Sunday, June 29, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Michael Bay has made a fourth Transformers movie unfortunately. Anyone who has watched my videos of my problems with the Transformers films, knows how much I want to see Transformers rebooted and finally become something more than something for Bay to ruin or Hasbro to use only to sell toys. And how does this film turn out? Let's find out on my 550th review, Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Plot: It's been four years since the events of the third movie, and since then, the U.S. government has marde the Autobots fugitives and have been hunting them down with the help of a Transformer bounty hunter named Lockdown. But shortly after Optimus Prime is found and rebooted by a failed inventor named Cade Yeager, he rounds up the remaining Autobots and is off to stop Lockdown while also stopping a business tycoon Joshua Joyce from creating his own Transformers, including one named Galvatron.

So did this film deliver in being another Bay film where everything that's good about the Transformers franchise - namely characters, lore and so on are poorly used, had explosions everywhere, too much focus on the humans, dumb comedy, and had a plain terrible script to top it all off? Oh yeah! While it may not have Revenge of the Fallen's so-called comedy with things like Wheelie humping Mikaela's leg or Devestator's nuts showing and things like that, Age of Extinction regardless is the worst out of the films with having too many story lines, remarkably terrible dialogue - even for Michael Bay arguably - and probably caring for the Transformers lore and being loyal to the characters even less than practically the first three films put together. Ultimately, there's an article I read before going to see the movie where Bay basically stated how he truly doesn't give a rats whether or not people will hate the movie, and it shows. It truly, deeply shows. The plot was so all over the place that I would argue that the first three films (yes, even Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon) had something of a flowing narrative compared to this movie. Most of the story lines had interesting ideas, but where way too many to properly use any of them or even have any real screen time. People who thought The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a mess can stop their whining and complaining after seeing this movie. I mean first we have Mark Wahlberg's character and his family trying to save their farm, then we have the Autobots being on the run because they're blamed for what happened in Chicago, then we have Lockdown trying to capture Optimus Prime, then we have Joyce trying to create with his own Transformers with this mineral called Transfornium, which leads to this whole thing about creating Galvatron and what he tries to do, and then (you see where I'm going at with this?) you have the government guys who are trying to kill the Autobots try to get some Cybertronian relic called a Seed, and then finally somewhere into all of that, we get the Dinobots...sort of. Oh! And did I forget to mention that somehow along with all of that, there's suppose to be this storyline of how we have the "creators" of the Transformers to worry about even though the past three movies stated that they were just created by the Allspark? See, even when I saw Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon for the first time, I was invested in the movies well enough to wonder what was going to happen and I wasn't getting impatient to find out. But with this movie, I think somewhere halfway through the movie I started wanting them to wrap things up and eventually became more and more eager for them to just finish it and started to get irritated. That almost never happens to me when I'm watching a big movie like this for the first time. That's...not a good sign to say the least. And of coarse, there almost nothing done right with the actual characters. Hound just had this commando kind of personality where he has all these big guns and acts like he's smoking a cigar, then you have Brains somehow still alive despite dying in the last movie, and then you have Crosshairs who... is just completely pessimistic throughout the majority of the film. Though what somewhat stroke a nerve for me personally when it came to the Autobots was the misuse of Drift. Now granted, he probably has the least focus among the Autobots next to Brains, but Drift is one of my all time favorite Transformers because of how he's probably one of the most complex and interesting characters of the franchise in recent years, and yet just because he uses swords in the comics, they have him become this complete Samurai stereotype while being voiced by Ken Watanabe who is not a stereotypical Japanese actor, but Micahel Bay used him to that effect anyway. Thankfully from knowing all this in advance, I didn't get pissed off watching the movie like I somewhat thought I would... but they still used one of my favorite characters to just be a mechanical version of something from one of our history books, so naturally I am really, really, really REALLY am not okay with that. Bumblebee was kinda downplayed too. He had some moments, but he basically had almost the exact opposite amount of focus has he did in the other films. As for Optimus? *sigh* He had some decent lines, and it's always a pleasure to hear Peter Cullen do his voice even in these films somewhat, but regardless, what we got was...really a messed up, sloppy shadow of the lovable Optimus Prime at the end of the day. The Dinobots were not in the movie for very long, and they had no personalities or any real development to the point where despite how fun it is to see them in action, we still don't really get the real Dinobots that fans know and love. Galvatron would've been a nice addition to the story, but he really had only three or four very brief scenes, and had only 4-5 ish lines in the entire movie, so he was generally pointless. And the human characters where just plain hallow. While no one was as bad as Judy Witwicky or the roommate from the second film or anything like that, they where just really uninteresting. The only ones that were close to that were Cade Yeager and Joshua Joyce just because it's Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci, and even that doesn't hold a lot of water. Other than that, there was barely anything really special with the action even with the Dinobots and some of the designs for things like the robots in Lockdown's ship where really embarrassing. Now before I wrap up this fairly long review, let me quickly talk about what's good about what's good with the film, cause there where some things I kinda liked. Firstly, there's Lockdown. While his development as a character was strangely all over the place, I still kind of found him to probably be the most interesting part of the entire movie. How he's neither Autobot or Decepticon and has this bounty hunter army (or something) and there's this mystery about who sent him to earth. Plus, he can transform his face into a giant assault rifle (I've heard it called a cannon, but it has more of an assault rifle look), which was a very clever idea. And when it came to the final battle, the Autobots (specifically anyone who isn't Optimus or Bumblebee) did more of fighting and killing the Decepticons without any help from any military at all. That is actually a major improvement from the first three films. And the use of showing of the bodies of the women was downplayed. I think the worst that happened where two points where the camera focused on a woman wearing short shorts. It's still using them as eye candy, but let's face it; having Bay focus more on women's legs than their chest or butt? As far as giving us less of the putting-women-in-the-movies-just-to-be-eye-candy cliche, that's almost a mature big boy step for the guy.

And that's my review for Transformers: Age of Extinction. I liked Lockdown for what they had for him, and there were some minor improvements compared to the other three films, but that aside, what we have here is Michael Bay giving The Transformers even more shame with less interesting action, more misuse of the Transformers as characters, too much focus on hollow and uninteresting human characters, and a terrible script that gave us way too many things with not enough time to give us time to really understand them, making the film a major, crowded mess. It doesn't have the terrible stuff from Revenge of the Fallen like The Twins, Wheelie humping Mikaela's leg, Devestator's nuts and so on, but somehow this movie still makes itself out as the worst thing that could ever have been created in the entire franchise.

Rating: 10%

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Well my friend Blaine let me borrow his copies of Paul and The World's End, and so I planned to use this oppertunity to go through the entire Three Flavous Cornetto trilogy. That was a few months ago, and I've been busy and more or less forgot that I even had the films in my possession. But he recently reminded me that I had Paul and The World's End, so I quickly went through the trilogy and Paul before I hung out with him next and returned those movies. So let's finally go through this trilogy (and Paul) starting with, what else? Shaun of the Dead.

Plot: Shaun is a electronics shop employee who seem to have no direction in his life. He pretty much just goes to work and hangs with his best friend Ed, while taking his girlfriend Lilly to his favorite pub, The Winchester every night. But thing start to change when people in the neighborhood turn into zombies. So Shaun and Ed come up with a plan to take Lilly, Shaun's mom and step-dad, and Lilly's roommates David and Dianne and bring them to the Winchester for safety.

This film delivers very well in being both a comedy and a horror. Most of the jokes are pretty funny, and the actors do an excellent job delivering a lot of them. And it leads to some pretty memorable scenes and lines that I will often think about when I think of this movie. But it also follows very through in being a horror. I mean they don't make it really cheesy just because it's also a comedy, they give us the blood, gore, and the drama of being in a zombie apocalypse. In fact watching it again, I kind of found this movie to have more drama then there was any gore or jokes. Which is good because it really helps with what is happening with the characters, especially Shaun who is trying to grow from who he was before all of this happened and is trying to do something about it while dealing with his relationship with his best friend, his girlfriend, her roommates, his mother, and his stepfather. So you're rooting for him and the people he cares about, like you should in a movie that does give us some very intense and serious scenes about surviving. Now I've heard some people debate that this movie goes a little too far with the drama; that it becomes too intense or that it takes itself too seriously. And...yeah I can see where they're coming from. The third act of the movie - while still giving us some good jokes here and there - does give us some very dark and intense moments with the characters. And while I don't know if I would call it too far, the comedy does start to lack as the climax goes on. But I think even with that said, Shaun of the Dead can work for people who aren't fans of horror films in roughly the same way the Scream films work for people who aren't a fan of slasher films in that you may not be a fan of the genre, but the comedy helps you to enjoy it anyway to some degree.

And that's my review for Shaun of the Dead. It succeeds as both a comedy and a horror for people who like either one or both. The third act can be argued as being more horror than comedy, which might not be for everyone. If you don't like horror films but might be okay with this one because of its humor, give it a try. If you're fine with both but have never seen this movie before, it's an enjoyable film that I would recommend.

Rating: 90%

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Okay so a couple weeks ago, Candra recommended that I see this movie. And seeing as how I hear about this movie a lot when it comes to movies and how some of it scenes where shot in the Stanley Hotel, which I've been to, I decided to finally settle the matter and find out what makes this movie so fairly known. So here's my take on Dumb and Dumber.

Plot: A pair of friends named Lloyd and Harry live together in an apartment in Rhode Island, and because of their dim-witted personalities, struggle at finding jobs. But when Lloyd falls in love with a woman named Mary during his previous job, and find out that she left her briefcase at the airport he took her too, he and Harry decide to go on a cross-country road trip to find Mary and return the briefcase. But they are also being chased by a group of criminals who are after the briefcase, knowing that it's full of money that is suppose to be used as ransom money.

Now as I've stated before in my review for Rat Race, it's very hard for me to genuinely laugh at something, even if it's one of the funniest things I've seen. And it's even harder to laugh at a comedy when you know that they expect you to get a laugh. So how does this movie hold up for me?'s funny, but if we were comparing it to Rat Race, this movie made me laugh the least. Did I laugh so little that I think that it's a bad movie? No, not necessarily. Even if I wasn't laughing hard on the floor from the jokes they had, I did see the appeal as to why this particular comedy seem to be very commonly known. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are giving fun performances, and the dialogue has some jokes that were very well delivered. But while some jokes where good, the rest of it was just plain stupid. And I know, that's what they're going for, I mean it's in the title, but by knowing that, most of the jokes just did nothing for me in the slightest. Maybe if I was younger and less experienced in seeing these kinds of films it would leave a better impact on me, but for what it has right now, it's just not doing anything.

And that's my review for Dumb and Dumber. While it doesn't leave such a memorable impact on me as it seems to for a lot of people, it does have good performances, and some decent jokes. If you haven't seen this movie, it really depends on your sense of humor as to whether or not you would like it. But for me, It's just okay. I'm glad I saw it, but I don't think I would see it again.

Rating: 60%

Malefiecent (2014)

Well this has been out for a while, but as I more or less implied when I started my X-Men: Days of Future Past review, I don't have a lot of free time because of work. But I finally got the time and my friend Megan wanted to see this with me for the longest time, so here's how this turned out after finally seeing it.

Plot: Maleficent is a fairy who lives in this magical realm called The Moors which separates itself from the kingdom of the humans. She befriends and eventually falls in love with a boy named Stephan, but when the human king is dying and declares that the person who kill Maleficent will take his throne, Stephan drugs Maleficent and cuts off her wings and gives them to the king claiming he killed her and thus takes the throne. So when Stephan has a daughter named Aurora, Maleficent puts her on a curse that Aurora will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and forever sleep unless she is given true love's kiss.

So, how was this movie that was trying to give us a very interesting, Wicked-like, point of view of one of the most memorable Disney villains? Well... the key word to that sentence is "try". So what I'm basically saying is that for what it was trying to do in terms of basically giving us a Maleficent version of Wicked, it had some nice ideas - some of it fit and/or was beginning to fit - but unfortunately it was, what I felt, a few re-writes on the script away from really reaching its potential. Like it a lot of moments where it was beginning to be clever and interesting, but their execution of its ideas - while not ' holy crap' awful - either could've been given more time to explain why this is the case or just could've taken a better direction altogether. For example, you have her motive of cursing Aurora because she was in love with Stephan before he cuts off her wings. So with that, she has a more deep and personal reason to curse the baby, compared to her motive in Sleeping Beauty. And that's a good idea. But, then it gets jumbled when you have problems like how they don't really show what makes the human kingdom really hate The Moors - I mean they show that they hate it in the beginning, but their motive is completely non-existent - and to top that off, they don't go into detail as to how that kingdom seemed to corrupt Stephan to the point of taking her wings and then - without spoiling the movie - goes on this one direction for the remainder of the film that, while also a good idea, barely makes a lick of sense. All of this is just stuff from the first half hour of the movie, and it unfortunately continues this path for the remainder of its time. We'll get other ideas like making the raven, Diaval more of a character or the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora that, by concept, could've really strengthened where the movie was going, but either by choosing a poor direction or not allowing those ideas to really breathe, they make the film come out as more of a mess. Now thankfully, the movie doesn't come off as completely awful, because there are some nice elements to the movie despite ideas that just weren't' used all that well. Firstly, there's the style of the CGI. And don't get me wrong, they don't do a swell job in hiding that it's all fake, but at the same time, they stylized it well enough that I still enjoyed it when watching things like the fight in the beginning of the film, or just the creatures in The Moors. And there's of coarse Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. While she obviously is not going quite to big in terms of movement or voice as the Maleficent in the original (yeah I know I'm comparing, but that's kind of unavoidable for this kind of movie), she does hold her own in her performance and does indeed show that she looks the part almost flawlessly.

And that's my review for Maleficent. It does have some decent stylized CGI, a good performance from Angelina Jolie, and as far as story goes, had some ideas that could've worked with some adjustments. But those adjustments were never made, and so while I liked it for what it was trying to do, it still didn't succeed, making the movie a bit of a mess. If you just want a nice time watching a movie, you're probably going to like this fine, but it you wanted something deeper and darker with a well thought out plot, this movie is not really there, so you probably won't care for it.

Rating: 50%