Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick review DC animated film Teen Titans Go! To the Movies!
The Flick: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies!
What’s it About: Robin of the Teen Titans desperately wants to star in his very own super hero movie, but no director will cast him. That is, until one director offers him the chance to achieve his dream. But at what cost?
Metacritic Score: 69
The Nerds’ Take on Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018):
Dave Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is so much fun. That is my overriding opinion of this week’s installment of the Nerds’ Review. It takes a popular corner of the DC Universe and delivers an animated special that is equal parts a comedy and a musical, with just enough of a positive message to make it somewhat of a learning experience, all while never losing the slap stick nature of what makes the Teen Titans Go! franchise so beloved.
Essentially, the movie is mostly about Robin and his quest for achieving a level of stature, in his own mind anyway. Robin no longer wants to be known only as a sidekick and feels the only way to accomplish this is if a movie is made about him and his Teen Titan teammates. Most of the other, more established super-heroes, such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, etc., all feel the Teen Titans are nothing more than goofsters, not to be taken seriously and certainly not worthy of having a whole movie made about them. Determined to prove them wrong, Robin sets out on a quest to convince super-hero movie director, Jade Wilson, to make a movie about them. Along the way, he tries a plethora of ideas to accomplish this goal. He first seeks out an arch-nemesis, who ends up being Slade, aka Deathstroke, who is never actually called Deathstroke in the movie but is hilariously referred to as Deadpool. The Titans travel back in time to rewrite super-hero origin stories, but this does not work out so well. After setting things right, a huge showdown with Slade convinces Jade to make the Teen Titans movie after all. But the Titans soon reveal their immaturity and Jade dumps them, but still wants to make the Robin movie. Robin turns his back on his friends all so he can see his movie made, which is the only way he feels he will amount to anything other than a joke. Naturally, Jade is not who she says she is and this creates the conflict that brings us to the concluding moments of the movie.
There is so much about this movie that, as I said earlier, is just fun. True, the humor is quite adolescent at times. Then again, it is supposed to be when one considers the primary audience. After all, fart jokes and pooping in a prop toilet on a movie set are pretty funny for the demographic the movie was designed to reach. But there is more clever humor to be found as well and some of the best parts of the movie are when DC pokes fun at itself, including a great scene between Batman and Superman asking each other what the other’s mother’s name is and Green Lantern lamenting the disaster that was the Ryan Reynolds led movie. Particularly fantastic are the cameos by none other than Marvel head honcho, Stan Lee (prior to his passing), who knowingly makes a cameo in a DC movie because, hey, he loved cameos. There is also a mention by the Titans of raiding the set of Spider-Man for more food. It is all great stuff as most of us in the know know that the “competition” between DC and Marvel, for decades, has been quite friendly, to say the least.
The voice casting is superb, with the highlights being Will Arnet as Slade, Kristen Bell as Jade Wilson, Nicolas Cage as Superman, and all of the regulars from the Teen Titans Go! Series. Lost amidst all the fun is also a lesson that is being taught about the power of friendship, about team work, and that it is more important how you see yourself than how others around you might perceive you. The musical numbers are good and will put a smile on your face. There are subtle nods here and there to the actual Teen Titans comic, especially the involvement of Deathstroke, who has a, shall we say, complicated relationship with the Teen Titans. In fact, only the most jaded of persons will watch this movie and not come out thoroughly entertained. If you are looking for a very light, and immensely fun, super-hero-based movie, then give Teen Titans Go! To The Movies a try.
Dave’s Rating: 3.75/5
Patrick: Michael Bolton voices a singing white tiger, Stan Lee makes a cameo in a DC movie, and the Teen Titans murder a young Aquaman(temporarily). This is but a taste of the antics you will get when you check out Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. A film spinoff of the popular Cartoon Network show, Teen Titans Go! To the Movie is a delightful parody superhero films that both children and adults will enjoy.
The movie begin with the Teen Titans (Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Raven) attempting to gain access to the premiere of the next big budget Batman movie. During the coming attractions Robin hopes to learn the next major superhero will be about him. Unfortunately, Robin learns that everyone from Alfred from Batman’s utility belt will be in a movie, but he will not. The other Titans endeavor to help Robin achieve his dream by going with him to Hollywood. There Robin meets director Jade Wilson who tell Robin he needs more to be a lead in a superhero movie, like a nemesis. Enter Slade, a supervillain the Titans thwart earlier in the movie as he tries to steal a crystal. Robin and the gang realize a nemesis like Slade could be just what Robin needs to get the superhero movie lead he has always dreamed of.
The plot of Teen Titan Go! To The Movies is fun enough, but the writing takes the film to a whole ne level. Aaron Horvath parodies everything under the sun. Eighties movies? Parodied. Super Hero Movies? Parodied. Stan Lee cameos? Parodied. And it is all very smartly done. There is a particularly memorable montage poking fun at tragic origin stories where the Titans travel in time to prevent heroes from ever becoming heroes. The hole montage left me gasping for air. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Superman’s baby booty is involved. There’s even a Back to the Future parody within the Superhero origin parody. It really is cleverly done. Then there is the veritable who’s who of DC cameos. From the Atom to Swamp Thing all the way to the little known Challengers of the Unknown, the entire DC Universe seems to make an appearance.
The voice cast is anchored by the Teen Titans Go! Cast from the series. Scott Menville carries the load voicing Robin. Will Arnett and Kristen Bell provide the other primary voice work as Slade and Jade Wilson. Both are terrific, but Arnett really steals the show. The cameos are not limited to the animated appearances, however. Patton Oswald, Nicholas Cage, Stan Lee, and, as I mentioned in my open, Michael Bolton all lend their voice talents to various characters.
Teen Titan Go! To the Movies really is a fun time. Adults can enjoy the smart writing laced with some nifty doses of nostalgia. Kids will love the antics of their favorite small screen heroes on the big screen. You won’t walk away from this one disappointed
Patrick’s Rating: 4.63/5.0
Overall Nerds’ Rating for Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018): 4.19/5.0
BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)
The Nerds are back to a more normal format for this review! German Judge Patrcik O’Dowd returns to help Dave and guest reviewer Rey Cash on Kong: Skull Island (2017)!
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick and, making his Nerd review debut, Rey Cash review 2017’s Kong: Skull Island!!
The Flick: Kong: Skull Island
What’s it About: A team of researchers receive a grant from the government in the wake of the Vietnam war to explore a mysterious island discovered in the Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival to Skull Island, the team finds a lush paradise teeming with life…and a dangerous secret.
Metacritic Score: 62
The Nerds’ Take on Kong: Skull Island (2017):
Patrick: Oh my, it is good to be back! I hope you all missed me as much as I missed writing these reviews. Last week, Dave kicked off our Kaiju run to Godzilla vs. Kong with his review of 2014’s Godzilla. This week, we tackle the other half of the Kaiju showdown with a review of 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. I gotta say, I picked the right movie for my triumphant return.
The first rule of any good Kaiju movie is that the human characters are completely secondary to the film itself. The movie is all about the monsters. Forty-Five minutes into the film, Kong: Skull Island completely embraces this philosophy. The story follows a familiar arc to those familiar with the character. In this iteration, a pair of “geologists” convince a senator to fund a research expedition to an uncharted island in the Pacific. The pair secure their funding, a military escort, and hire a retired SAS agent to act as a guide. Along the way, the group is joined by a photographer and a second research team. Of course, upon the group’s arrival to the island it is revealed that the geologists are monster hunters who have been looking for proof that giant creatures exist. And boy, do they ever. As the team sets off seismic charges (explosives) disrupting the life on the island, Kong emerges and wipes out most of the team. However, nothing is what it appears and as the survivors delve deeper into the island, they learn the truth behind Kong and Skull Island.
I am sure Dave will give a much more detailed plot description, so I’m just going to dive into the good. Monster fights. Loads and loads of monster fights. Once we get past the ho-hum exposition of who the human characters are and get to the island, we get scene after scene of Kaiju attacking, roaring and dominating our senses. The special effects are terrific, especially the work done to bring Kong to life. He’ terrifying and for a CGI character really carries a commanding presence. And then there are the monster battles. Again, the special effects team really outdid themselves. The climactic battle between Kong and the largest of the Skull Crawlers is truly epic in scope and feel. My only regret is that I didn’t catch this movie on an IMAX screen. I imagine the experience would have been even more magnificent than it was on my tiny television.
The cast is loaded with talent. Tom Hiddleston plays Conrad, the former SAS operative hired as a guide for the team. He’s clearly cinched in as the human protagonist and the rational member of the group. Brie Larson plays an antiwar photographer Mason Weaver, in a role that can best be described as minimal. She’s a part of the team, but outside being a sounding board for Conrad and the maiden to be rescued by Kong, she doesn’t do much else. Samuel L. Jackson is cast as Colonel Preston Packard, the commanding officer of the US Military escort driven mad with a desire to stop at nothing to kill Kong. A tropey character type for sure, but necessary. For me though the performance of the film comes from John C. Reilly. Reilly plays Marlow, a soldier who crash landed on the island during the 1940s, yet managed to survive by endearing himself to indigenous people on the island. He provides the audience with much needed plot points regarding the island and, more importantly, the creatures therein. Reilly’s Marlow is quirky, but not too funny, and very relatable as a man who just wants to go back home and have a hot dog.
I really, really enjoyed this iteration of the Kong Story. As is typical for the character, Kong is the hero of the tail whereas man is the threat. This idea is even more pronounced in this film as it is the expedition team’s destruction of the island prompts Kong’s hostilities. While the human characters are the audience’s anchor to the story, Kong is the star. This film was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. Totally worth the two hour run time to watch.
Patrick’s Rating: 4.29/5.0
Dave After my somewhat tepid review of Godzilla last week, I went into this week’s assignment with somewhat low expectations. I had never seen Kong: Skull Island before and had heard mixed things about it. After watching it though, I can say this: It is a monstrous improvement over Godzilla (pun intended) and sets the stage for Legendary’s MonsterVerse much more effectively than Godzilla did.
Usually, I save a discussion of the cast for the end of these reviews. But for Kong: Skull Island, you almost have to address it at the beginning as it is the cast, and the chemistry they have, that sets this movie apart from Godzilla. There is a simple reason for that: We end up with a mini-MCU reunion here. Samuel L. Jackson plays Col. Packard, Tom Hiddleston plays James Conrad, and Brie Larson plays Mason Weaver. So, right off the bat, you have actors very familiar with each other (especially Jackson and Hiddleston from their portrayals as Nick Fury and Loki) and you can see how this familiarity translates into some exceptional performances that, to a certain extent, Godzilla lacked. Add in John Goodman and John C. Reilly and there was star power aplenty for this movie.
The premise of the movie is familiar to anyone who has been a King Kong fan at any point in their life. Bill Randa (Goodman) a high-ranking official with Monarch Corporation, with a lot of help from geologist Houston Brooks, convinces a US Senator (played by Richard Jenkins) to help fund an expedition to a strange island in the South Pacific, known as Skull Island. It is surrounded by a perpetual storm system, which has allowed it to elude discovery…. until now. Meanwhile, the Vietnam War is ending and Col. Packard is looking for one last assignment. He is asked to be the Military detail on Randa’s expedition to Skull Island. Conrad is hired on an as an expert tracker while Weaver comes aboard as a photographer. Once the group reaches Skull Island, they drop seismic charges to map out the island. This pisses off Kong, a 100-foot-tall ape (roughly 50 feet taller than he has been portrayed previously), who has his way with the helicopters and kills at least half of the men on those helicopters.
The survivors are spread across the island. Packard leads a group to try to get to the crash site of one of the helicopters that has weapons on board that he feels can kill Kong. Conrad and Weaver lead a different group and they stumble across the remnants of a civilization of indigenous people. Among them is Hank Marlow (Reilly). Marlow crashed on the island with a Japanese pilot named Gunpei at the very beginning of the movie and they encountered Kong. The two men were then stranded on the island for some 28 years, ever since the end of World War II. Without a war to fight, the two men become closer than brothers and are befriended by the people of Skull Island. Gunpei eventually dies leaving Marlow to only hope and pray for an eventual return to civilization. It is here that the usual Kong lore gets tilted quite a bit. Marlow explains that Kong is a god to the people and actually protects them from a subterranean race of reptilian creatures that he calls Skullcrawlers. Many of these Skullcrawlers killed off all of Kong’s species, save for him, and the natives believe that if Kong dies, an enormously large Skullcrawler that Marlow calls “The Big One” will emerge and threaten the entire planet.
This leads to some significant conflict between Packard, Conrad, Marlow, and Weaver. Packard is hell bent on killing Kong and, after the survivors are reunited, he tells them they have to go and find Chapman, one of his missing men. Chapman, meanwhile, has been devoured by a Skullcrawler. Packard leads the group into a mass grave where the skeletons of Kong’s species are located. Naturally, a pack of Skullcrawlers emerge and lay waste to much of the group. Packard remains undeterred to kill Kong but once the rest of the group learn his real intentions, they are not willing to follow. The groups split up again and Packard’s group is able to render Kong unconscious. But Conrad is able to intervene before Packard detonates explosives that will kill Kong. Unfortunately, all the activity attracts the attention of The Big One and this leads to a titanic showdown between Kong and The Big One. Based on the upcoming sequel, it is obvious who wins…. but it’s still a damn good throw down.
This movie does a lot of things right. It is fun, fast-paced, and does a great job of introducing just enough cool creatures to give Kong a good challenge without over whelming you with too many creatures. There are several characters you really care about and Jackson does a great job of making you genuinely dislike Packard, who gradually comes unhinged as the movie goes along. What I absolutely loved about the movie were the subtle tweaks it made to Kong lore. It took several well-established elements and gave them just enough of a fresh coat of paint to make the movie really stand out. This is most notable in two places. Weaver is the person who connects with Kong the most. But even though she is a female, her connection with Kong is not on the romantic or quasi-sexual nature that it was portrayed in the 1933 original, the 1976 remake, or even the 2005 reboot (a prime example of monster/creature over saturation). It is a subtle connection and it is done very well. Then there is Kong himself. In the 1933, 1976, and 2005 movies, Kong is always the misunderstood creature who dies in the end to protect the woman he loves. It is always heartbreaking, especially in 1976 and 2005. Here though, Legendary gave us what many of us wanted: Kong as the hero who survives and, obviously, lives to fight another day. I have always been a huge fan of the 1976 movie. Kong: Skull Island was almost as good.
It is, of course, not perfect. The Skullcrawlers were cool creatures, and a big step up from the MUTOs in Godzilla. But they are still not quite the perfect antagonist. Perhaps that was intentional as man has always been Kong’s most dangerous opponent. Still, something was missing from there a bit. There is some obvious romantic/sexual tension between Conrad and Weaver that never plays out that could have added an element to the story. And, similar to Bryan Cranston in Godzilla, John Goodman did not last nearly long enough. But these are really minor complaints. Kong: Skull Island is a very good movie and the true starting point for the MonsterVerse. Make sure you check out the post-credit scene that really sets the stage for Godzilla: King of the Monsters and introduces the concept that the planet has never been ours….and the monsters are about to retake it. More on that next week. As for Kong: Skull Island, this is how a reboot should be done and I highly recommend you check it out.
Dave’s Rating: 4.25/5
Rey’s Take: As a younger guy, I’m not well versed on the history of King Kong movies. I mean, I get it. Big monkey in the wild scares small white people, and big monkey falls in love with cute white woman, then big monkey gets killed or captured trying to save white woman. The story is very easy to digest and understand. And that very reason is why I loved Kong: Skull Island. It takes that ideal, the big monkey in the wild having an unnatural relationship with a white woman, but it flips it. In this story, Kong is the good guy! Kong is actually the hero!
Not only is Kong the hero, but there are actually 3 antagonists! First off, there’s John Goodman’s government lackey Bill Randa. Randa was so obsessed with finding Kong and the mysterious Skull Island, so much so that he knowingly put his people and the troops set to escort him in danger. We’ve seen a number of movies where man meddling with science comes back to bite them, and this is no different. Randa’s exuberance soon becomes his demise, as nobody was prepared for what they were dealing with.
Secondly, we have the monster antagonists of the movie – the Skullcrawlers. As is such in a kaiju/monster movie, the beauty is in the destruction. And oh, what glorious destruction there is between Kong and a number of giant reptilian monsters. This fight is what leads us to find John C. Reilly’s fantastic character, Air Force Lieutenant Hank Marlow, who was stuck on Skull Island since 1944. He’s the person that lets us know, along with the quiet and workmanlike Iwi tribe, that Kong is actually their protector and is the latest in a line of Titans that used to rule the Earth. Important foreshadowing for a certain mega movie coming out soon, wink wink.
Finally, we have the best character in the whole movie. Samuel L. Jackson’s Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard is a ball as the angry army lifer who isn’t ready to give up the life and is willing to die for his cause. His beef with Kong isn’t even rooted in logic. He just wants to kill something. He just wants to continue to feel like a soldier. He essentially just wants to do his job. And the dichotomy his brigade has between following their leader and realizing what’s actually happening in front of them is just damn good movie viewing.
Most monster movies don’t have much heart. Ultimately, they’re big blow up movies when it comes down to it. This movie, however, has heart in spades. Each character has defined character motivations. Kong goes from being the destructive villain that must be vanquished to becoming the misunderstood hero who actually does the vanquishing. Not often that you get that much out of a movie about a big monkey.
Rey’s Rating: 4.5/5
Overall Nerds’ Kong: Skull Island (2017) Rating: 4.35/5.0
Bandwagon Nerds #68 – 90s Project pt. 4: Sports
The 90s Project rolls on this week as Patrick, Rey, Dave and PC give their top 10 Sports Movies from the 1990s! The guys cover all kinds of great sports flick ranging from comedies to documentaries to dramas! WandaVision’s penultimate episode dropped another major Marvel shakeup, the nerds review all of the happenings in Westview and what it could mean for the MCU. News broke this week of a new Superman film in the works. Patrick was intrigued, Rey less so. Could the guys change Rey’s mind. Finally, the Nerds choose what MCU “mood” they would be.
About Bandwagon Nerds
Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, and a rotating cast of guests as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!
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Created in 2017, the Chairshot Radio Network presents you with the best in wrestling and wrestling crossover podcasts, including POD is WAR, Women’s Wrestling Talk, The #Miranda Show, Badlands’ Wrestling Mount Rushmores, The Outsider’s Edge, DWI Podcast, Bandwagon Nerds, the Greg DeMarco Show, 3 Man Weave, Five Rounds, Turnbuckle Talk, Suwama’s Station, The Reaction and more! You can find these great shows each week at theChairshot.com and through our distribution partners, including podcasting’s most popular platforms.
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