Thursday, June 30, 2011
DARK OF THE MOON: The Review... So I saw Transformers 3 late last night, and overlooking the typical flaws seen in a Michael Bay flick, the movie was very entertaining. Not only do we get more robot characters (who actually transform constantly) in the film, but we see main icons such as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee kicking major ass against the Decepticons. Speaking of the Decepticons, it’s nice to see that TF3 has a truly formidable main villain in the film...unlike in Revenge of the Fallen. I’m gonna list potential spoilers in this review, so continue reading at your own discretion.
First off, let me talk about the humans. Sam Witwicky’s new love interest, to be exact. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley did a nice job as Carly (even though this is Whiteley’s first true acting gig)...and even brought a playful vibe to Dark of the Moon that was somewhat missing from Megan Fox’s performance in the two previous movies (even though I’ll admit that it was the relationship between Sam and Mikaela that was one of the main factors that won me over with the first Transformers film in 2007). Don’t get me wrong... I still have a thing for Fox (who doesn’t?), but Whiteley was definitely up to the task of looking as hot and pouty as Megan did in TF1 and TF2. In terms of the very first shot of Carly that we see in Dark of the Moon, I have no issue with it. Number one: This is a Michael Bay film...we should get used to him shamelessly filming his actresses from behind (I’m not saying that it’s right, though). And number two: Rosie is a Victoria’s Secret model, Megan isn’t. Rosie apparently didn’t mind being objectified in a summer blockbuster flick. I’ll leave it at that.
In terms of the other human characters, they’re your standard comic relief buffoons and action hero types that you see in a Bay film. John Malkovich played Shia LaBeouf’s wacky boss who for some odd reason hates red cups, Ken Jeong played a paranoid aerospace employee who has a homoerotic way of concealing government secrets, John Turturro returned as former Sector 7 agent Simmons, with Alan Tudyk as his hilarious German associate Dutch, Frances McDormand as National Intelligence Director Charlotte Mearing, Josh Duhamel as Lennox, Tyrese Gibson as retired Air Force Master Sergeant Epps, and Patrick Dempsey...who plays Dylan Gould, a shady human sympathizer who was in such cahoots with the Deceptions that I thought he was yet another Pretender...a la Isabel Lucas’ character Alice in Revenge of the Fallen. And of course, Sam Witwicky’s parents once again show up in the film to teach him a thing or two about getting the girl of his dreams (with his mom making another penis reference just like she did in TF1).
Now...let’s talk about the Transformers themselves. Dark of the Moon revealed the world of Cybertron in the opening scene of the film (with a Star Wars-like dogfight—complete with TIE Fighter-like engine sound effects—above the planet), and revealed to us the main villain of the movie: Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy, who also voiced the main villain Galvatron in 1986's Transformers: The Movie). I thought it would be Shockwave who would be the main antagonist of Dark of the Moon, but sadly, he was yet another cool-looking bad guy who was underused just like The Fallen in Revenge of the Fallen. Much like The Fallen, Shockwave doesn’t even kill anyone in TF3...but instead shoots at an airborne Optimus Prime and causes him to become ensnared by the cables of a construction crane during the climactic battle in Chicago. Awesome. Megatron and Starscream also return in Dark of the Moon (obviously)...and so does Soundwave, in robotic and vehicle modes that I’m sure will piss off a lot of Transformers purists out there. [Where’s Soundwave’s visor? And he does NOT have a mouth! Did Frank Welker do his voice this time around? Sure didn't sound like it. (But yes, Frank Welker did return to do the Decepticon's voice.)] On the plus side though, Barricade—the Decepticon cop car who suddenly disappeared at the end of TF1—makes a return in TF3! He gets to kill an Autobot during the final battle in Chicago. More on that in the next paragraph.
Most of the new robot characters (at least those with actual names) in TF3 belonged to the Autobots. The Wreckers, Dino, Brains and Que [who met his demise (at the hands of Barricade) in what was admittedly a very sad scene towards the end of Dark of the Moon] joined Optimus Prime and company in countering Sentinel Prime and his Decepticon allies as they tried to restore Cybertron at the expense of Earth and its human inhabitants. (By the way, those shots of Cybertron heading towards Earth reminded me of the final scenes in the Smallville and The Event series finales last month. Don't know if that's a good thing.) Optimus and Bumblebee themselves were once again the heroic stars of Transformers 3...with Bumblebee defeating Soundwave...and Optimus being the one who would most decisively and appropriately put Megatron, Sentinel and Shockwave out of their collective miseries. In terms of Megatron, Optimus definitely got revenge for the bitchslapping he received by ol’ Megs in TF1...despite the fact Megs was left with half a face by his encounter with Prime in TF2. In the words of Sam (who was the one who killed Starscream): "Well he’s dead."
So all-in-all, Dark of the Moon was an action-packed film. In terms of the real issues I had with the movie, it was with simple details that are related to the NASA-related aspects of its storyline. I’m a die-hard space geek, and I noticed that the ascent stage of the Apollo 11 lunar module was still attached to the descent stage when Optimus and Ratchet went to the Moon (during the present day) to investigate the Ark’s wreckage. Also, I noticed that Bay still didn’t have Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) attach the lunar module to the rest of the Apollo 11 spacecraft when it headed to the Moon, shown in the pic above, during the opening scene of TF3 (this omission was apparent in the teaser trailer...if you're an observant nerd like I am). However, I will give credit to Ehren Kruger (who wrote TF3) for mentioning NASA’s still-active Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter...as well as Bay for showing space shuttle Discovery (even though it was heavily-modified by ILM) in the movie. I would also talk about Steve Jablonsky’s music score for Dark of the Moon...but surprisingly, it didn’t have as many memorable themes as the first two films did. But it was nonetheless pretty good. I’ll probably still buy the score on CD when it comes out...whenever that will be. That is all.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
TOMORROW, Transformers: Dark of the Moon officially comes out in theaters everywhere (even though there will be IMAX and 3-D screenings of the film at select cinemas later tonight). I, personally, will wait till Friday to watch TF3 (in IMAX 3-D, of course)...since I'll be seeing it with two of my co-workers who I also watched Revenge of the Fallen with back in ’09. They discovered that I watched TF2 at the midnight screening on opening day—even though I pretended that the showing I attended with my co-workers was my very first viewing of TF2. They found this out by seeing my ticket stub for the midnight show lying right on my table when they hung out at my house after the movie ended. My bad.
Monday, June 27, 2011
JUST AN OBSERVATION, but it seems like that upcoming flick Friends with Benefits (starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake) will be a clone or unofficial sequel/prequel/whatever to this year’s earlier movie No Strings Attached (which starred Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher). Apparently, Ms. Kunis and Ms. Portman (Wait— Is she already married? Whatever again) both conspired to star in romcoms about pals deciding to ditch the whole platonic friendship thing while shooting the Oscar-nominated film Black Swan. Just sayin’.
Posted by Richard at 11:37 AM
Thursday, June 23, 2011
SHOCKWAVE ON THE ATTACK... This New York Times article goes into lengthy detail about the different cinematic elements that comprise the Transformers: Dark of the Moon screenshot above. The article states that one of the four Special Ops parachutists shown above is computer-generated (the other three are actual stuntmen), since he’ll land on Shockwave’s shoulder in this scene. (One can assume that this soldier will swiftly meet a painful end for sneaking up on the one-eyed Decepticon like that.) The article also mentions that Shockwave won’t talk much (or at all) in Dark of the Moon...essentially making him a Darth Maul-type character where he remains silent while wreaking havoc on our protagonists in the film.
Transformers 3 comes out in theaters in less than a week...so we’ll see if Shockwave will leave as much impact on audiences as Darth Maul did in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (seeing as how Darth Maul and Liam Neeson’s character Qui-Gon Jinn were really the only positive aspects to take note of in Episode I). Stay tuned.
Monday, June 20, 2011
DARK OF THE MOON Update... The Film Music Reporter has revealed the complete track list for Steve Jablonsky’s music score to Transformers 3. Click on the previous link to view the tracks' titles...though some of them may reveal potential plot spoilers. The CD for TF3’s score was originally scheduled to be released on June 28 (a day before Dark of the Moon officially comes out in movie theaters), but the album is currently listed as unavailable on the Amazon website. I hope that this is an error on Amazon’s part...as I don’t feel like posting Where’s Steve Jablonsky?? updates like I did for the first film back in 2007. That is all.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
GREEN LANTERN... I watched the movie yesterday, and on a pure entertainment level, Green Lantern was pretty enjoyable. Ryan Reynolds did an amusing job as Hal Jordan and his green-suited alter-ego, even though I heard that the way the character is portrayed in the comic book (since I never read one issue of it) isn’t as sarcastic as Reynolds made the superhero out to be. Other characters such as Sinestro (played by Mark Strong) and Parallax were your standard comic book figureheads (Yes, I just found out that Sinestro is in fact, THE main villain in the Green Lantern universe. Hence that scene during the end credits of the movie)...obviously in the same category as the Silver Surfer and the giant dusty incarnation of Galactus in The Fantastic Four 2 than Magneto in X-Men: First Class, or the Joker in The Dark Knight. (NO recent comic book villain can compare with the Clown Prince of Crime in The Dark Knight...)
In regards to the other human characters in the movie, Blake Lively was gorgeous as Hal’s main squeeze Carol Ferris...though after watching the bank robbery thriller The Town (which I liked) last year, it was interesting to see Lively without that Boston accent or the trashed-out, sexy but drugged-out appearance she had in the 2010 film. Green Lantern’s make-up team did a good job of making Peter Sarsgaard look like a total loser as Hal’s human foe Hector Hammond, while Tim Robbins (who I last saw in Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds 6 years ago) played Senator Hammond, Hector’s disapproving dad. In terms of special effects, the visual look of Green Lantern was very similar in tone to that of The Fantastic Four. It appeared decent on the big screen, though I’m sure the FX will translate a lot better on the small screen when the DVD comes out. Or was it vice versa?
So all-in-all, Green Lantern was your typical but fun summer fare. Just to bring up some tidbits from the film that aren’t movie-related, I like how the film actually showed the futuristic helmets that F-35 fighter pilots wear. I like how the International Space Station made a quick cameo in Green Lantern...and so did the now-cancelled Ares V rocket that NASA was gonna use to send astronauts back to the Moon. Yes, I was gonna use this as a way to shamelessly plug in my other page, The Human Spaceflight Blog. Visit it when you have time, thanks.
Friday, June 17, 2011
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES... There have been online news articles mentioning that Liam Neeson—who played Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins—was spotted on the set of The Dark Knight Rises recently. Rumor has it that Neeson is set to reprise his role as the character who both helped Bruce Wayne become Batman...and also became Batman’s biggest foe before the Joker appeared and started blowing things up in The Dark Knight.
Personally speaking, it would be awesome for Neeson to return in Batman Begins 3...since I posted in a Blog a few years backs suggesting that Talia al Ghul should show up in Christopher Nolan’s third bat flick. Don’t know if this latter is the case—unless past news reports have deceived us and Marion Cotillard (who was said to play an associate of Bruce Wayne at Wayne Enterprises in The Dark Knight Rises) is indeed playing the daughter of al Ghul. Nonetheless, if Neeson does appear in next year’s summer blockbuster, it will either be in a flashback scene as he put together the League of Shadows, or he’ll actually be brought back to life via the Lazarus Pit (rumored to be shown in the image below). This last suggestion seems farfetched...as what made Nolan’s two previous Caped Crusader films so great is that they’ve been grounded in reality. But you already knew that.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
SUPER 8... I watched the new sci-fi flick by Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams this weekend, and considering what I read in recent newspaper articles about Abrams struggling to combine two movies of different genres into a single flick, I'd have to say it came out pretty good. The beginning of the film started out kinda slow (with one dude in the audience I saw Super 8 with wondering out loud "What’s this movie about?"), but as it went on, the movie became very enjoyable to watch. You can clearly tell which scenes in Super 8 were influenced by Spielberg and which ones were conjured up by Abrams. All the father-bonding-or-not-bonding-with-son moments, action sequences like that Jurassic Park-ish scene where the alien creature attacks that bus on a dark road, and the Close Encounters of the Third Kind/E.T. moment at the end of the movie? All Spielberg. The alien creature itself (which looks like it may be the brethren of the monster in Cloverfield), the army firing upon the creature in the middle of the night (another throwback to Cloverfield...and um, other monster flicks) and Super 8’s Fringe-like atmosphere? The work of Abrams...though let’s ignore the fact he’s the one who actually wrote and directed the film, hah.
Comparing X-Men: First Class (which I saw a few days ago) and this movie... I find it amusing that Spielberg/Abrams like to show teenage kids constantly spewing out profanities in Super 8 while the only major use of profanity in X-Men was in the bar scene where Wolverine (yea, Hugh Jackman makes a cameo in First Class) tells Professor X and Magneto to "f**k off". Of course, leave it to Spielberg to use the ‘s’ word in movies he’s either directing (such as Jurassic Park) or executive producing (such as Super 8 and Transformers). Oh well. Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, which is a previous Spielberg flick if you aren’t a film buff and/or wasn’t born before the 1980s, was—I believe—the movie that lead to the PG-13 rating being created (what with the monkey brains and hearts getting ripped out and whatnot). Just one example in a hundred where Spielberg revolutionized cinema. But Super 8 is first and foremost the work of J.J. Abrams...and I want to give him credit for making a summer flick that was as satisfying to watch as his 2009 remake of Star Trek. When does Star Trek 2 come out, by the way? That’s for a Blog on another day.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS... I finally got around to seeing the prequel to the 2000 Bryan Singer hit last Friday, and I must say: not too bad. It’s still kinda farfetched that folks would put this movie in the same league as The Dark Knight, but X-Men: First Class was nonetheless a well-made film. Placing the Cuban Missile Crisis as a historical backdrop in this flick was nicely executed, and the origin story for how the two main characters, Professor Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr (a.k.a. Helmet Head-err, Magneto) met was pretty interesting. In fact, First Class wouldn’t nearly be as good a film without these two X-Men icons in them. James McAvoy did a terrific job as Professor X, but not to be outshone by him was Michael Fassbender...who played Magneto. Fassbender was very convincing playing the tormented Lensherr—who was out to seek revenge against a doctor (played by Kevin Bacon...who was impressive in a role that required him to speak German in one scene and Russian in the other) who took his mother’s life when Lensherr was a child during World War II. The final confrontation between Magneto and Sebastian Shaw (the doctor played by Bacon... Not to be confused with the actor who played Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi)? Intense. I’ll never look at quarters the same way again. Or at least quarters with a Swastika on ‘em. Anyways...
As for the rest of the X-Men: First Class cast? Decent. I’m wondering just how many films Rose Byrne appeared in over the last two years or so (Knowing, Get Him to the Greek and Bridesmaids come to mind... That last one I didn’t see), but she was cool as a CIA agent in X-Men. Jennifer Lawrence was hot as Mystique, much like Rebecca Romign-Stamos was when she played the same character in the first three X-Men films. Hank McCoy (a.k.a. Beast)? Hm, I could’ve sworn that was James Marsden playing him, haha. Beast and Cyclops being played by the same actor... Amusing. January Jones was sexy as Emma Frost, Zoë Kravitz (the daughter of music artist Lenny Kravitz) looked cute (I’m running out of adjectives here) as Angel and Oliver Platt (seen in other flicks such as Frost/Nixon and 2012) was a comical Man In Black. Too lazy to talk about the rest of the mutants seen in the movie, so I’ll just end it here. Would I recommend seeing First Class if you haven’t done so already? Of course. It’s the summer movie season, folks.
Friday, June 10, 2011
TRANSFORMERS 3 Update... In honor of Dark of the Moon coming out in theaters nationwide in just 19 days, just thought I’d share some screencaptures of the Transformers that will show up in the third film. Optimus Prime and Megatron are obviously a given, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Shockwave wreak havoc on-screen. Unlike The Fallen in Revenge of the Fallen, I hope the one-eyed Decepticon will kill an Autobot or two in TF3. Or at least annihilate a lot of people in Chicago during the climax of Dark of the Moon. Considering what we’ve seen from the theatrical trailer, the latter is definitely a given. Carry on.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
LAST MONTH, I went to the Frank & Son Collectible Show in the City of Industry, Calif., to see up-close a couple of famous cars featured in past movies and TV shows. Among the vehicles on display were the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the Camaro used for Bumblebee in Transformers, KITT from the classic TV series Knight Rider and even the Batmobile from the 1960s Batman TV show. Also shown was a van customized to look like Ratchet from the Transformers cartoon series in the 1980s.
LINK: Additional photos I took at the Frank & Son Collectible Show
I had to contribute a small monetary donation (which would be used to buy gas to transport these vehicles around) so I could enter the exhibit hall where these automobiles were shown. It’s all good. All I can say is, hopefully they’ll have the Tumbler from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight on display next time. That is all.
Friday, June 3, 2011
OTHER IMAGES OF THE DAY... Meet Bane, the back-breaking main villain played by Inception's Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises...which officially began filming two weeks ago. Looks like Bane will look just as menacing as Heath Ledger's Joker did in The Dark Knight, though it's still too bad that Azrael won't be in Christopher Nolan's third Bat flick. Oh well. Now show us an official pic of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman!