‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Review

Director: Michael Bay

Writers: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Josh Duhamel, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael, Santiago Cabrera, Tony Hale, John Turturro and Anthony Hopkins

Voice Cast: Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Erik Aadhal, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Omar Sy, John DiMaggio and Jim Carter

Synopsis: Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credit scene.*

 

Five, count them, five Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay have now cursed us been released, and I still can’t figure out why none of them have been any good. Sure, the first movie was okay, but since then the series has gone downhill. The lack of story, and really any sense of direction, make these movies really hard to follow, root for and really enjoy overall, yet, there are fans out there. The Last Knight, which is Michael Bay “last” movie in the series, is another entry of all style and no real substance.

The movie starts off on a somewhat good note setting it during The Dark Ages as King Arthur and his army in a midst of battle as they wait for Merlin, played by Stanley Tucci, who has already discovered the Transformers and pleads with them to help Arthur and his army. They do and give Merlin a staff, this beings the secret history and long place for the Transformers. We then cut 1600 years later and see Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) floating in space aimlessly only to get sucked into his broken home planet of Cyberton. There he meets Quintessa (Gemma Chan), who says he is the “Prime of Life” and tells Optimus he can have his home world back, but only if Earth is destroyed because of its hidden secret (spoiler territory which I won’t get into).

Then there is, of course, the human characters. We first meet teenager Izabella (Isabela Moner) who has her own Transfomers and is living in the fallen section of Chicago after the events of Dark of the Moon. She gets rescued by Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), now a fugitive from the government and famous for helping the Autbots that are still around, who now operates a junk yard where Autobots Bumblebee, Hound (John Goodman), Drift (Ken Watanabe), Crosshairs (John DiMaggio) and the Dinobots – the only scene we see them in – are hiding from new agency in TRF, who are hunting down Transformers and killing them.

Cade gets involved in the bigger scheme of things when he comes across a medallion that attracts the attention of Megatron (Frank Welker) and Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins). Burton brings together Cade – with the help of his own Transformer butler Cogman (Jim Carter) – and an Oxford professor Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) who is an important part of not only the medallion’s history, but why Cyberton is coming to Earth. We also have Optimus Prime acting unlike himself.

So, as you can see Transformers: The Last Knight has a lot – A LOT – going on, and that makes it an even bigger mess than it already is. The problem, well at least one of them, is that The Last Knight is adding too much mythology and lore way to late in the game. Also, some of it doesn’t make any sense. We see in the trailers that the Transformers have been on Earth longer than we thought. They also been there for big events like World War II – which of course was never mentioned in the films, especially with Bumblebee, who gets his own little flashback scene attacking a Nazi headquarters. Which when you think about, if the Transformers were helping the Allies during the war, shouldn’t it have ended quicker?

It’s almost like the film is insulting us that they think we can’t remember anything from the previous movies. Because you know, Stanley Tucci was in the last film, but is only seen here are Merlin during the Dark Ages segment in the movie. Even the Dinobots, and even mini-Dinobots introduced here, which were made to be a big deal in the last movie film, are not even a factor here. Also, if the world didn’t completely known about Transformers before the events of the first movie, how come we see paintings of King Arthur with the three-headed Transformer behind him in Oxford? It’s just dumb how these movies just throw something for the sack of story and plot, logic and proper storytelling be damned.

Yeah, I know. You don’t watch a Transformers movie for its story and plot; you watch it for its action scenes. Look, even I’ll admit, the series so far has had some pretty descent and great action sequences, but that only takes you so far, and eventually it just becomes noise and incoherent action. It also says a lot that the best action piece in this movie is the fight that’s been promoted heavy in Bumblebee taking on Optimus Prime, and even with that said, we pretty much see almost most of it in the trailers and TV spots.

The real problem is that Transformers shouldn’t be this bad. It’s actually hurts to even think about how bad these movies are. The human characters aren’t interesting enough, cringe-worthy humor and stupid – and I mean take you out of the movie stupid – puns, and once again, stereotypical/slightly racist robots that serve no purpose other than trying to get a laugh or connect with a young audience. Seriously, there are Decepticons here that get introduced similar to a scene ripped right out of Suicide Squad, which could have been fun but the Decepticons and Megatron do absolutely NOTHING in this movie. Are they in it? Yes, but do they serve a purpose? No. Not even close, but you forget they’re in this because they disappear for half an hour or longer. Also, the introduction of Hot Rod (voiced by Omar Sy) is wasted here as he doesn’t really serve a real purpose other than having another fan favorite Autobot and showing off his power of slowing down time.

But going back to the humans, Wahlberg looks like he’s at least trying in some scenes, but this could be his last movie. Laura Haddock comes off as snobby when she’s teaching her students, and while her family history is important to the film, that fact that she doesn’t know it makes no sense since it’s pretty much her job. Josh Duhamel comes back as Lennox from the first three movies, and honestly, doesn’t do much – so his character remains the same. Isabela Moner as Izabella plays the tough teenager wants to help the Autobots, but while her character plays a big role in the first act, her character just doesn’t matter for the rest of the movie. Finally, Anthony Hopkins – poor, poor Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins at least adds some star power to the film and rambles on for long periods of time giving off five minute exposition’s dumps. His role is suppose to feel important, but sometimes it just sounds like an old man rambling, which is a shame considering its Hopkins. He also has a dumb sub-plot with the returning John Turturro that goes on for far too long.

So let’s get to Optimus Prime, who has been the center of the promotional material since he goes “evil.” He also disappears once he gets saved from space. Optimus spends the first half of the movie – where he has about ten minutes (if that) screen time – with Quintessa and is gone for the whole second half of the film to finally appear in the final act to have that fight – and yes – become good again. Is that a spoiler? Come on, we all know he wasn’t going to stay evil.

All in all, Transformers: The Last Knight is more or less of the same thing from the other movies. If you’re a fan, you may like it, but if you’re like me, The Last Knight may finally be the last straw. Its one thing to make a bad Transformers movie, it’s another thing to continue to make them thinking they’re good. The adding of mythology and lore does not do the movie any favors as it’s already bloated enough with nonsense action. However, you know what the biggest problem is? Despite it being the last Michael Bay movie – maybe – he can’t help himself from adding a post-credit scene to story he won’t – potentially – be involved in anymore. If Bay truly wanted to leave the series, he would have left the new director enough room to do their own story and thing. But no. Finally, let’s face it, I can sit here and write “this movie is a steaming pile of combined shits that you only fuel by buying a ticket,” but The Last Knight will still make a crap ton of money.

Transformers: The Last Knight

2 out of 5

Advertisements

‘Jurassic World’ Review

jurassic_world_ver2

Dir: Colin Trevorrow

Writer(s): Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong, Lauren Lapkus and Irrfan Khan

Synopsis: Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor’s interest, which backfires horribly.

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

 

It’s been around twenty years – in real life – since we first saw the original Jurassic Park hit theaters. The movie pushed the boundaries and arguably rejuvenated the industry in terms of special effects and animatronics. The first film holds a special place in many people’s hearts, including mine, so when Jurassic World was announced, it had many of us skeptical about how this new movie would hold up against the original that had great moments and characters. Well, guess what, Jurassic World is a great sequel to the original and does have great moments and some good characters.

 

thumbnail_20227

 

Because the saying “learn from your mistakes” apparently doesn’t exist in this world, Jurassic Park, now called Jurassic World has been open for a few years now on the same island, Isla Nublar, where the events of the first film took place. John Hammond’s dream of a theme parked filled with real life dinosaurs has come to fruition thanks to industry billionaire Masrani (Khan), who wanted to carry Hammond’s wish. The park is run by Claire (Howard) who is under a microscope to get the park’s numbers up. Cue the new genetically mutated, hybrid dinosaur: Indominous Rex, bigger, faster, and of course, more deadly.

 

MV5BMTY0MDg1ODAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTgwMjM5NTE@._V1__SX1202_SY537_

 

That’s not Claire’s only problem, she also has her nephew’s Zach (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) coming to visit for the week. Gray is thrilled to be there and wants to visit everything possible, while Zach rather be elsewhere and not babysit his younger brother. The other storyline is raptor trainer and ex-Navy solider, Owen (Pratt) who sees not just his raptors, but all dinosaurs as something that should be respected and that they are animals living in a different time, and are not theme park attractions that can be controlled. He also has his problems with InGen worker Hoskins (D’Onofrio), who thinks Owen’s raptors can be used for something more.

 

MV5BMTQzOTA1NjYxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAxMjM5NTE@._V1__SX1202_SY581_

 

There is a lot of moving parts in Jurassic World, and some of them work really well while others fall flat or are underdeveloped or underwhelming. Of course the idea of creating extinct animals could be seen as a noble one or, like in this case, an easy way to make a ton of money, but dinosaurs? I mean come on. So who do we have to thank for the dinosaurs in Jurassic World? Well none other than the only returning character from the original film, Dr. Henry Wu (Wong). He also was the one that design the Indominous Rex for the park to spike audiences and sponsors interest. Then it breaks out and sets off a chain of events that lead to all out chaos that echoes what has happened in the past. It’s almost one of the running themes in the series, that greed and maybe even hubris overtake our rational side of thinking. Because seriously, making a new dinosaur? Really? Especially how the Indominous Rex is so damn terrifying. It’s big, fast, and doesn’t care what is in its way. The Indominous Rex is a great addition to the dinosaur villains.

 

MV5BNTYyNzUzOTM4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODkwMjM5NTE@._V1__SX1202_SY537_

 

But, and this is something that is also bought up in the movie, is our (general public) need for more our downfall. Director Colin Trevorrow is almost making fun of the public’s need for more as all throughout the park are noticeable and big name brands, making Jurassic World not just a speculate, but also a marketing darling.

 

The other theme is relationships, and Jurassic World goes back to its roots and gives us two great younger leads opposite two great adult leads. The relationship between the two brothers feels genuine and Robinson and Simpkins play well off each other. The relationship could have gone a little deeper, because there is a potential for it. As for Claire and Owen, they have an interesting one. They went on a date that was memorable for the reason you wouldn’t think. The two are exact opposites of each other and it works at the beginning, but once things go, well, Jurassic Park-y the both of them realize they need to work together, which leads to a somewhat forced romantic arch. I say somewhat because it comes and goes and isn’t in our face so much like others we’ve seen.

 

MV5BMTg2MzQ4NDE5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDgwMjM5NTE@._V1__SX1202_SY537_

 

Now, to the thing I know everyone will complain about: the CGI. Yes, Jurassic World’s dinosaurs are mostly CGI. Some of it looks absolutely great and it works for what they are trying to do and makes sense why they would go the CG route, and it’s not because it’s easier. It’s not a complete departure for the series. The first Jurassic Park did have animatronics and touched them up with CGI to make the dinosaurs look even better than they already did. Luckily, there is an animatronic dinosaur in the movie and it is a great scene at that. I don’t want to go too much into the scene, but the scene will bring you back to the first movie.

jurassic-world-image-4

Speaking of that, Jurassic World isn’t a reboot, it is a continuation to the series. However, it doesn’t try to forget what came before it. It embraces it and not going pays respect, but pays homage and stays a bit within the spirit of the first movie. The good thing is that it doesn’t do it to rehash the ideas or even say “hey, look at it!” Jurassic World is its own thing, but it reminds us that we’re all fans and Trevorrow is remember what made this series and first movie so special.

 

MV5BMTEwNDk3MjU2MDReQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDEwMTIzOTUx._V1__SX1202_SY537_

 

Going back to the cast, it is the cast that makes Jurassic World also work. Pratt isn’t a goofy character, not that his character doesn’t throw in a few witty one-liners, he’s probably the most serious character we’ve seen him in a while. Bryce Dallas Howard is a great female character that learns the errors in her ways and has a nice character development moment. Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus appear as control room workers that have great character moments and are pretty much the default comedic reliefs. BD Wong finally gets worthwhile big screen time (his character in Jurassic Park book is more of strong supporting character), but his character coming back isn’t fully developed which is a shame.

 

MV5BMjM0Mzg2ODQyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTcwMjM5NTE@._V1__SX1202_SY537_

 

When it comes to the “weak” (I say weak for the lack of a better word at the moment) cast members, it may surprise you that Vincent D’Onofrio is one of them. His character’s motivations automatically make him the human villain, but the way his character presents himself is sometimes a bit too much or a way a character in that kind of position shouldn’t really be acting like. Omar Sy, who plays Owen’s friend, gets the short end of the stick and doesn’t get a lot to do, so we really can’t blame him. Judy Greer’s short appearance as Claire’s sister and Zach and Gray’s mom is interesting to watch, but considering he literally has about three scenes, I can’t put her high up on the list.

 

All in all, Jurassic World pays respect and captures the spirit the first movie and if you’re a true fan of the series you’ll catch the homages and cool Easter Eggs thrown in there. There are fantastic moments in this and I couldn’t believe that a movie could make me feel like a kid again, even if it was for a minute. Does the entire movie work? No, some things are left open and just pushed to the side, but you can almost forgive them after experience all the great moments. Jurassic World is a ton of fun, and isn’t that what’s most important in a summer movie? I think so.

 

Jurassic World

4.5 out of 5

Jurassic-World-13

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Review

xmen_days_of_future_past_ver5

Dir: Bryan Singer

Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Peter Dinklage, Halle Berry, Omar Sy, Josh Helman, Daniel Cudmore, Bingbing Fan, Adan Canto, Booboo Stewart, Evan Peters, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart

Synopsis: The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

 

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note #2: Stay for the end credits.*

 

 

Loosely adapted from the classic Chris Claremont comic storyline of the same name, X-Men: Days of Future Past puts together the big screen’s original X-Men (Wolverine, Professor X, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Colossus, and one-time enemy Magneto) and their latest members (Bishop, Warpath, Sunspot, and Blink) living in a dystopian future where mutant-hunting Sentinels have practically exterminated mutants, imprisoned the surviving ones in concentration camps with the humans who helped them. The only way for the X-Men to survive is to send one of their own back in time in order to stop the assassination that paved the way for the mutant holocaust.

 

One of the biggest differences from the comic (don’t worry, I won’t be comparing the comic to the movie during the whole review) the comics had the older Kitty (Page) transfer her consciousness into her younger self in order to warn their past-selves. In the film, the initial argument is that only Professor X (Stewart) is a strong enough telepath to do the job, but since he can’t physically handle such a long trip back the mission falls to Wolverine (Jackman). Waking up in his younger body in 1973, Logan seeks out the younger Xavier (McAvoy) who has become a shambling version of the man we met in X-Men: First Class.

 

Charles has spent the time in-between First Class and Days of Future Past moping around his mansion brooding about what he’s lost. The only one who’s still with him is Hank aka Beast (Hoult), who has made a serum to not only control is “animal form” but also for Xavier’s paralysis. The big side effect of the drug is that it has affected Charles’ psychic powers. But Charles doesn’t seem to care as he no longer wants to hear all the voices and suffering and who has lost hope since losing his Mystique (Lawrence) to Magneto (Fassbender).

 

Although she still playing a supporting character in the great ensemble, Mystique plays a major key to changing the future as she’s out to assassinate Sentinels creator Dr. Bolivar Trask (Dinklage). In order to help them track down Mystique, Logan, Xavier, and Hank will need help from Magneto, who is imprisoned at the bottom of the Pentagon. They then recruit young speedster Peter Maximoff (Peters), aka Quicksilver. From there it becomes a race against time to stop Mystique, restore young Xavier’s hope, and prevent the X-Men of the future from being wiped out.

 

This is a plot heavy sci-fi/time travel film with lots of moving parts, so we should give credit to both director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg that they balance all those elements with relatively little confusion. There are some clunky moments, but overall Days of Future Past does a great job in keeping the storytelling concise and clear.

 

Days of Future Past gives each of its core crew of characters something important to do. It’s pretty clever how the story manages to make the movie’s biggest stars – particularly Lawrence integral to the plot. Xavier’s arc from self-pity to the hopeful leader embodied by Patrick Stewart is moving and one of the strongest aspects of the movie. As for young Magneto, despite agreeing to help find Raven/Mystique, he still remains firm in his beliefs even if that means turning against Xavier and Mystique.

 

Days of Future Past can be amusing and funny at times, but the movie has an overall feel of grim. You can feel it more with the future setting, as all of them are hiding and during the standoffs with the Sentinels, the filmmakers did not hold back any punches. But going back to the humor, I was somewhat surprised how much of it there was. There are also some nice callbacks to the other X-Men films (and even the comics) that will make fans happy.

 

The movie’s biggest surprise is the character that’s been the greatest object of scorn online: Quicksilver. Quicksilver does not have a ton of screen-time but he’s Pentagon prison break sequence is a highlight of the movie. I do not know if it’s a scene stealer – although some people are saying it is – but this is another example of not judging a character by his publicity shots.

 

I already hinted at it earlier in the review, but the cast is great. James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier is more at the forefront this time around and has a great arc that McAvoy handles so well. Jackman does his usual best as Logan aka Wolverine. Nicholas Hoult has less to do than he did in First Class. Lawrence, who has become a major star since the first movie turns into a badass but is also conflicted once she finds out she’s the key to the future. Fassbender was one of the best things about First Class, so it kind of sucks that he doesn’t have a ton to do this time around. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart of course bring their A-game and it’s nice to see them together again as the characters.

 

The other mutants like Sunspot (Canto), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), and Blink (Fan) have some cool moments teaming up with Bobby/Iceman (Ashmore) and Storm (Berry). Fan favorite Bishop (Sy) is nice to see on the big screen finally but some will feel like he was underused. One underused and slightly disappointing characters is Bolivar Trask played by the awesome Peter Dinklage. This is not a knock on Dinklage who plays Trask well but the character as a villain is not compelling enough.

 

The film’s action sequences are well-done and engaging, from its opening scene of the future X-Men fighting the Sentinels to the Paris standoff through to the climactic battle in Washington D.C. Even the Pentagon prison break sequence, which nicely balances humor, visual effects, character, and tension.

 

All in all, X-Men: Days of Future Past is funny, grim, bleak and filled with great action and some strong performances. For fans of the series and comic, you will appreciate the fact that Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg attempt such a beloved and complex story.

 

 

X-Men: Days of Future Past

5 out of 5