Archive for Laura Haddock

Transformers: The Last Knight

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 484 AD, King Arthur’s wizard Merlin forges an alliance with the Knights of Iacon, a group of twelve Transformers who have hidden on Earth. The knights give Merlin an alien staff, and combine into a dragon to help Arthur triumph over the Saxons.

In the present day, most of the governments on Earth have declared Transformers illegal, and the multinational Transformer Reaction Force (TRF) has been formed to eliminate the alien robots. Despite the absence of Optimus Prime (who left the planet to search for his creator), new Transformers continue to arrive regularly; the newest ship to arrive crash-lands in Chicago, where it is found by a group of children. When a TRF mecha confronts the kids, they are saved by Izabella, a survivor of the Battle of Chicago, and her Transformer companions Sqweeks and Canopy, but Canopy is killed by the TRF in the process. Bumblebee and Cade Yeager arrive and help them escape, but Yeager is unable to save the Transformer, Steelbane, in the ship. Before he dies, Steelbane attaches a metallic talisman to Yeager’s body—an act observed by Decepticon Barricade, who reports to his leader Megatron.

On the far reaches of the Solar System, Optimus Prime discovers that the Transformers’ home world, Cybertron, now disassembled into pieces, is heading directly for Earth. Optimus finds the being in control of Cybertron’s movement, a sorceress named Quintessa, who professes to be the maker he is searching for. The staff which the knights gave to Merlin was stolen from Quintessa, and using her powers, she places Optimus under her control, dubs him “Nemesis Prime,” and charges him with recovering it. Earth, she reveals, is actually Cybertron’s “ancient enemy” Unicron, and she intends to drain his life force so that Cybertron can be restored.

TRF member and former Autobot ally William Lennox brokers a deal between the TRF and Megatron, releasing from their custody a squad of Decepticons who will help Megatron recover the talisman from Yeager. The Decepticons hunt Yeager to his junkyard hideout in South Dakota, where he and many of the surviving Transformers are holed up. During the chaos of the ensuing battle, Yeager is approached by Cogman, the Transformer envoy of British Lord Sir Edmund Burton, who takes him and Bumblebee to England to meet his master. There, Yeager also meets Viviane Wembly, an Oxford professor, who Burton has had the Autobot Hot Rod kidnap. Burton explains that he is the last living member of the “Witwiccan” order, an ancient brotherhood dedicated to guarding the secret history of Transformers on Earth. He also reveals that Viviane is the last descendant of Merlin, and must find and use his staff to prevent the impending destruction of Earth by Cybertron.

Fleeing the TRF, Yeager and Wembly follow clues left by the latter’s father that lead them, Bumblebee, and Cogman to take the submarine HMS Alliance into the sea to find the Cybertronian Knights’ sunken ship, in which they discover the tomb of Merlin and the staff. Wembly activates the staff, and the ship rises to the surface; the TRF arrives to confront the group, but several knights awaken and attack them. The attack is cut short by the arrival of the mind-controlled Optimus, but fortunately, when the normally-mute Bumblebee is finally able to speak, the sound of his voice is enough to break Prime free of Quintessa’s control. A moment later, Megatron arrives to steal the staff; he too has been working for Quintessa all along. As Megatron flees with his prize, the knights attack Optimus for his betrayal, but Yeager, whose talisman becomes the sword Excalibur, stops the fight. Realizing he is the last knight, the knights yield to Yeager, who urges Optimus to protect the Earth once more.

Megatron delivers the staff to Quintessa, who begins draining the life force of Earth/Unicron via Stonehenge. When the military intervenes, Megatron shoots Burton, who dies with Cogman at his side. Using a ship procured by the Autobot Daytrader, the Autobots arrive to join the fight, landing on Cybertron and battling against the Decepticons and Quintessa’s Infernocons. Optimus and his Autobots, backed up by the knights in their dragon form, vanquish their many foes. Optimus defeats Megatron while Bumblebee appears to slay Quintessa. Wembly removes the staff, stopping Cybertron’s destruction of Earth, but leaving the two planets connected. Optimus declares that humans and Transformers must work together to rebuild their worlds, and sends a message calling any surviving Autobots to come home.

In a mid-credits scene, scientists inspect one of the horns of Unicron, which is extending out of the desert. Quintessa, who has survived and is disguised as a human, arrives and offers them a way to destroy Unicron.

REVIEW:

Can you believe it has been 10 yrs since the first Transformers was released? 5 years later, this franchise is still going, though there is some debate about whether it should or not. With this 5th film, Transformers: The Last Knight, the trailers promise something darker and more character driven. Did they tell the truth? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Saving our world falls upon the shoulders of an unlikely alliance: Cade Yeager, Bumblebee, an English Lord, and an Oxford Professor.

What did I like?

Continuity. In the first few films, outside of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, Starscream and a couple of others, we had a new lineup of Transformers in every picture. Starting with the last picture, Transformers: Age of Extinction, we seem to be keeping with a steady lineup, only bringing in one or two others…at least on the Autobot side. The Decepticons were all new, except for a returning Barricade, who was last seen running away from the climactic battle in the first film.

Tone. The trailers and all the talk leading up to this film led us to believe that this was going to be the darkest, most serious film in the franchise. In the opening scenes, it seems as if that were going to be the case until we meet Merlin. This iteration of history’s greatest wizard sets the tone for the whole film, a tone filled with comedic action, rather than dark drama. Personally, I prefer it this way. For goodness sakes, this is a film about giant robots that transform into cars and jets. Why on Earth would we want it to be serious?

Welcome back. Barricade isn’t the only returnee. Josh Duhamel makes his return, after last being seen in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. His character seems a bit more battle hardened and conflicted this time out, as he is having to work with the TRF, a group that exists to eradicate all the Transformers. The military seems to still be on their side but working with them out of necessity. Tyrese Gibson was also set to return, but there was a schedule conflict with filming The Fate of the Furious.

What didn’t I like?

History lesson. There seems to be a trend lately of putting fantasy characters into historical events. Wonder Woman showed us that she was in World War I, X- Men Origins: Wolverine (as well as The Wolverine) placed Logan in every war in history. Now, it appears as if the Transformers, who we saw arrive in 2007, have been here since the Middle Ages, if not before (according to this film…we won’t go into the convoluted history of the previous films). My question is why? There was no need to put them there, other than to make it convenient for the plot. I mean, seriously, what did they have to do with Frederick Douglass?!?

Human element. I know I said this about the first film, and maybe some of the others, but there is just too much emphasis placed on the humans in a movie called TRANSFORMERS!!! This is no more apparent than in the amount of time spent trying to develop our new female characters, one of which I suspect was chosen based solely on her resemblance to Megan Fox. Also, the final battle should have been an epic confrontation of clashing, twisted metal, but instead, we get humans jumping out of airplanes and trying to get a date. One more thing, when “Nemesis” Prime comes and Bumblebee takes him on, there is no reason for Mark Wahlberg to get involved in the battle. Seriously, what can a human do against one as powerful as Optimus Prime?

Who are you? The only new Autobot introduced is Hot Rod who, though he’s living in England, somehow has a French accent. He has this cool ability to stop time, but we never really get to know him outside of that. He’s not the only one we don’t get to become acquainted with. Megatron has a crew that he asks to be released in exchange for helping the TRF (no clue how it is that these guys are in “jail” and Megatron is just running free). These guys aren’t given anything to do and most are killed in the next 10 minutes! So, instead of giving us a cool new Autobot to get to know and some interesting Decepticons, this time is spent with the schizophrenic C3PO rip-off, Cogman. There is some comedy there, but not worth the trade off. Actually, he reminds me of Alan Tudyk’s character from a previous film, I forgot which one, Dutch.

Final verdict on Transformers: The Last Knight? It makes a valiant attempt to keep this franchise relevant, but truth be told, other than die-hard Transformers fans, no in the US is clamoring for these films. Most people seems to hate them for whatever reason. Personally, I think a new director would do wonders for this franchise. Props to Michael Bay for bringing them to big screen a decade ago, something never thought possible, but now it is time for someone else to take over, preferably a fan of the original cartoon. With that said, this is actually probably the 2nd or 3rd best film in the franchise in my book. Do I recommend it? Yes, I do, but I wouldn’t get in a rush to see it. The theater I was in this afternoon was mostly empty, so I’m sure there will be plenty of seats for you.

4 out of 5 stars

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The Inbetweeners Movie

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Teenage friends Will McKenzie, Simon Cooper, Jay Cartwright, and Neil Sutherland have finished their A-levels and are about to leave Rudge Park Comprehensive, much to the relief of Mr. Gilbert, their sardonic sixth form tutor. Within their final week of school, Jay’s grandfather dies, Simon is dumped by his girlfriend Carli D’Amato, and Will’s divorced father tells him he has married his much younger mistress. The boys decide to go on holiday together and Neil books them a trip to Malia, Crete.

At a bar, they meet four girls: Alison, Lucy, Lisa and Jane. Their initial meeting does not go smoothly, but the girls arrange to meet the boys at their hotel the next day. Outside the bar, Simon sees Carli across the street and talks awkwardly with her before being knocked down by a quad-bike ridden by James, a cocky and abusive bully and alpha male club rep and Carli’s new boyfriend. She reveals she is going to an all-day boat party later in the week, and Simon pledges to meet her there.

The next day, Jay and Simon get into an argument over Simon’s continuing obsession with Carli and Jay’s continual false bravado and they brawl in the street until Will and Neil drag off Simon and Jay, respectively, in different directions. Desperate to buy a ticket for the boat party, Simon naively sells all his clothes to James, including what he is wearing, but receives no money for it. Meanwhile, Jay angrily tears up two of the four boat party tickets he secretly bought for all of them while drunk the night before as a surprise. Later that evening, the four boys meet back at the empty bar and reconcile. The girls then turn up and suggest that they all go skinny dipping at the local beach. Jane attempts to kiss Jay, but when two men poke fun at him over her weight and Jay pulls away, she leaves him behind. Will has better luck with Alison until she spots her boyfriend, Nicos, having sex with another woman, and she leaves crying. In the water, Lucy and Simon appear to be growing closer, and are about to kiss, but Simon sees Carli on the beach and leaves Lucy alone in the sea.

The next day, they meet the girls again at the beach. Alison gives Will Nicos’ ticket, while Simon apologises to Lucy, and she offers him her boat party ticket so that he can be with Carli. On board, Simon witnesses an argument between Carli and James. Carli then kisses Simon passionately, and he is elated, until he realises that she is just using him to make James jealous. Finally seeing Carli for what she really is, he ditches her. Meanwhile, Jay apologises to Jane and they form a relationship, as do Will and Allison and Neil and Lisa. Simon finally sees that Lucy is more worthy of his attention than the shallow Carli, and knowing that he has been less than kind to her, he decides to swim to shore as a grand romantic gesture, but he struggles and almost drowns. As he is loaded into an ambulance, Lucy kisses him and they reconcile. After the boat party is over, the other boys and girls visit Simon in hospital, and once he recovers they all spend the rest of their holiday together as couples. In a final scene before the credits, a drunken Mr. Gilbert is seen riding a quad bike through the streets of Malia in his underwear with a tie round his head in a John Rambo style.

REVIEW:

I recently finished watching The Inbetweeners series, so I guess now would be the opportune time to watch The Inbetweeners Movie. I wonder, though, if this will be one of those movies about a TV series that moves things to a logical conclusion, or one of those that is nothing more than a sad attempt at squeezing out some cash from the loyal fan base. Only one way to find out!

What is this about?

In this coming-of-age comedy that picks up where the popular series left off, Will, Simon, Jay and Neil go on holiday to Crete after a series of unfortunate events unfolds during their final week at Rudge Park Comprehensive.

What did I like?

Out of England. The show lasted for about 3 or 4 seasons, or series as they are called across the pond. In that time, it is rare that they left the confines of their school and neighborhood, but they did go on an occasional outing. Now that the boys have all graduated, they can finally go on wild adventures together. First stop, Malia, Crete. I don’t know much about the place but I am glad that the filmmakers chose to get these blokes out of that town as quickly as possible. We’ve had an entire series of watching them at home. It is way past time for a change of scenery.

Female counterparts. Anytime there is a group of young men, there tends to be a group of young ladies that are the perfect match. At least that’s how they would appear to be, anyway. The girls that show up in and the boys pursue aren’t exactly perfect matches for them, except for Neil, but they are a compliment to them and their personalities. For the live of me, I don’t know why this wasn’t done during the show. Probably because they were too busy dealing with the same two or three girls every week, one of which actually made it into this film!

Dance, monkey, dance. Four socially awkward guys, who have had a little bit too much to drink, try to introduce themselves to four attractive girls. How else do they approach them? With dance moves that show how truly awkward they really are. Somehow, though, they not only make this one of the funniest scenes of the picture, but they get to meet the girls. Kudos, gentlemen, kudos!

What didn’t I like?

Developmentally challenged. I’m going to take a minute and compare this to The Simpsons Movie and South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut. What do those have in common with this picture? Well, nothing really, except they are movies based on TV shows. The thing that made both of those work was how they took characters we had grown to know for years and gave them some extra dimension. With this, I feel as if the guys, who have just graduated from their school, haven’t grown any over the years. They literally feel as if they are the same characters they were in episode 1, except for Will, and that’s only because he’s not the new kid anymore.

Extended episode. There is a vibe to this film that is reminiscent of the show, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. I couldn’t help but get the feeling this was meant to be one of those special, extended episodes that just was put away until they decided to make a movie. Then it was pulled out and edited. Why do films about TV shows do this? They all seem like an extended episode. I haven’t seen it, but I would imagine Serenity feels like an extended version of Firefly, too!

Gender equal nudity. This is going to make me sound like a horndog sexist, and for that I apologize, but I have to ponder where were the bare breasts and other parts of the female anatomy? There was plenty of male genitalia to be seen, but only one set of boobs was on display. How is this fair? There needs to be some kind of balance, don’t you think? Actually, this probably wouldn’t even be an issue if this wasn’t a film aimed more toward the male audience, but because it is, one must wonder why it was such a sausage fest when it came to nudity.

Final verdict on The Inbetweeners Movie? Much like the show, there is a plot, but it isn’t much to speak of, as these blokes just randomly find themselves in various situations. The only difference between this and the show, though, is a bigger budget, the addition of the girls, and the nudity. Hardly enough of a reason to get excited about, even if one is a fan. Honestly, one would do better staying in and watching the series instead of this. Did I mention there is a sequel, as well?

2 1/2 out of 5 stars