Archive for Tyrese Gibson

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1961, a Cybertronian spacecraft crash lands on the far side of the moon. Known as the Ark, it was the last ship to escape a Cybertron devastated by war. Piloted by Sentinel Prime, it carried “the Pillars”, technology that could save the Cybertronians once and for all. On Earth, the crash of the Ark is detected by NASA, and President John F. Kennedy authorizes the mission to put a man on the moon as a cover. In 1969, Apollo 11 lands on the surface of the Moon to investigate the Ark.

In the present day, the Autobots have forged a military alliance with the United States, but largely act independently in stopping humans from destroying themselves. During a mission in Chernobyl at the request of the Ukrainian government, Optimus Prime discovers a fuel cell from the Ark (which awakened Shockwave) that the Soviet Union attempted to use as a power source, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster. Knowing this, Optimus launches his own mission to retrieve the Pillars and revive Sentinel Prime. Just five Pillars remain on-board the vessel, which the Autobots describe as being the means to establish a mobile space bridge between two points and transport matter through. U.S. National Intelligence Director Charlotte Mearing (Frances McDormand) is horrified at this revelation as the Pillars could be used to bring an invading army to Earth.

Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is frustrated by his life after graduating from college as he hasn’t been able to find a job. He takes his frustrations out on his girlfriend, Carly Spencer, and her close relationship with her playboy accountant boss, Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey). Sam is eventually hired in a mail room in a high-pressure working environment. One of his co-workers, Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong), takes an unusual interest in Sam’s activities before revealing himself to be a conspiracy theorist. He passes information on to Sam about “the dark side of the moon” before being assassinated by Laserbeak, a condor-like Decepticon. After contacting the retired Seymour Simmons (John Turturro), Sam realizes that the Decepticons are systematically killing people connected to the American and Russian space missions. They locate two Russian cosmonauts who fled to America after the Soviet space program was shut down. The cosmonauts have photos taken by Soviet satellites that clearly show hundreds of Pillars being stockpiled on the Moon. Sam realizes that the Decepticons raided the Ark decades beforehand and are luring the Autobots into a trap: unable to revive Sentinel Prime on their own, they left him and five Pillars – including the Master Pillar, which controls all of them – for the Autobots to find. Sam contacts the Autobots and reveals that Sentinel Prime is being targeted by the Decepticons, and escort him to their base. However, Sentinel reveals that he made a deal with the Decepticons and betrays both the Autobots and the humans, destroying their base and executing Ironhide before fleeing with the Pillars.

Sentinel uses the Pillars to establish a space bridge with the Moon, where hundreds of Decepticons have lain in wait for decades. Sam is forced by Dylan Gould – revealed to be the Decepticons’ agent on Earth – into finding out Optimus Prime’s plans for retaliation. Gould has taken Carly captive and threatens to kill her if Sam does not follow his evil instructions. Gould places a Decepticon-powered “watch” on Sam’s wrist that appears to send pulsing pain through Sam at the whim of the Decepticons, who can track Sam’s every move, every thought, and see through his eyes when he is wearing the device. Sam finds Optimus Prime and asks him for the autobots’ plan and assures him that “no other human will ever know.” Optimus Prime wisely explains there is no plan for retaliation. The Autobots are exiled from Earth by way of a decommissioned space shuttle spacecraft salvaged from the previous landings. Knowing this, the Decepticons destroy the Autobot rocket, and take control of Earth. With Gould’s help, they establish themselves in Chicago and fortify the city. Gould reveals to a kidnapped Carly that the Decepticons intend to rebuild Cybertron, strip-mining the Earth for resources and using humans as slave labor. In order to do this, the Decepticons have placed Pillars around the world to call Cybertron itself through the space bridge.

Angered at the betrayal, Sam finds USAF Chief Robert Epps and the two re-form Epps’ disbanded NEST team to go into Chicago and rescue Carly. They are nearly killed before they have set foot in the city and are saved by Optimus Prime and the Autobots, who escaped the explosion of their shuttle by hiding in one of the booster rockets that was disengaged before the Decepticon attack. Sam, the Autobots and NEST advance on Gould’s penthouse to rescue Carly and disable the Master Pillar before Cybertron appears in the sky. After battling through the city, NEST takes out the Decepticon leaders (including Shockwave) while Carly convinces Megatron that he will answer to Sentinel Prime once Cybertron is restored, instead of leading the Cybertronians himself. Sam reaches the Master Pillar where he confronts Gould. Gould is electrocuted by the Pillar, which Bumblebee destroys. The connection to Cybertron is broken, and the half-formed planet collapses into itself. With Cybertron destroyed, Optimus and Sentinel fight in the ruins of Chicago. Optimus loses an arm and is about to be killed by Sentinel before Megatron intervenes, convinced by Carly’s words. This gives Optimus the opening he needs to re-enter the fight, ripping Megatron’s head and spine from his body before executing Sentinel. Sam and Carly are reunited while the Autobots accept that with Cybertron gone, Earth is now their only home.

REVIEW:

If you happened to have read my reviews of the previous installments in the franchise, then you are more than aware that I grew up on the cartoons (G1 all the way!!!) and, as such, am a fanboy. That point aside, I will do my best to be fair and balanced in this review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

With all the blockbusters that have been released this summer, this one actually hasn’t gotten near the press…good anyway…as the others. Much of this has to do with the fact that many people detested Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I’m not really sure why, because I loved it.

So, the plot of this film is that the US government has been covering up the fact that they’ve known about the Transformers since the 60s. They even had some top-secret information that was gathered on the initial walk on the moon.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t sit too well with the Autobots, especially Optimus Prime, who goes on to tell the Secretary of Defense (not sure what her exact title is) that the ship that crashed on the moon was piloted by the previous leader of the Autobots, Sentinel Prime, as well as a very powerful device that could have changed the course of the war on Cybertron. Common sense should tell you that this is something that needs to be kept out of the hands of the Decepticons.

While all this is going, Sam Witwicky, is now living with his new girlfriend, Carly (don’t ask me how he keeps getting this ultra hotties), looking for a job, and struggling with finding his place in the world. In other words, the audience is supposed to feel sorry for him.

Fast forward a bit and Sentinel Prime turns on the Autobots and reveals that he wants nothing more than to be looked upon as a god again and return Cybertron to its former glory, even at the cost of the Earth and the humans.

This betrayal leads the world leaders to call for the Autobots to leave Earth and let them handle the crisis. You’d think they’d have learned from the last film, that when they try to that it doesn’t work. Not to mention, this is the guy that trained Optimus Prime. Do they really think they could stop him on their own?

The film concludes in an epic battle through Chicago tha is nothing short of awesometacular!

I’m no fan of 3D, but if there is anyone that could really do it justice, I belive it to be Michael Bay. However, I was running late to the theater this afternoon and rather than wait an hour for the next 3D screening, I chose the 2D. I honestly don’t think it was any big loss. Whatever it is that James Cameron has talking in his ear that is making him try to convince every director to do their films in 3D, something needs to be done about it. This film worked just as well in 2D, and might very well have made more money if not for the 3D option (even if tickets prices are higher for 3D).

One of the biggest complaints I’ve had ever since the first Transformers has been that they focus too much on the humans. In the last film, it was a little bit better, but they reverted in this one. As a matter of fact, they focused a bit too much on the humans.

Now, if you’re one of those people who thinks it is just fine with the humans and that there actually need to be more, look at the title. It is called Transformers, not humans. Heck, you can even go back and look at some old episodes from the cartoon. Of the 4 season it was on, I think there were maybe 2 or 3 that were more focused on the humans, one of which was one where Cobra Commander (yes, I said Cobra Commander) turned them human and used their bodies as weapons.

That wasn’t my only issue. In the other films, when the robots would fight, there was no blood involved. For some reason, in this installment, they’ve developed a way to bleed. I’m not really sure what is up with this, but I’m not a fan. I guess this is some other device to make this “a more human” picture.

Yes, the story is darker. Laserbeak is actually an assassin. One of his assassinations, I won’t spoil who, I’m glad he does, though. That guy annoys the living hell out of me!

Does the darkness help or hurt? No, but it’s not like a night and day difference, so that may be why.

Something else I noticed was how all the Transformers were extra shiny. I’m talking like they were freshly waxed, even after they have been in combat. Bumblebee and Optimus looked like they were fresh off the assembly line. something tells me the car companies had something to do with that, though.

Speaking of Bumblebee, he was relegated to a lesser character here. There was more of Wheelie and his sidekick, I think his name was Igor. Not really sure how Wheelie got a sidekick, though. While I did enjoy them, I was missing Skids and Mudflap.

Finally, Optimus Prime got his trailer. Was it really so hard to give him his trailer. It’s bad enough they painted flames on him, but to deprive him of his trailer this long was just criminal. The minute I saw that, I nearly pissed myself. With his trailer, Optimus is whole. Having said that, I think they sort of wasted it. I think there was one scene where he actually used it. He was driving around with it 2 or 3 times, and lost it before the final battle. That was almost as bad as having BA’s van appear in the first 10 minutes of The A-Team before being destroyed.

The new robots that were introduced here didn’t really have much of an impact, except for Sentinel, who turned out to be the main villain, Laserbeak, an assassin (he talks in the film, but not in the cartoon, which I actually liked), and Shockwave, who actually wasn’t really developed as well as he could have been.

What I mean by that is Shockwave was built up as the film’s main villain when the first posters came out back in the winter. Unfortunately, he’s only in two scenes, and both of those he barely gets any kind of development. He just randomly pops up under Chernobyl and then appears agin in Chicago with this massive drill that is responsible for most of the destruction, actually.

I said in my review of Revenge of the Fallen that Megatron should not be looked on as someone else’s patsy, of sorts. Now, while he doesn’t have the role in this film, he is barely in it, and has this weird desert bum look going on.

Sentinel Prime is impressive, and the voice of Leonard Nimoy was perfect for him. The only issue I have with him is that his facial design resembles that of Alpha Trion from the original series. when I saw him in the Super Bowl spot, that’s who I thought it was.

The humans are worthless in the picture, just face it. Having said that, the new additions didn’t hurt the film.

Patrick Dempsey actually made quite the diabolical villain. I would have never guessed that from him.

John Malkovich and Frances McDormand really shine in their roles. I questioned their casting when I first heard about them, but I’m glad they were chosen.

I’m sure you all heard about how Megan Fox called Michael Bay a Nazi and “decided not to return”, right? Well, her replacement, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, may have never acted a day in her life, but she sure is a much better actress that Fox. Granted that’s not saying much, but she at least looks like she was trying and was interested. With Fox, she just seemed so…not there, and while I can’t but Carly and Sam, they are a more believable couple than Mikayla and Sam.

Finally, John Turtrro returns. Somehow he got rich and has an assistant, played by Alan Tudyk who is one of the true scene stealer of the film.

The film is a bit longer than I would have liked. I think they just spend too much time on the humans, and not enough on who people watch these films for (contrary to what Shia LeBeouf thinks), that Transformers. However, it kept my attention the entire runtime, which is something next to impossible to accomplish. Yes, the film has its flaws, but it is a joy from start to finish. The most important thing to realize is that each of the films in this franchise, similar to the Harry Potter films have improved. You have to judge for yourself which is the best, but many are saying this is it. I highly recommend you get up right now and go see it!

5 out of 5 stars

Legion

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) falls to Earth in Los Angeles, cuts off his wings, and raids a Korean imports store for a cache of automatic weapons. Confronted by two LAPD officers, one becomes possessed and kills the other. Michael kills the possessed cop and steals his car.

At a roadside diner and garage near the edge of the Mojave Desert are the diner’s owner, Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid), his son Jeep (Lucas Black), the short-order cook Percy (Charles S. Dutton) and a pregnant waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki). Also present is a single father on his way to L.A., Kyle (Tyrese Gibson); an urban married couple, Howard and Sandra Anderson (Jon Tenney and Kate Walsh); and their rebellious and promiscuous teenage daughter, Audrey (Willa Holland).

Soon after, an old woman (Jeanette Miller) arrives and seems pleasant at first, but then begins taunting the diner’s patrons. When Howard tries to reason with her, she rips part of his throat open and climbs up the ceiling like an insect, hisses, revealing she is possessed. Kyle shoots and kills her with a pistol that he was hiding. They try to hurry an injured Howard away in Kyle’s car, but are forced to go back after passing through a swarm of horse flies.

Soon after, Michael arrives and arms the patrons as the entire sky plunges into blackness. Michael leads the patrons to fight off a large number of possessed people that arrive. They drag off Howard and cease their attack. He explains that God has lost faith in mankind and has sent down his angels to annihilate all humanity. He also reveals that Charlie’s baby is deemed to be the savior of mankind, and that it must stay alive if humanity is to have any hope of surviving. Michael also reveals that his original mission was to kill Charlie’s baby, but he disagreed with God’s orders, as he still has faith in the goodness of humanity.

The next morning Sandra discovers Howard crucified upside down behind the restaurant and covered with boils. She tries to rescue him but he violently explodes, killing Percy and driving Sandra insane. That night, a second wave of possessed attack, killing Kyle and pushing a panicked Charlie into labor. She delivers the baby as trumpets sound, signaling the approach of the Archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand), who is leading the attack on humanity. In a panic Sandra breaks her restraints and tries to give the baby to the possessed so Michael kills her.

Moments later, Gabriel is sent by God. When Gabriel reaches the diner he seriously injures Bob, and Michael gives Jeep the keys to the police cruiser he arrived in, urging them to escape. The hordes of possessed humans are unable to approach Charlie’s baby so Jeep, Audrey, Charlie, and her baby make their way to the cruiser. Gabriel and Michael fight, ending with Gabriel stabbing Michael through the chest with his mace. Michael dies and his body disappears. Bob lights a flame to the diner’s gas main, blowing up the diner and destroying himself and the remaining hordes of possessed.

Gabriel survives, and swoops down on the fleeing car. As he tries to reach Charlie, Audrey jumps on him and sacrifices herself after she yells at Jeep to slam on the brakes sending Gabriel through the front windshield as the car crashes. Charlie and Jeep survive with the baby, but Charlie indicates that Audrey did not survive the crash. Gabriel finally corners Jeep and Charlie in the nearby mountains. He is about to kill them when Michael appears from Heaven, an angel once more and stops Gabriel. Michael tells Gabriel that he (Michael) did what God needed, not what God wanted, thus giving humanity another chance. With his angelic powers back, Michael easily defeats Gabriel, but spares his life after which Gabriel leaves, defeated. Michael explains to Jeep that he is the child’s true protector then flies off. Charlie and Jeep make it to the top of the mountain and see a small town in the valley below.

Sometime later, Charlie, Jeep, and the baby are seen driving off into the distance with a car full of guns.

REVIEW:

There have been films about the apocalypse, more and more have been coming out recently. There have also been films about various angels and they’re displeasure with God and desire to be the ones he loves above all else. Also, there have been numerous films about possession and whatnot. Well, Legion combines these three elements, as well some kind of birth of a Savior plotline.

As you can tell by the poster, the major character of this film is the archangel Gabriel, who left Heaven because he didn’t want to follow a specific order given to him (we learn what the order is later on in the film). However, as much as you would think this guy is heavily featured, he isn’t. Basically, if you’ve seen the first 2, or maybe even the third, Terminator films, then you know that even though they are the main character, the flick revolves more around the people they are trying to save, serve, and protect (or kill in the case of The Terminator).

The trailers for this thing were quite misleading. They lead one to believe it was some sort of apocalyptic smackdown, but in fact this may as well have just been a horror flick using Armageddon as a backdrop. There was action, mostly involving guns, but between these scenes are forced to endure these scenes of intense drama that belong in Grey’s Anatomy or some other drama.

The effects were pretty good, but I was hoping for more possessed humans. All we got were the old lady and the ice cream man. All the rest were just human acting possessed with weird teeth. Also, Gabriel and Michael’s wings were pretty impressive, especially the way Gabriel used his as like some sort of shield.

Paul Bettany killed it as Michael, the archangel. I would have liked for him to show a bit more emotion, though. One thing that made no sense, though, was how he was able to sew his wounds up after he cut off is wings. There is no way he could have reached back there, but I guess some things just need to be overlooked.

Adrianne Palicki proves she can do more than be the sexy rebel girl on the TV series Friday Night Lights. If this is any indication of what she can do on the big screen, then we may very well be seeing more of her in the future.

Tyrese disappointed me. Not because he didn’t do a bang up job, but because his character was very stereotypical. The guy comes in driving an Escalade and listening to rap music, then we get the baby mama drama. Oh, and there’s the whole thing about him carrying a piece. It just seemed a bit wrong.

Kate Walsh annoyed the life out of me. I already don’t care for her, but you give her this role and it just makes it worse. I won’t say what happens to her, but let’s just say she gets what’s coming to her.

Dennis Quaid and Charles S. Dutton are their usual perfect on screen selves.

Lucas Black was a surprise. He seemed like the kind of loser who wanted to do right, and that is what he is, but he really made this character interesting and relatable to the audience, something the other actors didn’t do as well.

Legion has its hits and misses, but in the end it comes off as just an average film. It could have been so much better, had they gone in different directions, but since they didn’t, it never really takes off.  I can recommend this, but there is no reason to be in a big rush to see it.

3 out of 5 stars

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 17,000 BC, ancient Transformers called the Dynasty of Primes scoured the universe with the intention of draining the energy from stars to create Energon and power the AllSpark, the life source of the Transformers, using a machine called a Sun Harvester. The Primes agreed that life-bearing worlds would be spared, but one of their own betrayed the others and constructed a Sun Harvester on Earth. A battle broke out which resulted in the Dynasty sealing themselves away, dying in the process, in order to hide the Matrix of Leadership, the key used to power the Sun Harvester. The treacherous Prime was dubbed the Fallen, and vowed to seek revenge upon Earth.

In the present day, set two years after the events of the first film, Optimus Prime leads NEST, a military organization consisting of American and British troops and his own team of Autobots. The Autobots consist of old and newcomers, Prime having sent an invitation message to all Autobots to come to Earth after the destruction of the AllSpark, which doomed their home planet of Cybertron. The new Autobots include Arcee, Sideswipe, Jolt, and the Twins Skids and Mudflap. During one mission, one of the Decepticons, Demolishor, declares, “The Fallen shall rise again.”

Sam Witwicky heads off to college to continue a normal life, leaving behind his Autobot guardian Bumblebee and his girlfriend Mikaela Banes. He finds a piece of the Allspark, and gives it to Mikaela for safekeeping. Wheelie attempts to steal the shard but is captured by Mikaela. Sam meets his college roommate, Leo Spitz, who runs an alien conspiracy website. He also meets Alice, who makes aggressive advances towards him.

Soundwave, a Decepticon intelligence officer, hacks into a satellite to eavesdrop the NEST forces, learning the location of the dead Decepticon leader Megatron and another piece of the AllSpark. He deploys Ravage to retrieve the shard, which is then used to resurrect Megatron. Megatron flies through space to a Decepticon spacecraft, where he is reunited with Starscream and his master, the Fallen. The Fallen instructs Megatron to capture Sam, as his mind now contains the Allspark’s knowledge, including the location of the Sun Harvester. Sam has a mental breakdown in his astronomy class, writing Cybertronian symbols on the chalkboard. Mikaela comes to his aid just as Alice attacks, revealed to be a DecepticonPretender, a Transformer in a human guise. Sam, Mikaela and Leo drive off, running over Alice in the process, but are then captured by Grindor. Scalpel, a Decepticon doctor, prepares to remove Sam’s brain, but Optimus and Bumblebee appear and rescue him. In the following battle, Optimus takes on the Decepticons on his own, killing Grindor, however, he is ultimately killed himself, stabbed from behind by Megatron.

Megatron orders a full-scale assault on the planet. The Fallen speaks to the world and advises them to surrender Sam to the Decepticons or they’ll continue their attack. Sam’s parents are captured by Rampage. Sam, Mikaela, Leo, Bumblebee, the Twins and Wheelie regroup, Leo believing his online rival “RoboWarrior” may be of assistance. The man is revealed to be former Sector Seven agent Simmons. Simmons reveals his hidden alien archive and explains that the Transformers have visited Earth before, as their language is written on ruins all over the world. Wheelie identifies the language as that of the Primes but only a Seeker can translate it; Seekers being used by the Primes to locate suitable suns for harvesting. They find such a Seeker, an aging Decepticon named Jetfire, who defected to the Autobots.

Upon learning the situation, Jetfire teleports the group to Egypt via a space bridge and explains that the tomb of the Primes is located in the surrounding desert, and only a Prime can kill the Fallen. By following the clues, the group find the Matrix in a tomb in Petra, but it crumbles to dust in Sam’s hands. Believing the Matrix can still revive Optimus, Sam instructs Simmons to telephone Major William Lennox to bring the other Autobots and Optimus’ body. The military arrive shortly after, but so do the Decepticons and another battle ensues. During the battle, Bumblebee rescues Sam’s parents from Rampage, killing both him and Ravage in the process. Devastator is then formed and unearths the Sun Harvester in one of Egypt’s pyramids before being blown to pieces by a railgun fired from a nearby destroyer. The airforce carpet bomb the Decepticons, but Sam is caught in the blasts and falls to the ground, seemingly dead. While Sam is being resuscitated, he is instructed by the Primes to revive Optimus with the Matrix, which is rebuilt. Optimus is resurrected but the Fallen, with aide from Megatron, activates the Sun Harvester. Jetfire is mortally wounded by Scorponok whom he then kills, and then gives up his life and bodyparts to give Optimus the strength he needs to fight and defeat The Fallen. Optimus destroys the Sun Harvester and then fights both Megatron and the Fallen, destroying the Fallen and leaving Megatron heavily wounded and forced to retreat alongside Starscream.

The film concludes with Optimus stating that the Transformers and humans are connected by their histories.

REVIEW:

I’m sure by now you’ve read, or at the very least heard how people are bashing this film left and right for one reason or another. Well, now it’s my turn to put my two cents in.

As I stated with my review of Transformers and Transformers: The Movie, I am a fanboy, so I’m slightly biased, but at the same time I will be objective.

Something I want to getout of the way first and foremost, is how “offensive” the twins, Mudflap and Skids are. Look, its more than obvious they are there for comic relief, yet folks are saying their offended because of their “African-American” personas. Quite honestly, I didn’t get that impression from them. They just seemed like twin brothers who have a sibling rivalry and have wannabe urban personalities. I’m sure we all know someone like that, or have at some point in time. The fact that people are making a big deal out of this is utter stupidity. Now, I will say we could have done without the gold tooth and them not knowing how to read, but even thosethings aren’t anything to raise a fuss about. for goodness sakes, these are alien robots!!!!

On to the film…A big qualm I had with the first film was that they spent too much time on the humans and not enough on the robots. A big reason for that is economics, and that’s understandable. CGI isn’t cheap. However, with a bigger budget and a couple years under their belt, I had high hopes that this one would feature the robots more. To an extent it does, but they still spend too much time on them.

Don’t get me wrong, a good portion of time they spend on the humans, makes sense, such as the storyline with military and the national security adviser, but other parts are there just for the sake of being there, such as, and it pains me to say thins, many of the scenes with Megan Fox. If there is a third film, Michael Bay needs to either maie it worth our while to see these God-forsaken humans, or cut back on their screentime. Again, I have to say, this franchise is called TRANSFORMERS, not humans, so let’s see more of them. I understand the cost and all, but there comes a point where you may just have to start working street corners for CGI, rather than sticking in more pointless human scenes.

While i’m on the topic of the humans, Michael Bay maintains his hard on for the military, but this time they’re actually helpful, and its the national security office (paranoid folks as they are, anyway) that is causing all the inner conflict.

Shia LeBeouf has done a lot of work since the previous film, and its obvious his acting has improved, but he’s still not god’s gift to acting. you could literally have a drinking game with the times he runs around saying “No! No! No! No!” or something similar.

Megan Fox is reduced to nothing but eye candy here, nothing wrong with that, per se, but her character has lost that depth she had in the first film, and is bordering on becoming the bitch girlfriend. Somethign tells me, if there is a third film, that’s what we’ll see from her.

Tyrese Gibson, John Torturro, and Tyrese Gibson all reprise their roles, in much smaller fashion. That’s pretty much all I can say about them.

Ramon Rodriguez comes in as Leo, Sam’s tech-savvy roommate. This guy seems cool enough, but from the minute he finds out about the Transformers until he seems to disappear, he is whiny and annoying. The guy seems like he has talent and potential, but it doesn’t show here.

Let’s talk Autobots, shall we? If you go into thins expecting to see a movie in the same vein as the G1 cartoon, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. Fact is, it’s all about Optimus Prime. Bumblebee, Mudflap, and Skids get a good portion of screentime. Ironhide has a lot of lines, but, he’s still underused, but at least he’s in most of the Autobot’s scenes, unlike Ratchet who is rarely even seen, except for a couple of scenes. New Autobots that have joined the force are, the aforementioned Mudflap and Skids, Sideswipe, Arcee, Jolt, and joining later in the film Jetfire and Wheelie. Arcee and Sideswipe have cool chase/fight scene at the beginning, but that’s about it. Jolt has no lines, and except for being instrumental in bringing Optimus Prime back to life, you don’t even see him. Wheelie is much less annoying than his G1 counterpart, and is another example of comic relief. Jetfire looks like Davey Jones and sounds like he should be a part of the Monty Python troupe, but he plays a very important role to the film, albeit confusing. There were rumors of Jazz returning, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. No Autobots died this time around, though. Not sure how I feel about that.

The Decepticons get a large portion of the Transformer screentime. One of the things that I loved from the original cartoon was the relationship/rivalry between Megatron and Starscream. This has been preserved, for the most part here. Soundwave was left out of the first film on purpose so that Bay could have leverage for a sequel. A good idea, but I think Soundwave was overhyped. I’ll have t see the film again to make a final decision on him, though. One thing I can say about him, though, is that, like optimus Prime, they got the original voice actor (though he doesn’t quite have that same sound) and kept his personality in tact. With Soundwave, you have to have at least one of his minions, they decided to give us Ravage, who is some sort of bony, one eyed cat that can project nanobots. The Constructicons merge to form Devastator. Do I really need to say more on that? Well, actually, I do. There was no need to give him balls! The Doctor is an interesting addition to the Decepticons, especially since he is some sort of spider-like creature.

The Fallen can officially take his place among the baddest villains in film. Voiced by Tony Todd, this guy just looks plain evil. Our first look at him is of him sitting in a throne like char as Megatron and Starscream come greet him. This brings me to my next point/qualm.

Megatron, in every incarnation (including Galvatron, after Unicron releases his hold on him), has been the psychotic villainous, mastermind on top of everything, so to hear him call someone “Master” takes away from the mystique. It seems as if they were going for the whole master/apprentice thing. Not sure what Starscream’s role is, though.

With every Michael Bay film, you are sure to get tons of explosions. This is no exception. Once we get past the initial introduction and get started, he never lets up. The opeining battle sequence dwarfs anything in the previous film. What really got me was the entrance of Optimus Prime. Anyone who has seen the original cartoon, knows that Prime is the ultimate everything. He didn’t give off that impression in the last film, though, but this one was vintage Prime. The only thing missing was his trailer. They seriously need to find a trailer to add to him.

While I’m on that subject, again I must discuss these horrible “realistic” designs of each robot. I guess its just my oyalty to the originals, but I am not a fan and don’t see why they can’t resemble the originals more closely. The upgraded vehicvle modes are acceptable…though Sideswipe couple have kept his original Lambroghini form. In the previous film, it was hard to tell who was who. Even Bumblebee, who sticks out more than anyone, got lost in the shuffle. With the influence of Hasbro and the fact that they learned from the previous film, they actually gave some color to a few of the robots. Still not enough for my taste, though. I mean, it doesn’t need to look like a 60s era living room or anything like that, but they are not the same color, and even the ones that are have different shades and markings. Like I said, that’s more the G1 fanboy in me being all nitpicky.

Ok, so this film has ups and downs. The story has some holes and everything, but chances are if you’re taking the time to watch this, you’re not watching it for some sort of cinematic masterpiece, but rather to enjoy yourself. Yes, it 2 1/2 hours, but unlike many films, there isn’t that lull that drags the film down. The action keep you interested and the humor keeps it from being too much.

Speaking of the humor, many complained about it being too much in the first film. I remember reading reviews saying that there was no need for any humor, and that this needs to be a dark, brooding film (referring to the first), blah, blah. So, my guess is Bay read those and wen the other way with it. Personally, I like it. My guess is that he read those and in his mind, figured that if he put more humor in, then people would like it,

Hopefully, I’ve given you some insight into this great film. It’s not perfect, but it is entertaining. Pay no attention to those stuff critic reviews. Go see it for yourself and make your own decision. Fanboy love aside, I loved it, and think people that aren’t influenced by what they read will be, as well.

5 out of 5 stars

Death Race

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

By 2012 the economy of the United States has fallen into disaster, unemployment, and crime are on the rise, and private corporations run most prisons across the nation for profit. The movie focuses on the Terminal Island Prison, which broadcasts “Death Race” to the world via a popular paysite on the Internet. Death Race is not only a race to the finish line, but a battle pitting driver against driver for survival.

The film begins by showing a race near its end between Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson) and a famous masked driver known as Frankenstein (David Carradine in a voice-over cameo appearance), who is accompanied by a female navigator. During the race, Frankenstein’s car’s defensive systems stop working and he orders his navigator to “drop the tombstone”, a 6 inch steel plate in the rear of the car; dropping it disconnects it from the car, tumbling it towards Joe. Joe’s Dodge Ram is heavily damaged but he manages to destroy Frankenstein’s car since, with the tombstone gone, the car’s fuel tank is exposed. Frankenstein’s navigator ejects, leaving him to race alone to the finish line. Joe fires a volley of rocket-propelled grenades toward Frankenstein’s car, which is blown over the finish line in a flaming inferno leaving Frankenstein critically wounded, or dead.

Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is framed for his wife’s murder on the same day that the steel mill he works at closes; the murderer is actually a masked intruder that points a finger-gun at Ames as he leaves. Ames is sent to prison where he immediately makes enemies by fighting with a white supremacist gang, led by Pachenko (Max Ryan). He is taken to Hennessey (Joan Allen) who tells him that those men will kill him without her help. Thus he is coerced by the warden to become the new driver of Frankenstein’s 2005 Ford Mustang. The warden tells Ames that she knows about his baby daughter left in foster care. She also states that prisoners are freed upon winning five Death Races, but since he will take on the mask of the legendary Frankenstein, who had 4 wins at the time of his death, he will only need to win one race.

The races are broken into three stages: Stages 1 and 2 are races in which the driver must merely survive, and Stage 3 the driver must win the race in order for it to count toward his freedom. The track’s features [devices that activate either defensive or offensive weapons] are controlled by the prison warden and can be enabled or disabled at her command.

Ames meets his pit crew, Coach (Ian McShane) his crew chief who has been eligible for parole for three years. “Gunner” (Jacob Vargas) the mechanic for his car, and “Lists” (Frederick Koehler), who has background info on all the drivers. Lists tells Ames about the other drivers, including Hector Grimm (Robert LaSardo) AKA “The Grimm Reaper”, described as ‘a clinical psychopath and mass murderer’; Travis Colt (Justin Mader) an ex-NASCAR driver trying to regain his fame; 14K (Robin Shou) a tenth generation Triad and considered to be the smartest in the prison because he’s the only one with a degree from MIT. Ames also learns that Pachenko is the driver for the gang he fought with earlier and that no one knows just how many people Pachenko’s killed off the track.

Just before the Stage 1 Race, Ames is introduced to his navigator, Case (Natalie Martinez), who was also the previous Frankenstein’s navigator. During the race, Ames sees Pachenko make the same hand gesture as the intruder that killed his wife. Driver Siad is killed when his car is impaled on a device known as a ‘Deathhead’ and exploded as the Deathhead descends back into its slot. Travis Colt is killed when, after Ames’ car’s defensive systems fail, he uses the navigator’s ejector seat to launch a napalm canister toward Colt’s Jaguar XJS, after which Case ignites the napalm with a cigarette lighter. Grimm is killed after crawling from his wrecked Chrysler 300 when Machine Gun Joe’s Gatling gun decapitates him while Joe is traveling at high speeds. Ames finishes last after taking a hard hit from Machine Gun Joe.

Ames learns he is part of a plot to keep the legend of Frankenstein alive solely for the personal profit of warden Hennessey. He confronts Hennessey about the driver he believes is responsible for his wife’s death, but instead of acting on this information she shows him pictures of his daughter living with foster parents, asking him if he thinks he could provide for his child better than they could. Furious, he takes one of the pictures and leaves. The night before Stage 2 of the race he makes a trip to the Pachenko’s team’s pit to confront him. He is then ambushed by Pachenko but is helped by Lists who stabs Pachenko in the back with a pen, allowing Ames to retaliate, but his revenge is thwarted by head prison guard Ulrich (Jason Clarke) who tells both men to ‘save it for the race’.

Ames goes into Stage 2 of the race and immediately questions his navigator Case on her intentions, threatening to eject her into the ceiling of a tunnel if she does not answer truthfully. She tells him she was ordered to sabotage the previous Frankenstein’s defense weapons so he would not win his freedom, promised that she would earn her own. Ames realizes he is not meant to survive the Death Race at all, but is meant to die so another “Frankenstein” can be brought into the prison and his purpose is ‘just to make it exciting’. He realizes that one way or another Hennessey will sabotage any driver that gets close to winning five races and will allow no one to leave the contest alive. He causes Pachenko’s Buick Riviera to crash and roll, allowing him another opportunity for revenge. Pachenko crawls away from the car wreck, pleading with Ames and saying that Hennessey made him kill. Ames replies that “She’s next” and snaps Pachenko’s neck. Five drivers remain until 14K, Carson, and Riggins are killed by ‘the Dreadnought’, the warden’s secret weapon, (an 18 wheel tank truck filled with assorted weapons) that had been secretly in production for months. Ames and Machine Gun Joe collaborate to destroy the Dreadnought using one of the Deathheads and finish Stage 2. Realizing that Ames knows what’s going on, Hennessey orders Ulrich to plant an explosive under Ames’ car before Stage 3 of the Death Race to ensure that Ames does not cross the finish line alive. However, Ames devises his own scheme when Coach shows him a video of Grimm’s death, highlighting that Grimm’s car collided with a particular billboard in the earlier race. Ames then meets with Joe, who now suspects him to be “Frankenstein” and tells Joe that Joe and Frankenstein should talk.

The Stage 3 Race begins with only two drivers remaining: “Frankenstein” and Machine Gun Joe. The race begins, and Ames soon takes the lead but the warden rigs the track to benefit Joe to Ames’ disadvantage. Throughout the entire lap, Joe stays on Ames’ tail, hammering him with bullets; Ames drops the ‘tombstone’ again, but Joe dodges it without taking damage. As they near the beginning of the second lap, Joe preps newly added missiles and fires an RPG in Ames’ direction, seemingly with the intent to kill him. However, they miss the car and instead hit the billboard at the first turn of the track. It is shown that the Ames saw a pathway to the bridge leading off the island behind the destroyed billboard in the video he and his crew reviewed previously.

Ames and Joe escape onto the bridge, pursued by police cruisers and helicopters. As the police close in on the two cars, Ames releases his exposed fuel tank, causing it to explode and stop the pursuing cars. (Gunner had equipped Ames with an extra half-gallon tank for his escape). Hennessey then orders that the explosive under Ames’ car be set off, but nothing happens because Coach had found, removed, and deactivated the bomb prior to the start of the race, proclaiming “nobody fucks with my car.” Escaping past the bridge, Joe and Ames separate, and Hennessey orders the helicopters to focus on ‘Frankenstein’, but he switches seats with Case when she tells him that Hennessey had already signed her release papers, and that she ‘owed one’ to the old Frankenstein. He bails out of the car without being seen, making the helicopters believe he is still inside. Joe meets up with Ames and they board a train to escape, lamenting on Hennessey’s continued existence. Soon, Ames’ Mustang is stopped and Case, posing as Frankenstein, is apprehended.

Later, Hennessey exults in the high ratings and revenue and the supposed apprehension of ‘Frankenstein’. Ulrich then hands her a present sent to her for the record number of viewers subscribing to the Death Race. However, the explosive that was put on the Frankenstein car is inside the box and Coach detonates it remotely, stating directly into the camera, “I love this game.”

Six months later, Ames and Joe are shown working on a car in a junkyard in Mexico, when Case unexpectedly arrives. The two men are happy to see her, and Case hugs Ames, and he shows her his baby daughter. The movie closes with Ames explaining that even though he knows he’s far from being the best parent in the world, no one could love his child more than he could.

REVIEW:

I’ll admit that when I saw the trailer for this film over the summer, I didn’t know what to think, so I stayed away from it in the theater. I just finished watching it on DVD and I have to say, I was impressed.

I’m not too familiar with Jason Statham’s work. I know he’s been in a lot of action films, such as The Trainsporter franchise, but this is the first film I’ve actually watched with him in it. Taking into consideration that he doesn’t really need to do anything other than look pissed for most of the movie, he works perfectly in this role. Not to mention, the dude has a body I only could only wish for.

Joan Allen is positively bitchy as the warden. A far cry from her role as the mother in Pleasantville.

Tyrese Gibson, while not a mainstream actor, holds his own as Machine Gun Joe. His acting chops are getting as good as his modeling skills were at one time.

Natalie Martinez adds a nice bit of eye candy to the screen. As much as I hate to say that’s all she was good for, it’s true. Her role as the navigator isn’t much more than glorified pin-up girl riding shotgun.

Make no mistake, this movie screams adrenaline and testosterone and nothing else. If you’re not a fan of blood, sweat, cars, action, and blowing stuff up, then stay away from this film. However, if you are, then you will love it. I know I did!

4 out of 5 stars