Sunday, 29 July 2007

Transformers Review

This summer has seen many a blockbuster come and go: Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, Ocean's 13, Shrek 3, Harry Potter 5, Die Hard 4.0... Let's go through them:
Spider-Man 3 will go down as being "the third one that wasn't as good as the second"
Pirates 3 will be "the one that was better than the second, but didn't live up to the first"
Ocean's 13 will be 'remembered' as "the threequel most easily forgotten"

I could go on and on. But I won't.

What is certain, is that people will remember Transformers. It's 2007's biggest and best blockbuster, with all you could ever want in a movie based on a Hasbro toy. It's the ultimate popcorn flick, only requiring a disengaged brain and a pair of eyeballs to take in the plot, action and thrills. The incredibly simple premise is summed up in a plot-by-numbers voice-over, neatly giving enough information to intrigue and excite, but without any real depth.

Our hero, played by the instantly likable Shia LaBoeuf, is Sam Whitwicky - just your average teenager. Like most young adults, he wants a car, pines over hottie Mikeala [Megan Fox], and has awkward talks with his parents. The movie's surprisingly large amount of comedic moments usually come from Sam, as he tries to hide the fact that his car is, in fact, an alien space robot. He isn't particularly interested in his family history, and what he knows about his explorer Grandfather, he uses to sell various things he left behind to raise money for his car fund. One of these objects is a pair of glasses, which holds the key to the whereabouts of the AllSpark, a life-giving cube. This is where the giant transforming robots come in. The Decepticons [bad robots] want the cube to turn every electronic gadget into a Transformer to make an army. The Autobots [good robots] want the cube to stop the Decepticons from getting it. Unfortunately, the Decepticons are already on Earth, whilst the Autobots are still floating through space...

The film's thrilling opening sequence shows a desert attack in which we most definitely lose. It is cleverly done, showing glimpses of the Transformer, but not showing you exactly what is going on. It's just one of many jaw-dropping action sequences, which, luckily, come thick and fast, though not in a way that you begin to feel bored or uninterested. Other favourites include a night-time battle between Decepticon Barricade and Autobot Bumblebee [Sam's car]. This is the first time we see the Transformers in full, and it's incredibly impressive - the sound of metal grinding upon metal has never been so invigorating, and you can't help but find yourself grinning.

The film itself is heavily endorsed - as much as action comedy as an advert for Nokia, Camaros, iPods and Macs, X-Box 360s, Mountain Dew and, more controversially, the army. The list goes on and on. Most scenes involve either choppers or soldiers, with heroes nobly fighting for the freedom of the world.

One of the reasons why the films works so well is in the fact that the Transformers themselves are real characters - they're all different, from trigger-happy Ironhide to dignified do-gooder Optimus Prime, each Transformer has its own personality. It's rare when, in a film, you can connect with a load of giant CGI robots, but small touches help us to like them. My favourite is Bumblebee's tendancy to use the radio to help Sam win over Mikaela, playing appropriate music whenever he sees her. It's these moments, as well as the incredible action sequences which will be remembered far into the future. It's genuinely touching to see the bond between teen and machine, and Sam's devotion to Bumblebee's cause. This is no doubt one of Spielberg's [who Executive Produced] touches, and he did a good job at reigning in Bay slightly. There are also some surprisingly nice shot types used, which I didn't particularly expect from Bay.

This leads us on to the smackdowns. There are so many. And they are oh so painstakingly good. I spent most of the film with my hand over my mouth, my eyes wide, thinking to myself "this is so cool". From the opening desert decimation, to the Barricade/Bumblebee battle, to the Optimus Prime vs. Megatron finale to name but a few, the action is captivating, engrossing, and simply amazing. The CGI is absolutely flawless - the best I've ever seen; the Transformers are works of art, especially Megatron, who often transforms into a jet whilst in mid-air. I can guarantee that, over the course of the summer, the amount of quality action in Transformers will not be beaten. Each Transformer consists of thousand of tiny moving parts, and watching them transform [even when they aren't fighting] is mind blowing. It just goes to show how far CGI has come, a memo obviously missed by the Harry Potter team when animating Hagrid's half-brother Grawp.

Many people have complained that the robots-search-for-cube story is stupid and dumb, but when we look at our culture and society, it isn't so far removed. When Bush was convinced that middle eastern countries were hiding WMDs, we invaded to try and find them so that they don't have them. Is this not what the Transformers were doing all along? Luckily, Transformers doesn't take itself too seriously - it knows how preposterous it is, and instead of taking itself into the realms of deep silliness, it just carries on knowingly, without straying too far away from what the fanboys want. The comedy and action are balanced perfectly, and it is always thoroughly entertaining.

So, to sum up, you won't see a better blockbuster all summer. With Spielberg and Bay working together, they've made a hugely enjoyable action movie with well-rounded characters, incredible CGI and a huge metal heart for every metal fist. Comparisons have been made with Spielberg's masterpiece Jurassic Park [one of my favourite films ever]. It turns out they are perfectly justified...

Genre Value: 5/5
Entertainment Value: 4.5/5
Style: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, 27 July 2007

Please Welcome Our New Member...

A new member has joined the "I Hate How Fake Hollywood Is..." team! Please welcome our new writer Ellie! Expect some posts from her soon!

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix Review

Many surprises and treats await the audience of the new Harry Potter film. The main surprise is that Daniel Radcliffe can really act. No, really. Our moody hero no longer looks as if he's constantly being slapped in the face, and conveys real emotions, injecting an actual character into his previous shell. Emma Watson is no longer the most talented of the young'uns, and even Rupert Grint has caught up. His Ron has changed significantly since the last outing, due to the fact that he gains real genuine laughs from his portrayal as the ultimate teenager [sarcastic, witty, a bit grumpy] instead of just gurning at appropriate times. The adult performances continue to impress, especially Alan Rickman and Gary Oldman, whose relationship with Harry is incredibly convincing, and has evolved significantly since the Prisoner of Azkaban. Evanna Lynch is perfectly cast as Luna Lovegood, just on the likeable side of creepy, and Imelda Staunton is captivating as Mrs Umbridge. She's a pink, fluffy, nightmare, seemingly light hearted but really a total b*tch.

The opening of the film is suitably thrilling, as our world and the magic world begins to collide with a Dementor attack in the park. It's a very well directed scene that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. The first four films/books in the series mark the first half of the series. From five onwards is where the darkness really begins. I know everybody says the books are "darker" and "edgier", but they really are from here on in. With Voldemort back for real, there's real threat round every corner [though the Ministry of Magic refuses to believe it], and a series of disappearances is the real sign that he's back. Though the Goblet of Fire had its darker moments, it was intersperced with moments of comedy and lots of action. Whilst that film was very good, by including all the action, it left no room for character development and was subsequently exciting yet lacking emotion. Order of the Phoenix is almost the opposite. With the book waffling on, with too much detail in the smallest matters, it works much better as a film. The characters have much more room to breathe, and the whole movie feels much more rounded and like a film rather than a series of action sequences with Harry Potter in them.

When Umbridge starts to take over, we see real frustration from our heroic threesome at the mounting restricitions [shown to good effect in some of the films few comedic scenes] and boundaries set by the Ministry. It is surprisingly liberating when the students begin to fight back, and gives real excitement at the thought of teenage rebellion against the establishment.

For all its talk and character development, the end of the film explodes in a tense, exciting scene in the Ministry of Magic's Department of Mysteries. The set is fantastic, especially the golden fountain, and the prophecy room, and it has a sense of real danger about it. It's good to see some of Harry's friends aside from Ron and Hermione helping him against the Dark Lord, as it also helps to show how all Wizards and Witches must unite to defeat evil. It makes up for the lack of action in the films mid-section.

However, the film is not perfect. Helena Bonham Carter is desperately underused, and during the climatic battle there are opportunities that are disappointingly not taken [most notably Ron being attacked by the flying brains, and looking at the various rooms inside the Department of Mysteries]. Also, the incredibly important talk at the end of the book ["It is time I told you everything..."] is cut down to its bare bones.

These points aside, the Order Of The Phoenix is the best of the Potter films. With action, characters, great performances and a real sense of threat, it works much better than the book. Some might say it's boring, or that its too dark, but they're not looking for the right things, and neglect the fact that the book contains little action and is pretty dark itself. Just go out and lose yourself. Then wait in anticipation of the Half-Blood Prince...

Genre Value: 4/5
Entertainment Value: 4/5
Style: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Yellow Fellows...

Simpsons Movie reviews are surfacing around the internet - and they're positive! gives it 4/5, as does times online. All clips and trailers have been hilarious, so to me there was a good vibe from the start. The Simpsons Movie is released on Friday, with various preview showings tomorrow. Please keep voting on the Simpsons poll, and thanks to anyone who has voted so far!

You can expect a review of Harry Potter and the Order And The Phoenix by Saturday, if not Friday!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Lolz To Tha Pollz

I know the title joke is just so seriously lame, but I couldn't resist. I've added a new poll feature which I will aim to update and change every week. This week I'm asking you whether you think the Simpsons Movie [released Friday, with previews on Thursday] will be any good or not. Yes, it's your time to yell at me and my stupid opinions, so go ahead. Enjoy.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Lolz To Tha Holz

I've just got back from two weeks in France [and am soon to go away again to Germany for two more], during which much has happened in the movie world.
Potter fever has reached boiling point, with the release of the Order of the Phoenix movie [which I will hopefully see this week and review for you] and the 7th and final book, the Deathly Hallows, all within just over one week.
The film has recieved overall positive, but mixed reviews. Once again "darker" and "edgier" [words which have become immensely overused when describing the latter books/films in the series], it's one of my least favourite books. It's the one where Harry becomes, basically, a bit of a dick. He never ceases yelling or shouting, and it's purpose is mainly to set up the last two books, despite it ridiculous length.

There are, however, many bits which I am looking forward to seeing in the film, such as the climatic battle at the end, and the dementor attack in Privet Drive. It looks, from the trailers, like it could be the best film yet, an opinion which quite a few reviews have already expressed.

Talking of reviews, I have a new ratings system. Films, as well as being given an overall rating, will be marked through "genre value" [i.e. is a comedy funny, is a horror scary, is an action film exciting? No thought towards if it is well made, if it is trashy, if it's high class etc. aka Does the film serve its purpose?], "entertainment value" [a mark purely for how entertaining a film is, be it trashy, high class etc] and "style" [is it well directed? Has it been well thought out? is it classy?]. I am in the process of adding the new ratings to the old reviews, and all future reviews will take this form.

Released this week are the Blockbuster juggernauts Transformers and the very long awaited Simpsons Movie, and anticipation is getting higher and higher. I hope to see at least one before I go to Germany on Monday. If I do, I'll be sure to review. There are lots of Transformers reviews on the internet, as it is already on release in America, and I have read one review of the Simpsons Movie, which can be found on Transformers looks amazing, with serious talent on display - action king Michael Bay directing, movie king Steven Spielberg executive producing, and Even Steven's star Shia LaBoeuf in the leading role. Preview screenings and reviews seem positive so far, but most of us will have to wait until Friday to see it for ourselves.

Anyway, that's all for today folks!
Stay Tuned.