Dwayne Johnson

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Marvel Movie News

‘Black Widow’ Now Marvel’s Worst Performing Movie

Black Widow is now Marvel’s worst-performing movie as with the fourth-weekend release, the flick is trailing behind the 2015 Ant-Man movie. Black Widow had the lowest fourth weekend for a Disney-released Marvel title ever at $6.4 million, while Ant-Man‘s fourth week was at almost $8 million. Ant-Man finished with a $519 million worldwide gross; Black Widow currently sits

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Movie News

‘Black Adam’ Finishes Filming

Following the tease of the suit, now Dwayne Johnson announces Black Adam has finished filming with the posting of a behind-the-scenes video. “Honored and proud to say that’s an official wrap on BLACK ADAM,” posted Johnson on Instagram (watch below). “I knew many years ago, the opportunity for me to make BLACK ADAM would be

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Movie News

Dwayne Johnson Reveals First Look At Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson reveals a first look at Black Adam on social media in the form of a behind-the-scenes-set image. “On set. BLACK ADAM,” Johnson posted on Instagram. “This image of Black Adam from behind gives you a tactile sense of the absolute massive scale and size of our movie. You also see a little of

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Movie News

Shazam vs Hawkman Teased By Dwayne Johnson, Zachary Levi, Aldis Hodge

Aldis Hodge and Zachary Levi have some fun on social media teasing Shazam vs Hawkman where Dwayne Johnson, DC’s Black Adam, also chimes in. Hodge posted a pic on his Instagram of himself with Zachary Levi at Topgolf, a golf, party venue, sports bar and restaurant. “(Read this in movie announcer voice) In a world

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DCU Movie News

Dwayne Johnson Updates Black Adam; Also Starring As Krypto

Dwayne Johnson gives an update on the Black Adam movie as filming continues, and The Rock will also be voicing Krypto the Superdog in an animated movie. Johnson posted a set image on social media offering a look at the massive Black Adam set. “BLACK ADAM update. Wanted to show you guys this cool shot

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Movie News

Black Adam: Dwayne Johnson Teases Costume

We get our first look at the Black Adam costume, well sorta, as Dwayne Johnson posts a peek of the suit on social media. In a post about his weekly board meetings, an image shows Dwayne Johnson wearing the Black Adam costume, though it’s mostly covered by a black sheet. “…and if you swipe left

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Movie News

Black Adam: Uli Latukefu Joins Cast; Hawkman Now Filming

As Black Adam is now filming it is learned that Uli Latukefu has joined the cast which sees Dwayne Johnson star as the titular character. Uli Latukefu is actually playing the young Dwayne Johnson Young Rock TV series that debuted in February and airs on NBC. Latukefu’s role is unknown in Black Adam, but since

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Movie News

Dwayne Johnson Won’t Need Padded Muscle Suit For Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson reveals he won’t need to wear a padded muscle suit for the Black Adam costume, where the former WWE Superstar claims it will be the first time, which could be looked at as a dig toward various other superheroes and actors, with Zachary Levi as Shazam! coming to mind. Dwayne Johnson posted about

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Movie News

‘Black Adam’ Now Filming; Dwayne Johnson Wanted As President

Black Adam is now filming as Dwayne Johnson has taken to social media, which also sees people state they want The Rock as president. Johnson posted on Friday announcing Black Adam started filming: History in the making, extremely excited and what a humbling moment to share with you. Officially kicking off DAY 1 of filming

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DCU Movie News

‘Black Adam’ Gets A Release Date

Black Adam now has an official release date that follows the recent casting announcement that includes Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate. Black Adam will get released on July 29, 2022. “A disruptive and unstoppable global force of a message from the man in black himself BLACK ADAM is coming July 29, 2022,” Johnson posted on

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Movie News

Black Adam: Pierce Brosnan Cast As Doctor Fate

Pierce Brosnan has been cast as Doctor Fate, a member of the Justice Society, in Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam movie. Johnson announced the news on Instagram. “Such a pleasure to announce the final member of our #JusticeSociety, the bad ass statesman, Mr @PierceBrosnanOfficial as the iconic and all-knowing, DR. FATE. I’m grateful to have such a talented, diverse

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Movie News

Darkseid Teaser, Poster For Justice League

Check out the Darkseid teaser and poster for Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie coming to the HBO Max streaming service next week. Darkseid never made it into the theatrical cut and it is known that Zack had (or has) big plans for Darkseid who was going to be the villain of Justice League 2. “What

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Movie News

Henry Cavill’s Manager Is Super Jacked; Teases Dwayne Johnson Announcement

Henry Cavill reveals he was recently in Phoenix, Arizona to attend the Pro And Rising Phoenix Women’s Bodybuilding World Championship which saw his manager, Dany Garcia, participate in the event. Henry Cavill posted an image of Dany Garcia on Instagram showing off her super-jacked bod. “Leaving Phoenix after having had a truly enlightening experience watching

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Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Pain & Gain (2013)

Mischief.  Mayhem.  Steroids.

A Film Review of Pain & Gain

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

[Readers, please humor me by reading the following paragraph]

You’ve just finished a 3 hour work out and you’re sore all over.  You’ve put in the work, but now you want to max out on a final bench press before you call it a night.  You start off real slow, just to make sure what’s left of your muscles can take it and then you speed it up.  Just as you start to pick up the pace, the gym manager shouts out 5 minutes to closing; you keep going.  That babe you were trying to impress all night finally cuts you a look and a smile and your adrenaline spikes; you go faster.  You notice some fed up mother dragging her screaming children out of day care and then she curses out loud, calling her kids rotten bastards.  It all pisses you off and you go even faster.  The cleaning crew starts making their way to the main area of the gym, but while one talks the other doesn’t notice the free weights left out on the floor; he trips and falls flat on his face which gets you to snicker.  You’re feeling a good burn now, but the manager shouts your name to get the hell out and he stomps over to your direction only to collide with a six foot blonde, taking both to the ground.  Turns out she’s a transvestite (because mesh shorts + no underwear was too revealing as she went down) and she proceeds to spill a giant bag of dildos she was smuggling out of the gym (where did she get them in the first place?).  Everything just got weird, but you’ve never felt stronger or lifted more in your life so you still keep going.  A homeless man then stumbles through the front doors, drops ‘trow and defecates right there on the spot.  The lactic acid rushes over you, you’re way past pure exhaustion and you feel the dry heaves of vomit curdling up only to realize your arms have already given out.  The weights crash down on your chest and roll to your throat, effectively choking you out.  The paramedics revive you and you feel lucky to be alive, but you don’t feel particularly good right now.

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We’re here to pump you up!

I just spoon fed the entire experience of watching Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, a true crime story of muscle heads turning to kidnapping, torture and murder in Miami in pursuit of the American dream.  Of course, there are no spoilers here, but imagining someone’s final set of the day with all the distractions I mentioned combined with an ever increasing pace is exactly what the viewer will see, hear and feel when they buy a ticket to ride this crazy train.  Every aspect of the filmmaking process: the camera movement, the soundtrack, the dialogue, the action and the lighting mimics the relentless pace of “the final set” in such an undeniable way that I have to admit that this film is Michael Bay’s most artistic film.  Please understand, however, that Bay has always been the stereotypical “Hollywood Guy” that could only tell a story if there were explosions here, explosions there; explosions everywhere!  I am certain this film takes several liberties with some of the facts regarding the exploits of Daniel Lugo, but in moments where viewers couldn’t possibly believe what they were seeing was true, the film reminds the audience that this all still happened.  Bay shelves his love for pyro with a slight over-abuse of the slow motion visual effect, but there is no mistaking the “bigness” of this film as anything other than a Michael Bay production even without the presence of giant robots or Sean Connery.

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There’s gotta be at least 1 explosion.

The actual plot of Pain & Gain is relatively straight forward and as basic as crime stories get, but screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely apparently binged on Neveldine and Taylor’s Crank franchise prior to writing this script.  As a result, manic characters, perpetuating stereotypes, absurd plot twists, and vulgar tone mixed with pure adrenaline turns the crimes committed by Lugo and co. into one hell of an entertaining adventure.  Comedy is the key element that pushes the plot forward through a combination of ridiculous dialogue and absurd slapstick.  But here’s the catch.  These crimes still happened in reality and they ruined/ended the lives of many real people.  I cannot help but think that making such a spectacle of Lugo’s exploits in this particular way diminishes the real life tragedy.  The counter to this sensation is the fact that Lugo and his crew are depicted as little more than stereotypically dumb body builders who are incredibly high on themselves, extremely gullible and view the rest of the world as somehow owing them more simply for being as awesome as they are. 

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This scene was probably more serious in real life than in this film.

Satire is certainly at work here, but as I mentioned earlier, this film never lets up on the single-minded/self-minded nature of the story which disallows the audience to reflect on the utter horror of the crimes thanks to the fact that these meatheads are constantly making themselves look like hilarious idiots.  If Pain & Gain is trying to expose the folly and corruptibility of ego-maniacal behavior, this message gets lost amidst the spectacle.  The main reason for this is that even when the main characters/antagonists fail, they are never depicted as pathetically low as any of their victims.  The audience had more than 4/5 of this film to understand the fact that these men were denser than lead and the fact that the story does not definitively shift to a serious tone pulls back on punches at the end of the film that should be going for a climactic knock out.  For a film to be as true of a story as this was, no other was in more need of reality checks.

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I’m as grounded as any character gets in this film.

Pain & Gain is a character driven story and without good performances all around, no film can claim a true cast of “colorful characters.”  The one actor the audience would never expect in a film such as this is Ed Harris who plays P.I. Ed DuBois and his presence exists to lend some of that grounded seriousness I just complained that was lacking throughout.  As great of an actor as Harris is, his character is simply not important enough in terms of screen time to allow his dialogue and demeanor to leave a lasting appeal.  Tony Shalhoub does a solid job as target #1 Victor Kershaw, but he isn’t asked to lift anything heavier than the token scumbag that doesn’t deserve an ounce of sympathy from anyone.  Ken Jeong and Rebel Wilson use their specific talents of awkward/absurd comedy to ratchet up the laughs, but neither are given true moments to perform outside of those boundaries. 

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Are you a “do”er?

The one performance I was actually disappointed in was that of Anthony Mackie as Adrian Doorbal.  I’ve made note of his promising performances in films like Real Steel and The Adjustment Bureau, but he easily stands in the shadow of his other two co stars.  A large part of the problem is the fact that he’s playing a body builder and although he’s significantly larger than the skinny body type I’ve always seen him as, he simply doesn’t have the tone and definition of any other muscle head he stands next to (including extras).  This takes a large chunk of credibility away from his character and it could have been compensated with a truly marquee performance, but comedy is not Mackie’s strength; it’s drama.

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I look better in Falcon’s armor anyway.

Marky Mark hit the gym a bit more than Mackie prior to filming as his arms certainly showed an upgrade, but the trailers to Pain & Gain made it seem as if Wahlberg was juicing for years.  Much of the film is narrated from Daniel Lugo’s perspective as he is technically the main character of this sordid tale of excess fitness.  What can I say?  Wahlberg knows how to portray flawed confidence, gullible ignorance and absolute absurdity with a straight face.  This is vital to Lugo as a character because communicating his disconnect from any traditional morality/ethics in favor of a fitness/self-help inspired credo of “simply doing = godly” explains how this real person was more cartoon character than carbon based life form.  Unlike the role he played in The Fighter, Wahlberg is not required to do anything more than play up the meathead in this film and I can only give so much credit to what amounts to a type cast.   Wahlberg must have some kind of unspoken/unwritten/unknown connection with Josh Brolin because he has the same tendency of being overshadowed by some (if not all) of his supporting cast.  And speaking of whom . . .

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Muscles are my reality. Fitness is my life.

The Rock/Dwayne Johnson/The Brahma Bull is the true star of Pain & Gain.  First, being the only true athlete of the cast, he proved that being built like a tank could indeed be improved upon because he looks to have added 20 pounds of pure muscle on top of his already intimidating frame.  The man is in impeccable physical condition, but I don’t want to know how many chemicals are coursing through his veins.  That aside, Johnson as Paul Doyle is the only character that seems to show any sign of struggling with the jaded nature of the crew’s affairs and this works to his advantage as an actor.  He isn’t a talented enough of an actor to actually display a complete shift in demeanor from clueless athlete to tortured soul, but he can keep a straight face while reciting ludicrous lines of dialogue thanks to his experience in the WWF/E.  The result is a specific hilarity that actually generates sympathy for the simpleton he plays and let’s just say that when his character rediscovers cocaine, the audience will experience a comedy level beyond the peak of The Rock’s most famous rants of the mid 1990s.

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My boys can smell it.  Can you?

Pain & Gain was a tricky film for me to digest due to the intense delivery of so much character development & interactivity, action, comedy and absurdity in such a short amount of time.  On a pace rating of 1-10, this film starts at a 9 and exceeds 15 with virtually no time outs.  This film is a constant chain lightning of laughs and grotesquery, so the viewer better beware.  I like that this film seemed to paint the culture of extreme fitness gone way too far as the true culprit, but the script doesn’t do much to address issues like steroid abuse other than in the first 10 minutes of the film.  It appears as though sociopathic tendencies can develop from obsessive devotion to any of life’s sub-cultures and it’s interesting to observe how most involve the “improvement of self” in some way, shape or form.  Had this film shown an ability to shift gears to a more serious drama at the right time, Michael Bay would have had a much better film on his hands than an audaciously entertaining romp through the chemically enhanced purple hills of muscle beach.  Without reading more meaning into it, Pain & Gain is the first comedy of the summer that’s worth your time thanks to decent performances all around, but an inspired effort by The Rock.  That is, of course, if you know what he’s cooking.

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Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

“Joe Schmo”

A Film Review of G.I. Joe: Retaliation

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

THIS is what a 9 month release delay, rewrites, reshoots and reformatting gets anyone remotely interested in action films, let alone what Hasbro has allowed in a complete and utter mortification of one of the best IPs of the 1980s? Push comes to shove, GI Joe: Retaliation was strictly made for 10 year old boys and although I’m no fan of the money-grabbing, demographic gravity well that is the PG-13 rating, there are plenty that deliver more than what these Joes are hauling. The addition of “The Rock,” Dwayne Johnson and the subtraction of Marlon Wayans does make an immediate impact on the quality of this picture, but by no means is this a vast improvement.  Then you throw in Bruce Willis for a grand total of about 10 minutes of screen time and I’m left wondering whether director Jon M. Chu used the time off (thanks to the incredibly embarrassing suspended release of this film) wisely. Turns out that cleaning house from The Rise of Cobra, minus Byung-hun Lee’s Storm Shadow, Ray Park’s Snake Eyes, Channing Tatum’s Duke and Jonathan Pryce’s “US President,” doesn’t leave the audience with a superior experience in Retaliation.  Plot gaps a plenty, continuity be damned and utter absurdity abound in this film.  Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

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Hopefully we aren’t shooting down our careers.

Immediately what detracts from this cinematic adventure is the atrocious dialogue amongst every character at all times.  If any of you are familiar with TBS’s (not so “very funny”) sitcom Men at Work, you’ll notice an eerily similar sensation of awkward, bromantic and twenty-something wanna-be, yuppie talk that is in no way appropriate for the likes of GI Joe and Cobra in any capacity.  I certainly don’t remember the original GI Joe cartoon sounding so juvenile.  The worst examples happen to be every Channing Tatum scene, and The Rock shares as much of the blame here thanks to some of the most eye-rolling delivery we haven’t seen since his days as Rocky Maivia.  The purpose of these scenes was clearly meant to build up the camaraderie between Duke and Roadblock, but they come off like college dorm mates constantly trying to haggle each other like teenie boppers.  Then the plot takes a serious turn and the dialogue’s tone jumps to “killing” and “revenge” in a manner that is way above (or below) the frat house culture.  Consistency in dialogue is what builds character and this is a failure throughout this movie.  The screenwriting team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick would have been better off low-jacking the dialogue from Act of Valor rather than Clueless

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Cue the dorm room antics.

I will, however, give the story credit for taking what amounts to a garden variety, Cobra plot for world domination and giving it a neat twist on manipulating the globe’s nuclear weapons. Combined with a very dark inciting incident, the story seems to have a solid skeleton if one ignores most of what was established from the first film.  This is where my praise ends. Characters established in the first film aren’t acknowledged in any way in Retaliation. How did Storm Shadow survive The Rise of Cobra? That’s swept under the rug.  When did Flint transition from a Joe instructor to a rookie with parkour skills? All of this is the result of fanboys kicking back one afternoon and tossing around a bunch of “what if’s” in regards to GI Joe mythos and throwing it all in the script. This may be the preferred method of screenwriting for adaptation efforts that ultimately don’t give a damn, but I would prefer a bit of focus — of which Retaliation has little.  Too many subplots combined with the introduction of several new characters having little (if any) relevance to the origin film makes for a very manic experience.  At this point, the script has less to do with story and more to do with marketing Hasbro’s merchandise.  The only thing that keeps you in your seat is waiting for the next explosion.

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I kinda like your new mask that’s like your old mask.

As for those explosions, they aren’t exactly what I would refer to as “cutting edge.”  They are all standard fare with nothing uniquely negative or positive to report.  Vehicular combat is somewhat satisfying during the tank-like battle towards the end of the film, but jets in the sky and boats in the water are strictly CG transitions that deliver zero punch.  Firefights that feature the Joe team as a unit utilize a lot of hand held camera work with quick cuts that make conscious efforts to obscure close-ups and sell the featured actors better.  The problem is that it makes appreciating these well choreographed sequences a bit of a chore, thus negating its entertainment value. One on one fights are easily the best action elements to GI Joe: Retaliation. The instant any rumor surrounding a GI Joe adaptation hit the internet, every fanboy went nuts over the possibilities of a Snake Eyes vs. Storm Shadow scenario. Their rematch in this film is very nice, but their original showdown in The Rise of Cobra was better. I suppose if Darth Maul can make a comeback from what seems like the exact same fate, so too can Storm Shadow. Roadblock’s fisticuffs obviously feature more brawn over ballet, but they simply do not compare to ninja stars being shot out of the air by an uzi. Perhaps director Jon M. Chu should have ignored everything else and strictly made a GI Joe Ninja force movie because the mountainside repelling scenes featuring Snake Eyes and Jinx were very satisfying. I just wish I hadn’t already been spoiled on this sequence thanks to the teaser trailers I’ve been seeing for more than half a year.

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Ninjas; not nonjas!

I’d like to take a moment to single out the poor casting in GI Joe: Retaliation. I must give two thumbs way, WAY down for Ronna Kress, the casting of director of Retaliation.  It’s not that she selected the wrong actors for this type of film, but that they were misused and underused for the roles they were chosen to play.  There’s no question that The Rock is an action star worthy of this license, but he’s about as much of a gourmet cooking, black man from Mississippi as I am. To put it plainly: Rock’s line delivery is not ethnic enough to sell the role of Roadlblock. Bruce Willis practically invented the contemporary action blockbuster and even at his advanced age, can still make valuable contributions to any film production. Having him play the “original Joe,” General Joe Colton, would have been a great idea had they actually made that character important to the story with some legitimate screen time. I’d really like to know who’s bar mitzvah did the Rza agree to personally perform at to get his name on this cast list.  Having created The Man with the Iron Fists does not make him uniquely qualified to play the role of the Blind Master, yet there he is and he looks absolutely foolish in the role. Note how these examples are the biggest names attached to this production. When your casting strategy revolves around simply adding “names” with no intention of taking advantage of what each actor actually brings to the table, this proves that the production staff doesn’t care to some extent. That, my friends, is bush league, corporate mass production of cinema at its worst.

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I present to you: the blind master.

The performances in Retaliation are so unremarkable that only three are worth mentioning.  Adrianne Palicki’s performance as Lady Jaye is solid, and it’s always a tricky situation playing a role that is ear marked for sex appeal without coming off as absurdly overcompensating just like Rachel Nichols’ performance as Scarlett in The Rise of CobraAdrianne is still channeling girl power to a large extent, but does so sympathetically by behaving as an equal member of the unit.  Byung-hun Lee is the only actor who provides intensity and intimidation for this film in his role as Storm Shadow. Certainly, his physicality is on display showcasing a variety of martial artistry with his shirt conveniently ripped off in several instances.  However, it is his presence and demeanor that makes his character not one to be trifled with to the point that he comes off as a white version of Darth Vader sans force choking abilities.  Channing Tatum found a way to turn his snicker-inducing performance as Duke in the first film into an all night laugher in Retaliation.  What can I say?  The movie makes a point of designating Duke as the field commander of the Joes after having X number of year’s experience, but Tatum has the command presence of whoever hosts the MTV Movie Awards.  Duke is awkward and completely incapable of shouting a battle cry that isn’t instantly ridiculed by his unit.  I don’t know what Tatum was thinking by portraying Duke in this manner, but I would expect “not a lot” being the right answer. 

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Lady Jaye > Scarlett

So this film franchise has been green lit for a third installment.  Hurray for Hollywood, but this movie is barely worth a Red Box rental.  Right now, the superior alternative for an action fix is Olympus Has Fallen.  When compared to GI Joe: Retaliation, I think about the difference between a little boy and a grown man: one has a pair while the other is waiting for them to drop.  Yet again, another licensed adaptation leans far too heavily on its own mythos and popularity rather than making an undeniable effort to be its own entity.  GI Joe: Retaliation is the poster child for going through the motions and proving that adherence to formulaic filmmaking is on the mind of every no name/novice filmmaker because they haven’t the intestinal fortitude to be assertive with their own ideas (assuming they have them) when dealing with brand names like Hasbro.  I wouldn’t qualify this as a family film, but if you have young boys, this might be worth a trek to the cinema.  But if you have any appreciation for GI Joe from the comic books or the F.H.E. animated series you will feel like someone just took one of your favorite fictions from childhood and urinated on it.  You know, just like what Michael Bay did to Transformers and will probably do to “Teenage Mutant” Ninja Turtles.

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Storm Shadow may be convinced to handle Michael Bay’s nonsense.

(Side note: I find it hilarious how Channing Tatum has an Olympus Has Fallen clone film coming out later this summer where he must go on a solo mission to rescue President Jaime Fox)