action, drama, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 14th, 2018 Movie – V For Vendetta

v for vendetta

As the MCU set to storm theaters again with Infinity War, just after the theaters have started to recover from the showing of Black Panther, It can be hard to forget that there are other movies out there based on comic books. Now, I’m not talking about the DCEU, which has honestly been kind of a flop with the exception of Wonder Woman. I’m talking about some of the other movies that were based on lesser known comic books. Take today’s movie for instance. Granted, the comic it was based on was from DC’s offshoot company, Vertigo, but you aren’t going to see any of the famed Justice League members in this movie. That is because Vertigo comics focused on darker, and more adult themes that wouldn’t be able to make it past the normal comic censors. I remember being pretty excited to go see this movie in theaters when it came out, and had no problem attending a late night showing, even though I was leaving early the next morning to go out of town. So let’s all get a little bit of anarchy in our systems with today’s movie, V For Vendetta.

The plot: As Lewis Prothero starts giving his usual propagandist speeches on the television for his show, a man dressed in black and armed with several knives dons a Guy Fawkes mask, cape, and hat, then heads out. At the same time, Evey Hammond is also watching Prothero’s program as she gets dressed, turning it off as he goes on his fevered pitch against immigrants and homosexuals. Realizing how late it is, Evey quickly heads out, trying to reach her destination before she is caught for being out past curfew but she ends up being detained by 3 Fingermen, members of the ruling Norsefire party’s secret police. The Fingermen intend on raping Evey as punishment for being out past curfew but she is rescued by the masked man, who introduces himself as V. V invites Evey to join him for a concert and takes her to a rooftop just as midnight sounds and the date changes to November 5th. Referencing “The Bonfire Prayer”, V begins waving a conductor’s baton and Evey hears “1812 Overture” being broadcast over the speakers on the street, attracting the attention of the residents in the area who go outside to see what is going on. As the crescendo hits, the Old Bailey, London’s main criminal court, is destroyed by explosives, while fireworks going off in the pattern of the letter V light up the sky. The next morning, High Chancellor Adam Sutler holds a video conference with his cabinet; Eric Finch (The Nose) – head of Scotland Yard, Peter Creely (The Finger) – head of the Secret Police, Brian Etheridge (The Ear) – head of the government’s audio surveillance, Roger Dascombe (The Mouth) – head of the government’s propaganda machine, and Conrad Heyer (The Eye) – head of the government’s visual surveillance. The cabinet tells him that they are stepping up their various surveillance measures and doing their best to capture the terrorist, as well as try to identify Evey to find out her role in the matter. The next day, Evey reports to work at BTN and apologizes to her boss, Gordon Deitrich, for standing him up the night before. When Evey delivers some packages to one of the studios, she is shocked to discover that they all contain Guy Fawkes masks and quickly grabs her things to leave. Meanwhile, Finch and his partner, Dominic Stone, get a lead on Evey’s identity and after breaking into her apartment, realize she works for BTN. As they head to the studio, Finch looks up her information and decides to call in some back up. At BTN, V shows up, wearing an explosive vest, and takes one of the studio’s hostage just as Finch and his men show up. Finch spots Evey and tries to capture her but they lose her just as V has the studio play a pre-recorded disk he made over the emergency network, causing it to reach every TV in Britain. In the video, V speaks out to the citizens of England, telling them there is something wrong with the country and inviting them to join him outside Parliament in one year if they feel the same way. The police, accompanied by Dascombe, manage to break into the studio only to find that V had made all of the hostages wear Guy Fawkes masks and cloaks in order to help cover his escape. Dascombe works on defusing the bomb V left on the control panel while Stone manages to get the drop on V as he tries to leave. Evey, who had seen V and quickly hidden, decides to help him but ends up getting knocked unconscious and V quickly knocks out Stone, then carries Evey away. Later, BTN shows edited footage of the police shooting V (in reality it was one of the hostages by mistake) and saying he was dead while trying to paint him in a bad light but the seeds of doubt have already started to grow among the people. Evey wakes up in a strange room and as she explores her surroundings, encounters V, who says that she is in his home, the Shadow Gallery, which is a collection of items that have been deemed forbidden by Sutler. Evey says she has to leave and V tells her that the police were there looking for her, which means they know where she lives. He then apologizes and says that he can’t allow her to leave until after Guy Fawkes day of the following year, which upsets Evey. The next morning, Evey apologizes to V for her reaction and noticing his severely burned hands, asks about them but he tells her he was in a fire a long time ago and quickly changes the subject. That night, V uses Evey’s ID to gain access to the BTN building and Prothero’s studio apartment in the building. V confronts Prothero as he gets out of the shower and reveals they share a history back when Prothero was in the military. Some time later, Dascombe calls Finch, who arrives to find that Prothero has been murdered and Dascombe tries to find a way to spin it while Finch works on finding any trace to link it to V and find him. The next morning, Evey is woken by the sounds of struggle only to find it is V reenacting scenes from The Count Of Monte Cristo as it is playing on the TV behind him. V apologizes for waking her and invites Evey to watch the movie with him. Afterwards, a news reports talks about Prothero’s death and Evey realizes the news anchor is lying about how Prothero died. Evey asks V if he killed Prothero and when he admits he did, she gets upset. Meanwhile, Finch and Stone are looking into Prothero’s history and are trying to figure out why he was put in charge of the detention center at Larkhill and go looking for more information about it. Back in the Shadow Gallery, Evey tells V her history and about how her parents were grabbed by the Fingermen one night and offers to help V if he needs it. V does so and has her dress as a school girl and meet with Bishop Lilliman, who has a fetish for young girls. Evey tries to warn Lilliman about V but the bishop doesn’t believe her until V bursts into the room. Evey apologizes to V and quickly flees and V calls out for her but turns his attention to Lilliman when he tries to shoot him. An audio surveillance van picks up on V’s altercation and alerts Finch but he arrives too late to save Lilliman. Creedy shows up and tells Finch that Sutler is not happy about Finch’s poking around into Larkhill and tells him to focus on finding V before his own loyalty comes into question. Finch speaks with the medical examiner, Dr. Delia Surridge, and she confirms that the same poison killed Lilliman and Prothero and when he asks her about the flower V places on the bodies, she gets a shocked look on her face and identifies it as a Scarlet Carson, a species thought to be extinct. Stone calls Finch back to the office and shows him that all of the staff at Larkhill are now dead with the exception of one doctor, who they are unable to find due to the doctor changing his name. Meanwhile, Evey makes her way to Gordon’s house and he quickly brings her inside. After she explains what happened to her, Gordon shows her a hidden room in his house filled with forbidden items and reveals that he is gay, which would mean the end of his career and possibly his life if anyone were to know. Late that night, Surridge is woken by V and the two talk briefly before V admits that he already killed her and she dies peacefully. As this occurs, Stone learns that Surridge is the doctor from Larkhill and Finch rushes over there only to find her already dead, with her journal lying on her night stand. Finch speaks with Sutler, who tells him that the journal is a matter of national security and not to be told to anyone. Disregarding the order, Finch reads the journal and learns that Larkhill was used as a testing facility for biological warfare before it was destroyed and while most of the patients were killed by the experiments, Surridge said she had hopes for one man who was known as Prisoner 5 (the roman numeral V). Finch finds himself questioning what really happened at St. Marys’ school and Three Waters, which were the sites of terrorist attacks, and asks Stone if perhaps they incidents were not what they have been led to believe. One night, Gordon informs Evey that he changed the script of his show and as they watch, Evey is shocked to see he made a satire/parody skit, with an actor portraying Sutler chasing after V. When V is captured, he is revealed to be another Sutler and they two men fight before being killed by the police. Later that night, Evey is woken by the sounds of struggle and Gordon bursts into the room and tells her to hide just before the door is smashed and he is assaulted and captured by Creedy and the Fingermen. After they leave, Evey sneaks out the window and attempts to escape but she is captured and a bag is placed over her head. Evey is interrogated and tortured for the location of where to find V but she refuses to tell them. Evey discovers a note from the prisoner in the cell next to her and reads it in between her bouts of torture. The note is from an actress named Valerie Page, who was a lesbian and describes her life up to the time of Sutler’s rise to power and how both her and her girlfriend were taken by the Fingermen. When Evey is threatened to be executed by firing squad unless she tells them what they want to know, Evey, inspired by the note, refuses to give them what they want and chooses the firing squad. The guard says she is without fear and free to go and walks away, leaving the door open. Confused, Evey walks out the door and discovers that she is in another part of the Shadow Gallery. V apologizes for what he did and when she asks about Gordon, he tells her he was executed when they found a Koran inside his house. Evey yells at V for what he did to her before collapsing to ground in anguish and he leads her outside onto the roof for some fresh air and she walks out into the rain and cries out in release. Later Evey tells V she is leaving and offers him back the note but he reveals that Valerie was a real person and happened to be in the cell next to V’s in Larkhill. V asks Evey if she would come see him before Guy Fawkes Day and she agrees to see him, then leaves the Shadow Gallery and heads out to start a new life. Meanwhile, Stone uncovers that there were 3 covert ops who knew the truth about Larkhill and while two of them are dead, one of them, Rookwood, knows they are looking for him and contacts Finch to arrange a meeting. Finch and Stone meet with Rookwood, who tells them about Sutler’s rise to power and how the weapon that was developed at Larkhill was used on the British people, under Creedy’s suggestion, as a means to instill fear in the populace and ensure Sutler’s winning the election. Rookwood says that he will give them all the proof they need once they place Creedy under surveillance so that he feel safe from being killed. As Creedy is placed under surveillance, V approaches him and offers a deal to Creedy, saying he will turn himself in to him in exchange for Creedy bringing him Sutler. Meanwhile, Finch discovers that Rookwood had really been dead for years and realizes that the man they met was really V. As Guy Fawkes day approaches, masks, hats, and cloaks are delivered to every person in London and more and more instances of unrest occur throughout the city. When a Fingerman shoots a little girl who was wearing a mask, he is attacked by several bystanders, leading to riots throughout the city and martial law being declared. As day breaks on November 5th, Evey returns to the Shadow Gallery to keep her promise to V, who is honestly surprised she came. V asks her to dance with him and as they dance, they talk for a bit before he shows her a subway tunnel with a train loaded with explosives that is pointed towards Parliament. He tells her that the decision to blow up Parliament lies not in his hands, but in hers, and says that she must be the one to shape the new world, as he is part of the old. V says he must go to meet his maker and Evey begs him not to go, saying they can leave together and kisses him but V apologizes and leaves. As a televised speech by Sutler appears on the television, Creedy and his men enter an abandoned Subway tunnel and meet with V. Creedy reveals that he has brought Sutler and V speaks with him briefly before Creedy kills him. Creedy then turns his attention to V but V kills the two Fingermen that try to take off his mask. V mocks Creedy, who orders the rest of his men to fire and they shoot V but when their guns are empty, he is shown to still be standing and begins slaughtering the men, leaving Creedy to be last. Creedy fires at him but V continues towards him, then proceeds to break his neck. V removes the armored breast plate he was wearing to try and protect him from the bullets and makes his way through the tunnels back to Evey and admits his love for her before dying in her arms. On the streets of London, hundreds of citizens donning V’s garb march towards Parliament, ignoring the military barricade that are in place. Evey places his body inside the train and prepares to pull the lever when Finch shows up and tells her to stop but when she refuses, he lowers his weapon. As midnight sounds and the crowds gather around Parliament, Evey pulls the lever and sends the train on it’s way, then asks Finch if he likes music. They head up to the roof and watch as Parliament and Big Ben explodes and Finch asks who V was and Evey tells him he was all of them.

V For Vendetta met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Visually stunning and thought-provoking, V For Vendetta‘s political pronouncements may rile some, but its story and impressive set pieces will nevertheless entertain.” The domino scene, where V tips over black and red dominoes to form a giant letter V, involved twenty-two thousand dominoes. It took four professional domino assemblers two hundred hours to set it up. Alan Moore, who wrote the graphic novel the movie is based on, was upset with several of the changes that made V more “morally appealing” and felt that the “fascist government” he created had been defanged. This led to him refusing to have any credit listed in the film and any money he received was given to his partner on the book, David Lloyd. The movie was a success at the box office, earning $132.5 million off of a $54 million budget.

I think this might go down as one of the most impactful comic book movies to ever come out as you will always be able to find a real life situation that mirrors the political aspects in this movie, albeit hopefully not completely. The acting in this was pretty good, with Hugo Weaving doing a good job giving voice to V while Natalie Portman was equally good as Evey. As good as they were, I honestly think Stephen Rea helped set the undertone for the movie as Finch, as he went from loyal party member that didn’t question anything to beginning to doubt what is being told and wanting to learn the truth for himself, while John Hurt and Tim Pigott-Smith did well in their roles as Sutler and Creedy respectively. The story was toned down from the comics but is still well told and really can be used as a showcase of how a fascist government operates. The special effects in the few fight scenes V felt a little over dramatic at times in the use of the slow motion but I know it was meant to showcase his superhuman strength and speed. Still, the choreography was well done and, while slow, the fights were no less exciting. One of my favorite comic book movies to make it to film and definitely one that should be watched.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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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

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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

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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

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