Posts Tagged ‘transformers’

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Bumblebee (2018)

January 4, 2019

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Director: Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings)
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena

Because I’m an AMC A-List member now and watch a movie almost every week, I saw the trailer for Bumblebee what felt like a record amount of times over the past few months. I was sick of it, but I had to admit: it looked surprisingly decent. And then something insane happened: after seeing the trailer around ten times, I finally realized that Hailee Steinfeld was the star of the movie. An Oscar nominee at age 14 for her performance in True Grit, Steinfeld brings serious acting clout to a franchise that I stopped watching at least two films ago. She’s not unrecognizable in Bumblebee, but somehow I missed the fact that one of my favorite young actresses was on screen in front of me… multiple times. Needless to say, once I realized who the star was, a movie I was mildly interested in became a must watch.

Bumblebee was a lot of fun. It’s hands down the best film in the franchise since the original with Shia LeBeouf and I’d argue that it’s quite easily the best in the entire series so far. It certainly has substantially more heart than any Transformers movie I can remember.

Unsurprisingly, Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic. As charming and adorable as usual, her Charlie is an independent young woman that seems like an outcast as she’s reeling from the death of her father while her mother has already integrated another man and dad figure into the family. She’s a rare action movie star that we can actually empathize with and then root for. It’s another noteworthy performance from Steinfeld in a very impressive young career. Just imagine what a, say, Megan Fox would do with this role, and it’s easy to appreciate how gifted Hailee Steinfeld is.

The visual effects and sound in any Transformers movie are usually top notch and Bumblebee continues the trend of being spectacular in those departments. Altogether, the series has landed seven Oscar nominations for Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing, so a return to the Oscars (the last two movies were shut out) in those categories would seem likely since the movie is actually good, but the shortlist for Best Visual Effects has been released and Bumblebee didn’t make the cut. If you liked the series enough to watch Transformers: The Last Knight, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the technical aspects of this movie.

The story in Bumblebee is actually good. I’ve already mentioned that Charlie is a character we can get behind as an audience and her bond with Bumblebee is reminiscent of what made movies like E.T. and The Iron Giant so special. The movie is also surprisingly funny, with one scene in particular (think high school revenge shenanigans) that had me laughing out loud as hard as I can remember during any 2018 release. John Cena also brings charm and humor to a role that could easily be a throwaway character and continues to be a surprising addition to any movie he’s cast in.

All in all, Bumblebee was a very satisfying experience. Transformers fans should love it and for those that have grown tired of the franchise, it is truly a breath of fresh air and by far the most pleasing film in the series. It gets a solid recommendation from me.

Replay Value: Definitely worth watching again.

Sequel Potential: The next Transformers movie will probably give us the level of suck we’ve grown accustomed to.

Oscar Potential: Having already been left off the Visual Effects shortlist, it’s probably unlikely Bumblebee will get consideration in the sound categories and has no shot at any other nominations.

Dina Meter: She would love it!

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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June 2017 Movie Preview

May 24, 2017

Anticipation Meter
6 – Epic
5 – Very High
4 – Strong
3 – Moderate
2 – Low
1 – Nonexistent

Wonder Woman (2nd) – Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was one of the few bright spots in the beleaguered Dawn Of Justice, so I had some anticipation that this could actually be good and break the current losing streak that DC films have been on. This will be an origin story and a period piece that finds Princess Diana of the Amazons embracing her destiny when a fighter pilot played by Chris Pine crashes on her shores and brings news of major conflict in the outside world. I’ve watched a trailer or two and, while my expectations have been tempered a bit, I still think this has a chance to be good and some early word indicates that it is. It’s worth noting that director Patty Jenkins hasn’t directed a feature film since 2003’s Monster and the main screenplay writer has a resume that consists largely of multiple episodes for “Party Of Five,” “Sex and the City,” “The O.C.,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” In other words, let’s hope Wonder Woman is the best thing he’s ever written. When considering box office success, it’s hard to find films to compare Wonder Woman to as there hasn’t been a superhero movie with a female lead since Catwoman and Elektra both bombed in the mid-2000s. Wonder Woman won’t do The Hunger Games numbers, but it should do significantly better than female-led action franchises like Resident Evil and Underworld – the most successful film in either of those franchises grossed a modest $62 million. Wonder Woman could approach that kind of number in it’s first weekend. I’ll say $43 million opening weekend with a total gross of $157 million. Anticipation Meter – 3.5

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2nd) – I don’t know much about this except that it’s an animated film from DreamWorks that features the vocal talents of Kevin Hart, Jordan Peele, and Ed Helms and the plot synopsis says two kids hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a superhero. Sounds fun to me. Box office is hard to gauge here. I would never guess that The Secret Life Of Pets would do a whopping $373 million. Meanwhile, a movie like The Croods, which I enjoyed substantially more, only grossed $178 million. Kids have terrible taste, so whether a movie is actually good or not doesn’t necessarily reflect it’s box office success. I’ll take a shot in the dark and say this movie puts up numbers similar to Big Hero 6 $56 million opening, $222 million total. Anticipation Meter – 2

The Mummy (9th) – After Dracula Untold failed to jump start Universal’s revamped shared universe (now officially called Dark Universe) for their classic monsters, The Mummy has become the new opening act. From the looks of the trailers, this reboot seems similar in appearance to the Brendan Fraser run that started in the late 90s – although I’ll guess it has less cheesy humor and hopefully more legit scares – with Tom Cruise taking over as the male lead and Sofia Boutella as the film’s mummy. Russell Crowe is also part of the cast, taking on the role of Dr. Henry Jekkyl, as in Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde. The trailer for this looks okay, but I’m hoping it winds up being good – I want to see this shared universe succeed. The best Fraser-led Mummy movie opened to $68 million and grossed just over $200M and the 2008 entry – which I don’t even remember – opened to $40 mil and did over $100 domestic. It’s weird… with inflation and the star power of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe it would seem impossible for this movie not to do better than all previous Mummy flicks, but I just don’t sense a ton of excitement for it. It faces little competition, but I think it opens to around $50M and tops out around $175M. Anticipation Meter – 3

It Comes At Night (9th) – An interesting looking horror/mystery film that stars Joel Edgerton, who proved he can do creepy scary in The Gift. I expect a small opening and probably $30-$35M total. Anticipation Meter – 2

Cars 3 (16th) – I’m bewildered by this Pixar franchise. The movies have obviously performed well at the box office, but Cars and Cars 2 are probably my two least favorite movies the studio has produced… and here we are on film #3 while the far superior The Incredibles has taken 14 years to get a sequel. Pixar is actually on a little bit of a cold streak. While I did really enjoy last year’s Finding Dory, the studio hadn’t released a truly great film since Toy Story 3 in 2010 before that. This is going to be a skip for me but I suspect families will be heading out in droves to see it. I should perform similarly to the previous films, opening around $60M and finishing around $200M. Anticipation Meter – 1

All Eyez On Me (16th) – A Tupac Shakur biopic starring an unknown actor, written and directed by people that have done nothing noteworthy in their careers. I want this to be good and I’m interested in seeing Tupac’s story on the big screen, but I suspect the execution is going to be disappointing. Straight Outta Compton ($161 million) was a big hit and Tupac’s legacy is greater than anyone in N.W.A., but I think the lack of quality is already detectable here, so I think it will open to a disappointing $30M and fizzle around $75M total. As a hip hip devotee, lover of films, and fan of Tupac, I will see this even though it looks like it might suck. Anticipation Meter – 3

Rough Night (16th) – An R-Rated comedy starring Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon as members of a bachelorette party that has to deal with the death of the stripper they hired. Seems like an enjoyable combination to me, if not box office fodder. Bridesmaids ($170M) is the obvious comparison, but this film won’t sniff that kind of success: $18M opening, $55M total. Anticipation Meter – 2

Transformers: The Last Knight (21st) – This is the 5th Transformers movie and I’m honestly not sure how many I’ve even seen – probably just the first three. The visual effects of the robots transforming have always been the best thing about this franchise, but I’ve seen it done enough times now that it’s not enough of a draw for me to see the movies anymore. The stories have been lacking for a while and Michael Bay is a deservedly panned director. I’m a Mark Wahlberg fan, but my interest in this franchise is pretty much over. The public still likes to pack theaters for Autobots and Decepticons and even though interest has somewhat waned over the last two films, the least successful entry still did $245 million. I’ll wager that trend continues and say The Last Knight has the worst opening weekend since the original ($70M)and finishes around $215M total. Anticipation Meter – 1

Baby Driver (28th) – A crime thriller about a young getaway driver hired by a crime boss with an interesting cast that features the likes of Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Bernthal. More importantly, it’s an Edgar Wright film, the writer/director that has given us gems like Shaun Of The Dead and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. No Wright film has grossed more than $31.5 million, so it’s likely this will have a very small opening and finish right around that number. Anticipation Meter – 2.5

Despicable Me 3 (30th) – Reformed evil genius Gru and his adopted kids are still plenty of fun and even though last year’s Minions was total crap it was still a box office smash. In this entry, Gru meets a twin brother named Dru he never knew about. Steve Carell does some great voice work in this franchise and adding a twin brother could let his talent shine even brighter. My wife and I will go see this and it will be another megahit for DreamWorks: $105M opening, $325M total. Anticipation Meter – 3

Note: After spending several hours writing this (and planning separate entries for Netflix and music), I have to ask myself: is it really worth the time and effort to do stuff like this and the answer is a pretty easy no. My blog only gets a modest number of hits and I’ve struggled to expand my audience beyond my friends and family so I will be cutting the depth of my posts down considerably in an effort to spend my free time more effectively. My ultimate goal is to streamline my thoughts and opinions in a way that is still interesting but not as time consuming for me (or you).

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Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (2011)

July 11, 2011

Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro
Director: Michael Bay (Transformers, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Bad Boys, The Rock)

Quick Thoughts: It’s no surprise what you’re getting with a Michael Bay movie: explosions, big action sequences, hot women, and a weak script. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is more of the same. If you liked the first two movies–and I found them enjoyable–you’ll like this one too. The absence of Megan Fox stings a bit (and is weakly explained), but Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is pretty hot herself. The acting in these movies has always been suspect and the story isn’t any more interesting than it has been in the past. I can barely remember it now. The first landing on the moon also brings about the discovery of the first Transformer robot, a machine that is later resurrected in present time and wreaks havoc on Earth. Okay…

Obviously the action sequences in this movie are superb and the finale is pretty damn climactic. But there’s really no need for a Transformers movie (or any Michael Bay film for that matter) to be pushing 3 hours in length. Just like the second installment, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon suffers from some pretty miserable pacing and a third of the film could have easily been left on the cutting room floor without sacrificing what adds up to a rather weak plot anyways.

One shouldn’t be disappointed with this movie, however. Michael Bay isn’t going to suddenly become a stellar director, so there’s no reason for big expectations. Not quite as good as the original, but not as forgettable as the second movie, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon runs way too long, but is certainly worth seeing on the big screen, although the 3D aspect doesn’t add much to the experience.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Any movie I struggle through the first time doesn’t get much replay value from me.
Sequel Potential: The franchise is a cash cow… why stop now?
Nudity: N/A
Grade: 5.5/10 (Worth Watching/Recommended)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 36% Audience: 90%
IMDB Rating:6.7/10
Recommendation: The Transformers movies are ones you have to see in a movie theater, and as long as you don’t go with unreasonable expectations, you should be satisfied with this installment.

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Movie Reviews (7/18/2009)

August 5, 2009

Changeling (2008)

Angelina Jolie in an Oscar-nominated role in a film directed by Clint Eastwood? Sign me up. Based on a true story, the film is set in 1920s Los Angeles, a time when the LAPD is known for being corrupt, violent, and generally scumbaggish. Jolie plays Christine Collins, whose son disappears one day while she’s off running errands or something. After a few weeks, the police department finds a boy claiming to be Walter Collins and Christine takes him in despite realizing the boy is not her son. The film focuses on Christine’s battle with the police force and she eventually winds up in an LAPD-controlled insane asylum for her continued claims that her son is still missing. I’m surprised this film didn’t get more award attention… Jolie definitely deserved her nomination and Clint Eastwood has proven himself as one of the best filmmakers over the past decade. Grade: 7 out of 10 (Must See)

Gran Torino (2008)

Another Clint Eastwood film, this time the director stars as a recently widowed man stuck in his old fashioned racist ways as he takes a look around at his mostly ethnic neighbors. It’s a rare movie that can take racist slurs like “zipperhead” and “slopes” and turn them into terms of endearment, but by the end of the film, one forgets the negative connotations that come with such phrases. There’s no doubt about it, even at 80+ years old, Eastwood is still a bad ass. The two Asian teenagers also gave solid performances. I can imagine some people would be disappointed with the ending, but I thought it was pretty realistic given the circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it’s good enough that I’d add it to my collection. Grade: 7.5 out of 10 (Must See/Excellent)

Transformers 2: Rise Of The Fallen (2009)

I’m in the vast minority on this one, but I hated this movie. I expected the first film to be a disaster, but I wound up enjoying it for what it was: a solid, mindless action flick. The sequel starts off dope enough, with some good action sequences, but the last half of the film is filled with all sorts of unwanted plot development. I honestly didn’t even understand what was going on most of the time… or worse, I didn’t care. I just want to see robots fighting. I don’t want to see Indiana Jones Jr. searching for the lost relic, or whatever the hell they were looking for. I hated the movie so much, I ended up leaving in the middle of the finale because I had somewhere else to be. Shia LeBeouf is the new Vin Diesel: the star of a bunch of overhyped, shitty action movies. Grade: 3 out of 10 (Painful)

The Hangover (2009)

I wish someone would’ve dragged me to this movie on opening day. I had no intentions of ever seeing it. The previews looked kind of stupid to me, but I couldn’t ignore the tremendous word of mouth, from critics and audiences alike, it was getting. I was hearing ridiculous praise like “it’s the funniest movie of all-time,” so I had to go see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, I was late enough on seeing it that some of the best gags were already spoiled for me. Despite that, I definitely liked this comedy and while it might be a tad overhyped, the film is consistently funny and has enough repeat value that I’ll probably buy it when it comes out. There’s also a chance that it will grow on me like most comedies tend to do. With the exception of the groom-to-be, the cast was pretty damn funny and Zach Galifianakis as Alan was especially hilarious. This movie has a collective 8.2 out of 10 rating on www.imdb.com, good enough for the #171st highest rated movie of all-time. That’s a pretty generous ranking, but this movie was pretty dope. Oh, and a sequel is already in development. Can’t really see where they are going to go from here, but if it’s the same general team, sign me up. Grade: 7 out of 10 (Must See)

Rudy (1993)

Ironically, Rudy, one of the most praised sports films of all-time, doesn’t crack the top 250 all-time list on www.imdb.com. So essentially, the general populace says that The Hangover is the superior film. I can’t say I really agree with that (although, it’s not really fair to compare a movie that’s 2 months old to something that came out over 15 years ago). The story in Rudy is truly phenomenal and inspiring. Anyone lacking confidence in achieving their goals should watch this movie to remind themselves what is possible when someone truly chases their dreams. Sean Astin has been trying to establish a name for himself outside of this role ever since this movie came out. He does an excellent job in the film and really makes his character’s persistence shine through. Grade: 7.5 out of 10 (Must See)