Got tired of the dysfunctional Flixter Facebook app. Grading movies A-F. Only movies that I find interesting, but not necessarily high quality. Some blockbusters, some interesting rarities and oddities, and occasionally some turkeys.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Transformers 2 and 3: Countless animation design hours, but nothing else

Both movies have identical storylines as the first movie. An ancient, super-powerful Transformer knows secrets. And there is a super-powerful piece of extraterrestrial technology, which will destroy the sun, or cause Earth to blow up, or whatever. And Sam Witwicky is the only one who can save Earth.

These movies do not really care about being logically consistent. A story doesn't need to be credible, but it needs to be comprehensible. These stories are neither. Stuff blows up well and some action shots look good, but other than that…

Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Earth-friendly Transformers fighting the Decepticons to get universe domination. The existence of the Earth is at stake. They are fighting to get the ultimate weapon – a matrix. (No, not that matrix. This is some sort of cube).

The most common line in the movie is "Go! Go! Go! Go!". The second most common lines are "No! Wait!" and "Ruuun!!"

Summary of the last hour: "Holy shit, it's a trick! Commence Operation Firestorm!" Then Megatron goes: "DIE!" and blasts Sam. Then enters Sam's parents and btw they all go to Cheops pyramid in Egypt.

Who ever knew that a $200-million budget could make such crap? I really liked the first Transformers. This sequel is only noisy. A lot of the problems come with the genre, but the lack of a decent storyline in this movie left me bored with all the action. The (unfunny) humor is not part of the film, so much as an add-on inserted in specific scenes. The last hour is so full of dull and monotonous pointless action that I just kept fast-forwarding.

Grade: F

Advisory: Probably no one in the production team had any idea of what do to with any of the characters, or how to get from a scene to the other.

Transformers (2011): Dark of the Moon

Somewhere after one and a half hour I realized that the movie has similarities to 怪獣総進撃 Kaijū Sōshingeki ("Destroy All Monsters"). Aliens take control of Earth's monsters and begin using them to destroy the human race. That movie is from 1968. This one is 43 years younger.

The real Apollo 11 mission is not to win the space race, but to check a crashed alien spaceship on the moon. (Who knew?) It contains dead Autobots that have escaped after a big war from the planet Cybertron with a (yet another) top-secret weapon. The CIA covers everything up.

Meanwhile in Russia, scientists have found a fuel cell from the same ship (don't ask how!). The Soviet Union attempts unsuccessfully to use it as a power source and cause the Chernobyl disaster. The KGB also covers everything up. (Btw, the Hoover Dam was built for same purpose in the first Transformers movie.)

The evil Megatron summons the evil Decepticons by tricking all nice Autobots into a trap. He revives the über-bad Decepticon General Sentinel Prime and opens a dimensional portal through a black hole to move Cybertron to Earth and slave the entire human race. He sends hundreds of Decepticons to occupy earth. They start by destroying Chicago.

Meanwhile, our hero Sam is unemployed and frustrated with life. The President has decorated him for saving the world, but that apparently doesn't mean anything to future employment opportunities. Having nothing better to do, our young hero saves the planet with his girlfriend. New leading female actor Rosie Huntington-Whitely, who makes her counterpart Megan Fox in the two first movies seem like Katharine Hepburn, spends the final hour of the movie looking as though she's ready to have a nervous breakdown. Lucky thing all villains always must proclaim something before they start to kill somebody. That gives plenty of time for the heroes to act. Phew.

I have some objections. As an evil genius it's understandable that you want to achieve global domination. Building, arming and firing your ultimate super-weapon is the most important objective you'll have. But what would have actually happened had a planet the size of Cybertron suddenly materialized and entered earth's orbit? You would have only a couple of minutes to live before they collided due to gravity. Those minutes would be filled with uncontrollable natural disasters. If you want 7 billion people for the sole purpose of slave labor, you should probably think about that.

Grade: F

Advisory: The stupid things people constantly say. Constantly!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Transformers (2007): “I Bought A Car. It turned out to be an Alien Robot. Who Knew?”

Café’ kid (looking at a crushed store): “Wow! This is the coolest thing I've ever seen! Explosions everywhere! This is easily a hundred times cooler than Armageddon... I swear to God!”

Cool CGI, ridiculous dialogue, stupid plot. The film starts with relationship between the young hero and his newly bought car. (Yes, his car.) The car turns out to be an intergalactic robot, in war with other intergalactic robots. Somehow the young hero’s old grandfather made a discovery and somehow some sort of geotag got etched on his grandfather’s spectacles (!) that he’s trying to sell on Ebay (first product placement).

The good and the bad robots fight to get the spectacles. The Universe is at stake. Robots throwing tanks like snowballs, beating the crap out of each other can’t fail, can it?

Secretary of Defense: “We are dealing with a highly effective weapons system, one that we have not come across before.” The movie can’t fail, can it?

Optimus Prime: “And the human race will be extinguished.” The movie can’t fail, can it?

Three things actually make the movie work: It has a decently structured plot, even though it’s stupid, with a decent cast of characters. And the movie never takes itself too seriously. With at quite clever Nokia-before-smartphones product placement.

Transformers is remarkably stupid, but it knows it’s stupid and simply doesn’t care, which is why the film is so much fun. Director Michael Bay shows his robots in perfect hero poses with blinding sunlight streaming over their shoulders, and robot Optimus Prime talks about loyalty, duty, and freedom like he’s just stepped off a recruitment poster.

Transformers absolutely revels in how completely loony this premise is, and is all the better for it. The movie is a great, noisy and explosive six-pack and popcorn action film, if you are in CGI-action mode.

Grade: B+

Advisory: Lots of stuff blown up. Robots cause mayhem everywhere they go. Hugo Weaving was paid handsomely to voice the villain Megatron