Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 8/08/14


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (PG-13)

Starring: Megan Fox, William Fitchner, Whoopi Goldberg, and the voices of: Will Arnett, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shaloub, Danny Woodburn

Directed by: Jonathan Liebsman

I assume the filmmakers are trying to entrap an entirely new generation of fans for Nikelodeon’s quartet of carapaced mutants, but since the named-after-Renaissance-painters cohort first appeared in 1984, aren’t they technically 40-something Mutant Ninja Turtles? No matter, the goal is raking in the box office dollars, and as a result, this TMNT is presented in 3-D (with what seems like 4-D sound levels). Every action scene is “larger-than-life,” and bombastic. But the film slows down to the speed of a non-mutant turtle in all the talking-heads sections. This is compounded by Megan Fox playing her female reporter role straight, as if trying to win an Oscar. Bad choice. Originally based upon the tabloid stories of turtle pets flushed down the New York sewers, this thing is a farce, and should be played that way.

1 and 1/2 pieces of uninspired, money grubbing toast


Into the Storm (PG-13)

Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alicia Debnam Carey, Max Deacon

Directed by: Steven Quale

While ostensibly critical of the reckless stupidity exhibited by those untrained individuals trying to out scoop the Weather and Discover Channel storm chasers, the so-called “heroes” of this film are the really, really unwise people who try to achieve their 15-seconds of fame by clutching tightly to their iPhone when they are whirled up into the Waring blender vortex of a tornado. Following the story-line of classic horror films, nubile teens are the first to be sacrificed; then  “scientists” arrive to explore the phenomenon; comedy relief is provided by beer-swilling rednecks, and the fear factor is ratcheted up by a high school graduation planned for an outdoor venue. Can you guess what’s going to happen?  As director Steven Quale says: “With today’s visual effects…you can do anything” —except have a good script.

1 and 1/2 pieces of voyeuristic destruction toast 


James Cameron’s 3-D Challenge (R)

Starring and Directed by: James Cameron

Way back in the early days of television, the local stations broadcast home-movies  under the guise of “travel” shows. We watched Wally Byam lead wagon trains of Airstream Trailers to sunny locales or John Goddard take “Kayaks Down the Nile.”  In the age of YouTube videos, today’s audiences have become jaded, and so it takes the resources of a guy who can afford to design and build his own deep-sea submarine diving to the deepest part of the ocean to capture our interest. Problem is, it’s still just a home-movie. A professionally made home movie done by an Oscar-wining director, but at its core, a home-movie. Or, in today’s terminology—a feature-length selfie.

1 and 1/2  pieces of too many shots of Cameron’s face toast 


Step Up All In (PG-13)

Starring: Briana Evigan, Ryan Guzman, Adam Sevani, Allyson Stoner, Izabella Miko

Directed by: Trish Sie

With the notable exception of Channing Tatum, this fifth in the series film about the joys of street dancing features steps by the stars from the first four films. Unfortunately, the joie-de-vivre lacks joie and vivre, the 3-D sequences are uninspired, and the male lead is truly as dull as the proverbial dishwater.

1 and 1/2 pieces of the first ones in the franchise are far superior toast



Divergent  (PG-13)

Starring: Shallene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort

Directed by: Neil Burger

In case you haven’t figured this out, the most popular books and movies featuring teen characters, are the ones where the teen is a misunderstood outsider. Here, at last, is a film about a young woman who is such an outsider, she’s downright divergent. (Wait. Haven’t we seen this plot device before? Like with mutants, or replicants, or vampires, or werewolves or ???? No matter. This is planned as the first of at least three films based on Veronica Roth’s popular books.

2 pieces of we’ve seen this before but it still sells tickets toast 

Need for Speed (PG-13)

Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Ramon Rodriguez

Directed by: Scott Waugh

Based on a popular video game, the press notes say this is “an exciting return to the great car-culture films of the 60’s and 70’s,” and since the plot is a rip-off from 1976’s competing cross-country car race movies, Cannonball and Gumball Rally, they are spot on.

2 pieces at least they’re driving real (not CG) cars toast