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Still More Than Meets the Eye? Transformers 2 REVIEWED!!!

30

Jun

Posted by Steve

4755a.jpg There are a few things I need to say before plunging into this review.

1. I really enjoyed Michael Bay’s first outing with the Robots in Disguise. I hear what those who are critical of the movie say, but as an overall experience I really enjoy it and think it’s a great movie.

2. I did read a few non-spoilery reviews of the movie before going to see it. I was disheartened because a lot of what I read tended to be very negative. I had no idea about a plot, and I had not really read any spoilers for the movie going into it. My expectations were pretty even in spite of the negative reviews I had read.

3. I loved the G1 Transformers series from the eighties. Transformers weren’t action figures…they were Transformers, the show was, to my child eyes, the best thing on television, and it still holds a very special place in my heart. Subsequent series, with the exception of Beast Wars, really tended to fall flat to me. They just didn’t feel like The Transformers.

4. There may be spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want anything ruined, don’t read.

This movie is really two different reactions for me. I’ve seen it twice now, and had I written this review after only one viewing, I would have written, “HOLY MONKEY SPIT!!! I freakin’ love this movie!”

Having seen it twice now, I say, “Wow. What a good movie.”

Upon the first viewing I found myself thrilling to Optimus being airdropped in to China to take out a huge Decepticon. I felt tears well up as I had to watch Optimus do something I never thought I’d have to see a second time in my life.

I cheered with the mention of the Matrix of Leadership. I laughed at jokes that weren’t too funny. I felt the awe of the 7 year old in me as Jetfire showed up. The whole experience the first time around was exactly what I wanted out of a Summer movie. I left with my jaw on the floor and completely ticked that people had been spewing venom on this movie.

The second time I saw it was a more low key affair with a couple of people who aren’t quite the fans that I and my friend Josh from New Day Photography, are. It was in this viewing that I realized how slow the pacing of the movie is, how unnecessary some of the humor is, and how pointless at least one of the characters are.

Let’s deal with the negative first. Sam’s roommate? Pointless. Well, after leading Sam and company to John Turturro’s Agent Simmons he’s pointless. For one things, Turturro is the far superior actor and when he’s on screen, it’s like no one else is there. So there is no need for a character who doesn’t have half the knowledge of Agent Simmons portrayed by a gentleman who’s a fine actor…just not on Turturro’s level. In fact, Leo would have best been served in the role of taking Sam where he needed to get and then either stayed behind in some sort of support role or even turned Sam over to the authorities to try to collect some sort of reward…I think it would have made his character more useful and he would have had more of a reason to stick around once Agent Simmons came on the scene.

The humor is a double edged sword for me. You had to expect Sam’s parents to be funny. However, at points they were a bit too over the top. To me, though, it’s all paid off once they are taken hostage and used to try and stop Sam in the final battle. The scene between Sam and his father is really emotional. All jokes are over, this is life and death, and instead of letting their son go for college, this is a mother and father letting their son go to save the world and potentially not make it back. It’s a moving scene and it stands complimentary to and as a counter to what we had seen from the Witwicky parents earlier.

The Autobot twins Mudflap and Skids were…too much. Too much vulgarity. Too much humor. Too much screen time. When we are shown a totally awesome Autobot in the form of Sideswipe in the opening sequence, when we have someone like Ironhide or the Arcee triplets in the movie, to spend so much time on a vulgar Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum duo is a little disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, they had their moments and at times even made me laugh, and I appreciated that the two could fight, but kids are gonna be playing with these toys and quoting their lines from the movie, and there were so many cooler Autobots that could have been used.

Then there’s Wheelie…I didn’t mind Wheelie at all. Except for the leg humping. That was unnecessary. He was grovelling enough to be funny, and he was a cool little character.

Ultimately, there are a few little plot points that rubbed me the wrong way, but even with the problems I just mentioned, it wasn’t enough to ruin the experience, the movie, or the franchise for me.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had so much eye popping goodness about it, it did everything we wanted the first one to do, and it ramped the stakes up so high that even the slow scenes seemed intense.

The stakes for our characters were bigger than an unknown threat in the person of a frozen Megatron getting his hands on a source of power we don’t quite understand. This time around the Earth was at stake. The Decepticons, under the leader of an ancient Transformer known as The Fallen, are after the Energon they can harvest upon destroying our sun, and thus our planet. Sam has been thrown headfirst into this war, and has to step up in a way that goes far beyond anything he was called upon to do in the first movie.

The Decepticons seem to be coming in huge waves and all hope seems lost for a large portion of the movie. Then, the second things seem to turn around, the bad guys appear to win. Then…well, it’s just huge.

The action sequences in this movie (and there were a lot) were amazing. From the aforementioned Prime airdrop to appliances going all decepticonish in the Witwicky household, to a Decepticon psycho chick, on through to the end battle, The camera was, for the most part, pulled back to allow us to more easily follow the fights than the first movie.

Ultimately, we got what we asked for. More interactions between the Transformers, more focus on the giant robots fighting, and more robots.

As far as plot goes, this was a classic Transformers story. There was the search for an item on which everything hinged. Megatron will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal. Soundwave is sending his little minions and gathering the information needed to effectively strike against the Autobots. The Autobots have no clue what’s going on til the end, and then lay their lives on the line to save humanity.

There was a lot weak about this movie, but to me and the seven year old Steve that came out to play in the movie theater there was too much good to complain.

I honestly had no expectations for this movie. I knew that what I had seen looked amazing, but I knew little to nothing about the plot. So when I walked out the first time, I was super pleased. The second time, I was able to look at things in a less seven year old like manner. Combining the two experiences, I give the movie a strong 3.5 out of 5. I will probably see it again. I do like it enough to watch it as much as I have the chance to. I will definitely buy it when it comes out on DVD/Blu Ray, and I highly recommend it. In my opinion, it’s the best of the Summer so far. Just on a fun level.

Still Got the Touch

26

May

Posted by Steve

I said on the most recent episode of Geek Out Loud that Transformers: The Movie was one of those childhood defining movies with a soundtrack that, for this child of the eighties, still holds up today. I’m not a fan of messing with what works. I don’t like Code Red Mountain Dew…or any other of these Mountain Dew flavors. My thought process is, it’s perfect…don’t mess with it.

When Stan Bush told me that he was retooling “The Touch” to give it a more modern sound, I was excited, but I had that niggling in the back of my mind…what if it sucks?

Well, Stan has released the new version to the masses via YouTube, and I have to say, I’m liking it. The original version of the “The Touch” will always be my version, but I have to say, this one has grown on me rather quickly.

The next step is to somehow get Michael Bay to sit up and recognize that HE NEEDS THE TOUCH! HE NEEDS THIS SOOOOOONG! ahem…yeah..he needs the “The Touch” in his Transformers movie.

Go check it out by clicking here.

Here is a retooling of the video:

2007 – The Year in Geekdom (Part 3)

22

Dec

Posted by Steve

After the final stand of the 300, everything fell into debate among geeks.  In typical geek fashion, there was very little middle ground.   Geeks either loved or hated, and in typical geek fashion, the reasons were varied.  For some geeks, flames on a paint job were enough to hate a project, for others, character development of a villain was no good.  The legacy of 2007 geekdom, though, will always be the debates that raged after the Summer blockbusters were released.

The first of those blockbusters was Sam Raimi’s trilogy ending Spider-Man 3.¬†¬† To do what no writer should do and remove all suspense, I will go ahead and say that I liked Spider-Man 3.¬† My biggest problem with the movie was that there was no swinging scene at the end.¬† Having said that, I recognize and understand most of the problems that fans had with the film.¬†

Ultimately, I think Spider-Man 3 was a testament to the great film maker that is Sam Raimi.¬† I didn’t realize until after the fact all that Raimi was up against in making this film.¬†¬† Originally, because of his love for all things Silver Age about Spider-Man he was going to use the Vulture as one of the villains.¬† However, due to pressure from the studio (in response to pressure from fans) he went the route of Venom instead.¬†¬† Not only was there that pressure, there was the pressure of the corner that the filmmakers had been backed into by the Harry/Peter plotline.¬†¬† So, you’ve got Sandman, Venom, Harry v. Peter, and Peter v. the black suit and it has to be done in a reasonable amount of time with all the action, effect, and fun we expect.¬†¬†

What did we get?¬† One of the most amazing scenes in film with the “birth” of the Sandman, some really good pathos when it comes to the relationships in Peter’s life, and a great end fight sequence that has been sorely lacking in Super hero movies since Superman 2.¬† Seriously, as good as Batman Begins was, the real awesomeness as far as an action sequence goes was in the Batmobile chase, Spider-Man’s final fight was good, but still not an action packed battle of epic proportions, it was mostly him holding on to the cable car while getting hit by the Goblin, after the awesome train fight in Spidey 2, Spidey and Doc Ock versus a big ball of fusion energy just didn’t have that oomph, Superman lifted an island, The Fantastic Four tried, but ultimately things happened¬†a little too fast, Daredevil had a good fight, but again, not action packed blow¬† your mind kind of stuff.¬†¬† Superman 2 went straight from Metropolis to the Fortress and the end.¬† Come to think of it, because the Fortress stuff in Superman 2 wasn’t all that action packed, Spider-Man 3 has given us one of the truly great final battles of a super-hero movie.¬†¬†

Was Venom used properly?¬† Probably not, but as someone who got super tired of Venom in the comics, that didn’t bother me all that much.¬†¬† The dance scene?¬† I never heard anyone complain about the “Raindrops” sequence or the Mary Jane running to the Wedding March in Spider-Man 2, and those moments were cheesier by far.¬† For me, Spider-Man 3 was fun, and it was a fitting end to the trilogy.¬† I just wish we’d gotten a swinging scene at the end.

After Spider-Man fought to keep his pride from devouring himself, Reed Richards and his team had to contend with the Devourer of Worlds and his herald the Silver Surfer.¬†¬† I was excited for this movie because I used to collect the Fantastic Four comic with a passion.¬†¬† I enjoyed Tim Story’s first outing the Foursome.¬† I thought the movie caught the spirit of the comic.¬† No, I wasn’t a big fan of Doom’s origin, but they kinda fixed that in the sequel didn’t they?¬†

I don’t think anyone walked away from the movie disappointed with the look or characterization of the Silver Surfer.¬† I know I didn’t.¬†¬† I enjoyed this movie more than I enjoyed the first, and I appreciated that we got to see that, while Johnny was still fun, he didn’t overshadow the rest of the cast as he did in the first movie.¬†¬† In fact, this time out the actors seemed to have a better feel as to how to play off of one another.¬†¬† Everyone seemed a little more comfortable in their roles.¬†¬† Except Jessica Alba’s makeup person.¬† (A little heavy on the blue eyeliner folks.)

The big debate that came out of FF2 was Galactus.¬†¬† He was there folks, and he wasn’t a storm.¬† Check the shadow on Saturn, and watch when the Surfer goes to face him down.¬† He’s there in full Kirby get up.¬† It’s just that due to his size and the the debris kicked up around him when he has a meal (eats a planet) he has become engulfed in this huge cosmic storm.¬†

For me, FF2 was a good time.¬† The promise of a Silver Surfer movie is given at the end,¬† hopefully we can now look forward to a romp in the negative zone, or a battle with Skrulls, and Dr. Doom can come back.¬† All he did was sink to the bottom of the ocean.¬† Maybe he’ll bump into Megatron.¬†

Which brings us to the next great geek debate of Summer ’07.¬† Transformers.¬†

I loved Transformers as a kid.  I grew up at just the right time I think.  As a kid the most anime I was exposed to was Voltron.  We had Transformers, GI Joe, He-Man, Star Wars. Just the diversity in those toy lines alone was enough to make those of us geeks who are products of the eighties well rounded enough to line studios pockets when they give Spielberg and Bay the greenlight to get something like this done all the while waiting in line to see the next big super-hero movie, and still understanding big war movie epics.  Yes, the eighties geek is a thing to behold.  I digress, however.

I loved the Transformers as a kid.  I watched the cartoon with great devotion and when the seasons were released on DVD I got as much as I could.  I own two versions of the movie from the eighties, and the hardest thing I ever had to do was sell my Transformers collection to help get my finances on track. 

I sat in the theatre with all of the arguments and negativism leading up to the movie’s release swirling around in my head.¬† I had one thing that it seemed very few others on message boards and talk backs had though, I had hope.¬† I had hope that this movie would be awesome.¬† At the first mention of the name Whitwicky, I felt something rising up inside of me.¬† Then, as Bumblebee sent out the signal and the other Autobots landed, I began to disappear.¬†¬† Jazz broke dance (break danced) when he transformed, and Peter Cullen said, “I am Optimus Prime.”¬†

A 30 year old man bought my ticket and sat down in the seat I was in, but he was gone.¬† In his place was a chubby 8 year old kid who believed that as far as evil was concerned you didn’t get worse than the Decepticons, and as far as good was concerned, God himself had created Optimus Prime to show us all the way.¬†¬† I confess openly, I cheered every transformation, I thrilled at every punch, I got a lump in my throat as Optimus explained, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” and then I almost wet my pants when Optimus said, “Megatron, today one shall stand, one shall fall.”¬†

Flames on a paint job didn’t matter.¬† The humor in the film didn’t matter.¬† This was the Transformers.¬† There are more out there.¬† There’s no way Megatron is really done for.¬† I know the rules.¬† He’ll be back.¬†

Yeah, I apparently liked or loved everything that apparently most geeks hated.¬† However, what I’ve found through many is that those who didn’t like these projects just happen to be louder than those of us who did.¬†

2007 was a little more than halfway over.  Jack Sparrow still needed to be rescued from the Other Side, Bourne had an Ultimatum to deliver, and John McClane had some cyber terrorists to stop.  In the end, Robert Downey Jr.  would be the man in an iron mask, ComiCon would thrill us, Wizard World would shock us, and Robert Neville would make his stand against a virus that wiped out all of humanity.  2007 still had a way to go, Geeks were debating and, as ever, looking ahead.

2007 – The Year in Geekdom (part 1)

5

Dec

Posted by Steve

Here we are at the end of 2007, and it’s time for a look back.¬†

Before we look back though, I have to be honest and say that there are a few movies that I haven’t seen and some that I am looking forward to seeing before the year is over.

Top among those are I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith.¬† I would probably see this movie simply because Will Smith is in it.¬† As it stands though, it looks promising as far as the story goes (I’ve never read the graphic novel.).¬†¬† Smith has come a loooong way since his “Take it from me, parents just don’t understand” days alongside Jazzy Jeff.¬† He has solidified himself as one of the better actors of our time.¬† Even though I still have friends who can’t get past the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, after his work in films like¬†ALI and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, it cannot be denied that Will Smith is a wonderful actor.¬† So, I am looking forward to a movie that is going to push his acting by having him and him alone on screen for a large chunk of the film.

Also, I haven’t seen BEOWULF yet.¬† However, I still intend to.¬† I am intrigued by the motion capture animation style of the film, and I have been intrigued by the story of Beowulf since I first read it in my lit class in high school.

Then there’s ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS.¬† I sat GARFIELD out.¬† Mainly because of Odie.¬† I didn’t like the look of Odie as they presented him on the big screen and I wasn’t too keen on another live action cartoon.¬† Every trailer I’ve seen of ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS has made me laugh though, so I will probably spring a matinee fee to go see it.

Ultimately, 2007 was across the board a decent year for geeks on several levels.

In the world of books and literature, we were treated to HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS.¬† I actually didn’t read any of the Harry Potter books until this year. It all started when I was at my house one day just doing some cleaning and ABC Family was running the first three movies back to back to back in anticipation of their premiere of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (I think).¬† I was flipping channels and I saw some kids run through a wall to a train station on the other side and I thought, “That’s pretty neat.”¬† Before I knew it, I was sucked in to the story of Harry Potter via the first film.¬† I had seen PRISONER OF AZKABAN with a friend who just wanted someone to go watch it with her, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the characters or anything, I just wasn’t into the whole Harry Potter phenomenon.¬†¬† Now, though, I went out and bought each book as finished the previous one.¬† I was blown away by J.K. Rowlings ability to write teen angst without making me roll my eyes and think the kids were all too stupid to continue to invest in.¬† (Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition…sue me.)¬† The problem was that I finished HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE months before DEATHLY HALLOWS was released.¬†¬† So I got caught up in all the speculation and discussions about what would happen and who would die.¬†¬†

When I finally got my hands on the seventh and final book in the series, I devoured it.¬†¬† I was totally invested in Hermione’s and Ron’s relationship with each other.¬† I got choked up when Ron came back to the trio after leaving so angrily.¬†¬†I nearly got mad when, during a break in chapters, I thought for a split second that Hagrid had died.¬† I was thrilled when Mrs.¬† Weasly finally broke loose and showed just how tough she was.¬† I absolutely cheered when Harry finally faced down his Lord Voldemort and defeated evil.¬† I was a kid again.¬†¬† In fact, every single book took me to that place that I think everyone has inside of them.¬†¬† That place of childhood wonder at the world around you.

In comics, things are a bit more complicated.

In DC comics, 52 ended and the Countdown begun, thus proving that you can’t make magic happen intentionally, and lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.¬† What do I mean by that?¬† Well, DC pulled off something successful, innovative, and very well-received in the form of 52.¬†¬† However, to immediately follow that up with a series that is released the same way as 52 without the apparent detail to timing and continuity shows that the DC higher ups saw a dollar figure more than another creative oppurtunity.¬†¬†

DC also took a step toward a more Silver Age feel in their books.¬† This could be good…this could be bad.¬† So far, it’s been both.¬† It depends largely on who’s writing and what they’ve been given and green lit to write.¬† Hopefully, DC will answer continuity questions and settle into a long term status quo with their books in Final Crisis.¬† This whole year for DC has seemed very hit and miss in terms of quality.¬† Further, it seems that DC has no real sense of where it’s headed or why.¬†

That’s not to say there hasn’t been some good stuff realeased by DC.¬†¬† There has been some stuff that I wish I was collecting and some stuff that I have bit the bullet and picked up whether my budget can handle the strain or not.¬† Truthfully, ’08 has more potential for DC to get things on a great track more than Marvel.

In Marvel comics, 2007 saw Civil War end, The Hulk wage war, Captain America die, and Skrulls rear their ugly heads again.  While Civil War is an interesting concept, the end result left things so open ended and in disarray that many people are scratching their heads wondering if Marvel can get things back on track for themselves without God (as portrayed by Jack Kirby) wiping the slate clean and starting over. 

This is not to say that Civil War wasn’t compelling, interesting, or good, only that it may have been too much.¬†¬†

Then there’s the death of Captain America.¬†¬† This event has been handled pretty well by the Marvel Bullpen.¬† While Captain America will be back, (and most likely Steve Rogers as well one day) his death has been treated like the event it should be.

While I really enjoyed everything I got to read on the World War Hulk front, the story wasn’t the Earth-shattering event it promised to be in the months leading up to the Green Goliath’s return to Earth.¬† Sentinel continues to be a poor shadow of what Superman is in DC comics, and the question of how the Hulk will go back to being simply hounded by the military while Bruce Banner hides and finds a cure is yet to be seen.

Skrulls are back, and while I thought the first appearance of a Skrull in the Avengers title was supposed to signal an invasion of sorts, I haven’t seen or heard anything major happening yet.¬†¬†

Marvel, through 2007, showed that (in their comics) they continue to tell great stories that start big and just kind of fizzle out at the end.¬†¬† I think it’s time to go back to what works for them and get centered.¬†¬† Quit messing around too much in your heroes lives and get back to some good old fashioned hero vs. villain action for a while.¬†

Both companies have gone the way of writing for the trades and killing us with crossovers.  Remember when you could collect one book and know what was going on with that character or team fairly consistently? 

There were a few straight to DVD releases this year that I picked up.

In January, Marvel continued it’s line of animated titles with THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN.¬† The DVD came out the week of my birthday, so I picked it up as a present to myself.¬†¬† I should have grabbed an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen instead.¬†¬† The movie just didn’t pop with me.¬† There was never the moment that made me say, “This is worth the price of admission.”¬† Ultimate Avengers had it, when Captain America goes in to fight the Hulk, I was on the edge of my seat thinking, “Holy monkey spit! They’re gonna fight!” Ultimate Avengers 2 didn’t really have that moment, but it was still more watchable, in my opinion, that THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN.¬†¬†

As far as Super Heroes in any type of feature, that was the first one of the year, so things got off to not so hot a¬†start in ’07 for our super powered friends.¬† In my mind, I had to wonder, “Would things get better?”

Heard it Here Last –

Transformers: Even More

Than Meets the Eye

17

Aug

Posted by Steve

SuperHeroHype is reporting that Paramount Pictures will be re-releasing Michael Bay’s Transformers in IMAX theatres with additional footage.¬† The report doesn’t say how much additional footage or what exactly will be shown, but this is great news as far as I’m concerned.

Count me in the number who stood up and cheered TRANSFORMERS when it came to the big screen.¬† Yes, Optimus had flames, and moving lips, but the truth is in the cartoon, he was one of only a handful whose mouths were never shown.¬† So to see his mouth move on the big screen didn’t bother me too much.

If I were to nitpickthe movie, it would be that I didn’t like some of the voices of the other characters, in particuliar, Ironhide.¬† I don’t know why they gave him a British accent.¬† He’s supposed to have a good ole’ southern drawl.¬† Oh well.

While as¬†a Transformers fan from waaaay back, I see the issues other transfans had with the movie, I still loved it.¬† So, when I hear that there is going to be more footage…and the film is going to be shown in IMAX…well, I giggle…I giggle like a fat girl left alone in a room of Twinkies.

By the way, you can read some of my oldest blogs ever at The Transformers Network. Just look for the articles by Bighonkin…that’s me.

Anywho, I’ll post more on this story as I find out more. But, if you read it here, you can always rest assured that you “heard it here last.”