Movies!

July 6, 2007 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Summer is upon Southern California and with the blistering sun comes all the ballyhooed popcorn flicks.  So far, we’ve caught Die Hard With a Vengeance and last night saw Transformers.

 

First up is John McClain’s return to wrong-place wrong-time antics and I was pretty darn impressed.  It certainly lived-up to expectations for a film in the Die Hard series, and it was a lot of fun to watch.  The trailer gives away far too many of the “OH SHIT!” moments, but I thought the script was very well put together with a more-plausible-than-average evil hacker terrorist scheme.  Justin Long’s dry and vulnerable sarcasm was a refreshing foil to Bruce Willis’s tried and true dry and violent sarcasm and the pairing worked better than most odd-pair action hero films. It is a real shame the studio didn’t go for an R rating as getting McClain w/o inexhaustible profanity felt like getting cheated. 

 

I was never a huge Die Hard fan though. I think 4 was the first of the series that I’d seen in the theater.  So I didn’t have the personal investment that I did with the summers biggest spectacle; Michael Bay’s Transformers.   I racked up a lot of play-time hours w/ transformers in the 80s but even when I first heard of the film adaptation I didn’t feel the burn of heresy that so many of my peers did.  I think it was the decades of intervening thinning of the brand (Beastwars anyone?) the led to my blasé take on the “reimagining.”  I went into this summer movie season just wanting to see some big ass robots kick the shit out of each other an cause the maximum amount of collateral damage in the process, all lensed through Bay’s hyper-real and oh-so-glossy style.  And that is exactly what I got.   90 minutes into the film.  The third act was a ballet of over-the-top action tropes and firy explosions.  In one of my favorite scenes Starscream decimates a whole wing of US jets, transforming and re-transforming half a dozen times while flying through downtown LA.

 

 Unfortunately the protracted climactic sequence comes after a metric ton of rambling and uneven story development.  You could plainly see Bay trying hard to maximize his demographic appeal with unnecessary sub-plots and ancillary characters.  And while I won’t complain about the casting of Rachael Taylor as the hottest hacker-chick since Angelina’s turn in Hackers, I will complain about a too-loud and utterly pointless inclusion of Anthony Anderson.  Bay also throws in a wide-reaching government conspiracy, with Jon Tuturro playing a fast talking MiB.  And that I think is the core of what was bugging me with the first 2 acts: the tone.  (That and the grating Lucas-style cross-cuts.)  The tone of the film felt very similar to Sonnenfield’s Men In Black: pulpy comic book fare that is tongue-in-cheek funny.  But like a comic bombing a set at an open mic night, it just comes off as awkward and hard to watch.  I imagine the tone will play pretty darn well with the middle-school crowd, and 14-year-old-John would have been at the theater for a week-straight for matinee showings. 

 

The bottom line, for me anyways, is that those final 45 minutes of hot robot-on-robot action completely redeem the uneven first 2 acts.  And now that it is all set-up maybe the inevitable sequel can get right to the robots kicking ass.

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