Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Nickelodeon Movies/Paramount Pictures)

By: Jesse Striewski

In the late ’80s, I was totally that kid running around pretending to be their “favorite” Ninja Turtle with the rest of the neighborhood kids on the street and at birthday parties. And when the first theatrical film was released in 1990, I was instantly in line to see it on the big screen (and wish I still had the promotional poster that was handed out at the theater at the time!), as well as for The Secret of the Ooze a year later in 1991.

Years later in 2014 I would take my family to see the reboot, my son by then familiar with them thanks to various updated shows and toylines that had come along since the “good old days.” So it seemed only appropriate to once again take my kid – who at the time of this writing is indeed a teenager himself – to the latest feature film featuring the “Heroes in a Halfshell,” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Despite having Seth Rogen’s (who I have not found humorous in the least bit since his days of Freaks and Geeks) name attached to the project as screenwriter, I went in with as open a mind as possible. The result this time around lands somewhere in between part homage to the source material and it’s original time frame (watch for nods to both Vanilla Ice and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off), and part over-the-top goofyness in an effort to appeal to younger audiences.

The pros; the Turtles themselves are likeable enough (and actually voiced by all teens, most noticeably Brady Noon of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Mighty Ducks fame), albeit their characters are not given much individual identities this time around. John Cena, Ice Cube, and Paul Rudd are among many of the actors that lend their voice talents here as well.

The cons; the numerous liberties taken by the filmmakers are abundant here. Aside from the most obvious drastic changes to characters like Splinter and of course April O’Neil (voiced by Jackie Chan and Ayo Edebiri, respectively), there’s also quite a few updates to the origins of the Turtles that purists may find in poor taste. And speaking of poor taste, some of the jokes come off as just plain crude and/or cringe-worthy (watch for the “Puke Girl” scene – it’s even less funny than it sounds).

All in all, I suppose it wasn’t a total waste of time; as a modern action flick, it does come close in comparison with the latest animated Spider-Man films. But the next time I feel the need for some Ninja Turtles action, I’ll likely turn to one the now-classic entries in the series instead.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

In Memoriam: Paul Reubens (1952-2023)

By: Jesse Striewski

I remember my introduction to the now-iconic Pee-Wee Herman, perfected masterfully by comedian Paul Reubens, as though it were yesterday; it was that now-magical time known as the ’80s, and another memorable movie night with the family to watch the then-new Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure together.

The 1985 Tim Burton-penned hit was the pinnacle of ’80s storytelling, and sheer escapist entertainment. Reubens had perfected the character in the late ’70s and early ’80s, originating it on stage as a member of The Groundlings (many times alongside fellow comedian Phil Hartman), then via the popular LA-based stage show, The Pee-Wee Herman Show.

Reubens first appeared on screen as the character via the help of stoners Cheech & Chong, first in 1980’s Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, and its follow up, Cheech & Chong’s Nice Dreams (1981). A 1981 HBO special of The Pee-Wee Herman Show also helped catapult the character into stardom, eventually leading to Big Adventure (but not before appearing as one zany bus driver in the whacked-out Meatballs Part II from 1984), and the popular children’s show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, which ran from 1986-1990.

1988’s follow-up to Big Adventure, Big Top Pee-Wee, was a far cry from its predecessor, and seemed to usher in a breif darker period for Reubens that found him arrested in a Florida adult film theater in 1991 (I was actually able to see the famed site in person once upon a time while staying in Sarasota in my teens).

But the early ’90s did actually bring some memorable roles for Reubens, most notably 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and two more Tim Burton vehicles, 1992’s Batman Returns (the one and only time I would actually get the chance to see him on the big screen, albeit in one of his much smaller roles) and 1993’s A Nightmare Before Christmas.

1999’s Mystery Men and 2001’s Blow were a couple more stand out roles for him, before switching over almost entirely to voice acting, doing work in both of the big screen Smurfs films, as well as parts in some Scooby-Doo and Tom & Jerry animated features. But by 2016, Pee-Wee had one more outing in him, with what is now Reubens’ final film role, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.

But unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Reubens had been fighting a battle with cancer behind the scenes for several years, and on July 30, lost that war at the age of 70. As heartbreaking of a loss it may be, I take comfort in the fond memories I have from my childhood (and beyond) thanks to this one unique soul. For me, he felt like the long-lost, quirky distant relative whom I never really got the chance to know, but will now always wish that I had. Au revoir Mr. Reubens, you will be as missed, as you were loved by many.

WWE SmackDown at Amway Center in Orlando, FL on 7/21/23 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Jacob Striewski

Earlier this year, Rewind It Magazine were there at the Amway Center when WWE came through Orlando for Raw. This past Friday, July 21, the world’s largest wrestling promotion came back into town for their SmackDown brand, and Rewind It were once again there to catch all of the action. What made the occasion all the more special was being able to take my son Jacob Striewski to his first ever WWE event finally, where he once again acted as photographer for Rewind It for the third straight time in a row (and second consecutive time at the Amway).

The ladies kicked the night off with a sizzle as the lovely Tiffany Stratton effortlessly took out Kiana James in the first match. Afterwards, ringside announcers Wade Barrett and Michael Cole made their dramatic entrances.

The fatal 4-way between Rey Mysterio, Sheamus, LA Knight, and Cameron Grimes was no doubt one of the biggest draws of the night that saw stars like Austin Theory and Santos Escobar also get coaxed into the mix. But the wildest moment of the match came when all four of the original men fell from the top of the turnbuckle in a massive Tower of Doom maneuver. Ultimately, Mysterio walked away with the victory and advancement to the U.S. Invitational.

Second-generation wrestler Charlotte Flair (daughter of the legendary Ric Flair) then emerged to take on Iyo Sky. The ladies duked it out for some time before Flair ultimately took the W, only to be blindsided by Asuka, who left Flair writhing in pain on the mat.

Charlotte Flair takes down Iyo Sky with ease.

In a brief backstage segment, Kayla interviewed Dominick Myseterio with Rhea Ripley by his side. As he bragged on about taking on everyone and anyone for his title, Butch of The Brawling Brutes came out to challenge him. Then former WWE legend Shawn Michaels emerged to much delight of (most) of the crowd to say what a “great idea” this was, leaving everyone stunned.

U.S. Champion Austin Theory and LWO member Santos Escobar then picked up where they left off earlier in a non-title match. Despite being the underdog, Escobar walked away with a victory after initiating a Phantom Driver on Theory.

Current NXT champion Dominik Mysterion came out (with Rhea Ripley at his side) to defend his title against Butch. Mysterio seemed to be in charge before Butch’s partner Ridge Holland came from out of nowhere to bale out his teammate.

Dirty “Dom” Mysterio holds his NXT Championship belt high as Rhea Ripley looks on.

Things then took a turn for the hilarious as Kit Wilson pushed Elton Prince (both of the Pretty Deadly tag team) down to ringside in a wheelchair. The two quickly fled as the Brutes chased them off, only for Ripley to attack Butch and effectively help Dirty “Dom” retain his title.

But of course the true show-stopper and most talked about segment of the evening came when the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and cousin Jey Uso played out the drama of the “Rules of Engagement,” signing the contract for the upcoming SummerSlam match at a desk and chairs set up in the center of the ring.

Reigns and Uso stare each other down as Solo prepares to strike.

This ended with Reigns stopping Samoan Solo from attacking Uso, only to give Uso the opening to knock Solo out of the ring with a superkick to the face. A nervous Paul Heyman could only look on with worry as Reigns and Uso stared each other down afterwards, knowing that the “Tribal Chief” status of the Bloodline story was now on the line.

As if all of this was not enough, two dark matches followed, first between Grayson Waller and AJ Styles, followed by Drew McyIntyre appearing, raising his sword high among flames in the ring before taking on Ludwig Kaiser in an off-air match. Despite some exciting moments, the energy in the crowd had begun to dissipate as many dispersed, leaving the final battle of the night (which found McIntyre ultimately winning) somewhat anti-climatic.

Freestyle Explosion Throwback Jam with Stevie B and more at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL on 7/15/23 By Brooke Striewski/Photos By Jacob Striewski

With a lineup as full as the one at this past Saturday’s Freestyle Explosion Throwback Jam at the Amway Center on July 15, there was no doubt Rewind It Magazine would make an appearance there of some sort. Unfortunately, not all of us could attend this time due to other prior commitments, so for the first time ever, I’m actually taking the place of Jesse Striewski as reviewer, and stepped back from behind the camera lens the night of to let our son/apprentice Jacob Striewski shoot another show.

The title of the show did not let down, with one consecutive throwback act from the ’80s/’90s after the other coming on stage and getting straight to the point, launching one hit after another in quick procession. Cynthia was first up for the night, getting things going with dance numbers like “Break Up to Make Up” and “Thief of Heart.”

Cynthia and Johnny O performing “Dreamboy/Dreamgirl” together on stage.

The Jets have always been one of those quaint acts with catchy hits like “Crush on You” and “You Got It All” that were fun to hear live, and the windbreakers each member of the group adorned help keep the old-school vibe going for sure. But one-hit wonders Color Me Badd were not the best act to follow them, and it seemed apparent that some members of the band were only actually lip-syncing the words to songs like “I Wanna Sex You Up.”

Johnny O was up next with songs like “Fantasy Girl,” but the true highlight was without a doubt when Cynthia came back out and joined him on stage at the end of his set to tackle the 1990 hit “Dreamboy/Dreamgirl” together.

Freestyle were no doubt one of my personal favorites of the night, and are a true embodiment of ’80s freestyle music worthy of break-dancing on broken cardboard boxes to. I couldn’t help but move listening to tracks like “It’s Automatic” from 1986 while also wishing I could go back in time.

Freestyle doing their thing on Saturday night at Amway Center.

What ’80s freestyle party would be complete without such skating-rink anthems as “Lookout Weekend” and “When I Hear Music” by Debbie Deb? The singer gave it her all as she belted out some of the most memorable hits of the night.

Robb Base then broke out with his early ’90s hit “It Takes Two” before stepping aside for TKA K7, who I wouldn’t say are exactly in my music range per se, though they seemed to get the crowd moving with hits like “Come Baby Come.”

Then there’s Lisa Lisa, who burst on the scene in the mid-’80s as the leader of Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. Sure hits like “Head to Toe” and “Lost in Emotion” were fun to hear live, but it seemed as though a little too much emphasis was put on her back up dancers, rather than the overall performance.

Lisa Lisa giving it all she’s got in Orlando on Saturday.

And finally, the one and only Stevie B closed out the night. His set did not stray far from when Rewind It Magazine last caught him in 2021, with “Party Your Body,” “I Wanna Be the One,” “In My Eyes,” “Because I Love You (The Postman Song),” and “Spring Love” dominating his set. And on that note, the crowd at Amway Center went home feeling just a little more fulfilled than they had been before stepping into the arena that night.

Album Review: Richie Ramone – Live to Tell (Cargo Records)

By: Jesse Striewski

Unfortunately the world is never going to see another true, bona fide, “new” Ramones album. But thankfully, there’s alumni like Richie Ramone still putting out respectable material in the spirit of the band.

When I interviewed Richie for Rewind It Magazine back in 2018, I could hear the enthusiasm and pride in his voice as he spoke of his former band. That love for his former group has without a doubt transpired over into his solo work, and what he’s created is no doubt a breath of fresh air for die hard Ramones fans.

Prime examples; “Not Afraid,” “When the Night,” and “I Sit Alone (Yeah Yeah)” sound as though they would’ve fit flawlessly in Too Tough to Die-era Ramones, and you can nearly hear the same intensity vocal-wise on these tracks that Richie also supplied on “Wart Hog” back in the day. There’s even a surprisingly banging cover of “Cry Little Sister,” which in all honesty I wasn’t expecting much from when I first saw it on paper.

The Ramones may be no more, but the music will forever live on, and thanks to former members like Richie – so will the heart of the band; God bless ’em for it.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Film Review: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm Ltd.)

By: Jesse Striewski

For as long as I’ve been around, the Indiana Jones franchise has been there throughout my formative years (we were both established in 1981, so I’ve always felt a connection there of sorts). I can recall Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom being an occasion each and every time they were shown on TV, and even remember going to rent The Last Crusade at the video store when it was the “new” release at the time.

And of course, who can forget 2008’s The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a sequel so laughable it no doubt has gone down in history as the worst entry in the series, and of course had to be the first time I ever went to see Harrison Ford portray Dr. Jones on the big screen myself. Thankfully the days of “nuking the fridge” are long gone and simply a memory in The Dial of Destiny.

In his fifth and final outing as Jones, Ford pulls out all the stops instantly, beginning the non-stop action abroad a Nazi train in Europe circa 1944, where Jones and fellow colleague Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) are attempting to retrieve the Lance of Longinus, but instead end up finding Archimedes Dial, an astronomical calculator with the power to lead to time travel.

Fast forward over twenty years to the late ’60s, where we find Dr. Jones on the verge of retirement from teaching college when Shaw’s daughter (and Indy’s Goddaughter) and archaeologist Helena Shaw (played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) suddenly appears and catapults him back into action when they retrieve the Dial, and quickly find out the hard way there’s numerous sources also after it, including Jurgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Nazi turned NASA expert hell-bent on retrieving the Dial for his own personal gain.

I’ve seen some negative reactions to The Dial of Destiny so far (predictably), but for my money, it’s a relentless action-adventure that never lets up (I found myself really wanting to go horse back riding again after Indy’s trot through the New York subways on one), and serves as a fitting swan song for a beloved character with over four decades worth of history (brief appearances from series regulars Karen Allen and John Rhys-Davies was a nice touch, too). If this truly is to be Indy’s last journey, I’m glad I took the trip with him.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Album Review: Raven – All Hell’s Breaking Loose (Silver Lining Music)

By: Jesse Striewski

In all honesty I actually want to like Raven, and was hoping for some promising metal from them after seeing the comic book-inspired cover of their latest release, All Hell’s Breaking Loose. But there’s just something off about them that seems to be holding them back that I can’t quite put my finger on.

I tried to give the album an honest try, but really struggled to find anything to hold much attention here. Listeners are instantly greeted with the corney-ness of “Medieval,” and it doesn’t get much better from there. Many tracks like “Surf the Tsunami,” “Turn of the Screw,” and “Go For the Gold” might contain the occasional decent guitar or drum riff, but are usually overshadowed by juvenile lyrics and weak vocal performances that unfortunately come off as not much more than a poor man’s King Diamond in most cases.

Many of the previously-mentioned numbers also have videos to go along with them, which do little to no justice for the songs themselves. In fact the only track I can really even give an honest recommendation for would be “The Far Side,” which actually finds each member of the band firing on all cylinders, and contains a catchy chorus for once.

While I appreciate a band with some slight, tongue-in-cheek humor (see, Anvil), too much of it can sometimes be a bad thing for sure. I wish with Raven they could have perhaps taken a different, more serious approach seen from such fellow contemporaries as Iron Maiden or even W.A.S.P.; maybe then this would have been a much different kind of review.

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

Album Review: Metal Church – Congregation of Annihilation (Rat Pak)

By: Jesse Striewski

It has no doubt been a trying couple of years for Metal Church, first with the passing of lead singer Mike Howe in 2021, and more recently, classic era drummer Kirk Arrington also passing away just this past month.

Alas, the band have forged on gracefully with new frontman Marc Lopes at the helm, and his first effort with the group, Congregation of Annihilation, is no doubt a worthy one. It’s clear right off the bat the band hasn’t missed a beat, with “Another Judgement Day” setting the tone for the rest of the record.

Tracks like “Pick a God and Pray,” “Children of the Lie,” and “These Violent Thrills” are as in-your-face and upfront as can be, with metal guitars played the way they should be. Make no mistakes about it, thirteen albums in, Metal Church are still very much alive and well…despite the never-ending tragedies that seem to plague them.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Retrospective: 30 Years Since we were first Welcomed to ‘Jurassic Park’ By Jesse Striewski

I remember the summer of 1993 well; I was twelve years old, having just moved from central to south Florida, and only about a year out from a major car accident. In fact, I was actually still recovering from my most recent surgery when I went to go see Jurassic Park, the then-new summer blockbuster from legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

Originally released on June 11, 1993 and based off the book by Michael Crichton, it was the new action-adventure film that everyone was talking about at the time, and you simply had to see. Which is exactly what they did in droves, topping the then-highest grossing film of all time, 1982’s E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (also directed by Spielberg), a record it would only briefly hold onto until James Cameron’s Titantic four years later in 1997.

The plot is set around a wealthy tycoon (Richard Attenborough) who re-creates the unthinkable – actual dinosaurs – on a far off tropical island. But in order to get approval from his investors to open a theme park with the animals at the forefront, he seeks the “okay” from a group of scientists – Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neil), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Of course in the midst of their tour of the would-be new park, all hell breaks loose as things quickly go from hopeful to horrifying, turning the seemingly cute family movie into a Jaws-sized carnage fest.

Being still just twelve-years-old at the time the film was released, I was still young enough for some of the film’s massive marketing techniques to apply to me, collecting such items from trading cards to action figures, many of which I still possess to this day or have passed down to either my son or nephew (who is quite possibly the biggest Jurassic Park fan I’ve ever met).

The franchise itself has far from slowed down, producing five sequels (which somehow I’ve managed to still catch each and every one on the big screen, the later few with my own family now), and the original film eventually surpassing the one billion dollar mark at the box office when it was re-released for its twentieth anniversary in 2013. Judging by this, something tells me we’ll still be getting more chances to visit Jurassic Park.

The author (left) and son/photographer Jacob Striewski at a Jurassic Park-themed set at Spookala on 6/10/23 (photo by Brooke Striewski).

Ugly Kid Joe and Fozzy at Jannus Live in St. Pete, FL on 6/4/23 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Jacob Striewski

It’s been far too long since the last time I’ve been out to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, FL for a show (probably since the late ’90s), but it’s been even longer since a band like Ugly Kid Joe has made it down to south FL to play, having not fully toured the U.S. in well over two decades (they’ve only really played some sporadic shows and festivals since reuniting a few years back).

My usual photographer/wife Brooke was unable to shoot this past Sunday, June 4 for various reasons, so for the first time ever, I allowed my teenaged son Jacob – who has apprenticed under Brooke a few times in the past – photograph the show from start to finish. It was a decision that we’re now both beyond glad to have agreed on (a couple of old friends of the Rewind It family, Kurt and Kevin, were also in tow for the evening).

Newcomers Pistols At Dawn were the first to grace the stage on Sunday night, and I was immediately put at ease by their youthful appearance, which I think helped to put Jacob’s nerves somewhat at ease prior to stepping up to bat for the first time in the photo pit. The band came on and ripped through an admirable set of hard rock/metal tracks with titles such as “Gauntlet,” “Fly,” “Cold,” and “The Truth.”

A cover of the Alice in Chains staple “Man in the Box” was decent enough, despite the track being overly played-to-death by this point. But the biggest highlight perhaps came in the form of a solo that saw guitarist Will utilize a lighted guitar to get his point across. Hopefully we’ll be seeing much more of these guys in the future.

Next up on the roster was Fozzy, who emerged after a brief intro of Journey’s classic “Don’t Stop Believin'” played on. While the rock fan in me is no doubt able to appreciate their old-school sound, the main draw has always been the appeal to the wrestling fan in me, with former ECW, WCW, WWF/WWE, and now AEW star Chris Jerchio at the vocal position (it also doesn’t hurt that Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich Ward and more recently, Trixter bassist P.J. Farley are also both in the lineup now).

Jericho and co. wasted no time to rip through tracks like “Sane,” “Lights Go Out,” “Do You Wanna Start a War,” “Nowhere to Run,” a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax,” “I Still Burn,” “Burn Me Out,” (seeing a theme yet?) “Spider in My Mouth,” “God Pounds His Nails,” “Purifier,” “Enemy,” and of course, “Judas.” It was clear Fozzy were all about having a good time, which was no doubt punctuated when Jericho brought out a smoke gun and sprayed it above the crowd’s heads, all in good fun.

Another band that’s never been accused of lacking fun has always been Ugly Kid Joe. As a fan since their first album going all the way back to the early ’90s (when I was still a little scamp), it was great to finally get to cross them off my list, even with some considerable lineup changes (adding former The Sisters of Mercy/Ghost guitarist Chris Catalyst and Harvey Danger/Loaded’s Mike Squires on bass were indeed wise moves though).

Frontman Whitfield Crane (who also briefly served time in Life of Agony, and is still accompanied by original UKJ guitarist Klaus Eichstadt by his side) and company definitely came out swinging with “That Ain’t Livin’,” “V.I.P.,” and “Neighbor.” It was around this time that Crane pointed down at the photographers in the photo pit (including Jacob) and motioned for the two of them to come up on the stage. I watched in awe as my child fully embraced the moment and promptly ran to the stage, where he positioned himself for the rest of the night!

It was no doubt easy to enjoy the rest of the show from then on out, as a handful of classic tracks like “C.U.S.T.,” “Jesus Rode a Harley,” and “Panhandlin’ Prince” preceded a group of newer songs in the form of “Dead Friends Play,” “No One Survives,” and “Devil’s Paradise.” The classics “So Damn Cool” and their massive cover of Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle” had the crowd going at full steam by that point.

“I’m Alright” found the band and audience literally jumping throughout, while “Goddamn Devil” was probably the most welcomed surprise of their entire set (hearing Crane hitting the Rob Halford parts live was admittedly pretty awesome). Then instead of leaving the stage, the band asked their audience scream for its encore of either one or two songs (the loudest of course winning).

Then to everyone’s surprise, they actually broke out with three more tracks; “Come Tomorrow” (the one and only “weak” moment of the night in my book, which I would’ve much rather heard replaced by the likes of something like “God” or “Tomorrow’s World” instead), an intense cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades,” and obviously, the immortal “Everything About You” (at this point I saw Jacob actually photographing from above the spiral staircase behind the band, at which point I could only shake my head once again in disbelief!).

After the show, Jacob and I were able to meet and personally thank drummer (and unsung hero) Cam Greenwood for the awesome moment the band just allowed a young photographer like Jacob to have (it should also be noted that various members of the band “checked” on him throughout the night, giving him fist bumps and pats on the back to show encouragement). Having covered many shows over the years and having similar experiences myself was nothing compared to being able to finally share something like this with my kid, and my heart’s filled with joy as I type this all out. I can’t thank the guys from Ugly Kid Joe enough for giving this father and son duo such a truly special moment to bond over, and a memory that won’t soon be forgotten.

Rewind It Photographer Jacob Striewski (left) with Ugly Kid Joe drummer Cam Greenwood after the show.