Posts Tagged ‘DreamWorks’

Review: ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ – It really is as bad as you’ve heard

June 26, 2009

I had no desire to see Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But my fiancee wanted to see it, so I knew I would eventually be dragged to the multiplex to waste my money and time on it. I didn’t really care for the first film–had it been an hour and a half of robots fighting, I would have been satiated. But no. They had to add characters and story (uninteresting ones, at that).

I usually don’t read reviews beforehand of movies I know I’m going to see (especially if I will review them), but because I didn’t think Transformers 2 would be worth writing about, I thumbed through some reviews to see how it fared. Here are a few quotes I found from some professional critics:

“This is so bad it’s immoral.”

“This celluloid abortion should be buried in a vault and shown to film students as an example of big Hollywood at its worst.”

“Not to damn it with faint praise, but ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ is a flaming pile of poo.”

Now, I’m not big fan of immorality, abortions or flaming poo, but my curiosity was piqued. How could a movie–one that will probably make $300 million before summer is through–cause such a vitriolic response? (When I told my fiancee of the bad reviews, she changed her mind. So now I’m the one to blame for going to see it.)

Sometimes I like a truly awful movie, like Catwoman, a film so bad you constantly say to yourself, “there is no way that this movie could get any worse,” and then it does. A truly awful movie is like watching a train wreck or one of those medical oddity shows on TLC: you’re fascinated even though you shouldn’t watch. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is much like Catwoman in that it is gloriously awful; a shining pillar of when movies are used for evil. However, unlike Catwoman, this movie. Never. Ends.

What’s it about? The Autobots (the good robots) now work with a secret military organization called NEST, which seeks out Decepticons (the bad robots) that have been in hiding because…I don’t remember. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBouf) is heading off to college out East but leaving his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox, a.k.a. the most robotic thing in this movie) back in California because…ah, who cares. All you need to know is that robots fight in between scenes of extremely tedious plotting.

What’s good about it? This movie does, in fact, have more robots fighting, which for someone like me who felt he was short-changed by the first film, is kind of a good thing. But the fight sequences are so CG-heavy and edited so rapidly, you’ll have a hard time fully seeing what’s going on.

Is the film an immoral flaming poo abortion? No. But it’s close.

What’s bad about it? Plenty. Everything you’ve already read or heard from your friends about the movie is true.

What I was most surprised by was the stale direction from Michael Bay. He’s made his career out of directing big, loud movies where things blow up (The Rock, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, the first Transformers–and the under-seen The Island, which I actually liked), but now his trademark style (slow motion explosions, swooping aerials, dizzying shots of people mostly talking, music video-worthy moments of people having special time) feels…old. And with a running time of 150 minutes, Bay really tests the audience’s interest level. Most well-known directors branch out and push themselves after a few films because they know they’ve either proven themselves creatively or box-office wise (Scorcese is the former, Bay is the latter, Spielberg is both). Bay seems bored with his own film this time around. I personally would love to see what he would do with a character-driven comedy-drama or a straight-up kid’s film. Even if they sucked I would have more respect for him simply for the fact he’s trying.

Perfect for: pubescent boys. Everyone else will regret their choice. If you want the most ideal way to watch this movie (even though you shouldn’t), wait for it on DVD. That way you can pause to see what’s actually going on in the fight scenes and you can fast forward the extremely boring everything else.

Review: ‘Wall-E’

June 30, 2008

Pixar doesn’t make bad films. They don’t know how. I personally didn’t care for Cars (I have zero interest in automobiles, talking or otherwise) or Rataouille (I can’t handle rats), but that doesn’t mean they’re not good. The animation is always top notch, and the writing–particularly the character development–is always good, if not great (or, in the case of The Incredibles, exceptional).

Wall-E, Pixar’s ninth theatrical release, did for me what so few movies are capable of: I was completely engulfed in the world of the film. I was completely entertained, and for two hours my film critic brain turned off.

I achieved movie zen.

Wall-E PosterWhat’s it about? In the 28th Century, Earth is an abandoned wasteland that cannot support human life. Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth class) is the last working robot, still doing what he was programmed to do 700 years ago: clean up earth. (He’s nowhere near finished.)

Over the centuries, Wall-E has developed a personality. He’s obsessed with the 1969 musical Hello, Dolly! and spends his days sifting through the garbage for things he may have use of.

But mostly, Wall-E is lonely. Everything changes, however, when a ship sent from Space lands on Earth, and another robot appears.

What’s good about it? Everything. The animation is breathtaking, and for the majority of the film, there’s little if no dialogue. But the film is far from boring. Wall-E is such a compelling character filled with heart I couldn’t help but root for him. It also says a lot for a movie when I don’t want it to end. Wall-E raises the bar for computer animated movies, and makes Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda (a film I liked) pale in comparison.

What’s bad about it? If you hate having a good time at the movies, skip this.

Perfect for: Everyone. Really.

Review: ‘Kung Fu Panda’ – Finally, the dream works

June 23, 2008

Finally, DreamWorks gets it right.

While its animated films make heaps of money, DreamWorks has always lagged behind Pixar in story and visuals, often resorting to stunt voice casting to compensate for the fact that their films aren’t that good.  Often they are loaded with pop culture references and tounge-in-cheek humor that definitely reflect the zeitgeist of the new millennium, but will probably feel outdated twenty years from now.

Kung Fu Panda, however, might be the first DreamWorks animated film that will stand the test of time. 

Kung Fu Panda

What’s it about?  Po (voiced by an unusually restrained Jack Black) is a Panda desperate to learn Kung Fu.  But he’s stuck helping his dad run his noodle restaurant.  Unexpectedly chosen to become the Dragon Warrior, Po must learn Kung Fu from Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and save the Valley of Peace from Shifu’s former apprentice, the evil Tai Lung (Ian McShane).  

What’s good about it?  Plenty.  The animation is rich and colorful.  The film is one of those “believe-in-yourself” yarns that has been done so many times, but it’s told well and with much heart.  And it’s free of pop culture references.

What’s bad about it?  DreamWorks is notorious for stunt casting, and in the case of the Furious Five (Po’s idols and Shifu’s students), the voice work from Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, David Cross and Seth Rogan feels a little flat.  That’s not entirely their fault; besides fighting, the five really don’t have that much to do.

Perfect for: kids, animation fans, those waiting for Wall-E to come out.