Transformers: (Hopefully) The Last Knight

Transformers The Last Knight poster.jpg

Acting: ⭐⭐
Build: -☠☠
Writing: -☠☠
Characters: DUD
Visuals: ⭐⭐⭐

Transformers: The Last Knight is like Batman vs. Superman overloaded with more vacuity. It starts off with promise before the story gets lost in the bad humor, slow motions, unfunny jokes, fast cars and overbloated special effects.

At the end of the movie a child said to his father “Daddy that movie was so awesome. I took two naps!” I thought “You lucky bastard”. I was not surprised if anyone got multiple naps in as the movie went for 149 minutes.

The story to Transformers: The Last Knight begins with a segment of the story of King Arthur and Merlin before it segways into Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and Laura Haddock (Viviane Wembly) being the present day embodiment of the medieval characters as the try to save the world from Transformers that crash land into earth.

Image result for transformers 5
I can see the difference between two bulking scraps of metal in Transformers: The Last Knight. That’s a good start!

There were so many things that were wrong with this picture but the one good thing was the cinematography at a certain level. Transformers: The Last Knight does look visually pleasing and I can tell which Transformer was fighting what or whom. I could even tell which one was winning.

Beyond that what you have got here is an overblown, convoluted mess. The sound was too loud, the script was full of anti-wit containing moronic unfunny jokes and dumb insults, each scene feels like forever and you just lose complete focus because of the structural mayhem.

Image result for mother nature just shit her pants tropic thunder
Bay’s pyrotechnician.

The structual mayhem primarily comes from the editing. The movie just cannot cut away fast enough to get the next shot from the multiple camera angles that Michael Bay set up. You are given absolutely no room to breathe or take anything in. It aims to do a 149 minute sprint by which I did not (nor any reasonable person should) have the stamina for that speed.

Image result for aspect ratios
Every second shot, the aspect ratio changes (the black bars on the screen)

What made the cinematography and editing even worse is I noticed the images were stretching in and out constantly. What I had realized was that Transformers: The Last Knight changes aspect ratio nearly every single shot. Once I noticed this, I could not help but notice the black bars on the screen changing sizes. It was distracting as hell to watch.

Transformers: The Last Knight was a film that I expected and dreaded because the June/July session is when movie studios put their blockbusters out on release and normally any semblance or sanity or even excitement is crushed by the weight of visual and auditory sensation.This is often done without and substance, context or justification. To paraphrase The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot. Transformers: The Last Knight is “Shape without form, shade without color, paralyzed force, gesture without motion” This movie talks about the chosen knight but has the heart and soul of a hollow man, a stuffed man. ⭐

P.S. The revisionist history this film make up is hilarious. In this movie, autobots were responsible for the toppling of the Third Reich, the abolishment of slavery, the medival Chinese wars and toppling the Saxons. In the movie there are photographs and sketchings of the autobots and yet the movie want me to believe that the transformers did it all secretly.

The Mummy: Dead on Arrival

Image result for the mummy

Acting ⭐1/2
Build ⭐⭐
Writing ⛧⛧
Characters ⭐3/4
Visuals ⭐⭐1/2

Creating Universes are now a trend in movie industry now more than ever and Universal have responded badly to the changing trend. The Mummy, the first movie of the “Dark Universe” franchise Universal have made and it’s like watching paint dry. It is so boring that Tom Cruise couldn’t save it. If an energetic Tom Cruise can’t save it, that’s all you need to know about how bad The Mummy was.

Tom Cruise plays a soldier stealing ancient artifacts and selling them for profit. When he gets involved in a conflict zone, he finds an underground temple that awakens Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and Cruise has to stop her from creating her new world order.

That is the jist of the plot, though The Mummy makes it feel needlessly complicated. To be fair on the movie’s part, there are two action scenes that were good and the CGI is not too terrible. While in any movie, that is not a pass mark, it is certainly a redeemable film if I can easily spot some redeeming qualities.

What redeeming qualitys The Mummy had however vwas swallowed up in a sea of bland boring badness. There are many bad things about The Mummy but I will limit it to two major components which are the tedious dialogue and the zany genre shifting that never gels together nor works on their own.

The writing is terrible in ways that make me wonder if the six writers ever proofread what they were writing. The writing is a flood of expository dialogue that is never interesting. This is due to The Mummy needing to “build the franchise”.

The expository dialogue is either narration, expositions of mythology or lazy writing to get out plot holes. Russel Crowe must have been bewildered with the amount of dialogue he had to read for his role. Eventually, The Mummy stopped becoming a film and more about an audiobook on ancient Egyptian mythology narrated by Russel Crowe.

Beyond the bad writing, The Mummy also loves to shift between genres like horror and action-comedy whenever it wants to without it ever feeling like a smooth transition. This did not matter much as the horror scenes were not scary, the comedy was not funny and the action only mildly thrilling. The only good scenes are when Tom Cruise gets to be Tom Cruise (which is about two or three sequences). Trust me, you will know what those are because they will stand out from the 120 other minutes of nothing.

The Mummy is the worst kind of franchise building that you could imagine. It’s the kind where they introduce characters and have limited depth to them for which they will be revealed in subsequent films. It also feels like a stopgap for other subsequent movies and this is the first in the franchise. The Mummy is unusually bad. ⭐1/4

Baywatch: In Name Only

Image result for baywatch

Zack Efron and Dwayne Johnson’s physiques are emblematic of Baywatch the movie: All strength and no stamina. Every actor’s talents were wasted by the actors playing themselves or stock characters. Baywatch might have gotten away with it if it was at least funny.

Admittedly, I did laugh twice. But twice in the span of 116 minutes is quite a thin spread. Baywatch is in name only as it’s less of a movie about lifeguards on the beach as it is a buddy cop movie. It kept reminding me of a far lesser grade of Beverly Hills Cop. Or if that’s too archaic of a reference, it more like a lesser grade 21 Jump Street.

Image result for baywatch
I expected Johnson and Efron to interduce themselves as Axel Foley and Sgt. Tagget. Only 80’s movie fans will get that joke.

The story follows a two-time olympic gold medalist Mike (Zac Efron). Mike has fallen from grace as he vomited into a swimming pool competing for this thrid gold medal. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is the head lifeguard at Baywatch and both have to investigate a drug ring that is smuggling flakka on the shores of Baywatch.

You may wonder why lifeguards, not the police, are investigating and planning a potential drug bust. I saw the movie and I am still wondering why. It has too many tonal shifts between beach comedy and drama and action comedy and drama. It eventually settles with criminal espionage with lifeguards instead of cops none of which is particularly funny or thrilling.

Related image
Where the gags go in Baywatch: In the bin and recycled again and again.

There are gags in Baywatch that constantly repeat, making me want them to move on. There is one where they constantly reference that hot people run in slow motion and another string of gags where lifeguards name Efron’s character different teen-bop artists. While not particularly funny, at least there is variety in the name calling with the various punchlines. He was called “Justin Bieber” “NSNYC” New Kid on the Block” and various other names. Those gags got tiring quickly and the movie constantly rehashed the same joke.

There were also scenes that were a complete waste too as they added nothing to the story. There were entire scenes which you could take out and the movie would have made just as much sense. Why they made an entire scene with David Hasselhoff instead of a quick cameo appearance with Pamela Anderson I have no idea. Why Efron did a complete obstacle course that had nothing to do with the lifeguard recruitment process I also have no idea.

rules.PNG
“Baywatch works because we follow rules” HAHAHAHAHA!

Overall, I believe that Baywatch is so long because all the actors have to get all their shit in while constantly running out of steam by flip-flopping between genres and locations. It also looked like the editor forgot his scissors on he day at work as pointless scenes made the final cut and made the movie 116 minutes long. Because of this, I highly doubt the filmmakers had a solid idea for the movie before they started filmmaking. ⭐3/4

PS: Baywatch has the fakest CGI fire I have ever seen. I have seen Zack Snyder films with more convincing CGI.

Wonder Woman- FINALLY!

Image result for wonder woman poster

After three movies in their cinematic universe, DC have finally got a firm step in the right direction with Wonder Woman. Prior to Wonder Woman, I felt that DC movie had a vision of what they wanted, they just did a bad job executing it. Now, with Wonder Woman it looks like they have realized that vision. I got what they were going after but now I am starting to like it.

Set in the time of the First World War, Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman- Known as Diana and raised on a secluded island of female Amazons- who sees a pilot (Chris Pine) who crashed his plane next to the island, fleeing from German forces. After the pilot tells his story of escape, Wonder Woman believes that Aries, the God of War, is the instigator of the war and seeks out to defeat him.

Image result for wonder woman island of amazons
The island Wonder Woman inhabits during the first act. Well shot, looks luscious.

Yes, it took me awhile for me to program the fact that an ancient God instigated a war, but in the mind of Wonder Women, that’s her belief as she was a sheltered child who knows nothing about the outside world. This film is aware of her naiveté but I’m glad the movie never makes her look dumb and stupid. Chris Pine, does a great job of reacting to her flaws, generating both light-hearted humor and drama without being too condescending to her. He does a great job here is an underrated actor.

Wonder Woman has taken all the good of previous DC movies and pushed away a lot of the bad from DC movies. It has the darkness of Batman vs Superman minus the murkiness. Wonder Woman incorporates mild doses of humor to compliment the dark tone of the material whereas Suicide Squad did it so erratically.

Image result for sword wonder woman
One of the minor problems in the movie is the sword. It a payoff that ultimately does not happen for its purpose.

Adding from that, Wonder Woman has told a story which never feels confusing or lost in the making of the film. In the combination of both the balance in tone and creating a simple story that never feels confusing, DC have made a good film. Six months ago, that thought would have never entered my head.

I don’t see Wonder Woman as the breakout movie for DC that will immediately turn heads, but I see Wonder Woman as the starting block. Even though it was an entertaining film, I still think there is a better film from DC that has not been made yet. It is certainly a firm step in the right direction ⭐⭐⭐3/4

John Wick Chapter 2: A Hit and Miss

Image result for john wick chapter 2
This is what happens when you say “I crush and microwave my Weet-B  ix”

The good: The creative action sequences in the second half
The in-between: The supporting cast, the story (it coherent and makes sense)
The bad: The numbing and boring action sequences in the first half

I am surprised that many critics thought that John Wick Chapter 2 was completely innovative. I think it is innovative… in the second half. Mostly I was mildly interested, sometimes I was bored in the first half of the movie. As a matter of fact, a lot of the movie is completely generic.

The plot is that John Wick (Keanu Reeves) a retired hitman is brought back in the game reluctantly by a secret assassin society. The gangster that hires him Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), wants Wick to kill his sister in Rome to consolidate power in the society.

Image result for john wick chapter 2
Ian Mcshane plays Winston who I like to call “Da Boss”. I like his delivary when he says “excommunicado”

In the beginning of John Wick Chapter 2 John Wick is gets run over by evil henchmen three times and there were so much gunfire and murder. As a story I ask myself “Structurally, how is John Wick going to top this opening because I am pretty desensitized to this point” they do top it admittedly it was quite clever how it was executed.

Image result for john wick hall of mirrors
This “Hall of Mirrors” scene looks and is pretty cool. Well shot and choreographed.

I counted and there were about six moments that were actually cool. That’s a good number however nearly all of them were condensed in the climax meaning the first 90 minutes were a medicore affair. John Wick Chapter Two plays it’s hand in the final act. There are two action sequences. One of them is in the subway station both. The other one takes place inside a hall of mirrors. They both scenes that were both thrilling and inventive. Both are gimmicks that have been used before in movies but they have not worn out it’s welcome.

What has worn out its welcome in action movies are two things

1. The protagonist having 100% accuracy with a gun and
2. The arm bar.

 

GTA
John Wick (and Mike Banning) never gets this notification. Lock-on is the equivalent of steroids in the bodybuilding world.

The “Man who never misses when firing his gun” cliche reduces action movies in a risk-free killing spree making it hard to care for John Wick’s fate since I believe he is not in any sense of danger.

Image result for 127 hours arm
Now this is an arm bar

The arm bar to me has become a recent crutch in action movie. It’s like depending on swearing for a joke to be funny in a comedy. It’s been overused recently because people are now into Mixed Martial Arts. I have gotten tired of it. If someone is going to apply and armbar, I actually hope someone would actually break hyperextend or even break the arm for the sake of variety.

All the action in the first half of John Wick is a combination of those two boring and repetitive things. Oh and Wick gets run over by several cars. He has legs of steel.

I would argue that John Wick Chapter 2 were two separate movies. The first half I was deprived off anything that was interesting the story fell like a cheap knock-off of The Godfather. The second half consists of the John Wick Chapter 2 I wanted to see. It’s no great action movie Casino Royale or Face/Off but it sure isn’t as cartoonish and self-serving of a bad action movie like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. ⭐⭐3/4

Alien Covenant: A nice addition to the Franchise

Image result for Alien Covenant poster

What works in Alien: Covenant: Production design, slash sequences, establishment of characters and cinematography

What was ok: Dialogue and story,

What sucked: The majority of the third act making no sense (in my mind) and some leaps in internal logic.

Alien: Covenant is a film that I think gets the thousand little things right and the 2 or 3 big things wrong. However, there is strength in numbers and because it got a lot right Alian: Covenant turns out to be quite enjoyable.

I think that Alien: Covenant will satisfy a lot of fans as it sticks to the anesthetics that made it memorable and it does not move anywhere near outside its comfort zone. If you are not a fan of space, science fiction or aliens spawning out of the flesh of a human than you have come to the wrong place.

Image result for alien covenant neomorph
Chuck Norris incubates and breeds neomorphs for breakfast. I don’t want to take up the hobby. 

Alien: Covenant exposes the sadistic part of me that show the art in gruesome scary sequences. It’s one of the few films that shows the viscera of life and death without descending into shock value. The filmmakers establish the world beautifully and give believable motives as to why the crew investigates a specific planet before the gore begins which is the major selling point of Alien: Covenant.

Image result for alien covenant xenomorph
Very menacing but it had a MAJOR momentary editing issue. He is in one location then goes to another without any explanation as to how it got from point A to B.

The other thing I was mostly pleased at was the establishment of characters. This was an ensemble and they were uniquely presented making me interested in each of the characters. They all have their quirks, Walter/David (Michael Fassbender) for example has the intelligence and has a “creative” hobby. How they develop some of the key characters is a little rocky but at least it’s not terrible.

The two or three major problems I have with Alien:Covenant descends into massive spoiler territory but to sum it up: It didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Things happen in which people (or things) appear when it’s impossible to be where they are and have been given no explanation as to why. That includes the ending, which was also completely predictable if have ever seen a horror movie in your life. Had those moments make a lick of sense, Alien Covenant would have made for a much better film.

Still, I liked this movie because of the majority of Alien: Covenant works as passable entertainment. I see it not as a standout of the franchise but it does hold a place in it. ⭐⭐⭐1/4

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Refines the Original

I am going to be one of the few critics to say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 improves upon it’s predecessor Guardians of the Galaxy. I did like the first one but not as much as most people did so my standards were a little bit lower but still, I like it when I feel a sequel improves upon the original.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 feels like a refined version of Guardians of the Galaxy. The basic concepts are the same. They are still the five superheroes working as a team working towards defeating an enemy who aims to overcome a villain. What made me smile was how clever I thought Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 executed it.

Image result for guardians of the galaxy vol. 2
I’m glad they used Groot in the story he was funny and was a contributing factor in the story. I was worried that the only reason he was in the movie was to sell toys.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has two small changes from the original that enhanced my experience of it dramatically. Both of them involved making logical, important character developments in the narrative. Add in a bit of restraint of humor in the script and that’s it.

A Better Script helps make a Better Movie

Image result for deadpool drawing movie
A well-written script is a delight to see and great to hear

One of my main complaints in the original Guardians of the Galaxy was that they used humor in climatic battles to patronize their villains which lost a dramatic edge in a fight sequence that I felt was needed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Peter Quell (Chris Pratt) or Rocky (Bradley Cooper) telling jokes (like telling a guard to change his self-proclaimed name from “Taserface” into something like “Scrotumhead”) but I don’t like it all the time. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. there was joke-restraint in climatic scenes and I believed in moments which they suggested the Guardians or the villain were going to lose (or win) a fight. I invested a lot more in the climatic battles simply because the movie aimed to be more serious about it.

The Supporting Actors that made this Movie Great

half god
Kurt Russel and Michael Hooker are Gods half-metaphorically speaking 😉

There are two little (but significant) character developments in the movie. One of which is about Ego (Kurt Russel) and the other which was about Yondu (Michael Rooker). What you get to know about these two characters is a major part of the story’s development and I didn’t expect it to have been executed any better. When the movie fully fleshes out those two characters, it hightened my interest even more and brought the movie up several notches.

Other mish mash (The Movie Review’s B-Sides)

taserface-191971-1280x0
The Taserface of the review: Worth mentioning but not worth devoting entire paragraphs to.

 

Despite the fact I think Guardians of the Galexy Vol.2 was better than the original, there were a couple of minor misteps and observations that I feel are worthy of note that I will give three of them out in bullet form.

1. The soundtrack was more on-the-nose with their songtitles which was a bit eyerolling. At least they fit the movie’s tone more than the original

2. The movie does a complete character change to Drax (Dave Bautista) from being somewhat menicing and having austistic tendancies to just being completly goofy. It was weird.

3. I felt the resolution was a little overdone and I’ll just kept it at that.

Beyond that, this is more-or-less the same movie as the original Guardians of the Galaxy so if you liked the original I think you will like this. It probably won’t convert people who already didn’t like the original though.

Thank God Marvel exists. They are not perfect (cough X-Men Apocalypse cough) but they have a good track record of making big blockbuster movies that work. They don’t make me think their movies are mearly technical excercises that end up feeling like a monetary landfill. This was fun and appealing to watch. ****1/4