Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary

In 1984, a film was released that would defy the boundaries of comedy and horror to become one of the most popular film franchises of the 1980's; that film was Ghostbusters! "Who ya gonna call?" To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, the original film has been restored and remastered in 4K resolution and will be returning to the big screen for a limited engagement starting on August 29th, in theaters during Labor Day weekend.
Ghostbusters was one of those movies that defined the 1980's and of course my childhood. When I first saw it when I was young, (possibly too young) it stuck with me for the rest of my life. I enjoyed the animated series ("The Real Ghostbusters") from 1986 to 1991, along with the action figure line from Kenner, several video games, and ultimately the release of Ghostbusters II in 1989. Although the movie is often categorized as a comedy, it's really hard to label its genre. It has elements of intellectual comedy, romance, science-fiction and of course horror. The film's story even borders on "Lovecraftian"-style with elements of ancient supernatural forces such as Zuul and Gozer. I've always loved the character of 'Slimer', who although he was featured i a short sequence in the movie gained a considerable fan following along with his constant presence as the comic relief on the animated series. A little bit of trivia: Dan Aykroyd always referred to Slimer as the ghost of John Belushi.
While the Ghostbusters have stayed alive over the last 30 years, uunfortunately, writer and actor Harold Ramis didn't live to see the 30th anniversary, but the rest of the Ghostbusters including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson are still around to celebrate. For years, there had been rumors that Ghostbusters 3 was in development, but for now, it is still in the works. Directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, Ghostbusters was a truly original, frightening and hilarious movie experience!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fever has struck again! Since the resurgence of the popular franchise and animated series from Nickelodeon, the turtles return to the big screen after 20 years with a reboot from director Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans (2012)) starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, and William Fichtner.
Years after the death of her father in a lab accident, aspiring TV news reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) is hot on the case of a recent crime wave by the infamous Foot Clan. One night she happens upon a robbery at the docks and witnesses a battle between a mysterious vigilante and the criminals. The clan, led by 'The Shredder' (Tohoru Masamune), and his second in command Karai (Minae Noji), plan to drive the vigilantes out in a subway hostage situation. April stumbles on to their plan and sees not one, but four vigilantes take down the Foot and rescue the hostages! When she follows them to the rooftops she discovers, to her surprise, that the vigilantes are in fact Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! As April soon discovers their mysterious origin and meets their rat master, Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub), she becomes involved in a plot by Shredder and the Foot to release a biological agent on New York City and the only cure is the green mutagen that flows within the blood of the turtles!
While the newest TMNT movie has little in common with the 1990 film aside from the central characters, the 2014 movie is much faster-paced, more action-packed with Michael Bay (one of the producers) style explosions, and overwhelming CGI special effects. Gone are the cute, cartoon-style turtles; the new turtles are bigger, stronger, and even disturbingly realistic. The new turtles also have much more personality than previous incarnations, with each one possessing their own personal accouterments that reflects their individuality. They range from random, found clothing, to various types of armor, decorations, even jewelry and gadgets. With the old turtles, the only way to distinguish them was either by their weapons of choice or their multicolored headbands (which were added in the 1987 animated series, whereas in the original comics, they all wore red). Their personalities however stay true to their origins (as featured in their famous and catchy original theme song) however on a much bigger scale. Leonardo (voiced by Johnny Knoxville) still remains the stalwart leader, whereas Michelangelo (voiced by Noel Fisher) is ever the goof-off, comic relief "party dude". Raphael's (voiced by Alan Ritchson) demeanor is just as rude ("but cool") and crass as ever, complete with a scarred face and chomping on a toothpick. Donatello's (("does machines") voiced by Jeremy Howard) 'nerdiness' is amplified with the addition of huge thick eyeglasses as well as various tech-gadgets  attached to his shell. Sensei Splinter plays a much more active role in this movie, no longer the kind and passive teacher, he becomes more of a harsh disciplinarian who can also kick-ass when he needs to. As for the choice of Megan Fox as the damsel-in-distress April O'Neil, (no longer a part of Michael Bay's Transformers franchise since the second film and their supposed feud) plays a less demure female lead, often portraying April as determined and often fool-hearty, willing to do anything for a story. Will Arnett plays her cameraman Vernon, who was also a supporting character in the original animated series. William Fichtner plays Eric Sacks, a billionaire scientist and socialite who worked with April's father.
Megan Fox as April O'Neil
Along with this new movie, this year also marks the 30th anniversary of the TMNT. Back in 1984, comic book creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird formed an independent comic book company called Mirage Studios and produced a self-published, black & white, comic book entitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtleslittle did they know that their small independent comic would spawn even more comic books, cartoons, toys, video games, movies, and countless other forms of merchandise into what would become an immensely successful, world-famous franchise! With the initial "Turtle-mania" sparked by the 1987 animated series, (which would last through the late 1980's and into the mid-90's) the franchise has seen it's ups and downs over the years with a recent resurgence with the second animated series in 2003. In 2007 the turtles were given a face-lift and a fully-CGI theatrical movie simply titled TMNT. While the fans reception was mixed, it would soon spark a new revamped CGI animated series on Nickelodeon in 2012.
For many fans of the TMNT, this movie can be seen two ways, while some long-time, hardcore fans may be furiously disappointed about the drastic changes made to the characters that they knew and loved growing up; for the newer, younger fans, this is an enjoyable adaptation of the TMNT franchise. The movie is fun and entertaining and that's what the TMNT are all about. While these characters have grown and changed during the years, the spirit and fun of the turtles has never changed. The turtles themselves have always remained simple and lovable in their own rights.
There is a surprisingly sparse amount of down-time in the new movie for which usually allows for emotional or character development in most films. While the focus is definitely on the action and special effects, the story itself is somewhat predictable and cliche, right down to the stereotypical super-villain desiring destruction right down to a "Today New York City, Tomorrow the world!" mentality. The story moves fairly quickly and rarely slows down, the humor is witty and maybe even a little juvenile, thanks mostly to Michelangelo's cut-ups (I think they even managed to throw in a fart joke somewhere!), as well as their innate love for pizza!
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a fun and entertaining movie! Fans both young and old can enjoy watching it. I felt my own inner 10-year old crack a smile as they cried "Cowabunga!" and fought off a ridiculously, huge Shredder, who possessed enough blades to fill a dozen Swiss-Army knives! I haven't had this much fun at the movies in a long time. Of all the recent remakes of all my favorite childhood toys such as G.I. Joe and Transformers, I think for once, Hollywood got it right and finally gave the fans what they wanted: "TURTLE POWER!" Enjoy your pizza!
LINKS: Official Movie Website, Mirage GroupNickelodeon, Turtlepedia

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Top 10 Favorite Robin Williams Movies

Robin Williams was quite possibly the funniest comedian I have ever seen. I grew up with many of his movies during the 1980's and 90's and now unfortunately, he's gone... I can remember watching reruns of Mork & Mindy with my parents and the first movie I remember seeing him in was Popeye (1980). I can remember thinking that he was Popeye. There are so many memorable roles he's played, from the incredibly zany, to the sympathetic, and also even a little dark and scary at times. He was a man with a singularly remarkable talent and the world is a sadder place without him. Although many celebrities, both young and old come and go, we have somehow become used to the idea of those who get caught up in the difficult life of a celebrity and often succumb to their demanding lifestyles and their lives tragically come to an, very often before their time. There are only a few of those who really, truly make such an impact on our lives and make us laugh more than anybody that we can scarcely believe it when they are gone. Although he is gone, we can still remember the great moments and characters he played. To celebrate the life and career of Robin Williams, I wanted to list some of my favorite movies to which he gave me and my family so much joy, happiness, and even tears. CHERNOBOG'S BLOG PRESENTS: Top 10 Favorite Robin Williams Movies...We will miss you.

#10 Night at the Museum (2006) - Although Robin Williams only played a supporting role in these movies, (Night at the Museum 3 to be released later this year) with his unique presence and energy, he managed to make one of my favorite U.S. Presidents: Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt come alive, even if he was only a wax statue!
#9 Toys (1992) - Robin as Leslie Zevo is one of his strangest and wackiest characters ever. The movie itself is a bizarre experience with a very childlike but also very poignant story.
#8 Jack (1996) - Often underrated and criticized, Jack is one of Robin's most hilarious and yet most sympathetic characters as Jack Powell, the boy with a strange illness that makes him age 4X faster than a normal person.
#7 What Dreams May Come (1998) - While one of his most unsuccessful movies, possibly due to the intensely deep and disturbing subject matter, Robin stars as Chris Nielsen, a man who dies in a car crash and searches the afterlife for his wife.
#6 Bicentennial Man (1999) - Robin stars as Andrew Martin an android who endeavors to become more human.
#5 Popeye (1980) - "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam!" 'Nuff said.
#4 Hook (1991) - Robin plays Peter Banning, a grown up Peter Pan who has forgotten his life in Never Land until Capt. Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps his children forcing him to return is one of my favorite movies of all time.
#3 Aladdin (1992) - With his voice giving life to the Genie in one of my favorite Disney animated features, Robin stole the show and created one of the most enigmatic and beloved Disney characters of all time.
#2 Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) - Quite possibly one of his most popular and memorable roles, Robin as Daniel Hillard, a divorcee father who disguises himself as an elderly woman is both incredibly hilarious and completely ridiculous at the same time...and that's what makes it his funniest movie ever!
#1 Dead Poets Society (1989) - This movie inspired me to become a teacher and also gave me a deeper appreciation for both literature and poetry. Robin Williams as John Keating will always be "Oh Captain, My Captain!"
LINKS: Robin Williams, Twitter, Facebook

Monday, August 4, 2014

Movie Review - Guardians of the Galaxy

Within the successful Marvel Studios, a remarkable collection of superheroes has been ingeniously brought together into what we now know as Marvel's The Avengers! As this group of heroes has now been firmly established into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new, even more original team has been introduced into Phase 2 of Marvel Studio's movie projects with their 10th film: Guardians of the Galaxy
Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), is a notorious outlaw and thief, who, while stealing a mysterious orb on an abandoned planet, is drawn into a plot of galactic proportions which jeopardizes the fate of the universe! While escaping from the forces of the megalomaniacal Ronan, The Accuser (Lee Pace); Quill is arrested by the Nova Corps and sentenced to an orbiting penal colony along with the bounty hunters Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) & Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana). While in prison, he teams up with this motley crew along with Drax, (Dave Bautista) The Destroyer, who has a grudge against Ronan, and escapes prison to find a way to stop Ronan from getting the orb and destroying the galaxy!
Guardians of the Galaxy is an epic, space adventure, which combines Star Wars-like Sci-Fi/Fantasy with swashbuckling action, and irreverent humor; combined with a bizarre soundtrack full of 1970's pop-music.
While characters such as Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man and Thor have earned their place in pop-culture for the last 50 years, this team is relatively "new" to the Marvel Universe. The original Guardians of the Galaxy appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18, 1969 with heroes such as Major Victory, Starhawk, and Yondu. Although they remained a third-string team through much of their history, appearing alongside other major Marvel heroes such as The Avengers, they finally managed to get their own title in 1990 until it was cancelled in 1995. This Guardians however, is NOT that team! This newer Guardians of the Galaxy team first appeared in 2008 formed in the aftermath of the Annihilation: Conquest story-line in Marvel comics, shortly before the Disney acquisition of Marvel Comics. The current team in the comics includes Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon & Groot, along with Quasar and Adam Warlock. For the movie's sake, Warlock and Quasar, not to mention Nova, are not present, which leaves room for their appearance (no doubt) in Guardians 2? [Minor Spoilers]: This movie finally features a full (although brief) appearance from the cosmic villain Thanos (Josh Brolin), who appeared in the end-credits of Avengers (2012), and also an appearance from The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) who made an appearance in the end-credits in Thor: The Dark World (2013). A few surprising guest appearances in this movie as other minor characters including Glenn Close as Nova Prime, John C. Reily as Corpsman Dey and Michael Rooker as Yondu. While it seemed unbelievable that a talking fully-CG Raccoon could convince an audience and become a fan favorite was a stroke of genius with the combination of state-of-the-art CGI technology and Bradley Cooper's comic talent. Also, despite Groot's three-word vocabulary: "I AM GROOT!", this seemingly one dimensional (or "wooden") character voiced by action-star Vin Diesel, is the source of much of the pathos in the team. While actress Zoe Saldana is often comfortable in Sci-Fi franchises (Star Trek) as well as colorful-skinned aliens (Avatar), she holds her own as a strong and complicated woman. While there are few differences from the comic book, one most crucial being that making Star-Lord a space-pirate and not the interplanetary policeman he was meant to be.
Full of Sci-Fi/Fantasy action, humor, and wonder, Guardians of the Galaxy is a new and impressive addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe which, although has been growing in popularity, has also been suffering from lack-luster sequels to make way for their bigger titles while still mired in legal mumbo-jumbo between Disney, Sony and 20th Century Fox on the rest of their comic properties. When Guardians was first announced, I admit, I was not very impressed; convinced that Marvel had finally reached the bottom of the barrel on characters NOT owned by other studios. And along with the controversy from Ant-Man (2015) director Edgar Wright dropping out of the scene, it seemed that Marvel had hit a huge speed-bump. Despite a lack of a clear plot, whether it is the unique combination of colorful characters, tongue-in-cheek humor, Sci-Fi action and special effects, Guardians of the Galaxy is a truly fun and entertaining movie, plain and simple. While Sony still clings to the Spider-Man franchise, and Fox runs the X-Men franchise into the ground, Marvel is still at the top of the blockbuster game, and until the fanboys (like myself) are satiated until Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out in 2015, Guardians of the Galaxy is number one (for now), having already earned $94 million in its first week!
LINKS:, Official Guardians Movie Website, Marvel Wikia