Transformers: Redeeming the Franchise

July 5, 2011 at 10:29 am (movies, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third installment in the Transformers trilogy is much better than the second movie. In fact they glance over so much of Revenge of the Fallen that it’s like the movie never happened. Seeing as how Fallen was not a good movie, it might be best to forget its existence. Megan Fox is mentioned maybe twice in the new movie and her absence explained as a break up. The racistly stereotypical ghetto twins are passed over as if to erase them from the franchise. Beyond the holes in the thru line this movie actually followed a story and the fight scenes were kept to a tolerable length that don’t cause seizures and confusion like the second film.

The movie was good, not as good as the first, but a strong film for the genre. A few elements were added that I was not expecting. Civilians are actually shown being killed, and the transformers have a lot more fluids spewing from them like spit, and blood – or is that transmission fluid? Once again many of the characters that have been in the other movies have few, if any, speaking lines. Ratchet and Sideswipe barely speak and Barricade is only seen during a panning shot of one of the fight scenes.

I didn’t see the movie in 3D, but the 2D version was worth a look. I hear that the 3D was done well and not an afterthought like it has been in so many movies lately. If you are a Transformers fan or like action movies that have a plot go see this one. If you have yet to see the second one, don’t bother. Let that one sit in purgatory to think about how bad it was.

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District 9 – No Non-Humans Allowed

August 30, 2009 at 11:52 pm (movies, News, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

District 9 is a movie that unexpectedly brings together some of the best features of several movie genres. The premise of the movie is that 20+ years ago an alien spacecraft came to rest just above Johannesburg, South Africa. “It hovers above the city for three months without any contact; eventually humans take the initiative and cut into the ship. They discover a large group of aliens who are malnourished and sick.” Eventually these aliens, nicknamed “prawns” by the local human population, are forced to reside in a government controlled area-cum-slum named District 9. Multi-National United, a private company, takes control of the operation when it is decided to move the prawns to a new area, named District 10, 240 Km from Johannesburg.

The film is shot in a documentary style employing several camera techniques including: helicopter views, security cameras, first-person-shooter, and, of course, extensive shoulder mounted camera work. The image movement is kept well under control through most scenes, so there is no Blair Witch type of motion sickness. The only lock-off/tripod shots are those of interviews shown at the beginning and ending of the movie.

Like vintage sci-fi films, the audience forms an emotional connection with the monster, or aliens in this case. Sharlto Copley, who played the protagonist – Wikus Van De Merwe, actually adlibbed all his lines, a feat that may not have been done since Robert Altman’s 1970 movie, MASH (it won an Oscar for Best Writing – the script was barely used), which probably added to the uneasiness and awkward fluidity of Copley’s performance, and helped sell the documentary feel of the film. The CG of the aliens was done very nicely, but the alien mechanized battle suit reminded me too much of the ED-209 from Robocop.

Overall, I think the movie was very well done. The majority of the actors are either unknown, or have worked mostly in television instead of film. The camera positioning and technique helped to define the movie as a sci-fi mockumentary, and the storyline is laid out better than most action films. I can’t wait to get the DVD release and watch the special features.

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Transformers – Mediocre Movie in Disguise

June 29, 2009 at 10:11 am (movies) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Transformers Poster

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen is a pretty movie. It has all the special effects and MTV-esque edited fight scenes you have come to expect. Storyline – not so much.

I enjoyed the first movie, the plot was there, the action was well done, etc. This installment had some enjoyable humor, and some aesthetically pleasing scenes. The fight scenes were cut so fast that half the time I didn’t know who was who. Some of the transformers (Autobots & Decepticons) from the first movie – Ratchet, Ironhide, etc – had barely enough lines between them to qualify for a SAG card. The movie is long and seems to be a victim of the new trend in Hollywood that they spent too much money in post-production to edit out scenes that add nothing to the movie.

Overall it was decent, I had no emotional connection to any of the characters, and feel like they combined Black Hawk Down and Transformers a little too much in this one. The first one was much better.

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