Archive for Reno Wilson

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

Crank: High Voltage

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens with a sequence designed to look like a classic video game, depicting Chev Chelios’s fall from a helicopter during the final moments of the original film. Immediately after his fall, he is scooped off the street via snow shovel by a group of Chinese medics and removed from the scene.

He wakes up in a makeshift hospital and sees doctors removing his heart while Johnny Vang (Art Hsu) watches. The doctors place Chelios’s heart in a red cooler with a padlock, and place a clear plastic artificial heart in his chest. Chelios passes out. He wakes up, and escapes. He notices a yellow battery pack is attached to him. After a gunfight and interrogation of a thug, he learns the location of Johnny Vang – the Cypress Social Club.

Chelios calls Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam), who tells him that he has been fitted with an AbioCor Artificial heart. Once the external battery pack runs out, the internal battery will kick in and he will have 60 minutes before it stops working. He crashes his car right after the conversation, destroying his external battery pack. In order to keep going, Chelios has the driver of another car use his jumper cables on Chelios, and runs to the Club.

He loses Vang at the club but picks up a hooker named Ria (Bai Ling) who sends him to a strip club where Vang is hiding out. In the club, Chev finds Eve, now a stripper.

Back outside of the strip club, Chev is met by a group of police, who begin beating him down. He is weakened, but one of them inadvertently charges Chelios by using a taser on him. Another stripper tells Chelios that he should look at the Hollywood horse racetrack for Johnny Vang. They encounter a group of porn stars protesting low wages, and Chelios is forced to escape, leaving Eve in the back of the cop car. Chelios is picked up by Venus(Efren Ramirez), who reveals himself to be Kaylo’s brother. It is revealed he also has Tourette’s Syndrome. At first, Chelios tells Venus that he killed everyone responsible for his brother’s death, but this prompts Venus to leave. Wanting his help, Chelios tells Venus that El Huron was involved but escaped.

At the horse tracks, Chelios is losing energy. He learns that the heart can be charged through the skin by means of friction. Eve shows up and they have sex on the racetrack while the crowd cheers, and Chelios is restored to full energy. Chelios spots Vang and once again leaves Eve behind. Vang escapes, and Chev is about to be subdued by security when Don Kim picks Chev up in his limo. He informs Chev that there is a leader in the Triads named Poon Dong (David Carradin), who was in need of a heart transplant. When he heard of Chelios’s ability to withstand the Chinese adrenaline poison, he put out an order for Chelios’s heart. Don Kim then tells Chev Chelios that he wishes to return him to Poon Dong for a reward. Upon hearing this, Chev kills all of Don Kim’s henchmen, including the limo driver, and shoots Don Kim several times. Meanwhile, Eve is arrested, and Venus calls in Orlando (Reno Wilson) to assist in tracking down El Huron.

While driving, Chev is cut off by an ambulance. He boards the ambulance and is surprised to see the EMTs are working on one of Don Kim’s henchmen. He demands a new battery pack for his artificial heart, and the EMT is forced to stop working while he hooks it up. Don Kim’s henchman dies, and Chelios exits the ambulance upon seeing Johnny Vang on the street outside. Vang tries to escape in a car, but the car drives off without him, and Chev chases Vang to an electric plant, where there is a Godzilla-inspired fight between Chelios and Vang. Upon winning, Chev discovers that Vang’s red cooler holds something other than his heart (the contents of which are unknown, but make Chelios recoil in disgust). Chelios learns from Doc Miles that his heart is already transplanted into Poon Dong, but promises to find him for Chev. Chelios goes to ask Johnny Vang, but Johnny Vang is shot and killed by Chico, and they knock Chelios unconscious.

There is a dream sequence showing Chelios as a youngster, with his mother (Geri Halliwell) on the Luke Canard show talking about his violent tendencies as a boy. Eve is interrogated by police, but refuses to rat Chev out. Doc Miles uses his assistant Chocolate to lure Poon Dong in, and knocks him out.

Chelios is awakened by electric shocks to his testicles, and is dragged by speedboat to an island where El Huron awaits. El Huron explains to Chev that he is the third Verona brother, and is very upset that Chelios killed Ricky (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and Alex Verona (Jay Xcala). He reveals Ricky Verona’s head being kept alive in a tank by a group of scientists, speaking in an electronic voice. Chelios is whipped for Verona’s pleasure, and is about to die when Orlando, Venus, and Ria show up, each with their own group of gunfighters, and chaos breaks out.

Chev smashes open Verona’s tank and kicks his head into the swimming pool, but starts to slow down. He climbs an electric pylon nearby and grabs the insulators to recharge, but is flung off of it upon contact. Venus is fighting El Huron and is about to lose when Chev reappears, still partially on fire from the electricity. He beats El Huron to death (while still burning), and throws his body in the pool next to Ricky’s head. In a hallucinogenic state, Chelios then tries to hug Ria (thinking she is Eve) but accidentally sets her on fire as well, and she runs off screaming. His flesh burning and his face melting, Chelios walks towards the camera, giving the middle finger to the audience in the final moment of the film.

During the credits, Doc Miles places Chev Chelios’s heart back in. At first, it looks like a failure, but after everyone leaves, Chelios’s eyes open, and his heart is heard beating.

REVIEW:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sequels are hit and miss. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. The jury is still out on Crank: High Voltage, though.

Jason Statham returns as Chev Chelios. As I was watching everything Chelios was going through, I was like, can this guy ever catch a break and is he really human? The man somehow survived that poison from the first film, and now he’ had his heart removed and repalced with a temporary one that he has to keep juicing up. He even ends the film climbing up power lines to get some electrical current which is so much that it sets him on fire!

Amy Smart reprises her role as Eve, Chev’s ditzy blonde girlfriend. Now a stripper, she thought that Chelios was dead and shacked up with the sleazy club owner (played by Corey Haim, of all people). In a film like this, you’d think there’s be more scenes with the resident eye candy, but not so much. A bit of a disappointment to me, but then again, there are plenty of other naked women to be seen, plus she and Statham have the memorable sex romp at the horse races.

Dwight Yoakam, who I still can’t get over being an actor now, has a bigger role as Doc Miles this go around. It is good to know that Doc is actually skilled at some thing, although he confused the bejesus out of me when he was explaining what Chelios had to do to stay alive with that AbioCor heart.

Efren Ramirez returns, not as the murdered Kaylo, but rather his brother Venus, who suffers from some form of Tourette’s. I think it was called FBT, Full Body Tourette’s. Venus isn’t as flaming as Kaylo. As a matter of fact, he almost seems straight. It is implied that he isn’t, but it is also implied he is? Perhaps he swings both ways?

Bai Ling annoys me to no end when she’s not acting, so of course I’m no fan of her character who is just about as annoying as one can get. I’m of the belief that had she been in the first one, she’d have been part of the body count. Here, Chelios isn’t on as much a rampage. This chick does get everything done to her except get shot, so I guess that’s a consolation.

One of the best scenes in the film involves a cameo from Lauren Holly as a psychiatrist talking to the cart guy from the first film that Chelios pulled a gun on so that he could get his ephedrine. On top of this being a hot scene, the irony comes when a bullet (fired from Chelios’ gun) ricocheted and goes through his head. Another cameo is Geri Haliwell (Ginger Spice) as Chev’s mom in a flashback. Nothing really special there, just wanted to mention it. There is also a scene with striking porn stars and we get cameo appearances from Lex Steele, Jenna Haze, and Ron Jeremy.

Following up where Crank ended, this film doesn’t lose any of the excitement of its predecessor. There are still tons of bodies, senseless violence, over the top action, gratuitous sex (in front of a crowd at the racetrack, this time), and everything that made the first film one of my favorites…except it doesn’t have that fun factor. To me, it seems like this one tried to become a serious movie, whereas the first film was insane and didn’t care. For this reason, I can’t give this an enthusiastically high rating, but it is still awesome, mindless fun that any action junkie will love.

4 out 5 stars