Tuesday, July 5, 2011


How do you follow up a Razzie for Worst Picture and Worst Director (for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)? By heeding advice and doing better?

Well, judging from the results of the third installment of this billion-dollar franchise, Michael Bay might have finally found his footing, although not a rock-solid one yet.

Bay himself was determined to right the wrongs of the previous movies, and decided that he should focus more on the robots this time round, instead of some lame mythology involving the Great Pyramids of Egypt in the second movie.

And boy did he follow through with the robots. But of course, as usual, that was all in the expense of proper characterization, pacing and maybe a little bit of logic.

Dark of the Moon begins with a 1960s conspiracy behind the reason why the U.S. sent the first men to the moon. Something has crash landed there which is of vital importance in the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, important enough to revive Megatron and Optimus Prime's predecessor, the wise and respected Sentinel Prime.

With a round-up of robots this powerful and impressive, it is no surprise that something big is brewing, where the city of Chicago and McDreamy is embroiled in the mess. That's right, a Grey's Anatomy cast member plays quite an important supporting role here.

A stage is set for an Armageddon-esque scenario where the Decepticons of planet Cybertron has plans on turning Earth into their own factory, with a very prominent Autobot turning his back on his own kind.

All this while, central human character Sam Witwicky (Spielberg's protege Shia LaBeouf, still acting all jittery in trying to save the world the third time) has a new job, new Boss (the slightly insane John Malkovich) and lo and behold, a new girl, Carly (British eye-candy Rosie Huntington). But even when hot-headed agent Charlotte Mearing (scene-stealing Frances McDormand) can't control the robots, you know it's the Transformers' game.

And this is where Michael Bay pushes all the right buttons.

Boasting some of the best action sequences of the year so far - yes, even better than X-Men and Thor - this is where Bay is right at home. With his trademark slow-motion camera work, the transforming from uber-sleek cars to uber-cool metallic robots takes on a whole new dimension; and a car chase sequence recalls the heart-stopping action of this year's Fast Five, but with vehicles that not only flip, but shape-shift to menacing machines that terrorise at 180km/h.

The final act in the city of Chicago features an epic destruction of a skyscraper, with our human protagonists being tossed around like rag dolls in a crumbling tower of glass by one of the scariest Decepticons to grace the screen thus far. Imagine Anaconda but in a robotic form, with its size and ferocity multiplied by a hundred. Terrifying stuff.

With the media claiming that this is the movie that revives the 3D technology - seeing that Bay shot many scenes with an actual 3D camera - I chose to catch it in all its 'supposed' glory. Suffice to say, I personally believe the 2D version wouldn't hurt the effects; they are jaw-dropping enough to enjoy without the tinted glasses.

A summer movie that lives up to expectations and with common frat-boy humour tossed in to remind you it's a Michael Bay film, Dark of the Moon is surprisingly gritty and entertaining. With the extra moo-lah (over US$300million in global takings in its first weekend only), Transformers 4 might be inevitable (I can hear the wails of the critics all over).

Bay has expressed that he needs to take a break to do smaller indie projects (with smaller explosions?), so I am actually quite excited about the future of this franchise.

Current Tomatometer: 38%

My Rating: 3.5/5

That's all! I never knew I would enjoy this movie as much; it has everything a summer movie fan is looking for and it delivers without much faults.

Take care, people!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Movie Ramblings | The Busy Mr. Spielberg

1 year, 5 movies. 2011 is quickly turning into a year where Steven Spielberg is stamping his name on so many films it's mind-boggling.

From the extraterrestrial (Super 8, Cowboys & Aliens) to fanboy favourites (Transformers 3, The Adventures of Tintin), the filmmaker is either directing or producing each one of them. And besides Tintin, this year's Christmas will also see War Horse hitting the theatres, a WWI epic where pundits are starting to say it's his official Oscar bait for 2012.

But gosh, 5 movies - that sounds like a huge undertaking. Is he taking the auteur theory too far? (Does he even care about it?) And, does it hurt to be too prolific? (Hello, over-exposure)

Anyhow, here's a run-down of the five movies which has the Spielberg's name on it this year, starting from the latest:

Credits: Director

The trailer hit the web only 2 days ago but it already has the critics buzzing.

The sweeping cinematography and the themes of war - wait, isn't this Spielberg-Oscar territory? Recall: Saving Private Ryan (Academy Award for Best Director) and Schindler's List (Academy Award for Best Picture and Director).

Will it strike Gold for Spielberg again? We'll just have to wait and see this December.

2) The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Credits: Director

Yup, two of the greatest filmmakers living now has decided to adapt one of the most beloved comic characters of all time - Tintin. The other man at the helm of this motion-capture film is another master of adaptation - Peter Jackson, with the LOTR director providing the technology and producing the picture. This has got to be enough to excite any movie fan.

The trailer, downplaying the aforementioned motion-capture (but still, fantastic animation):

3) Cowboys & Aliens
Credits: Executive Producer

You did not read it wrong, it is indeed sand-and-pistol cowboys vs. UFO-riding aliens. But don't get all cynical yet. This is an adaptation of a 2006 graphic novel of the same name with Jon Favreau as director. Jon who? Jon the-freaking-director-of-Marvel's-IRON-MAN Favreau. That's right.

Take a look at the trailer, it's not all that lame. Oh, and there's Harrison Ford, too.

4) Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Credits: Executive Producer

Yes, yes, this one Mr. Spielberg also wanna chap jit kah. But to be fair, he has been Michael "Boom-Boom" Bay's producer for the past 2 Transformers films as well, so it was only sensible he returned for this.

But please - since Spielberg's name is so prominent in the trailer, let's hope this is at least better than the second one. Watch out for my review soon.

5) Super 8
Credits: Producer

Okay, the dust has settled on this movie, and the verdict is out - thrilling but not as exciting as the trailers set out to be. But this is probably the movie that has the biggest influence of his, from the movie characters to the extraterrestrial element, all are classic Spielberg. Sorry, J.J., limelight's not on you this time.

Read my review here.

Okay, that's all. Watching Transformers 3 tomorrow! In 3D. Wish me luck.

Take care, people!