Movie Trailers <![CDATA[ This S.H.I.E.L.D. movie needed more Thor]]>
Thor is the God of Thunder who comes from the magical and far off realm of Asgard, he and his brother Loki the God of Mischief live in royalty with they're father Odin the King.  One day, just scant minutes from having Thor poised to have him take Odin's place, intruders breach the castle walls in an attempt to steal a powerful artifact.  Enraged Thor takes it upon himself to enter the land of Jotunheim where the Frost Giants are suspected of having committed the deed.  Thor and his friends enter battle to ill effect only to be saved by Odin.  Odin displeased with Thor's rash attitude strips him of power, his armor and magical hammer and banishes him to Earth.  Thor's friends are distraught, but Loki not so much as he has taken Odin's place and will not bring Thor back.

Thor lands on Earth in the middle of New Mexico in the care of college student played by Natalie Portman (nice landing) who studies spacial phenomena but finds that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency  has taken away her materials (but are nice enough to pay her for the theft as reimbursement).  Fearing she may have to start from scratch, Thor is cool enough after having his royal dickishness curbed to assist the student in her studies of the skies and learning of the different lands Thor has been to.  Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Loki's rule has him learn of his own past and this makes his anger turn toward defeating Thor.  In the middle of this however is the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization led by that dweeb Coulson who has appeared in almost all of these current Marvel movies to do government things in the name of national security.  They are gathered around the landing place of Thor's hammer which cannot be moved and even after Thor breaches the defenses, he cannot either as he is not deemed worthy anymore and finds he must dig down to be a man worthy of rule.

Now, if you were brought down by my opening comparison to those 80's fantasy movies, worry not as the movie is not as bad as those movies, but in a movie like this, the creators sadly had to cop out and only show us so much of the magical (and very colorful) world of Asgard and the frosty netherrealms of Jotunheim and instead focus the action in the sandy nowheres of New Mexico.  Asgard though is shown enough that we aren't cheated completely but the movie is still very much in the Judge Dredd (1995) route in that we see our hero in his role fighting evil, he is taken out of his place and must fight to get back what is his and that means we don't see Thor doing many Thor like things, and we paid to see Thor.

Instead, after they are introduced we see the computer laden S.H.I.E.L.D. hide out with it's shadowy agents, the guys up high who watch whats going on and other nonsense.  Coulson if I'm not mistaken gets as much screen time as Thor and I would have much rather see S.H.I.E.L.D. movie to see this rather then in a Thor movie where it feels intrusive.

Whats good?  Well Chris Hemsworth is a new face and great as Thor, being an arrogant ass born with a silver hammer in his mouth to see his change to a man who learns what it means to have power and to care about those around him.  The world of Asgard and in particular the Rainbow Bridge look very colorful and nice.  It's nice to see color in these kind of movies when it's just easier to make everything look black and dark.  The costumes on the Asgardians are all colorful as well with bright reds, golds and greens.  Lastly if it wasn't implied before, it's always nice to see Natalie Portman.

Other then the disjointed feel this movie ends up with, the movie has it's bad points.  It's another comic movie where knowledge of the comic is good to have.  While some things are explained well other things are not.  First off, I still have no idea what "Odin Sleep" is.  I also didn't even know that Thor could FLY.  I always just assumed that Thor hit guys with a hammer and shot lightning at bad guys and is a general badass fighter.  But other then that, things are sort of just implied as to what Thor can do.

This Thor movie in the end made me wanting more Thor.  We got to see glimpses of what he does, what he can do and what his world is like but I ended up seeing more of S.H.I.E.L.D. and New Mexico instead.]]> Sun, 6 May 2012 05:31:25 +0000
<![CDATA[The Adjustment Bureau Quick Tip by cyclone_march]]> Tue, 3 Jan 2012 21:27:32 +0000 <![CDATA[Green Lantern (2011 movie) Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2011 18:11:08 +0000 <![CDATA[ With all it's flaws, it is still a movie worth discussing]]> Meek’s Cutoff, but it’s a failure that is serious, thoughtful and encourages discussion.
In 1845 three couples hire a guide to lead them through what is supposed to be a shortcut through the Oregon high desert to good homesteading land. Before long, exhausted, dirty and running short of water, Soloman and Emily Tetherow (Will Patton, Michelle Williams), William and Glory White (Neal Huff, Shirley Henderson) and their young son, and Thomas and Millie Gately (Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan) realize their guide, Stephen Meek (Bruce Davidson) is just as lost as they are.
They push on because they have little alternative. They must cross rivers, struggle over sun-parched flatland, depend on what brush there is to feed the oxen that pull their three wagons, and listen to the blustery tales of Meek when they can finally settle for the night. The men discuss what to do while the women try to listen. The men capture a lone Indian (Rod Rondeaux) who might lead them to water or might kill them. The men debate killing the Indian then and there. Meek in particular is in favor of this. One of the women, Emily Tetherow, speaks up and insists that the possibly of water is more important than anything else.
Now we see a subtle change as the balance of authority moves toward the women, especially Emily. They face life and death options…do they continue, do they turn back; do they move north, or south or west, do they treat the Indian as a savage or as a possible savior. Meek’s Cutoff ends as it began, with the settlers and Meek taking the only real option open to them…to just keep going.
The look of the movie is faded and dry. There is little dialogue. The mountains and desert are well photographed but slowly become claustrophobic. The world has become just these settlers, Meek, the Indian and the three wagons and the dwindling supplies. The men lead the oxen and the women trudge behind the wagons. They are all lost, and dying is one of the options facing them.
A good deal of effort was taken to be authentic, from the faded, long dresses and deep, shadowed bonnets of the women to the guttering lamps at night. And the nights are black and dense. Meek, all bluster and full of bragging stories, is a creature of filthy buckskins and a lot of hair. The women’s hands are dark with grime.
Why do I think Meek’s Cutoff is a failure? We observe this small band of humanity rather than feel connected to it. The long takes and lack of dialogue is tiring and makes for restless viewing. The ostensible options faced by them are really no options at all. They come to realize at each discussion of “What do we do next?” what we have long noticed: That every option is as bad or good as just doing what they’re doing. The ending is a fine example of an ambiguous conclusion that is not intriguing, just unsatisfying. It’s almost as if the director and the writer were telling us, “If you don’t get it, that’s not our responsibility.” This attitude is especially clear with the one extra, “The Making of Meek’s Cutoff.” We’re given extensive shots of wagons being built, set-ups in the desert, make-up applied and such…all without narration, explanation or logical placement of the scenes. Some scenes seem included simply because they photographed well. If a director doesn’t really care if her audience understands a “making of” feature, why should we care about either the feature or her movie? There is a kind of indie movie auteurism about the enterprise that is off-putting. Be warned, if you aren’t attentive during the first couple of minutes, you’ll probably miss why the settlers found themselves in the fix they’re in…something the director could have made clearer so easily.
And yet… Meek’s Cutoff lends itself to intelligent discussion…the director’s intent, the circumstances, the options, the role of the Indian, the changing dynamic between the men and the women, the actors, the ending.
Not many movies give us such a variety of things to talk over with friends. ]]> Sat, 19 Nov 2011 21:26:57 +0000
<![CDATA[ This Film Was Much Better Than Expected!]]>
It starts out with a narrator explaining that the Green Lanterns are spread throughout the universe, dividing the universe into sectors and are protectors of their sector. Four of the Lanterns come upon an imprisoned thing that seems to feed on fear and rips the soles from three of them. The other Lantern gets away but is mortally wounded. He heads for the nearest habitable world (Earth) and lands there dying.

Meanwhile, Hal Jordan is a test pilot for new military planes. His father was a great pilot but Hal witnessed his father's death in a plane accident while he was still a boy. Hal is doing a simulated combat mission with the latest plane for a company hoping to get a military contract. He outsmarts the pursing computer controlled drones but manages to crash his own very expensive model while doing so. This angers his bosses who fear losing the contract and they must now fire just about anybody.

Meanwhile back on the Lantern's native world Sinestro learns of the attack on the Lanterns and leads a team to combat the evil force. He later learns that the force was once one of the Guardians of the Lantern world who experimented with fear but the fear consumed him to be kind of like Darth Vader (who succumbed to the Darkside of the force). He assembles a force of Lanterns to battle the evil creature claiming that the Lanterns working together have never been beaten.

The injured Lantern has made it to Earh and since he is dying, he sends his power ring to locate someone worthy to wear it. It locates Hal Jordan and envelopes him in a green cocoon and transports him to the dying Lantern. The Lantern tells Hal that the ring has chosen him and that he must use the power lantern to recharge the ring. He dies and Hal contacts his friend who comes to pick him up just as the military arrive to take the alien being's body away.

The film does get a little bit complicated at times and we later learn that a part of the evil being is resident in the dead Lantern's body and it takes over the scientist who is tasked to do the autopsy. He will later be a nemesis to Hal.

Hal will later be transported by the ring to the world of the Lanterns where he will be explained their purpose and be assigned a mentor/trainer. The mentor is supposed to be a type of Yoda, but unlike how well the scenes with Luke and Yoda played out in the Star Wars movies, this trainer is too easily overcome and Hal almost immediately learns how to harness the ring. The film makers could have done a lot better with this part of the film.

The special effects of the film, though not the greatest, are ok, Some of the film is predictable and a lot of the characters we seem to have seen before in other films (think Troma). The movie did hold my interest throughout and the film is set up for a second film at the end. I was a little disappointed with the extras on the disk as there was only a preview of a Green Lantern cartoon and an ad for the DC Comics 52 new number ones. I give this film two and three quarters stars.]]> Wed, 16 Nov 2011 12:13:52 +0000
<![CDATA[Thor (2011 movie) Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> Sat, 12 Nov 2011 03:23:11 +0000 <![CDATA[The Adjustment Bureau Quick Tip by devora]]> Tue, 8 Nov 2011 18:07:27 +0000 <![CDATA[ Emeralds Aren't A Fanboy's Best Friend But....]]> I've always enjoyed watching DC Comics' stable of heroes in cartoons and films more than actually reading about them in comics.  To me, DC's heroes were, for the most part, more "super" than Marvel's crop of characters.  They always seemed to be a bit more fantastical and otherworldly.  Sure, Marvel has plenty of heroes who acquired there powers from things like radioactive spiders and the force cosmic, but they always came across as more human than the bulk of DC's heroes.  They had to deal with more "human" problems than the DC guys and gals.  DC heroes are also a bit more cartoonish in nature in my opinion (with a few exceptions), and therefore looked better on the TV screen than say, the Punisher or Ghost Rider.  Heck, the DC crowd even seemed to have fancier costumes (Martian Manhunter looks fabulous)!  For this reason, I preferred watching DC heroes and reading about Marvel ones.

So it should come as no surprise when I say that I was looking forward to a Green Lantern film. As far as flash and cartoonish looks go, the green guy has a lot going for him.  I mean, the guy has a ring that can create just about anything he dreams up.  He's draped in a black and green costume and he's part of an intergalactic corps of peacekeepers!  If that doesn't say "fantastical," I don't know what does!

On the flip side, Hal Jordan's Green Lantern is one of the most serious characters in the DC universe.  He's not a pushover, has dealt with a number of really human problems, and often has run-ins with fellow heroes when they have differences of opinion.  Outside of Bruce Wayne, Jordan might be the most grounded hero in all of DC.

So after I heard that the annoyingly comedic Ryan Reynolds, he of National Lampoon's Van Wilder and Two Guys and a Girl fame, was going to don the green tights, my excitement dwindled a bit.  This guy has been murder to a couple of excellent comics characters over the last few years.  He made Hannibal King a bad joke-spewing schmuck in Blade:  Trinity, and Deadpool an even bigger douche than he is portrayed as in the comics (and I like him in the comics!).

Then the trailers hit, and although I thought that Reynolds looked really cool in the costume, I never found the complete motivation to go see the film at the theater.  It was one of those films that I wanted to see, but had so many doubts in my mind that I didn't put any effort into finding the extra time to actually get into the car and drive down to the movies.  I decided to wait on the DVD.

When the DVD did come out, I went full poozer and picked it up on the day of its release.  I actually debated on skipping a party I was invited to in order to watch the film instead!  When I did get back from the party (around 11:30 pm), I plopped onto the couch and watched the whole film.  I immediately formed a shocking opinion about the movie once it was over:  It had its bad moments and Ryan Reynolds in it, but I still liked it quite a bit.

Briefly, Green Lantern tells us the story of Hal Jordan, a cocky test pilot haunted by the death of his father who is chosen by the ring of Abin Sur, who is mortally wounded by Parallax (who I'll get to later), to be the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814.  Jordan then goes through training on the planet Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps. 

Abin Sur's body is recovered by the feds, and examined by Hector Hammond, an underachieving  scientist who winds up being infected by a bit of Parallax (who I promise to get to) that was left behind in Abin Sur after he is attacked.  The infection gives Hammond powers that he uses against his own father and attempts to use them against Hal as well.

Meanwhile, Parallax (I told you I'd get to him) is ticked off at the Green Lantern Corps for having imprisoned him for so long (he escapes his prison and murders Abin Sur and plenty of others at the beginning of the film) and decides to venture to Earth to consume the fear of its inhabitants in order to be strong enough to take down the entire Corps and destroy the planet Oa. 

Who stands in Parallax' way?  Hal Jordan.  Why?  Because the Corps (primarily the Green Lantern Sinestro and the supposedly all-knowing Guardians of the Universe) have denied him assistance because they believe that a being born of and powered by fear can only be destroyed by fear.

Will all things end up sunny?  You'll have to see the film to find out.

While all of this is playing out, Blake Lively looks pretty, we briefly meet a few of the other Lanterns, Tim Robbins plays a politician, and Angela Bassett gets mistaken by me to be Alfre Woodard.

Whew!  You got all of that?  I hope so, because it all happens that quickly during the film.  It is paced very, very quickly and as a result, left me wanting more.  I wanted to see more of Oa and the other Lanterns.  I wanted a deeper look at characters like Sinestro and Hammond.  I wanted more time to be spent on Hal Jordan's growth as a Lantern.

But I didn't get any of that.  What I did get was a somewhat toned-down performance from Ryan Reynolds.  While he wasn't a true realization of Hal Jordan in my book, he was a good fit for the film's overall tone.  He did get in a few smart aleck quips, but not enough to turn me off to the character completely. 

I also got some solid performances from the supporting cast.  Mark Strong as Sinestro was particularly good.  While it isn't looking particularly good for a sequel to this film, I'd love to see Sinestro get a shot at more screen time.  Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush did great jobs as the voices of Kilowog and Tomar-Re, respectively, despite not having nearly enough time on the screen.  Clancy Brown, whom I feel deserves more accolades than he's received for his other work, provided the gravelly voice of Parallax and although he was pretty hush-hush, he did a fine job.

Tim Robbins is pretty good as Senator Hammond (Hector's father), as is Angela Bassett as Dr. Waller, but neither of them added much to the film overall.  They just simply weren't on screen enough to be given a chance at development.

Taika Waititi delivers the best line in the film when he sees Hal Jordan "turn" into the Green Lantern.  He portrayed Thomas Kalmaku, Jordan's good friend and associate.  Blake Lively takes a turn as Hal's love interest, Carol Ferris, and does a decent job with a limited role.

The film's special effects were rather cartoonish in the beginning, but got better as the film progressed.  I was especially impressed by the look of Parallax once he broke free of his prison.  He was a genuinely wicked looking being.  The planet Oa looked great as well.  Much like Asgard in Thor, it actually looked alien and brilliant.

The look of the Corps members was pretty slick as well.  I liked Hal Jordan's costume and was particularly fond of Sinestro's look. 

The only effect that I didn't entirely like was Peter Sarsgaard's receding hairline and eventual bulbous protustion.  I know that Hammond has a big noggin in the comics but come on, folks, don't make it so cheesy looking!

The music, while very good, lacked a true "hero theme" for Hal Jordan.  That probably bugged me more than anything.  When our hero takes flight or goes into battle, he needs a good theme song to kick rear to.  That wasn't provided here.

I often felt that the film was attempting to smash as much fanboy info into the film as possible so that DC-philes would stay in their seats and trying to play to the general film audience at the same time too often.  Had the producers and writers just made either a straight comic film or a homogenous flick for all, the outcome would have been much better.  Instead, they tried pandering to both sides of the green ring and as a result ended up with a so-so final product.

Despite all of this, I believe that Green Lantern is worthy of multiple viewings.  It isn't perfect, but it has enough "gee-whiz" factor going for it that I've found myself watching it regularly.  I'm giving it four stars because Reynolds performed beyond my expectations and the film is a visual treat.  I honestly hope and pray that a sequel is made.  Perhaps it won't feature Reynolds, but I do think that Mark Strong gave a solid enough performance as Sinestro as to warrant a return to the role.

Hardcore DC fanboys will probably not like this film as much as more casual DC fans will, but general audiences will get a kick out of this popcorn-packed release.

]]> Tue, 8 Nov 2011 16:28:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ An off shade of green]]> Mon, 7 Nov 2011 14:38:36 +0000 <![CDATA[ A better drama than you might expect; completely worth the time.]]>
I despise Oscar Bait; I really do. It's not fun watching filmmakers strip a film of all its artistry and thought-provoking attributes, actually, it ends up rather exhausting. Of course, there is good Oscar Bait ("The King's Speech"), but I still dislike the idea as a whole. If you don't even know what I'm on about and are scratching your head whenever I use the term, I'll fill you in; "Oscar Bait" is a term best used to define a film that tries to be overly provocative and different. Basically, it's crafted for the sake of Academy Awards nominations and pure indulgence. Sometimes, the Academy is blind; other times, they are not.

"A Better Life" certainly feels like it should be Oscar Bait, and given the premise and set-up, I expected nothing more or nothing less. However, I walked out pleasantly surprised; the film was not, in fact, intended as a cheap tear-jerker or an "inspiring" story. It was made with passion, in the caring hands of director Chris Weitz, who has just enough sympathy for his story and his characters to make the film work, in spite of the formulaic road that it consistently walks.

The film is a typical father-son-relationship story; almost completely without twists, but with a few carefully drawn out individual characters, all who make it worthy of a viewing. Both the father and the son are illegal immigrants living in America; the father, Carlos (Demian Bichir), works as a gardener while the son, Luis (Jose Julian), aspires to become a member in a local gang. Carlos dreams of starting their life off new; it's just them, in their world as they perceive it, after all. Luis's mother is not in the picture. So both characters must fend for themselves.

Carlos buys a truck from his employer. With that truck, with a certain amount of money to seal the deal, the father envisions moving out of the city so that he can give his kid a proper education, amongst equally as "proper" people. When Carlos has the truck, he is overjoyed, but in an instant, it is stolen by a fellow worker; prompting the father and son to embark on a journey that will inspire the rebirth of the bond that they once had. It ends on a typically tear-jerker note, with less emotional payoff than you may want or expect, but I have to say; it's so well-made and enjoyable, that it's easy to forget about that one large, crucial element.

Bichir plays Carlos perfectly. As a fatherly figure, he's what you'd expect; but the actor handles the role so, so well; I think if the film wins any awards, then that performance alone should be the thing that earns them. Jose Julian is also effective as the son, but given that he's a teenage boy, the screenwriters would've had to have taken an entirely different direction to make him interesting. Don't get me wrong, it's a good performance from a gifted young acting talent, but the character just didn't reach me, or strike me, as someone intellectual or worth liking immensely.

Still, this is an engaging film; from start-to-finish. I'd even say that for the third act, which is undeniably clumsy and clichéd, but at the end of the day, I still thought it worked. Hell, the entire film works; if that's the right word. It can't be called a mess, as it plays things straight, and for the same reasons, it cannot be called great. If it has one fatal flaw, it is the familiarity of the approach; which, mind you, is still a competent one. There were few problems I had with the film that Weitz has made, which is an all-together MUCH better one than his last project (which was the sequel to the first "Twilight" film). As far as qualities go, it has more positives than it does negatives. It's not for everyone, but it has a charm and appeal that will get it the audience that it deserves.

The filmmaker feels at home with this material, so it flows naturally enough to be effective, and the direction is just fine; but nothing groundbreaking. However, what more to expect from Weitz; the same man who brought us that fine Hugh Grant drama, "About a Boy"? There was nothing "special" about the direction there; it was all in the writing, the acting, and how both of those things mixed together to create something that felt, well, conclusive. The same could be said for "A Better Life", which isn't quite as good, but it's still a character-driven drama, and like the said earlier film, I'd even call it well written. In a world where just about every other drama is sappy, uninvolving, and unrealistically fictional in its exaggeration; here's the kind of drama that comes along, begs for attention, and if things go alright for it; that's exactly what it will get.]]> Sun, 6 Nov 2011 15:40:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Green Lantern (2011 movie) Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>

Sorry I just wanted to kid around. The movie was better than "Batman and Robin"
See full review here.

P.S. Blake Lively is hot as Carol Ferris LOL!]]> Fri, 4 Nov 2011 02:19:41 +0000
<![CDATA[ Entertaining but flawed Marvel superhero origin story.]]>
Explosions, special effects, a sense of humor, and enthusiastic, dedicated leads. I'm getting tired of superhero movies; as 2011 seems to be a pretty big year for them, albeit a very mediocre one. You've got your good superhero movies and then you've got the ones that lack depth of importance. Chances are, I will forget most of the superhero movies I've seen including the ones that I simply liked. The ones that I loved shall get a much more appropriate treatment. "Thor" isn't much different from the rest of the entries in this long, exhausting wave of superhero flicks, but it's better-made than some and actually fairly entertaining. It's completely forgettable since it lacks depth and anything to truly be engaged in, sure, but it also has dazzling CGI effects, solid performances, and it knows what it wants to do. In spite of its flaws, it gets the job done and will impress some die-hard comic book/Marvel superhero fans. Those who aren't "fans" might find things to admire here as well; I just can't imagine those people loving it. But you never know.

If Hollywood can squeeze a film out of their excessive and typically up-tight assholes that manages to entertain and engage the audience in one way or another, it deserves some credit. "Thor" is goofy, silly, and whimsical in its own way; a pleasant movie-watching experience completely devoid of beauty, emotional resonance, or depth. I expected nothing more, or nothing less, so even with these flaws; I cannot say that "Thor" is problematic enough to be unwatchable or even "bad". It is what it is, and it exists in a world where, perhaps, films about Norse Gods acting as Superhero figures aren't always or almost ever great. I wouldn't even say that "Thor" is good. But it comes pretty damn close.

The film is constantly juggling two stories taking place in two separate worlds, which may have been part of the problem. For one of its stories, we are given a background and "origin story" to the film's titular character; a Norse God indeed, the son of Odin, and brother of Loki. Thor is played by Chris Hemsworth, Odin is portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, and Tom HiddlesTon plays Loki, the envious brother. Each of the three characters resides in a far-off land called Asgard; a fantastical world that is a creation of special-effects and outstanding production design, no doubt, and is thought by the rest of the universe to exist only in myth. Asgard has been at war with Jotunheim, home to the Frost Giants, for several years now. The war supposedly had ended years ago when the Asgardians defeated the Frost Giants in combat, thus taking their source-of-power, but there was always a new battle to be fought just around every corner. Thor makes the mistake of leading fellow comrades in a visit to Jotunheim in order to kill off the remaining Frost Giants; an action which gets him banished from his home-land and sent to earth.

Thor lands in New Mexico. Almost instantly upon arriving, some astrophysicists hit him with their truck. The group rescues the hero, taking him under their caring wing(s), and introduce themselves as Jane (Natalie Portman), Erik (Stellan Skarsgard), and Darcy (Kat Dennings). Thor has been separated from his signature hammer, which is reported to have landed not far from where he did. Nobody can make the thing budge from the spot in which it rests, so a research center is built around it so that the scientists working there can study the object. But we know that only Thor can move it, hold it, and use it; so when the climactic battle comes along, we know what will happen; and we anticipate it greatly.

The action sequences are thrilling and visually beautiful. One of my favorite scenes takes place somewhere near the beginning, during the origin story of the mighty Norse God, where he and his fellow Asgard warriors fend off the Frost Giants and one very large beast which they unleash. I liked the scene because it did its job very well. All it wanted to do was entertain and be "cool". I suppose that's the aim of the film, as a whole. If you're looking for substance in the way of characters or story, look elsewhere. "Thor" is nothing truly deep, but is entertainment, and amongst many of the other superhero films this year, it's pretty decent. If you remember Thor as a character that you liked more for his abilities and powers rather than his personality, then you'll have no problem with the fact that nothing has changed. Perhaps the director, Kenneth Branagh, was trying to be faithful and respectful to the source material. He does a good job at directing CGI; but there's nothing special going on as far as the more human, earth-bound scenes go. He overuses the Dutch Angle and lacks an artistic vision; as "Thor" cannot be viewed as art, but only another old creation of Hollywood that will soon be forgotten. While I thoroughly enjoyed and admired it, I took absolutely nothing out of the experience, as it lacked the element of surprise. Still, I'd say it's worth seeing for the sake of watching it, since it has an audience and I was not included in it. I would rather by superhoro movies come accompanied with emotional depth and memorability. "Thor" doesn't really have either. But its redeeming factor comes in its bright, humorous moments as well as what it DOES have. It makes use of most of the technology used and the actors involved. Why not just go with the flow and enjoy yourself?]]> Sun, 9 Oct 2011 20:39:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ Boring, repetItive, mostly left in the dark.]]>
For what it is, I guess "Vanishing on 7th" street can't really be called "bad". It has good intentions - and yes, ALL OF THEM are good - but such things can only go so far before you need to bring some actual creativity into the equation. I was hoping to be one of those few, but respected people that enjoyed the flick. I tried, I tried, and I tried; but kept drawing blanks when it came to why this movie might be considered good. Some people might like the fact that it's a horror film that keeps the horror from ever truly being seen; limiting atmosphere to whispers, voices, echoes, and jump scares. Not that there's any problem with that, really; the film, directed by Brad Anderson, has all the qualities of something ambitious and actually quite affective, but it stumbles when it comes to mixing artistry and overall effectiveness to make something genuinely frightening. I can appreciate it, but I can't say I enjoyed myself too much.

Anderson made the fantastically creepy "Session 9" and the highly thrilling "Transsiberian" before he made this mediocrity fest. He's a skilled filmmaker who has been able to summon apprehension and fear pretty easily in the past, but here, he appears to have nearly lost his marbles; and possibly even his taste. If there was any director - anyone at all - that I'd imagine making a film such as this one work, it would be the guy who actually ended up making it; Brad himself. I guess the problem was that he trusted some of the wrong people to write his film; to the point where even his skill and craft can't save the final product from simply vanishing from the minds of most who view it.

The lives of a movie-theater projectionist (John Leguizamo), a news reporter (Hayden Christensen), a physical therapist (Thandie Newton), and a gun-toting bartender's son (Jacob Latimore) come together when on a random night, darkness unexpectedly falls on every last inch of the un-lit earth, and people begin to disappear. Their cloths are left behind; but their bodies are nowhere to be found. The remaining survivors are granted the gift of living into the next day; where they wait for the night. This is when the fight for survival ultimately begins.

It would appear that the darkness itself is closing in on humanity; whipping it out from all existence. Why this is happening we don't know, and by the end, we haven't exactly gotten enough answers. The characters are forced to lock horns with each-other, test their wits, and stay in the light. They spend most of the film in a bar; where they do a lot of talking and a lot of hiding; as well as plenty of remembering.

The darkness makes for a good movie villain, especially in a horror film or a thriller. It's difficult to escape those dark corners of the earth; where evil tends to dwell. Here, a new kind of evil prospers; and it is taking those on earth...somewhere otherworldly. Of course, the film takes its time to set up its atmosphere, but not so-much its subjects. Or its characters. Or its drama. Or its story, even.

I don't think it quite works because the writing isn't terribly conclusive. You often feel like you're watching a half-finished film in spite of the admirable amount of effective creepiness and fantastic cinematography. The idea of the film is appealing, but what the filmmakers make of it isn't anything terrifically impressive. Still, you might want to see it just to see it; I can't stop you. Brad Anderson is a competent filmmaker of everything eerie or silently morbid. This is definitely his movie. It just isn't a very good one. The actors do their jobs and nothing more (Christensen is particularly bland, while Leguizamo is fantastic as always, but lacks a persona for his own projectionist character). In short, I feel there are some good elements here; but plenty of ones that "just don't work" as well. Is it bad? Not really. Is it good? Nope. Does it matter? That's up for you to decide. "Vanishing on 7th Street" understands the formula of dealing with the things that go bump in the night, as well as a very important rule regarding them (never show the damn things!), but I just can't recommend it. All due respect to Anderson, who must have worked hard on it; but...I can't say the same for his screenwriter, who basically made the film as disappointing and forgettable as it is.]]> Sun, 25 Sep 2011 19:39:17 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Very Limited "Blah" of a Movie]]> BATMAN VENOM, and let us discuss director Neil Burger’s “Limitless”. It does have an interesting premise, as the screenplay by Leslie Dixon brings a story about a wonder drug that allows someone to access all the functions of one’s brain. Nope, it doesn’t give one telekinesis, telepathy or other mind-based powers, but rather the film tries to make a commentary about how we go about our lives. Quite an interesting premise really and the potentials for originality appear ‘limitless’ (pun intended), but unfortunately the film behaves more like an action picture and uses devices that we’ve all seen before. The film itself is very limited.
Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a writer who lives in New York whose luck seems to be taking a serious misdirection. He is experiencing writer’s block, his before-supportive girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) has broken up with him and he lives in a dilapidated apartment (one good thing about it is his landlord’s young wife). One day, Eddie bumps into his ex-brother-in-law Vernon Gant (Played by Johnny Whitworth) and gives him a sample of drug called NZT-48 which allows the user to access 100 % of his brain functions. Eddie is immediately hooked, as his life seems to be taking quite a lot of surprisingly beneficial turns. Eddie becomes a millionaire almost overnight, and he seemed poised to be backed by the best financial institutions in the business led by Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). But when things are too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true. Eddie soon finds himself in a very compromising situation with the Russian mob and he also soon finds out the dangers of this new wonder drug….

                          Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra and Johnny Whitworth as Vernon Gant in "Limitless."

                          Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra in "Limitless."

First, let us discuss the positives of the film. Cooper was surprisingly charismatic as Eddie Morra; perhaps he wasn’t entirely convincing but he was able to carry the movie. Much of the film relied on his ability to command attention, and while he wasn’t 100 % consistent, he was able to hold my attention for most of the movie’s entirety. Director Neil Burger had undeniably crafted a fast-moving film that could potentially keep the viewer on their feet. I liked some of the way the film managed to do quick editing and certain points of the film did feel cool. It moved, and it did feel like we were moving along with Eddie Morra, we were able to see this world through his eyes and the world seemed like it moved along with him.

The thing is, all of this seems superficial at best, and what had the potentials for originality became something we have seen before. It is the manner the story was told, and even when it had the right stuff, Burger opts to take the film on a level that seemed like an action movie. Eddie is brought into this world where complications seemingly that stemmed from the dangers and greed for this wonder drug, and yet it does nothing with it. There is a man in a beige jacket, there’s the Russian gangster, and then, it tries to make a commentary about human greed. Morra was given certain complications, but these complications didn’t prove to be much of a challenge; they were too easy for someone to face up to them that I wondered why he would even need the wonder drug. It also doesn’t help the film’s screenplay much when the supposed antagonists were underdeveloped and most of them felt like mere caricatures. For a movie about a drug that gives limitless intelligence, the issues in the film sure was limited. It was the same old dull thing for me.

                          Abbie Cornish as Lindy in "Limitless."

                          Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra and Abbie Cornish as Lindy in "Limitless."
The drug itself was somewhat a little too convenient. I mean, sure, who made it and why was made clear but it also made me question one other thing. How come the makers or the financers of the drug didn’t use the drug? Really, this is a drug that was supposedly effective it does have its side effects, but really, what drug doesn’t? Ok, it is illegal, but no one stopped anyone for taking illegal drugs. Eddie's past relationship did take the drug, but then it hardly does anything with it. I am not sure, I found the credibility of the narrative rather boring, and it opens up too many holes in the script; it all feels that it is merely touching upon its devices. The writing was very uneven, and it seemed pressed to be a mainstream spoon-feeding rather than try to go into the messages of human behavior, greed and addiction. I guess you can say that for a film about intelligence and addiction, it proved very easy and unchallenging. The stakes all felt rather contrived and made up for me.
That said, the film does have its entertainment value. There were some scenes that did make the film, and it did have some areas that made it fun. “Limitless” isn’t a bad movie at all, but rather it is rather limited in execution and scope. It had an inspired premise but the way it was told was a little too blah; what happens is we get a movie that is very forgettable and could’ve been a small made for TV film with an uninspired script.
RENTAL [2 Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Limitless" Poster art for "Limitless."

 ]]> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 22:01:55 +0000
<![CDATA[ Better Than I Expected But Still Not Great]]>
Odin decides that he will name Thor as his air and on the day he will make it public, some Storm Giants are able to sneak in to try to steal a casket that will give their realm great power. They are twarted and Odin wants to write if off as an isolated situation. Thor has other plans and leads his pals into the Storm Giant's kingdom. They end up ending the truce but Odin learns about what they have done and strips Thor of his powers and banishes both Thor and his hammer to Earth.

Thor is found (actually hit by the utility vehicle of Jane Foster) by Jane Foster and her associates, who are doing research in a desert. They think he is a crazy person but he wants to get his hammer back. Pretty soon the hammer is discovered but nobody can move it. SHIELD shows up and takes over (kind of like Homeland Security) and fence off the hammer and take all of Jane Foster's research.

Meanwhile back at Asgard, Odin goes into his Odin sleep (a type of coma) and Loki proclaims himself King of Asgard. Loki is up to something and it may have something to do with his arm trying to turn itself into a grey Storm Giant arm.

The movie progresses to Thor trying to convince Jane and her associates who he is and trying to get back his hammer. Thor also needs to do this by going up against SHIELD. To make matters worse, Loki has loosed The Destroyer to come to Earth to kill Thor.

I would have rated the movie higher but it is full of silly parts throughout. Also, a high intelligence agency like SHIELD gets easily fooled into believing that Thor is Don Blake, an ex-boyfriend of Jane Foster. The movie promises that Thor will return in The Avengers and does have the usual clip with Nick Fury after the credits roll.]]> Sat, 17 Sep 2011 15:06:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ Reviewed: Cowboys & Aliens [2011]]]>  
Finally my prayers to the Hollywood top dogs for a bit of originality have been answered in the form of Cowboys & Aliens, a sci-fi thriller (which puts me in even more of an optimistic mood due to it being one of my preferred genres of choice). Yes it is based on a graphic novel and yes technology in the wild west has been implemented before but this isn't a sequel/prequel and as a concept is very fresh.

Daniel Craig plays Jake, a cowboy who wakes up in the middle of nowhere with no recollection of who he is, where he has been or how he got there. In fact the only clue given to him is a strange metallic bracelet that he is unable to remove from his arm. After making his way to the nearest town he soon makes himself known to the locals and is identified as a dangerous and wanted man guilty of several crimes including stealing gold from local rancher Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). After being arrested and readied for transport, alien spaceships appear out of nowhere and start snatching people away and blowing up the surrounding countryside. Jake's bracelet transforms itself into a weapon and he is able to drive the aliens away.
Now forced to work together to save the people who were kidnapped from them, Jake and Woodrow team up with the other remaining survivors from the town and set off to find out how to put a stop to their common enemy.
The greatest emotion I felt while watching this was one of indifference, mainly directed towards the plot and structure of the movie. Favreau couldn't be more obvious with his intentions for the film as hinted at by the title. Cowboys & Aliens merges the two separate worlds of the wild west with gun-slingers, bandits and Indians with the technologically advanced alien species resulting in no more than a series of confrontations between the two which climaxes in, well, a final confrontation between the two. Where is the interest for the audience with this concept that can only be taken so far?
The story never developed and just had the characters running around with horses doing cowboy things leaving them to remain as two dimensional as the drawings they once were. This is despite the best efforts of Ford and Craig to draw me in. The most impressive part being that as well known for other characters (Jones and Bond) as they are, the two are still able to make you forget this fact and make the characters their own, even when Ford dons a Indiana-esque cowboy hat.
This is a perfect example of the money men of big studios backing the concept rather than the actual story. I'm sure like most of you initially this film sounds like a movie with promise but come the end I didn't feel as though I had been taken on an adventure more rather led from scene to scene as a means to an end. In addition, the CGI could have been better when considering the other films that have already been released this year and the budget that Cowboys & Aliens had to play with but instead they also fail to impress.
I can't emphasise how disappointed I was with this. Given the plethora of talent in the writing department (Orci, Kurtzman, Lindelof etc. think Star Trek, Iron Man, Children of Men, Lost (TV)) for this movie it came up well short of what it should have. Turns out originality may not have been what I was looking for after all!
Rating: C-
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]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2011 12:34:49 +0000
<![CDATA[ A decent sci-fi thriller, but nothing near special.]]>
What is there was a pill for instant awesomeness and intelligence? This is a question that Neil Burger's "Limitless" attempts to give some insight into, with a plot that involves such a drug and the many people that could make use of it. He does well in adapting the novel, "The Dark Fields", for his film; which is fast-paced, fun, entertaining at the core, and even a bit intriguing. I like the set-up used here, and I like the actors involved. They each do their jobs. I appreciate that. I always do. And while the film is better than the trash that Hollywood tends to release out of this genre every week, it's still missing a lot; and that's enough to throw it off goodness, greatness, and anything further than decency.

Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper) is a down-on-his-luck druggie in the middle of his life, trying to survive in a small home, with an unsupportive girlfriend who dumps him early in the film because she finds him just as pathetic as he finds himself. He lives a sad, boring life. But miracles do happen, and in the most unexpected places they shall appear. A miracle, for poor ol' Eddie, comes in the form of a lost brother-in-law, who he hasn't talked to for years, but happens to see in the streets of the city one day. They talk in a pub. The brother-in-law gives Eddie a pill that hasn't been tested, hasn't been approved, and hasn't been USED. This is the pill that I had told you about earlier; the one that pretty much makes you a smarter man. The film makes a false assumption that we only use about 20% of our brain, and the purpose of the drug is to unlock every last bit of it that we've been letting sit there for years, and years, and years.

Eddie takes the drug and starts to feel a sudden adrenaline rush. Suddenly, he impresses those who once looked down on him. He's more daring, more frequently full of energy, and might even be able to make a career for himself if he tries hard enough. He enjoys all this while it lasts. But drugs, and he has plenty of them, only account for temporary happiness. What happens when Eddie runs out?

Eddie doesn't so-much worry about that. His brother-in-law, the giver of this fantastic pill, was murdered; presumably over the drug itself, we're not entirely sure. What Eddie is worried about is the people he influences, or rather, the people who are influenced by him. He catches the eye of Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), a powerful, well-respected businessman who may be interested in all that this previously anonymous man has.

I sort of enjoyed what the director was trying to do. Neil Burger had directed "The Illusionist", a superior film, before this one; and he brings a lot of his style and flare to his newest feature. "Limitless" is a trippy, visually seductive labyrinth; somewhat destroyed only by its uneven script and ludicrous plot. But maybe it was the point to be ludicrous; maybe it was the point to be intelligent. Who knows? This is Burger's film. And he made it well. He has a style; one that is distinctive enough. The sequences showing the effects of the drug on Eddie are suitably effective and even surreal; which isn't a word I often apply to any Hollywood production. But I suppose the film achieves something through the fact that it's earned some sort of title. I respect it greatly. I just can't say I liked it.

But why not like it? I said it was entertaining, and I didn't lie. "Limitless" IS entertaining. In fact, it's somewhat better than I expected it to be. The visuals, which are like I said, quite good, carry the film almost by themselves; while the performances do the rest of the work. Bradley Cooper is cool and collected as his character; nothing special, nothing too unlikable. De Niro is sort of disappointing in his role, which can sort of be expected, given the path he's been taking recently in his career. However, it's a nice shift (from "Little Fockers" to this much better film). I guess the only thing that I haven't described, that happens to also count as a flaw against the movie, is the lack of any humanity in the script. Here, we have a guy taking drugs, initially loving it, and then facing the sickeningly psychedelic consequences. We don't really care. We don't really want to. These characters are just a little undeveloped for that. Therefore, "Limitless" is nothing special, but I think it's still worth checking out if you like a good, speedy thriller. It is well-made, has some fascinating cinematography, and it will suffice as a solid movie-night. It just feels a tad heartless for me to say I actually liked it.]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2011 17:54:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ Not the Best Western or the Best Sci-Fi Film I've Ever Seen, but the Best Combo of the Two I've Seen]]> I’m generally a big fan of westerns, and I’ve been known to dabble in the science fiction genre from time to time. So on paper, Jon Favreau’s latest Cowboys and Aliens is a perfect fit. While I can definitely come to appreciate the general ridiculousness of it all and end up having a blast with it as the fun late summer film it is, the abundance of hands tweaking the script turns out being one of the movie’s biggest struggles. It’s not the best execution of a solid premise, but it manages to have enough fun thanks to a steady director’s hand to make it worth seeing on entertainment value alone. I think it’s fair to assume I don’t have to spend too much time explaining the premise of the movie. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of the desert, remembering nothing about who he is, where he’s from, or what the mysterious alien weapon on his wrist is. Whenever he enters into the town Absolution, he quickly runs into a crew of simple western folk, including local town mogul/cattle rancher Dollarhyde (Harrison Ford). Long story short, aliens show up, destroy half the town and kidnap their loved ones in one really long, really cool action sequence. I have to give the movie credit, with what citizens the aliens do kidnap, it’s left with a really notable cast. Sure Olivia Wilde’s really just plodding along through the whole film, but there are a few amazing performances brought by a few remarkable actors. The ever-reliable Sam Rockwell makes the “background” character Doc really shine with some fine charm, and both Clancy Brown and Keith Carradine fill in a beefy supporting cast. However as any of the movie’s posters or trailers would tell you, the real stars are Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, Indiana Jones/Han Solo and James Bond themselves. Harrison Ford’s pretty much playing Harrison Ford here, growling his lines out and still portraying the cantankerous old man we love like the forlorn, grumpy grandfather in our own lives. I couldn’t help but giggle though at how much fun the movie has with the fact that Harrison Ford’s in it. There’s a solid 15 seconds of the movie where it’s just Ford’s character slowly turning his head and speaking dialogue where we can’t see his face, coming to reveal the cinematic legend we all know he is. Daniel Craig also makes a good impact on the screen as our titular hero Lonergan, proving to us in multiple sequences he’s one of the most indisputable action stars of our time. That being said much like a lot of Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens, Lonergan’s a few writing sessions short of a full character. Basically all you learn about him as a character is learned in the trailer. He doesn’t know who he is, where he is, or even why there’s a bounty on his head. I’ve seen the “mysterious hero” archetype played off well before, but here it just feels a little bit like a cop-out for not actually writing personality into the character, but instead just using “he’s brooding and mysterious” as an excuse to withhold too much information from us. Once we do find out about Lonergan and uncover the mystery behind a lot of things going on behind the action in the film, it’s never exactly a poorly executed explanation; it just leaves something to be desired. It’s never lazy, but never really affecting. I almost would have preferred it had Lonergan not had amnesia, but instead started the film off with a clear goal in mind to take down the alien menace and having to convince the town-folk to join him. The same goes for a lot of the other supporting characters. The infamous “first attack scene” at night comes about 15 minutes in when we’ve only gotten a brief glimpse into these peoples’ lives and who they are, so the rest feels a little haphazard because the ground foundation wasn’t exactly assembled with the most care. It’s a lot of fun to watch these two worlds collide and see how these frontier folk react to an intergalactic conflict, but one can only fantasize about what a more emotionally connected, finer written base could have done for it. The first half of the film bounces back and forth between a real bona fide western and a more out-there science fiction movie, but it’s not until the second half when most of the action takes place that the movie really finds its groove thematically and settles into the pure, B-movie fun to be found in a film called “Cowboys and Aliens”. I was a little disappointed to see the first few moments of the film fall into place one after the other in a semi-generic, predictable way. It just sort of felt like it was just a string of unrelated sequences happening one after the other. That being said, once the second half hit, 6 year old me practically reached out at the screen seeing a cowboy just like the little plastic ones I had as a kid firing his six-shooter at a ship the size of a cattle ranch. That childish allure alone is why I think Cowboys and Aliens is worth seeing, despite a few rather large dents in the writing. Jon Favreau’s amusement-centered approach to his films like the first Iron Man and especially the holiday classic Elf was a perfect fit for this property. Favreau also has a keen eye for shooting action, something else that naturally comes in here. He seemed to have as much fun making it and plotting this all out on paper as we’ve had getting to see it all unfold on the screen. Like I said the movie definitely lives up to its B-movie style title, and there are plenty of over-the-top, worlds colliding action set pieces especially in the latter half that exceeded my wildest expectations. The final battle isn’t as epic as I had hoped, but there are plenty of fights sprinkled here and there to quench the oddest of “Aliens fighting Cowboys with the help of the Indians” thirsts. Just coming from an action enthusiasts perspective, it’s neat seeing gunfire get mixed with laser-fire, and chases between starships and horses, it’s definitely something that’s never been toyed with before. Even from a visual design standpoint, Favreau’s got it down pat. The more traditional stuff involving the town of “Absolution” looks pretty standard but still has plenty of faithful, gritty flavor, but I was more interested in how Favreau made his aliens look. All of the spaceship interior stuff has a remarkably grungy and dirty vibe, and even the ships themselves take on a more practical, task-oriented aesthetic that looks great. The aliens themselves (despite some more odd choices involving retractable, miniature arms), look like a cross between a Predator and the District 9 aliens, thankfully crafting a creature that actually looks considerably formidable and extremely frightening, even compared to the rough and gruff cowboys. All in all, I’m not going to remember Cowboys and Aliens for being Jon Favreau’s best movie, or for being the best movie of Summer 2011. It’s like the film equivalent of wish fulfillment. Have I always wanted to see cowboys and aliens square off? Of course I have, what 7-year-old TN kid hasn’t at some point on a Saturday afternoon after Batman went off for the day? Does it come with it’s problems? Yes, the writing’s wobblier than it should be, but hey, you get what you wish for. The film could have benefited a lot from a lot less hands tugging at the script, but as ludicrous as the concept is and as hard as it is to get a movie made nowadays, we should be thankful for every ridiculously-fun-star-studded-clumsily-written-action-flick-based-on-a-crazy-idea we can get.

4 out of 5 

]]> Mon, 8 Aug 2011 05:29:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ Fun Filled Throughout (3.5)]]>
We all understand that not every movie has to be this artistic flow each and every time.  Cowboys and Aliens certainly isn't (it's called "Cowboys and Aliens" for heaven's sake).  It's filled to the brim with explosions and plenty of action.  All this, however, can't keep one from noticing the lack of heart and the lack of charm of its cast of characters.  You might come to like them, but it's more likely due to who is playing the character rather than the character themselves.

Daniel Craig plays Jake Lonergan.  A cowboy who mysteriously wakes up in the middle of no where without any real clue as to who he is or what he was doing.  All he knows for certain is that he's been injured quite badly and that he's got a strange bracelet on his arm.  Aside from that he can't remember any of the events which brought him to where he is at this point in time.  The plot device of a main character conveniently having no memory of prior events is a little played out.  What's important to understand, of course, is why some film makers use it.  Mostly it's to make things fairly mysterious to the audience and it allows the movie to jump into things without first having to lay out the tracks.  In short, the movie begins in the middle of things ("mis en scene" as it's called) with snippets of backstory set in there as the movie progresses forward.  That doesn't mean everyone will love the, "I have no recollection of who I am," of course.  It just makes telling the story of the film easier.

Except Cowboys and Aliens isn't exactly a plot filled movie.  In fact, the majority of it is quite predictable.  The story begins with us being introduced to Jake.  But before long he makes his way to a small town that the aliens soon destroy and take some of the people.  A band of cowboys lead by Woodrow Dolanhyde (played by Harrison Ford) decide they need to go and get their people back and thus set out to find the alien lair.

That's the story in a nutshell and it works out just fine.  It's simple.  As I said, however, there are moments about it which ring of predictability.  There's almost nothing mysterious about what's going on.  And those who thrive on having questions answered for them aren't bound to get them all in the end.  We never, for instance, get much of an explanation as to why Craig's character has lost his memory (but the movie doesn't exactly leave us empty handed on this, it just offers up a lazy explanation) and the motivation of the aliens themselves is pretty much never explained at all.  We learn very little about what we're dealing with. 

However, this actually strangely works for the film on some level.  The characters in the film themselves don't exactly have the answers either.  They're as ignorant of what is really going on as the audience themselves.  The big concern for the characters is saving their people and making sure to destroy the aliens.  In short, they don't know WHAT the aliens want, they just know they have to kill or be killed.  This is likely to turn some movie goers off but I was strangely intrigued by this idea that even the characters don't know what's going on, they just want to ensure survival. 

There is a fairly big problem with the storytelling in Cowboys vs. Aliens, however, and that's how it is sometimes uneven.  At one moment we are undergoing big action sequences and at the next there is a big moment of emotional intensity.  Not all of the characters are developed well enough or actually filled with enough life for us to care when some of them bite the bullet, however.  Cowboys and Aliens is fun throughout but the script can feel a little disjointed and uneven.  At the very least they didn't spend so much time trying to "conceal the monster" the way that a film like "Super 8" does.  The script and movie itself are pretty forward about letting you know there's not much that's unpredictable here.  So don't expect unpredictability.  The only real mystery here is who Jake is why he can't remember anything.  Once we learn this, there's not much the movie has to keep us in mystery.

The moments of drama are not particularly memorable but the action sequences are.  They're absolutely fun to the very end.  In this regard Cowboys and Aliens excels.  The cinematography is great, for one thing, and so are the sound effects.  From a production standpoint, Cowboys and Aliens has a lot going for it.  And while the characters aren't exactly that well developed, that doesn't mean they aren't all that likable in their own way.  Most of them are played by charming actors.  That doesn't mean all the actors give it their all, however.  Sam Rockewell's character--The Doc--seems a little over the top in his role as does Paul Dano.  And while most of the characters mesh, one can't help but feel that some of the development has been stilted in some parts.  There's just too big of a cast for all the characters to really receive any development.  We learn and can interpret certain things about these characters, but we don't really dive.  Were it not for their charms we might not care for them at all.

However, as I said, some parts do come off as quite natural when you really stop and try not to think so hard.  Our characters never really find out much about the aliens... and neither do we.  It doesn't enhance the mystery, but it does give a sort of naturalness to the film in some regards.  We don't learn all the answers and neither do the characters.  Those expecting to be spoon fed an explanation for everything are going to be disappointed.  It's not that Cowboys and Aliens doesn't offer up anything, it's mostly that a lot of it is left up to the audience to try to figure out and piece together or interpret on their own.  The reason this feels strangely natural is because far too many movies of its kind get a little preoccupied with uncovering every answer for every little situation when in reality, we don't always know the answers.  A lot of us, when faced with the unknown, tend to have a curiosity sure... but not always when the unknown is shooting at us.  The movie makes it clear that the mission for the characters is getting back their people.  The characters aren't interested much in WHY the aliens are there.  What they care about is staying alive when battling against something completely unknown to them.  It also helps because the audience knows just as much as the characters in the film do.  Instead of looking for answers for instance, the characters just assume they don't know much about what they're dealing with at all (they don't even refer to them as aliens, but rather as demons).  It gives the movie some sort of natural feel to it.  Again, not everyone is likely to appreciate that.  And it isn't just because they don't get answers either.  The characters hardly offer up theories of their own.

Is Cowboys and Aliens a movie to love or to hate?  It's hard to decide.  It's actually a good movie as far as pure escapist entertainment is concerned.  It's fairly well made and constructed, but it's definitely got that summer blockbuster film written all over it.  And some of what doesn't work for Cowboys and Aliens is really going to turn off potential movie goers.  It's a movie made to be entertaining and that's really about it.  And truly, there's nothing wrong with that.  It's when it tries to be something more with it's more sentimental moments that feel out of place at times--especially considering how weak the movie is on character development and charm.  Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford bring some life to it... but the rest of cast (Olivia Wilde included) are fairly forgettable.

So yes it excels on a technical stand point, but may not exactly bode well for those on a more substantive one.  Cowboys and Aliens isn't a bad movie, but once you get beyond the technical prowess of the film it has a few issues with its storytelling.  And perhaps it's not fair to actually say that.  After all, it is a movie called "Cowboys and Aliens."  That's almost like being hard on a movie that's titled "This is a B Movie."  Except Cowboys and Aliens is clearly striving to be something more than that.  There's a lot of inspiration here that is drawn from Steven Spielberg (E.T., Close Encounters and Raiders of the Lost Ark are plastered all over this film) but it didn't seem like Favreau had any intention of taking to heart the lessons of character.  It's a good action movie but it feels like it could've been so much better.]]> Mon, 8 Aug 2011 02:48:45 +0000
<![CDATA[ Cowboy and Aliens]]> Walking into this movie you know what you are going to be getting, and if you don't it may be time to stop reading this blog. Jon Favreau promised his audience both cowboys and aliens and by god that is what you get, just not much else.

Favreau could have taken this movie in a couple different directions, he chose to take the mixing of two genres that have been lampooned in more recent history and decided to make it a serious action movie. Then there was the decision of which genre to focus on, and as the title denotes he gives the Western top billing over Sci-Fi and follows the traditional Western format. We get almost all the archetypes of the Western from the mysterious stranger who rolls into town to face offs against thieves and injuns. The only difference being the alien abductions, but even these aliens are using lassos and looking for gold.

Favreau has experience working with comic books and knows what he needs to tell a good story. I never read the comics but in Cowboys and Aliens he provides very little depth to the story and focuses on hitting all the right beats. Much like Westerns of the past there is very little downtime for our characters, as soon as one problem is faced the next obstacle presents itself in the very next shot. It felt almost overwhelming trying to squeeze everything in. And while there were plenty of beautiful landscapes to film as they rode across the Arizona territory we learn very little about our characters as there is no time to explain let alone time for exposition of Harrison Ford's character.

There are a lot of cooks in this kitchen with big names like Spielberg, Grazer and Howard just three of the 16 producers on staff and a story written by eight different people. Yet they still follow the same formula of Western story telling. The aliens more or less just seem to be a replacement for Indians just harder to kill and cooler looking. The genre rules don't really seem to meld together until the aliens start appearing more often on screen.

Our movie opens on Daniel Craig, our mysterious outsider, we know little about him and he probably knows less about himself. From the outset we learn he has little to say and can handle himself in a fight as you would expect from any cowboy sporting a white shirt. I couldn't decide if Daniel Craig wasn't talking because he was going for a Steve McQueen cool of letting his actions do the talking or if he felt he didn't readily master the Western accent. Whatever the reason, it adds to the mysterious persona of our hero who does a fine job displaying gritty toughness.

Second billing goes to Harrison Ford who has been trying out the tough guy with the heart of gold act for a little while. Here he plays the hardened army officer turned cattle herder who seems to control the town with an iron fist as he is the only source of income. He is fine in a fairly underdeveloped role always with a little scowl on his face; I saw this character in his last few movies and am still left feeling he could be doing more. He never shows his charisma till the end of the movie playing this type of character and you can't help but feel you are missing out.

Our other actors do their job just find, and are in fact quite good performing their one note. The actors of note are Olivia Wilde who seems to be the babe of choice in movies coming out and Clancy Brown who does a great job in a small role as the preacher. Less impressive is the child actor and Adam Beach reprising his only role as Indian guide, but I suppose it’s not a bad job to have being Hollywood's go to Native American. Sam Rockwell does fine, but unfortunately doesn't have a whole lot to do with other bigger names above him on the marquee.

The premise had all the potential in the world with a cool idea and a lot of great talent behind the project. With such a blunt title and coming from a graphic novel you expect something cool and fun to watch. Instead the creative team took a hard-line on the rules and execution. Everyone took themselves far too seriously and it showed, mostly on our lead actors’ faces. C+]]> Wed, 3 Aug 2011 18:32:02 +0000
<![CDATA[ Lost opportunity for that "OH SH*T" moment]]> so classic that when Craig, Ford, and the townspeople, native Americans, and Craig's old outlaw gang encounter the aliens (who lasso human subjects from flying metal contraptions that look like dragonflies) they just resort deeper into their stereotypical behavior and band together to treat the aliens like bigger bad guys--and nothing else!

I realize this movie is based on a graphics novel, so perhaps the director and screenwriters were trying to stay faithful to the source, but if so, without having read it, I would say that the source also missed a great opportunity.  In that Wild West period in the last quarter of the 19th century (Harrison Ford talks of leading men to death in the Bloody Cornfield battle at Antietam in the US Civil War), no one had seen an airplane, or experienced or seen bombs dropped from airplanes, and the concept of alien creatures who live in outer space having an interest and the ability to land on earth, and who desire to make contact with humans (usually for evil intent, to eat, enslave, or inseminate humans to propogate their own race), who might be far advance of and opposed to our technology.  Yet when all these things happened in C&A, no one freaks out!  Even Daniel Craig, who we find waking up in the desert with an alien gadgety-looking bracelet on his wrist that is clearly not germane to the time and environment of the old west, he is only interested enough in it to take a couple of prefunctory whacks at it with a rock, and when one character (the attractive female lead to boot who was obviously onscreen to attract our hero, no less) tells him she can help him remember his forgotten past, he shoves her away with a mumbled and laconic  "leave me alone" sentence.

OK, I get it--Craig is the close-mouthed cowboy character of cliche.  But seriously, wouldn't anyone in that circumstance try to understand these totally alien (pun intended) events happening in his life.  When the mechanical dragonflies lasso their friends and families, and Craig even shoots one down, wouldn't you expect them to have that "OH SH*T, what are those things, where did they come from" freak-out moment?  Nope, not here. 

So, enjoy it for what it is, and if any of you have read the graphic novel tell me if it takes the same matter-of-fact approach, but I was hoping for a bit more than this.]]> Tue, 2 Aug 2011 23:33:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ Cowboys & Aliens... not quite the gunslinger we were hoping for]]> Cowboys & Aliens does star Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, as well as share executive producer Steven Spielberg (Indy franchise), there is little else these heavy hitters bring to this futuristic/sci-fi western.  If only the film lived up to the overall awesomeness that the trailers teased.
Let’s look at the possibilities from a realistic point of view.  1) Daniel Craig is a total bad ass and could totally whip any aliens ass.  2) Indiana Jones was amazing when we were able to understand him (if you see Cowboys & Aliens you will understand the issue). 3) Cowboys verses Aliens is an amazing concept that has not really been done before. 4) Spielberg rarely has a bad film (this does not include the 4th Indy, which I’ll never speak of again).  5) The aliens’ aircrafts looked amazing and gave hope to some crazy looking villains.  Now that that’s out of the way let’s get back to the review….
Cowboys & Aliens takes the concept of a western to heart as it moves as a leisurely pace that could only be compared to a John Wayne film that takes almost 3 hours to get through.  Although there is more than enough time to deliver a story, there are so many missing pieces that you’re lucky if you can walk out of the theater with the slightest clue as to what just happened.  Not only is the story missing a few crucial parts and lacking major character development, but by the end you’ll just wish that Doc Brown would suddenly fly in and urge Marty to travel back to the future just as the end credits roll.  As cheesy as that sounds, it is probably the only thing that could have possibly redeemed the film from its current state.
Thankfully director Jon Favreau found a balance between story and action that kept the audience in their seats, it’s just too bad the combination was not better delivered.  With top-notch actors, a hot actress with a tight toosh (who oddly enough we find out is not quite what we thought she was), and half-assed aliens who pack no punch (who strangely resembled the alien in Spielberg’s Super 8) it’s hard to believe more time had not been spent on fully developing this project.  Having come from a graphic novel it should have been a piece of cake since the story was practically already fully laid out and storyboarded for them, but sadly the adaptation strays far enough away from the original concept that if you miss a few crucial lines explaining who/what the aliens are you might as well forget the story completely.
The only thing that makes up for the complete confusion of the story and whether or not this film was official left with an open ending to set up for a sequel, is the recent realization that a 90s TeenNICK show actually predicted the coming of Cowboys & Aliens.   If you ever watched 'Clarissa Explains It All' you would have had your first introduction to something almost 20 years in the making.  Now I think the only question left is… Would Cowboys & Aliens have made a better 90s film than the film we have today?   
That being said Cowboys & Aliens is a decent film that will at least kill 2 hours if you have nothing better to do.  I personally would have preferred seeing The Smurfs, which actually gave the gunslingers a run for their money this weekend and almost beat them out (if only).  But if you are looking for a little more action and have already seen Captain America, I guess this might hold you over, but you just might be better off waiting for it to come out on DVD.

**this review was originally written for  check out the site for more reviews and follow the link to the original posting (]]> Tue, 2 Aug 2011 16:33:46 +0000
<![CDATA[ Two great things that go great together, just not over 90 minutes.]]> Heres the two things I thought of as I watched this movie:

1.  The idea of gold hungry aliens has come a long way since Battlefield Earth and

2.  I can only imagine that when Harrison Ford signed on, the script was re-written to have him rescue his family.

oh, I guess a third would be that this is filling the void for Favereau instead of getting an Iron Man 3 from him.  I guess it could have been worse.

Cowboys and Aliens takes a basic story, stretches it and wrings it out and when it's left there is some charm and entertainment.  It has it's cliches, it's ups and it's downs, not to mention scenes you can call a mile away but in the end, it's nothing offensively bad or a waste of time.

Daniel Craig stars as a man named Jake who one day wakes up in the middle of a field, dirty, wounded and sporting a metal casing around his wrist that he can't take off.  Making his way into town and breaking up a fight between a bartender and a rich land owner's spoiled brat, Jake is wanted by the authorities for robbery and murder.  As he's taken into custody, Jake's wagon is attacked by aliens and many townspeople are abducted in the skirmish.  Jake takes the landowner, the bartender and other townspeople to follow the aliens trail and run afowl of Jakes old gang, Indians and the titular aliens.

I liked Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in the movie even though I knew both characters would soften by the end, Craig for his skittishness of not remembering what happened to him and Ford for his assholishness.  Other things will include Ford and the Indian Chief will respect each other when they didn't before, the little boy will grow and learn something new and the man who can't shoot will learn how to.  Theres a lot of fat in this movie that could be trimmed and some scenes that could be excised altogether.

Cowboys and Aliens, I saw on a slow Saturday Afternoon and that is fitting.  It's one of those movies that will fill in a boring day.  The sets are nice sure and the acting isn't bad nor the action and the aliens are just seen enough that they are cool but remain enigmatic but this is one of those movies whose extended running time not only exposes it's thin story but hurts the entertainment value as I was squirming as this movie ran.  At least I wasn't bored.

]]> Sun, 31 Jul 2011 02:43:04 +0000
<![CDATA[Cowboys & Aliens (2011 film) Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> Sun, 31 Jul 2011 02:00:25 +0000 <![CDATA[ Ride 'em, E.T.!]]> Star Rating:

My concern was that the science fiction and western elements of Cowboys & Aliens would not be able to meet halfway. Can you blame me? On paper, I cannot think of a more awkward pairing of genres. I envisioned a disaster along the lines of The Warrior’s Way (which fused the western with martial arts), or going back much further, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (the western and horror, which I happened to catch one Saturday night on an episode of Elvira’s Movie Macabre). Thankfully, director Jon Favreau and his screenwriters managed to combine the two without making it seem unnatural. Stylistically, the film is a precarious balancing act; make it too jokey or too serious, and you will immediately lose the audience. The film is nothing close to camp, but on the same token, it’s not so somber that it fails to be kind of fun.
Even so, the plot is straightforward but thematically murky, and the characters, while competently written and performed, feel strangely aloof. It even calls into question the science fiction element, which seems less like an opportunity for idea making and more like an excuse for action and special effects. There’s nothing innately wrong with an escapist alien invasion movie – I think most of us had a great deal of fun watching Independence Day. But specific scenes make it clear that Favreau was trying to dig a little deeper; the more you attempt to send a message, the more out of place stunts, pyrotechnics, and CGI become. The latter are typically relied upon for padding stories founded on flimsy ideas. If you don’t believe me, feel free to watch the Transformers movie of your choice.

Adapted from the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, the film takes place in the Southwestern desert circa the late 1800s. It tells the story of a man (Daniel Craig) who awakens with a start in the middle of nowhere with a wound on his side and a strange metal shackle around his wrist. He has absolutely no memory of how he got there, or even of who he is. He is, however, in full command of his ability to speak, as well as his capacity to take on men with guns. Desperate for answers, he wanders into the small desert community of Absolution, where he discovers he’s a wanted outlaw named Jake Lonergan and is soon arrested. He’s especially high on the hit list of Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), a gruff, hard-hearted cattle farmer and former military man. One night, as Lonergan is about to be transferred to another city, strange lights appear in the sky, causing the shackle to light up. Absolution is then attacked in a blaze of alien firepower, and a number of the locals are abducted like fish on hooks.
A handful of the remaining townsfolk, including Lonergan, set off to find their loved ones. For Dolarhyde, it’s personal; his cowardly, reckless, and bratty son Percy (Paul Dano) is among those abducted. At Lonergan’s side is Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), who always seems to know more than she lets on. She wants Lonergan to regain his memory as badly as he does. Fragments slowly but surely piece themselves together, hinting at a woman he loved, a robbery, and gold pieces that mysteriously melted together before being sucked out of the house through the roof. We also get flashes of a metal slab, some bizarre-looking restraints, and glowing instruments of torture. As his memory resurfaces, the people of Absolution and a tribe of Apache Indians cross paths, and since they have a common enemy, they quickly join forces. This will have a profound effect on Dolarhyde, known for slaughtering Indians, and on the Apache chief (Raoul Trujillo), who up until now never trusted a white man.

Thematically, it seems clear that the alien invasion is an allusion to the European settlers and their hostile takeover of Native American nations. There is, however, a flaw to this interpretation; whereas the settlers immigrated to the New World in search of religious freedom, the aliens in this film are merely miners that see Earth as a resource for gold. Because of this, the film’s other major thematic allusion – Manifest Destiny – suddenly falls flat. The aliens are not forcefully developing new territories in the arrogant belief that it was wise and apparent. Their hostile treatment of humans is never adequately explained, apart from a vague reference to us being like insects to them; if aliens are invading my planet, they better have a damn good reason apart from bloodlust.
As for the aliens themselves, I’ll stay true to the secrecy of the ad campaign and not describe them to you. All leads to the discovery of the mother ship, for lack of a better word, and the inevitable journey into its core. What could have been an over-the-top display of preposterous gizmos is instead, thankfully, a modestly designed series of rooms and passageways that still manage to look otherworldly. To be sure, Cowboys & Aliens is, from start to finish, a monumentally ridiculous movie. The filmmakers seem to have realized this from the very start, and thusly took no extra steps to overcompensate. That’s fine, I guess, although I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Favreau and his team actually had dug a little deeper. Even escapist entertainment is entitled to some degree of meaning.

                                               ]]> Sat, 30 Jul 2011 06:11:49 +0000
<![CDATA[ An Uneven But Entertaining "Loosely Based" Adaptation of Rosenberg's Original Premise....]]> see review of the graphic novel here) but I thought it may make a good translation into film; seeing as it had a lot of room to expand on its premise. I am not one to compare the source material directly to the movie adaptation, but to make things short director Jon Favreau’s “loosely based” adaptation is both better and at the same time inferior to the core premise of the source material.

Arizona, 1873. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up with little to no memory of his past and finds a strange object attached to his wrist. After an encounter with a few Apache hunters, he enters a small town called Absolution and discovers that he is in fact a wanted man; this includes the town sheriff (Keith Carradine) and a rich cattleman named Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who holds the town with an iron fist. But the town faces a bigger threat as spaceships appear to take the townsfolk and they seem helpless to fight back, the key to the spaceships defeat would be the shackle attached to Jake‘s wrist. Jake must join forces with Dolarhyde, a mysterious woman called Ella (Olivia Wilde) the townsfolk and an Indian tribe to fight off the alien incursion….

                     Daniel Craig as Jake Lonergan in "Cowboys and Aliens"

                     A scene from "Cowboys and Aliens"

The film plays mostly like a western with certain themes of fantasy wrapped around it; you might say that Favreau‘s film is a full-fledged western that has glimpses of E.T. in it. A man with little memory, an unknown weapon, a race in danger of extinction, an invasion to harvest materials and then it is a tale of sacrifice and redemption. Favreau is a competent director as he keeps the film at an even pace while he develops the characters and their significance to the story. He also does a great job in keeping the film from becoming too ‘pulpy’ or ‘campy’, but he maintains a sense of humor about it. The script was filled with themes similar to the source material; of friendship and working together, of brotherhood and the classic struggle between inferior weapons and advance weaponry. However, it does miss the messages of colonization from the source material and the parallelism of the alien invaders to the white man's treatment of the Indians.

                       Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in "Cowboys & Aliens."

Olivia Wilde as Ella in "Cowboys and Aliens"  Daniel Craig as Jake Lonergan in "Cowboys and Aliens"

                   A scene from "Cowboys and Aliens"

I guess what I didn’t quite like was the fact that the story felt undercooked and many elements were left to be put together by fans of the graphic novel. The film leaves many questions unanswered and the aliens lacked a certain personality that made the graphic novel fun. Here in the film, the aliens appear to be bumbling nomads, taking what they need and then reporting their find. They do seem organized, but there is just nothing there that could prove them to be such a major threat. The aliens in the film do look menacing and resembles a J.J. Abrams feature but they felt very shallow, unlike the leader of the aliens called the Caste in the source material that talked, planned and has a lot of personality. I also thought that the film stooped too much into gunfights and chase sequences; it forgot the cleverness of the weapons and gadgets in Rosenberg’s original creation. After awhile, I grew tired of the spider-looking ships and the insectoid-looking aliens.

I was happy with the way the film expanded on the characters. Jake (played by Daniel Craig) is arguably a much more complex character than Zeke and I liked the additions of the Dolarhyde character and the way Ella (played by Olivia Wilde) seemed to reflect one of the major characters in the comic such as Ra Chak Kai and how she also represented the spunkiness of Verity. Now, the supporting characters in the graphic novel were better; the nameless Indian kid, Warhawk and even the alien leader had a lot more personality; but I enjoyed the more focused delivery in the leads' development in the film. The Indians also make a significant part of the film’s storyline, and I rather enjoyed how the white man and the Indians come to work together. It was an exercise of respect and the need for unity, driven by fate and the need for survival. The theme of the right to live was touched on, but not as strong as in the source material.

                         Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in "Cowboys & Aliens."

                        Olivia Wilde and Daniel Craig in "Cowboys and Aliens"

                         Daniel Craig as Jake Lonergan in "Cowboys and Aliens"

The film is well-acted. Craig makes for a good lead and Harrison Ford once again proves why the Indiana Jones franchise was a huge success. The supporting characters were also pretty well developed, I really liked the character played by Sam Rockwell and the fighting preacher played by Clancy Brown. Olivia Wilde did a great job in representing the strong female lead, and I really enjoyed the way she was introduced, developed and her significance to the story. Favreau is a good director as he knew exactly how to make a western; it was all about redemption and he knew how to express the right tone, style and mood in the film. I also liked the film’s production values and soundtrack, it was all business, action and western attitude with good visual effects to match.

So I am really not sure how I felt about the film. I liked it a lot but it had a lot of missed opportunities that kept it from becoming ‘great’. “Cowboys and Aliens” is a decent adaptation of the graphic novel, but now I feel weird wishing for a ‘loosely based” feature before, since now I kind of miss the source material’s fun creative energy. I also thought that the film‘s final act was a little wanting. However, the film did have better delivery of its lead characters and the direction was at an even pace that reflected the right attitude and mood for a western. I guess the film earned a light recommendation from me; it didn’t become quite the film I hoped it would be, but at least, it did feel very credible and practiced everything with a sense of restraint that I enjoyed. Jon Favreau‘s “Cowboys and Aliens” is a good film; but it is rather better when broken in parts since it makes for an uneven whole.

Timid Recommndation, Rental is Advisable! [3 Out of 5 Stars]

                          Poster art for "Cowboys & Aliens." 

]]> Fri, 29 Jul 2011 22:39:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Incredible concept! Incredible movie?]]> Written by Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Otsby
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde
Jake Lonergan: I don’t want any trouble.
Aliens have tried to take over our planet dozens of times in the movies already. Every time they do, it seems like they always choose major metropolitan areas and the setting is always current day. While I’m sure there are exceptions to these rules, who is to say that aliens couldn’t plot their attack a couple of hundred years ago? They’re aliens; they’re advanced; they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. And if you think you’d be scared if aliens decided to attack us today, imagine what it would have been like for a cowboy in 1837 to come face to face with one of these massive monsters. Imagine that real good and you’ve got yourself a new breed of alien movie, you’ve got COWBOYS AND ALIENS.
Director Jon Favreau tows a very fine line between these two genres to ensure that he is somehow loyal to both without sacrificing much from either side. Like a good Western, it starts out quiet and lonesome. A man wakes up in the desert, bleeding from what he presumes is a gunshot in his side, with no recollection of who he is and with a bizarre metal bracelet around his left wrist unlike anything he has ever seen. As it turns out, this man is Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) and he is wanted for a bevy of assorted crimes, not the least of which is the murder of his former lover (Abigail Spencer). Jake moseys into a nearby town and right before he causes too much damage, a strange light appears in the sky. The whole town looks on as if a miracle is about to take place. Why wouldn’t they? They’ve never seen an alien disaster movie before so how could they possibly know what horror was in store for them?
The concept of COWBOYS AND ALIENS is so strong and while Favreau has crafted a sturdy blend of the two film worlds, there is something inherently amiss about the combination. One genre is often subdued and subtle while the other is loud and raucous. At times, the differences are too far apart to fully come together, like it wants to take flight but its too heavy to get off the ground. The pace picks up once the story crosses from cowboy loner to invasion survivors banding together. Craig is joined by typical tough guy, Harrison Ford, who is obviously enjoying himself a great deal in the part and Olivia Wilde, who just seems like she enjoys being window dressing way too much. Regardless, along with a few other determined town folk, they set off to take on the invading army with everything they’ve got, which admittedly is not much. This is where Favreau finds the commonality that ties the genres together – the endurance of the human spirit and the need to persevere.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

Click here for more BLACK SHEEP REVIEWS.
Click here to follow BSR on TWITTER.]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 23:20:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Things You Need to Know About Limitless - New Express Review Format!]]>
  1. Limitless has the most egregious use of voice-over in modern cinematic history. It's actually the only film you can watch on a radio since Bradley Cooper tells you exactly what he's doing every two seconds. It's grating, it's annoying, it's completely unnecessary and I hope to God it's not the beginning of a trend. "At this point, I sighed loudly and pressed the enter key, waiting to think of my second point."
  2. I thought Bradley Cooper was headed to the B list after being attacked by imaginary insects in Case 39. But it turns out that was just the death of Renee Zellweger's career and Bradley's star is shining bright. He's a bankable lead guy.
  3. Robert de Niro has finally become the caricature that comedians have perfected over decades. Criminally underused by the director or just a lazy actor? Who knows but it's hard to imagine Raging Bull and Al Capone we once the cinematic offspring of the modern de Niro.
  4. The film's core concept is very engaging - a pill that let's you use 100% of your mind blah blah blah. Unfortunately the screenwriter needed to take this pill before handing in the script. Having the central character cast as a writer with writer's block, a drinking problem and a failed relationship might be interpreting "write what you know" a little too literally.
  5. I'll have to remember the next time I'm being chased by mobsters to find a little girl on an ice rink and swing her around like a nunchuk with little razors on the end. You'd think the parents would be unhappy but apparently it's ok.
  6. There's a good point around 40 minutes in that's perfect for a sandwich, a shower or drinking a bottle of red wine since nothing happens for the time it takes to make and eat a sandwich, have a reasonably cleansing shower or put a straw in a wine bottle a glug enthusiastically.
  7. I hope there isn't a sequel but since Final Destination 5 is about to be released, maybe that wouldn't be so bad.
]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 23:03:16 +0000
<![CDATA[ 'Cowboys & Aliens' 'Two Jews On Film' Fly In Different Directions With This SciFi Western (Video)]]>

The year is 1873. The place...New Mexico...A man (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of nowhere.  He has no idea who he is or where he is.  All he knows is...there's a thick metal bracelet on his wrist and he can't remove it. 

After fighting off some would-be robbers with a few swift kicks and punches, the Man wanders into the town of Absolution where he finds...

Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) picking fights with anyone in his path. Percy's dad is a big cattle baron and Percy is a big bully. But this time Percy goes too far.  He winds up accidently shooting the town's Deputy. Not good...

The Sheriff,  John Taggard (Keith Carradine) has no choice but to arrest him.  
Meanwhile the Man finds out that his name is Jake Lonergan and he's wanted for robbery and murder.  Well, at least he knows his name.

The Sheriff arrests Jake and handicuffs him to Percy. He's just about to cart both these men off to the Marshal in Santa Fe, when Percy's daddy, Cattle Baron aka Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, (Harrison Ford) comes galloping into town to rescue his son.

But before Dolarhyde can finish saying...'Sheriff, what the hell do you think you're doing arresting my boy'...there's a series of major explosions destroying...well, everything. 
To say that the people of Absolution are shocked when they discover that the explosions are coming from...

UFO'S...many, many UFO's, would be an understatement.  The aliens have arrived and they're not here to sightsee.

Oh, besides exploding everything in their path, the aliens have this nasty habit of scooping up the townsfolk (including Percy) using these long, steel harnesses that extend out of their ship...Note: This is a very cool effect.

Anyway, Jake quickly finds out what his metal bracelet is used for.
As the title suggests, 'Cowboys & Aliens' is about Cowboys & Aliens...(And some really cool Comanches).   There's also very interesting supporting characters such as Sam Rockwell as Doc who's wife has been abducted and the mysterious, Oliva Wilde (Ella Swenson) who is not quite what she appears to be.  

The aliens in this film are some of the most scariest, ugliest, meanest, aliens I have ever a film that is. These folks from Outer Space think of us Earthlings as...mere 'insects' and they are here for only one thing...Gold...and what better place to find some, than...the old West.

 I absolutely loved this film.  Jon Favreau did an excellent job directing.  Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig created complex, interesting characters who you care about.

The film has great tension, great action, great special effects and yes...there were many writers...five or six...and usually that is not a good sign...But in this case, it definitely paid off.

The 'Two Jews On Film' once again disagreed.  I gave Cowboys & Aliens five bagels out of five. Check out our video to see how many bagels John awarded this film.

 It opens in theaters this Friday, July 30, 2011. 
By Joan Alperin-Schwartz]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 01:48:40 +0000
<![CDATA[Cowboys & Aliens (2011 film) Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]> see review of Cowboys and Aliens here), I do feel that the big-budget adaptation have a lot of room to expand on its premise of a western with some themes of E.T. in them. The source material was mainly geared towards kids and young adults with violence at a minimum, and the mood and tone reflecting a more fun and upbeat pace. I see this was a western and this is one of the times that I hope and pray it'll be 'loosely based' rather than a faithful adaptation of the graphic novel.
Judging from the trailers, I could see several deviations from the source material already and I see those changes as positive. I hope Olivia Wilde’s character will play a more active part in the script, Daniel Craig feels like a brooding and moody lead while Harrison Ford….well, I do hope his character has more depth than the one in the graphic novel. One thing I do hope the film will include is its message of co-existence and teamwork. The Native Americans also played a vital role in the source material. The material needs to be handled seriously though, since it has the potential to become terribly campy.
With director Jon Favreau (slightly overrated Iron Man) I think the material should be in good hands. But what do I know? He also starred in “Couples Retreat” after all…. 

Final rating will be decided once I've seen the movie this weekend.....

Updated: Read Full Review of the film here.
 ]]> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 17:13:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ Oddly limited]]> Written by Leslie Dixon
Directed by Neil Burger
Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish and Robert De Niro
Carl van Loon: So, Eddie Morra, what’s your secret?
Eddie Morra: Medication.
Drugs are bad. While that is generally the rule, how can anything that allows you to access the full potential of your brain actually be bad for you? Well, it can if the mere idea of it inspires a film as base as LIMITLESS.  This Bradley Cooper starring vehicle (Cooper also executive produced the project) certainly places the budding Hollywood star front and center for all to see and admire, but when you’re surrounded by as much garbage as Cooper is in this film, you eventually stink just as bad.
Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a writer who doesn’t write, a man who barely appears to shower. Through happenstance, he runs into a former in-law and former drug dealer, only the latter is actually not so former. This is how Eddie comes to start taking NZT. He thinks its F.D.A. approved so we can’t really judge him, but he quickly finds out there is no way this drug is ever going to make it to market. NZT allows you to tap into the 80% of your brain that goes unused every day. The resulting clarity allows Eddie to take everything he’s ever taken in, in his entire life, and make perfect sense of it in seconds. Needless to say, Eddie never intends to get off these drugs and soon finds out he might not have a choice in the matter.
Director, Neil Burger, coasts through LIMITLESS and rarely attempts to access any of his own greater potential. Visual trickery meant to signify the depths of Eddie’s thought processes and amplified abilities come off as not only gimmicky but tacky as well. All the same, the talent is passable (Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish have scant parts compared to Cooper) and the moral question behind taking the drug to begin with is intriguing, but the climax of this film is so ridiculous and off-putting that it went, for me, from a time-filler to a complete waste of time. It’s ironic really how a film about untapped intelligence could be so utterly stupid. Or perhaps even more so, how a film called LIMITLESS could feel so limited.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

Click here for more BLACK SHEEP REVIEWS.
Click here to follow BSR on TWITTER.]]> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 23:22:47 +0000
<![CDATA[Cowboys & Aliens (2011 film) Quick Tip by KingreX32]]> Initial thoughts. This movie looks Ok I dont know how Cowboys are gonna fight off an Alien Invasion but we will see how/ if works out. The Cast is great so I expect perfection in the Acting department, and with Jon Favreau in the directors chair makes me even more excited. Overall Im looking forward to this, but not as much as Captain America though.]]> Thu, 14 Jul 2011 18:10:43 +0000 <![CDATA[ Mad About Penguins]]> Antarctica to visit them!

After The Tree of Life early this morning, I was left with a little sensory overload and emotional backlash. Lunch didn't help much either so after window shopping for some 2 hours or so, I decided to go back to the theater. Mr. Popper's Penguins, here I come!

Admittedly, I've no high expectation of this movie. I read some reviews and knew what to expect. Still, I love penguins and to a lesser extent, Jim Carrey. Let's not analyse Jim Carrey's acting. I'm sure many had written reviews about it. And if you've seen him in many of his movies, you kinda have an idea what it's like.

I went into the movie just to release tension & ultimately it did. I was surprised I enjoy it a lot more than I had expected though. It makes me laugh and it makes me renew my ties with the penguins of Antarctica! That's all I can ask for! Trust me, those penguins are sooooooooooooo cute!!! If you are a fan of these flippers, then by all means go to the theater and catch them in their acts! It certainly worth your time!

Nothing new about the plot. It follows the same formula. I do believe children will enjoy it a great deal. I'm going to recommend it to my niece asap! 

For serious & frequent movie goers though, this might not be your thorough fare. It's almost the exact opposite of The Tree of Life; it doesn't ask many questions, it doesn't have unusual or unique plot and it doesn't give you the feeling it's worth your serious consideration. What it does have (for me at least) is the basic. It gets in touch with our internal desire to be cuddled, to love and to be loved. Especially, if you love animals & stuff toys! It gets in touch with the child in all of us and it takes us back to a time when entertainment doesn't have to be warped to be enjoyed. If you haven't enjoyed it, well, it's not that the film is bad. It's that perhaps you've buried the child in you so deep that you might have to look harder to find it! ;-)

Last but not least, is it worth the money (US$6) and time to go see it? For me, Yes. It is especially when you want to simplify things in your life, when you want to share time with the young ones, when you just want to let go of things and to laugh, even if just for a second or two. It is the Disney factor that gets me here and I think it's good when we can still laugh about some silly things :-) At the very least, it makes me remember why I went all the way to Antarctica back some 7 1/2 years ago! If you haven't make that journey of your life, make it! Time wait for no man (& woman)!

]]> Tue, 12 Jul 2011 11:08:16 +0000
<![CDATA[ Needs some adjustments, but good as a drama.]]>
Whenever I discover that a new Philip K. Dick novel is being adapted into a film, I can't help but be skeptical. Most of the time, I just sit down somewhere and let out a big sigh. This is not to say that I detest the Philip K. Dick-based films; a couple of them are very, very good. It's not particularly hard to get a basic understanding of what the writer had in mind when he wrote the story, especially in K. Dick's case. "The Adjustment Bureau" is the latest film based on one of Philip K. Dick's fascinating works of science fiction, and while it didn't blow my mind, it intrigued me all the same.

Whether you will enjoy the film or not is based on your acceptance and understanding of the film's themes. It's not just an entertaining film; it is one that deals with God and what happens when we temper with him. It involves characters who are euphemisms for angels, psychological chase sequences through flights of stairs that look more like labyrinths, and many other interesting, sometimes fascinating things. However, when I said that this is not merely an "entertaining film", I did not mean that it's NOT entertaining. In fact, "The Adjustment Bureau" is very, very entertaining when it wants to be, if not a bit uneven.

The film tells the kind of story that we all want to love, but a good number of us will simply enjoy how it's told, and perhaps we will even forget it. It involves the world's "youngest politician", David Norris (Matt Damon), who meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a beautiful young woman, in the men's bathroom. We don't know why she was there, but she was eavesdropping on David talking to himself, and they met by chance. And this proves to be a problem later on.

David discovers that he is being followed by ominous men in fedoras. There is one moment in which they corner him in order to explain a few things; such as the very narratively crucial revelation that David and Elise were never meant to be together.

Now, let's stop to talk about the men with the fedoras for a second. I think you're going to want to hear this one. The men are from an organization called the Adjustment Bureau. The men who work for the bureau are assigned with a little book, which contains a "plan" which certain people must live by. In the film, the bureau workers are attempting to convince David to live by his plan. In David's plan, he and Elise are not together.

I wish I could spoil the ending, which gives the film its overall message, but I will not. "The Adjustment Bureau" is the kind of movie that was made for some; and not made for others. It will divide audiences, it is far from perfect, but I had a good time watching it and thinking about it. Of course, it's not ingenious, but I recommend it none-the-less. I'm a real sucker for movies like this one; which deal with fate and such. This is not near as good as the "best of its kind", but what the hell; I'd say you should see it anyways.

I think one of the film's biggest redeeming factors is the chemistry between its two stars. Emily Blunt (who is beautiful) and Matt Damon (who is talented) are both very good in their separate roles, but even better when on-screen together. The romantic plot itself is clichéd and anything but deep, but I can forgive it; the acting works. Another thing I admired was how the film's director, newcomer George Nolfi, pays attention to how he films each thrilling "action-like" sequence. There's a scene where Damon's character gets a hold of a fedora, given to him from a sympathetic bureau member (played wonderfully by Anthony Mackie), and runs in the rain, and goes through many, many doors. This scene is brilliantly filmed, directed, and whatever else you could possibly attach to it. I suppose, in the end of the day, "The Adjustment Bureau" isn't a brilliant or miraculously thrilling film per se, but it is one that I was entertained by. It is smart, ambitious, but plays it a bit too safe at times. I admit that the film itself is a pretty big mess, but the miracle here is that it's still a fairly good one. And yes; messes can even be beautiful.]]> Sat, 9 Jul 2011 23:17:16 +0000
<![CDATA[ "Oooh, check it out the Transfromers are doing something awes...oh, we're back to Sam again, hooray"]]> As the Transformers movies went on, they got better and better each time for one reason, the humans got pushed to the background and we got to see more Transformers, more action and more excitement.  The first movie took it's damn time getting the Transformers out there with only glimpses of them here and there before a great action finale.  The second one, while maligned by many for many good reasons of too much comic relief, creaky story telling and broad racial stereotypes at least upped the action and had it's stars the Transformers throughout and this third one finally puts the Transformers in the spotlight for more screen time and what does amount to a real epic cap on the series, if this is in fact the final one.

Heres something that I noticed right away in the movie and I alluded to it in the title.  Any time-ANY time in the movie when you see the Autobots or Decepticons in the film, doing ANYTHING and just as things get interesting be it a battle, a discovery or ALWAYS cuts away to Sam and his dorky little adventures.  Sam needs a job, Sam needs to matter, Sam wants this, Sam wants that, SAM has a smoking hot girlfriend in this after Michael Bay deep-sixed fish thumbs. Sam got a medal from the President for his bravery, Sam got an Ivy League Education that the government paid for, but he needs a job and doesn't his life suck and OH MY GOD!  NO ONE CARES ABOUT SAM!!!  Michael Bay thinks we care!  We don't!  Whats worse is that Shia this time as Sam has enough wangst and whine to out-preen Hayden Christensen from the Star Wars prequels.  Don't say Shia doesn't have talent, well not really he doesn't so.........don't say he doesn't have effort.

What really surprised me is how the movie OPENED.  We see the story interwoven with real life events with a discovery on the moon with the Apollo 11 mission leading to security and secrecy involving what was found. 

What was found was a derelict Cybertron spaceship housing Sentinel Prime and his creations for making a new tommorrow for the Transformers, now lost until the Transformers, now working with the US to help with world problems learn of the accident and retrieve Sentinel Prime and his creation, a teraforming device of sorts to build a new Cybertron on another planet, kinda like the Genesis Device from Star Trek II.  Sentinel Prime is even voiced by Leonard Nimoy and Star Trek references don't stop there.  It's almost as if Leonard Nimoy being in this movie was a selling point, hey it helped get me to see it. 

Sentinel Prime however is a pragmatic type and says that his plans were to involve the Decepticons in creating a new Cybertron for all the Transformers to live and has no problems pushing the insulting and bossy humans aside in building a new world and after obliterating Chicago, sets up a defense with Megatron and a new ally in Shockwave to start they're plans.  The Autobots after coming together when they were double crossed set out to save the world with Optimus Prime leading the way once again.

The humans?  Oh yeah.  They still take up space and eat up Transformers time.  Sure a 2 and a half hour Transformer movie with nothing but Transformers would get even more expensive but you could always make it a 90 minute movie and cut down on, what else?  THE HUMANS.  I'll grant you that with John Turturro, and now Frances McDormand and John Malkovich are at least on board and help class up the movie.  On the other hand, Shia is back and so is Ken Jeong to louse it up.  Speaking of louses, Sams Parents are back AGAIN and serve even less a purpose then Sam in this movie, and considering there is no longer a reason for Sam to be in the movie, that says something.  I can almost guarantee you that if Spielberg didn't make this, Shia wouldn't be in it.  That being said though, the pointless scenes are at least shorter and there are fewer of them then in the other movies.

This is an epic movie.  A lot is going on, blood (or oil) gets spilled and things are going to happen to finish this movie.  The devastation in Chicago is pretty brutal with dead bodies and SKULLS in the streets and main characters even get offed left and right.  Sadly some of these characters meet deaths which would be a little more dramatic if the characters had some more personalities to them.  One gets offed execution style out of the blue and turns to rust before our eyes cause of his injuries  We would care more if we knew more about the character and were in touch with him.  Another ends up meeting an end in a humiliating way (more likely the character who is involved also) and on top of that wacky antics involved really undermine what should have been far more epic.  The most tension in the movie is ruined where Sam is coerced into working with the Decepticons but WACKY hijinks kill the tension.  Ehren Kruger has penned this movie along with Revenge of the Fallen and really should know when something serious is going on and NOT involve the sillyness.  If he does write another, I hope he remembers this and also leaves out Shia.

]]> Fri, 8 Jul 2011 04:20:21 +0000
<![CDATA[Transformers: Dark of the Moon Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> Fri, 8 Jul 2011 03:22:30 +0000 <![CDATA[ The 1986 movie meets Revenge of the fallen.]]> A few months after Revenge of the Fallen hit theaters numerous rumors started to pop up about the third film in the franchise. One of the most prominent of them being that the Decepticon Unicron was going to be the featured antagonist. Although it was just a rumor it still got me super excited about this film. Even though i eventually found out Unicron wasn't going to be in the film the trailers and the supposed invasion of earth story line filled that gap.

Transformers Dark of the Moon tells the story of the Autobots on going struggle with the Decepticons. This time the Autobots learn of a crashed Cybertronian ship on the Moon called the Ark and race to learn its secrets before the decepticons do.

If there is a question I think is on everyones mind its "is this movie anything like Revenge of the Fallen" the answer is yes. Yes like Revenge of the fallen there are tonnes of laughs and ridiculous moments
but it didn't feel quite as immature as ROTF. I actually felt that there was a larger emphasis on the story this time around as its a little darker than the last two, although its hard to feel that way  when your laughing out loud every two seconds. In the acting department if you'vie watched the other two films you know what to expect. I got to give a shout out to Lenard Nimoy who plays Sentinel prime in the movie, still an awesome guy after all these years. (Spock quotes FTW)

Overall I was a little disappointed by the film it was mainly just some of the humor though ,at times it would pop up at inappropriate moments just killing the mood in the previous scene. Especially after a certain Autobot (who I like very much) gets killed.

Don't let that turn you off though Dark of the moon is an awesome movie and I'm a little sad to hear that its the end. If you liked the First two movies then by all means go out and see this one.


]]> Thu, 7 Jul 2011 20:25:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ Pumped up on the green stuff]]>
So when the movie came out this year, I wasn't sure what to make of it.  I know some of the history of the Green Lantern Corps (most tangentially, through other DC superheroes), and the movie looked like it could be fun.

And indeed, it was.

There's a lot of backstory setup at the beginning of the movie, which was helpful for geeks like me who aren't caught up. Basically, the Green Lanterns are intergalactic protectors of worlds.  The harness the force of Will through the rings on their fingers to defeat those who would do harm. And they've been doing this for a long, long time.  So when Earth's protector is killed, a new Lantern must be chosen.  Enter Hal Jordan, hotshot test pilot and directionless thrill-seeker.

Ryan Reynolds is pretty much the perfect guy to play Hal Jordan, with his chiseled good lucks and natural charm he makes the part his own and brings a decent complexity and vulnerability to it.  Other Lanterns are played by Mark Strong (almost unrecognizable if not for his voice), Geoffrey Rush, and Michael Clarke Duncan.  I was happy to see Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett make appearances, and Peter Sarsgaard turns in an admirable performance as a mutated villain.

It would be remiss not to mention another major player in Green Lantern: the CGI.  There's a lot of computer graphics in the film, and I mean a LOT.  Whole characters are nothing but CGI, and major story elements (including the film's major badass bad guy, Parallax) are fully-rendered computer imagery.

In most cases this would bother me. The newer Star Wars films suffer from their reliance on CGI to tell the story, and in some places Green Lantern could have done with less of it too - but for the most part, somehow the movie makes it work for the story rather than against it. Partially because it is beautifully-rendered - Parallax is a truly frightening vision of evil, while some of the Lantern's manifestations of will are wondrous and highly imaginative. And also because while there's a lot of CGI, it never feels like it's in the way. The graphics serve the action, not the other way around.

And there's a lot of action, from high-octane plane flights to interstellar war.  It's exciting to watch the seasoned Lanterns use their powers and it's fun to watch Hal Jordan, the newbie, come to grips with his.  His experiments with the power of will are often delightful to see.

Long story short (too late!) - Green Lantern is fun, action-packed, and while it relies very heavily on a deep backstory and a metric ton of pixels for its digital effects, neither get in the way of the story or the action too much.

It's almost enough to make me want to go back and read some Green Lantern comics.]]> Wed, 6 Jul 2011 05:50:28 +0000
<![CDATA[ Reviewed: Transformers: Dark of the Moon [2011]]]>  
Our summer of sequels continues with the Transformers returning to the big screen with their third outing. After the rather disappointing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen I have to say that my hopes were not particularly high for this one.

Dark of the Moon is set several years after the second movie where Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is struggling to get a job and return his life to normal and yet this still hasn't stopped him from bagging the most attractive girl in the city- Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). At the same time, the Autobots discover that a Cybertronian spacecraft crash landed on the Moon during the 1960's and race against the Decepticons to reach it first and protect the secrets that it holds. The two storylines overlap and voilà the plot is born.
As always the visuals impress and are the best in the franchise so far but I ended up asking myself how is this different from the previous two and it led me to this answer- there isn't that much of a difference at all. Bay has upped the ante somewhat in regards to the amount of CGI he has crammed into the movie so expect more fighting, more action and a whole lot more slowmo. While many will think great more action, I see it as part of the problem though. There is only so many times that I can be impressed with a vehicle transforming into something else, in slow motion, before it becomes repetitive and I felt like I reached my limit in this film.
Aside from the first 10 minutes which dealt with the space race of the 1960's, it took a while for the film to get going. For the last hour or so though, I was enjoying what the film had to offer where it took on a Black Hawk Down kind of persona during battle scenes in the city.

Several issues I had: at 157 minutes the film tended to drag in several places and led to a rather rushed final scene that should not have been; the comedy element was greatly reduced despite a cameo from Ken Jeong aka Mr Chow from The Hangover; the new love interest did not impress with her acting skills at all and was more than likely brought in merely as token eye candy for the viewers, which she did succeed in; and most importantly, the plot had more holes in it than a Swiss cheese being used as target practice on a shooting range. And that is an understatement. Also there has been zero continuity between the trilogy of films so far which does not go down well with me.
I was more impressed than I thought I was going to be but as I said expectation had been lowered due to the extremely poor second film. I have to be careful here because I think the impressive graphics have partly blinded me to the rest of the cracks that appear in the film. All I can say is if you enjoyed the first movie or like good visuals then you will enjoy this one and if you didn't or want an involved and interesting plot that develops itself and the characters as the movie progresses then you won't get that here.

Rating: B-

For further reviews feel free to check out: or follow this site on Twitter @ FAbFilms]]> Tue, 5 Jul 2011 16:56:59 +0000
<![CDATA[ If you're stuck in a comedy, does that make it a thriller?]]>
Well, not a comedy exactly, though the plot elements here are most often found in romcoms. Matt Damon is an ambitious and rising young politician. Emily Blunt is a talented ballet/modern dancer. They are totally wrong for each other, except, of course, for that…spark, that something that makes them want to be with nobody but each other. The chemistry between Damon and Blunt is better than average; it’s pretty fun to watch them flirt. But then descend a bunch of men in fedoras, who do whatever it takes to keep them apart, because that’s the way fate would have it.

You can pretty much boil down most romantic comedies to a meet-cute, a series of apparent coincidences and twists of fate designed by the writers to keep the two leads apart for a certain period of time, and then a climactic turning point in the final twenty minutes or so when fate changes its mind and allows them to be together. This is exactly the way “The Adjustment Bureau” plays, except the writers actually appear in the film and the characters are allowed to talk to them. It’s as if Tom Hanks is able to stop in the middle of ”Sleepless in Seattle” and ask the writers why the heck they won’t let him get with Meg Ryan already.

Except that “The Adjustment Bureau” doesn’t play for laughs; I guess if you know you’re living out the plot of a romcom, it’s not funny to you. There’s a lot of rushing around, dodging the men in hats, screaming about fate, etc. It’s terribly serious business, trying to make your own decisions. It’s too bad, because the best parts of “Adjustment Bureau” are when Damon and Blunt are allowed to relax around each other. That’s hard to do when you’re being chased by supernatural beings.

Because “Bureau” purports, at least vaguely, to be about God and Fate and sovereignty and such, it has a few questions to answer that romcoms don’t. Consider a moment between Terrence Stamp (a chief Fedora) and Damon. Stamp tells Damon, in no uncertain terms, that he can marry Blunt, and they will have a good life. But he will never be President, and she will never fulfill her dream of becoming a famous dancer. This is why the Fedoras are determined to keep them apart; so that they can fulfill their potential and be Great People. Now what kind of god (or “Chairman” as the film calls him/her/it) is writing this Plan? He chooses achievement over happiness for his people, dooming them to successful careers as miserable people. Damon walks away from Blunt, afraid of killing her dreams by staying with her. But isn’t it better to be a happily married ballet teacher than a lonely, miserable prima donna? These are the kinds of questions “Adjustment Bureau” doesn’t feel at all ready to acknowledge, let alone answer.]]> Mon, 4 Jul 2011 16:32:24 +0000
<![CDATA[ Like a Lullaby, kinda.]]> Written by Ehren Kruger
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Simmons: Years from now, they’re going to ask, “Where were you when they took over the planet?” We’re going to say, “We just stood by and watched.”
Before today, I would never have equated Michael Bay’s directorial style with the soothing effect of a lullaby but that was before seeing TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON. It’s not that the barrage of intergalactic explosions of metal and mayhem that make up the majority of the third entry in the franchise would necessarily put you to sleep; it’s just that after sitting through Bay’s interpretation of the TRANSFORMERS universe three times now has lulled me into a state of acceptance. I’ve never loved his vision for their world, which was a favorite of mine growing up, but I’ve now recognized that it is what it is and it isn’t about to change either.  This shift allowed for me to see the latest installment as also the greatest.
Keep in mind that being called the best TRANSFORMERS movie to date is hardly a compliment given the history. Many of the essentials from the past make their inevitable returns this time out. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is back as friend to the Autobots and general all-around neurotic player with a giant chip in his shoulder. He now feels, like most of his youthful colleagues coming out of college, that he is entitled to great things right now with no dues to pay. Of course, he already has great things like doting parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) and an impossibly attractive new girlfriend, Carly (model, Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely, in her first and hopefully last acting role) but if he doesn’t have the fancy car and hot shot job to go with, then he might as well announce to the world that he is in fact not an actual man. Having saved the world twice already only serves to exacerbate his ego driven anxiety. Sam is stunted but that isn’t surprising given who the direction is coming from.
Part of the reason TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON works better is because it is more solidly grounded in reality from the start. Writer, Ehren Kruger (who also co-wrote REVENGE OF THE FALLEN) integrates Cybertronian lore into actual human history, having an Autobot vessel crash on the moon in the early 1960’s. The space race is then rewritten as a means to get to that ship first, which of course the Americans do. He then follows that up with some reasonably compelling betrayals amongst the Transformer ranks that will certainly appeal to longtime fans. Unfortunately, he fills the rest of the space with the usual misogynistic boyhood fantasies that Bay gets off on so bad. What you’re left with is a slightly more elevated and enjoyable experience that stems from a simple numbing of the senses. And when you wake from the dream, you may still long for what it could have been.
Like, since when is Shockwave not a clunker of a boom box?

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

Click here for more BLACK SHEEP REVIEWS.
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To read the reviews of the previous TRANSFORMER films, click the links in the review.]]> Sat, 2 Jul 2011 16:43:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ Where's My Truck?]]> Star Rating:

A Better Life tells the story of Carlos Galindo (Demian Bichar), an undocumented gardener getting by in East Los Angeles. As the title suggests, his dream is to provide a better life for his fourteen-year-old son, Luis (Jose Julian), who isn’t taking school seriously and is perilously close to joining a gang. Although he doesn’t have a driver’s license, Carlos is coaxed into purchasing his friend’s truck, complete with gardening tools to start his own business with. He was able to pay for it all after receiving a loan from his sister, Anita (Dolores Heredia), who he promises he will repay in a year, maybe less. Just when it all seems to be heading in the right direction, Carlos picks the wrong day laborer from off the curb, and his truck gets stolen. With Luis reluctantly at his side, Carlos goes on a dangerous citywide search for his truck.
As the title character, Johnny Depp observed in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood that filmmaking isn’t about the tiny details, but about the big picture. I don’t know if the real Ed Wood said this, but if he did, then I would argue that he was half right. I interpret “the big picture” to be plot, character, and theme, which are indeed vital to the success of a mainstream film. That being said, details are just as important; visual authenticity serves as an emotional anchor, a way for the audience to better understand and identify with the story. The issue with A Better Life is that, like Wood, Chris Weitz plays favorites with his directorial style. Unlike Wood, he takes the exact opposite approach: He fusses over the tiny details but neglects the big picture. If you strip away the padding, you’ll find a story that’s exceedingly simple and lacking any real insight.

In this case, the details are reflected in Weitz’s insistence on cultural and geographic authenticity. Indeed, the film is, visually, a very accurate depiction of Los Angeles, and I know because I’ve lived there my entire life. I’ve seen laborers standing on curbs all morning long, waiting for someone to pull over. I’ve passed by taco trucks and young men hanging around cars. I’ve noticed gardeners pulling weeds, pruning bushes, and climbing palm trees. Weitz relied on Rev. Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries (a youth program and small business which employs former gang members and at-risk teens) to guide him and his crew towards various Los Angeles inner cities, maximizing the cultural realism. The filmmakers even went as far as altering the dialogue to reflect the location-specific lingo.
All this is good, but ultimately, it doesn’t make the story any less simple. Does that mean the movie is bad? No, it doesn’t. Simple though it may be, the story is engaging and heartfelt. Its leading performances by Bichar and Julian have earned it points, and rightfully so; not only are they effective individually, they also have believable onscreen chemistry as father and son. Carlos is an uncomplicated character; he wants to start his own business in order to (1) send his son to a better school, and (2) hire a decent lawyer to make him a legal citizen. He does not want to go back to Mexico – there are no opportunities for him there. He’s a decent and moral man, abiding by the unspoken rules of deal-making; if you help him out, he will reward you, and vice versa. He’s not in it for fame and fortune. In fact, he would like nothing more than to be invisible.

Luis is not so easy to define. His initial aloofness suggests he would rather join a gang than be a Hispanic stereotype. As the film progresses, we see a process at work; he’s torn between a life as a street thug and loyalty to his father. There’s an interesting moment midway through the film when father and son attend a rodeo; a song begins playing, and Carlos reminds Luis that his mother, who has long since left the picture, used to sing it to him when he was a baby. Luis doesn’t want to talk about his mother, although he does ask his father a serious question: “Why did you have me? Why do all these poor people have babies? What’s the point?” After a tense pause, Carlos’ only response is, “Don’t even say that.” Rest assured, he will eventually answer the question, but only after a series of events I won’t reveal.
Some may think that the film is a response to the debate over immigration, although I would argue that, at heart, it’s really a sentimental father/son story. There’s nothing innately wrong with this – it’s no more or less than what it is. The final shot is the only point at which one can glean a political statement, and even then, it’s open to interpretation. It probably couldn’t have ended any other way, given the overtly emotional direction the story had been going in. The long and short of it is, A Better Life is a serviceable film that has a lot of style but not much in the way of substance. For Weitz, the film marks his third outing as a solo director, following the wonderful but overlooked fantasy epic The Golden Compass and the teen melodrama The Twilight Saga: New Moon. This doesn’t say much about his newest effort, although he is making some interesting choices.

                                               ]]> Sat, 2 Jul 2011 06:10:33 +0000
<![CDATA[ Too Much Excessive, Inane Issues Hamper The Potential Gritty Appeal of The Robot Fights...]]> Revenge of the Fallen” was just so disastrous that even members of its cast said the movie was terrible.

Well, this time, “Dark of the Moon” attempts to salvage the franchise from potential ruin, after the first sequel had nearly committed suicide by featuring humping robots, amateurish scripting, drew a few racial flags and featured robotic testicles (this time, Bay replaces it with gray robotic hair). “Dark of the Moon” is Michael Bay’s apology as he listened to some of the complaints, and while it was a tad better (a small tad) than the previous movie, it really isn’t saying much. It still wasn’t a good movie and just failed on other different levels.

                            Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

                            A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

                            A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is now an adult and after helping to save the world two years ago, he is struggling to find decent employment. It is only his super-hot new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whitely) who makes things easier for the young man. But some things never change, as a threat from several years ago when the first man walked on the moon have resurfaced to threaten the world. The Autobots led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) seemed to have the Decepticons reeling as Megatron (Hugo Weaving) himself is sent into hiding to lick his wounds. But when belief that the legendary Autobot leader Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) may be stuck on the moon, the Autobots mobilize but they may be aiding in the birth of a new threat. So it is up to Sam, Agent Simmons (John Turturro), the armed forces (including Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson) to try and aid the Autobots against the new rise of the Decepticon threat and the arrival of Cybertron….

I really don’t know why the creators of this franchise seem to have issues following the formula established in the first “Transformers” film. I mean it was simple enough and it is easy to extend the mythos of the Transformers universe. “Dark of the Moon” has a better core premise than the previous film; it had more thought and potential as to how it could incorporate certain devices and characterization, it was even darker as there were more scenes of harsh death that gave it some gritty appeal. "Dark of the Moon" has themes of betrayal and working together, even strong hints of freedom; true, it is formula but this wasn't the issue. The problem lies in the way the direction had executed the screenplay, it just so riddled with plot holes, plot missteps that anyone would be able to see them. Now I am not expecting something filled with intricacies, but that is the thing; it tries to add intricacies and forgets about them. The scripting and the editing was very inept and uncaring, the film feels like it was just there to display huge robot fights and made no attempts to make a credible script.

                      A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

                     A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

                    A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

I mean, I am all for fast-paced direction to keep a film’s momentum, but I could not believe how the scripting and the direction could ignore certain plot details. The screenplay is awkward and rather over-edited, one minute you see one scene and then you see another, and then all of a sudden something happens and they forget the “wristwatch” worn by Sam (nor remember the 'energon power source  scanners'). I cannot fully discuss this without spoiling the movie but those flaws were there, staring at my face. The dialogue and interactions in the first half was also very predictable which renders it boring. Bay and the script by Ehren Kruger tries to use the usual slapstick humor to keep its flow and I have to admit they did try to restrain it a little. There were some issues with its pacing as some parts just slowed down the film, I mean there were fights here and there, but the emotional impact was lost amid all the bad canned exchanges between Sam and Carly, the forced comedy between Simmons and Mearing (Frances McDormand) became an annoyance and several devices that went nowhere. I also have an issue with the way Bay introduces new characters, he seemed to keep their personalities as close to human as possible; which shouldn’t be a bad thing, but not entirely this way. The new “Wreckers”, “Sidewinder” and “Ironhide” were there, but they never made much of an impression. Sentinel Prime, “Shockwave” and “LaserBeak’s” appearances were welcome since they did have a reference to the classic series.

                           Too Much Excessive, Inane Issues Hamper The Potential Gritty Appeal of The Robot Fights...

                            A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

As for the robot fights, well, they were a little of a step backward to the fights of the previous films. Not that the special effects were bad, actually they were improved, but the battles had nothing behind all the hits, the explosions and the intensity just didn’t make it for me. The film’s lousy editing truly hurt the film, I just could not believe how they fumbled the robot fights that I found it lacking in its supposed sense of urgency and intensity. There was also too much going on, and the viewer wasn’t allowed to settle into the “anatomies” of its fight sequences. One minute, an Autobot was on the ropes, and then they retreat and then someone swoops in, it all became redundant after awhile. There was also a nausea-inducing gliding scene that went too long. I just didn’t care really who lived and who fell. Now the new decepticons weren’t exactly in full view but their ship's designs did look like a cross between “District 9” and “Terminator Salvation” ships, I even saw inspirations taken from the “Metroplex” storyline and some features from the Autobot “Skyfire” (from the cartoon).


                           Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly Miller in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

                           A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

As for the characters, well, they all seemed under-utilized and John Malcovich have a short screen time. Sam’s parents were once again in this feature and they serve as unneeded, obnoxious comedic devices but thankfully not for too long. Huntington-Whiteley was a looker, but I just couldn’t connect with her character; she was just there to satisfy the needs for another hot female lead, ala-Megan Fox. Turturro is annoying in his role as Simmons but this was intentional, so I cannot complain. LaBeouf seemed to be more reserved in yelling “Optimus!!” but he still does the open-mouthed goofball character that annoyed me to no end.

“Dark of the Moon” does have some robotic apocalyptic drama going for it; it had a more inspired plot than the first sequel, but I have said it before and I will say it again. Michael Bay is a decent action director but his skill in storytelling and this time editing is just so ham-fisted and callous. I wonder if there is an extended cut since I could see several scenes that felt incoherent, but at already 157 minutes, the film is just too long to get around with its bad scripting. At least, there are no overdone jive-talking robots (well there still are, but not as much as the "Twins" in the previous film) and the scenes with “Shockwave” did look menacing. The building demolition scene was also indeed cool ( not a spoiler since it was seen from the trailers). Michael Bay has made another brainless, popcorn summer film, while it does have its share of grittiness, it only does it right 50 % of the time. The other half is all about things you wouldn't care at all. It spends too much time with the bad parts just to get to the good parts, and when it does, you just become uninterested and barely even care anymore....

RENTAL [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
Note: Seeing this in Standard DLP would suffice, NO 3D necessary.

Poster art for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."  Poster art for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

Poster art for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon: An IMAX 3D Experience." 

 ]]> Fri, 1 Jul 2011 04:10:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Latest Entry in Bay's Awful Franchise]]> Star Rating:

Why are they still making these movies? If you even think of coming back at me with, “Because they make money,” you no longer have permission to read my reviews. Even escapist movies that require no thought and have no message to send deserve good characters and decent dialogue, and they should at the very least be entertaining. Is that really so hard? For Michael Bay and his crew, especially his screenwriters, the answer is apparently yes. The first two Transformers movies were feature-length marketing gimmicks that did nothing but assault the eyes and deaden the imagination. Given this track record, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is no different. Sadly, not being surprised doesn’t make the experience of watching it any easier.
This third installment of the hugely successful franchise is loud, aggressive, lengthy, and dumb. If there is a just and loving God, it will be the last installment. Its plot a confusing mess of government conspiracies, alien invasions, alliances, betrayals, and double crossings, which is to say that no potential audience is likely to make heads or tails of what the hell is going on. The characters are so broadly drawn that they belong in a parody. The dialogue sounds like it was written by potty-mouthed fifteen-year-old computer geeks. The action sequences don’t stimulate the senses so much as rape them; by the end of the movie, my ears felt like they on the verge of bleeding, and my eyes were sore from the 3D effects and the overuse of lightning-quick cuts, slow motion blurs, and computerized imagery, most of which consists of morphing machinery. Man, does that get tiresome.

Much of the cast returns from the previous two films, including Shia LaBeouf, John Turturro, Peter Cullen, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Julie White, and Kevin Dunn. The only notable exception is Megan Fox, who was said to be unhappy with Bay’s work ethic and reportedly compared him to Hitler. As to whether or not this actually happened, as to whether this was a case of her being asked to not return or her choosing to leave, I obviously have no way of knowing. What I do know is that, regardless of the circumstances, this was one of the best things that could have happened to her; she no longer has to associate herself with this awful franchise, which may go down as one of the worst in cinematic history. New to the film are Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Frances McDormand, Leonard Nimoy, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who steps in as LaBeouf’s new girlfriend. Too bad she’s not given anything to do besides look pretty.
The plot, as it were, involves the revelation that, back in 1961, an escaped ship from the war-ravaged Transformer planet crash landed on Earth’s moon, and that the 1969 moon landing was actually a mission to collect samples from the ship. In the present day, the benevolent Autobot Optimus Prime (voiced by Cullen) is disheartened when he learns that a piece of their recovered technology is in the hands of the Ukrainian government, and that the Soviets’ attempts to harness its power resulted in the Chernobyl disaster. Although he and the rest of the Autobots are in league with the American government, he now realizes that humans are not as trustworthy as they once seemed, so he takes it upon himself to fly to the moon and retrieve the dormant pilot of the crashed ship, Sentinel Prime (voiced by Nimoy). He also collects a series of metal rods called Pillars, which, apparently, can create a wormhole capable of transporting matter.

Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) has graduated from college but is unable to find work, much to the chagrin of his incredibly annoying parents (Dunn and White). He has a hot new English girlfriend named Carly (Whiteley), who works for a man named Dylan (Dempsey), a wealthy playboy with a sizeable car collection. A threat in all respects. Just as Sam gets a new job in the mailroom of an office building, he reteams with retired agent Seymour Simmons (Turturro) when he begins to suspect that the evil Decepticons are systematically targeting people who were involved with both the American and Russian space missions. This leads to the introduction of the bitchy Secretary of Defense (McDormand), which then leads to a series of other revelations before a final battle/destruction scene in Chicago that goes on and on and on and on and on. At a certain point, I was actually praying for the movie to come to an end.
Much of Transformers: Dark of the Moon is made worse by Bay’s curious practice of inserting jokes into scenes that don’t call for them. Perhaps the issue is that Bay wouldn’t know funny even if he got a pie in the face before slipping on a banana peel. Somehow, I just can’t laugh at a robot life form from another planet saying, “This is a clusterf–.” No, I didn’t just censor myself; the scene was edited so that it would cut away at the exact right moment. Many of the actors – including Malkovich, Jeong, and McDormand – deliver their lines as if they were unsure of their purpose in the movie. Indeed, they contribute next to nothing, apart from unnecessary comedy relief. Jeong in particular does little more than embarrass himself. Thank God he has such little screen time. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my feelings for this movie abundantly clear.

                                               ]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2011 05:24:58 +0000
<![CDATA[ Dark of the Moon... a journey to Cybertron and back again]]>
Granted, I should give myself a disclaimer, adding that Bay is not a great story teller by any stretch of the imagination, and his films aren’t meant to be Oscar winning or anything close to that, but it is obvious that he knows how to entertain an audience.  But let’s digress, as I need to just throw this out there to who hate Michael Bay, perhaps you need to look beyond the story, sure there the story is faulty, but you do have to admit the skill Bay shows creating explosions and CGI transforming robots is the coolest thing and for the audience he is creating for, it is beyond cool.

So to all you Bay haters – Get over it! Stop beating yourself up by trying to make Bay something more than he is: a genius for bigger, badder things that go boom, with an eye for detail with CGI that make fans nerd-gasm in their pants.  Mhmm I said it, and all you out there reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.  Well now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of why we are here.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a visually stunning summer blockbuster.  Although, it clearly suffers a bit of a rocky start, leading with some awkward transitions in storytelling and poorly casted extras wearing highly recognizable full face prosthetics that make the actors look like the Barbie factory had a mishap in their Ken department, but by the film’s mid-point, you have all but forgotten the pathetic, torture of the opening scenes, and have moved on to enjoying Bay’s in-your-face entertainment.  But before too long you are reminded of the storyline when wait a minute… is that Buzz Aldrin making a cameo appearance (a la Stan Lee style)?  Hehe oh yes, it is. Michael Bay all but bitch-slaps the audience with the insanity of humans casted in various roles throughout Dark of the Moon.

So we have covered the astronaut appearance, and we know that Shia LaBeouf returns as Sam Witwichy, Josh Duhamel as Lennox, the whacky John Turturro as “Former” Agent Simmons, Tyrese Gibson as Epps, and thankfully Megan Fox has been kicked to the curb and replaced by British Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who is just a hot bod in heels.  Yet, it is the new faces that make cast dynamics so interesting; John Malkovich plays Sam’s insane boss Bruce Brazos and Frances McDormand plays the US Secretary of Defense Charlotte Mearing, each of their appearances almost brings about a Burn After Reading hilarity to an already outrageous film.  Without giving away too much I just want to add this, it is nice to see McDreamy get his ass handed to him by a kid.  But let’s not forget, the Transformers series is not about the humans… it is about the robots!

It was great to see the traditional characters back in action.  Bumblebee is adorable as ever (I’ve missed the teary eyed Autobot since Revenge of the Fallen), Ironhide is still a badass, and of course Optimus Prime who has a few upgrades of his own like a trailer full of new toys that he can combine to create even bigger explosions and Decepticon destruction. But it is the quirky Autobots like Wheelie and the addition of Brains and an Albert Einstein look alike Bot named Wheeljack that make it clear that Dark of the Moon is all about having fun.  Even the fact that the addition of Leonard Nimoy, who voices Galvatron, brings a smile to ones face and may even bring out some of the Trekkies .

My only real complaint with the Dark of the Moon is that after seeing it in IMAX 3D, I wish that Bay had stepped back and provided a few more slow-motion transformation sequences like those in Revenge of the Fallen was so full of.  There is so much taking place in Dark of the Moon, and with characters like Driller (Shockwave’s pet), the screen was so busy I had a hard to focus on all the action.  I, personally would have loved to have seen more CGI that the Transformers franchise has become so well known for, and yet maybe even another “big robot balls” joke or two.  But all in all the film is highly entertaining, well worth the money and 155 minutes spent in the theater.

Dearest Michael Bay I ask, will you ever again give us a film shy of the 120 minute marker? Although I will happily confess that I am an avid admirer of your “make it bigger” philosophy with regards to explosions, fight sequences and CGI effects, I feel you will leave me no choice but to do the potty dance as I race from the theater after your films.  Word to the wise: if you plan to see Transformers be sure to use the restroom before entering the theater and opt out of the Michael Bay size sodas that the concession stands are now selling.  This is just a warning for adults, come in pairs, one to watch the kids in the theater and one to make the multiply potty runs.

I give Transformers: Dark of the Moon a 2 out of 5 for story and a 4 out of 5 for badass-ness.]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 23:22:59 +0000
<![CDATA[ Explosionformers!]]>
Notoriously (or not so much, depending on how you look at it) I absolutely hated Transformers Revenge of the Fallen.  It is one of the few movies I went negative on... and not only went negative but gave it the full -5 treatment.  The movie was so much of a mess that it was hardly that much fun to even watch and pick at.  However, I didn't mind the first one too much.  For all it's odd moments it was still rather fun and actually seemed to make the tiniest amount of sense.  When it comes to Michael Bay and so-called bad movies I have to point out that what made Revenge of the Fallen such a disaster was that it hardly seemed like Michael Bay had paid attention to his own plot established in the first film.  It could be because he brought in a different screenwriter, but for the most part it was because Revenge of the Fallen loaned itself to gaping plot holes you could sail a cruise ship through.  Some of the same stuff happens with this third installment.

The third film starts off in a somewhat interesting manner.  It begins forty years before the film actually takes place.  Cybertron, the home of the autobots and decepticons is not at all going to be saved and so they sent out a pod called "The Ark" to transfer these pillars.  It's piloted by an autobot called The Sentinel who was the leader.  It crashes on the moon.  Going into conspiracy theory territory at this point, the film presents an alternate history in which the real reason we entered the space race was to find out what this thing was that crash landed on the moon... and beat the soviets to it.  This actually starts off as a little interesting, but goes into strange territory once we get to the present day where we discover those dasterdly decepticons are (surprise) deceiving humans to try and find the ship that crashed on the moon.  If there's one thing about Michael Bay's canon with these films it is that he doesn't seem to pay too much attention to it.  We can forgive that no one ever mentions anything like this in the first two films.  What is odd, however, is bringing up plot points from the second film that the bad guys hardly paid much attention to (The Matrix, which was a deus ex machina to begin with) is suddenly important to them despite that they hardly seemed to care before.  It's interesting to see Bay splice in some historical fantasy, but he never quite connects things well enough.  In particular he never really establishes the big connection to the second film we're meant to see.  It's good in one sense because it means you don't have to see the second film to actually understand anything which happens in the third.  On the other hand, it only makes the glaring plot holes through Bay's canon more obvious when you sit back and consider them.

Another big part of the story that's a shame to behold is dumping Megan Fox.  As much as I'm not too big on Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Sam's new girlfriend, Carly, is a lot more empty of a character.  Her only job seems to be for her to look hot most of the time.  She adds absolutely nothing to the story or to Sam's character.  We get a quick explanation as to why Mikaela is no longer there (well, sort of) but for the most part she's mostly there to give teenage boys something to oogle.  And as you can imagine her acting is as dry as ever.  But it's unfair to expect a lot of high caliber acting from a film like Transformers.  It's the action we came to see.

But the story is disjointed.  The script seems to suffer from the same issues as the previous film.  While it is a lot tighter than Revenge of the Fallen to be sure (the plot holes aren't quite as obvious) it is still disjointed in some manner.  There are plenty of moments where you'll wonder how it is that NO ONE seems to notice the presence of Transformers.  They KNOW they exist, but in moments such as those loud mechanical beings say... attacking and killing a man in his office... no one seems to notice he's being attacked.  They only notice him being pushed out the window.  Even more amusing is that despite his actions in the first two films, the government seems to pretend Witwicky did absolutely nothing.  Case in point, the new leader of Sector 7 seems quite dismissive of Sam.  This only serves to open the door to Sam whining about how no one recognizes his efforts from the first two films and how they won't really trust him now.  He wants to be in on the action because... you know, he totally didn't survive a huge collapsing city in the first one and he most certainly wasn't in egypt saving Optimus Prime.  Yep, it is clear that Sam's life is totally boring because he had to run from danger and risk his life to save Optimus.  What makes the difference?  The fact that this time he actually gets a gun.  No, seriously, that's it.  That's the action he craves.  To be able to use weapons. 

For those disappointed that there was little attention paid to the robots, they'll be more disappointed here where even a human turns out to be one of the villains.  The story is almost all about the humans here with the autobots helping out a little bit.  For the most part it's hard to tell if the humans of earth want the help of the Autobots are not when it comes to the Decepticons plot.  One minute they're blaming the autobots for things going wrong and wanting to exile them... but just moments later they don't seem to care that they're back.  Everything concerning the plot moves at such a breakneck pace that the motivations and actions of the good guys... and bad, can be strange to behold. 

There are some twists in the plot but nothing you won't see coming.  Some of them only open up more questions.  Really, the big question becomes why Michael Bay and screenwriter Ehren Kruger felt so strongly that they had to stuff so much into a plot for a movie that clearly doesn't care much about it?

The film also suffers from the same typical Michael Bay follies.  Scenes that are a little too overdramatic, but without first providing any context for the emotion.  Take for example Sam's relationship with Carly... we have NO IDEA how deep it goes.  The only context we're really given is "Boy Toy," but aside from that Carly only seems to emote the: "You care more about saving the world than me!"  So in moments where Sam is desperately trying to save her or when she's gone and he's hurt by it... we have no context.  All we know is that he seemed to move on rather quickly from Mikaela.  And even more than that, the "romantic" moments or any moments where there is supposed to be love there's only really lost.  And this is in part because Carly exist in the film to ONLY be the damsel in distress... and look sexy.  But she's rather devoid of any character.  There doesn't have to be backstory, just a bit of character.  And for the most part it's non-existent. 

That's not to say there wasn't a moment that didn't draw any kind of emotion.  There is a moment in the film where Bumblebee and Sam actually bring their established connection to light.  I won't spoil it, but it was one of the only moments... pretty much in the entire franchise that managed to illicit some emotion.

But the biggest of all follies is the same thing that Michael Bay always manages to do.  The film is just too damn long.  The first half is a lot of exposition and stacking things into the plot that don't add coherence, but only confusion.  Beyond that, the last hour or so (probably more than that) is a huge action sequence that takes place in Chicago in which pretty much the whole city is destroyed.  Some of the action is rather intense, but it just goes on and on and on without much of a break whatsoever.  Some of the moments aren't quite so bad.  There's a scene where a building falls on its side and the characters go sliding down as it does that is kind of cool (it won't be as exciting if you played a particular moment in Uncharted 2) but like so much action, Michael Bay draws it out for far too long.  The excitement soon vanishes and is replaced with impatience.  There are also far too many characters thrown in there.  Hell, for a big chunk of the action at the end the movie even manages to (somehow) totally forget about Optimus Prime.  But even worse is what they've done with Megatron who spends a great deal of the final fight just sitting out and doing nothing.  So the movie... at one point... forgets about the main Autobot AND the main Decepticon.  It focuses on Sam for most of this time... and during this time he's mostly just screaming his head off.  And as for Carly?  She's mostly meandering while stuff blows up around her and she just stares at the camera looking hot... not I'm not kidding that's ALL SHE EVER FREAKIN' DOES DURING THIS OVERLY LONG ACTION SEQUENCE!

That's not to say none of it is exciting.  It's only to say that the excitement runs thin.  There is no doubt that Michael Bay is a master of utilizing visual effects, but to suffer through over an hour of nothing but action without a break for the characters to even slow down (not to mention how it forgets about some of them) is a little unnerving.  It's not that it's an action movie... it's that it's an action movie so filled with action it can't all be contained the way it should.  It forgets about characters, even ignores the main situation at hand for the longest time because it's much more concerned with whether or not blowing up the next thing will be cool or not.  And so many shots are done with the ridiculous camera angles and way too much slow down.  Michael Bay uses the slowdown for dramatic effect.  I've gotten on Zach Snyder's case for doing the slow down and then speeding everything up... but at least Snyder isn't always doing it needlessly.  And at times Snyder even does it stylistically.  But Michael Bay tends to do it for dramatic effect... because he was too lazy to stick in any sort of drama before hand.  So a scene that should only be two minutes ends up being ten.

Transformers; Dark of the Moon is a VERY long movie.  It clocks in at 157 minutes.  And you're going to feel it when you're watching the big climactic battle that seems to never end.  And when it's all over?  It just sort of ends.  Like a, "Well, that's it!"  Even Revenge of the Fallen gave a much more conclusive resolution.  Let me be frank... it's not an "open-ended" film by any means it is just a movie that ends abruptly... probably because someone in the editing room felt it was long enough as it was. 

It is better than Revenge of the Fallen by far.  But you might as well walk up to someone and say "Beer taste better than acid mixed with urine."  You can't exactly get worse than Revenge of the Fallen.  Dark of the Moon is actually kind of fun to pick at.  I can even see a lot of movie goers having fun with it.  But the action will also be draining to quite a few as well.  Even the most die-hard action film is apt to look at their watch and wonder, "Just how long IS this movie?" 

As you might imagine, I wouldn't recommend the film.  But if you sat through the first two you might as well sit through this one at some point.  The first film, for all it's worth, wasn't half bad.  It was actually enjoyable (I even gave it a positive rating) but beyond that the franchise began to get too big for its own good.  The simple plot was replaced with something that tries too hard.  Both Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon suffer from this in particular.  They're mostly disorganized.  Problem is, the action isn't enough to distract you from it all.  In fact it's apt to make you notice it more.]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 19:30:05 +0000
<![CDATA[ Dark of the Moon]]> I don't believe Michael Bay has ever met a special effect he didn't like or an object he didn't want to blow up. For those fans of Michael Bay you are gonna get more of the same, maybe even a little darker than his attempts before. For those of you who are fans of non-stop action and that is all you need from a movie than by all means stop reading here and enjoy the film. I am not a Michael Bay fan and maybe that bias gets in the way, but good lord was this a dumb movie.

The film opens up with the audience discovering that the reason we went to the moon was to find Cybertronian technology before those damn Sputniks. With the back story out of the way we find ourselves cut back to present day with an up-skirt shot of Rosie Huntington-White. She represents the new beau in the movie since Megan Fox was replaced, and I can only imagine Rosie was cast due to her extensive acting past. Well she just so happens to be pretty easy on the eyes as well and Bay makes sure you get plenty of gratuitous shots of her throughout the movie.

After she finishes climbing the stairs in just a button down shirt we see that our hero Sam Witwicky is in a difficult situation again and despite saving the world twice still cannot find a job. Somehow despite having incredibly hot women at his feet and a talking car at his fingers he always opens the movie like a whiney little bitch, and this time he may be at his whiniest. Not only does Shia Lebeouf return as our leading man, but he is also accompanied by annoying miniature sidekicks again. This time they are not the semi-racist mini coopers from the second one, but rather they are even tinier, mostly pocket sized. While frustrating that Bay still felt he needed to include campy sidekicks in this movie, at least this time they aren’t as annoying.

Not all the actors in the movie are completely atrocious. In fact there are a lot of big names in bit parts that seem to be in on the joke and are completely okay with hamming it up and being a little extra ridiculous. John Turturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, and a personal favorite Alan Tudyk all have some great moments in the movie and help bring some intended laughs to the screen.

There are plenty of laughable moments in the movie, mostly due to the writing of Ehren Kruger and the one liners delivered by the cast. Throughout the movie there were many cringe worthy moments that had many people laughing at what was transpiring on the screen. It was as if Kruger’ had just watched an action movie marathon and tried to hit as many cliché action movie lines as possible. Noticeable guffaws also came when, for no particular reason, Bay chose to just have his leading lady standing still, hair blowing in the wind while explosions are set in the background. You could almost see the smile I assume was on his face as he was shooting this scene.
If the writing wasn’t bad enough for you than maybe the music will be. Anytime they want to try and push the emotion to a new level they try and insert some emo-soft-rock. It is the same type of music you heard in the last movie, but it is still just as annoying if not just as cheesy as before.

Not only does he love his music selection but as mentioned before Michael Bay loves his special effects. If one is really cool, but there is a chance you may miss it, don’t worry. Chances are he’ll slow down the action so you can take in everything and be mesmerized by the things his CGI team can do. Most of the effects in the movie are pretty cool, the battles are great and somehow he is able to make these robots in disguise seems real. The moments that check you back into the theater and make you realize you are watching something on a screen are his attempts to use the 3D technology. Reportedly Bay originally has hesitant about using the technology as he believed it to just be a gimmick, that’s right even Michael Bay believes that 3D technology is cheesy. But when the studio said they were going to use it no matter what at least he attempted to control the situation. The scenes in question occur whenever Shia gets thrown towards the audience, and it seems to happen fairly often, the trade off of using the 3D image is usually a less clear image which is an immediate reality check. Hopefully one day they will stop with it entirely, until then though we are stuck with higher ticket prices for a less polished product.

These battle sequences take up a predominant portion of the movie. If you thought it took a long time to destroy Egypt, just imagine how long it would take to destroy a major U.S. city. I wish I had brought in my timer to let you know just how long the final battle takes place, but even Spielberg capped ‘Saving Private Ryan’ at 30 minutes for the opening battle, this finale runs much longer. I hope you don’t have anywhere to go, because to tell his story this movie runs at an impressive 2 hours and 37 minutes.

I rag on Bay a lot in this movie blaming him for a lot of his choices, and while all the criticism, positive or negative, deserves to be tossed his way because he is the director, I don’t hate him. His brand of film making is just not for me, I prefer things like story and writing and character development. While he prefers making the exact type of movie he wants to. And no matter what I or any other critic say chances are you are going to see this movie. Truth be told I’m just jealous of him, and all of the people out there that can sit back and really enjoy this movie, I am just not one of them. F
]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 05:40:40 +0000
<![CDATA[ Transformers-Dark Of The Moon' 'Two Jews On Film' Are On Different Planets With This One (Video)]]>
By Joan Alperin Schwartz

'Transformers - Dark Of The Moon' presented in 3D is directed by Michael Bay.

First, I'll start with the good stuff.  And yes, there is 'good stuff'.  In fact, I think this is the best 'Transformers' of the series...which may or may not be saying much...depending on how you felt about the other two.

Here it goes...In no particular order...What I liked about this film...

1)  The backstory...We find out from archival news footage that President Kennedy didn't send our astronauts to the Moon just to take a few steps for Mankind, but to investigate an alien space ship that had crashed landed there in the 1960's.  

FYI...When the Autobots were losing their war with the Deceptiicons,  Sentinal Prime (the Autobots leader) attempted to launch a space craft (The Arc) filled with technology that would have saved his people.  Instead, the ship crashed on the Moon and the Autobots were forced to flee to Earth.  Got all that?

2) The screenplay, written by Ehren Kruger, shows us how the Autobots were responsible for many world events...Guess who really tracked down and killed Osama Ben Laden?  And who was really responsible for the Chernobyl meltdown?  Could it have anything to do with experimenting on alien technology???

3) Love the Autobots...Bumblebee, Ratchet, Ironhide, Sideswipe and Optimus Prime are all back. The evil Deceptiicons...including the beaten down Megatron and the newest villian, Shockwave...very cool. The storyline of these two enemies, in my opinion, is the most exciting and entertaining part of this movie.  
4) Frances McDormand as Charlotte Mearing, the no nonsense Defense Department Commander, and John Turturro (Former CIA Agent, Simmons) definitely belong in this column.  Their bantering back and forth with each other is fun and definitely not annoying.

Now for the 'bad stuff'...

1)Shia LaBeof (Sam Witwicky)spends the whole film wearing one facial expression which conveys one emotion...Anger...How do we know he's angry?...He whines...Constantly...Sam whines about not finding a job...Sam whines when he gets a job.  He whines about not being able to play with his Transformer buddies and be a part of the 'action'.  Sam whines that he saved the world...twice...He whines that he got a medal from President Obama and one realizes how important he is.

2)Sam's pouty-lip girlfriend, Carly(supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whitley) who makes Megan Fox seem like Meryl Streep...Seriously...A guy like Sam could never get a girl as hot and as plastic as Carly.  Not because of his looks...but because he constantly WHINES!!!

3)I don't think Michael Bay has ever heard the saying 'More  Is Less'.  The last 60 minutes of the film is the destruction of Chicago...The stunts, the action, the battles are great to first.  But they go on and on and on.  Soon it all becomes one big mechanical blur.  Maybe Mr. Bay thinks we, the audience, aren't smart enough to get it the first time...or the second...or the third...or the...

The 'Two Jews On Film' have carried on their tradition of disagreeing.  Check out our video review and see our bagel rating.

'Transformers Dark Of The Moon' opens in theaters, Wednesday, June 29, 2011.
 ]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 02:37:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ It's for sure Bay's revenge for Revenge of the Fallen's wackness but still, does that say much?]]>
Dark of the Moon was one of the most anticipated summer movies because it announced the closing, the ending, the final venture of this human and alien robots story. The last movie was pretty much acknowledged as a total catastrophe by the critics and cinephiles around the globe even though it scored highly at the box-office (like that really matters when judging quality). It was built on pure non-sense defining the point-less action movies of this generation. However, everyone turned their heads to the impressive trailers and cheered for the final take on this franchise by Michael Bay. Everyone expected this to pay up for the last disappointment and, expected or not, it sold out entire theaters. I'm one of those that just came back from the IMAX theater and I'm trying to detach myself emotionally from this one as much as I can. On short, Dark of the Moon Is for sure Bay's revenge for Revenge of the Fallen's wackness but still, does that say much?

The third installment uses the Apollo 11 mission on the Moon and the voyage behind the dark side of the Moon as a big cover-up for the first contact of this alien race. We get strong and pretty smart points made that connect the Apollo mission with the Sputnik program of the russians and the Chernobyl disaster. All these events eventually will lead to the cover-up humans made in order to keep the discovery of an extra-terrestrial vessel on the dark side of the moon a secret. What humans didn't know at that period of time was that the vessel contained the most powerful weapon the Autobots had that could have helped them win the war against the Decepticons on their planet, Cybertron. Of course, now with Autobots working for the U.S. government and "helping" maintaining peace on our planet and also defend us from possible Decepticons problems will soon occur. The battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron will continue and will be strangely and fiercely affected by another robot who apparently was their "Godfather" named Sentinel Prime, a robot which could control the weapon he had invented, a weapon so strong that could make earth disappear in just few beats of a heart.

While the Autobots Optimus Prime, Bumblebee or Ironhide worked for the government, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) lived a casual and platonic life after just graduating. We get introduced with Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) which is his new hottie girlfriend but not without Bay allowing a unfair mocking on Mikaela's character or maybe should we say a direct mocking on Megan Fox. Apparently she was nothing but a "trashy" girl said in pompous words. Nice way to get rid of a character that made you so much money Bay and that made men feel uncomfortable in their seats while watching a pathetic excuse of an action film. What a schmuck... Anyway, getting back to the story. Sam lived now with Carly in Carly's house with another two little friends: the small autobots Wheelie and Brains. Of course he is the spoiled and ballsy guy who wants to stop living off Carly's work so he's on a continuous search of a legit job after just being decorated by the president and graduating a prestigious high-school. Of course, from now on, the story builds for the moments where Sam will find out that Decepticons have a devastating plan of conquering our planet and turn the humans into slaves. This first part of the film is built more on connecting the dots between our historic events, introducing the new characters like the coward business-man Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), Mearing (Frances McDormand) the C.I.A. director or Sam's employer Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich) and the relationship between Sam and Carly. By the way, the chemistry between Shia and Rosie isn't that great. The difference between them it's just too big and Rosie doesn't feel natural and sometimes it feels like Shia acknowledges it and gets pissed at that and tries to do too much to show that they have a strong relationship. After all "she's the one" even though "the one" is gone. Basically this first part is fueled with some light jokes, some hysterical and hilarious moments that will definitely make you laugh but it feels at one point that it's getting too messy by combining serious and pragmatic tones with ridiculous moments and even cheesy humor. It's like the first half of the movie tries to find it's maturity and goes through various stages of growing up and the process might hurt some fragile minds. But then we get to the second part when the action and the real story flourishes.

We get betrayals, we get jealousy, we get humans helping each other, we get the most well-executed action scenes in this film franchise, we get to have a really dramatic feeling but we also have part of the typical cheesy emotional Bay moments, we also have part of the weird changing of tones, we also have part of some serious issues with the characters which for the most part have no absolute importance, we also have part of a rushed ending but what enraged me the most was the lack of heart this movie had. Yes it tried. Yes it delivered all the Bay emotional speeches and so on but it just didn't work. Another "weird" thing was the trashing of the common law of physics that rule our planet. It seems like nothing happens when huge objects, possibly 4-5 times bigger than earth happen to be closer to the Earth than the Moon and Earth is chilling like "nah, there's nothing". Also, some the of the scenes lack in logic, like there are hundreds of Decepticons in this city but just one witnesses the intruders and no back-up comes in time even though you see them navigating in the sky. I mean sure, let's say you miss some details but still, that doesn't mean you have to be total blind. Anyway, these are things that I wanted to forget but I mention them so you don't make a big deal out of it. It's a Bay action movie and nothing should be taken seriously. We already have a better story that has an actual meaning and purpose and we definitely feel this movie is far better executed so we should be thankful don't we? Or should we still be disappointed that even with a better story structure the movie still failed in some categories?

The acting for example is one of the categories I'm not sure what to think of. The delivery is on point for a movie like this but I felt it could have been much better. Sure, Shia is a great actor and he proved it again. His intense and spontaneous reactions are great, Malkovich's appearance is okay, John Turturro plays our beloved c*cky and goofy Simmons perfectly, Frances McDormand covers the rigid and egotistic C.I.A. director pretty well while Patrick Dempsey as Dylan the Villain is a nice attachment to the acting process but this Rosie chick can't act to save her life. Sure she can pose but she can't act as hell. On top of that, all these characters feel empty and have no solid life. They are enjoyable, they might make you laugh or despise them but they still feel out of our world and not as real as they felt in the first film. The emotional factor in this movie is seriously damaged and I don't think it's necessary because of this reason but also because the emotional core of the movie is really missing. You have Autobots fighting to protect humans and Earth, you have Decepticons fighting to conquer Earth and enslave humans, you have Sam having a fight with Carly and so on, but none of these real issues get emotional enough for us to care. There's only one scene where we get close to Bumblebee but besides that... there's nothing that makes me care.

The visual effects and special effects are departments that did not fail. On the contrary. The action scenes in this movie are highly improved, better executed, more coherent and plausible even with the breaking the rules of physics. The 3D is amazing. It's really a stand-out for this film. It gives solid action moments that will push you in the back of your seat and the excitement really reaches "unwordly" levels because I must admit, it really gets immersive and surreal. This movie pretty much has one of the best action scenes I've seen in my life and if there's one thing Bay knows how to do perfectly it's large epic action scenes. This movie proves that blowing stuff up with a purpose is more fun then you might think. The cinematography was also great. No judgment on the contrast or the lightning used. I had problems with some shots though. The "Victoria Secret Model" shots that had no point whatsoever frustrated me and the visual editing might feel for some people unappropriate but I had no problem with it. The sound is impeccable, the music matches the tonality of the film weather it has a dark tone or a light tone. The most impressive thing however was the genuine and ingenious usage of handy-cam shots. Those were really beautiful to watch from a visual stand-point. Great job there and there's also a reproduction for few seconds of a FPS gaming image and it felt really interesting to watch that. I would like to see more of that kind of shots in some future action/war movies. I think it would be a ground-breaking experience.

Pretty much this movie sits on highs when it comes to the technical aspect of it, it presents a much better story but still lacks in heart and lacks in a constant narrative structure. However, this is by far a way of Bay saying that the second film sucked big time and "I got you all with this one" because it's more entertaining and makes you feel really good while watching it but after you'll get out you'll realize that still this doesn't prove that Bay can do more than this. This is still a typical Bay movie but this time with just a better execution both story and technical wise than the second one. Should we go that far and say that is better even than the first one? Nope... not in my eyes.

Storyline/Dialogue: 6/10.
Acting: 6.5/10.
Technical Execution: 9,4/10.
Replay Value: 7/10.
Overall: 7,1]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 01:24:39 +0000
<![CDATA[Transformers: Dark of the Moon Quick Tip by KingreX32]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 14:22:26 +0000