Category Archives: Movies

My Review of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

*THERE ARE SPOILERS* *THERE ARE SPOILERS* *THERE ARE SPOILERS*

When I walked into the theater on Wednesday night my thoughts were: “Hopefully Michael Bay will redeem himself and make me forget that there ever was a Transformer heaven.”  This was Bay’s last chance to keep me as a fan of the franchise and he delievered…mostly.  There is still too much human influence and I didn’t understand John Malkovich’s role in the movie.  Plus, there is no reason for B-list actor Patrick Dempsey to play a bad guy. He should just stick to starring in terrible dramas that glorify the workings of a hospital. Bay saturated the movie with as many stars as possible hoping that the star power would save the franchise.  It was desperation.

Let’s get right into it.

The Positives:

The Decepticons– Every movie the Autobots are outnumbered by the best and coolest Transformers. Shockwave was the newest and by far my favorite.  The drill-like projection that was worm-like helped him maneuver around was creative.  The collapsing kyscraper was a great scene.  The way the drill wrapped around the building like a snake was great animation and the ensuing human action (of them falling, sliding, and being tossed around) because they were trapped in the building made it a solid scene. 

Sentinel Prime, although starting as an Autobot, was the second real “Prime” to have a major role in the franchise.  He was a strong villain and had a sword and a shield compared to Optimus’s two swords.  He killed off Ironhide and fought Optimus for an extended period of time, the way it should’ve been.  During that fight scene he was the first to really inflict damage on Optimus Prime, hints that the franchise may be over. (Optimus has one arm now, they can’t make another movie.)

Optimus Prime- Bean said “Is it me or is it every time you hear Optimus Prime talk, you just listen?”  Definitely.  His mini-monologues of truth and justice for all are too enticing. He speaks softly but carries a big stick.  Right before he kills Sentinel Prime he says, “You didn’t betray me, you betrayed yourself!” What better way is there to end that? That’s not to mention that every time he’s on-screen he cleans house. His dual-wielded swords are right above Megatron’s shotgun which I didn’t know existed until Optimus executed Sentinel Prime. He is the most solid of all the transformers, most badass, and most “just.” He should be on screen as much as possible.

The New Girl- It seems shallow that this is a positive, but for an action-franchise this is what Bay and Spielberg are trying for. Think about it, “Transformers” isn’t going to win any Oscars so it’s about transformers battling and sex appeal.  Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replaced Megan Fox as Sam’s girlfriend and she didn’t do too terribly.  She can’t act (neither can Fox), but she’s better looking and was an upgrade at that role.  Fox looked half asleep and her star was burned out by the time “Revenge of the Fallen” came out. Huntington-Whiteley gets a 3 out of 10 for acting but a 10 out of 10 for appeal.

The Negatives:

Human Influence- Having said that about Huntington-Whiteley, I still don’t understand the scene where she convinces Megatron to turn on Sentinel Prime (more on that in a second) nor do I understand that the influence in the movies.  The scene with the “Asian from the ‘Hangover’” was a catalyst to Sam figuring out what the Decepticons were doing, but was it necessary?  Was it necessary to show Laserbeak having a tea party with a little girl then kills her father?  Was it necessary to have John Malkovich in the movie at all?  And seriously, what is the deal with Patrick Dempsey? Even during the imminent defeat of the Decepticons, he found it necessary to stay loyal to them.  (Speaking of humans, the big black guy who was picked to shoot the rockets is the voice of the Cole Train from “Gears of War.”)

Representation of Megatron and Prime conflict- The conflict between Prime and Megatron was shown once for about three seconds.  Carly convinced Megatron to turn on the Decepticons.  It was crucial but treated as minor.  If Bay wanted me to believe that there was a conflict between the two then he should’ve extended it or shown it more frequently. Although I said that “Transformers” won’t win any Oscars doesn’t mean it can take shortcuts.  At least show how Megatron ended up in that alley depressed and defeated.  It was weak and a cheap way to save Optimus Prime’s life at the end.  (As gratitude, Optimus ripped Megatron’s head off.  Seriously, who is a better Transformer than him?)

First 30 minutes- I mentioned this earlier as well, but the movie could’ve been 20-30 minutes shorter if they cut out some of the “comedic” scenes. The introduction of the conspiracy theory and why the space race started was great and could be believable, but do Sam’s parents have to be there?  Yeah they’re funny, but now it’s just annoying.  Plus, when Sam gets to the hangar in Washington D.C. they don’t believe he knows anything.  It’s tired and played out.  He saved the world twice and they don’t believe he did it.  It’ just a useless time slot and the movie should’ve started (after the conspiracy scenes) with him waking up then immediately at John Malkovich’s office for the interview. Stop forcing scenes.

My friend Matt Press and I have a grading-scale we give movies based off the high school grading system. “Dark of the Moon” gets 68 out of 100 (it’s a tough scale). The movie starts out with a bang, but fizzles soon after.  It’s only saved when the setting reaches Chicago and the fighting starts.  The franchise will make money regardless so they should take their time and follow the first movie’s form and balance everything.  It’s ridiculous to saturate the movie with stars and completely dilute the quality of the franchise. Shame on you Spielberg, you’re better than that.

If you want to read my review for the other two movies, simply click “read rest of this entry.” Continue reading

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Why Johnny Depp is Overrated

Although this web log will always be heavily favored towards sports, it won’t just be about that. So on a slow sports day and during a break from my new obsession of the Showtime series Weeds, what better time for me to present my argument: Everyone’s favorite actor, Johnny Depp, should be anything but.  I’ll admit I do think he is a solid actor and a cool dude and that I am a fan of his, but I refuse to consider him as one of the best today. I look at Johnny Depp like “The Town,” yeah the movie was good, but from the hype and the You have to see this movie dude–type sentences from my friends it wasn’t worth it and honestly I was disappointed. (To continue on with “The Town,” Ben Affleck has found his niche in directing and Jeremy Renner has established himself as a movie badass.) I understand people like him for the same reason males who casually watch tennis like Serena Williams, but looks can only get you so far (enter Megan Fox). I understand “Edward Scissorhands” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” were apart of our childhoods and great kids movies, but those can only get you so far (enter Brendan Fraser).  Each time a new movie “starring Johnny Depp” comes out the first thing that comes to my mind is, “I wonder if Johnny Depp will break out of his shell in this movie and actually show some range (seriously, find me a movie where he cried, laughed (in a non-crazy way), was angry, or did anything that was semi-powerful).”

His IMDB bio says “is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood.” It’s like that definition has been blurred. How can a critic watch a movie and, because Johnny Depp’s make-up is different, considered it versatile?  There needs to be a different set of attributes per movie for someone to be considered versatile. If Johnny Depp was a cartoon comedy he’d be “Family Guy.” The show is good and funny, but how many flashbacks do you have to see before you realize that “maybe there really isn’t much more to this show.”

To prove his solidity as a great actor, compare his range to the likes of today’s real top actors. Robert de Niro went from a deranged cab driver to an abusive Jake LaMotta to a mobster named Jimmy. Tom Hanks went from a suspicious resident who thought his neighbors were murderers to a homosexual with AIDS to a person who was a part of every major American event starting from the 60’s. Leonardo DiCaprio went from a drug addicted high schooler to the best check forger to a diamond smuggler from Africa (I didn’t even mention “The Departed,” “The Titanic,” or “The Aviator.” He is the best actor of our generation.). Under the versatility rule there is an argument to say Denzel Washington who always plays the good guy and protagonist, but he ended that speculation when he came out with “Training Day” and won an Oscar for it.  It has to make a person wonder what if Johnny Depp decided to star in something like “The King’s Speech” instead of every movie Tim Burton decides to come out with.

I e-mailed my favorite sports pundit, Mike Missanelli, who is very adept in the entertainment culture. This is how our e-mail conversation went over a period of two days.

-Me:      Yo Mike,

Is it me or is Johnny Depp the most overrated actor in Hollywood? Seriously, can you even tell me the difference between his characters in “Pirates of the Carribbean,” “Sweeny Todd,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Gilbert Grape?”

                Here’s the answer, YOU CAN’T! HE’S GARBAGE, NO VERSATILITY.  Agreed?

-Mike Missanelli: I disagree. I think he’s a pretty good actor without these fluff movies.

-Me:      Good point, I forgot that he made box-office hits such as “The Tourist” and “Secret Window”…Come on brotha

-Mike Missanelli:    It’s not in the body of work of lousy movies, it’s in the substance. Sometimes, understated makes you a good actor. Donnie Brasco?

That last e-mail made me go through Johnny Depp’s body of work to see if the characters from the movies that put him on the map were really that good. Remember, it’s not about questioning if the movies were solid, but if Johnny Depp showed enough range throughout his film career to be considered great. Yes, I really do not have anything else to do. Continue reading