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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

When I was a kid, I used to have a transformer toy of my own. It is battery controlled that when you press the transform button, it would ultimately change into a robot. The fantasy of owning or having a car which can transform into a robot has been lurking in my mind during those days. When the first Transformers came out it was like a reminder that I was once a kid. When the second one came out, it was a so-so. This time, Michael Bay is yet to redeem himself from the tragedy that was Revenge of the Fallen.

The second one is so over-blown and loud. The action scenes were just loud sounds of clattering junk. In Dark of the Moon, Bay tries to lessen such noise, well during the first half of the movie. Bay tries to inject what is lacking the previous 2 movies: character development. While the first two movies tries to focus more on the plot, this one tries to dive a little bit deeper on the characters - Just a little bit. Sam is now frustrated and wants to feel the glory that was once his during the early years, but now he is jobless and worthless, although on the plus side, he has a hot new girlfriend played by Rosie Huntington-Whitely. The Autobots are more engrossed with their missions together with the military. The plot thickens when Optimus discovers the Pillars which is in possession of their leader before Optimus, Sentinel Prime. With this, they searched for Sentinel and sees him in space shuttle wreck in the moon which is discovered during Armstrong's first landing there which is actually the main purpose of the space navigation back in 1969. Megatron is still alive and living off in the desert after he has taken a rough fight on Revenge of the Fallen.

One of the strength of this movie is its pace. On the first half, it relies more on flashbacks and some background checks on what happened. Now that Megan Fox is out of the picture after ranting against Bay, Whitely comes to the scene as Sam's new girlfriend. I can say that they are equally HOT. However, Whitely has a more genuine pouty lips. As I can recall, Fox tried to pout her lips so hard on Revenge it sucked her acting ability. There are a few new characters on the movie and I enjoyed Ken Jeong's character Jerry Wang which made me feel like he still has hangovers over The Hangover. John Malkovich plays Sam's boss. He and Jon Turturro makes a good on-screen chemistry which should have given more screen time. Frances McDormand plays the new Secretary of Defense. She seemed stiff with the character. But one of the most surprising character is Dylan Gould played by McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey. Oh yes, he still has those locks. He plays Carly's boss. It is in this movie that Dempsey proves that he is an effective villain without injecting a lot of sinister laughs but with just plain antagonism.

What is more notable in this movie is the use of special effects and 3D technology. While the first half of the movie is dedicated for plot development, the finale which is about an hour long is a display of special effects bonanza. While the plot is an utter mess, the finale is a mess filled with beauty. The action scenes are well-crafted. There is nothing more you could ask for. Bay has pushed himself far than the limits and came out with a beautiful output. I can still remember back in the early 2000s when Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions came out, nothing can top the fight scenes and action sequences, Transformers 3 broke that record. The clattering of the metals is not annoying to the ear and there is equal distribution between the humans and the robots on the finale. Bay made it sure that we get what we want and we did.

Most of the critics panned Bay's movie. But ladies and gentlemen, this is an eye-candy. We went to see the movie for the robots and we did see robots fight. Like a boxing match, we watch it because we want to see a fight and see a little drama, and we get to see them. In this movie, Bay delivered.

GRADE: A-

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Hangover II

The Wolf Pack is back and I have only one thing to ask: Have you seen the first one? If not, better not to. Why? This movie has the slightest difference from the first one: The setting.

I first saw the movie last tuesday. Yep. The movie has been in my hard drive for too long and I have been trying to finish the whole movie since 2009 but did not have the chance to do so. Instead, I had the free time last Tuesday and voila, I successfully finished watching it for the first time since 2 years. Oh yes, the first movie is funny and all that. It has a touch of mystery and it has the perfect formula of a not-so-innocent fun gone wrong.

In the 2nd movie, Stu is about to be married to a Thai woman, and not Heather Graham which is a complete disappointment for me. He managed to invite the other members of the wolf pack except Allan, which is a good decision after all. But then Doug insisted to bring Allan to Thailand. And so the wolf pack is again complete, ready for some partying in Thailand. Along the way, they met Stu's soon to be brother-in-law and managed to have fun with him on Bachelor's night which turned out to be a disaster.

This is just the disappointing part, the writers seemed to have nothing left on their sleeves that they have to look for the script of the first movie and just tweaked it out a little and voila.... PART II. Although they have several new funny jokes along the way, it seemed they are a bit exaggerated. I blame the writers for being so lazy to put up another storyline besides the one they have from the first movie. Part II seemed to be a "new and improved" version of the first one.

The jokes are funny and more offensive. Kudos to that. But as a avid moviegoer, I am expecting for something more - something new.

GRADE: C

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Super 8

J.J. Abrams comes back from the genre he knows: Monster movies! But since he is collaborating with Steven Spielberg, it is not surprising that an alien came into the scene. Fresh from the success of Lost and Star Trek, Abrams tackled issues on mystery and a little bit about survival on Super 8.

Many viewers may find it odd why the movie was titled Super 8. Was it because the children in these movie consisted of a group of 8? Or are they 8 year olds? None of them are correct. I also believed that the title refers to the number of children in the movie but it was really about the type of film used during the early 80s.

The movie circles around the lives of simple boys who happened to have great dreams: to make a movie. As they film their movie at a railway station, they witness one of the most impressive train wrecks in movie history. Loud and elaborate. This is the main scene of the movie and it was executed well. Aside from exceptional special effects, it is the depth of characters that made this movie a hit. It dwells on the simplicity of the children and it was not made to be so melo-dramatic but more sincere. This is the strength of the movie, it does not need to make it feel heavy for its audience to feel it. Elle Fanning is almost as great as her sister Dakota Fanning in this one and provides a very effective performance for her role as the child torn between friends and her father.

Abram succeeds as a storyteller in this movie and let his audience build interest as the movie progresses. He has been a master in mystery as Lost series has been untimate success. His alien can be compared h\to his monster in Cloverfield. Spielberg and Abrams collaboration is a success in delivering such a powerful drama and engaging action. This is the INCEPTION of 2011. A movie that is not derived from a concept of novels and graphic novels. Super 8 pays tribute to monster movies and somehow has the feel of ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

GRADE: A-

Thursday, June 9, 2011

X-Men: First Class

I was back in high school when the first X-Men came out, but even before that, I was a big fan of the series which I was introduced around 1992-1995. Watching the cartoon series is my reward after a week’s work at school. Yes, X-Men is just one of a few which defines my childhood. Seeing the first X-Men movie 10 or more years back is like a boy’s dream come true.

When Brian Singer first made X-Men, it was lacking a lot of action and grounded back story. It was all cluttered in a way that it would not satisfy an X-Men fan’s hunger. However, all things got better in X2. X3 on the other hand is a movie poised to annihilate the series by killing off the most important characters but has greatly improved in terms of special effects and action sequences. X-Men Origins came with Wolverine’s backstory. And now we have First Class.

First Class tackles the life of Charles Xavier and Erik Stromm pre-X-Men era. Their stories were the central plot of the movie and how the X-Men came into being. Although it is public knowledge that Professor X and Magneto are once friends, we have no idea on how they came into their parting ways. However, it may be different from the version coming from the comics and with this one.

There are scenes borrowed from the first movie. Professor X and Magneto has great chemistry in this movie. This is a type of a prequel that is so fun to watch that you don’t want to get to the end of the movie. It made me love the old (new) mutants such as Havok and the screaming mutant which I forget the name. I was very surprised to see Kevin Bacon as the villain because he was not even shown in the trailer. However, he seems bland and not effective as a villain in this movie. Emma Frost has more conviction as a villain and not as an assistant villain.

I am impressed though on how they presented the characters and has provided me more like a refresher course on X-Men 101. The movie also includes several cameo roles from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Rebecca Romijn as Mystique but we do not see Stan Lee in this one.

While watching the movie, I was wondering if Bryan Singer was the one who directed this movie but then as I wait for the End Credits, it was Matthew Vaughn. If it was Singer, then this could’ve been a redemption movie after the messy X-Men.

For me, this is supposed to be the first movie that should’ve been made before X-Men. This could’ve been a good foundation for a good series or franchise. X-Men First Class is a good reboot and I hope that they continue to do well on the next X-Men movies. This has been very faithful to the characters as well as to the fans.

 GRADE:-A