REVIEW: TED 2 (2015)


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TED 2 (2015)

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Not being a fan of Seth Macfarlane’s Family Guy, I was pleasantly surprised by his 2012 talking teddy bear comedy Ted. It’s not a great movie by any stretch but, it was actually very funny at times and had a surprising amount of heart. The film was a huge hit and now the ‘Thunder Buddies’ are back!…and if you liked Ted, I find it hard to believe you won’t like this.

Ted 2 opens with the self-aware bear marrying his girlfriend and fellow cashier from work, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), while John (Mark Wahlberg) is still suffering from the effects of his divorce from Lori. The film then jumps a year later where the honeymoon is over and Ted and his bride can’t get along. Taking advice from a co-worker, Ted decides the best way to fix the marriage is by having a baby…something he is physically incapable of doing. At first…in a hilarious series of segments…he tries to get a sperm donor. When they find Tami-Lynn barren from all her years of drug use, they try to adopt. Ted, though, is viewed by law as an object and therefor not eligible to adopt. Ted and John must now, somehow, get the courts to acknowledge Ted as a living person and so, they hire pretty, young lawyer Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) to try to prove it. Meanwhile, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) is back and with the help of a toy company CEO, plots to see Ted’s efforts fail so they can have the talking bear in their clutches without consequence.

Macfarlane is back in the director’s chair and once again co-writes with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. The result is pretty much the same with a plethora of toilet humor, stoner jokes and pop culture references which play out during the thin excuse for a plot. Not every joke or bit works, but, a lot do and the film still has far more heart than you would expect in a low brow comedy. There are some truly funny gags here…one involving Ted and John in a fertility clinic is particularly hysterical…and some very amusing cameos…such as a side-splitting Liam Neeson. Macfarlane even teases star Amanda Seyfriend about her large expressive eyes with a couple of Gollum references and the actress gets ‘good sport’ points for going along with it all the way. If nothing else, the finale set at New York City Comic Con is worth seeing this alone for, especially if you’re a geek and get all the references and costumes that get dragged into the mayhem. Sure the flick is far from perfect with a weak story, a strong predictability…John and Samantha, like we didn’t see THAT coming…and some very cliché situations but, the characters of John and Ted are endearing as ever and it’s their antics we came to see and Macfarlane delivers more often than not. At the very least this sequel is an equal and that’s good enough.

Obviously, the cast helps makes this work and some surprising faces get to show they have a sense of humor and can take a joke. Wahlberg is once again fun as simple working guy John Bennett. His phony Boston accent and surprising comic timing make him a good team with Macfarlane’s vocalization of the smart-ass, foul-mouthed, CGI Ted. Two friends who refuse to grow up and there is a chemistry between the performers that really makes the pairing special, even when the jokes fall flat. The biggest surprise here is Seyfried. I am a fan of the actress and was delighted to see that she not only can play low-brow comedy but, she plays it very well and fits right in with the boys. She not only is very funny but, also appears to be a good sport with the Gollum jokes and keeping a straight face when smoking an interestingly shaped bong. She has a flare for comedy and Macfarlane smartly let’s her cut loose in contrast to the more straightedged Lori (Mila Kunis) in part one. Ribisi is slimy and creepy again as Donny and we also get fun appearances from the likes of Morgan Freeman and a returning Sam J. Jones and Patrick Warburton in smaller roles…and some very funny cameos from an assortment of familiar faces including some Star Trek alumni.

Normally I am not a fan of Macfarlane’s humor but, something about the characters of John and Ted and the predicaments they get into are endearing and sometimes, just really funny. Sure the humor is beyond raunchy and Macfarlane and his co-scripters leave nothing sacred…a Ferguson, Missouri crack had the audience groan in shock… but, that’s kinda why we see these movies…to see how far they’ll go. Raunchiness like this needs humor and wit behind it, though…which was missing in Macfarlane’s A Million Ways To Die In The West…to really work. For the most part, Ted 2 has some definite cleverness in the toilet humor and some rebellious audacity, too. Not every joke is funny…again, the Ferguson reference…or every slapstick sequence a knee-slapper, but, the film succeeds far more than it fails and despite being about an animated teddy bear, that bear does have a heart buried under all the bodily fluid references.

-MonsterZero NJ

  3 Teds.

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I didn’t get to see every Summer release. Some, like the latest Transformers And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, are not flicks that interest me so, they will be curiosity rentals at some point. But here is a rundown of what I did see and thus what were favorites, surprises and, in turn, the disappointments for the Summer of 2014. Click on the poster for the full review!


  1. guardians of the galaxy

    GUARDIAN’S OF THE GALAXY – Not at all familiar with the comic but, the movie was a lot of fun with a devious sense of humor and a lot of action to go along with the eccentric but, endearing characters. I had a blast! ***1/2expendables 3

  2. THE EXPENDABLES 3 – I don’t care what the box office results were, I had a rip roaring good time with this third installment and loved seeing the cast in action especially the return of Snipes. ***1/2
  3. godzilla-new-posterGODZILLA – I really enjoyed the true King Of The Monsters’ return to the big screen but, will admit I didn’t absolutely love it like I wanted to. I didn’t mind it taking over an hour for him to finally appear but, once he did, the annoying cut-aways got frustrating fast. At least the last act smack-down in San Francisco made up for a lot of that. ***1/2dawn_of_apes_teaser_poster
  4. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – The second installment of this really good reboot series is an action packed epic from Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves and it is not only a very entertaining film but, takes the plot of the worst of the original Apes films, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, and puts it to much better use. *** 1/2MALEFICENT-poster
  5. MALEFICENT – Angelina Jolie stars in one of the Summers biggest hits and for me a very pleasant surprise and a very entertaining fantasy adventure with lots of eye candy. Jolie gives an enchanting performance as the classic villainess with a new twist and knows when to go over the top and when to be subtle. Sure she should have been evil for a bit longer but, Jolie chews up the scenery masterfully and we are right there with her! ***1/2



  1. LUCY – Sure Lucy was a dumb movie with some very skewed science but, it was an audaciously fun popcorn flick with loads of over the top action and another good performance by Johansson and it pairs her with the ever endearing Morgan Freeman. Silly… yes… fun… hell, yea! ***deliver-us-from-evil
  2. DELIVER US FROM EVIL – Not a great movie but, an effective mix of cop thriller and supernatural horror, supposedly based on the true case files of NY detective Ralph Sarchie, that delivers some action and chills and manages to give us one of the more effective exorcism scenes in the very overplayed exorcism film sub-genre.  ***


  1. amazing-spider-man-2-posterTHE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2  – Avoids Spider-Man 3 territory but, still makes many of it’s same mistakes and even drags in a few from Batman And Robin. Thankfully saved from being a complete mess by some really fun action scenes and the great chemistry between Garfield and Stone that lights up the screen whenever they are together. I have lightened up on it a bit since revisiting it on Blu-Ray but, it’s still the second weakest of the combined Raimi/Webb films. **1/2xmen_DOFP-poster
  2. X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST  – Not a mess or anything, just not very involving and none of the action scenes really stayed with me or overly impressed me. It was never boring but, was far from the delightfully hip and entertaining First Class. The 70s nostalgia fell flat and that really irked me as First Class was so 60s! **1/2

Source: MonsterZero NJ




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LUCY (2014)

Lucy is an audaciously ridiculous sci-fi/action flick from writer/director Luc Besson based on the myth that we only use 10% of our brain capacity and what would happen to one young woman, when that changes. Science aside, it is a flick that is so brazenly off the wall that it is very enjoyable on a popcorn fun level, despite how silly it all is… and Besson knows it.

The film tells the overblown story of student Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) who is tricked into delivering a briefcase to dangerous drug lord Kang (Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik). Kang decides to use the terrified young woman as a drug mule to smuggle a new synthetic drug to it’s distributors. When the young woman is roughed up by one of the thugs, the bag breaks open and the experimental drug leaks into her body and begins to increase her brain capacity transforming Lucy into a superhuman who can control more and more with her mind as her brain function increases. But, as she tries to find a way to deal with her new abilities by seeking help from renown scientist, Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman)… Kang is in hot pursuit to get back his drugs and avenge himself on her. Car chases, pseudo science and telekinetic activity ensues.

Besson’s flicks as both director and producer can be very hit or miss, with The Fifth Element and The Professional being his best. Lucy isn’t quite up to those two but, if you can go with it’s outlandish premise, it can be a fun 90 minutes of action and Star Trek level sci-fi. There is plenty of action throughout and a lot of colorful SPFX sequences too, especially the more powerful Lucy becomes and she gains control over the people and things around her. Besson is having a good time with his premise and let’s you know this is all in fun by adding in snippets of stock footage to accent what is going on on-screen, such as footage of a leopard stalking it’s prey inter-spliced with Lucy walking into the hotel to deliver the briefcase. It’s silly but, that’s the point. Mixed in with the silliness and the outrageous science techno-babble, Besson gives us some surprisingly bloody violence with a few fast-paced car chases and ballistic shoot-outs that he does do very well and always has. The action and FX are all top notch and despite the ridiculousness of the whole thing, the cast take it very seriously too and it helps us to go along with it as much as we do.

As for that cast, it’s Johansson’s show and she gives a very good performance as a woman coming to terms with her transformation into something more then human. She handles the action scenes well and in the brief time before her transformation, she gives us a glimpse of a very likable, if not slightly ditzy young woman. We continue to like Lucy even after she transforms into logical, uber-Spock/Carrie and stick with her even as she becomes more emotionally detached from the world. Besson appears to like strong female characters in his movies and Lucy is no different. Freeman is good, as always, creating a vastly intelligent man who meets Lucy and is drawn back into the boyish sense of wonder that probably got him interested in science to begin with. It’s fun to watch him stare in awe at Lucy as she does her telekinetic thing and the actor is charming as ever. Min-sik is a typical, vicious drug lord character but, does it well, as does Amr Waked who presents a noble policeman in his Del Rio, a cop who gets drawn into being Lucy’s ‘partner’. When dealing with a silly story like this, a solid cast goes along way in getting us to buy it, at least until the movie is over and we start thinking about it… but, by then it’s too late, we’ve had a fun time.

So, overall I liked Lucy. It’s outrageously ridiculous but, Besson knows it and keeps things moving fast and furious enough to keep us from thinking too much about it. It’s colorful, crazy and filled with a lot of action and SPFX and with a strong turn by Scarlett Johansson who really has come into her own with her performances in recent flicks like Don Jon, Her and Under The Skin. Sure when it sinks in, you realize what a dumb movie it is, but, for the rapid-fire 90 minutes that it’s blasting it’s action and imagery at you, it’s a bloody fun popcorn flick that knows exactly how ridiculous it is and runs with it. Overall, kinda forgettable?… maybe… a lot of fun?… yes, it is.

3 Scarletts.

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Watched this while I sat on the couch in my Thanksgiving food coma and decided to write a more comprehensive review then I had when it first came out…

After the disastrous Batman and Robin, the Batman series went on hiatus until Chris Nolan rebooted the series with this dark and yet energetic film that returns Batman (Christian Bale) to his origins and portrays The Dark Knight like he should have been portrayed all along, a dark brooding character who dwells in the shadows and not a cabaret act with plastic nipples on his costume. The story starts off with a first half that flashes back and forth between Bruce Wayne’s life as a child (Gus Lewis) and young adult and the subsequent murder of his parents in front of him, and his modern day quest to get deep inside the criminal mind-set by living and acting among them. While in jail in South Asia, Wayne is confronted by Ducard (Liam Neeson) an emissary for Ra’s al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) a mystic who promises to give him the means to fight the criminal element. Ducard trains Wayne in the art of the ninja but, when Bruce finds that Ra’s methods include murder, he rebels and destroys The League Of Shadows hideout before returning to Gotham to put his training to use as a symbol of good who’ll combat the evil rotting away at Gotham… and The Batman is born. But not only must Batman, along with his trusty butler Alfred (a brilliant Michael Caine), scientist Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and good cop Sgt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), battle crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom WIlkinson) and the psychotic Dr. Jonathan Crane AKA The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) but, a resurrected Ra’s al Ghul who has a catastrophic plan for the city of Gotham. Now that Nolan’s classic Batman trilogy is complete, I can say that this first entry is the lightest and least drama heavy of the three… thought it is far darker and more intense then the previous series. While Batman/Wayne is a brooding character, he has yet to gain the weariness and emotional battle scars he would experience in the following entries. And that works here as we see a Batman who is new at this crime fighting gig and is kinda enjoying it before the weight of the responsibility he has given himself sets in. There is depth to the character and Bale makes a great Bruce Wayne/Batman bringing the pain and rage that drives him to life, without losing the hero in the process. As for his beginnings, the story not only handles the origin strongly but, gives us some strikingly powerful scenes that give us a far better sense of how this man came to be who he is, far better then the Burton film did. Chris Nolan creates a dark and gothic Batman, both visually and conceptually, but, never gets swallowed up by it. The film is still fast paced and exceptionally entertaining despite it’s dark trappings and Nolan also mixes in 3 villains and  large cast of characters and does it without creating an overcrowded mess as with the last film. Every character is developed properly and a fine cast gets equal credit. And what a cast it is. This is possibly one of the best cast films… and series… that you can get. As stated, Bale is great in the part, he creates a Batman who is strong and noble yet very human and he creates a multi-layered Bruce Wayne who is carefree playboy to the outside world and a complex and emotionally scarred man to those few close to him. Watching him evolve the characters over the next two films is a cinematic treat. Caine is simply brilliant as the supportive, caring and honorable Alfred, as is Freeman as the Wayne Enterprises scientist who answers the question “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” and Oldman as the possibly last honest cop in Gotham, who may now have an ally who is above all the corruption and serves the same noble purpose. We can see the hope it gives him, thought is is imbued with caution. Neeson is near perfect… as always… as the villain who shares Batman’s nobility but, with a far different set of principles and methods. Cillian Murphy is slimy and creepy as both Crane and his alter ego Scarecrow and has some amusing cameos in the following entries. Tom Wilkinson practically steals the show as Carmine Falcone, the smug mob boss with a sarcastic sense of humor that makes him even more threatening. Katie Homes may not be quite up to the caliber as some of her co-stars but, she does present a strong and spunky assistant D.A., Rachel Dawes, who is quite believable when she stands up to Falcone’s thugs and Crane’s Scarecrow on her own and also as a caring love interest to Bruce. Rounding out are Rutger Hauer as Wayne Enterprises CEO with his own agenda, Mark Boone Junior as Gordon’s crooked partner and the incomparable Shane Rimmer as a DWP technician. Batman Begins is a great comic book movie and is still one of the best Batman films despite being overshadowed by the masterpiece that is it’s sequel and the epic and operatic third entry. It’s the most “fun” of the three modern classics Nolan has crafted and a great start to a film trilogy that is simply of of the best trilogies in movie history. A Bat Blast!

3 and  1/2 Bats with bats!

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Oblivion is set in a not too distant future where fending off an alien invasion has left Earth ravaged and all but uninhabitable. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) also know as Tech 49 is left on the now evacuated planet with his communications officer and lover Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), his job is to maintenance the armed drones that watch over and protect large floating machines that are turing sea water into fusion energy for use on the human race’s new home on the Saturn moon, Titan. But, despite having his memory wiped, Jack has dreams of a pre-war Earth and a mysterious and beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko). He finds himself drawn to the relics of the past earth though told to leave such thoughts behind by Victoria and his superiors in the massive command station that hoovers in orbit called The Tet. But, as the remaining alien forces know as ‘Scavs’ escalate their attacks on the drones and power stations, Jack continues to feel like something isn’t right. And as a ship crash lands on Earth carrying the very woman he dreams of and she and Jack are captured by the Scavs, Jack soon finds out that all is not what it seems and maybe he isn’t either. What I really liked about Writer/Director Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion is that it reminded me of the pre-Star Wars science fiction films of the 70s, when they were more story driven and less action oriented. And a lot of it’s story elements and visuals seem to draw from films like Silent Running and Omega Man and even more modern epics like Independence Day to name a few. Kosinski gives the film a leisurely pace as Jack slowly finds out more and more about the true nature of the world and life he thought he knew. There are some nice action scenes and these are well staged and move fast but, overall Kosinski wisely lets his story develop over the course of the film and we are along with Jack as he learns some hard to accept realities. The film has a beautiful visual style. I was not a fan of Kosinski’s Tron: Legacy but, it was a gorgeous looking film as is this. Sure the visuals seem to be inspired by past post-apocalyptic epics but, I still though the look and design was captivating. As for it’s minimal cast, Cruise is excellent as Jack. I feel Tom Cruise can be… well, Tom Cruise in a lot of his recent flicks but, here I saw and accepted him as Jack and he portrayed well the emotions of a man with a burning curiosity about things he’s told to accept as is and who finds his life may be a lie. Riseborough is fine as his partner in all respects. She seems sweet and she generally cares about Jack especially when his curiosity has him defy orders. Kurylenko is appropriately mysterious at first but, as the story progresses she meets the demands of the script. Rounding out the cast are Morgan Freeman and Game Of Throne’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who are fine as other humans Jack encounters. The production is relatively flawless with a really cool score by French band M83. When all is said and done I enjoyed Oblivion. I didn’t feel like I had seen anything new or innovative, and it’s secrets are not hard to figure out beforehand. It seemed like a lot of influences from past films blended together… though, very well, I might add… but, ultimately nothing groundbreaking or too surprising. I could probably pick out a lot more films whose elements I recognized but, Kosinski and company have crafted an entertaining sci-fi flick that warmly harkened back to an age where spaceships and laser guns were there to enhance a story and were not the point of the story so, I ‘ll give them a bit of a break. In conclusion Oblivion is an entertaining and very well made film that may not be anything new but, was still a refreshing return to when science fiction was about the story and characters and not Transformers and superheroes.

3 drones!

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