters were released. It’s good, it’s fun, I love the two leads, their allies and the total package. While I can’t put it on the same level as the early Lethal Weapon movies, it successfully borrows the formula and creates something unique and special.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Bad Boys films, as well as the Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop movies.

Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Release Date: July 29th, 2014 (Mexico City premiere)
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Written by: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Evan Daugherty
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird
Music by: Brian Tyler
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Whoopi Goldberg, Derek Mears

Nickelodeon Movies, Platinum Dunes, Gama Entertainment, Mednick Productions, Heavy Metal, Paramount Pictures, 101 Minutes

Review:

“So, they’re heroes in a half shell?” – Vernon Fenwick

*Written in 2014.

Okay, what the hell was that?

I just got out of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I left confused and annoyed. I anticipated it not being on the level I had hoped, as Michael Bay produced it and he’s been making a ton of money bastardizing and destroying the Transformers franchise, but I thought that this having a different director than Bay himself, may have turned out to be a secret blessing. Well, it wasn’t.

First of all, I don’t like the Turtle designs. Yes, everyone has bitched that they are too big and bulky. Well, people are right on that one. Also, their faces are odd. This doesn’t even compare though to how awful Master Splinter looked. His design was just wrong. His gi was Pittsburgh Steelers colors and not the traditional red that it has always been. But then again, even that wasn’t the tip of the iceberg.

The absolute worst character design in this film was Shredder. He looked like a Michael Bay Decepticon covered in way too many big knives and pretty much just resembled a really bad Rob Liefeld character from the early ’90s. Oh yeah, he was also just some scarred up Japanese guy in a robotic power suit. Shredder is a fucking ninja in a samurai outfit with awesome yet simple blades on his fist and shoulders. He’s not a hard character to do right. Hell, just look at the 1990 live action film, Shredder was perfect in that. Perfect!

Actually, the 1990 film is still the live action TMNT bible because this film just blew massive chunks all over everything.

Now don’t even get me started on how awful the Turtles new origin story was. It was garbage and a slap in the face of how awesome their beginnings were in the comics and the original live action film.

The evil plot in the movie was also laughable as hell. So, the evil corporate scientist douche is going to poison New York City with a special concoction he made only to make billions of dollars by offering up the cure for it a month later. How does he plan to secretly poison the city? By spraying it out of the radio tower on top of the giant skyscraper that has his own name on it. Yeah, smart plan science douche.

The Foot Clan also sucked. Their design had nothing to do with the Foot Clan that anyone would remember from any previous incarnation of this franchise. There was some kung fu Asian chick that led them but she was useless and uninteresting.

I should mention the few positives. I liked the Turtle characters. They got their personalities right and their relationship felt genuine. Their voices were a bit off but there were much bigger issues throughout the movie. Also, Will Arnett was good, Megan Fox was pretty tolerable and Whoopi Goldberg owned the small part she had. William Fichtner was good as the villain who wasn’t Shredder, even though his plan was complete ass.

Well, the film came and I finally saw it and being that I didn’t expect much, I’m not all that heartbroken. There is disappointment but Guardians of the Galaxy is still in the theater, so I can go see that a few more times.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: It’s sequel.