Transformers: Action In Disguise

Transformers 5

 

Decades ago, they were toys that dominated the shelves of the local dispenser.  Next came comic books and a hit animated movie that set off a chain of events resulting in a number of animated series.  And in 2007, Michael Bay tackled the challenge of bringing them to life in the big screen motion picture event of the summer.  Now, ten years later…he is still trying to keep the series alive with a fifth installment. Despite all the bad reviews of previous film, DreamWorks still believes in this big budget money raking machine.  Has Bay learned from his mistakes, or have we yet another special effect wreck on our hands.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Ending:  DreamWorks animation studios still has their finger on the pulse of animation.  Once more their studio proves they can make the fiction world come to life in stunning realism, filling the 2.5 hours with fluid motion, breathtaking special effects, and dynamic sequences.  Bay’s fixation on the special effects continues to shine through in the pyrotechnic, CGI laden visuals that fill the silver screen.  This is great for the last 45 minutes, where the high speed, action packed climax comes to life, infusing adrenaline into the theater and getting things ramped up.  Nice work again guys!

 

Funny:  From the get go, Bay’s writing team has set out to bring laughs amidst the acting (which is about the only thing he is good at bringing). Good news, the 2.5 hours brings plenty of laughs to the mix.  Bantering is certainly the mainstay of the film, but Transformers 5 has a few other bouts of whit, cleverness, and fun to add to the mix.  I found myself laughing at a number of insults to the ridiculousness of the film, and some well-timed quips from a few of the robots and special guest actor Anthony Hopkins.  Speaking of which…

 

Actor/Actress:  I agree with my fellow reviewers that Anthony Hopkins stole the show in this film.  His charming delivery mixes well with the vigor that an old historian of the transformers would certainly hold.  Hopkins delivers his lines in that elegant poise he’s famous for and creates a wonderful character to alleviate from the other humans that inhabit this film.  Certainly, guys like Wahlberg, Duhamel, and newcomer Isabella Moner do a fine job, but they don’t hold a candle to the majesty of this seasoned actor.  Nice pick casting director.  In addition, the new leading lady Laura Haddock is a fantastic addition as well.  Trading characters that are purely sex appeal, for beautiful, respectable, and powerful woman is an A+ in my book.  Haddock has poise much like her other English counterpart, and blew me away at how much I liked the character.  She was a beautiful addition in more ways than one.  Nice work guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Human focus:  For a movie titled after giant robots, you would think there would be more focus on them.  Bay once again chose to forego his expensive artificial crafted creations for his real-life actors.  I just ask why?  Transformers has always had human components, but not as the main focus.  In the Last Knight though, it’s all about the human backstories in this film, and trying to wedge them into the story to keep you engaged.  Not the smartest movie, and the amidst the story, the attempt at all these new characters with backstories just didn’t work.

Jam packed story:  Remember the last Transformers movie and the eight plots it had?  Yeah, it gives me shudders too. Unfortunately, the storyboard writers didn’t listen to the last set of reviews, because Last Knight once again is jam packed with multiple stories all trying to wedge their way to the front.  The result is another rushed, sloppy mess that fails to put an engaging story into the midst.  Part treasure hunt, part emerging threat, part character testing for Optimus on top of all the character issues floating around, was just too much to grasp.  And the unifying factor tying all of them together was pretty weak again.  Certainly, the Transformers have never been strong stories, but they have been better and less of a stretch than this mess.  Such a deconstructed plot was not entertaining and left little to ground the action too outside of the finale.

 

Action deficits:  It’s an action movie and as a result you would like to see a chunk of the 2.5 hours filled with the special effects they were so focused on.  Once more this movie fails.  After a decent opening sequence (amidst a hasty opening), the film starts to hit the brakes on the action department.  In an attempt to story build, they extend to drawn out explanations and more comedic banter that wasn’t necessary.  Had the story been worth it, I would have given them props, but nope, just added fluff that wasn’t that engaging to me.  Certainly, there were some fast driving scenes and a quick history of fighting, but these were short lived.  Not cool guys.

 

Unbalanced Robots:  Ever since the second film, Transformers movie have been awful about utilizing all of their creations.  Optimus and Bumblebee take the lead again, and the rest of the Autobus have their moments to “shine.”  Hound, Hotrod, and Squirt get a few gimmicks here, but others like the dingbats and Drift are barely needed having little lines or involvement in the movie.  And the Decepticons, after a major introduction were even more pathetic at being underutilized.  If you’re going to go to depths to recruit cars and voice actors, do something with them!

 

The VERDICT:

 

Transformers the Last Knight showed promised from the trailers as returning to the action roots we loved.  Too bad it didn’t deliver to the level the first production did years ago.  While animation and acting were bullseyes, the rest of the movie is a disproportioned mess with too much going on.  A weak story focusing on humans going on an extensive search and find didn’t do much for engaging plot, and the inability to focus on a plot made it even worse.  Throw in a lack of action and underutilizing of all the other robots and more points get derailed.  While this certainly isn’t the last installment, Transformers needs some repairs to bring it back to the light. Outside of the special effects, this movie isn’t necessarily one for the big screen. 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Let Patriotic Pride Ring

patriots-day

 

Mark Wahlberg and disaster movies seem to go hand and hand these days and this weekend brings the latest installment in his library.  Today I got to see Patriots Day, a movie that dramatizes the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013.  Like all disaster movies, it holds the promise for inspiring the audience or stirring up emotion.  But has Hollywood hit its saturation point?  Hi Robbie K here, with a new abbreviated review of Patriots Day.  Let’s get started

 

LIKES:

  • Very Detailed
  • Good visual/audio techniques
  • Emotionally strong movie

 

Summary:  When it comes to historical movies we like details and Patriots Day does not fall short in portraying this tragic event.  From the bombings to the manhunt, you get to see the thrilling, and sometimes chilling, journey to bring the case to a close. The movie shows the events from the perspectives of many involved including victims, cops, and the terrorists themselves.  An even more impressive twist is the smooth integration of real life security clips that helps keep the facts in check, while also showing the inspiration of the movie.  When you take these clips, and mix them with the movie magic of scene and music editing, you get incredibly powerful scenes that are certain to inspire you.  I agree with the trailers that Patriots Day is one of the most emotional stirring pieces to grace the silver screen this year.  So many sequences promote the concepts of uniting in the face of danger, perseverance of spirit, and American pride.  It had many in my viewing sniffling and certainly got some goosebumps going in this reviewer.  Therefore, Patriots Day editing is certainly the selling point of this movie.

 

DISLIKES  

  • Movie magic overdramatizes
  • Some editing issues
  • May poke some snakes

 

Summary: As seen many times in Hollywood, the magic of the cinema sometimes steps into overdramatic role.  Patriots Day, despite how emotionally stirring it is, does cross into preachy side at times. While it certainly is inspiring, much of the ending moments (primarily the dialogue) is geared towards American pride that may be seen as boastful.  In addition, some people may not appreciate the portrayal of the various characters, perhaps thinking they were too extreme in their renditions.  Yes, some of the audience said this during the movie.  But outside of overdramatic moments and extreme portrayals, the only other component for me was some of the editing lapses in the movie.  There are certain scenes that attempt to show some of the background info on the characters (e.g. dating, guys getting high on weed, etc) which were certainly entertaining or aggravating.  However, these moments were either not timed right, or more often not needed for me to get the emotional kick of the movie.  And to be honest, most of these clips do extend the cast’s screen time.

 

The Verdict:

Patriots Day is a movie that will bring some sort of emotion to most audience members.  The detail is fantastic and makes you feel a part of the team in this epic manhunt, establishing that rage to capture the bad guys.  The special effects and audio score will only deepen your immersion into the story.  However, be ready for some political discussions and potential airing of grievances when you see the very extreme portrayals in this movie. Overall though, this movie is a solid opening to the year and a welcome break up from the mundane.

 

My scores:

 

Drama/History/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Dive Deep Into The Flaming Inferno

deepwater

What is it about disasters that we enjoy watching?  I could come up with a number of reasons, but the bottom line is that Hollywood has shifted to dramatizing former events as a means for more movies. Hi, Robbie K here bringing you another review of the latest films to grace the screen.  Tonight we hit Deepwater Horizon starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, and a handful of other actors.  Let’s get started.

LIKES:

  • Great acting
  • Over the top graphics
  • Emotionally stimulating

You might be thinking that I have gone crazy, after all Wahlberg hasn’t had the greatest roles.  Deepwater Horizon breaks the mediocre streak and drops him into a position that may net him an Oscar nomination. Wahlberg’s portrayal of Mike Williams is certainly a heroic one filled with wisdom, strength, and a calm edge that sets the stage for a natural leader. But there is also a realistic side brought out near the second half the screen that balances out the heroic theatrics of Hollywood. Kurt Russell no surprise plays his usual rugged role, making sure to add the hard edge testosterone rush all older actors need to bring. Hudson and Malkovich get A’s as well, each bringing the needed involvement to round out the cast.  All the extras and lesser billed roles complete the picture as a close oil crew, but much of their time is spent standing around or ducking from fire.

  Speaking of fire, the visual effects are top notch in terms of computer graphic imaging. Deepwater Horizon’s reconstruction of an oil rig succumbing to its doom is very realistic. For you technical folks, the directors have crafted scenes to mimic the daily operations involved with pumping oil, from watching gritty mud flow through the pipe to the cracking foundation floor.  That sound boring?  Well those looking for a little more suspense will be impressed when the whole operation blows to pieces…literally.  You might be amazed seeing the rig, and its crew, get covered in oil before erupting into a fiery inferno you’ve seen in the trailers. My friend described the visuals being so good, he felt immersed into the disaster, wanting to duck or dive as explosions rattled the screen.

Of course the real magic to the visual effects are the emotions it brings with it.  The various sequences and montages of the exploding metal certainly paints a terrifying picture as you wonder how much time is left until something falls.  Now add our characters trying to traverse the obstacle course from heck, feeling horrifying chills run through your body as you watch human bodies hurled through the air and disturbing injuries protruding in gory details. However, it is not all dismay and dread, no Deepwater Horizon has plenty of sequences and montages of heroism that will make you a little proud to be a human…no matter how overly theatrical it could be.

DISLIKES:

  • Overdramatic at times
  • Already know the ending
  • Editing needs work

I’m probably sounding overcritical or nonsensical, but here it goes anyway. Deepwater Horizon is at times a bit on the overdramatic side.  As I said, much of the movie will light a fire in your soul that will have your patriotism in full force.  Unfortunately, some of these moments are a bit too fake and in your face to get my full backing, primarily making an effort to pan on the American flag flapping in the flames. Even the more heroic moments sometimes get a bit too corny, the overdramatic focus on the camera amid a symphony soundtrack blaring pride.  Again, they get the message across and deliver the emotion, it just sometimes gets a little too Hollywood for me.

The special effects and the noble protagonist will certainly spread suspense and awe, but it doesn’t help that you know the ending. If you paid attention to the news, you know all about what happens to the rig, and if you choose to ignore history take a look at the trailer.  The opening sequence doesn’t help things either by telling you the fate of a certain character that further adds predictability to the mix.  What does leave in terms of suspense and surprise? Pretty much it is the fate of the crew that held any mystery to me, and that was scarce at times.  Perhaps another minor dislike, but still one nonetheless.

    In regards to the editing, this one is a tough call to make.  On the one hand I appreciate the details they provide about the incident, from the development of the disaster to how they faced the inferno the rig became.  And yet, I felt some of it was elaborated too much for my liking. The build up was a little too long and drawn out, making it slightly boring as we waited for the dirt to hit the pipe.  As the oil begins to bloom into a fountain the pace picks up, but then hits a very slow, somewhat pointless, standstill at the aftermath of the situation.  Yes, it provides realism and rounding out of the characters, but again is a little too extended after all the excitement.   They probably could have spared about fifteen minutes, but hey that’s just me.

 

THE VERDICT:

            Despite this being the third historical event to get a movie this month, Deepwater Horizon will provide the emotional thrills you want.  A fantastic CGI design that’s brimming with emotion and suspense. However, the predictability and overdramatic moments fall in line with Hollywood’s magic and takes away from the message of the movie.  I have to recommend this one for the theater though, primarily for the technological achievements it brings. 

 

Overall my scores are:

Action/Drama/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0