action, adventure, comic book, movie, movie review, sci-fi

June 11th, 2018 Movie – X-Men: First Class

xmen first class

A new decade, a new set of movies. Somewhat similar to the Star Wars franchise, this new set of movies decided to try and serve as a prequel to the original trilogy of films. Now I was honestly a little skeptical about this because prequels can be a little tricky, as they try to explain how things we already know come to be. The problem is, if people aren’t completely careful and don’t pay attention, then you make things worse by making things more confusing. Still, I was curious how they would handle this and decided to dial down my skepticism as I watched today’s movie, X-Men: First Class.

The plot: In a Nazi concentration camp in 1944 Poland, young Erik Lehnsherr is separated from his parents and as he tries to get to them, his powers begin to manifest as he starts bending the metal gate until a guard knocks him out. Nazi scientist Klaus Schmidt witnesses the feat and has Erik brought to his office. Speaking to Erik about how genes are the future of mankind, he asks Erik to move a coin on his desk. When Erik can’t, he has Eric’s mother brought into the room, then threatens to shoot her if Erik doesn’t move the coin. Klaus counts to 3 and when Erik is unable to move the coin, he proceeds to shoot her. Enraged at the loss, Erik’s powers go out of control, killing the two guards and trashing the objects in the lab next door, all to Klaus’s delight. Meanwhile, in Westchester County, New York, a young Charles Xavier is woken up by a noise coming from the kitchen in his family’s mansion. When he goes to check it out, he finds his mother there but quickly realizes it is an imposter. Speaking to the intruder telepathically, the intruder reveals herself to be a young shape changing mutant named Raven and Xavier, happy to finally meet another mutant like himself, invites her to stay with him, which Raven accepts. Years later, Xavier is graduating from Oxford University and Raven, now his adopted sister, has accompanied him there but she has started feeling uncomfortable always having to hide who she really is. Meanwhile, Erik is trying to track down Schmidt and after heading to a bank known to secretly deal in Nazi gold, he is able to learn that Schmidt is in Argentina, then warns the banker not to warn anyone he is coming. In Las Vegas, CIA Agent Moria MacTaggert and her partner are staking out the Hellfire Club when they notice U.S. Army Colonel Hendry entering the building. Disguising herself as one of the prostitutes being let inside, Moria finds a hidden entrance to the club’s offices. Inside the office, Hendry is meeting with Schmidt, who now goes by Sebastian Shaw, and his associates Emma Frost and Riptide. Shaw is telling Hendry that he wants the U.S. to deploy nuclear weapons to Turkey but Hendry refuses, as it would escalate tensions with Russia and possibly start a nuclear war. When Hendry refuses to do so, Shaw has Riptide produce a small cyclone and use it to attack Hendry, slamming him into a wall. Moria, who had discovered some Russian files in Shaw’s desk, hears the commotion and watches as Emma changes into a diamond form after telepathically threatening Hendry, then Shaw summons Azazel, a red skinned teleporter, to take Hendry out of there. Moria makes her way out of the club and tries to tell her boss what she saw but her boss says that Hendry is in the war room advocating for missiles to be deployed in Turkey and dismisses her. Meanwhile, Erik heads to Argentina and when he arrives at a bar and orders a drink, he notices a picture of Shaw with two men on a boat. The two men happen to be sitting at the bar and when Erik learns that they are former Nazis, he kills them, then heads after Shaw. In D.C., Hendry boards Shaw’s yacht and when Shaw threatens to have him killed, Hendry produces a grenade and threatens to pull the pin. Shaw takes the Grenade from him and pulls the pin, then absorbs the blast from the explosion, revealing that he is also a mutant, then kills Hendry by touching him, transferring the force of the explosion to him. At Oxford, Moria approaches Xavier after his graduation and asks him about his thesis, in which he talks about mutants. Scanning her mind, Xavier sees her memories of Emma and Azazel and he agrees to help her. Moria takes Xavier and Raven with her to CIA headquaters but when the CIA director thinks what Xavier is saying is crazy talk, Xavier and Raven both reveal their gifts, shocking everyone. The CIA director thinks they are spies and wants them taken out of the building and one of the officers says he has an off site facility they can use and as they are leaving, Xavier telepathically contacts Moria and tells her to meet them at the parking garage. Erik travels to D.C. and confronts Shaw, who recognizes Erik, but Emma psychically stops Erik’s attack and knocks him into the water. Suddenly, the Coast Guard show up and Emma senses Xavier on board and uses her powers to block their thoughts from his. Riptide uses his powers to blow away the small boarding craft approaching the ship but when Erik uses his powers to use the anchor to destroy the ship, Shaw, Emma, and Riptide quickly head down to the lower decks, which house a secret submarine. As Shaw and the other’s escape, Erik uses his powers to try and stop them but the sub is too big and he ends up being dragged underwater until Xavier dives in and telepathically convinces him to stop. The CIA officer takes Moria, Xavier, Raven, and Erik to his facility, where he introduces them to Hank McCoy and Xavier unintentionally reveals to the officer that Hank is a mutant, whose gift is a genius IQ and prehensile feet. Later that night, Hank and Raven are talking, having bonded over the fact that their mutations are both physical, and Hank asks Raven for a sample of her blood, thinking he might be able to fashion a cure from it. Meanwhile, Erik steals the CIA files on Shaw and goes to leave but is confronted by Xavier, who tries to convince him to stay but tells Erik he won’t use his powers to do so. The next day, Erik agrees to stay but says that any mutants they discover should be approached by himself and Xavier, not CIA suits, and Xavier agrees, much to the CIA officer’s disapproval. Hank has turned a radar tower into a transmitter and hooked it up to a computer so that using Xavier’s telepathy, he can locate mutants and the computer will print out their location. Calling the device Cerebro, Hank activates it and Xavier begins locating mutants all across the world. Using the device, Eric and Xavier approach Angel Salvadore, Armando Munoz, Alex Summers, and Sean Cassidy, who agree to go with them, but the 5th mutant they approach, Logan, tells them to “Go fuck yourself.” Meanwhile, Shaw tells to head to Russia and when she asks about the other telepath, he tells her that the Russians made him a helmet that can block telepathy and has her try to read his mind when he is wearing it and she says she can’t. Later, Emma tells him that she can feel the other telepath’s range has expanded and he is recruiting other mutants and Shaw tells her to go to Russia and he will deal with the telepath. Back at the CIA Division X facility, Raven and Hank are talking with the new recruits and Raven says they should come up with code names. Raven decides to call herself Mystique, Sean calls himself Banshee, Armando calls himself Darwin, and they decide to call Alex Havoc after witnessing his powers, while Angel simply decides to use her stripper name of Angel. At CIA Headquarters, the director tells Moria that she was right about Shaw going to meet with the Russians and agrees to let her take the mutants with them, though one of his officers, Agent Stryker, protests using them. When Moria meets with Erik and Xavier to tell them, Erik is unsure if the other mutants are ready to take on Shaw and after seeing the mess they made of the room, Xavier reluctantly agrees. Moria, Xavier, and Erik go with a CIA team to Russia, where they see Emma meeting with the Russian general instead of Shaw. Moria wants to fall back, as their mission was to capture Shaw, but Erik says that Emma is Shaw’s right hand woman and she would know where he is and what his plans are. Eric uses his powers to subdue the guards and he heads inside, followed by Xavier, where they find Emma psychically tricking the general into thinking they are fooling around. Xavier uses his powers to render the general unconscious but Emma shifts into her diamond form to prevent him from reading her mind. Erik uses his powers to trap Emma against the bedframe, then coils part of it around her throat and starts constricting it until her throat cracks, then releases it as Emma quickly changes to human. Xavier is then able to read her mind and learns that Shaw plans to start a nuclear war so that more mutants will be born, with himself as their leader. Xavier says they are taking Emma to the CIA, as they will want to question her further, but Emma says that they have bigger problems to worry about. At Division X, Shaw, Azazel, and Riptide attack the facility looking for the mutants. After killing all of the humans, Shaw approaches the mutants and offers the a chance to join him. Angel takes him up on his offer, as she didn’t like being looked at like a freak by the CIA agents. Darwin also appears to join but as he approaches Angel, he grabs her and yells out for Havoc to attack while he uses his powers to defend himself and Angel. Shaw absorbs Havoc’s attack and then uses the energy to kill Darwin, making him explode, while he leaves with Angel, Azazel, and Riptide. Some time later, Shaw appears in Russia and meets with the general and tells him to send missiles to Cuba, knowing it will provoke a response from the United States. Meanwhile, Xavier, Erik, and Moria return to the facility and Xavier wants to send everyone home but they all refuse, as they want to avenge Darwin’s death. After talking with Erik, Xavier agrees to this provided they begin training and learn how to better use their powers and they all agree, and Xavier takes them back to his and Raven’s mansion to use as their new training ground. As the tensions between the two countries continue to rise, Xavier works on helping the others with their abilities. Banshee learns how to use his sonic scream to fly and Havoc, thanks to a suit from Hank, is able to fully control his powers. Xavier tries to help Erik with his powers by having him more a nearby radar dish so it’s pointing at them and helps him realize that anger isn’t the only thing that powers his abilities by reminding him of the memories of his mother that he had long forgotten. When the President makes his remarks about the rising Missile crisis in Cuba, Erik says that Shaw will be in Cuba, as he will want to make sure that the war he has been planning starts. That night, Hank goes to Raven’s room and shows her the cure he made from her blood cells, saying that they can finally be normal, but Raven tells him that they are normal as they are and shouldn’t have to hide who they are but Hank sadly walks away. Raven goes to Eric’s room and attempts to seduce him and when he tells her he wants to see the real Raven, she changes and he kisses her. Meanwhile, Hank injects himself with his cure but instead of making him human, it increases his stalled mutation, causing him to begin growing fur. The next day, Xavier and the others enter Hank’s lab to find it trashed but no sign of him anywhere. They don the uniforms he fashioned for them and head to the hangar where his supersonic jet, the Blackbird, is kept and Hank meets them there, revealing himself to have mutated into a more leonine, beast form with blue fur. Hank, dubbed Beast by Havoc, pilots the jet to Cuba, where the opposing fleets are watching as the Russian ship carrying the missiles continues towards Cuba. As the ship nears the embargo line, Xavier uses his powers to learn that Azazel has killed the crew and set the ship towards the line. He then takes control of a soviet sailor and has him fire on the ship, destroying it and preventing a war from starting. Shaw realizes what has happened and, donning his helmet, makes plans to absorb the energy from the sub’s reactor to turn himself into a weapon. Realizing that Shaw must be in his sub, Banshee uses his powers to dive into the water and act as a sonar system, allowing Xavier to locate the sub. Magneto then uses his powers to lift the sub out of the water and move it towards a nearby island. Riptide emerges on deck and uses his powers to attack the plane, causing Erik to lose control and crash the sub, just as the plane is damaged and crashes as well. As Xavier checks on everyone, he and Moira realize that Shaw is draining power from his reactor and they have to stop him. Erik, Beast, and Havoc see Angel, Azazel, and Riptide waiting to stop them and Havoc attacks first, slamming Riptide into the sub. Azazel teleports behind them and attacks Havoc but Beast grabs Azazel and they teleport away, eventually landing on a U.S. ship. Magneto rips open the sub, knocking Riptide unconscious with the falling debris, and Xavier uses his powers to guide him towards where a void exists that Shaw must be in. Meanwhile, Hank and Azazel continue fighting, teleporting off the ship, while Havoc is about to be arrested by the sailors when Angel attacks them all, damaging Havoc’s suit in the process. Suddenly, Banshee reappears from underwater and attacks Angel, then rescues Havoc from the sailors. Angel attacks them, damaging Banshee’s suit and causing them to crash onto the beach but as she goes to finish them off, Angel fires at her and damages her wings, bringing her down as well. Meanwhile, Beast and Azazel continues to fight each other, eventually moving back to the beach and when Azazel is about to kill Beast, Mystique, disguised as Shaw, distracts him long enough for Beast to knock him out. On the sub, Erik powers down the reactor and Shaw opens the chamber and begins talking with Erik. When Erik attempts to attack him, Shaw easily rebuffs the attack, then slams Erik into the wall, cracking it open and allowing Xavier to uses his powers to see inside. As Erik and Shaw continue to fight, Erik tricks Shaw and manages to remove his helmet, allowing Xavier to take control of Shaw’s body and stop him. Erik then dons Shaw’s helmet and approaches Shaw, telling him he agrees with what he said about mutants being the future but he is still going to kill him for killing his mother. Erik then takes the coin that Shaw asked him to move, which he kept all these years, and uses his powers to push it through Shaw’s head. Erik then leaves the sub, moving Shaw’s body before him, and tells everyone to stop fighting, as the real enemy is out there, pointing to the U.S. and Russian fleets, which have both received orders to fire on the beach. As the missiles and rockets head towards them, Erik takes control of them and uses his powers to send them back. Xavier tries to stop him but Erik is able to fight him off and pin him to the ground. When Moria tries to shoot Erik, he deflects the bullets but one of them hits a rising Xavier in the back. Concerned for his friend, Erik lets the missiles and rockets crash to the sea or explode harmlessly as he quickly removes the bullet from Xavier. He then attacks Moria, saying she did this but Xavier tells him that he did it, causing Erik to release her. Erik then speaks to the other mutants and asks them to join him and Mystique does, stopping to say goodbye to Xavier and asking Moria to take care of him. Angel, Azazel, and Riptide join as well and when the others refuse, Azazel teleports them out of there. Beast, Banshee, and Havoc rush to Xavier’s side and Xavier tells them that he can’t feel his legs. Some time later, Moria is pushing Xavier in his wheelchair as he is talking about turning his mansion into a school for mutants to learn how to control their abilities but when they share a kiss, he uses his powers to wipe her memory, as he doesn’t want to have her report this to her superiors. As Moria is giving her report and explaining the memory gaps, an explosion is heard at CIA headquarters. Inside their secret prison, Erik, now going by Magneto, frees Emma and invites her to join his new Brotherhood, which she accepts.

X-Men: First Class met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With a strong script, stylish direction, and powerful performances from its well-rounded cast, X-Men: First Class is a welcome return to form for the franchise.” While they were adversaries in the movie (though they later joined Magneto at the movie’s end), in the comics, Azazel and Mystique were lovers, with the result of their union being the X-Man Nightcrawler. The movie was a box office success, earning $353.6 million off of a $160 million budget and would go on to spawn two more prequels, with a third movie coming out next year.

So I will say that this is a pretty good movie all around, though fanboy me did have some problems with some of the things in it. I thought that James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender both did great jobs as Xavier and Magneto respectively. I also liked Nicholas Hoult as a young beast but was kind of “meh” on Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique and Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw. The story was pretty interesting and I liked the initial set up for them such as how the X-Men initially worked with the government but after the government turned on them in fear, Xavier felt it best to sever the ties and keep them a secret. I also liked how they try to set up some things for the future, such as having Stryker’s father being one of the CIA special agents that didn’t trust Xavier and the others from the start and wanted them destroyed, setting up how that would carry over to his son’s work. One slight problem with continuity that they had was in regards to Shaw’s helmet, which Magneto would later come to possess. In the first movie, Xavier didn’t know what was allowing Magneto to hide his thoughts from him, with the helmet was somewhat pivotal in the second movie as well. But in this movie, he did learn of the helmet and would have known later on why he was unable to read Magneto’s mind. It’s minor, true, but an annoying bit of a continuity error. The other thing I didn’t like was their dealing with the powers of Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw. With Emma, they made her powers more like the current comics version, where she had a secondary mutation giving her the diamond skin, which was annoying to me but not really necessary as they could have simply left her as just a telepath and made her more of a foil for Xavier in trying to keep the X-Men from stopping Shaw’s plans. With Shaw, they seemed to have more fun in changing his powers. In the comics, he did absorb the kinetic energy of anything that strikes him, which does allow him to survive explosions and what not, but that trick he did with Darwin was honestly some Hollywood BS in my opinion and simply a way to kill off Darwin. On that note, the special effects were pretty good and I loved the setting of everything being during the cold war in 1962, as this was right at the time the silver age of comics was getting started, though a full year before the X-Men first appeared. Still, my annoyances aside, this was an entertaining movie and a good way to bring some new life to the franchise after The Last Stand.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Standard
action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

March 10th, 2018 Movie – Transformers: The Last Knight

transformers-the last knight

Another Transformer movie and I still had no desire to see it in theaters. In fact, I honestly wasn’t even going to buy it on Blu-Ray but that stupid completionist aspect of my personality made me go ahead and buy it so I could review it with the rest of them. Anyways, when the trailers for this movie came out, the only thing that piqued my interest was the fact that they said Unicron was going to be a part of the story line. However, I have been disappointed in movie portrayals of giant, cosmic beings (like Galactus in Rise Of The Silver Surfer) so I didn’t have much hopes for this. Then I started hearing the early reviews from critics, and from some sites whose opinions I actually listen too, and decided that this wasn’t worth going to see. So this is ny first time watching today’s movie, Transformers: The Last Knight, so let’s see what I am in for.

The plot: In the Dark Ages of England, a massive battle is being fought between the Saxons and King Arthur’s forces. As Arthur’s knights chastise Arthur for his faith in Merlin coming to save them, Merlin heads to a remote hillside and speaks with the Knights of Iacon, a group of Transformers that are hiding on the planet. Merlin begs them for their help and the Knights hand him a staff, saying to guard it as a great evil will one day come for it, then transform into a 3-headed dragon (Dragonstrom) and take off, joining the battle and turning the tide in Arthur’s favor.In the present day, 5 years after the events in China, all Transformers have been declared illegal and a new military force, called the TRF, has orders to hunt them down but more and more Transformers continue coming to Earth and some wonder why they are drawn there. In Chicago, a group of kids sneak into the quarantined area of the city and discover a Transformer still alive in a downed flying craft but are spotted by a pair of TRF drones. The kids are saved by Izabella, an orphan who has been living in the area, and Sqweeks, a Transformer who is unable to transform. Izabella leads the kids to her hideout, which is a dome covering provided by another Transformer, Canopy. As the drones leave, Canopy stands up and starts moving to a new location but the TRF spot him and fire a missile into him, killing him. As the security drones move to capture the kids, they are saved by Cade Yeager and Bumblebee. After getting Izabella and the kids out of the area, Cade heads back to the ship and tries to save the Transformer inside but he is too badly wounded. The Transformer tries to give Cade a talisman, saying it will protect him but Cade refuses it. As Cade leaves, he is confronted by the TRF and captured, with their field leader, Santos, asking him where he is hiding the other Transformers. Bumblebee drives up to rescue Cade and is seemingly blown up but all of the pieces put themselves back together, taking out several TRF soldiers in the process. A standoff occurs but is broken up by Colonel Lennox, former NEST commander and Autobot ally, who tells both sides to stand down. Unnoticed by Cade or the TRF, the dying Transformer sends the talisman to Cade but Barricade, a Decepticon who survived the Mission City battle years ago, sees this and drives off, as he does not want to face the TRF. With Hound showing up to cover them, Cade and Bumblebee leave but the TRF manage to get a tracking device onto Bumblebee’s fender. Later, Lennox meets with General Morshower and it is revealed that he is undercover in the TRF to try and keep them from killing off all of the Autobots. They learn that Barricade was seen in the Chicago area and is with Megatron, who was seeking the talisman as it would show the location of the Staff of Merlin, and Morshower says that they need to find the Staff and have it locked up so it can’t be used. Meanwhile, Megatron chastises Barricade for letting the Talisman get away but Barricade says that they can use the TRF to locate Cade. Out in space, Optimus Prime finally reaches Cybertron and cries out at seeing the state his home planet is in. Optimus is approached by Quintessa, who says she is his creator, and he attempts to attack her but she strikes him down and after placing him in chains, says that he will help her restore Cybertron. In England, a Transformer named Cogman approaches his employer, Sir Edmund Burton, and tells him that the talisman has been bestowed upon the new knight. Burton heads off to Oxford University, where he observes a young professor named Vivian Wembley give a walking lecture to some students about King Arthur, then he gets back in his car and speaks to it, revealing it to be a Transformer. Back on Cybertron, Quintessa tells Optimus that there is a way to rebuild Cybertron but he must locate her staff, which the 12 Knights of Iacon stole from her and gave to the humans and Optimus says he will go and retrieve it for her. In South Dakota, Cade, Bumblebee, and Hound return to Cade’s junkyard, which serves as a sanctuary for the Autobots (including Drift, Crosshairs, and Wheelie), and the Dinobots Grimlock and Slug (as well as mini versions of Grimlock, Slug, and Strafe). Cade chastises his assistant Jimmy for letting Grimlock get out of the junk yard and eat the tribal chief’s police car, as they are trying to keep a low profile so they don’t get arrested. An Autobot scavenger called Daytrader shows up and tries passing off some of the parts he found, such as Starscream’s head, when he notices the talisman and asks if it is real, saying that it is a sign of an upcoming apocalypse. Izabella and Sqweeks reveal that they had stowed away on Hound and Izabella tries to convince Cade to let her stay but he wants her to leave, as it isn’t safe for her there. Meanwhile, 6 horns have begun growing out of the Earth, with former Agent Simmons doing his own research in Cuba while Burton investigates another site and says that the horns mean that Cybertron is coming to Earth, a theory that a NASA scientist is trying to explain to his superiors. Meanwhile, Morshower tells Lennox that Megatron approached the TRF to negotiate a truce and ask that several of his associates be released from custody so they can find the talisman, which both sides are after. Lennox is made point on the exchange, knowing that both the TRF and Decepticons will turn on the other at the first opportunity, and arranges for 4 of Megatron’s Decepticons to be released. The next day, Izabella replaces Sqweeks missing arm with a Decepticon arm from the junkyard and then helps Cade replace Bumblebee’s voice box with one that Daytrader brought them, only to find that it is faulty. As the Decepticons and TRF approach the junkyard, Cade is given a warning by Chief Sherman and he has the Autobots move out to an arranged battle site while Hound stays behind to slow the Decepticons down. As the Autobots make their way to an abandoned city, the TRF gives chase but they are waylaid by Grimlock and Slug, who destroy most of their vehicles. Upset by the loss of his men, Santos ignores Lennox’s orders and sends a drone fleet out to kill Cade. In the town, Cade has Jimmy and Izabella hide while he rigs some explosives to use on the Decepticons. When the Decpticons arrive, they spot Sqweeks and Megatron grabs him, causing Izabella to rush out to save her friend. As Cade goes to rescue her, the talisman suddenly attaches itself to his arm as Cade grabs Izabella and activates the explosives. The Autobots and Dinobots attack the Decepticons, killing several of them and forcing Megatron to call for a retreat but the drones appear and start attacking Cade, Jimmy, and Izabella. As they try to escape from the drones in a hotel, they encounter Cogman, who tells Cade that his employer wishes to see him. Before they can talk any further, Cade is knocked out of the elevator by a drone and he manages to survive long enough to bring down the lead drone. Cogman approaches him and explains that Cade has been chosen to by the Knights of Iacon and he must come to England, telling him his friends will be safe as everyone is after him and the talisman. Cade approaches Izabella and tells her that she will be ok, as she is family now, and leaves her with the Jimmy and the other Autobots, then he and Bumblebee head to Cogman’s plane and head to England. In their headquarters, Morshower tells Lennox that Megatron is also on his way to England so he has Lennox and his team head there. Meanwhile, Simmons gets in touch with Burton and tells him he located a book and that he needs to meet him, as it explains what is going to happen. At the same time, NASA is continuing to track Cybertron, which is on a collision course with Earth. On Cybertron, Quintessa continues her brainwashing of Optimus, explaining that Earth is Unicron, the ancient enemy of Cybertron, and he must be destroyed so that Cybertron may live. With her brainwashing complete, Quintessa dubs Optimus Nemesis Prime and tasks him with fulfilling his mission. In England, Vivian is at her late father’s house deciding on if she wants anything but she is overcome with memories and leaves. As she gets into her car, an invitation pops out of the glove compartment and the car suddenly drives off, revealing itself to be a Transformer, Hot Rod. Vivian tries to escape but Hot Rod changes forms into a Lamborghini and speeding off to his destination. Cade, Bumblebee, and Cogman arrive at Burton’s castle and are soon joined by Vivian and Burton starts to explain why he brought them there. Burton is part of an order called the Witwiccans, who is tasked with keeping secret the fact that Transformers have been on Earth for centuries, helping mankind fight some of it’s worst battles. He then leads them to the Round Table, explaining that it was symbolic as the twelve human knights were joined by the twelve Knights of Iacon to forge the pact between the species. Burton explains that Cade was the final knight, chosen for by the talisman due to having the traits the legendary knights had, and that Vivian is the last descendant of Merlin and the only one who could use it’s power. The TRF and MI6 arrive at the fortress and Cade and the others are forced to flee, with Cade and Vivian going back to her father’s study to figure out where the staff might be hidden while Burton heads to the library, contacting Simmons and swearing him in as a member of the Order of Witwiccans. Simmons guides Burton to where the book is, and as Burton reads it, he learns about Earth being Unicron and that Stonehenge is the convergence where Cybertron and Earth would connect. Back at Vivian’s house, Cade finds a picture of her and her father, which leads Vivian to discovering a childhood book that has the location of where Merlin’s tomb is located. Avoiding the TRF and Barricade, they head to the naval museum, meeting up with Burton and Cogman there, and sends them out on an old WWII sub, which happens to be a Transformer. Burton then heads to see the Prime Minister and convinces him to prepare for war as Cybertron arrive in the moon’s orbit, destroying the Ark and it gets closer to Earth. On board the sub, Cade and Vivian reach Merlin’s tomb, which is inside the ship that brought the Knights Of Iacon to Earth but they are followed by Lennox and his team. Cade and Vivian discover Merlin’s tomb and open it only to find MErlin’s body clutching a wooden staff. Thinking the staff must be somewhere in the room, Cade starts searching for it only to awaken one of the Knights of Iacon, who attacks Cade to defend the staff. Lennox and the TRF show up and begin shooting at the Knight, knocking it down a hole into a lower chamber of the ship as Vivian grabs the wooden staff and it transforms into the Staff of Merlin. When Lennox orders her to drop it, she threatens to drop it down the chamber unless he lets them go. Two more knights come alive to protect the staff but they are taken out by Optimus Prime, who demands that Vivian hand him the staff. Cade tries to talk to Optimus but when Optimus shows no sign of recognizing him, Cade tells Vivian to give Optimus the staff. As Optimus leaves, the ship suddenly starts rising to the surface and Cade tells Bumblebee they have to stop Optimus. As the ship surfaces, Optimus and Bumblebee start fighting, with Cade trying to get through to Optimus but to no avail. When Optimus is about to kill Bumblebee, Bumblebee calls out to Optimus in his own voice, which manages to reach Optimus and free him from Quintessa’s control. Suddenly, Megatron and Onslaught attack Optimus and rip the staff from his chest and fly off to Stonehenge. The Knights of Iacon then appear and attack Optimus, preparing to kill him for betraying his species but Cade is able to stop them when the talisman on his arm transforms into Excalibur. At Stonehenge, Megatron is preparing to activate the device when Burton leads an attack on them but Megatron mortally wounds Burton and flies off to Cybertron.  Megatron gives the staff to Quintessa, who activates the ignition chamber and tells Megatron to guard the chamber and make sure Vivian doesn’t enter it. Hound and the other Autobots arrive, along with Izabella and Jimmy and they come up with a plane to remove the staff and stop Quintessa. Using the Autobot’s ship to carry the TRF Ospreys into the upper atmosphere, the make their way to Cybertron’s surface, with the Autobots and Dragonstorm providing cover fire. When they get pinned down and can’t advance, NASA scientists come up with a plan to shoot down one of the anchors and have it knock the ignition chamber loose, hoping it will stop the reaction. Receiving the orders, Lennox and his team head off to light up the target for the air strike, just as Sqweeks, who had stowed away with Izabella, manages to take out the cannon, while Optimus and Dragonstrom kill Quintessa’s guards. The Autobots keep going for the ignition chamber and Vivian and Cade choose to go with them, leaving Izabella to evacuate with Lennox and his team. They reach the chamber and Megatron attempts to stop them but Optimus kicks him out of the chamber and into space. Optimus and Bumblebee then kill Quintessa and Vivian manages to remove the staff, stopping the reaction from destroying Earth. With the reaction stopped, Cybertron is now anchored permanently to Earth and Optimus contacts the Autobots and says they should head back to Cybertron to begin rebuilding it while Cade and Vivian, drawn together by the past events, decide to forge a relationship. Meanwhile, Quintessa is shown to have survived the attack and, disguised as a human, approaches a team studying one of Unicron’s horns and tells them she knows how to destroy it.

Transformers: The Last Knight met with poor results from the critics, holding a 16% rating in Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Cacophonous, thinly plotted, and boasting state-of-the-art special effects, The Last Knight is pretty much what you’d expect from the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise.” Steve Buscemi, who voiced Daytrader, was Michael Bay’s choice to play Agent Simmons in Transformers, but Buscemi was unavailable so the role went to John Turturro. The movie had the worst performance in the series, earning $605.4 million off of a $217 million budget, and while no new films in the series have been announced, a spin-off movie starring Bumblebee is in the works to be released in late 2018.

Let down, after let down, and once again I am let down. This movie was disappointing on so many levels. The acting was ok, with the returning characters doing good jobs reprising their roles, though I will admit that I would have loved to have more of John Goodman’s Hound on screen. The story was 1/4 interesting, 1/4 recycled, and 1/2 crap. The interesting part was the TRF and their attacking any Transformer indiscriminately, much like Cemetery Wind did in the last movie. The recycled part was the whole Transformers being in the dark ages, as that was actually a short comic book story line from the 80’s. The crap part was everything else. The whole Unicron being Earth was honestly stolen from the Transformers: Prime cartoon but even then they did a piss poor job of portraying what is essentially the ultimate bad-ass villian for Transformers. Meanwhile, Quintessa was supposed to be the Quintessons from the cartoon but she was just a pale mockery. However, my biggest complaint story-wise is that we have Megatron, essentially back in his original form, but no explanation as to what happened or how he changed from Galvatron back into Megatron. That alone is driving me nuts about this movie. As for the final battle, I know that most of these movies you have to go into with a sever suspension of disbelief but even still, I had a hard time not thinking that everyone would already be dead due to the Earth ripping apart when Cybetron got that close to it. As usual, the special effects were really good and I did like the mini-dinos and Dragonstorm, but special effects can’t help a movie that much when the story is crap. I know that Michael Bay said this would be the last movie he does for the series for the time being and I honestly hope it stops with this one because I don’t know if I can handle another one.

Rating: 2 out of 5

 

Standard
action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

March 8th, 2018 Movie – Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

transformers-dark of the moon

I love watching movies and I don’t mind the epic blockbusters but it does make it a pain to try and get them done in the morning before I go to work. That’s why these past couple of reviews have been late posting, because when the movie is 2 1/2 hours long, or longer, I am not able to get it done before I have to leave for work. So the Bay-former movies are just the latest in these epic pain in the butt for me. Now when it comes to today’s movie, I honestly felt a little burnt out on the series, just 2 movies in. I had been buying the novelizations (which usually came out about a month before the movies did), so I knew what the movie was about and I honestly wasn’t that impressed with it. So I never went and saw it in theaters, choosing to buy it on Blu-Ray when it came out. So let’s dive into today’s movie, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.

The plot: In the waning days of the war on Cybertron, an Autobot ship, the Ark, attempts to escape the planet with an invention that could end the war but the Decepticons damage the ship as it attempts to escape and it becomes lost in space. The Ark crashes onto the moon in 1961, which is detected by NASA and spurs the U.S. to make plans to send people to the moon to investigate. As Apollo 11 lands on the moon and begins to make it’s broadcast, the broadcast is cut to the public, citing their being on the far side of the moon as the reason, and Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong head out to investigate the crashed Ark, reporting what they found to their superiors. In the present day, Sam is living with his new girlfriend Carly in D.C. and feeling depressed over not being able to get a job. Carly tries to cheer him up but gets upset when she finds Brains, a former Decepticon drone who had switched sides, watching them and she leaves. Sam lets in Wheelie, who is also living with them, and Wheelie comments about their situation since Mikaela left Sam and wonders if Carly will do the same. As Sam leaves for his interview, he sees his parents outside, showing up a week earlier than they had said, and after his father comments on his lack of a job, they give Sam a ride to his interview when his own car won’t start. Meanwhile, Colonel Lennox meets with a Ukrainian diplomat, who says that they found something alien in Chernobyl. Lennox leads a NEST team to Chernobyl, accompanied by Optimus Prime, and the diplomat leads them inside and starts to show them where the item is but he sees the Decepticon Laserbeak watching and quickly points them in the direction and leaves. Lennox and his team find the object but are attacked by Shockwave and his driller bot. Optimus manages to keep the item from Shockwave, who escapes, but when he sees what it is, he is shocked to find it is part of the Ark’s engine. Back in D.C., Sam goes on interview after interview and keeps feeling dejected but finally gets a job in a mail room, though he still feels depressed over it. He then goes to see Carly and meets her boss, Dylan Gould, and feels jealous over the closeness Gould seems to have with Carly. Meanwhile, at a Department of Health & Human Services warehouse that serves as the NEST headquarters, Charlotte Mearing, the Director of National Intelligence, arrives to speak with the Autobots but Optimus accuses her of lying to them about what they have known of the Transformers. Mearing introduces Optimus to Buzz Aldrin and two surviving members of the secret Lunar landing mission and the reveal that they were there to investigate the wrecked ship and bring samples back to Earth. When Optimus asks about the crash vault, the humans admit they didn’t find it so Optimus and Ratchet use their own ship to head up to the moon and check the vault, where they find the body of Sentinel Prime, Optimus’ mentor. Back on Earth, Megatron is in exile in Africa, still recovering from his wounds received when he last fought Optimus. He is approached by Starscream, Soundwave, and Laserbeak, who tell him that the Autobots took the bait and recovered Sentinel Prime from the Ark and Megatron orders Laserbeak to tie up loose ends by killing Soundwave’s human collaborators. Back in D.C., Sam starts out on his job but is constantly being watched by Jerry Wang. When they are alone in the elevator, Wang tells Sam that he knows who he is and as he continues trying to talk to Sam, eventually forces him into the restroom, where he tells him the Autobots are in danger, handing him some papers and newspaper articles. Sam looks at them and attempts to talk to Wang later only for Wang to act like he doesn’t know him. When Sam leaves, it is revealed that Laserbeak had disguised himself as Wang’s monitor and he then kills Wang, then attacks the office attempting to kill Sam. That night, Sam goes to NEST Headquarters and tries to get in to see Optimus and Lennox and after Bumblebee stops security from arresting him, Lennox has him brought inside. Sam hands Lennox the papers Wang gave him and starts to explain what happened but he is interrupted by Wearing, who is upset that Sam and Carly have been allowed in the base. Sam is allowed to watch as Optimus uses the Matrix to revive Sentinel, who asks about the pillars. Wearing tells him that they can’t let him have them until the determine that they don’t pose a danger to the planet. Wearing then talks with Sam and Carly and tells him that he isn’t a fighter and he can’t be a part of NEST but she does allow Bumblebee to act as his protector again. Sam contacts Simmons, who is now a famous author though people claim his books are pure fiction, and tells him about the secret about the moon landing and convinces him to help. With Simmons’ personal assistant Dutch’s help, they manage to track down a Russian Cosmonaut who was supposed to go on a manned mission to the moon that was suddenly scrapped. When they meet with him, he shows them pictures of the moon and reveals that there were hundreds of pillars scattered on the moon’s surface from the crash but they had been moved. Sam realizes that the Decepticons must have taken them and needed Sentinel to use them. Sam contacts Wearing and tells her that the Decepticons are after Sentinel and Bumblebee, Sideswipe, and Mirage rendezvous with Sentinel and escort him to NEST headquarters but come under attack by Decepticons. Ironhide shows up to deal with the Decepticons but Sentinel reveals that he had struck a deal with Megatron before he left Cybertron and uses his acid gun to kill Ironhide. Sentinel then breaks the pillars out of the NEST vault and heads to the Lincoln memorial, rendezvousing with Megatron and Starscream, and proceeds to activate the pillars and form a space bridge to the moon. Megatron then summons the Decepticons that were hidden on the moon’s surface and they make their way through the bridge, forcing Optimus and the other Autobots to fall back. Sam goes to Gould’s home to get Carly, who was at a party there, but when they go to leave, the company car Carly was given is revealed to be Soundwave, who takes Carly hostage. Gould then reveals that he has been working with the Decepticons and tells Sam that he will find out what Optimus’ plans are or else Carly will die, forcing a Decepticon probe disguised as a watch onto Sam’s wrist to ensure he doesn’t alert the Autobots to what is going on. Meanwhile, Sentinel issues an ultimatum to the world’s leaders, ordering them to remove the Autobots from Earth or else the Decepticons will kill everyone. The U.S. rescinds their agreement with the Autobots and they go to board their secret shuttle. Sam asks Optimus what he is going to do to fight back and Optimus tells him nothing, then the Autobots all board the shuttle and leave. The drone moves off of Sam’s arm and he contacts Gould to tell him to release Carly but Gould says they needed to know that the Autobots were going to leave without a fight, and Sam watches as Starscream attacks the shuttle and destroys it. Sam has Simmons and Dutch trace Gould’s call and learn that he has gone to Chicago so Sam plans on going there to get Carly back and Epps, who was working on the Autobot shuttle since retiring from NEST, goes with him, contacting some former NEST friends to assist them. When they reach Chicago, they find it has been fortified by the Decepticons and they want to turn back but Sam insists on going to rescue Carly. They suddenly come under attack by a Decepticon flyer but are rescued by Optimus and the Autobots, who revealed that they had hidden in one of the booster rockets, knowing that the Decepticons wouldn’t let them leave Earth alive. With Bumblebee’s help, Sam manages to rescue Carly, killing Laserbeak in the process, but Gould warns Megatron of the Autobots still being alive, and he orders the Decepticons to find them. Seeing a downed surveillance drone nearby, Epps, Sam, and Carly use it to contact Lennox, telling them of Sentinel’s plan to use the Space Bridge to bring Cybertron to Earth’s orbit. The head to a nearby building so they can try to take out the activation pillar but the Decepticons attack the building, causing part of it to fall. They manage to survive the fall and make their way out of the building but Sam and Carly get separated from Epp’s group and come under attack from Starscream. Sam uses some inventions that Wheeljack gave him and manages to kill Starscream, then is rescued by Lennox’s team and Bumblebee. Lennox’s team joins up with Epps’ team and they continue towards the tower, meeting up with a SEAL team in the process. When they find Bumblebee, Wheeljack, and several other Autobots being held captive by Soundwave, they manage to rescue them but not before Wheeljack is killed. Sentinel activates the Space Bridge and Cybertron starts to appear in orbit but Wheelie and Brains manage to sneak aboard the Decepticon flag ship and sabotage it, causing it to crash into the building and deactivate the crystal. As the Autobots renew the fight with the Decepticons, reinforced by some more soldiers, Sentinel begins fighting with Optimus. Sam goes to grab the pillar, but Gould reaches it first and activates it. Sam then knocks Gould into the pillar, electrocuting him, while Bumblebee and the Autobots destroy the Pillar, causing the portion of Cybertron that had arrived in orbit to implode. Sentinel manages to get the upper hand on Optimus, severing his right arm, and moves to finish him off but Megatron, having been convinced by Carly to fight Sentinel over control of the Decepticons, begins fighting Sentinel himself. As Megatron turns his attention to Optimus, Optimus musters up the strength to kill Megatron, then finishes off Sentinel. Sam and Carly embrace while Lennox, Epps, and the other Autobots join Optimus, who knows that the Earth is now there home and vows to defend it.

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon met with poor results from the critics, holding a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Its special effects — and 3D shots — are undeniably impressive, but they aren’t enough to fill up its loud, bloated running time, or mask its thin, indifferent script.” Michael Bay swore that the Autobot Twins, Skids and Mudflap, would not be in the film, and promised 25,000 dollars to whomever could spot them. However, they do appear in one scene: when Director Mearing arrives at NEST.The movie was a big hit at the box office, earning $1.124 billion off of a $195 million budget, making it the highest grossing entry in the series, the second highest grossing film of 2011 (coming in behind Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2), and the 10th movie to gross over $1 billion.

Ok, I will admit that this was a little better than the last movie, but I still don’t feel bad for not seeing it in theaters. The acting was good, with the returning characters doing their parts well. I liked Patrick Dempsey’s character (Gould) and the little bit of character development they gave him but I honestly thought that Rosie Huntington-Whitely (Carly) was just the same character as Megan Fox, just blonde. As for as the new Transformers, I loved Leonard Nimoy making a return to the series (he played Galvatron in the animated movie), as he really gave Sentinel the seriousness and gravity that the character needed. I also liked Brains and Wheeljack, especially how they made Wheeljack similar to the cartoon character, but giving him kind of a Christopher Lloyd appearance so he looked more like the mad genius inventor that he was known for. I also was happy that they had Shockwave in this movie, as he was one of my favorite of the original Transfomers, but I was disappointed that they made Soundwave change from a communications satellite to a Mercedes. That was just lame. The story was ok but I honestly liked the main plot a lot better WHEN IT WAS IN THE ORIGINAL CARTOON. Seriously, you can’t come up with anything more original than to copy a storyline that is 30 years old. Another thing that I felt was stupid, and I am not the only one to think this, is that fact that Optimus offered Sentinel the Matrix of Leadership and he refused it. Why would he do that. I mean, here he is being offered a powerful artifact that can be used as a power source if needed and he refused it. Sure, some people have said that Sentinel knew he wasn’t worthy of it as he betrayed the Autobots, though they did not know it at the time, but he still could have taken it if for no other reason, to keep it from Optimus’ hands. The special effects were incredible and, while I didn’t get to see it in 3D, I can tell where they would have been and I bet they would have been impressive as hell. So it’s a good movie and probably would have been worth seeing in 3D in the theaters, but it is still worth giving a watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Standard
action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

March 7th, 2018 Movie – Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

transformers-revenge of the fallen

So with the first movie being such a success, there was no doubt that a second movie would be making it’s way into production to take advantage of the new generation of fans. I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer for this movie during the Super Bowl, it did get me excited to go see it. However, after calming down from the initial excitement, I started to get worried about it being all flash and no story. Still, I did have the desire to see it and decided to leave work early one day and went to an afternoon showing with the girl I was dating at the time. So let’s get ready for Michael Bay’s second entry into the Transformer’s franchise; Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

The plot: In 17,000 B.C., a primitive human hunting party comes across a strange structure and several, large mechanical beings, The Primes, and one of the Primes proceeds to attack the party. 2 years after the battle in Mission City, the Autobots have partnered with a secret military group called NEST, led by General Morshower, to secretly protect Earth from any further Decepticon incursions. A Nest team led by Major Lennox and USAF Master Chief Epps head to a steel factory in China, which has been evacuated with the cover story of a toxic spill. Accompanied by the Autobots, including some newly arrived from space, they head inside to look for the Decepticons and are attacked by the massive Decepticon Demolisher. As they start to attack, a second Decepticon, Sideways, is seen fleeing the scene and Lennox sends Arcee, Chromia, and Elita-1 (a trio of motorcycles) and the twins, Skids and Mudflap, after him but when they are unable to stop him, Sideswipe is called in and he cuts the Decepticon in half. Meanwhile, Demolisher has made it out onto the highway and Epps calls in for Optimus to be brought onto the scene, who finally manages to stop the Decepticon. As Optimus prepares to finish him off, Demolisher says that the Fallen will return, just before Optimus shoots him in the head. Back in the states, Sam Witwicky is packing to go to college and talking to Mikaela, trying to convince her to come with him, when he discovers a shard from the All-Spark caught in his clothes from the Mission City battle. As he picks it up, a jolt from the shard sends a series of Cypertronian symbols into Sam’s brain. Sam drops the shard, which burns through the floor of his room and lands on the kitchen counter, turning all the appliances inside into killer robots. When the robots start attacking Sam, Sam yells out for Bumblebee to help and Bumblebee bursts out of the garage and destroys the robots, damaging the house in the process. As the police and fire fighters arrive to deal with the fires, Sam goes into the kitchen and grabs the shard, then hands it to Mikaela, who just arrived, and asks her to keep it hidden. Sam then goes to talk with Bumblebee, as his mother told him that Bumblebee had to leave when he does, and tells Bumblebee that he isn’t allowed to have cars on campus since he is a freshman and that he should rejoin Optimus and the others. Sam and Mikaela say goodbye and as Mikaela leaves, she is observed by the Decepticon Wheelie, disguised as an R.C. truck, and he detects the shard in her possession. Wheelie contacts Soundwave, who is disguised a satellite, and Soundwave tells him to retrieve the shard, then hacks into a U.S. military satellite just as NEST Command is talking with Lennox and Optimus at the naval base they are stationed at. Optimus warns Morshower that the Decepticons are planning something but he doesn’t know what but NSA Theo Galloway, who was just assigned as liaison to the base, argues that the recent attacks of the Decepticons are because they are hunting the Autobots and asks Optimus if the U.S. deems it necessary to revoke their asylum, would they leave. Learning that NEST has a shard from the All-Spark in their base, Soundwave launches Ravage to Earth, who infiltrates the base and sends in Reedman, a razor-thin Decepticon composed of hundreds of tiny, beetle like Decepticons, to steal the shard and they make their escape. Meanwhile. Sam heads to college and meets his roommate Leo, who runs a conspiracy website that tries to post videos of the Transformers’ attacks but he is always scooped by another site run by a man called “Robowarrior”. That night, Leo and his partners take Sam to a frat party, causing Sam to miss his online web date with Mikaela. As Sam is looking around, the Cybertronian symbols suddenly start flashing in his head and he starts having a seizure and begins drawing them in cake icing. Alice, a girl in his dorm, sees this and starts flirting with him but before anything happens, someone yells about a yellow Camaro outside. Sam runs outside and sees Bumblebee outside and when he asks what he is doing there, Bumblebee says Optimus needs to see him. Sam gets inside but Alice gets in as well and as they drive off, Bumblebee uses the radio to admonish Sam before doing what he can to get rid of her. Afterwards, Bumblebee takes Sam to see Optimus, who tells Sam that he needs his help in convincing the government that they are needed there to ensure the planet is safe from the Decepticons. Meanwhile, Ravage heads to a freight out near the Laurentian Abyss and meets with some of the Constructicons that are hidden on board. The five of them dive down into the Abyss and when they reach Megatron’s body, Scalpel, a small Decepticon riding in Ravage, has the Constructicon’s rip apart one of their own to use as spare parts to repair Megatron, then jabs the shard into his chest to revive him. The revived Megatron heads to the surface, destroying a NEST sub guarding the site, then heads out into space and towards a moon orbiting Saturn, where he rejoins the Fallen. The Fallen says that the knowledge of the All-Spark has been absorbed by Sam and that they need to retrieve him in order to make their plans succeed. Back in college, Sam has another seizure during a class, and begins drawing symbols and equations on the chalkboard before his professor kicks him out. Sam calls Mikaela and explains what is going on and realizes that this started when he touched the shard. He asks her if it is safe and she tells him yes but then catches Wheelie trying to steal it so she tortures him briefly before locking him in a chest, then tells Sam she is coming to him. Back on campus, Sam is drawing symbols all over his dorm room when Alice and Leo walk in. Alice pushes Leo out of the room and then starts flirting with Sam again but as she throws him on the bed, Sam doesn’t notice a robotic tendril emerging from her back. When Mikaela starts to enter the room, the tendril retracts and Alice kisses Sam, causing Mikaela to turn around and leave. Sam starts to go after her but Alice attacks him, revealing herself to be a Decepticon Pretender just as Mikaela and Leo return to the room. The three kids make a run for it, with Alice chasing after them but Mikaela hotwires a car and kills Alice by smashing her into a lightpole, then running over her. As they continue driving, Leo asks what is going on when they are suddenly captured by Grindor and carried away. They are taken to an abandoned warehouse, where Megatron and Starscream are waiting for them and Megatron grabs Sam and holds him still as Scalpel sends a probe into Sam’s head to ensure he has the data. When they reveal the symbols, Scalpel prepares to remove Sam’s brain but Optimus and Bumblebee crash through the warehouse and begin fighting with Megatron and Starscream. Optimus grabs Sam while Mikaela and Leo get into Bumblebee and they all leave but Megatron chases after Optimus and begins attacking him. Optimus tells Sam to hide as he takes on Megatron, Starscream, and Grindor, and Optimus manages to kill Grindor but Megatron stabs him in the back, then shoots him, killing Optimus. The other Autobots arrive and Ironhide tells Bumblebee and the twins to get Sam out of there while they provide cover. Back on Saturn’s moon, The Fallen senses Optimus’ death and says it is time for the Decepticons to reveal themselves. More Decepticons fall to Earth and destroy a U.S. aircraft carrier while another Decepticon captures Sam’s parents in Paris. Megatron and Soundwave help hijack the telecommunication systems and the Fallen broadcasts to the world and demands that they turn over Sam. Back at the NEST base, Optimus’ body is brought back when Galloway shows up and says that NEST is shut down and that they are pursuing every option to end the conflict, including turning Sam over to the Decepticons. Meanwhile, Sam asks Bumblebee and the twins about the symbols in his head and they tell him it is ancient Cybertronian but they can’t read it. Leo says he saw similar symbols on Robowarrior’s site and they head to New York City only to discover that Robowarrior is actually former Sector 7 Agent Simmons. Simmons is upset to see Sam and Mikaela in his shop but when Sam mentions the symbols, he takes them to his secret lair, where he kept hundreds of files that he stole form Sector 7 before it was shut down. He shows them pictures of the symbols that are on archaeological digs and says that Transformers had been to Earth before. Mikaela brings the trunk into the room and lets Wheelie out and he says it is the language of the Primes, then tells Simmons that the pictures he has is of Seekers, some of the oldest known Transformers. Wheelie shows the location of the Seekers and the closest one is in Washington DC so they head there. Tracking the Seeker to the Air & Space Museum, they discover that the SR-71 Blackbird is the Seeker known as Jetfire and use the shard to reactivate them. After showing the symbols to Jetfire, Jetfire teleports them to Egypt and explains that a device was hidden there that could create Energon by destroying the sun but the Primes refused to use it if there were worlds with life on them that would be harmed. The Fallen despised the early human race and wanted to use it anyways but his fellow Primes refused and war broke out over the issue. The Fallen was to strong for the Primes to kill so they stole the key to the device, the Matrix of Leadership, and hid it away, using their own bodies to make a tomb for it. Jetfire says that only a Prime can kill the Fallen and when Sam asks if the Matrix could revive Optimus, Jetfire says he isn’t sure but it is a possibility. Sam and the others make their way towards Jordan, where Jetfire says the key is buried, and Simmons contacts Lennox and tells him to bring Optimus’ body to the border of Jordan and Egypt. Lennox secretly contacts Morshower and tells him to send reinforcements and tricks Galloway into jumping out of the plane as they head to the rendezvous. Meanwhile, Sam figures out where the key is and they discover the Tomb of the Primes but as Sam goes to grab the Matrix, it disintegrates into Dust. Mikaela and Simmons says it is over but Sam refuses to believe them and collects the dust into one of his socks. They make their way towards the rendezvous but the Decepticons have learned their location and Starscream attacks them. Sam and Mikaela leave the others and make their way through an abandoned village towards the rendezvous but the Decepticons reveal they have Sam’s parents and use them as a trap. Bumblebee rescues Sam’s parents and Sam tells him to get them to safety while he and Mikaela continue towards Optimus. Meanwhile, the Decepticons are attacking the Autobots and the NEST soldiers while Simmons and Leo witness the Constructicons merging into Devastator and it begins dismantling one of the pyramids, revealing the energon device. Simmons contacts the Navy and has them use a prototype railgun to destroy Devastator as reinforcements arrive to help the Autobots, including Jetfire, but as Sam makes a run for Optimus, he is caught in an explosion. As medics work to revive him, Sam sees a vision of the Primes telling him that they were watching him and found him worthy of the Matrix. Sam revives and finds that the dust has re-solidified into the Matrix and he rushes forward and plunges it into Optimus’ chest, reviving him. Suddenly, the Fallen shows up and grabs the Matrix, then heads for the machine and uses the Matrix to activate it. Jetfire tells Optimus to use his parts to power himself, then rips out his own spark and Ratchet and Jolt work on merging both Jetfire’s spark and his body to Optimus. The newly powered Optimus flies off to the pyramid and destroys the device, then begins fighting Megatron and the Fallen, severely injuring Megatron before finally killing the Fallen. Megatron cries out in disbelief at the death of the Fallen and Starscream says it is better they leave in order to fight again. Later, as everyone prepares to return home, Optimus approaches Sam and thanks him for saving his life.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen was panned by the critics, holding a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a noisy, underplotted, and overlong special effects extravaganza that lacks a human touch.” The college scenes were shot at both Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, but neither school is named in the film as they both felt the Judy Witwicky scenes were damaging their image. The movie was a box office hit, earning $836.3 million off of a $200 million budget, but it wound up winning 3 Razzie awards, including the Worst Picture Award, making it the highest grossing movie to win the award.

Before I get to the actual review, let me take a second to go on a rant. You would think that a movie about giant robots wouldn’t need to stoop to something as classless as a racial stereotype but unfortunately, that is not the case. The funny thing is, this isn’t the first time racism has come up in Transformers, as Casey Kasem ended up leaving the show after the episode “Thief In The Night” in the original cartoon. However, I honestly think Revenge Of The Fallen was worse with the characters of Mudflap and Skids. These were two of the most blatantly racist stereotypes you could possibly come up with, and the fact that the gave one of them a gold tooth and made the comment about they didn’t know how to read was just terrible. The fact that the writers decided to put that in there, and Michael Bay allowed it to be filmed, is shameful and made a bad movie even worse.

Now that I got that out of the way, let me go ahead and say that there were some good parts to this movie but on the whole, it was kind of disappointing. The acting was ok, and Shia Labeouf’s (Sam) spastic character portrayal actually helped the times he was supposed to be seizing and acting erratically. Megan Fox (Mikaela), John Turturro (Simmons), Josh Duhamel (Lennox), and Tyrese Gibson (Epps) were all good in reprising their roles and I did like the introduction of Isabel Lucas (Alice) and Ramon Rodriguez (Leo). The story honestly sounded like any other fantasy/sci-fi movie, with nothing really original that would help make this movie more unique and not just another CGI spectacle. Aside from the twins, I also didn’t particularly like what the did with Devastator, especially when they set him up to be the butt of a cheap “balls” joke. I will admit that I loved how they portrayed Jetfire, playing homage to the original cartoon (and Marvel comic series) in that he was a Decepticon first but then decided to join the Autobots, and a more recent version from Transformers: Armada, particularly where Jetfire combined with Optimus to make a more powerful version of Optimus. I also liked that they made Alice into a Pretender, as that was a branch of Transformers that really didn’t get much notice or recognition in the U.S. when it first came out, though a whole series was dedicated to them in Japan. The special effects were definitely improved upon from the first movie, and the IMAX scenes really were incredible. Some good parts, some really bad parts, and a whole lot of predictability make this good for some mindless entertainment, but leaves you wanting more.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

Standard
action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

March 6th, 2018 Movie – Transformers

transformers

When it was first announced that a live-action Transformers movie was going to be made, I was honestly pretty scared. I mean, I know there was going to be a lot of CGI involved by the thought that someone was going to be brave enough to make a movie on giant robots was a brave feat. Now yes, there have been movies before that featured giant robots but Transformers is different due to the fact that they transform, so there is more work to be done with them. Still, the fan in me was eager to watch it and so I had no problem shelling out the money to go see today’s movie, Transformers.

The plot: Millions of years ago, the All-Spark, a cube shaped mystical artifact, brought life to the planet Cybertron but eventually, a war broke out over the All-Spark’s power and it was sent into space, where it ended up lost until a signal directs the inhabitants of Cybertron to the planet Earth. In the present day, an unidentified helicopter approaches a U.S. military base in Qatar and after landing, quickly transforms into the Decepticon Blackout and begins attacking the base. When it reaches the command center and grabs one of the computer mainframes, base commander Colonel Sharp realizes it is downloading secret government files through the internet and physically cuts the hardline. Blackout continues to attack the base, killing everyone there but when Sergeant Epps manages to get video of the attack, Blackout ejects Scorponok from his back to pursue Epps and the rest of Captain Lennox’s Ranger team as they escape into the desert. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is doing a report on his great-great-grandfather Captain Archibald Witwicky, who had explored the Arctic Circle but gone blind and insane, babbling about a giant ice man and drawing strange symbols afterwards. When his teacher gives him a B- for his report, Sam convinces him to change it to an A-, as his father, Ron, told him he would get him a car provided he earned 3 A’s and $2000. With the grade changed, Sam shows Ron and they head off to a used car lot, which Sam is not happy about, but his attention is drawn to a faded old Camero and, after a some strange incidents, the dealer agrees to sell the car to Sam and Ron. In Washington DC, Secretary of Defense John Keller attends a meeting of the top minds in sound analysis and explains what happened in Qatar and tells them that they are there to try and determine the origin of the sound, which is what had hacked into the military network. Meanwhile, Sam heads out with his friend to a lake party in the hopes of impressing his crush, Mikaela Barnes, but her boyfriend proceeds to mock and humiliate them. When Mikaela ends up getting in a fight with her boyfriend Trent, Sam offers to give her a ride home and she accepts, and the two end up talking as he takes her home. That night, Frenzy, another Decepticon who has managed to sneak onto Air Force One by disguising himself as a radio, begins hacking into the mainframe aboard the plane. In DC, Maggie Madsen and her team detect the hack and alert the senior analysts to what is going on. The analyst agrees with Maggie’s recommendation to shut down the defense network, interrupting the hack. Frenzy kills some secret service agents that investigate the hack then transforms back into a radio to hide. When the plane lands, Frenzy sneaks off the plane and heads towards a police car, which is actually a Decepticon named Barricade, and tells him he found a clue to the All-Spark’s location and they have to find Sam. Meanwhile, Sam’s Camaro suddenly leaves his house and Sam chases after it only to witness it transforming into a giant robot. Sam tries to tell the police but they suspect he is on drugs and book him for trespassing. Back in Qatar, Lennox and his team are heading towards a friendly village where a kid that was on the base lives when they are attacked by Scorponok. Reaching the village, Lennox and Epps make contact with the Pentagon and call for reinforcements as the try to fend off the Decepticon, which is eventually damaged by sabot rounds and disappears into the sand. Back in DC, Maggie copies the data stream and heads to the home of Glen Whitmann, a hacker friend of hers. She has him try to analyze the file and they discover references to Sector Seven, Project Iceman, and Captain Witwicky but are arrested by the FBI before they can learn anything else. Back at his home, Sam sees the Camaro return to his house and tries running away on a bicycle but the Camaro chases after him. When Sam crashes, Mikaela sees him and asks if he is ok and Sam says no before picking the bike back up and making a run for it. He eventually avoids the Camaro and, seeing a police car approaching, heads towards it but the police car rams into him, then transforms and begins questioning him about the glasses he is selling on eBay. Sam attempts to run and slams into Mikaela, who had chased after him, and she yells at him at first until she sees Barricade approaching. Suddenly, the Camaro appears and slams into Barricade, then pulls up next to them and opens it’s door and Sam tells Mikaela to get into the car. Once they are both in, the Camaro drives off with Barricade pursuing them and after a brief chase, the Camaro pulls into a train yard and lets them out, then transforms into Bumblebee and begins fighting Barricade. As he is fighting, Barricade sends out Frenzy to attack Sam and Mikaela but Mikaela uses a reciprocating saw to cut his head off and Sam kicks it away. Bumblebee is shown to have won his battle and, communicating through radio, indicates he wants them to get in and go with him. They get in the car but as they drive off, Mikaela wonders why Bumblebee changes into a rusted out car and Bumblebee, his feelings hurt, kicks them out, then scans a newer model Camaro to change into and picks them back up. He takes them to a memorial, where they see 4 meteorites falling to Earth. The meteorites are actually pods containing Autobot protoforms, which quickly scan vehicles and meet up with Bumblebee, Sam, and Mikaela. Transforming into robot forms, their leader Optimus Prime introduces himself and his companions Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet and explains about how Archibald found Megatron in the Arctic but also learned the location of the All-Spark, which was etched onto his glasses. The Autobots take Sam and Mikaela back to Sam’s house so he can find the glasses but are hindered by the Sam’s parents. Suddenly, Sector Seven, led by Agent Simmons, shows up at the house and after determining that they have had contact with aliens, has Sam and Mikaela arrested. As they are driving away, Simmons questions Sam and Mikaela, taunting Mikaela with the news about her father’s parole. Optimus Prime appears and rescues Sam and Mikaela but more Sector Seven forces arrive and Bumblebee, Sam, and Mikaela are captured. After they leave, Jazz asks if they should go after them but Optimus says that there is no way to rescue Bumblebee without hurting the humans and picks up the glasses that had fallen out of Sam’s bag. Back in DC, the head of Sector Seven, Tom Banacheck, meets with Keller as all of their military communications go down and shows him a video of a mars rover that had taken recorded a Transformer on the planet’s surface. Keller has Maggie and Glen released into his care as his advisers and they head to Sector Seven’s headquarters at Hoover Dam, along with Sam, Mikaela, and Lennox and his team. When they get there, they are shown the frozen body of Megatron and Simmons reveals that the modern technology all came from studying and reverse engineering him. Sam reveals what he knows about Megatron and the All-Spark and realizes that they have the All-Spark there. As Simmons and Banacheck show the group the All-Spark, Frenzy, whose head had disguised itself as Mikaela’s phone, is reconstructed by the All-Spark and contacts the other Decepticons and Starscream orders them to head to the dam. As Starscream attacks the outside of the dam, Frenzy lowers the temperature in the room holding Megatron. Realizing the danger they are in, Sam tells Simmons to take him to Bumblebee and when Simmons refuses, Lennox grabs him and forces him to take them to Bumblebee. When they get there, Sam convinces Bumblebee that the humans aren’t going to hurt him and that the All-Spark is there. Bumblebee heads to the chamber and shrinks the All-Spark down to a smaller size and then Sam, Mikaela, Lennox and his team head to Mission City so they can get the cube somewhere safe, meeting Optimus and the other Autobots along the way. Back at the dam, Megatron thaws out and begins attacking Sector Seven before breaking out and meeting with Starscream, ordering him to get the cube.Meanwhile, Keller, Simmons, Maggie, and Glen work on contacting the Air Force and as they do so, they are attacked by Frenzy but he is killed when one of his shuriken ends up taking his head apart. As Sam and the others head to Mission City, Barricade and Bonecrusher chase after them and Optimus transforms to take on Bonecrusher, eventually killing him. In the city, Starscream attacks the group and Bumblebee is injured, while Devastator, attacks the soldiers. Mikaela hotwires a tow truck to help get Bumblebee out of there and Lennox tells Sam to get the cube to the roof of a nearby building so he can be evacuated out of there. Ironhide and Ratchet work to cover Sam as Megatron shows up, ripping Jazz in half. Optimus begins fighting with Megatron as the other Decepticons continue fighting with the Autobots and Lennox’s team. Megatron chases after Sam and as Sam attempts to escape in a Blackhawk, Starscream shoots it down. Mikaela and Bumblebee choose to help out Lennox’s team, helping them to destroy Devastator, then destroy Blackout. Starscream attacks the Air Force jets but is soon chased away. Prime rescues Sam and tells him if he can’t defeat Megatron, Sam should shove the All-Spark into his chest, which would destroy both Optimus and the All-Spark. Megatron is able to defeat Optimus but is then injured by the remaining Air Force jets and as he approaches Sam, Sam shoves the All-Spark into his chest, killing Megatron and destroying the cube. Optimus thanks Sam for saving his life, then mourns the death of Jazz. In DC, Keller announces that Sector Seven has been shut down while the Decepticons’ remains are sent to the Laurentian Abyss, where the hopes are that the crushing pressure and freezing temperatures will prevent anyone from attempting to retrieve them. Sam and Mikaela end up starting a relationship, with Bumblebee choosing to stay as Sam’s protector, while the other Autobots stay on Earth to help defend it. Optimus sends a signal out to space to any other Autobots that wish to come there to live while in Space, Starscream is shown to have flown off to retrieve reinforcements of his own.

Transformers met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “While believable characters are hard to come by in Transformers, the effects are staggering and the action is exhilarating.” Peter Cullen was asked to reprise his role of Optimus Prime and he eagerly accepted. Frank Welker was also approached to reprise his role of Megatron but he had to turn it down due to other projects but would be a part of later films, voicing Galvatron in Age Of Extinction and reprising Megatron in The Last Knight. The movie was a box office success, earning $709.7 million off of a $150 million budget and would spawn 4 sequels over the years and would become the fastest selling DVD of 2007 when it was released.

This is a pretty much exactly what the critics said, a lot of good special effects and CGI but a little lacking in plot. The acting was ok, with Josh Duhamel (Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (Epps), John Turturro (Simmons), and Jon Voight (Keller) all doing good jobs in their roles, but Antony Anderson (Glen) really stole the show with the scenes he was in. When it came to the two stars, Shia Labeouf’s constant stammering and spastic portrayal of Sam became very annoying really quick while Megan Fox (Mikaela) pretty much came across as someone who was there just to look good but they at least tried to give her some depth and character development. The plot was pretty simplistic, changing the origin that most fans grew up with and adding an all powerful item to the reason for their leaving Cybertron. The movie really did seem to be unfocused in how they wanted to handle the characters; switching from joking around and making it seemingly more kid friendly (keeping with the tone of the original cartoon) to being more serious and darker (Such as seeing Jazz ripped in half or several Decepticon being destroyed). The special effects and CGI really did make this movie and I liked how the humans were able to interact with the Transformers and make it seem like they really were talking to real people. I did like the somewhat modern design for some of the Autobots and Decepticons, as well as Megatron’s refusal to adapt to a “lesser” form and staying in his more alien vehicle mode. There are some good parts to this movie but I really hoped they had done a better job with it.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Standard