comedy, drama, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 8th, 2014 Movie – The Breakfast Club

the breakfast club

If ever there was a movie that was synonymous with the 80’s, it is definitely this movie. I mean, you have some of the biggest names from the Brat Pack all in one movie, with high school being the sole focus. The fact that it is a John Hughes movie makes it even that much more of an 80’s icon. I remember seeing this movie on TV years ago as a kid and not really getting much of what was being said. I would then see it again years later in the mid-late 90’s and it seriously resonated with me a lot more. I had recorded a later showing of The Breakfast Club on TV but due to the editing for television, I decided to go buy a VHS copy of the movie and would later upgrade it to DVD. Not hard to say that this is one of my favorite movies from the 80’s, but does it still hold up?

The plot: On Saturday March 24th, 1984, 5 students (Pampered rich girl Claire Standish, champion wrestler Andrew Clark, geeky Brian Johnson, juvenile delinquent John Bender, and shy outcast Allison Reynolds) make their way to Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois to serve out there detention in Saturday school. Once they all assemble in the library, Assistant Principal Richard Vernon enters and tells them that they will be there until 3 in the afternoon, they will not leave their seats, they are not to talk or sleep, specifically calling out Bender for that. He then hands them all paper and pencils and tells them that he wants them to write a 1,000 word essay describing who they are. Warning them that his office is right across the hall, Vernon leaves the room, leaving the door open so that he can keep an ear out for them acting up, but has soon as he does, Bender starts harassing Andrew and Claire while picking on Brian. When Vernon leaves his office to use the restroom, Bender gets up and disables the door so that it won’t stay open. Andrew, Brian, and Claire all argue with Bender to fix the door but he refuses, just as Vernon returns and sees the door closed. Vernon heads inside and questions them about the door but though he knows Bender did something to it, the others choose not to rat him out. Vernon attempts to prop the door open with a chair and when that doesn’t work, has Andrew help him push a magazine rack in front of it to hold it open but when Bender points out it is a fire hazard, Vernon tells Andrew to put the rack back. Vernon then approaches Bender and asks him where the screw from the door is and when Bender mocks him instead, Vernon gives him another week of Saturday school. Bender continues to taunt and push Vernon, despite Claire telling him to stop, until Vernon gives him 8 more weeks of Saturday school before finally walking back to his office. The 5 kids continue sitting in the library and boredom quickly sets in, causing them to fall asleep until Vernon wakes them to go use the restroom. Returning to the library, Bender starts ripping up a book, while Andrew asks Claire if she is going to go to a party that night. When Claire says it depends on which of her parents says no, Bender asks her which one she likes better. Claire says that she doesn’t think either one of them really cares about her, prompting Allison, who had been silent up to this point, to loudly exclaim “Hah!”, and as everyone stares in shock at Allison, Claire tells her to shut up. Bender continues messing with people, questioning Andrew about his relationship with his parents and teasing Brian about his. After everyone learns Brian’s name, Claire asks Bender what his name is but he asks her for hers and when she tells him, he starts teasing her that it is a “fat girl’s name”. Bender then starts taunting her on if she is a virgin and how far she has gone with a boy. When Andrew tells him to stop, the two get into it briefly, with Andrew putting Bender in a hammerlock and forcing him to the ground. When Andrew lets him up, Bender taunts him by saying he doesn’t want to get into a fight with him because he would kill him, pulling out a switchblade to emphasize his point, and Andrew tells him to leave Claire alone. Later, Vernon tells the kids it’s time for lunch and sends Andrew and Allison to get some sodas for them to drink. As they are walking down the hall, Andrew attempts to start a conversation with Allison and she asks him why he is there, to which Andrew tells her but Allison doesn’t believe him. Back in the library, Bender is continuing to taunt Claire, comparing her to Brian as far as being a virgin. Brian tells Bender he isn’t a virgin, saying he slept with a girl from Canada and then motions to Claire when Bender asks if he did it with anyone locally. When Bender loudly says Claire’s name, she asks what they are talking about and Bender tells her. Claire tells Andrew she is disappointed in him but when he says he didn’t want Bender to pick on him for being a virgin, she tells him she doesn’t think it is a bad thing to be a virgin. After Andrew and Allison return and everyone starts eating their lunch, Bender continues teasing Claire and Brian, eventually deciding to do an impression of how he feels life at Brian’s house is. Andrew laughs at first but seeing the look on Brian’s face, he asks Bender about his own home and Bender fulfills his request, depicting his life as being in an abusive household. Andrew doesn’t believe Bender, prompting Bender to show him a burn mark on his arm, saying that was what he got for spilling paint in the garage, then rages out before climbing up the stairs and sitting with his back to the others, while Claire admonishes Andrew for what he did. When Vernon leaves his office after spilling coffee on himself and his desk, Bender uses the opportunity to go to his locker, followed by the others, and retrieve his stash of pot. As they head back to the library, they see Vernon walking ahead of them and quickly turn around and try to find another way back before Vernon gets there. Andrew and Bender argue over which way to go, with Andrew saying they are done following Bender and convincing Brian and Claire to go with him. Allison and Bender follow as well but when they end up trapped, Bender decides to sacrifice himself, as he didn’t want the others to be punished for simply following him. He shoves his pot down Brian’s pants, then goes running down the halls yelling out, luring Vernon away from the others and after him. Vernon catches up to Bender in the gym and takes him back to the library to gather his things, telling the others that they will have to do without Bender for the rest of the day. Vernon takes Bender into a supply closet and then threatens to beat the crap out of him when Bender gets out of high school, then tries to goad Bender into hitting him so he can go ahead and beat him then and there but Bender doesn’t do anything. After Vernon locks the door and heads to the restroom, Bender climbs through the air ducts back to the library but ends up crashing through the ceiling, shocking the others. When an enraged Vernon enters the library to find out what the noise was, the others choose not to rat out Bender, who is hiding under Claire’s table teasing her. After Vernon leaves, Claire slaps Bender as he comes up from under the table, as he had stuck his head up her skirt while he was under there. Bender then heads over to Brian and asks for his pot, then heads towards the back of the library to smoke it. Andrew tries to talk them out of it but Claire and Brian head back there as well, then Andrew decides to go back as well. After Brian, Andrew, Claire, and Bender all smoke some pot, Claire and Bender are sitting around discussing relationships while Andrew and Brian are joking around. Allison joins Brian and Andrew, where she reveals that she had stolen Brian’s wallet, then dumps out the contents of her bag. When they question why she has so much stuff in her bag, she tells them her home life is unsatisfying and she might run away, then refuses to say any more about it, getting angry when they press her. When Andrew approaches her alone, she yells at him to leave her alone and when he starts to walk off, she chastises him for doing whatever anyone asked him. The two talk some more about their problems and Allison reveals that her parents simply ignore her. Meanwhile, Vernon had gone down to the basement and is going over some of the faculty files when he is confronted by Carl, the janitor. The two end up talking about how the kids treat him and how scared he is for the future and what the kids will be like as adults. Back in the library, the kids are sitting around discussing things, with Andrew telling them that he was there for taping a student’s butt cheeks together while Brian had brought a flare gun to school to kill himself, as he had received a failing grade in shop, but it had gone off in his locker, while Allison, who is shown to be a compulsive liar and a kleptomaniac, says she simply had nothing better to do. As they are talking, Brian asks what will happen to them all on Monday, wondering if they will go back to ignoring each other and staying in their own social circles or if they will acknowledge their burgeoning friendship, and whether they will end up like their parents when they get older. After having some fun for a while, Bender crawls back through the air ducts into the supply closet. In the library, Claire and the others convince Brian to write the essay for all of them, then Claire pulls Allison aside and fixes her hair and applies some make up to her. The changed Allison hesitantly approaches Andrew, who she has developed feelings for and he tells her he likes the change, as he can see her face instead of it being hidden behind all of her hair. Meanwhile, Claire sneaks into the supply closet to talk with Bender, giving him a hickey before she heads back. The kids all leave, with Allison kissing Andrew before they get in their respective parent’s cars, while Claire gives Bender one of her diamond earrings, then they kiss before she leaves. Bender puts the earring in his ear, then leaves the school grounds while inside, Vernon reads the essay that Brian wrote for all of them, which is signed “The Breakfast Club”.

The Breakfast Club was well received by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers.” The movie’s theme song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was originally written with the intention of Billy Idol to sing it but he passed on it, though he would eventually cover it as a bonus track on his Greatest Hits CD that was released in 2001. The song would later be pitched to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders but she also passed, though she suggested they offer it to Simple Minds, which was fronted by her husband at the time. The Breakfast Club was a box office smash hit, earning $51.5 million off of a $1 million budget, and would be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2016.

Don’t care what anyone thinks, I still love this movie. This is still a great movie and still holds up over the years. The acting was great, with Judd Nelson (Bender), Molly Ringwald (Claire), Emilio Estevez (Andrew), Ally Sheedy (Allison), and Anthony Michael Hall (Brian) all doing fantastic jobs in their roles. All 5 of them seemed to put a lot of realism into their characters, made even more effective as many of their lines were ad-libbed, especially during the scene where they were discussing what they did to end up in Saturday school. I also loved Paul Gleason, as his portrayal of Vernon is probably one of the most iconic roles he had and one of the characters that is most parodied in other movies and different media. The story was great, not going your usual teenage drama that Hughes is known for but taking a little darker, and deeper look into the pressures that high school students face; from school, their parents and home life, and their various social circles. This is part of the reason why this movie still holds up because these issues and pressures still exist in schools today. The drama had a lot of realism to it while the bits of comedy were interspersed well enough to keep it from becoming too dark or depressing. A great movie and one that I will watch any time it comes on TV.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

Flashback Review: May 30th, 2014 Movie – The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

the boondock saints 2

Oh, the reaction that this movie caused when it was first announced. I mean, the first movie had become this cult phenomenon among many people, several of my friends included. When it was announced that a sequel would take place, a lot of my friends were really pissed about it, thinking Hollywood had already been making several remakes and sequels that were terrible and they did not need to touch this movie. Now I honestly have no idea how many of my friends saw this movie, or what their opinions of it were if they did see it, but I decided to go ahead and pick up a copy of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day when it was on the cheap and give it a chance my self.

The plot: 8 years after killing Don “Papa Joe” Yakavetta in a Boston courtroom, Connor and Murphy MacManus are living in Ireland with their father Noah MacManus, the former assassin known as Il Duce. Il Duce is worried that his sons are feeling urges drawing them back to Boston when the village priest arrives at their house and tells them that something has happened. The priest tells them that a priest in Boston was killed in his church, with the killing made to look like the Saints had done it. Connor and Murphy angrily get up from the table and head to the barn, where they dig up the chest containing their weapons and prepare for their journey back to America. The priest asks Noah if he will try to talk them out of it but Noah says that someone had gone to the effort to try and draw them out and it is obvious that it worked. In Boston, Detectives Greenly, Duffy, and Dolly, allies of the Saints, are at the scene of the killing discussing what they should do when FBI Agent Eunice Bloom, who is the protege of Agent Smecker, arrives on the scene and tells them she will be in charge. Meanwhile, Connor and Murphy are on a container ship heading to Boston when they see most of the crew gathered to watch an underground fight. Noticing the men handcuffing a Mexican named Romeo’s hands behind his back, the brothers inquire about what is going on before placing a wager on Romeo, then go talk with him after he wins the fight. Back in Boston, Bloom is able to determine that the Saints were not responsible for the priest’s murder but as the news reporters are not told any details, they poll the public who are split on whether they believe the Saints were responsible or not. Meanwhile, Concezio Yakavetta, the son of Papa Joe, is holding a meeting with his lieutenants, who were upset about not being consulted over his having the priest murdered. Concezio tells them that ever since his father was killed, they have all been living in fear that the Saints would return and finish them off so now he is drawing them out so that he can get rid of them and they can take back control of the streets. At the police station, Bloom tells the chief that all of the evidence points towards Concezio being behind the priest’s killing and when the chief asks why he shouldn’t go public with this information, Bloom tells him to walk with her as she explains her reasoning. Meanwhile, Greenly, Dolly, and Duffy are worried about how bad this will be for them and Greenly says that maybe they won’t even show up in town, prompting Dolly to tell him that they are either in town or on their way. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo have made it to Boston and Romeo drives them to a warehouse, where it is rumored that Concezio has a deal going with some Chinese drug runners. Romeo comes up with a plan to deal with the men in the warehouse but though things don’t go as planned, they still manage to take out all of the men. The next day, Bloom examines the scene of the crime and though there are some inconsistencies in their old pattern, she feels it is the work of the Saints, much to the three detectives chagrin. As Concezio is hiding in a panic room in his home until the Saints are located, Connor, Murphy, and Romeo go to see Romeo’s uncle for information on where Concezio might be and he tells them that Gorgeous George, Concezio’s underboss from Brooklyn, is in town and he would know where he is hiding. At the same time, Bloom pays a visit to George, trying to learn where Concezio is and informing George that he is the low man on the totem pole in Boston and he should be careful. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo learn where George is and head over there, threatening to shoot him if he doesn’t tell him who killed the priest. George tells him that Concezio hired an independent contractor and didn’t tell anybody his plan as they would never have gone with it. Believing his story, the team decides to use George to help them take out the rest of his men by having him schedule a meeting at a Mexican restaurant, where Romeo will be undercover as a bartender. Meanwhile, Bloom, Greenly, Dolly, and Duffy are at a dead end with the prints at the priest’s murder but when Bloom realizes there was a rosary bead but no rosary at the scene, she figures out a new idea to search and has them rush off to see if it pans out. Later that night, Greenly calls Bloom and tells her they got a hit off of George’s bugged phone and after he tells her where the meeting is, she decides to head there alone to scope it out. As George’s men show up, they don’t notice the assassin sitting in his car, who calls his unknown boss and tells him that only Connor and Murphy are there and his boss tells him that if he kills the sons, Il Duce will show up. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo kill all of George’s men, then decide to let George go but as they start to celebrate a well executed plan, the assassin come in the back door and tries to shoot them, only to be wounded by Bloom. As the brothers tell Bloom to drop her weapon, Romeo goes after the assassin but he has already escaped. Bloom tells them that she made a promise to Smecker to help them in their mission and never see the inside of a prison cell, a secret she is keeping from the detectives for her own amusement. She then has Connor, Murphy, and Romeo help her restage the crime scene so that when it is called in, she can explain it as the men fighting over turf as Concezio is losing power. Later, Greenly tells her that her hunch was right and Interpol gave them the identity of the assassin but the circumstances of his visa and everything has now caused him to be flagged. Bloom takes the detectives the Doc’s bar, where Connor and Murphy play a joke on their old friends before they all discuss the situation. Greenly, Dolly, and Duffy tell them they want to help and Connor says that they plan on making their move in 48 hours but Bloom is worried that there is someone else pulling the strings, someone with enough power to push the assassins visa through right after 9/11 had occurred. Back in his penthouse, Concezio has his lieutenants call their men and start regaining their power on the streets. Meanwhile, the assassin is getting his wounds tended too by his boss but when he sees the police report with the assassin listed as the prime suspect in the priest’s murder, he proceeds to whip him with the stolen rosary. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo head to Concezio’s penthouse and, after a few snags in their plan, proceed to kill him and all of his men except for Concezio’s Consigliere, who had ducked into the panic room and locked Concezio out. As Bloom and the detectives examine the scene later, FBI Special Agent Kuntsler shows up and tells Bloom she is suspended and he will be taking over the investigation. As she goes to leave, Bloom tells Kuntsler her theory as to how everything went down and when she finishes next to the panic room, the Consigliere opens the door and drags her inside before closing it again. Inside, he tells Bloom that the events happened exactly how she described which is why he figured she would be the person to talk to. He explains that Concezio was working with a man known only as “The Old Man”, though he had heard that he was sometimes referred to as “The Roman”. At Doc’s bar, Connor and Murphy are making plans to go after the Panza, the assassin, when Greenly shows up to tell them about Bloom being off of the case when he is killed by Panza. Panza then holds Doc hostage and forces them to throw their guns away but before he can shoot them, Noah, who was worried about his sons and decided to come help them, shoots Panza in the arm. As Connor and Murphy try to keep Greenly alive, Noah asks Panza where The Old Man is and when Panza refuses to answer, Noah plays a game of Russian roulette with him and ends up killing him. Noah tells his sons about how he had witnessed his father being killed by mobsters and he hunted them down and killed them, with his friend Louie helping him, albeit reluctantly, but after a while, he would eventually turn Noah over to the police,then assume the identity of The Roman. Bloom uses the FBI’s database to find out Louie’s location and gives it to Noah and the others but, knowing that it won’t be long before Kuntsler finds out what she did, she decides to get out of the country while she can. Noah heads to Louie’s home and confronts him about why he turned him in, unaware that Louie had hired some hit-men to be on the grounds and kill Noah at his signal. When Noah asks Louie why he turned him in, Louie explains that he had been helping the mafia and used Noah to take out some of his competition but when he was no longer useful, he turned him in. Unfortunately, he was also discarded by the mafia as his usefulness had come to an end. When the Saints killed Papa Joe, Louie helped Concezio rebuild the Yakavetta family, then had the priest killed and the Saints framed for it so they would show up and kill Concezio, allowing him to take control. Louie signals the hit-men to attack but Connor, Murphy, and Romeo help Noah kill them. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo are wounded and Noah is fatally shot but with Connor and Murphy helping him up, he is able to kill Louie before he dies. Noah then dies and as Connor and Murphy go to leave, they find themselves surrounded by the FBI and end up surrendering. Some time later, Father Sibeal is escorting a disguised Bloom to a dock, telling her she will be escorted to a sanctuary in a monastery but when she tries to get details, she is shocked to discover that the person taking her to the monastery is Smecker. Smecker explains he faked his death and is working with members or the Catholic Church to provide a network to help and support the Saints and their next mission is to help break them out of prison. Meanwhile, Connor, Murphy, and Romeo are at the Hoag Maximum Security Prison’s medical wing, with Romeo comatose due to his injuries. As protesters outside the prison chant for the release of the Saints, Connor and Murphy get out of bed and look at the prisoners out in the yard, signaling to them not to mess with them or else they will regret it.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day met with poor reviews from the critics, holding a 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “This sequel to the cult favorite The Boondock Saints is more of the same — unoriginal, absurd, violent, over-the-top, and occasionally mean-spirited.” The movie had a limited release but in theaters but still managed to pull in $10.6 million off of an $8 million budget. In 2011, there were talks with director Troy Duffy about making a third installment, but fashioning it into a TV series. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery both expressed interest in working on this but while things have bounced around between whether it will be a TV series or a third movie, nothing has been finalized yet, though Duffy has been working on a script.

This was a decent movie but honestly felt like a pale comparison of the original. The acting was ok, with the returning characters of Sean Patrick Flanery (Connor) and Norman Reedus (Murphy) doing good jobs in their roles, as well as Billy Connolly (Noah). I did like the returning detectives as some comedic relief, as well as Clifton Collins Jr.’s Romeo, and thought Judd Nelson was great as Concezio but thought that Peter Fonda’s brief appearance as The Roman was almost a waste while Julie Benz’s character was kind of annoying, particularly her overplayed southern accent. The story honestly felt too convoluted with all of the side plots going on. The basic premise of the Saints going to clear their names and get revenge for the priest’s death was fine, but when you add Bloom’s secretly wanting to help them, and the whole situation with Panza and The Roman, it got a little confusing at times. The action scenes were pretty decent, with the same somewhat slow motion retelling that was prominent in the original film. A decent action movie but I would suggest just watching the original movie over this one every time.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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animation, movie, movie review, sci-fi

March 5th, 2018 Movie – The Transformers: The Movie

transformers the movie

So today I find myself watching the movie that scarred a generation of kids. But before we get into that, let me give you a brief history of what led to this event. Back in the 80’s President Reagan’s appointment to head the FCC essentially removed every advertising regulation from children’s programming. This essentially meant that children’s cartoons would become nothing more than 30 minute commercials for various toy lines. Transformers was one of the biggest cartoon franchises to come out of this era and their toys were flying off the market. However, when the original first wave of toys were no longer being produced, Sunbow and Hasbro decided that the best way to get kids to lose interest in them was to kill off those characters and introduce new ones. Needless to say, this came as quite a shock to all of the kids that excitedly went to see this movie only to see one of cartoon’s greatest heroes die within the first 20 minutes. So let’s see the tragedy unfold in today’s movie, The Transformers: The Movie.

The plot: In the year 2005, a monstrous planet named Unicron makes it’s way towards the planet Lithone. As tremors shake the planet, one of the inhabitants, Kranix, sees Unicron drawing near and orders an evacuation but he is the only one to get away as Unicron proceeds to devour the planet, using it to fuel his own life. Meanwhile, the Decepticons have finally managed to win total control of Cybertron but Optimus Prime and the other Autobots have staging bases on Cybertron’s two moons and make plans to defeat the Decepticons and regain control of Cybertron. On Moonbase 1, Prime orders Ironhide to make a shuttle run to Earth to gather more Energon from Autobot City, as they don’t have enough on hand to launch a full scale invasion on Cybertron, but unbeknownst to the Autobots, Laserbeak is observing their plans and quickly flies back to Cybertron. When Laserbeak arrives at the Decepticon base, Megatron orders Soundwave to play back what he observedand after seeing the video of Prime ordering the shuttle to head to Earth, Megatron makes his own plans. As the shuttle travels towards Earth, Megatron and his Decepticon army attack the shuttle, killing Ironhide, Brawn, Prowl, and Ratchet in the process. Starscream question’s why they are attacking the shuttle instead of focusing on the Autobot moon bases and Megatron explains that they can use the shuttle to slip by the early defenses on Earth and destroy Autobot City and the Autobots inside. On Earth, Daniel Witwicky, the son of longtime Autobot associate Spike Witwicky, is fishing with his Autobot friend Hot Rod but is feeling depressed as he misses his dad, who is on Moon Base 2. When he sees the shuttle approaching on his handheld sensor, Daniel wants to go watch it so Hot Rod takes him up to Lookout Mountain, blowing past a barricade that Kup and some other Autobots are setting up. On the mountain, Daniel sees the hole in the shuttle and tells Hot Rod, who takes a look and sees the Decepticons hiding inside. Hot Rod begins attacking the shuttle, confusing Kup and the other Autobots, but when he finally damages the shuttle to where it can no longer fly, Megatron and the other Decepticons fly out and begin attacking the Autobots. Kup saves Hot Rod and Daniel from Blitzwing and Shrapnel but as Hot Rod goes to thank him, they are attacked by Starscream and the two Autobots transform and make their way towards Autobot City. Inside the city, Ultra Magnus, the city commander, orders Arcee and Springer to transform the city to battle station mode, Perceptor to tell Blaster to contact Prime for reinforcements, while he and Blurr evacuate the non essential personnel from the city. As Springer moves to transforms the city, Arcee says Kup and Hot Rod are still outside but Springer grabs her and tells her they are on their own. The two Autobots manage to transform the city and avoid being killed by Starscream, who narrowly avoids being trapped inside the transformed city himself. When Megatron orders the Decepticon’s to breach the city’s defenses, Shrapnel and Kickback begin chewing a hole through one of the doors but Hot Rod and Kup run over the two Insecticons and use the hole to get inside the city, just before a new blast door seals the opening. Meanwhile, Perceptor reaches Blaster and tells him to contact Prime but as Blaster is making his transmission, Megatron sees them and orders Soundwave to jam it. Soundwave releases his cassettes (Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, and Ratbat), who rip off the communication dish and then proceed to attack the two autobots but Blaster releases his own cassettes (Eject, Rewind, Ramhorn, and Steeljaw) to deal with them. As the battle rages through the night, Springer is trying to move a missile launcher into position and asks Arcee, who is mourning over the bodies of Wheeljack and Windcharger, for help. As she helps him, Kup and Hot Rod show up and the 4 Autobots get the launcher into position just as Daniel points out Megatron ordering the Constructicons to merge into Devastator. As Devastator begins to destroy the Autobot’s defenses, Springer begins firing missiles at him but Devastator shrugs them off and throws some debris at them, taking out the launcher. The battle rages throughout the night and in the morning, the Autobot’s defenses are broken and Megatron orders the Decepticons to attack when a second Autobot shuttle arrives with Prime and the reinforcements. Prime orders the Dinobots to take out Devastator and they fly off to confront the massive Decepticon but though they manage to knock him down, Devastator easily beats the Dinobots. Prime heads off to stop Megatron, making his way through the Decepticons until only Megatron is left standing. The two leaders begin fighting, with Megatron injuring Prime but Prime manages to get the upper hand. As Prime moves to finish off Megatron, but Megatron notices a laser pistol hidden underneath some nearby debris and pleads for mercy in an attempt to stall Prime. As Megaton reaches for the pistol, Hot Rod tries to stop him but Megatron grabs him and uses him as a shield while he proceeds to shoot Prime. Tossing Hot Rod aside, Megatron approaches Prime to finish him off but Prime manages to muster up enough strength for one last blow on Megatron, knocking him off the ledge and down several stories to the ground below. As Prime collapses, Hot Rod rushes to him and apologizes while below, Starscream orders a retreat and the Decepticons grab their wounded and fly off in Astrotrain. Inside the damaged city, Perceptor tells everyone that Prime’s wounds are fatal and Prime appoints Ultra Magnus to be the new leader, passing the Matrix of Leadership to him before he dies. Out in space, Unicron has seen what happened on Earth and when he sees the Matrix survived, he roars out in anger. Elsewhere, Astrotrain tells the other Decepticons to jettison some weight or they won’t reach Cybertron so, declaring survival of the fittest, they dump out the injured Decepticons, with Starscream tossing Megatron out himself. Afterwards, Starscream declares himself the new leader but the other Decepticon’s begin arguing that they should lead and a fight breaks out inside Astrotrain. Megatron and the other injured Decpticons float through space and end up being drawn towards Unicron. Unicron speaks with Megatron and offers him a new body and troops in exchange for destroying the Matrix and Megatron initially refuses to be a servant to Unicron but relents when Unicron prepares to devour him. Unicron uses his powers to rebuild Megatron into Galvatron, then turns the other injured Decepticons (Skywarp, Thundercracker, Bombshell, Kickback, and Shrapnel) into Cyclonus, Scourge, and Scourge’s hunters The Sweeps. Flying off in the ship Unicron gave them, Galvatron heads to Cybertron and interrupts Starscream’s coronation ceremony before killing Starscream. Meanwhile, Unicron approaches the two moon bases and begins devouring Moon Base 1. Jazz and Cliffjumper radio a report to Ultra MAgnus before they try to escape but they can’t escape Unicron’s gravity tractor beam and are sucked into his maw. Spike and Bumblebee on Moon Base 2 tell Ultra Magnus what happened and as Unicron heads towards them, they set up explosives and detonate them while the moon is in Unicron’s mouth but the explosion has no effect and they end up sucked in as well. On Cybertron, Galvatron curses Unicron for destroying the moons but falls over in pain, as Scourge reminds him that they belong to Unicron, and after recovers, Galvatron orders the Decepticons back to Earth. On Earth, Ultra Magnus orders everyone to the shuttles so the can help their friends, thinking the Matrix might be able to help, which Hot Rod readily agrees with the idea. Suddenly, they come under attack by the Decepticons and manage to get away only for Galvatron to follow after them. Galvatron sends Cyclonus out, who incapacitates the shuttle carrying Hot Rod, Kup, and the Dinobots and they end up crashing on a nearby planet of Quintessa. As Galvatron goes after the second shuttle, Ultra Magnus orders an emergency separation and they succeed in fooling the Decepticons into thinking they were destroyed. Galvatron praises their success but when Unicron psychically attacks him again, he orders Cyclonus to take him to see Unicron. On Quintessa, Hot Rod is separated form the others and as he searches for them, he sees Kup being attacked by a giant mechanical squid and rescues him, then works on repairing the damage. When he finishes, the two Autobots go looking for the Dinobots but end up being captured by some strange creatures and taken to a citadel. Placed inside a dungeon, Kup and Hot Rod are greeted by Kranix, who starts to tell them about Unicron but he is grabbed by the guards and taken away to a kangaroo court, where the Quintessons, the rulers of the planet, sentence him to death and feed him to the Sharkticons. Elsewhere, Grimlock and the other Dinobots (Slag, Sludge, and Swoop) are searching for Hot Rod and Kup when they meet Wheelie, a small Autobot warrior that speaks in rhymes and helps lead them to where their friends are. Meanwhile, Galvatron asks Unicron why he attacked him and Unicron tells him that Ultra Magnus and the Matrix are still alive and sends him to the Planet of Junk to destroy him. On the Planet of Junk, Ultra Magnus, Arcee, Springer, Perceptor, Blurr, and Daniel (wearing an exo suit) are working to repair the emergency shuttle, unaware that they are being observed by the planet’s inhabitants, the Junkions. When the Decepticons attack, The Autobots run for cover and Ultra Magnus buries them under some junk, then tries to face the Decepticons on his own by using the Matrix but it doesn’t open for him and Galvatron has the Sweeps blow him apart, then grabs the Matrix to use against Unicron himself. Back on Quintessa, Hot Rod and Kup are brought to trial and sentenced to death but they begin fighting back against the Sharkticons. Before they can be overrun, Grimlock and the other Dinobots arrive and after destroying several Sharkticons, Grimlock is able to take control of them and orders them to attack the Quintessons while Wheelie shows the Autobots a nearby ship they can use so long as they take him with them. Back on the Planet of Junk, Arcee and the other Autobots mourn the death of Ultra Magnus when they are suddenly attacked by the Junkions. The Autobots try to fend them off but the fighting stops when Hot Rod and the other’s arrive on the planet. Hot Rod speaks with Wreck Gar, the Junkions’ leader and Wreck Gar declares a truce and as a sign of their new friendship, the Junkions repair Ultra Magnus. Realizing that Galvatron has the Matrix, Hot Rod says they have to go after him and Wreck Gar agrees to help, revealing a ship of their own. Meanwhile, Galvatron is calling out Unicron and says that since he has the Matrix, Unicron should do his bidding now but he is unable to open it. Unicron then transforms into a massive robot and tells Galvatron that he had considered sparing Cybertron but now plans on rending it asunder. As Unicron begins attacking the planet, Shockwave orders the Decepticons on the planet to begin attacking Unicron but he is easily able to fend them off. Galvatron begins attacking Unicron but Unicron simply grabs him and swallows him as Hot Rod and the others show up. As Unicron attacks the approaching ships, he blasts the ship carrying Hot Rod, Springer, Kup, Arcee, and Daniel in half but Hot Rod guides their damaged half straight into Unicron’s eye. Hot Rod is separated for the others, who are attacked by Unicron’s internal defenses, and as he goes looking for them, he encounters Galvatron. Galvatron suggests a truce against their common enemy but Unicron attacks Galvatron and orders him to kill Hot Rod and Galvatron agrees to do so. Meanwhile, Daniel gets separated from the others and discovers a smelting pit, where the captured inhabitants of the planets Unicron destroys are melted down for fuel. Daniel sees Spike, Bumblebee, Jazz, and Cliffjumper about to be dropped into the pit and as Spike yells for Daniel to help them, Daniel manages to shoot down the acid shield and rescues them. Elsewhere, Hot Rod and Galvatron continue fighting and Galvatron gets the upper hand and begins choking Hot Rod but Hot Rod manages to grab the Matrix from Galvatron and transforms into Rodimus Prime. Shocked, Galvatron shoots the Matrix from Rodimus’ hands but Rodimus grapples with Galvatron and manages to throw him out of Unicron. Rodimus then opens the Matrix, and it’s energy begins ripping Unicron apart from the inside. Springer, Kup, and Arcee meet up with Spike, Daniel and the other Autobots and as they try to figure out what is going on, they are met by Rodimus, who tells them they need to get out of there. The Autobots all transform and escape through Unicrons other eye as Unicron explodes from the Matrix’s energy, causing his head to orbit the planet as it’s new moon. On Cybertron, Rodimus and the Autobot’s regain control of the planet and Rodimus declares an end to the Cybertronian War and a new age of peace and tranquility to have started as they all celebrate.

The Transformers: The Movie met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A surprisingly dark, emotional, and almost excessively cynical experience for Transformers fans.” The death of Optimus Prime in the movie causes such a backlash among the fans, that Sunbow ended up bringing him back in the third season of the cartoon, while a new figure, Powermaster Optimus Prime, would come out the following year. Despite the popularity of the series, the movie failed to make a profit at the box office, earning $5.8 million off of a $6 million budget.

I have to admit that when I first saw this movie as a kid, I didn’t really think about how dark it was but this really is a dark movie, definitely darker than what a kid should be watching at the time. That being said, I love this movie and find it infinitely better than the recent live action movies. The voice acting was great, with many of the original voice actors reprising their roles from the cartoon while Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, and Lionel Standard were all good in their roles of Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, Galvatron, Ultra Magnus and  Kup respectively. I loved Monty Python alum Eric Idle as the TV talking Wreck-Gar and thought Orson Welles was great as Unicron, though he apparently hated the role. The story was good, but incredibly dark. I mean, with the cartoon, you had plenty of laser blasts and explosions but nobody was seriously injured. In this movie though, you have an entire planet destroyed and all it’s inhabitants eaten, Transformers being shot and killed, and some being melted by acid. I honestly have to wonder how they thought this was something to be shown to kids. The animation was pretty good and definitely a step up from the cartoon, while they did do a decent job of introducing new characters to the series. It probably isn’t something that little kids should watch but definitely something that fans who grew up watching the show, and modern fans, will enjoy watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 26th, 2017 Movie – Steel (1997)

steel 1997

Sometimes, you have to ask yourself exactly how a movie gets made. Of course, that also begs the question on how I find myself owning those same movies. Now I would actually say that this is the how I wound up owning today’s movie but that would be a lie, as I had actually sought this out and bought it on purpose. The reason for that is simple, my friends and I were discussing bad movies and this one came up and I, being in a bit of a superhero mood, I decided to buy it. So lets have some fun with today’s movie, Steel (1997).

The plot: John Henry Irons, along with his partner Susan “Sparky” Sparks, designs and tests weapons for the U.S. Military. After conducting a test on a new laser rifle, which easily disables a tank, Irons and Sparky are checking over the results on the rifle’s performance. Meanwhile, Lt. Nathaniel Burke is secretly talking with Senator Nolan, who is observing the tests, and tells her he has been making some of his own modifications to the weapons to make them even more powerful. The team heads to the next testing site, consisting of an abandoned village, where the plan on using a sonic cannon to take down a wall. Burke asks to fire the cannon and pushes the power setting to it’s maximum. Irons notices this and tries to stop him but Burke fires the weapon, taking out the building he was aiming for but the sonic blast bounces back and strikes the building they are in, causing part of the roof to collapse. At a military tribunal, Irons testifies that Burke caused the accident which killed Nolan and paralyzed Sparky. Burke is dismissed from the military and blames Irons for ruining his career. Afterwards, Colonel David wants to get back to work designing weapons but Irons resigns his commission, upset that his weapons injured Sparky. After going to the hospital to check on Sparky and giving her his address, Irons heads back home to Los Angeles to live with his younger brother Martin and his Grandma Odessa, unaware that Burke heads there as well. Burke goes to an arcade manager named Big Willy Daniels, who is known to sell weapons to gangs on the side, and offers a proposition for Daniels to loan him the seed money to start producing weapons and he will get half the profits from the sales. Burke builds his first prototype and has a worker demonstrate it for Daniels and the gun shorts out, causing a horrible burn to the kid’s face but Daniels is impressed by the damage the weapon had caused and tells Burke to keep working on them. Burke kills off Daniels’ assistant Duvray, who was critical of Burke, but spares Daniels’ bodyguard Singer and convinces him to work with him. Singer organizes a test of his weapons by helping a gang rob a bank, using the new weapons to easily break into the building and the vault. Irons and Martin are riding to a town meeting with Irons’ friend Norma, who is a police officer, when she is alerted to the bank robbery and heads off to go handle the call. When they arrive there, Irons is shocked to find his weapons are being used to commit the crime and he is forced to rescue Norma when her car is flipped over and catches fire while she tries to stop the robbers. When Irons sees a straggler, Cutter, trying to escape, he chases after him and eventually catches up to the kid and asks him where he got the weapons but he is shot by Slats, the leader of the gang, and the two crooks escape. The next day, Irons contacts David to find out how his weapons got into the hands of a street gang but David tells him that all of his weapons are accounted for. Irons then asks Martin about the gang and heads to their hangout to question them about where they got the weapons but Slats refuses to answer his questions. After Irons leaves, Slats calls Burke to tell him about Irons visit and Burke tells him to keep Cutter out of site but after he hangs up, Burke tells Singer to kill Cutter as an example to the others. Irons tries contacting Sparky and finds out that she has transferred to another V.A. hospital. After going to visit her, and finding her wallowing in self pity over being paralyzed, Irons takes her out of the V.A. to help him. Heading back to L.A., Irons takes Sparky to his Uncle Joe’s junk yard, where he has a workstation set up, and he convinces her to help him build weapons to take out the weapons being used by the gangs. Meanwhile, Martin gets a job at the arcade, where Burke takes over his training. With Sparky and Joe’s help, Irons fashions himself a suit of armor, while Sparks and Jo make him a weapon, shaped like a sledgehammer. Irons goes for a test run on his new weapon and armor, stopping a mugging and a gang shootout without any problems. The gang members all run away but when the cops show up, due to the gunfire, they attempt to arrest Irons. Irons manages to get away, though part of his armor falls off and his grappling cable breaks in the process, and safely makes it back to their hideout in the junkyard. The next day, Martin is talking about Steel, what the media is dubbing the costumed Irons, when Burke talks to him about it, then meets up with Slats and tells him to keep an eye out for the man of steel. As Steel and Joe head out on patrol, Singer, Slats, and some more of Slats’ gang head out and attempt to rob the Federal Reserve, while Burke films what they do so he can use it to sell the weapons on the internet. Steel shows up to try and stop the robbery and Burke, watching the film, notices him talking to someone and wonders who it is. Steel’s weapons have no effect on the crooks armored vehicle, as the armor is the same as his, and he is knocked back by a blast from the sonic cannon. When the police arrive and attempt to arrest Steel, Slats takes out the police helicopter and Steel is forced to save the police officer before the debris falls on him while Singer and the gang make their escape. Steel is forced to run as well as the cops chase him but he is able to get away and drive his motorcycle into Joe’s modified truck. Later, Sparky is tending to Irons’ injuries and chastising Joe for pushing him too hard. Meanwhile, Burke has the footage of the robbery sent out to the TV stations, prompting various criminal organizations to find out how to get the weapons, and then calls the police with an anonymous tip on where to find Steel. Irons returns home and is questioned by his Odessa on whether or not he is Steel when the SWAT team burst into the home and arrest Irons, finding one of Burke’s prototype weapons in his basement. Irons is placed in a line up and the detective in charge asks the people that Steel had helped after the mugging if they recognize him but, feeling like Steel was doing good work, say they don’t recognize him, nor does the police officer that he rescued. Irons is kept in holding for questioning but Sparky and Joe get the D.A’s signature and voice pattern so that Sparky can call and get Irons released. That night, Steel and Joe go looking for the site of where the auction is taking place and Sparky is standing by to call David to arrest them all but Burke’s men show up and capture her. Losing contact with Sparky, Steel and Joe continue to head out and locate the site of the auction and Steel makes his way inside, telling Joe to try getting a hold of Sparky but if that fails, contact David and tell him where to go. Steel heads inside but is soon captured by Burke’s men, who threaten to kill Sparky if he doesn’t surrender. Burke then makes his sales pitch, killing Daniels and turning on Slat in the process but Steel taunts him about having more firepower in his hammer than Burke has in his weapons. Burke falls for the taunts and activates the hammers electro-magnet, sending the hammer back to Steel, while Sparky reveals that she added some weapons to her wheelchair and begins attacking Burke’s men. Steel tells Sparky to get out of there and he goes after Burke, who shows that he has Martin as another hostage and as Steel saves Martin, they find themselves locked in a tool shed, with Singer throwing a grenade inside. With no way out, Martin points to a hole in the roof and tells steel to throw it, to which Steel says he never makes those shots, but manages to get the grenade through the hole, then protects Martin from debris while Singer is killed in the explosion. Burke unveils his latest weapon and attempts to use it on Steel but the blast ricochets off of Steels armor and strikes Burke, launching him back into the warehouse where falling debris falls on him and kills him while steel drives the armored vehicle out of the warehouse so they can get away. David and his soldiers arrest all of the criminal organizations and the next day attempts to contact Irons and convince him to come back to work for him but Irons refuses. Later, Irons, Joe, Sparky, and Martin go to Odessa’s home, which she has converted to a restaurant, and Sparky reveals one last modification to her wheelchair; one that allows her to stand upright, as Irons hugs her.

Steel (1997) was heavily panned by the critics, holding a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Steel is a badly-acted movie that indulges not only in superhero cliches, but also the sappy TV-movie-of-the-week ones.” Shaquille O’Neal had to do his own stunts for the movie, as the director was unable to find a stunt double tall enough to fill in for O’Neal. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $1.7 million off of a $16 million budget.

This is an absolutely horrible movie for a lot of reasons. Shaquille O’Neal was ok playing Irons, while Judd Nelson made a great bad guy in Burke. I also thought it was funny to have Richard Roundtree as Uncle Joe, with that comment about him liking the hammer’s shaft being really funny. The story was interesting in the fact that the character Steel was a member of the Superman family but they decided to make no reference or mention of Superman at all for this movie (although Shaq’s Superman tattoo was visible in several scenes). Aside from that, the character’s origin was very close to the origin of the character in the comics, with some slight differences obviously. I also liked that they worked in the whole Shaq being bad at free throws bit into the movie, but their making it a pivotal moment was a little much. The special effects were average to be honest and could have been a lot better but I have seen worse. This is not a good movie but can be funny in the “so bad, it’s good” style, or just torture if you want to show it to someone you hate.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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