Monsters: Dark Continent

Monsters: Dark Continent: full of 'gunfire and macho posturing'.

A follow-up to Gareth Edwards hipster take on an alien invasion genre, this independently-standing sequel directed by Tom Green who is better known for his work on Misfits and Blackout, takes us to a more Joseph Conrad-inspired corner.

The film is set years after the original, in which we encounter two mopey and entirely unsympathetic examples of humanity that made me wish for their early deaths on the hands of aliens or humans alike. This time, our focus is on a group of soldiers who are fighting in the “infected zones”.

The first film left us viewing humanity with suspicion, but also established military actions as a failed attempt at pushing back the organic invasion of an alien origin that started to alter everything around, from changing trees and plants to growing highly complex and alien organisms on a whim. A more subtle take on the concept we previously encountered in Evolution, a film from a few years back (which I contended would have made for one of the most cracking television shows, ever) with David Duchovny and Orlando Jones, Monsters is using the alien elements in order to eviscerate the stories of humanity, or lack thereof.

The Dark Continent continues with this mode, offering us an insight into a fun group of young men who grew up together, pay for strippers together, enjoy a little bit of cocaine, and are unabashedly gross, but in a purely nihilistic form, preparing for a potential death that is to come. They do love each other, however, and are willing to die for one another.

Green’s lens captures a delightful portrait of humanity, one that is as dark, as it is imbued with potential for heroics, love, honor, and loyalty.

Amongs the young men is an old “lion,” an American spetsnaz, if you may, played by Johnny Harris.

The group is sent not only to battle the megalithic monsters, roaming the deserts, but the insurgent population, rising with anger at loss of lives and violence.

We meet Harris in the field, as a sniper who manages to shoot his target, whose background is unknown.

Harris is not only a commanding officer, a survivor, and a tough man to kill, but also one who can make the tough decisions: when to kill for mercy, what to do to survive, and what price he is willing to pay to live.

The rag-tag team is sent to bring back four men, but the insurgency quickly turns into a real threat, and most of the friends die in variety of agonizing deaths.

Sam, played by Michael Parkes, survives. Together with Noah, played by Johnny Harris, the two escape, with an eye to complete the mission.

Thirsty, tired, and injured, they traverse the dessert and find a bombed school bus, full of dead children but one. Noah’s instinct is to kill the boy and spare him an agonizing death, but Sam looks to another kind of mercy.

In a moment of despair, inching toward a loss of emotional and physical exhaustion, the two are rescued by bedouins, who take them in for their rescue of the boy from the bus.

Bedouin women are known for their beauty, we soon discover, as Sam’s becomes intrigued by the dark-haired woman in a blood-red shawl. They eat, they sing around the fire, and hydrate.

Sam’s intrigue leads him to a burial ground, where the bedouin princess weeps over numerous bodies of children, while Noah witnesses the death of the boy they rescued, and experiences his own emotional catharsis. Noah is a father, and the only thing that stands between him and his own family is completing the mission. For a second, Noah’s darkness emerges, in its raw, emotional power, as his love becomes an expression of hate, death, and rage.

In the midst of all this death, carnage, and sadness, the monsters emerge in the night, with their animalistic features, tentacles, grasping for one another, moaning sounds of giants, until they release electrifying spores floating through the air.

Morning arises, bringing small acts of kindness and glimpses of humanity, interrupted by Noah’s violent impression of the sense of urgency they face. Getting back to the mission leads them to a bedouin boy whose treasure lies in an old tea tin. Inside it is an alien version of a cuttlefish, but flying, wiggling through the air, until it dissolves into large tentacles absorbed by the fine sands beneath their feet.

Reaching the city, instead of finding the men they were to rescue, they find a pile of corpses. None are alive. Noah loses control, and shoots an innocent man as he looks for answers to meaningless deaths of humanity. Sam has no option but to shoot to stop him from further annihilation. Bullet through the kidney makes him stop, stumble out, only to witness something much larger in the foreground.

The landscape is in turmoil. Tentacles size of buildings arise, ushered by dust, and a scream of a much larger alien than even the megaliths witnessed earlier. Sam is a witness to this gargantuan living thing, but also a witness to continuous struggle of humanity, embroiled in death, love, fighting.

Green’s visceral take on Monsters is an transparent homage to true and tried giants of cinema such as Armageddon. This film is an direct interpretation of the Heart of Darkness, with a science fiction element that provides an powerful image of the other. As such, this film presents us with an examination of contemporary politics and mores, themes and realities of middle-eastern conflicts, still ongoing. It also provides us however, with an insightful if painful reminder of the inescapable loss justified through mechanisms of conflict.

The world in Monsters is changing, dying, as it is being transformed into an alien landscape that has no room for humanity. This end of world scenario is an exploration of an inner conflict between what we assume are qualities of humanity, and that of its loss in high-conflict, high-stress areas, and Green tackles this with gusto.

Review: Ex Machina (2015)

While televised science fiction content withered in US, UK seems to have made a serious headway in tackling the short story format, providing us with some near-future insightful stories on the subject of humanity as impacted by changing technologies.

Black Mirror, for example, a two-year series with a few, well-chosen story lines, provided us with some wonderful, visually-stunning and mildly antiseptic view of the genius-bar futures. Our relationships, our humanity, the use and distribution of our memories, and of course, in an eternal Asimov tradition, the question of androids in our civilisation.

These smart questions, it seems, we lack in an era mired in real questions surrounding our behaviour and technology. For example, I keep on wondering why we don’t discuss personal privacy with more bold brushstrokes, yet the population is overwhelmed, hoping that all will turn out for the better, while media seems to lack any appetite for serious discussions of freedoms, human nature, and our social evolution as intersected with these relatively new, unregulated technologies…but I digress, yet again.

The enigmatic thing about Black Mirror series is its appearance and setting. Not unlike Never Let Me Go, the film that touched me to the core, Black Mirror sets its episodes in relatively near future, as if just around the corner, undefined by actual year and era. Unlike Never Let Me Go, it is not a future in which humanity chooses its preferred period, but instead have a direct connection to our contemporary society. The differences between us and them, it seems, are hardly noticeable, apart from a snazzy widget or two.

This is one of the captivating aspects of Alex Garland‘s stab at the genre, with a remarkably innovative, subtle and emotive Ex Machina.

Garland wrote and directed Ex Machina, a film about Domhnall Gleeson, whose familiar face (incidentally the very same featured prominently in Black Mirror) depicts Caleb, a talented software engineer/boy genius, who wins a prize.

The prize, reminiscent of the Apple cultishness, is winning a few days with the Steve Jobs of the company, Nathan. The CEO, masterfully played by Oscar Isaac, has a secret, an sophisticated AI that requires testing, and Caleb has been hand-picked for the monumental task of deciding on the level of sophistication for the AI.

The win leads Caleb to a remote location where he meets Nathan’s new project. A glass house set above a waterfall whose architecture fits snugly between a billionaire’s dream hiding place and a villain’s lair (Is there a difference between the two, I wonder?) is a security haven, in which Caleb encounters a perfect creation, Ava, depicted by wonderfully tender Alicia Vikander.

Before you know it, you’re entranced in a triangle of competing objectives, suspicions, and manipulative actions that lead all the residents, human and otherwise, toward a certain demise.

Amongst these machinations, the eternal question is examined: what makes for a human, and how do we define the rights of someone who has the capacity to feel, intelligence to understand, and has a semblance of self-awareness? Measuring and evaluating these becomes an impossibility for Caleb who eventually uncovers a horrific truth, but also confronts his mounting attraction and fondness for Ava. Amidst all that is Nathan who is brilliant, obnoxious, manipulative and cruel, and whose actions make you wonder whether the world should know what kind of activities the sociopaths amongst us, wealthy or otherwise, engage in on daily basis.

Garland’s Ex Machina is beautiful, exploring relatively big themes with an indie lens, paying attention to the emotional depth of its protagonists, carefully exploring their desires, motivations, what they’re able to sacrifice in order to win.

I must warn you, Ex Machina has a sad, melancholic notes, and a mildly horrific ending. There is no doubt that there is no justice dispensed to participants, and as such does not give us moral resolutions. Yet, it does represent a story of survival, even selfishness, and examinations of the relatively unexamined motives. In other words, don’t expect an episode of The Next Generation, with captain’s voice resolving the great, moral questions faced by the protagonists, steering you in the right direction, but rather a story of questionable motives, questionable actions, and ultimately a messy, human approach to a resolution, whether deliberated on by intelligent machines or people.

Killjoys Premiere Verdict: Unpalatable

killjoys promotional

SyFy is often known for bad choices: it’s rebranding efforts for one, but mostly for taking mediocre risks with unmemorable television concepts that never get to rise above the fold for variety of reasons. It is interesting how HBO has set an entirely new level for its productions, be it reliant on creativity or budget, and networks like Starz are following suit, yet SyFy refuses to expect, demand, provide the same, but I digress…

This particularly bad choice is created by Michelle Lovretta, known for her wonderful work on Lost Girl, and it stars Thom Allison, Tamsen McDonough, Aaron Ashmore in title roles.

Remember that show? The one set in dark corners of the future in which that guy does that thing?

Killjoys is just such a show. Set in a dark, corporate future, the protagonists are bounty hunters who only care about “the warrants” and have no allegiance but to their anonymous clients. “No one know who hires us,” but “the warrant is all,” reminds boss the waify, big-eyed female hunter, Dutch.

These interplanetary Reclamation agents patrol a quad experiencing some contemporary struggles between the haves and have-nots.

Dutch teams up with John and D’Avin, two brothers who make a deal with a bedeviled megacorp, creatively named The Company, freeing D’Avin from his indentured servitude as an arena fighter, in order to send them to pursue someone, or something called Rolly Desh.

There are daggers, mediocre parties with monks wearing orange, and all the other cheap, uninventive fodder of bad science fiction tropes on television.

My eyes were literally watering with boredom as I perused through the pilot episode of Killjoys. On the one hand, the screens are screaming for a bit of space adventure, while on the other hand, these flimsy, paper-thin plots leave us in agony. We simply deserve better, which is why my attention quicky turns to another episode of Game of Thrones. SyFy would be wise to remember what their audiences crave, or it will perish in the cord-cutting future unfolding as we speak.

Dark Matter a Welcome Sci-Fi Romp

Dark Matter crew

Full disclosure: I am seriously head over heels with Joseph Mallozzi. The man has chops. When Vancouver film production started to cough, stutter, falter and fold, Mallozzi, better known for his executive producer titles on Stargate SG-1, Universe, and Atlantis, looked to creating something new and exciting, and together with Paul Mullie, created a new comic book series, Dark Matter. Soon after, SyFy channel picked up the show, and Dark Matter the television production was on its way.

Yes, it did require Mallozzi to pack up his life and move his countless dogs, a lovely girlfriend, and what I suspect an impressive array of books and media and move it all to Toronto, but hey! That’s Vancouver’s loss.

Dark Matter premiered this week, and it is both hellishly entertaining, and largely uninspiring at the very same time. How did we accomplish this? My guess is, through the magic of Canadian television. The premise is set on a space ship traveling with a crew that awakens with more questions than answers, suffering a complete memory loss. As they seek answers to who they are and where they are heading, the rag-tag team encounters the ship’s security mechanism: an android in the likeness of Zoie Palmer, better known for her portrayal of Lauren in Lost Girl. The android assists as only androids do and uncovers a portion of who and what they are, and to everyone’s surprise, they are quite possibly the bad guys. The roster, it turns out, is made of misfits and murderers, but the universe which they occupy seems also cruel, manipulative, and punishing. Somewhat resembling the beloved Firefly the crew of Dark Matter, which may or may not become a cohesive team, faces many tough moral choices ahead as they have to negotiate their impulses, survival instincts, desires, understanding of their pasts and want of different futures.

A bit of a shaky start for Dark Matter, but a start of something that will successfully entertain and amuse, and perhaps aid in healing some of our cumulative open wounds left after cancellations of many fantastic and beloved television shows. It is also worth keeping in mind that imperfections need a bit of time to get ironed, and this show needs time to grow into its own.

Casting however, is not bad, but suffers from “Canadiana”. This strange phenomena refers to how Canadian productions generally choose their stars. I am going to tell you the big secret of all Canadian productions. For some reason, Canadian actors are chosen not for their ability to stand out, but rather for their ability to meld into the background of a set. The ones that have wallpaper faces, those are the ones we’re after. We don’t like interesting and memorable faces, or god forbid, “dramatics” in actors. No, no, after all that would be not very Canadian or very polite. Instead, we prefer to see actors in leading roles who will also fit very well as minor characters in US-based shows, or simply appear as extras in feature films. Those are the ones we love!

Here’s an example. Actors like Anthony Lemke have been in tons of things. What? You don’t know who Anthony Lemke is? Don’t you remember his memorable guest appearances as Michael Martin in Warehouse 13, or as Tim Engels in Flashpoint? Is Anthony Lemke a man resembling Patrick Stewart? A tall, statuesque actor with a bold face and a baritone voice that makes men stand up straight and ladies swoon? No. Does Lemke make a memorable Adama, or a Han Solo? The trick with Lemke is that he could be literally anyone you don’t like and don’t care for, and least of all remember. Canadians refuse to celebrate personalities, memorable faces, eccentricities, the weird and the odd. In fact, Canadians don’t even like actors who are above average in articulating their speech and facial expressions because it makes the other ones feel bad. The actors who are mediocre, yet familiar – now, those are our top picks!

What Dark Matter does offer is a classic science fiction mixed with a tinge of a good adventure and such things are becoming rare these days which is why you should definitely tune in and enjoy. We may run into a few cliches, but they too will be a welcome respite.

Review: Sens8


This Netflix-produced drama has an otherworldly edge and is difficult to categorize, but represents a new tinge for US-based productions.

Created by the Wachowskis in tandem with Michael J. Straczynski, better known for his work on Babylon 5, is complex, dramatic, emotionally consuming, and rather awkwardly tackles some rather big themes and subjects. Oh, it is also very gay – as in LGBTQ-friendly and is boldly featuring some very diverse cast of characters, which includes gay men, women, and transgendered roles.

Sense8 is primarily about loss, lust, love, sappy sentiments, belief, and friendship. The narrative weaves a connection between eight protagonists who are connected, Matrix-style. Their ordinary lives are interrupted by an image of Daryl Hannah angelically appearing, and then dramatically dying.

The eight soon realize that their butterfly stage of adulthood is only beginning, about to take a different shape as they awaken to a new reality, one in which they begin to communicate with one another, co-op each others talents and skills, and seek each others support when needed. In more than one case, they even fall in love with one another, console each other, and serve as a coping mechanism for difficulties they face.

Without going into the details surrounding each and every character, one could argue that Sens8 is superbly pedestrian, somewhat boring, about as elegant as Adam Sandler’s “The Cobbler” (and if you think about it, the two sport quite a bit of similarities) – I found it difficult to retain any sympathy for the characters until I reached episode 9, which amounts to saintly patience on my part.

However, Sens8 does represent an interesting breakthrough in TV production, one that I have been also quite patiently awaiting: the attempt to tackle grand ideas on paper-thin budgets.

Thus far, for Americans, this is an unusual approach, practically unheard of, while for UK productions, it’s almost a given.

Doctor Who production, for example, does an amazing job at creating grandiose, awe-inspiring themes, on what one might consider a very mediocre production budget. Largely fueled by rich, orchestral music, and partly by the carefully built up anticipation and emotional charge, UK shows somehow manage to successfully convey complex stories with often supernatural or otherworldly themes by simply relying on good acting and the ability of the audiences to suspend their disbelief.

American shows, on the other hand, especially those mediocre ones, often heavily rely on flimsy CG effects, linear narration, and blunt, flat actors who leave us uninspired while rummaging through incredibly simplistic stories.

Sens8 heavily borrows these techniques and creates a fairly exciting, yet mediocre show, with some elevated complexities. Why, there re even a science fiction elements! There are the bad guys, composed of Icelandic researchers. There are the good guys, whom I find difficult to empathise with, yet I find interesting and varied enough to observe, and finally, there is growth, narration that does develop and intersect lives of our protagonists. The protagonists are an evolutionary branch of humanity, the destruction of which is a priority for a shadowy organisation that hides amongst the dark corptocracy.

Sens8 is a sign of things to come – ambitious ideas partially curtailed by money – yet it is also a sign of promise that we may yet see more competent storytelling adapted on flimsy TV budgets, and for that, the Wachowskis should be commended.

TV Must Watch: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

norrell strange

The tome that is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has been weighing down my bookshelf a few years now, and let me tell you, it’s a hefty one. Counting at over 800 pages, the novel is charming us with its dedication to minutiae noted by ample footnotes and intimate descriptions of a Dickensian world that heaves under frilly dresses and Napoleonic wars. And then there is the issue of *magic*.

It asks questions – does magic exist and if so, what would it be used for? And more importantly, in which manner? – setting the tale of fantasy in an alternate 19th century, in which magic existed, and is about to be awakened by two prophesied magicians.

Initially, magic is only in the domain of scholars, historians if you may, who do not possess the ability to exercise any magical power. That is, until the bookish Norrell emerges, and he represents the opposite of what a magician should be: a dry, middle-aged man, obsessed with collecting and curating knowledge, and acquiring power.

At the same time, a young, gifted, vibrant Jonathan Strange comes onto the scene, and he derives his magic from a down-and-dirty source: the folklore of the Raven King, dipped in elven, forbidden allure of ungentlemanly magics.

The two not only revive magic, but team up in order to help England win the war, yet the methods of the two become so divergent, and as Norrell’s influence and desire for control grow, they increasingly clash with Strange’s natural ability and wondrous flair. The question of what makes a gentleman, and the vastly differing definitions of morality and Englishness, are thoroughly explored in this collage that relies on intricate knowledge of Jane Austen, Dickens, and Romantic authors.

Suzzanna Clarke’s novel entered a somewhat familiar space, one perfected by giants such as Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, yet Clarke adopted a slightly different approach to spinning her narrative.

Instead of immersing us simply in the adventures of our protagonists, she offers an in-depth scholarship of magic history, peppering the novel with footnotes and details that make the tome somehow more scholarly and realistic.

In 2004, Clarke won the Man Booker Prize and in 2005, she scooped up the Hugo Award for Best Novel.

No wonder that when hearing about the adaptation of the Susana Clarke’s award-winning novel into a small-screen wonder, I had my reservations, but as per usual, the British made the seemingly impossible into a highly entertaining, amazingly feasible, and magical, producing a wondrous and enchanting series.

Just as with successful adaptations of Pratchett’s books into miniseries, so is the BBC1 treatment of Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell successful at tackling this impossibly complex novel.

The seven-part miniseries premiered on May 17th, and stars Eddie Marsan as Norrell, Bertie Carvel as Jonathan Strange, and a whole slew of wonderful supporting cast members.

Director Toby Haynes, known for his work on Doctor Who, Five Days, and Being Human, does a masterful job at convivially depicting the lush 19th century period drama, with just a smidgeon of well-executed, yet simple effects that allow us to fully immerse in the story, and is a well-known fan of the book.

The miniseries is an absolute must-watch, offering that rare combination of romantic, gothic drama, with a smidgeon of the strange, the funny, the tyrannical, and the morose, all wrapped in a fine, silken robe.

Terry Pratchett RIP

Terry Pratchett Drawn by Jack Kirby
There are no words to express my sadness at the passing of Terry Pratchett. Today, Pratchett, who has been battling Alzheimer’s in only a way he can – in public, with humility, humour and honesty – passed away at tender age of 66.

Discworld novels have filled many of my days.

My heart is clenched at the thought of such an immense loss of this creative powerhouse that is Terry Pratchett. He would, you see, never call himself a “creative powerhouse”, yet he is recognized as prolific, authoring over 70 novels, many of which were turned into beloved, memorable, wonderful, amazing televised productions.

At last, Sir Terry, We Must Walk Together.

Read more here.

Update: The Obituary

Commentary: On the Jian Ghomeshi Debacle

by Irma Arkus

Jian Ghomeshi is a soft-spoken radio host who works for the CBC Radio. He recently launched a lawsuit against the CBC for a bagillion dollars, which if he prevails in court, will be used to decorate his castle, I presume.

The whole maelstrom surrounding the injustice against Mr. Ghomeshi has taken the world by storm. Reddit is discussing it, The Guardian is covering it, The Tyee has written about the BDSM element that “just doesn’t add up”, so I think I feel that I can throw my 5 cents into the eye of the storm.

I find it absurd that “Canadian radio‚Äôs brightest star” would be shunned by the CBC over what he surmises are ugly rumours and unsubstantiated accusations.

After posting a letter on Facebook, in which he explains that his BDSM inclinations are being misconstrued by his employer, Ghomeshi filed a significant lawsuit against the CBC.

According to Ghomeshi, these allegations are an act of a vengeful, demonic presence that is his ex-girlfriend, and one of those filthy journos taking advantage of the situation.

Admittedly, we all dated a demon or two, but most of us never found ourselves in a situation of our high-profile employment being endangered, or worse, resulting in a public dismissal while surrounded by sinister accusations.

Unless I’m mistaken, Ghomeshi is not only a beloved radio and television star who has been removing panties of Canadian ladies with a mere whiff of his pillowy cheeks, soft throaty whispers, and fine designer duds, but he is also an employee of an unionized royal corporation. Judging by this barrage of press coverage, I will also bargain that he has a great publicist and a sharp legal team by his side.

Not only is Ghomeshi assured of certain protections that come with Canadian fame, CBC imperial shielding and substantial financial means, but considering his popularity and value to the CBC network, I find it dubious that some half-baked story spun by a vengeful ex-girlfriend would ever make for a just cause that would result in his dismissal. If there was no substance to this, we would have never, ever heard of Ghomeshi’s indiscretions and learned of his unusual dating preferences.

Ghomeshi has select protections as an employee. Doubly so as an asset of great value, and I would assume that the network would go the extra mile to absolutely make sure Ghomeshi does not face loss of income, a tattered reputation, and an overall PR nightmare simply to address some vengeful rumours and unsubstantiated accusations. I bet that the CBC would do its due diligence and conduct an investigation that would prove without a doubt that there is, in fact, a grievous cause for a dismissal of a major asset, such as Ghomeshi, prior to pulling the trigger on that pink slip.

So, what is the lawsuit really about? Ghomeshi is attempting to save his own skin, build up the presence that will make the audiences wonder “did he or didn’t he” and sow just enough confusion in the mind of the public, generating enough support that would ensure he gets another gig somewhere. This lawsuit is not about justice, but about visibility, and the fact that you and I are writing and thinking about Ghomeshi, learning how to spell his name correctly, and not reading about our dearest Rob Ford.

To assume otherwise would be a grave mistake. So, without jumping to conclusions, I would sit back, watch whatever dirt comes out next, before I jump on the Ghomeshi defense train.

I am sure that the circus has only rolled into town and that there remains a lot more to be witnessed.

Mallozzi’s and Pullie’s Dark Matter Picked Up by SyFy

In a strange twist of fate, SyFy picked up Dark Matter for a televised series, after all. The strange travails and tribulations of the concept that is Dark Matter are worth knowing for those who itch to pitch.

Mallozzi and Pullie, two Stargate franchise veterans most fans are very familiar with, attempted to bring Dark Matter to television screens only to encounter a great deal of difficulty and resistance. Their pitch died in executive halls, much bleeding was had, but after some creative thinking, the two turned the concept into a comic book script that eventually got picked up by the Dark Horse Comics.

In a strange twist of fate, and this is for all those “try and try again” creative urchins, the Dark Horse Comics version of Dark Matter got picked up for a televised pilot by SyFy.

Malllozzi’s and Pullie’s hard work will be paying off in droves. The creative concept at the core of Dark Matter is described by Mallozzi as the story of a “crew of an independent ship who awaken from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Their search for answers leads them on a journey that will put them in conflict with some dangerous galactic players”, set in a universe dominated by “multi-national corporations [that] have colonized worlds, exploiting planetary resources and building galaxy-wide empire enforced by ships, private armies, technology, and wealth.”

Executive producers are Jay Firestone, Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie and Vanessa Piazza. The series will be distributed internationally by Endemol Worldwide Distribution.

Mallozzi promises us an adventure with a sense of mystery. We’re all dying in anticipation to see more.

Films No One Should Watch: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


I remember being a kid under the spell of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons. We kicked ass and ate pizza, and dreamt of nothing but hanging out with wise rats while spelunking through sewers of major metropolitan cities.

It made no sense, the cartoon, combining random ass-kickery and enthusiasm dedicated to all things ninja and coolness of katanas with pizza flavor, and yet we loved it. We didn’t try to make sense of why the turtles have morphed into TNMT. Today, a cartoon such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wouldn’t be made. Then again, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shouldn’t have been remade either, and yet here we are.

The latest stab at the childhood hearts and all things awesome by the crippling, life-sucking hand of Michael Bay, took victim of this simple nostalgic concept, and turned it into another action zombie that no one should watch.

This while elephant of a production that cost over $125m to make, and is bound to triple its money in sales, does share one thing with its cartoon inspiration: it makes little sense, except in all the wrong places.

The beauty of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was that the turtles were small, and feisty, and existed outside our reality. They were outsiders who felt it, allowing all the little kids to learn an important lesson: the size doesn’t matter, it’s the attitude and potentially those mean martial art skills that do.

We learned that the inner turtle is a fighter, and I clearly remember being surrounded by all those little kids who for the first time learned about Da Vinci, and the power of jiujitsu, and how much we all agree on pizza being the best food in the world.

In this version of TMNT, we have a convoluted back story of turtles who were really April’s turtles, but not really. You see, she would visit her father’s lab, and was carrying a super sophisticated camcorder for a child, and considered the lab animals her pets, turtles and a rat, feeding them pizza and whatnot. After rescuing the animals during a fire/murder of her father in the lab, she places them on a sewer grate, which is how they end up in the sewers.

Not sure what kind of heartless psychopath April is, but if I rescued pets from my recently departed father’s lab, I’d be taking them home, instead of condemning them to die from drowning or starvation.

You know what happens after that? April forgets all about the pets. She in fact needs to remember them using her video evidence and notebooks.

She is also a reporter. And she is Megan Fox.

This, mind you, is the very same Megan Fox who was banished from Michael Bay’s kingdom, for speaking out against the monarch.

There is the bad guy, played by William Fichtner, and his plan is to extract all the blood from the captured TMNTs, and then synthesize some kind of curative against a toxin that he will himself release onto the population, resulting in both riches and glory.

How blood + toxin + the lab backstory make a congruent narrative is… they don’t.

For some reason, there is also Will Arnett, who is presumably her less attractive, fumbling camera operator/driver. I am quite positive that Arnett is supposed to be the man-candy for the female audiences who are guaranteed to be horrifically bored during the entire film.

Will Arnett is an interesting casting choice, but also represents a painfully wasted opportunity.

The action is glossy. The film is heartless. Lots of jumbly bits convoluting the screen. TMNT win at the end. There are a few mediocre jokes thrown about, here and there.

Also, the new TMNTs are huge. Think “giant turtles.” Their actual size is difficult to approximate, but well above the 6′ mark.

These giant turtles have nothing to do with children, and even less to do with those nostalgic moments filled with laughter, eating ice-pops and playing good-guy ninjas on the playground.

I would go as far as to say that they don’t even have anything to do with teens, except that the film is rated PG-13 for “scifi action violence,” so I guess they are the perfect audience for this incredibly mind-numbing film. Teens, with their limited options for entertainment, are literally forced to go to the local mall and waste their time watching this. That’s the only real teen portion of this film.