Thursday, June 26, 2014

Transformers: Age of A New Trilogy

       As far as franchises go, none are more polarizing than Transformers. People love to hate Michael Bay. I admit, I hated everything about the first film...until I actually saw it. People complained about everything, the robot designs, too many humans, bad story. I disagreed with all of that. Revenge of The Fallen was week, but Dark of The Moon was pretty darn good despite what some people think. Michael Bay is back with the promise of a new trilogy. The last film killed off the majority of the villains, marked the last appearance of Shia Labouf, and could have wrapped the existing franchise. We are taking another ride with the autobots, but the question for a lot of people is what are we getting this go around?

   Autobots are in hiding and have been hunted down and killed. Lockdown is a transformer bounty hunter and Optimus Prime is his target. The government has cut ties with the robots after the destruction of Chicago and are searching for Prime. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is a down on his luck inventor who is trying to raise a teenage daughter (Nicola Peltz). He accidentally discovers Prime and finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly conflict. He uncovers the government's plan to build transformers from an alien metal all while discovering the boyfriend (Jack Reynor) he wasn't aware his daughter had. Prime and a small group of autobots must decide whether to flee the planet or help the humans who have been hunting them down. None of them are aware that Megatron has been reincarnated in the form of Galvatron.

  The new human cast works pretty well. They give the franchise a bit of a shot in the arm. No more misadventures of Sam Witwicky. Wahlberg easily pulls off the action scenes and is believable as the struggling single father. Kelsey Grammer is a good lead villain, but I found Stanley Tucci's character a little on the annoying side. The film at times all most has too much comic relief. The dynamic between Wahlberg his daughter and boyfriend provided enough.

Prime and Bumblebee return with a new group of autobots. The film does a good job of explaining why the rest of the old cast are gone. I wasn't too crazy about Drift, but Crosshairs was a pretty cool bot. They are definitely a different group than what the franchise has offered in the past. I think most people will love Hound ( John Goodman). He has a great look and is the bot that truly steals the show. 

   While the new autobots work, the decepticons really don't. Galvatron is kind of a let down. I really hated the design of him. Transformers purists will hate the lack of arm cannon and he really isn't much of a factor. This is a set up of things to come, but he just doesn't do it for me. The remaining decepticons are pretty much useless drones that get blown up. Lockdown is pretty cool, but he isn't exactly a decepticon. He is lethal and is the central villain.

   The dinobots deliver and I liked the way Bay explains their origin. People waiting for some, " Me Grimlock," speech will need to keep waiting, but they are fun to watch even with limited screen time. The story slows at points and then feels a bit rushed in others. The action is top notch and people who like seeing lots of destruction will not be disappointed. The robots have been redesigned and are a little easier to see when transformed. They fail to explain a few things, but not enough to make you hate the film. Peter Cullen's voice is still epic as Optimus Prime. There are hints at Unicron or Quintisons, but people wanting glimpses of either will be let down. The door is left open for some of the original characters to return and it sets up a whole new world of possibilities for the franchise. It isn't my favorite. I still like Dark of The Moon, but Age of Extinction is a big summer pop corn movie and it is good enough.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars :A Movie Without Fault

         Let me begin by saying that I thoroughly loved this movie. It based on a book that it's written for me. It is a film designed for an audience that is anything, but me. I truly loved it and can really find no real flaws. I haven't read the novel so others might differ in opinion. I liked this movie for being more than just a love story. More than a story about cancer. More than a exercise in sadness. I love this movie for the overall message or at least the one that I took for it.

        When the movie began, I couldn't help but think of myself in another place. It could explain the reason the film made me feel the way it did. When I am not pretending to write or be a blogger, my real job is radio. A job which led me to do some work for Children's Miracle Network. I couldn't help but think of a teenage girl named Makenzie. When I met her, she was laying in bed very sick. She had no hair and was the image of what dying looked like. I watched as an outsider what her and her family were going through. I suppose it
gave me a clearer understanding of the characters in The Fault In Our Stars. Makenzie's story has a much happier ending and she is doing great. Lets talk about this film.

           Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a teenager living with cancer who doesn't have much of a positive outlook on life. Her parents urge her to go to a support group where she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) a fellow cancer survivor and amputee. They share a similar wit, love of a book, and fall in love. Together they take a journey that teaches them the value of life and spontaneity of death. 

        The film is full of colorful characters. They make jokes about there afflictions and attempt to deal with the hand they were dealt. It covers the struggle their parents endure daily. A struggle that I have seen closer than I ever thought I would. It tackles the unfairness of life and shows us the happiness found in simple things. Every generation seems to have a movie like this one. The 80's had Terms Of Endearment. The 90's gave us My Life, the 00's A Walk To Remember, and now The Fault In Our Stars. 

       This is a movie that has more of a message. The audience clapped at every kiss and cried at several moments. It is an emotional ride that reminds of us of a few things. Our heroes aren't always how we imagine, every one's life has it's own special meaning, and sometimes we fall short of the life we imagined for ourselves. All of these things are OK. Life is about being loved deeply and not widely. Maybe you are lucky enough to have both, but being loved at all is truly special. The things we take for granted are usually the special moments that life gives us. We all sometimes forget how little time we all actually have. It shouldn't take a death to remind us of that. Makenzie gave me a lesson in priorities and it's one that she probably didn't realize she was teaching. So again maybe I am seeing this one a little differently. 

       People who haven't read the book will not see the twist coming. People who read the novel seemed to truly love the movie. A life lesson and a good cry are needed once in awhile. It's no secret that I love a big summer action flick, but this is welcome decompression. I appreciate this film for everything that it is and everything else that it doesn't intend to be. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Edge Of Tomorrow :Cruise Into A Really Good Movie

  Let's be honest, Tom Cruise is very polarizing. I love the guy. He makes pretty solid movies, save for a few. He is believable in a drama, romantic comedy, or as a guy who kicks some ass. His resume speaks for itself, but there are those who cannot get over the couch jumping, Scientology, or Katie Holmes. Originally this movie was call All You Need Is Kill. Based off a comic of the same name, but a comic most haven't read. Edge Of Tomorrow became the new title and it is a bit more user friendly. There are rumors that this movie is supposed to flop, but I am here to tell you it is anything but a bad film.

  The movie takes place in the near future. Earth is under attack by aliens that landed as part of a meteor shower. The soldier of the future wears this really cool exoskeleton which allows them to be all they can be and then some. Tom Cruise is Bill Cage. He is the Jerry Maguire of the U.S. Army. He sells the war to the public and handles public relations. Cage, without warning, finds himself on a suicide mission to storm a beach and dies within minutes. His death is just the beginning. Cage is somehow able to repeat the same day over and over each time becoming a better soldier and closer to defeating the alien threat. He meets Rita (Emily Blunt) who, for a while, had the same power and used it to become the greatest soldier in any army.
The two of them are able to formulate a plan that could end up saving their planet.

   Edge of Tomorrow is a combination of a lot of things. It's a little bit Groundhog Day, mixed with some anime type mech, and Starship Troopers. Cruise living the same day over provides a lot of comedy, both physical and verbal. The comedy works. It finds away to ground the movie when it really is an end of the world scenario.  It's repetitive, but it doesn't drag at all. The movie is great at repeating the day, but bringing you back in at different places. It's a complex movie that is easy to follow and I know that doesn't make sense.

   The action scenes are top notch and are big when they need to be. The combat suits are really cool and are anything but Iron Man rip offs. Emily Blunt is believable as a hardcore soldier. She really compliments Cruise and none of their scenes come across as forced. The drop ship sequence is really impressive, but if I had one complaint it would be the look of the aliens. They are not horrible, but they are just tough to follow and look at. They reminded me of the machines in the Matrix merged with the harder to distinguish Decepticons from Transformers. 

     You most likely won't recognize too many of the cast, save for Cruise, Blunt, and Bill Paxton. I think that helps the movie. It is a Tom Cruise movie and that is what makes it work. He has charisma and even though he is aged, can still deliver. Good action, solid cast, interesting story, and a good balance of comedy make Edge of Tomorrow a good summer flick that is worth your time.