Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie posterSynopsis
As Sam (Shia LeBouf) heads off to college, he is once again pulled into the Transformers’ war when an ancient being known as β€œThe Fallen” (Tony Todd) makes his return to Earth.

Review
After greatly enjoying Transformers, I was excited to see Optimus and the rest of the Autobots return in another live-action outing. With Michael Bay returning and his pension to go big, I was expecting much of the same but more of it in the sequel. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen definitely takes a sequel’s β€œgo bigger” approach to heart but the rest is left wanting.

As I said in my review of Transformers, the Transformers have had multiple cartoon series over the years since Generation 1 came out in the 1980s. Transformers pulled primarily from the original incarnation but something I really liked about this sequel is that is also pulls much from the later series as well. Things like Energon being a fuel for Transformers, Optimus Prime and Jetfire combining, the first Primes and The Fallen, and a transformer having multiple vehicle modes are all pulled from later Transformers cartoons. There is a rich history in the multiple series over the years and the film pulled from many of them that a fan of any Transformers series is sure to recognize something.

Taking place a couple years after the first film, many new Transformers have made their way to Earth and are introduced in this film. With the expanded robotic cast, not many of them are expanded on. Much like the original series, the movie only focuses on a handful of characters while the rest are there to look cool and show off the latest car models at the time. However, since the human characters are the most important in this story and most of the time is focused around them, I’m not too worried about learning everything about every Autobot and Decepticon that is in the film.

Like the first film, Revenge of the Fallen has a pretty lengthy run time. This time, however, the pacing feels more smooth. There are still plenty of explosions and much exposition but the transitions between the two wasn’t as jarring as the film before. However, it’s a catch-22 because more time is spent making sure the transitions feel better but with that comes a feeling that there is too much packed into this film.

I am not one to be turn away from a film because of toilet humor or if it goes for the easy joke. However, this film was very juvenile, even for me. I understand that this is based around a children’s show (something I have brought up before) but that’s no excuse to treat the audience like children.

I thought Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was OK 😐 After enjoying the first live-action Transformers film so much, I was disappointed in its sequel. While I liked aspects of this movie, there was so much excess of everything that it squandered what I did enjoy. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I wasn’t expecting such a let down either.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Ehren Kruger – Writer
Roberto Orci – Writer
Alex Kurtzman – Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer

Shia LaBeouf – Sam Witwicky
Megan Fox – Mikaela Banes
Josh Duhamel – Major Lennox
Tyrese Gibson – USAF Chief Master Sergeant Epps
John Turturro – Simmons
Ramon Rodriguez – Leo Spitz
Kevin Dunn – Ron Witwicky
Julie White – Judy Witwicky
Isabel Lucas – Alice
John Benjamin Hickey – Galloway
Glen Morshower – General Morshower
Rain Wilson – Professor Colan
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
Jess Harnell – Ironhide (voice)
Robert Foxworth – Ratchet (voice)
Andre Sogluizzo – Sideswipe (voice)
Reno Wilson – Mudflap (voice)
Tom Kenny – Skids / Wheelie (voice)
Mark Ryan – Jetfire (voice)
Hugo Weaving – Megatron (voice)
Charlie Adler – Starscream (voice)
Frank Welker – Soundwave / Devastator / Reedman (voice)
Tony Todd – Fallen (voice)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review

X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie posterSynopsis
Logan (Hugh Jackman) was born a mutant with bone claws, enhanced senses, and an incredible healing factor. When the love of his life is taken from him, he sets out on a quest for revenge.

Review
After the X-Men trilogy concluded, there was no doubt that Hugh Jackman’s was the fan favorite character. With X-Men: The Last Stand providing a definitive end to the team’s story, the next place to go is in the past. Throughout the X-Men trilogy, we’ve seen who Wolverine is under his adamantium skeleton, and even glimpsed into his past (particularly in X2: X-Men United) but it is finally time to see how he came to be the character we were introduced to in X-Men.

As I’ve said in just about every review of previous X-Men movies, Jackman absolutely nails the character of Wolverine. He has come to embody the character perfectly. At this point, it is difficult to see anyone besides Jackman as the titular mutant. In the fourth time in the role, he has the character completely figured out. Jackman’s Wolverine is caring, ferocious, and everywhere in between. But you know all that already; I’m just repeating myself at this point.

Sabretooth gets his second chance on screen, this time portrayed by Liev Shreiber. In the comics, Sabretooth is one of Wolverine’s most consistent foes, so it felt natural that he would be prominent in a film like this. However, his origins and connection to Wolverine was altered in a way that made their relationship more interesting than simple adversaries, which would be more akin to their comic book relationship. Schreiber was more than up to the task of matching Jackman’s presence. Every time they were on screen together, there was a weight to their conversations and actions that not many actors besides Schreiber would have been able to pull off opposite of Jackman.

Another perfectly cast part is Ryan Reynolds as Wad Wilson. Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, is known as the β€œMerc with a mouth” in the comics and Reynolds captures that aspect of the character precisely. The only downside is this greatness is very brief. X-Men Origins: Wolverine‘s treatment of Deadpool is one of the most shameful things about this film. His depiction in last act of the film is a disgrace against the character. It’s utterly terrible and deserves all the ridicule is has received.

A few casting choices is about all the good I have to say about this movie. I think what disappoints me most about this film is that despite all the action throughout and chemistry between Jackman and Schreiber, it’s not that exciting. There were cool moments for sure but outside of a handful, nothing really sticks out, even after having seen this movie several times by this point. Wolverine can be hyperaggressive and violent when on solo adventures and the same can be said for the characters who are involved in the Weapon Plus program. These characters are a black-ops hit squad and I feel the PG-13 rating wasn’t able to accurately bring this facet of the characters to the screen. A movie about mercenaries shouldn’t be timid to show violence.

I thought X-Men Origins: Wolverine was OK 😐 Despite exceptional performances from Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, and Ryan Reynolds, the script really held this movie back from reaching its full potential. It was lackluster, uninteresting, and didn’t truly let Wolverine do what he does best.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Gavin Hood – Director
David Benioff – Screenplay
Skip Woods – Screenplay
Harry Gregson-Williams – Composer

Hugh Jackman – Logan / Wolverine
Liev Schreiber – Victor Creed
Danny Huston – Stryker
Will.i.am – John Wraith
Kevin Durand – Fred Dukes
Dominic Monaghan – Chris Bradley
Daniel Henney – Agent Zero
Ryan Reynolds – Wade Wilson
Lynn Collins – Kayla Silverfox
Taylor Kitsch – Remy LeBeau
Tim Pocock – Scott Summers

The Hangover Review


This review was originally posted for the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon, hosted by Tranquil Dreams and me.

Before I get into the review, I want to go over a little comedy movie history. Many comedies of the 2000s (2000 to 2009) are based around characters that are crude, clueless, and, put frankly, idiotic. These movies are an evolution of the slap stick films from earlier decades. There are stylistic hints from films like The Naked Gun, The Cannonball Run, Dumb and Dumber, and Happy Gilmore. We began seeing glimpses of this new brand of humor in movies like American Pie and Zoolander. By 2004, this new brand of humor had become the norm. Movies like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Napoleon Dynamite embodied 2000s comedy and characters. These characters were vulgar and naive. The films themselves reveled in their gags and ‘did he really just say/do that’ moments, relying on making the audience laugh from becoming flabbergasted or uncomfortable, rather than genuinely finding the moment or joke funny.

This is especially true in the spoof movies. Movies like Scary Movie, Superhero Movie and Insert-Whatever-Genre-Here Movie looked to cash in on pop culture and parody whatever genre was in the title. Spoofs are nothing new in Hollywood. Mel Brooks practically made his name making spoofs like Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and Spaceballs. And then there is everyone’s favorite spoof: Airplane!. While these movies shared many similarities with with the parody films of the 2000s, their scripts were solid and, you know, actually funny, an element severely lacking from most of the spoofs during this time period.

By the end of the 2000s, comedy filmmakers were learning that this latest iteration of comedy films needed to be refined; that ignorant or appalling actions do not automatically equal funny. And while actors can be funny on their own, or sometimes ad-lib better and funnier lines, the movie can’t solely rely on them and the script needs to support the actors. While not every comedy fit this decade-defining mold, such as EuroTrip or The 40-Year-Old Virgin, these feel like exceptions, not the norm. Although this type of comedy, what I’ve come to call ‘stupid funny,’ still continued into the 2010s, it wasn’t to the extent that existed in the previous decade.

Moving into the tail-end of the 2000s, comedies began changing how they approached their characters. They were still profane and sometimes oblivious but that wasn’t the focus the film anymore. Crude jokes weren’t often being made for the sake of being crude. Instead, the films were becoming smart, insightful, and sometimes even filled with heart. Movies like Baby Mama, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I love You, Man, and Tropic Thunder used their comedy to amplify their story, not be the crux of it. They shared many characteristics with the earlier comedies of the 2000s but writers and directors had learned how to use these characteristics more effectively.

To make a long story short, that is why I believe The Hangover is the best comedy of the 2000s. The early- and mid-years of the decade feel more like stepping stones to get to the comedies in the latter part of the time period that told better stories and were still funny without solely relying on its stars. I believe that The Hangover is one of the best examples of this. So without any further ado, here is my review of The Hangover.


The Hangover movie posterSynopsis
Doug (Justin Bartha) is getting married. For his bachelor party, his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), take him to Las Vegas. Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up the morning after arriving in Vegas with no memory of what happened the night before. They attempt to retrace their steps to figure out what happened and to find Doug, who has gone missing.

Review
When a movie comes along that has a phenomenal cast with perfect chemistry, who are backed by a memorable and quotable script, I get excited. It makes it even better when that criteria applies to a comedy because, in my honest opinion, comedy films are one of the hardest genres to make everything click. The Hangover checks all the correct comedy film boxes and more.

The first thing this movie nails is the casting. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis all have very different brands of humor. Their deliveries are different, their body language is different, their mannerisms are different. Nothing about them is the same. And yet, they all mesh together so well. Their different styles complement each other wonderfully. Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are in almost every scene together and every scene is filled to the brim with laughs. Coincidence? I think not.

Everyone in the supporting cast is top notch as well. Justin Bartha rounds out the group of friends at the center of the film. While not much is seen of him, he does add an extra dynamic to the group when he is there. Smaller roles from Heather Graham, Rob Riggle, Bryan Callen, Jeffrey Tambor, and Mike Tyson all bring the laughs. However, the best member from the supporting cast is Ken Jeong. He had me in stitches every time he was on screen. He deserves as much praise as the headlining three.

Even though Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are funny on their own (and together), the script amplifies their comedic strengths. The script, written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, feels fresh and clever compared to other comedies of the time. It leaves the audience just as in the dark about the previous night’s events as the characters, so as they piece together what happens, the audience is right there with them. It’s crass, it’s vulgar, and at times it’s irreverent, but It doesn’t rely on toilet humor or leaving the viewers dumbfounded to be funny. It uses jokes or visual gags that are funny because they are truly well written or well delivered. As a result, The Hangover is insanely quotable and has very few diminishing returns on its jokes.

This movie reminded me a road trip movie. In road trip movies, the main characters are going from point A to point B, and along the way, they meet people who usually only show up for a scene or two. This format fits this film as well; Phil, Stu, and Alan are going to these different places to try and piece together what happened the night before. It’s fun because it allows the focus to remain on the three main characters while allowing the supporting cast to have their own funny and unique moments.

I thought The Hangover was GREAT πŸ˜€ The entire cast had me laughing throughout the film. Every scene was filled with jokes and gags that always landed and are just as humorous after many, many views later. I can think of no better film than to call the best comedy of the decade.

Favorite Quote
Doug: I don’t think you should be doing too much gambling tonight, Alan.
Alan: Gambling? Who said anything about gambling? It’s not gambling when you know you’re gonna win. Counting cards is a foolproof system.
Stu: It’s also illegal.
Alan: It’s not illegal, it’s frowned upon, like masturbating on an airplane.
Phil: I’m pretty sure that’s illegal too.
Alan: Yeah, maybe after 9/11 where everybody got so sensitive. Thanks a lot, Bin Laden.

Trivia
No effects or prosthetics were created for Stu’s missing tooth. Ed Helms never had an adult incisor grow, and his fake incisor was taken out for the parts of filming where Stu’s tooth is missing. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Tod Phillips – Director
Jon Lucas – Writer
Scott Moore – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer

Bradley Cooper – Phil
Ed Helms – Stu
Zach Galifianakis – Alan
Justin Bartha – Doug
Heather Graham – Jade
Sasha Barrese – Tracy
Jeffrey Tambor – Sid
Ken Jeong – Mr. Chow
Rachael Harris – Melissia
Mike Tyson – Himself
Jernard Burks – Leonard
Mike Epps – Black Dog
Rob Riggle – Officer Franklin
Cleo King – Officer Garden
Bryan Callen – Eddie

King of Thorn Review

This movie was recommend by SG from Ryme and Reason as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

King of Thorn movie posterSynopsis
When the Medusa Virus, a mysterious and incurable virus, threatens Earth’s population, a select group of people are chosen to enter cryostasis. When the group wakes up, they find the facility has been overrun by large, thorny vines and dangerous creatures.

Review
Have you ever watched a movie where it wasn’t perfect but you were still thinking it was alright and you could at least still get into it. Then, all of a sudden, at the end it turns into crazy town? That’s how I felt about King of Thorn. First off, the 2D animation looked good. However, during the action scenes, the style switched to a 3D, cell-shaded style of animation that did not look good, nor did it match the 2D style well. Switching between the two styles was jarring and often distracting. Throughout most of the movie, the mystery about what happened to the world around the main characters was intriguing. Most of the characters had some sort of depth to them; They weren’t developed a lot but enough to at least be interesting. Then the ending came and I didn’t know what to think. It reminded me of the final couple episodes of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion where the reveal and payoff for the mystery built and developed until that point feels really bizarre. When the movie ended, I was just sitting there, thinking ‘What just happened?’

I thought King of Thorn was OK 😐 Awkward animation styles switching aside, the film brings you into the story with characters that are decently developed, or at least developed enough that you want to see where their story goes. However, the final reveal does not feel like a good payoff for that development and the movie’s story.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Kazuyoshi Katayama – Director / Screenplay
Hiroshi Yamaguchi – Screenplay
Akiko Yajima – Writer
Toshihiko Sahashi – Composer

Kana Hanazawa / Brina Palencia – Kasumi Ishiki (voice)
Toshiyuiki Morikawa / Patrick Seitz – Marco (voice)
Sayaka Ohara / Stephanie Young – Katherine Turner (voice)
Shin’ichiro Miki / Christopher Bevins – Peter (voice)
Akiko Yajima / Luci Christian – Tim (voice)
Kosei Hirota / R. Bruce Elliott – Alexandro Pecchino (voice)
Kenji Nomura / Bob Carter – Ron Portman (voice)
Misaki Kuno / Monica Rial – Alice Roznovski (voice)
Eri Sendai / Alexis Tipton – Shizuku Ishiki (voice)
Yoshinori Fujita / Todd Haberkorn – Walter (voice)
Tsutomu Isobe / John Swasey – Ivan Coral Vega (voice)