Pain & Gain: Michael Bay’s Small Movie Surprises

April 30, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Pain & Gain: Michael Bay's Small Movie | Review 2013


That’s a question I asked myself throughout Pain & Gain.  How can a story like this be true?  Then came a moment where Dwayne Johnson’s character stood outside barbequing the fingerprints off human hands.  In that moment, Michael Bay decided to throw a font on the screen:

“This is still a true story.”

From that point on, I truly understood the film for what it was.  Once you understand a movie like Pain & Gain, it becomes easy to sit back and enjoy the mayhem.

I’ve always been a fan of Michael Bay.  I especially enjoyed Bad Boys & Bad Boys 2.  Pain & Gain fits nicely next to those two films.  The movie is a gruesome (yet funny) tale about the dark side of the American Dream.  Mark Walberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie team up to create their own fast track to the good life in ways you won’t believe.  The movie lives and dies on whether or not you like the characters they play.

Honestly, I didn’t fully understand Mark Walberg’s character, Daniel Lugo.  For someone who spends the majority of the movie talking about hard work he is awfully quick to hatch an insane kidnapping plot to get rich quick.  It’s tough to sympathize with a character that hates when criminals get ahead yet chooses a life of crime in order to get ahead.  However, this movie isn’t about believable motivations because these are real people!

I’m officially a fan of Anthony Mackie.  (I’m really looking forward to his portrayal of Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.) His performance as Adrian Doorbal provided some of the film’s biggest laughs.  He is simultaneously the voice of reason and eager schemer.  He would have stole the show if it wasn’t for The Rock.

Dwayne Johnson is THE reason why I enjoyed Pain & Gain.  His character, Paul Doyle, is the most consistent source of laughter and sympathy in the film.  One moment, he’s the head cheerleader on Team Jesus.  The next, he’s robbing bank trucks and feeding his own toe to dogs.  (Did I just type that?)

It still seems odd to laugh at true events too idiotic to believe.  How could they possibly believe they would get away with it?  It’s an interesting choice for Michael Bay to inject comedy into such a violent story but I think it’s the right choice.  These three body builders kidnap, torture, extort and murder people.  You almost feel guilty laughing at them as their schemes go awry.  But that’s the point.

This is a true story after all.  If Pain & Gain were based on original material, I don’t think it would have the same impact.  You can tell Michael Bay had fun stepping away from Autobots to make a smaller movie.  I wish he would have left some of his signature shots behind as well but he can’t seem to resist the ol’ circular tracking shot.

I liked Pain & Gain but not enough to recommend you catch it in theaters.  If you like Bad Boys or movies like Crank, Pain & Gain will definitely entertain you.  Just wait until it pops up on Demand.

Click here for more reviews.

Why The New Ninja Turtles Movie Is Off To A Great Start

March 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm

ninja turtles logo 2013 new movie


Here’s the thing…  Pitching a new live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie for today’s audiences is not an easy task.  Not only does it have to connect to new fans but it also has to please the millions of passionate TMNT fans who have been waiting years for a reboot.  Especially with all the technological advances filmmakers have access to now that they didn’t have in 1990.

When Michael Bay took over the franchise, people were skeptical but that’s what Michael Bay haters do.  I for one, enjoy Michael Bay movies.  They aren’t Oscar contenders but 2 hours of action, explosions, battles and laughs is time well spent if you ask me.

Yes, people groaned but then he hired Jonathan Liebesman to helm the film and slapped a release date of December 25th, 2013.  The haters were silenced.  Michael Bay was bringing the Turtles back!

Why The New Ninja Turtles Movie Is Off To A Great Start | 2013 Michael Bay

Ahem…  Then he screwed it all up by telling the world his Turtles were from an alien race.  Or did he?

The fallout that ensued after his comments has been fascinating to follow but personally, I think the filmmakers behind the movie are thrilled with the response.  It made national news!  It rocked Twitter!  People everywhere were debating every syllable of that sentence.  People were angry and frustrated while others were intrigued and curious.

Regardless of what side of the line you stand on, people are talking.  The hype for this movie will now be massive as details emerge.  The last few weeks probably proved to the studio that a new Turtles movie was a good idea.

Now lets address the big ol’ alien elephant in the room…

Why The New Ninja Turtles Movie Is Off To A Great Start | 2013 Michael Bay

Mutant Alien Ninjas…

Alien ooze? A planet full of talking Turtles?  Mis-used Alien technology?  Michael Bay did follow up by stating the mythology we all know and love remains in tact. It was simply expanded upon.  That could mean anything.  Did they change the origin to give them a reason to include Krang in the mix?

Why The New Ninja Turtles Movie Is Off To A Great Start | 2013 Michael Bay

I think the Ooze is the Alien here.  I just don’t see a planet full of giant turtles especially because they still have to explain Splinter somehow.  Regardless, even the people who are angry about the ‘changes’ are going to be following this movie all the way up until it’s release.

Michael Bay and Co. know people are watching and it’s up to them to turn the doubters around.  How?

1. The design of the turtles.  Will they be suits or motion capture?  Combination of both?  What will they look like?

2. The Villain.  Shredder is pretty much a guarantee.  (Isn’t it?) With Shredder comes foot soldiers but what about the aforementioned Krang?

3. The Style & Tone.  Will this be Batman Begins with Ninja Turtles?  Dark and gritty?  Is that a world where Michelangelo can still scream ‘Cowabunga’?  How will they achieve that balance?  I think the tone of the 1990 original was spot on.

4. Stills, Trailers & Viral Content.  This one is tricky.  Until we get more clarification on the ‘alien’ comment, people are going to be skeptical but skeptics can always be turned if you WOW them.

5. Be true to the mythology.  People want The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I really think that’s exactly what we are going to get.  The most encouraging comments I’ve heard through all of this came from the director himself:

“Look, it’s so funny—if everyone was such a die-hard fan, they would know that the TCRI canisters where the ooze comes from.  That is alien ooze.  Now I’m not saying what Michael said is exactly what the movie is, because we’re sitting in a room now figuring everything out.  So we don’t know, but we are like Michael said: we’re expanding it, and the expansion will be true to the mythology.  I promise you: fans will love it.

Whatever mythology we’re building on or expanding is coming from that guy, Kevin Eastman’s head, who created the Turtles in the first place.  And so everything will tie in with the mythology; fans will be extremely excited with what we’re coming up with.  A lot of it is stuff he’s wanted to do for a long time, but just hasn’t had the opportunity because now we have the budget and things on this film to expand it in the right way.  And so, I’m happy that everyone is extremely passionate, and they will not be disappointed.  It’s all coming from the best possible place for this franchise.

We’re definitely into the action, but for me what’s more important than that is that it’s a story about brotherhood and friendship and responsibility.  Right now, I’m with the characters because those are what attracted me to the movie.  They’re the best characters I’ll have had a chance to deal with.” (Jonathan Liebesman)

More recently, Michael Bay defended the project while commenting on the title being shortened to Ninja Turtles:

“Paramount marketing changed the name. They made the title simple. The characters you all remember are exactly the same, and yes they still act like teenagers. Everything you remember, why you liked the characters, is in the movie. This script is being developed by two very smart writers, with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles. They care VERY MUCH about making this film for the fans. Everyone on this team cares about the fans. Just give them a chance. Jonathan the director, is a major fan of the whole franchise. HE’S NOT GOING TO LET YOU DOWN.”

Why The New Ninja Turtles Movie Is Off To A Great Start | 2013 Michael Bay

Below is a collection of links that chronicles the ‘controversy’ surrounding the film.  They are full of insight, opinions and features from around the web.


Michael Bay talks Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by stuffwelike

Yup…  He said it…  Alien Race.

/FILM | Michael Bay Says the New ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Are Aliens

COLLIDER | Michael Bay Says the Turtles in New TMNT Movie Will Be Aliens, Not Mutants

SCREEN RANT | Michael Bay Responds to ‘TMNT’ Alien Controversy & Villain Rumors

FIRST SHOWING | (KRANG?) New ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Movie Makes Our Heroes Aliens?


/FILM | Michael Bay to TNMT Fans: “Chill”

COLLIDER | Michael Bay Responds to Fan Outrage over “Alien Race” TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES


IGN | Turtles Director Talks Alien Hubbub

/FILM | ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Co-Creator Tells Fans to Give Michael Bay a Chance

/FILM | Other ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Co-Creator Says Michael Bay’s Take is “Awesome”

JOBLO | Director Jonathan Liebesman weighs in on this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles business

THE GUARDIAN | Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles latest! Original star voices support for remake


IGN | Hero Worship: The TMNT Controversy

ANOMALOUS MATERIAL | 10 Alternate Michael Bay Remakes Featuring Aliens

MOVIE LINE | Can We Please Not Have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Culture War?






Top 10 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Quotes

Why Ninja Turtles Made Me Cry

Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If Ninja Turtles 2 Featured Bebop & Rocksteady?

10 Flicks: Movies That Make Me Hungry

All Time Best: Let’s Do This! Movie Moment

Tatsu: The All Time Best Movie Henchman

Rainy Sundays: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Chronicle, Action Figures & The Super Power Dream

Why The New Ninja Turtles Movie Is Off To A Great Start | 2013 Michael Bay


I’m not saying the alien comment isn’t at least a little concerning.  I grew up with the Ninja Turtles and I don’t want to see their story changed.  But tons of film adaptations have changed major elements from the source material that is readily accepted now.  For example, the age of the Hobbits in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Some people were extremely angry.  (Some probably still are) But they made those changes while staying true to J.R.R Tolkien’s work and people love those films.  Even the doubters are anxiously awaiting the new Hobbit films in 2012 and 2013.

Sometimes change is good.  I think this is a wait and see situation.  No matter what, the new movie is meant to be successful they aren’t out to screw it up on purpose.  I can’t wait to see what the new turtles will look like.  I can’t wait to find out more about the filmmaker’s vision for the franchise.

I’m looking forward to a brand new live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie!

New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie 2013

Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If They Made A BASE WARS Movie?

March 25, 2011 at 8:30 am

Wouldn't It Be Awesome If They Made A Base Wars Movie? | Movie Blog


Stop reading now if you aren’t entertained by giant robots kicking the crap out of each other…  You can stay if you hated Transformers 2 because everybody hated that movie.

This year, we will be treated to not one but TWO giant robot movies.  Transformers Dark of the Moon and Real Steel.  Even though I thought Transformers Revenge of the Fallen was a complete disaster, the third installment is still one of my most anticipated movie of the summer.  There are other movies that are close but I happen to love Michael Bay action movies and his new film looks like a blast.

XTRA: Check out my summer movie rankings.

Some people may not like the Transformers franchise (or Michael Bay) at all but I love big summer movies like this.  You would think I’d be a little more excited about Real Steel but I’m not completely sold yet.

So many boxing movies are among the most successful sports films ever made.  2010 gave us yet another Academy Award winning boxing film in The Fighter.  Something tells me Real Steel won’t be winning any Oscars but it could still be entertaining.

Boxing may be the most decorated sport on the big screen but if there is a second place it’s baseball.  Let’s get some robots on a diamond shall we?

Remember Base Wars for NES?

Base Wars is an old school baseball game where you play with a team of supercharged Cyborgs with guns.  In this baseball game, you aren’t out if you’re tagged.  You fight for the base and it was a blast.

My favorite baseball game growing up was Baseball Simulator 1000 but Base Wars is a close second.  How can you resist beating the hell out of your friends just to be safe a second?  Even pitching a ball right down the middle only to curve it at the last second was sweet.

Having complete control over the ball like that got annoying so we instituted a rule that one pitch per at bat had to be down the middle. You just never knew which one.  Failing to comply with this rule meant you had to lose the next battle.  Tough cost as your robots took damage throughout the game.

Wouldn't It Be Awesome If They Made A Base Wars Movie? | Movie Blog

Could they make a Base Wars movie? I think it would be very similar to Real Steel so you would have to avoid that.  I like the idea of making a Base Wars movie set in a world that’s become too technologically obsessed and forgotten the purity of things like Baseball.

My Base Wars movie would mix The Sandlot and Field of Dreams together and have the whole thing revolve around our history as a species.

Movies like this tend to assume that people stopped watching humans play in favor of huge Gladiator Robots.  I think Major League Baseball would remain.  It has to!

Here is how I would do it.

MLB struggles in the ratings so they decide to add Base Wars to the seventh inning stretch of each game.  I would have the film center on a family with three generations.  A grandfather who played a few pro seasons, his son who is currently a major league manager and former player and his son who is a gifted engineer.

The movie would be about our emotional attachment to the game AND about the evolution of our planet’s technology.  Also there would be HUGE robot battles and a ton of baseball.

I just wouldn’t want the movie to be set in the future where baseball is dead.  That’s not a movie I want to see.  There would be nothing but bitter old men rejecting the game.  I think the integration of robots is enough while still preserving what makes the game of baseball great.  Of course, there still needs to be some high stakes and conflicts but I haven’t developed the entire story yet.

Will we ever see a Base Wars movie?  Probably not but if this video is any evidence, we may see the real thing someday.

I’d name the robots after famous movies. Johnny 5, Optimus, HAL etc…

PS: How have we not had a remake of Base Wars yet?!  Get on it people!

Previously Viewed: Transformers 2: Revenge of The Fallen

December 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm

The Athletic Nerd Movie Blog Previously Viewed

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen…

I adored the first Transformers.  It was full of action, incredible visuals and all the popcorn eye candy you can handle.

The sequel seemed like a sure thing for so long…

Click here to read: Why Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon won’t suck.

The other day, while I was wrapping gifts, I was scrolling through the movies On Demand and came across Transformers 2.  I decided to give it another shot.  After all, I hadn’t seen it since the huge let down in theaters long ago.

I figured it would just be noise in the background while I plowed through the stack of boxes I had to wrap.

Something strange happened that day…

I found myself getting farther and farther behind in my wrapping paper adventures.

Was I enjoying the film?

I wouldn’t go that far but for some reason I didn’t have that same overwhelming sense of disappointment.

Then it hit me.

I didn’t have the same overwhelmingly high expectations.  I went into the second film expecting to be blown away again.  Yet I was so distracted by it’s flaws that I failed to at least try to appreciate what Michael Bay intended to accomplish.

  • Sure the Twins are completely useless. (Why not Ironhide and Wratchet?)
  • Of course the human/robot/hot girl had no business in the movie.
  • Of course the exposition was dumb and the main villain ridiculous.
  • There was no tension, no character, poor humor and worse pacing.

But like it or not, I’m still a fan of visual effects and action sequences.  I still love a good action movie.

When the story and characters are lacking it doesn’t pack the same punch but a movie can still be entertaining even if it’s only a few scenes.

I thought the opening was fun.

I thought the forest scene was the best fight in the movie.

Regardless of the big metal stupid balls, Devastator’s transformation and the destruction he caused blew me away.

Eye candy at it’s finest.

At the end of the day, even Michael Bay admits that Transformers 2 dropped the ball. (Pun intended)  I think that the studio pressured them to go with what they had as a result of the strike and they didn’t have enough time to fine tune the story.

I think had they had the time to simplify things, a lot of the problems would have disappeared and the action would have risen above what The Fallen ultimately became…

A dud.

Preview: Why Transformers 3 Won’t Suck

October 5, 2010 at 8:00 am


I really have no real reason to trust Shia Labeouf but I do nonetheless. The fact that he went on record discussing how much of a misstep Transformers 2 was impressed me.

Today, /Film posted an interview he did with MTV with some incredibly encouraging statements regarding the quality of Transformers 3.

In short: It won’t suck!

The new film is supposedly called: Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon.

Here is a brief synopsis from the film. (Warning Spoilers)

There’s a disturbance on the Moon. A robot shaped disturbance. Scientists on Earth see this and the information gets passed up the chain of command. In the White House men in black suits are breathlessly running through the halls, and they burst into the Oval Office. The president is behind the desk, back turned to the door, looking out the window. One of the men tells the president, ‘Sir, something’s happened on the Moon!’ The president turns around… And it’s John F. Kennedy.

Photo: IGN


July 14, 2010

Did you enjoy Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen?

Me either.

In fact it was one of the biggest disappointments of 2009.

Director Michael Bay agrees:

“I’ll take some of the criticism, It was very hard to put (the sequel) together that quickly after the writers’ strike (of 2007-08).”

I couldn’t agree more. The whole movie just seemed thrown together. The first movie had a clear story with incredible effects and action sequences. The stakes were high and you cared about the outcome.

Transformers 2 didn’t deliver on it’s promise to deliver something bigger and better. Instead you’re forced to follow way too many new characters that didn’t need to be included. Specifically the twins. I’m still stunned they didn’t have two Autobots from the first film escort Sam around.

“One thing we’re getting rid of is what I call the dorky comedy” Says Bay regarding The Twins. Excellent decision.

The first Transformers film had a focused storyline. Can you explain what happened in the sequel? I think the biggest problem was the villain. Why bring Megatron back at all if you are going to set up The Fallen as the main villain?  He’s barely in the movie!

Bay himself calls him “kind of a (expletive) character”

A lot of fans might be turned off at the thought of a third film. I am NOT one of them.

In fact, I couldn’t be more excited for more giant robot action!

Here is why I think Transformers 3 will be the best in the series:

  • They had time to develop the story and bring the focus back to the characters instead of merely increasing the amount of robots and destruction.
  • Megan Fox’s character is gone so we don’t have to sit through female robot attacks just to cause tension in her relationship with Shia.
  • Optimus Prime won’t be a scrap heap that is missing for half the movie.
  • The action will serve the story and the other way around.
  • The action will be the best yet.
  • It will delve deeper into the wonderful mythology that Transformers represent. Who doesn’t love Shockwave?

Transformers 3 Preview

  • Shia is too good an actor to waste again. This time he will have much more to do instead of running around trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
  • They owe us a true sequel. Everything that made the first film brilliant will be back. Except this time bigger and better will be a legitimate claim and we will all leave the theaters thrilled.

Bay says “As a trilogy, it really ends. It could be rebooted again, but I think it has a really killer ending”

That’s exactly what fans wanted NEEDED to hear. Statements like that lead me to believe that the stakes will be huge and we will be at the edge of our seats until the credits roll. I want an ending that will cause multiple return trips to the theater. I’m counting on it actually.

It’s comforting to hear that the filmmakers are at the very least aware that the second film was terrible. These people are professionals. There is no way they will make the same mistakes again.

I hope.

Let the anticipation begin!

PS: It’s a shame Devastator was wasted. So much more could have been done. I wish the giant Decepticon was more than just a gimmick.

Transformers 3 Won't Suck