horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

Flashback Review: June 13th, 2014 Movie – C.H.U.D.

chud

Now here is a movie that brings back some memories. Years ago, when I was a kid living in Birmingham, I remember seeing this movie on television and was both freaked out and entertained by it. Yes, I know that this is not exactly the sort of movie a 7 year old should be watching but if you haven’t guessed by now, I am sort of an odd duck. Anyways, I saw it the one time on TV and never saw it again for years, even when I had the opportunity to rent it. Then, I got the urge to watch it again after watching Clerks II and Randall had made a comment to Dante that mentions “chud”. That was enough to get me looking for a copy of C.H.U.D. on DVD but alas, the video was out of print so I had to hop on eBay and track down a copy that was reasonably priced so that I could own my own copy.

The plot: A woman is walking her dog down the street in New York City when something reaches out from a manhole and grabs the woman’s leg, dragging her and the dog into the sewers. The next day, George Cooper, a former fashion photographer who has quit that business and whose new subject is photos of a sect of homeless people that have begun living underground in the sewers, is arguing with a former colleague named Derick about the article Derick is writing, as the subjects George had been talking too and photographing have come up missing. At the same time, George’s model girlfriend, Lauren Daniels, has convinced George to shoot her for a perfume add and as she goes to the basement of their apartment to find her makeup in the boxes they have down there, she hears something moving around near the sewer access. Elsewhere, Francine, a downstairs neighbor of George and Lauren, is walking along the street when she is frightened by a pile of boxes suddenly exploding outward and as she goes to look, she finds a bloody hole leading down into the sewers. At the police station, Captain Bosch calls Chief O’Brien and tells him he can’t keep a lid on things much longer but O’Brien tells him that he has too as the orders came from above the Chief’s head. Bosch has one of his officers pull the files of events in the area while he deals with a homeless woman, Mrs. Monroe, that tried to steal an officer’s gun. After letting the woman make her phone call, Bosch is told that someone had filed a missing person’s report for 12 people and when he goes to investigate, he finds that the person was A.J. Shepherd, whom Bosch had busted 5 years ago. A.J. runs a homeless shelter now and tells Bosch that some of his regulars that live underground have been missing over the past 2 weeks. When Bosch tries to question an undergrounder that is there, the man pulls out a knife and A.J. tells him that a lot of the undergrounders are looking for weapons. Bosch has a hunch and calls his precinct and tells them to follow Mrs. Monroe when she is bailed out. The Mrs. Monroe had called George and after he goes to bail her out, she asks if he has some bandages and when they get them, she leads them to Victor, the undergrounder that she was trying to steal the gun for. Victor’s leg is wounded by some \thing he is afraid of and when George goes to change the bandage on his leg, he finds that a huge chunk of flesh has been bitten off, right to the bone. Bosch’s man loses George and the bag lady in the sewers so Bosch takes some pictures from an article that George had helped write to A.J. to see if he can recognize anyone in it. When A.J. refuses until Bosch tells him what his interest in the matter is, Bosch admits that his wife has gone missing after walking the dog the night before. A.J. looks at the pictures and recognizes Mrs. Monroe, Victor, and Victor’s friend Hugo. A.J. then asks Bosch about the EPA probe that has been going on, only instead of the normal week this one has been going on for a month and when he tries calling about it, he gets the run around. A.J. then shows Bosch some of the stuff that has been turning up in the tunnel underneath the shelter, including a radiation detector, and as they head into the sewer, they discover a geiger counter. When Bosch turns it on, the counter begins detecting a high source of radiation moving towards them, then moving away and as the counter finally goes quiet, they hear a loud roar coming from further in the sewers. George has returned to his apartment, where Lauren tells him that she is pregnant and as they discuss what to do, they decide to keep the baby. On the street below, a man and his daughter head to a pay phone to call the man’s brother for help when they are attacked by a mutated creature that came out of the sewer, who grabs the man but leaves the girl. The next day, Bosch arrives at the precinct and is told about the girl and he orders men placed at every street corner within his precinct’s jurisdiction, then calls O’Brien and tells him to get a meeting with the Commissioner and a representative from the NRC. Bosch goes to get A.J. and his evidence and then goes to get George to get his help but when he doesn’t answer the door, A.J. picks the lock and they head inside, where they find and take the pictures of Victor and his leg. They then head to the meeting and Bosch lays out his case but when the Commissioner and Wilson, the NRC rep, don’t seem inclined to do anything, A.J. shows them the pictures of Victor’s leg and threatens to go public with what is going on and their covering it up. Meanwhile, George and Lauren are having a picnic in the park when they are approached by Murphy, a freelance reporter, who wants George’s help in finding out what is going on underground but George refuses to help him. Back at City Hall, Wilson reluctantly tells them that there is radioactive material under the city but a court order is preventing them from moving it out of the city. When A.J. asks what they are going to do about the disappearances, Wilson says they don’t have anything to do with their situation, then taunts A.J. when he says he will go to the press. A.J. grabs all of his things and leaves and when he does, Wilson gets on the phone and alerts someone to stop him from going to the press. Meanwhile, Bosch had gone to pick up Wilson’s briefcase that A.J. had tossed and notices a file inside called C.H.U.D. Wilson tells him not to mess with the file as Bosch asks to know what C.H.U.D. means when Wilson gets a call. After hanging up, he tells them that C.H.U.D. stands for cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller and that his team just found the body of one. They head out to where the body is, and after Wilson and Bosch examine it, wearing hazmat suits as it is radioactive, Wilson is told it died from asphyxiation. Wilson wants to send his team back in, saying that that was the only creature, and Bosch wants to send some of his men armed with flamethrowers for protection but Wilson overrules him. When Wilson’s team heads down there, they discover that Bosch had disobeyed his orders and sent a team down there anyways. Wilson wants Bosch to pull his men back but Bosch refuses and Wilson reluctantly tells his team to continue with the cops. As they make their way into the tunnels, the geiger counters suddenly start going off and they see something approaching them. Bosch orders them to use the flamethrowers but it has no effect on the creatures and they proceed to slaughter the team. After seeing the video of the incident, the Commissioner agrees with Bosch that the people must be warned but Wilson says he can handle it and plans on using sealing the tunnels and sewers then flooding them with gas, killing off all of the creatures. Bosch goes to see A.J., who is recovering from being jumped by Wilson’s man, and he tells him about Wilson’s plan and warns him to get out of the area but A.J. says he can’t leave. Bosch heads out and A.J. goes into the tunnel to warn Val to get out of there but as Val goes to leave, he is knocked back down the ladder, breaking his neck in the fall, and Wilson’s man locks the door, sealing A.J. down in the tunnel. Meanwhile, George returns home to find his pictures missing and, believing Murphy took them, he calls him up and arranges a meeting. When they meet, Murphy tells him that the police have them to show as proof of a coverup and tells George that he wants to head down into the underground. George reluctantly takes him down there but as Murphy examines a tunnel, he is attacked and killed by a Chud and George grabs his gun and runs off. A.J. uses the geiger counter to help him make his way through the sewers and avoid the Chud when he finds a large group of them around Wilson’s nuclear waste material that has broken open in the sewers. When A.J. accidentally alerts them to his presence, he runs off  and climbs to a higher level but accidentally drops the geiger counter, which is going off the charts as one of the Chud approaches. On the surface, Lauren is going through some old photos when she drops something that rolls under the trap door to the sewers. When she heads down there, she finds Bosch’s dead dog hanging from a pipe and she quickly runs back upstairs and locks the door. Elsewhere, Bosch is called out to the scene of a dead body only to discover that it is his wife and after the officers drag him out of there, he heads to a bar and starts drinking. Lauren calls the police and reports about the dead dog, then goes to take a shower. As she is in the shower, the drain suddenly clogs up and when she uses a coat hanger to try and clear up the clog, a shower of blood suddenly erupts from the drain, covering her. Meanwhile, a Chud manages to crawl out from the sewer and breaks down the door from the basement. Elsewhere, 2 patrol officers enter a diner, having just come off their shift, but as they flirt with the waitress/cook, a group of Chud emerge from the sewer and proceed to attack the diner, killing everyone inside. In the sewers, George makes his way to where Victor was only to find Hugo has been ripped in half and George is beginning to turn into a Chud. George is forced to kill Victor and Mrs. Monroe hits him, then grabs the gun and plans on killing George but A.J. knocks her out and save him. Back on the surface, Bosch hears about the diner and heads over there, blaming Wilson for everyone’s death including his wife but O’Brien tells him to head to his car and calm down. Lauren sees the news report on the diner and the gas going into the sewers and, worrying about George, she goes to try and tell the police that he is down there when she sees a Chud coming up the stairs towards her. Lauren quickly rushes back into her apartment and barricades the door, then tries to phone for help but accidentally rips the phone from the cord when she trips over a chair. Two police officers show up, from her earlier call, and head inside only to be killed by the Chud and as Lauren screams for help, the Chud breaks into the apartment but she manages to kill it by chopping off it’s head. Back in the sewers, George and A.J. make their way past the toxic waste only to find more containers from the NRC, marked Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal and they realize that Wilson has been dumping the stuff down there for years and is trying to cover up his own mistake. They soon find the remains of Wilson’s and Bosch’s men and manage to make contact with Bosch, telling him what they learned and he tells them he will meet them at the manhole cover. Bosch goes to get the keys to the truck but Wilson grabs them from the man before Bosch can grab them. Bosch threatens to expose Wilson’s secret and Wilson pulls him aside to talk. As Bosch explains that he knows the truth, Wilson pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot Bosch but Bosch punches him and grabs the keys. Lauren reaches the diner and tells an officer to stop the gas and when he tells her he can’t do that, she asks who is in charge and he points to Wilson, who had recovered and taken off after Bosch. Bosch moves the truck and starts to move the manhole cover when Wilson shoots him. He then drags Bosch’s body out of the way and gets into the truck but as he starts it, George and A.J. manage to lift the manhole cover and get out of the sewer. Wilson sees them and tries to run them over but Lauren arrives and screams out a warning at them, allowing them to move out of the way in time. As Wilson turns around to try again, A.J. sees Bosch’s body and grabs his gun, shooting at Wilson and eventually hitting him. As the van continues moving forward, it ends up hitting the open manhole cover and explodes, as Wilson had ordered them to be rigged that way. George and Lauren embrace and kiss while A.J. hears Bosch tell him “Nice shot”, and he heads over to find Bosch barely alive.

C.H.U.D. met with poor results from the critics, currently holding a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, some liked the tone of the movie while it’s detractors felt it was too slow and boring to make it worthwhile. C.H.U.D. is an acronym for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller but in the movie, it was meant to officially refer to Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal, which was the EPA’s botched plan that ended up spawning the chuds. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $4.7 million off of a $1.25 million budget and would spawn a sequel 5 years later.

This is one of those movies that always strikes a cord with my memories. That being said, I can admit that while it is somewhat entertaining, this could have been a lot better. The acting was ok, with John Heard (George), Daniel Stern (A.J.), Christopher Curry (Bosch), and Kim Griest (Lauren) doing good jobs in their roles. I also liked George Martin (Wilson), as I thought he played his character as the perfect government agent that wanted to keep his secrets contained. The story was interesting, playing off of a rise in concern over the handling of nuclear/radioactive waste, but the pacing was so slow at the beginning that it actually hurt the movie because the ending felt a little forced in their attempt to try and tie everything up. The special effects were pretty decent in regards to the creature designs and make up but they didn’t really show them actually attacking anyone; you would generally only see the aftermath which was a little disappointing. It is a fun bit of 80’s nostalgia horror but it isn’t going to be for everyone.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Standard
comedy, crime, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 22nd, 2014 Movie – The Big Lebowski

the big lebowski

Some times, an actor will take a role and for the rest of his life, he will always be referred to as that character, no matter at what point in the actor’s career he played that character. Jaleel White is always going to be Urkel, Daniel Radcliffe is always going to be Harry Potter, and for Jeff Bridges, he will always be The Dude. Now I admit that I did not go see this movie in theater when it came out and when I finally decided to rent it, I was kicking myself for not having watched it sooner. I have probably made up for it some by the amount of times I have watched it since. Of course, this movie kind of plays a role into a night among friends that has since been dubbed “Bad Idea Saturday”. I had gone bowling with my friends Emily and Charles and we decided to name ourselves characters from the movie in our game. I wound up being The Dude and in honor of that, decided I should be drinking White Russians, which wound up being some of the nastiest White Russians I had ever had as the bartender was using little packets of creamer to mix in the drink. Anyways, drinking those drinks was one of many bad ideas that occurred that night, but I am definitely getting away from the point here. Right now I should be focusing on enjoying The Big Lebowski for the untold time.

The plot: In 1991, Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski has just returned to his apartment after buying some half & half when he finds two thugs waiting for him inside. One of the thugs grabs The Dude and forces his head in the toilet, demanding the money he owes their boss while the other thug pees on The Dude’s carpet. When the thugs tell The Dude that his wife Bunny owes their boss, porn magnate Jackie Treehorn, but when The Dude tells them he isn’t married, the two thugs realize that they have the wrong guy and leave. Later, The Dude is bowling with his friends Walter and Donny and tells them about what happened. Walter says that The Dude should track down the other Lebowski, the millionaire that the thugs were looking for, and have him compensate The Dude for the rug and The Dude agrees with him. The Dude goes to see Jeffrey Lebowski, who tells him that what happened is not his fault and whatever trouble that Bunny got into is between her and Treehorn, and doesn’t involve him. After leaving Lebowski’s office, The Dude tells Lebowski’s assistant Brandt that Lebowski said he could have any rug in the place as compensation and Brandt has some men take the rug The Dude picks out and place it in his car. That night, while bowling, Walter pulls out a gun on their opponent when he barely steps over the line during their league play, causing them to be disqualified for that match. The next day, Brandt calls The Dude and tells him that Lebowski wants to meet with him. When The Dude arrives at Lebowski’s place, Lebowski tells him that Bunny has been kidnapped and shows him a ransom note he received. Brandt then tells The Dude that Lebowski wants him to deal with the ransom exchange, offering him $20,000 and letting him keep the rug as payment. Later, The Dude tells Walter and Donny what’s happening as the watch Jesus Quintana, a rival bowler, and The Dude says thinks that Bunny just kidnapped herself as a way to get the money from her husband so she can pay back Treehorn. Later that night, The Dude is laying down on his new rug when he notices a woman and two men standing over him. One of the men punches him, and when he recovers, he hears the pager that Brandt gave him going off. The Dude meets with Brandt, who gives him a cell phone and a suitcase with money and The Dude goes to make the exchange. He picks up Walter, who asked to come along, and Walter has a satchel filled with dirty underwear and a wrapped package with him. Walter explains the satchel is a ringer, as he says they should keep the $1 million themselves. When The Dude asks what they should do if Bunny really is kidnapped, Walter says that he can simply grab one of the guys during the hand off and beat him for information. The Dude receives a call on the phone telling him where to go and as they approach a bridge, he is told to throw the money off the bridge. Despite The Dude’s protests, Walter grabs the satchel and throws it, then jumps out of the car in order to grab one of the people that goes to get the money but Walter’s package, which was a wrapped sub-machine gun, begins firing erratically when it hits the ground, shooting out one of The Dude’s tires and causing him to crash. The Dude gets out of the car with the suitcase of money as three motorcycles ride up from beneath the bridge and he tries to flag them down but they ride off in the other direction. Walter convinces The Dude to go bowling and forget about it, as they have the money now, but The Dude is worried about what he is going to tell Lebowski. When Donny tells Walter that their next league match is on Saturday, Walter gets upset, saying he doesn’t roll on Saturday as he observes Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. As Walter rants at Donny, The Dude gets fed up and leaves only to find that his car has been stolen, with the briefcase of money still inside. The Dude heads home and contacts the police about his stolen car, being vague about what is in the briefcase. As he is talking to the police, he receives a call form someone named Maude who says she is the one that took the rug and wants to meet with him. The Dude shows up at Maude’s place and she reveals that she is Lebowski’s daughter and that Lebowski had embezzled money from their family’s foundation and asks The Dude to recover the money, as she also feels Bunny kidnapped herself, and offers to pay him $100,000 if he succeeds. Maude has The Dude taken back to his apartment but as soon as he gets there, he is grabbed and forced into another car, where Brandt and Lebowski are waiting for him. Lebowski asks The Dude where the money is and The Dude says he dropped off the money like he was supposed to but asks if they considered that the kidnapping was faked and that the “kidnappers” were saying that they didn’t get the money in order to get more money from him. Brandt hands The Dude an envelope containing a severed toe, with the toenail painted the same color as Bunny’s when The Dude met her at Lebowski’s place, and Lebowski tells The Dude that he told the kidnappers to get the money from him. As The Dude is relaxing in his bath, the police call and inform him they found his car, just as three Germans enter his apartment, saying that they are the kidnappers and demand the money from him or else they will cut off his johnson. The Dude goes to get his car from the impound lot but there is no sign of the briefcase and the police have no intention of looking for it. At the bowling alley, The Dude tells Walter and Donny about the Germans and gets upset at Walter’s attitude about the situation. As The Dude sits at the bar, a stranger sits next to him and they start talking when The Dude receives a call from Maude, wanting to meet. The Dude meets with Maude, who tells him that the Germans, who were actually a band, were friends of Bunny’s and not likely to be the kidnappers, then asks The Dude to go see the doctor she recommended. After going to the doctor, The Dude is driving around and notices a blue Volkswagen Bug following him. As he tries to avoid it, he ends up wrecking his car when he accidentally drops the joint he was smoking into his lap. As he is recovering, he finds some homework from a kid named Larry in the seat of his car. Walter tracks down where Larry lives and they go to see him, with Walter trying to intimidate Larry into telling him where the money is. When Larry doesn’t answer, Walter goes outside and begins smashing the new sports car parked outside the house, thinking Larry used the stolen money to buy it but it turns out it was the neighbor’s car, who begins smashing The Dude’s car in retaliation. The Dude returns home only to have Treehorn’s thugs grab him and take him to see Treehorn. Treehorn asks The Dude where Bunny and the money is and The Dude tells him he doesn’t know where Bunny is but that Larry has the money before passing out from the drugs Treehorn slipped into his drink. After suffering from a hallucination from the drugs, The Dude is picked up by the police as he is running down the road and taken to the station, where the sheriff tells him not to bother Treehorn again. The Dude is placed in a cab and sent home but when he tells the driver that he hates The Eagles, the cabbie kicks him out of the cab and as The Dude yells at him, he doesn’t notice Bunny driving by in a sports car, having taken an unannounced trip to Palm Springs and not missing any of her toes. Meanwhile, the three Germans are seen at a diner eating with a woman, who is missing one of her toes. When The Dude gets home, he finds Maude there waiting for him and she tells him to sleep with her. Afterwards, they are talking and Maude tells The Dude that her father doesn’t have any money, as her mother was the rich one and left all the money to the family’s foundation. When Maude pulls her knees up to her chest, The Dude asks what she is doing and she tells him she is trying to ensure she gets pregnant, as she wants a child but tells The Dude that she does not want anything to do with the father, easing The Dude’s concerns about fathering a child. The Dude realizes he was played and calls Walter and has him pick him up. When he goes outside to wait for him, he sees the Volkswagen parked up the street and confronts the driver, who is a P.I. that had been hired by Bunny’s family to find her and bring her back home to their farm in Minnesota, as she had run away from their. When Walter gets there, The Dude tells him about Lebowski not having any money so he stole the money from the foundation and kept it, giving The Dude an empty briefcase so he can blame the money’s theft on the kidnappers. Arriving at Lebowski’s house, they see Bunny has returned and confront Lebowski about his using Bunny being missing to steal the money and pin it’s disappearance on the kidnappers or him. Lebowski says that it is The Dude’s word against his and Walter insults Lebowski, not believing that he is really paralyzed, and picks him up out of his chair and drops him on the floor, then they quickly leave when they realize he is paralyzed. The Dude and Walter head to the bowling alley to practice and when they leave with Donny, they find the Germans have set The Dude’s car on fire and demand the money. The Dude tells them they know that they didn’t kidnap Bunny so there is no ransom so the Germans decide to just rob them. Walter fights the German’s biting the ear off of one of them and knocking all three out but Donny ends up suffering a fatal heart attack due to the excitement. The Dude and Walter take Donny’s ashes to the Pacific Ocean to scatter them and accidentally ends up throwing them in The Dude’s face when the wind shifts. Walter apologizes and tries to wipe the ashes off of The Dude, who gets upset at Walter for ruining everything, and Walter hugs The Dude and tells him they should go bowling. At the bowling alley, The Dude encounters the stranger again and the talk briefly before The Dude heads over to go bowling, telling the stranger that “The Dude abides.” The stranger, breaking the 4th wall, addresses the audience and says he takes comfort in that. He then says he hopes they liked the story as he did, and comments that even though he was sad that Donny died, he knows that a little Lebowski is on the way and figures that is just the circle of life.

The Big Lebowski received mixed reviews on it’s release but in recent years, the critics have changed their opinion of the film, as shown by the certified fresh rating of 82% it holds on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Typically stunning visuals and sharp dialogue from the Coen Brothers, brought to life with strong performances from Goodman and Bridges.” Before filming a scene, Jeff Bridges would ask the Coen Brothers if The Dude “burned one on the way over” and if they said he did, then he would rub his knuckles in his eyes before doing a take to make them appear bloodshot. Though the movie was a success at the box office, earning $46.2 million off of a $15 million budget, the studio considered it a disappointment. However, it would become end up becoming a cult classic over time and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2014.

I think this really was a movie that was a bit ahead of it’s time because it is fantastic. Jeff Bridges and John Goodman were fantastic as The Dude and Walter respectively and their interaction was hysterical throughout the movie; with The Dude constantly being incredulous at Walter’s suggestions and actions. I also liked Steve Buscemi (Donny) and you kind of feel bad for his character, as he constantly came in halfway through The Dude’s and Walter’s conversation and when he tried to figure out what they were talking about, Walter always yelled at him. The story was great, as it was a nice little red herring of a crime drama with the stoned Dude getting dragged into a mess and trying to figure a way out, and somehow stumbling into what is really going on. The comedy wasn’t really in your face, mostly involved with the banter between people and some of the resulting actions from it. Definitely one of the Coen Brothers best movies and well worth watching.

Rating: 5 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 9th, 2018 Movie – Transformers: Age Of Extinction

transformers-age of extinction

When the news first broke about a live action Transformers movie, I think there was one question that most fans had on their minds; would the Dinobots be in it. When the sequels came out, that question kept popping up, especially after Devastator was seen in Revenge Of The Fallen. Finally, seven years after the series started, the trailer came out for the 4th movie and the fans were finally getting the Dinobots on the big screen; and I honestly had no desire to go see this in the theaters. Don’t get me wrong, I did want to see it, but I have been somewhat underwhelmed by the movies and just figured I would wait to see it when it came out on DVD. That is honestly a sad state of affairs when robotic dinosaurs aren’t enough to get me to see a movie in theaters. Oh well, Michael Bay got my money since I bought it on Blu-Ray so let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

The plot: Millions of years ago, an alien race arrives on Earth and begins using their machines to terraform portions of the planet, killing off the dinosaurs as the planet is covered in molten metal. In the present day, geologist Darcy Tirrel arrives at a dig site in the Arctic Circle, where her workers have discovered the remains of a dinosaur that had been encased in metal frozen in the ice, prompting her to shut the site down so they can examine it further. Meanwhile, after the events of Chicago, Congress has formally abolished the partnership with the Autobots and a C.I.A. team known as Cemetery Wind has begun hunting both Autobots and Decepticons down, wanting to keep their technology in U.S. hands but their director, Harold Attinger, says that Japan and some other countries have some as well. In Texas, Cade Yaeger and his assistant Lucas Flannery arrive at a rundown theater and look around to see if there is anything worth salvaging when they come across an old semi cab in the main hall that piques his curiosity and he buys it from the theater landlord. At Cade’s house, his daughter is having a video chat with her boyfriend Shane when she sees her father pull up with the semi in tow. As Cade has the semi brought into his garage/workshop, she argues with him over his spending money on junk to try and fix up when they have bills that aren’t getting paid. When a realtor shows up with a couple to look at the property, claiming that he is 6 months behind on his rent, Cade chases them off but Tessa asks what will happen when she leaves for college. Elsewhere, a Cemetery Wind team tracks down and begins attacking Ratchet and bring him down, then he is approached by Lockdown, a Cybertronian bounty hunter that is working with Cemetery Wind to hunt down the Autobots. Lockdown asks Ratchet where Optimus is and when Ratchet refuses to answer, Lockdown stabs Ratchet through the chest and removes his spark. Back in Texas, Cade is examining the semi and tells Lucas and Tessa that he thinks it’s a transformer. Lucas and Tessa want to call the government, as there is a reward for information on any transformers, and Cade says he will but wants to examine it first so it can help him with his own inventions. When Cade removes a missile from the semi’s engine, it transforms into a badly damaged Optimus Prime, who draws his gun on the three humans. Cade convinces Optimus that they won’t hurt him and Optimus says that he was caught in an ambush by humans and something else and has to warn the rest of the Autobots. Cade offers to help repair him, sending Lucas into town to get some parts needed but Lucas secretly calls the government hotline when he is out. After meeting with Lockdown, Attinger returns to Langley and receives the intel about Optimus’ location and sends out a Cemetery Wind team, led by James Savoy, to capture/kill him. When Cemetery Wind arrives at Cade’s home, the search the premises but find no sign of Optimus and begin questioning Cade, threatening to shoot Tessa if he doesn’t answer. Not wanting innocent people to be hurt because of him, Optimus reveals himself from where he was hiding and begins attacking Cemetery Wind, yelling for Cade to run for it. Lockdown attacks Optimus, blowing up Cade’s home in the process and gives chase while cade and the others run and are picked up by Shane. Shane drives off, with Cemetery Wind in pursuit, and manages to avoid them but damages his car in the process. Optimus manages to get away from Lockdown and pulls up to help Cade and the others but Lockdown throws a grenade that transforms the ground into molten metal and Lucas is caught in the blast and turned into a statue. Cade, Tessa, and Shane get into Optimus and drive off and Optimus leaves them at a gas station while he makes sure they aren’t followed. After questioning Tessa and Shane about their relationship, Cade begins to hack the Cemetery Wind surveillance drone he grabbed when he was captured and sees video of Cemetery Wind killing some of the other Autobots. Realizing they are on their own, Optimus changes forms and meets up with Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, and Crosshairs; the only surviving Autobots left. As Optimus tries to figure out why they are being hunted, Cade shows the Autobots the footage from the drone and says that after the Autobots are killed, trucks from a robotics company called K.S.I. Industries arrive to pick up the remains. Since K.S.I. is located in Chicago, the Autobots head to the outskirts of the city while Cade, Tessa, and Shane get some supplies and try to find a way inside the building. Inside K.S.I., Darcy is talking with K.S.I. CEO Joshua Joyce about the find in the Arctic and Joyce explains that the metal she found is Transformium, the same metal that the Cybertronians are made from. He shows her how the metal can be made into anything then takes her to their military design room, where they are creating their own Transformers. Joyce shows her that they have Brains held captive so he can help translate the information from the head of Megatron but is upset when he finds that every time they try to create their own Transformer, Galvatron, in the shape of Optimus, it keeps turning out like Megatron. Cade manages to clone an employee badge and he, Shane, and Bumblebee sneak inside the company, where they find that K.S.I. has built another transformer, called Stinger, which is patterned after Bumblebee. As Cade goes looking for infomation, Joyce has a secret meeting with Attinger, revealing that they have a deal with Lockdown where when Lockdown gets Optimus, they will get something called “a Seed”. Cade activates a camera in his glasses to relay what he sees to the other Autobots and Optimus is upset to find that Ratchet’s head is being melted down for the Transformium and heads towards the building. Meanwhile, Cade starts talking with Darcy when Attinger sees him and orders security to detain him. Attinger starts to question Cade about Optimus’ location when the Autobots attack the building, rescuing Cade and Brains but Joyce confronts Optimus, saying that they can build their own Transformers now so they don’t need him anymore. The Autobots leave but Attinger has Joyce send out Galvatron and Stinger to capture them but Galvatron begins resisting his programming, attacking innocent cars and firing at random. During the course of the battle, Tessa ends up trapped by a car near where Optimus and Galvatron are fighting and is forced to take shelter inside to avoid being crushed. Suddenly, Lockdown appears and begins firing on Optimus and Attinger orders Galvatron and Stinger recalled. Lockdown captures Optimus, and inadvertently grabs the car with Tessa as well and Cade tries to help her get free but is unable to hold onto the net. As Optimus is taken to his cell, Lockdown brags about his ship belonging to the Knights, of which Optimus was a part of, but he commandeered it. Tessa is taken to the trash room and manages to escape the car before it is torn apart and goes looking for Optimus. Lockdown’s ship heads to Chicago, where he hands over a seed to Savoy but while his ship is stationary, Cade, Shane, and the Autobots manage to sneak onboard and start looking for Optimus and Tessa. As the engines prepare for takeoff, Crosshairs activates the anchors to give them some more time but Lockdown sends his hounds and minions to look for them. Cade and Shane find the Knight’s armory and grab some weapons and use them to fend off some of Lockdown’s minions, then finally find Tessa. Meanwhile, the Autobots locate Optimus, who tells them that the section they are in can separate from the main ship so Hound heads to the flight deck while Drift works on freeing Optimus. Cade, Tessa, and Shane attempt to climb down the anchors back to the city but come under attack from Lockdown’s hounds and are rescued by Bumblebee. Crosshairs grabs a flier to get them and bring them back to the ship but they come under fire and are forced to fight their way free, damaging the flier in the process. Meanwhile, Lockdown prepares to warp into space but Hound manages to separate their section before he leaves and flies off. In Chicago, Joyce orders all of the Transformium, as well as Galvatron and Stinger and any remaining Transformer bodies, to be transferred to K.S.I.’s China facility, telling Attinger to bring the Seed there. Bumblebee takes Cade and Shane to meet up with the rest of the Autobots and Optimus tells Cade that he sensed Megatron’s presence when he fought Galvatron. Brains then explains that While K.S.I. had him deciphering Megatron’s brain for their programming, Megatron was still active and hijacking their programming to make him a new body and once they got the Seed, he would use it to build a new army to conquer the world and Cade says they have to get the Seed before Galvatron does. Learning that Joyce had gone to China, Cade contacts him and warns him about Galvatron no longer being under his control and though he is skeptical of Cade’s credibility, Joyce orders Galvatron’s container not to be opened or activated. Back in the states, the authorities start to converge on the ship and Cade, Tessa, Shane, and the Autobots board it to get the Seed, but Optimus says that afterwards, they will be leaving the planet for good. In China, Joyce meets with Attinger and Savoy, who deliver the Seed and Attinger asks when his products will be available but Joyce tells him he wants to hold off on making more robots until he figures out why Galvatron malfunctioned. In the hangar, Galvatron suddenly activates and hacks into the other robots, taking control of Stinger and every other robot that K.S.I. has built and sends them to locate the Seed. When Joyce gets word of what happened, he as Darcy meet him and Li Bingbing (the owner of the Hong Kong facility) outside and they take off, leaving Attinger and Savoy, and the rest of the workers, to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, as the Autobots head towards Hong Kong, Cade talks with Optimus, trying to convince him to give humans another chance. Knowing that Attinger will be following them, Joyce and Li get out of the car and grab a motorcycle to try and escape out of the city with the Seed, while Darcy acts as a diversion, but the C.I.A. still manage to track them. Li sends Joyce up to the roof of a building to await extraction as Attinger, Savoy, Galvatron, and his army all converge on his location. The Autobots arrive and Cade calls out for Cade to get aboard the ship so they can get the Seed to safety but Stinger fires at the ship, knocking Cade, Tessa, Shane, Bumblebee, and Hound off the loading ramp and onto the roof, while the ship ends up crashing into the forest outside the city. Bumblebee and Hound begin fighting the Decepticons while Cade, Tessa, Shane, and Joyce get the Seed to safety. When Savoy starts shooting at them, Cade leads him away so the others can get to safety and after a chase along the rooftops and a fight in an apartment, Cade manages to throw Savoy out the window, where he falls to his death. Attinger sees Savoy die just as Lockdown contacts him, having made his way back to Earth after realizing that Optimus escaped, and Attinger tells him where they are so he can kill Optimus. Meanwhile, Optimus, Drift, and Crosshairs survived their crash and when they hear Hound calling for help, Optimus heads back inside the ship. Heading to the armory, he grabs one of the Knights of Iacon’s swords, then uses it to free the Dinobots, who were prisoners of Lockdown. After Prime leads them out of the ship, he says that they can either join them and fight together or resist and fight him. Grimlock, the leader of the Dinobots, begins attacking Optimus but Optimus manages to defeat him and forces them to help stop Galvatron, then climbs aboard Grimlock, as the other Dinobots (Slug, Strafe, and Scorn) transform and Corsshairs and Drift climb onto Slug and Scorn and the head to the city. Optimus and the others arrive just in time to prevent Hound, Bumblebee, Cade, and the others from being overrun and tell Cade and Joyce to get the Seed out of the city. Commandeering a car, they head out, with Optimus, the Autobots, and Dinobots providing an escort but as they are driving, the Seed suddenly begins beeping and Joyce realizes it is serving as a locator. Lockdown arrives in the city and uses a giant magnet in his ship to pick up dozens of boats and train cars, then drops them in the their path. As the magnet continues to attack them, Optimus manages to disable the magnet, then rushes off to face Lockdown, telling the others to get the Seed out of the city. Cade chooses to stay behind to help Optimus but as he approaches the fight, he is attacked by Attinger, who moves to kill him. Seeing Cade in trouble, Optimus kills Attinger but Lockdown uses his distraction to stab Optimus in the chest with his sword. As he moves to finish him off, Cade starts shooting at him while Bumblebee returns and, after dropping off Tessa and Shane, joins the fight. As Cade and Bumblebee battle Lockdown, Shane and Tessa use a tow truck to pull the sword out of Optimus’ chest, which he grabs and uses to kill Lockdown, then uses one of Lockdown’s grenades to finish off the rest of the drone army. As Optimus rejoins the other Autobots, Galvatron is seen in the hills outside the city, vowing to see Optimus again. Optimus tells the Dinobots that they are free now and the giant robots transform back to their Dinosaur forms and head off into the hills. Optimus then tells everyone that the Seed is still a danger and since he has a price on his head, he says he will take the Seed into space where it won’t be a danger, telling the other Autobots to watch over Cade and his family as they did the same for them. As Optimus blasts off into space, Cade hugs Tessa and Shane, approving their relationship, and Joyce approaches him and says he can help them with the rebuilding of their home, while out in space, Optimus sends a message out into space, warning his creators to leave the Earth alone, as he is coming to them.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction met with poor reviews from the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With the fourth installment in Michael Bay’s blockbuster Transformers franchise, nothing is in disguise: Fans of loud, effects-driven action will find satisfaction, and all others need not apply.” While not being known for having great plots, the previous movies all were nominated for Academy Awards, mainly in the technical categories, but this movie did not earn any nominations. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $1.104 billion off of a $210 million, making it the highest grossing movie of 2014.

Good lord this was a long ass movie but at least it was entertaining. The acting was ok, with Mark Wahlberg (Cade) doing a good job as the lead, with a lot more character development shown than Shia LaBeouf ever did. I also liked Stanley Tucci (Joyce), Kelsey Grammer (Attinger), and Titus Welliver (Savoy) but thought that T.J. Miller (Lucas) was just annoying. The story was pretty good, taking some aspects from an old comic book storyline and tweaking it to add a little bit of uniqueness to it. I also liked how they worked in Megatron/Galvatron, really paying homage to the original animated movie in how Galvatron was essentially Megatron reborn. One thing that I found kind of funny, which I am sure that several other Transformers fans might have noticed, is how similar the 5 surviving Autobots were to the characters in Transformers: Beast Wars, especially in their mannerisms. The special effects were really good and I liked the designs of the new Autobots and especially the Dinobots, with the spiked exteriors making them seem more like real dinosaurs as opposed to the smoother designs from the original cartoon. It’s really too long and could have been condensed a little without losing any necessary story points but this is still a fun movie to watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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

July 19th, 2017 Movie – Kong: Skull Island

kong skull island

Seriously, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that I bought today’s movie. After all, my love for giant monster movies is pretty well documented on this blog. Anyways, after the success of Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla, it was announced that two sequels would follow. However, Godzilla wasn’t the only monster that Legendary had their sites set on, as plans were made to do a remake starring America’s most famous giant monster, King Kong. When Universal Pictures allowed Legendary Pictures to have Warner Bros. distribute their King Kong movie, in order to facilitate a Godzilla vs. King Kong movie down the road. But that isn’t happening for three years so right now, let’s focus on today’s movie. I was already excited about this movie when I first heard it was being produced, with the cast announcement only fueling that excitement. When the first trailer for it dropped, I was all in and, along with my 2 youngest brothers, we eagerly hit the theater opening night to watch it, then I pre-ordered it on Amazon as soon as it was available. Now, let’s strap in and enjoy today’s movie, Kong: Skull Island.

The plot: During World War II, an American and Japanese plane are shot down over an uncharted island in the Pacific but both pilots manage to bail out. Seeing that they are enemies, the two pilots begin shooting at each other on the beach but when they run out of bullets, the Japanese pilot chases after the American with his sword. As the two fight on a cliff, they are startled when a pair of massive arms grab the cliff and a giant ape raises up and roars at them. 29 years later, Monarch official William “Bill” Randa and his assistant, Houston Brooks, arrive in DC, amidst the protests against the Vietnam War. As President Nixon announces the end of the war and his withdrawing the troops, Randa and Houston meet with Senator Al Willis about receiving funding for an expedition to Skull Island, which they were just able to get satellite photos of. Willis is reluctant to do so at first, believing Monarch to be a wast of government money, but when Houston says that the Soviets satellite will pass over the island in a few days and says they should know what is there first, Willis agrees to have them piggyback on a geological mission and Randa asks for a military escort. In Vietnam, the members of a helicopter squadron, The Sky Devils, are celebrating the end of the war and looking forward to going home in a few days. Their commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Preston Packard, feels differently and appears upset about leaving the war unfinished so when he receives a call from General Ward with new orders, he eagerly accepts them. Randa and Houston head to Singapore to meet with James Conrad, a former Captain in the British SAS, and hire him as a tracker/guide for their expedition, while photojournalist Mason Weaver is told that she has been given the assignment to document the expedition. The different groups all meet in Thailand and after boarding the expedition ship, they are briefed on the island and their mission of using seismic charges to help map the island. Later, Conrad and Mason meet up in the cargo hold, as both are suspicious of the true nature of the mission. As they reach the island, they see the storm system surrounding the island and the Landsat leader wants to abandon the mission but Randa and Packard overrule him and choose to proceed. The helicopters take off and make their way through the storm, eventually reaching the island. After setting up a base camp, the helicopters begin dropping the seismic charges to map the island, which Houston says is practically hollow, when a tree is suddenly thrown into one of the helicopters while a second one is swiped from the air by a giant hand. The rest of the helicopters are soon confronted by Kong, who begins knocking all of the helicopters out of the sky, killing several of the soldiers in the process. The group is scattered across the area and Conrad, along with Mason, Houston, San Lin (Monarch’s biologist), Victor Nieves (the Landsat leader), and Reg Slivko (the Sky Devils radio operator) decides to head towards the refueling drop in order to get off the island. Meanwhile, Packard gets in touch with Chapman, his second-in-command, and orders him to sit tight, as Chapman’s helicopter had all of the extra munitions. Packard then gathers his surviving soldiers, including Reles, Mills, and Cole, then asks where Randa is. Packard approaches Randa and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t tell him what he knows. Randa explains that monsters exist, citing his own experience, and how he spent the last 30 years in Monarch trying to prove it. Randa then asks that Packard help him get back home with proof so they can bring the cavalry but Packard says he is the cavalry, then orders his men to start moving. As they make their way through the jungle towards Chapman, one of the soldiers is impaled by the leg of a giant spider and as it tries to grab and eat Glenn, the others manage to kill it and save him. Meanwhile, Conrad’s group encounters a giant water buffalo-like creature but when they make no move to threaten it, it ignores them and walks away. They continue on their way and eventually come to some ruins, where they find themselves surrounded by Iwi natives. Suddenly, an American appears and introduces himself as Hank Marlow, the downed American pilot from WWII. Hank convinces the Iwi’s that the group means them no harm, then takes them to the wreckage of an old ship, which is considered hallowed ground by the Iwis. Inside, Marlow explains about how the natives worship Kong, who is considered their great protector, and how he fends off the creatures from below, lizard-like monsters which he calls Skullcrawlers. When Conrad tells Marlow about the refueling team, Marlow says they won’t be able to make it in time on foot, but shows them the boat that he and his friend, the Japanese Gunpei Ikari, had been working on before Gunpei was killed. As Conrad and Slivko help Marlow get it running, Mason is hears some cries from outside the wall and sees a buffalo trapped under a wrecked helicopter. She tries to help free it but is unable to move the wreckage when suddenly, Kong appears and lifts the helicopter, then stares at Mason as the buffalo leaves. Meanwhile, Chapman has his own encounter with Kong, having watched him kill a giant squid as he was drinking from a lake. As Chapman waits for Packard, he encounters a giant bug, which he manages to drive off, but he is then killed by a Skullcrawler. The group get the boat working and Marlow says goodbye to the Iwis, who have come to see them off. As they make their way along the river, Slivko manages to make contact with Packard’s group and Packard sends up a flare to show them where they are. As Slivko gets off the radio, a group of pterosaurs suddenly grab Nieves and tear him to pieces in the air. The two groups meet up and Conrad explains their plan but Packard refuses to leave Chapman, or the supplies, and tells Conrad that his job is to find lost men so he should do it. The group head west, where they reach a mass grave containing the remains of Kong’s family. Marlow warns them not to go through there but Packard overrules him and they head inside. Suddenly, a Skullcrawler appears and as they all hide, it spits up a human skull and Conrad sees it has Chapman’s dog-tags on it. When the Skullcrawler leaves, the group start to head out again but Randa is suddenly eaten by the Skullcrawler, which then begins attacking the soldiers. Several of them are eaten and killed before Mason manages to kill it by igniting a methane vent as it is over it. Marlow tells Packard that to continue on is suicide and Conrad shows him that Chapman is dead but Packard refuses to leave without killing Kong. Packard leads his soldiers towards the munitions and they make plans to ambush and kill Kong. Conrad, Mason, Marlow, Houston, and San make their way back towards the boat but as they stop for a rest, Conrad and Mason go on ahead and encounter Kong. Suddenly, they see explosions in the distance and Kong roars in anger and heads towards them. Conrad and Mason go back to the others and tell them to get the boat while they go try to save Kong and Marlow goes with them. Kong approaches Packard and his men and starts heading to attack them when Packard sets off the napalm they had laid out as a trap, engulfing Kong in flames and causing him to collapse. Packard orders his men to set charges on Kong so they can blow him up but Conrad, Mason, and Marlow show up and get him to stop. When Slivko turns his gun on Packard, the rest of the soldiers also lower their weapons. Suddenly, a giant Skullcrawler emerges from the water and approaches the fallen Kong. Conrad and the others leave but Packard stays behind and when he sees Kong has regained consciousness, he goes to set off the charges but Kong smashes him with his fist. Kong and the Skullcrawler begin fighting as Conrad leads the others to where the boat is. When the Skullcrawler comes after them, Cole tries to sacrifice himself to save the others by trying to get it to swallow him while he pops a grenade but the Skullcrawler simply swipes him with his tail, sending him into a cliff. As the Skullcrawler approaches them, Kong appears and continues to attack it but it knocks him into the remains of several boats. Kong ends up trapped in some chains and the Skullcrawler approaches to try and finish the job when Houston begins firing at it from the boat as he and San show up to get the others. The Skullcrawler turns towards them and Mason, who is on a nearby hilltop, fires a flare at it’s head to distract it. Kong manages to get free and uses the chains, along with the rudder attached to it, to attack the Skullcrawler again and starts to get the upper hand but their fight ends up knocking Mason off of the cliff and into the water. Kong grabs her from the water but the Skullcrawler bites down on his fist to try and eat her, and Kong’s hand, but Kong manages to rip it’s tongue and guts out from it’s mouth, finally killing it. Kong then sets Mason down on the ground and starts to walk off as Conrad goes to check that she is ok. The surviving group then head back to the refueling spot so they can leave and Kong watches as the helicopters appear. Marlow returns to his home and is reunited with his wife and meets his son for the first time before sitting down to watch a Cubs game for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, Conrad and Mason are detained by Monarch and Houston and San appear and explain to them that Kong is not the only “King” out there, showing them slides of cave drawings picturing 4 other monsters (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah), with a final drawing showing Godzilla and King Ghidorah locked in battle as people watch and as the screen cuts to black, Godzilla’s roar is heard.

Kong: Skull Island met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster’s mythos without ever matching up to the classic original. Jordan Vogt-Roberts cited Princess Mononoke as one of the influences in his creature design, saying that it was “a big reference, in the way that the spirit creatures sort of have their own domains and fit within that, so a big thing was trying to design creatures that felt realistic and could exist in an ecosystem that feels sort of wild and out there”. During the into credits, there is a drawing of a turtle with the word MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) written above it, which could be a slight nod to the Gamera movies or Kamoebas, the giant turtle from Toho’s Space Amoeba. The movie was a box office hit, earning $566.2 million off of a $185 million budget.

This was a great movie to watch on several levels. The acting was fantastic, with Tom Hiddleston (Conrad), Brie Larson (Mason) and John Goodman (Randa) doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked John C. Reilly (Marlow), who provided some great comic relief, and Samuel L. Jackson, who gave Packard an almost Ahab like character as he tried to take down Kong no matter what. The story was really good, putting a little bit of a new spin on the Kong story with the only big difference, aside from Kong not going to a mjor city, is the removal of the “Beauty and the Beast” story line that is in the other movies. The special effects were incredible, from the various explosions to the monsters themselves, and the scenery and location shots in the movie was absolutely breathtaking. The original King Kong is still the best version out there, but this is a great movie in it’s own right and worthy of carrying on the franchises namesake.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Standard