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

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

transformers-revenge of the fallen

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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

March 6th, 2018 Movie – Transformers

transformers

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

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

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

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

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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