Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Raise your hand if any of the major flaws of Transformer: Revenge of the Fallen were surprising.  Outside of Mudflap and Skids, this was nothing more than the sequel to the original Transformers flick.  Michael Bay spent a shit ton of money to make stuff look cool and then quickly edited in a story after all the CGI is done.  In the end, the transformers action was obviously better while everything else was clearly worse.

Whether or not the sequel was more flawed than the original, the CGI is still beyond anything else being released right now.  The Optimus fight in the woods and the entire desert sequence were well beyond anything that was done in the original.  The fights were clear and the movements of the robots could actually be seen this time around.  The screen is still busy as hell but I wasn’t left guessing who did what.  The Devastator transformation was sweet and the old transformer (who’s name I never heard clearly) looked awesome with his robot beard.  And Megan Fox took off her clothes in the middle of the backyard for no good reason 15 minutes into the movie, maybe the best plot point of the entire story.  

Alright, where to start.  Let’s get the basic shit out of the way.  The lack of a coherent story was too obvious this time around.  This felt like Bay started with the action sequences and worked his way backward to a screenplay.  The entire college section should have stayed on the cutting room floor, but without it you wouldn’t have the hot chick turning into a decepticon and that is was the whole point of that half hour of story.  Even worse was the political trash because it was awful to watch and made even worse because it was only included for the parachute sequence.  This stuff can usually be ignored because it is Michael Bay and all I want to see is some shit blow up but the negatives didn’t stop there.

The part of the movie that is getting the most attention is Mudflap and Skids and for good reason.  They are inexplicable.  I don’t know if their inclusion was racist or just plain retarded.  I’d like to think retarded because it is easier to understand when people just do something stupid.  There is nothing wrong with squabbling brothers, especially when they were animated so well, but why did they have to be designed and speak that way?  What possible good could come from that? 

This is not so much a negative but something that I just don’t understand.  How is this movie rated PG-13?  I know that the MPAA is some hidden cabal that passes judgment with no oversight but the violence here is clearly R rated.  Forget that we are talking about robots, here are some of the moments that are clearly shown on screen; an execution with a bullet through the back of the head, a stabbing through the chest, a curb-stomping, a fist through the head, a ripping of the spine straight out of the body, and just multiple severing of limbs.  If these actions were done by and against humans, this would have gotten a freaking NC-17 rating.  So if all the humans are actually CGI does that count?

No matter how negative I sound, I will still be there 2 years from now when the 3rd movie rolls out.  And if they change directors I don't know if that will improve things.  You might get a coherent story with little to no childish to the point of baby-level humor, but will anyone else spend so much time in effort making the robots look cool?  I wonder if Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will improve like the original Transformers did when I watched 150 times between HBO and Cinemax.

5 out of 10

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

It has been a few weeks since The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 was released and I still don’t have a strong opinion about it.  Ranking it within the Tony Scott/Denzel Washington library it falls behind Man on Fire but ahead of Déjà vu, why do exist Deja Vu?  And it is clearly not Crimson Tide.  I have no problem with remakes but it serves no purpose when the new film is worse than the original.

I’m unsure where Fat Denzel came from since Walter Matthau was just Walter Matthau in the original, but I applaud any actor going with dumpy as a way to define their character.  Besides the weight, there was nothing memorable about the usual solid Denzel performance.  On the other hand, John Travolta goes with his favorite style … complete evil cartoon.  Maybe he realized that Robert Shaw was one of the greatest villains of all-time because he was so clam and terrifying.  Whatever the reason, Travolta was off the meter and I can only take so much of it.  It is always nice to see Turturro, Gandolfini, and Guzman even if none of them get enough screentime to really affect things.  And that would never have happened to Chris if Snoop was riding the train with him.

It’s always nice when a movie confirms its R rating by dropping about 5 f-bombs in the first conversation.  That wasn’t the only part of the story that stopped me in my tracks.  There was the ridiculous girlfriend on the webcam demanding an “I love you” from her boyfriend while he is being held hostage.  Worse was the scene where Mayor Soprano runs out of the Transit office to head to Wall Street to stop Travolta then nothing ever happens and this is never brought up again.  And of course the ending is just awful.  There is no better way to ruin an action-thriller like this then completely shitting the bed at the climax.  I couldn't even concentrate at the end because I was blown away at how nothing made sense.

If I were to forced to define The Taking of the Pelham 1 2 3, it would be called a great movie to have playing in the background when it shows up on TNT.  There are a million movies in that genre.  While it was never boring, it was also completely forgettable.  Not much of a summer movie either.

7 out of 10  

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Hangover

I’m tired of comedies teaching me a lesson through watching adolescent-minded guys grow up by the end of the story; The Hangover is just funny from beginning to end.  The trailers and commercials definitely worked in building up my anticipation and thankfully not only did the movie deliver it actually exceeded on nearly every level.

Lets try not to have this review degenerate into listing off all of my favorite scenes.  I have been a fan of both Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis for years now and it was nice to the see the both of them get a chance to showcase themselves in a worthwhile movie.  Cooper as the ringleader and more or less straight-man gets to just react to all of the ridiculousness.  Although his character is a dick so there is some great moments of him saying or doing something awful.  Cracking a window for the baby, blackmailing the cops, stealing his students field trip money, etc.  As for Galifianakis, there may not be enough words of praise that can be written.  His character is damn near another version of his stand-up act, but since I love his stand-up I was more than happy to see it on the big-screen.  We even got a “Fat Jesus” joke in there.  He is just so awkward that it is hard to even explain what he is doing.  If anything comes from The Hangover, I hope it’s that these two guys get better roles in the near future.

I may have not highlighted the rest of the cast but Ed Helms, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Mike Epps, Jeffrey Tambor, and Justin Bartha all deliver when they are onscreen.  There was, of course, Mike Tyson who was one of the main selling points and is just as awesome in the movie as he was in the trailers.  I hope the DVD has the entirety of him singing “In The Air Tonight”.

Outside of just saying that The Hangover started off funny and didn't slip in quality at any point.  It even held off its craziest joke for the credits.  It's rare for me to enjoy a comedy as much as I did here.  I cannot wait to see this thing a second time.  

9 out of 10