Max. Steel. Let me confront the problem with this story- there isn’t one. Max and Steel don’t have a comic book background. He is a toy from Mattel. That’s it. The hardware coming before the story wouldn’t be a problem if Mattel hired a few comic book writers and illustrators and gave their property an actual Disney finish. What they did do in the 90s, was slap together a very basic comic book to promote the figurine.

Then came the tv series. Now, they were actually giving their character better plots and a legitimate villain. The issue- it’s a choppy story that you’re promoting to a movie.

The skeleton story revolves around Max McGrath. Teenage boy struggling with his own identity, who doesn’t know the story of his father, comes into universal strength with an alien sidekick, who helps him channel is power. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s the problem. If you’re going to write a very generic story there needs to be interesting characters, shocking villains, and a plot that blows everything away. But when you’re coming from no comic book structure, that isn’t even possible.

 

 

Ben Winchell (Max McGrath) did a good job with the script he was given. He can’t rewrite his character. The movie’s savior is Josh Brener (Steel). If it’s not going to be a well written comic book movie, at least it’s funny. He looks like a futuristic drone but sounds like the snowman from Frozen.

When you watch the trailer, you’re given the impression this is from the Marvel or DC universe. Don’t kid yourself. This is a Disney Channel movie with an overdose of CGI and a good budget. With that budget came a solid fight scene and visually appealing morphing. That’s ten minutes out of an hour and thirty.

 

 

I wanted to love Max Steel, but it’s not a total mess. The visuals are great where the story is muddy. The fight scenes are strong. It’s the story that comes off as bland and that can’t carry the movie.

Who is going to see this movie? Anyone that came from the animated series. This is your movie. If you’re coming from a comic book fandom, remember it’s no Guardians of the Galaxy.

Ratings: 6 out of 10 Duffies

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Ah, here comes 20th Century Fox with trying to mastermind the next franchise series. Initially, I thought, they are going to treat this as Xmen: Cousins Edition. They almost went there. You could feel the beginning of this movie being guided that way, but it didn’t last long. In the middle of the first act, the movie began to shake off the impostor syndrome.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Particular Children is a stellar book- with solid characters and writing. What Tim Burton has a problem doing is telling that story with Tim Burton cinematography. The first two acts become painfully generic. Over formulated. Being Tim Burton he could have experimented with structure and saved the pacing. If he had, then we could have still chastised him for his diversity in film comments but praised his originality in the film. Neither happens.

The story is about Jake, who doesn’t fit in to his life outside this island for special powered kids, but doesn’t think he’s weird enough to be one of them. In the book, it does a great job of him not coming off as broodish, just out of place. When he meets Miss Peregrine, he still an outsider and that’s a good story the book tells. You belong when you’re comfortable with yourself first. No magical house will fix it. In the movie, Asa Butterfield just gives off a very meh feeling. Meh to meeting new people, meh at their powers, meh at his role in the house. I don’t blame Butterfield, I blame Burton because I’m sure that was the direction. Don’t convey too much. Be the white wall. I’m telling you, the invisible boy was more interesting.

 

 

Your entire ticket price is going to Eva Green and Samuel L. Jackson. Green wasn’t the female Xavier, she is the leader of the misfits. The last thing you need in the movie is to be reminded of how badly Fox destroyed the Xmen series. Green puts a little big of herself in the character, with the winks and the mannerisms. You didn’t feel that in the book, but you do feel her the actor. It’s not detracting and serves well. Jackson doesn’t appear until the third act. He lifts the movie to a place that you wished had come in the second act. The middle dragged and saving everything for the end of the movie is a waste of film and time. There’s also a great fight scene towards the end that would have been good with a mild prequel early on. Something to make you salivate. Instead there are parts of the movie where you’re just waiting.

I can’t end this review without talking about the children. Bronwyn is a giggling mini Hulk. Fiona is underestimated. My favorite is the sheer creepiness of the twins.

 

 

Who is going to see this movie? Anyone across the demographic that read the book. Also Tim Burton fans. Is this more preteen? Yes, but so was Harry Potter and the Hunger Games and they picked up a huge chunk of the 18-34 movie goers. Is it as great as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Nope, but still not as stale as Twilight.

Ratings: 4 Duffies

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The time is upon us! Is Chris Pratt our Star Lord? Does Zoe Saldana succeed at being the most feared woman in the universe? Did they screw up Rocket Raccoon? Find out on this episode of Dragon Ball Z!

Anytime a book to movie translation forms perfect harmony, I call thee the Watchman standard. Guardians of the Galaxy well deserves the nomination.

The movie falls on how well each character translates from the comic book- especially with Star Lord and Rocket Raccoon. Deviate too much from the comic book and we riot, a direct translation loses the mainstream audience. We nerds have come to accept that formula.

My first ever encounter with Chris Pratt was during Everwood. It was impossible not to like Bright Abbott. The character that really made him unforgettable, is IQ challenged, Andy Dwyer.

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Pratt’s metamorphosis as Star Lord is spot on- not cheesy, not silly; funny and strong. He has done Peter Quill justice. Pratt really does embody a superhero actor. Some actors, you hope achieve Hollywood glory. Chris Pratt is one of them- because he can act and it is well deserved.

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Growing up as a girl that reads comic books, I take my female characters very seriously. I look at them as my older, cooler sisters. Rogue, Poison Ivy, Wonder Woman, Storm, Jean Grey, Silk Spectre- don’t mess with my girls. Don’t put out a version of them that’s untrue to the comics. Zoe Saldana has big shoes to fill as the most dangerous woman in the world. Gamora’s story as the little girl taken in by Thanos can itself be it’s own movie. She is deadly, she is bad-ass, and she is not to be taken lightly. In other words, she’s the best. Saldana is Gamora. From her facial expressions down to every line, I was thrilled.

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My only slight complaint is with Drax the Destroyer. I would have liked more of his story incorporated into the film. Drax and his family were killed by Thanos and Cronos transfers Drax’s soul to a new superhuman body. Drax is well acted and with the exception of his backstory, I am pleased. The fact that we are guaranteed a second Guardians movie leaves me to believe he will be explored later.

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“I am Groot.” Groot is our strong, royal tree who is known for that one line. He is well done in the movie and has a few scene stealing moments. Great costume and he fits in nicely.

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Before we get to Rocket Raccon, I have to talk about the script. Incredibly well written. It embodies these characters with just the perfect formula of humor. Good pacing and nothing is wasted. James Gunn and Nicole Perlman deserve a standing ovation.

Rocket Raccoon is the heart of the Guardians. He’s a loud mouthed, lovable, wicked raccoon. He’s partner in crime with Groot, and if you screw up this character, your whole movie falls apart. I didn’t even realize Bradley Cooper voiced him- bravo. Rocket Raccoon is beautifully scripted. He’s not kiddy, but he’s not adult enough to alienate kids. He’s still ready to rumble and his quick wit pulls from the comics. I was terrified of his ‘Hollywoodfication’, but the execution is done right.

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With a budget of 117 million for their CGI, I was impressed that it was not massively overdone to the point where my eyeballs would scream for mercy.

One thing I have to talk about is the soundtrack. Amazing. The last time I enjoyed a soundtrack this much was Project X. Old school, addictive, and well selected.

So should you actually get dressed and go to outside for this movie? Yes. Yes. Yes. It is worth the trek. The only thing that will be better is the bluray!

Ratings: 5 out of 5 Duffies

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Transformer’s Age of Extinction is, um- something, government hates Autobots, something something, Marky Mark has a daughter. The end. Just kidding, but you didn’t really expect a plot?

Oh Michael Bay, you silly little man, you. Hollywood just keep throwing money at his camera because someone is watching these film. Why, I do not know. There is no Megan Fox in this version to help me attain some sort of glory of fitness. Shia Lebouf is out. We are left with Marky Mark who does his best to salvage the film and the Autobots who really are your only glimmer of hope.

Nicola Peltz is in the movie as Wahlberg’s daughter and her acting criticism seems unfair given the movie’s writing and directing. If her name sounds familiar maybe this rings a bell:

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Post Michael Bay.

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It’s a Michael Bay production and at this point you should only come for the action scenes- but even those at times were overly enhanced and bordered on the realm and pubescent. Why, yes, there is a Transformer riding a robot dinosaur, why do you ask?

 

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Regardless, this movie will be one of the highest grossing of the year. Those that enjoyed the first installments will running to see it. Guys will go for it. The girls that date these guys will go for it. The girls that liked the first three will go for it. Some old couple that stumbles into the wrong theater will probably just suffer through, in silence.

If you want to see a good action film this summer, I still say Edge of Tomorrow should earn your money. Far better writing and acting. A fresh take on an older premise.

 
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I came, I saw, and my childhood is still ruined!

Rating: 2.7 out of 5 Duffies.

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