Escape to the Movies: Transformers 2

I’m really rather proud of this one, though I wish there were more synonyms for the word “douchebag”…

One thing I’d like to get into here that I DIDN’T get to “bring up” in the review for purposes of time. (SPOILER WARNING, I guess) The “2nd act obstacle” for Shia Labeouf is being stalked around college by a “hawt” sexually-aggressive classmate who turns out to be a Decepticon who can transform into a human chick. Yeah.

Two questions about that:

1.) Isn’t the whole point of the “robots in disguise” thing that these things are mechanical beings and have to “dress up” as whatever car, appliances or vehicle best matches their relative dimensions? In other words, if they can hide as people… why don’t they ALL just do that!? Wouldn’t that make slipping unknown amongst the natives a million times easier?

2.) Megatron, as evidenced by this film, really SUCKS at resource-management. He has a soldier who can look exactly like a human, who could be sneaking into military installations or ANYWHERE else, but instead it’s job is to collect The Kid? Something that it’s already been demonstrated that ANY of the grunts can easily do? Later on, in the middle of a big firefight, he summons up Devastator, a behemoth made of seven(?) combined construction-vehicles who stands about 300 to 350 feet tall. HIS job? Dig a hole.

VOTE FOR GAME OVERTHINKER (in the finals!!!)

Here it is, folks. Episode 25, in which I finally get around to The Big One: Video game violence. I could think of no place more appropriate to do this than in my Finals entry in the ScrewAttack contest…

If you enjoy it, why not go HERE and vote for me in the contest itself?

However it goes down, I appreciate every vote I’ve gotten and will get. None of this is possible without the fans, and I don’t plan on forgetting that.

The Oscars Change

So, up until about 20 minutes ago (RIP, King of Pop,) the biggest (or at least furthest-reaching) entertainment story of the year is that The Academy Awards has changed it’s rules for the first time in… well, a long-ass time. This year, the available “slots” for Best Picture nominees will grow from five to TEN.

The main reasons for this are so obvious they aren’t even trying to hide them: The Oscar ratings go up in-sync with the popularity of the nominated films – because people tune in to “root” for a favorite. Doubling the chances at the big prize means, theoretically, that “acclaimed but popular” hits have a better shot of making the nomination cut. To use the same example(s) that everyone and their great-aunt is using, if there’d been ten spots LAST year, “The Dark Knight” and possibly also “Gran Torino” and “Benjamin Button” would probably have been in the mix and more people might’ve watched. This also likely means you’ll see more comedies and genre films in general “nominated,” though not necessarily with more chance of winning.

They picked a perfect year to “test run” this in, it must be said: The “blockbuster” crop this year is so bad that it’ll ease the old-guard snobs into the new era with a sprinkling of “high”-comedies (Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler late-0f “Funny People” are mentally high-fiving over this, I bet) and maybe a serious actioner like “Public Enemies,” rather than freaking them out right away like last year would have with ten slots – “OMG!!! Batman and Iron Man nominated alongside Harvey Milk and Latika!!??” Baby-steps.

The most-immediate effect of this, I can garauntee you, is that every “Oscar Blogger’s” #1 most-favoritest topic of the next few years is trying to “determine” which five films are the “real nominees” (read: the rundown of studio-backed-“indie”-dramas that would’ve been nominated anyway) and the “sop-to-the-masses” nominees (read: genre films.) Here’s a more bold but, I think, likely prediction: Within a week or so, you’ll see an explosion of “fanboy”-site petitions gearing up aiming to pressure Warner Bros. into pushing “Watchmen” for one of the slots. Just you watch. It’s not even an out-of-the-question idea, either: The film will be well on it’s way to much-bigger-on-DVD-land when nomination time kicks off.

What interests ME is, “add-on” nominations or not, in the broad strokes this makes it much EASIER for an upset to occur. A nominated film could concievably WIN with only 10.01% of the vote. Naturally, this favors the above-mentioned “well-regarded-but-also-big-hit” blockbusters. First movie I can see directly benefiting from this phenomenon? The final Harry Potter in 2011.

Transformers 2

All things going well, you’ll see a full review from me… soon. But since there’s only so much time in the world, a few immediate things:

#1: You’re off the hook, “Batman & Robin.” This is the new bar, the absolute bottom-rung of blockbuster filmmaking. One of the worst films I hope to ever see. There are no words to describe it… ineptness on a grand scale, not a single solitary working part. It’s a monument to everything wrong not only in Hollywood, not only in filmmaking, but in the world… in human nature… in life itself. The production of this film should be considered a kind of crime against the human race, something that everyone involved will one day have to answer for someday, in some way.

#2: As to the film’s single-biggest “issue” in the media at the moment, r.e. “The Twins.” For those who’ve not yet seen or heard, the most-prominently-featured “new” Transformers are a bickering matched pair who… well, there’s no other way to say this properly… they’re Robo-Sambos, mechanized versions of the black “minstrel” stereotype from the turn of the century. As far as I’m concerned, there is no arguing this point – it’s not even as abiguous as Jar-Jar might’ve been. They have big-lipped, google-eyed, floppy-eared monkey faces, they speak in exaggerated ebonics, they stumble, bumble and fight among themselves, they joke about being illiterate and one of them has a single gold tooth. It is without exaggeration the most horrifying racist caricature I’ve seen (unironically) onscreen in my lifetime. There’s no justifying this, no parsing it. If you really needed more evidence as to the absolute cancerous effect of Michael Bay upon Hollywood, you have it now. I can only take some solace that the outrage over these characters might be what it finally takes to bring him down.

Game OverThinker in the ScrewAttack finals

So… as you might’ve heard, one of my other projects – “The Game OverThinker” – is going to be in the FINALS for the ScrewAttack “myvidsdontsuck” contest:

That’s pretty awesome.

The voting for the finals will occur on (I believe) the 25th of June, with the actual match being me against either the very funny Taco-Man or the very funny Psychotaku – who are competing in their semi-final matchup right now. For those who asked, unless plans have to change I’m aiming for my Finals entry to be a full episode about video-game violence that so many have been asking me to do for so long. That’s the plan, anyway.

In any case, IF you want to vote for me or anyone else, you HAVE to register at the ScrewAttack message-board forums. It is free, and you can do it here:

So… yeah, keep an eye out for the 25th, and thanks to everyone who already voted 😉


Roland Emmerich has made ONE truly terrible film, “Godzilla.” He’s also made a couple of average films, “Day After Tommorrow” and “10,000 B.C.” I’m prepared to argue that “The Patriot,” “Independence Day,” “Stargate” and “Universal Soldier” are all nearly-perfect examples of EXACTLY what they wish to be – generally, old-fashioned B-movies executed with A-budgets and not a HINT of irony, insincerity or post-modernism. Yes, even “Patriot,” which is basically the closest anyone has ever gotten to capturing the feel of “Classics Illustrated” on film (the relative worth of the goal itself is, of course, debateable.)

True, he doesn’t explore his material very deeply and he’s not known to surround himself with the most complex of screenplays, but in terms of capturing impossibly large-scale action he is surpassed only by Spielberg, Cameron and (now) Peter Jackson among Hollywood filmmakers. He’s Michael Bay with something resembling a soul. One need only watch ID4 opposite Transformers, or Patriot opposite Pearl Harbor, to see the difference between Pair his talents with a genuinely GREAT script and I’m convinced you’d have a modern classic.

A great script he probably DOESN’T have for his newest, 2012, but he DOES seem to have set himself the logical challenge of following up his previous action/disaster films: This time, he’s LITERALLY filming The End of The World. Here’s the trailer:

Yes, I know… we’re all supposed to snicker at how innevitably schlocky the “drama” in this will be, but still… HOLY SHIT.

There’s at least 10 “money-shots” in this that could EASILY be the ultimate scene of a lesser action film individually… but they’re all in one movie!

A tsunami… drops the USS JFK… onto the White House! An entire city… sinking!!! The Vatican… falls over… and CRUSHES ALL THE PEOPLE PRAYING TO STOP ARMAGEDDON!!!!!!

Plus, it’s got John Cusack! I’m callin’ it right now… this is going to be this year’s “wait… this is GOOD!!??” equivalent to Rambo 4.

Ninja in Chief

I like President Obama. Like. He’s alright by me, thus far.

That said, I’ve never really “gotten” the “whoooaaa… Obama is coooool!” thing until right here:

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

blah blah not as good blah blah go rent the original blah blah forgotten gem.

To the point: John Travolta – talented as he is – cannot play bad guys. He’s too likable in general, and even if he weren’t he’s inseperable from his Tom Hanks-esque public persona for it to “take.” The only time he’s “worked” as a heavy was in Face/Off… where the whole point was that he was a bad guy in the “skin” of a good guy. Here, despite a script that hands him piles of profanity and multiple “psycho freak-out” moments, he just comes off ridiculous in a douchey handlebar mustache and a neck-tattoo. A late-in-the-game twist to his actual identity tries in vain to establish an excuse for his unbelievability to no avail – he drags the whole film down.

Aside from the expected overdirection by Tony Scott (freeze-frames, floating text, whizzing cameras, fast-forward editing, google-maps FX all accounted for) the rest of the movie isn’t that bad. Denzel Washington buries most of his superstar persona under a frumpy guise to good effect; and the supporting cast including reliable stalwarts like Luis Guzman, John Turturo and James Gandolfini do their thing admirably. It also has a smart script that packs in conflict without needing to make any of the characters stupid or asshole-ish for no reason.

Everybody is smart, nobody is a designated-saint. At one point, amid the ribbing of Gandolfini’s mayor character over a big Giuliani-style infidelity scandal, someone innevitably asks “was she worth it?” His matter-of-fact response? “Yes!” Great stuff. Too bad it doesn’t add up to much.

Shepard Smith

It had to happen. At some point, SOMEONE at Fox News was going to have a (seemingly) sudden attack of conscience…

…was ANYONE expecting it to be Shepard Smith??