Godzilla News – Giant Apes and Big Insects

4 11 2015

King Kong vs Godzilla

Yes I saw it too. A few weeks ago I heard exciting news regarding the future of the new American Godzilla series. The news being that in 2020, the King of the Monsters will be going toe to toe with the King of Skull Island; King Kong. This is will not be the first time that these 2 Behemoths of the silver screen will have met in combat before. Back in 1963, Toho in Co-operation with Universal released King Kong vs Godzilla. This featured two clashes between the monsters, one which Godzilla won nearly setting Kong on Fire, and the other which ended with Kong swimming away and no sign of Godzilla. The film itself though was not much of a Godzilla film as Godzilla featured characteristics very un-Godzilla like and was portrayed as more a big dinosaur akin to American Monster Movies, than the Japanese Monster. This time around though, things should be different all thanks to Godzilla’s resounding, triumphant return to America in last year’s film. So all being well, Godzilla won’t be all that messed around with in this new battle between the two. This is not the first time since 1963 either that another fight between these 2 has been suggested with plans for films dating back to 1963 (and one I remember seeing on the same site planned for some time in the 90’s).

News of this film comes nearly a year since the announcement that Legendary Pictures plan to release a King Kong spinoff/prequel in form of Skull Island. Originally planned for a 2016 release, this date was pushed back to 2017 (the film itself currently in production, as in right now). Plans for the film were tossed around a bit though since its original announcement and come as part of a plan to create a shared universe (another one) with classic and new giant monsters in them, possibly due to the success of Godzilla last year, plus the acquisition of the rights to classic Toho Monsters including Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah.

Godzilla v.s Mothra and King Ghidorah

Things though are a little confusing about this announcement. When you compare the sizes of both creatures, Godzilla in the recent film is about 110 meters tall, King Kong’s height has been measured to be no higher than 25 feet which when run through a converter comes to about 7.62 metres. Therefore Kong is definitely the smaller of the 2, a lot smaller. Still big enough not to be entirely squashed underfoot, but still too small to cause any real damage to Godzilla. Plus, if Kong is really that hairy, Godzilla’s Atomic Deathray will easily cause the ape to catch fire. So for this new film, Kong is really going to need to be rescaled. Because well, you can’t down size Godzilla to 7.26 metres as that will be very inaccurate (reminds me of something once said on Vidzilla over 15 years ago).

Godzilla vs King Kong 2020

Supposed plans for this film at the moment suggest that at some point the 2 Goliaths will face each other in battle, but will together face a mutual threat. No idea what this threat is at the moment, we are still waiting for Godzilla 2 to come out (which is a little delayed with the Director moonlighting over at LucasFilm). Hopefully though once that and Skull Island are out of the way news will come in thick and fast (although I am a little worried for Godzilla 2 as Universal have announced that the sequel to the best film this year: Jurassic World is going to be released the same month as Godzilla 2) regarding what will be happening. Who knows, Maybe Godzilla will finally get a match against Desghidorah or a long overdue rematch with Battra. With a little bit of time still to go though (about 5 years of it) until this film gets released, there is still plenty to look forward to with both Kong and Godzilla getting outings until they finally meet in 2020.

Desghidorah

Quickly I just want to mention something completely un-Godzilla related. I found out news last week (after buying 3 classic Michael Crichton books for £5) that a film of Crichton’s last book: MICRO is planned. DreamWorks are the ones pursuing it with input from Producer Frank Marshall and a close friend of Crichton’s; Steven Spielberg. While there is no real news of when it will be coming out, I am really excited by this news. Micro was the second best book I read last year, I preferred it to Jurassic Park and to hear that Spielberg is helping in the production of the film is great news. So expect insects galore as Micro will hopefully be released sooner or later. But until that happens, you have plenty of time to read the book. So head down to your local chain of Waterstone’s and pick it up……….”NOW!”

Micro (Harper Collins - 2012)

GENEPOOL

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You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat – Jaws

1 10 2014

Jaws (Universal Pictures - 1975)

Imagine you are being pursued by a terrifying creature, but you don’t know what it is. You turn around for a second, lose some running time and momentum and you see the horrible creature that wants to kill you and eat you. That want and desire to know what is after you, do you really need to know? Movies are filled with such creatures, ranging from The Alien and Predator, to Dragons and The Host. But when you watch said films, there is a level of reassurance in them in which you know they don’t exist. But what if the creature is real? What if a film could make you scarred of something that is real and make you think twice before engaging in an activity in which, while rare of course, means there is still a chance of meeting the creature. Well, there is one film that has done just that for nearly 40 years now.

Jaws (Peter Benchley - 1974)

Released by Universal Pictures in 1975, Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the Peter Benchley novel of the same name; Jaws is highly perceived as one of the best films in the world, helping to launch the career of Steven Spielberg in the process and to this day being one of very few films on Rotten Tomatoes with a 100% fresh approval rating as well as becoming a major moment in the history of cinema upon its release. All of that for a film about a Great White Shark.

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The film begins on Amity Island with a young girl called Chrissie (Susan Backlinie) who goes skinny dipping before being pulled under water. The following morning, Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) who lives on the Island with his wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary) and two sons Sean (Jay Mello) and Michael (Chris Rebello) goes in search of Chrissie meeting up with Chrissie’s supposed boyfriend Cassidy (Jonathan Filley) and Amity Police Deputy, Jeff Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer) who has found the remains of Chrissie’s body washed up on the shore. Chief Brody waits to hear from the coroner who tells him that Chrissie died from a Shark Attack. Brody spurs into action wanting to close the beaches, but the island’s mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) however persuades Brody to keep quiet, so that he can keep the beaches open during the summer period. Brody decides to let it slip and go with the coroner’s new statement suggesting that the incident was a boating accident. While relaxing with his family on the beach, Brody spots something odd happening in the water and calls everyone to get out of the water, however, a boy named Alex (Jeffrey Voorhees) has disappeared, and the mother of the boy, Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fierro) puts up a $3,000 reward for whoever can kill the shark that killed her son. At a meeting to discuss this, Brody states he is closing the beach, but the mayor says only for 24 hours. Everyone is then drawn to the appearance of local Shark Hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) who says he will kill the shark, but demands $10,000 in return.

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The next day, fishermen head out to the ocean to hunt the shark. Meanwhile, marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) arrives on the island and looks at Chrissie’s body and states that she was in fact killed by a shark. The fishermen then catch the supposed shark but Hooper states that it is a Tiger Shark, and not the shark they are looking for. That night, Hooper goes to have dinner with Martin and Ellen, saying he would like to look inside the caught shark’s stomach, but the mayor wouldn’t allow it. Brody and Hooper do it in secret and find no trace of Chrissie. They go out to sea and find a boat belonging to local fisherman Ben Gardner (Craig Kingsbury). Hooper goes underwater to look at the wreckage and finds a sizeable tooth but drops it after he sees the fisherman’s corpse. Brody and Hooper try to persuade the Mayor to close the beaches but he doesn’t listen and decides to keep the beaches open for the fourth of July.

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Tourists arrive in their hundreds to enjoy the sea-side resort while Brody and Hooper do what they can to keep the beaches safe. The mayor persuades people to go into the water and everything goes ok until a prank caused by a couple of kid’s forces everyone to run out of the water. The pranksters get found out, but a shark fin is spotted going into a pond/estuary where Brody’s son Michael is on his new yacht. A man in a rowing boat (Ted Grossman) is killed and Michael goes into shock. Brody has the mayor sign a contract to give Quint whatever he wants in return for killing the shark. Quint immediately falls out with Hooper but reluctantly agrees to take both him and Brody on the voyage. The next day, all three men head out to sea and Quint has Hooper drive the boat and Brody putting chum out to attract the shark. Quint has something hooked onto his fishing rod and tries to pull it in, but the identity of whatever it is remains unknown and eventually let’s go. Brody puts more chum out but sees the shark and is shocked by the size of it by saying the famous line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”. The three men manage to tag a barrel onto it but the shark manages to get away before they can attach another.

They stay the night and talk to each other showing each other their scars before Quint reveals that he was on the USS Indianapolis, the ship that delivered the Hiroshima Bomb before being sunk by a Japanese Torpedo and where a large number of the sailors were killed by sharks. The boat is then attacked by the shark. The following morning, the three men attempt to repair the boat but the shark returns. Brody tries to call the coast guard but Quint destroys the radio. They get another barrel attached to the shark and then attach both barrels to the boat, but the shark pulls the boat flooding the deck and engine. Quint, now consumed with killing the creature burns out the boat’s motor while trying to suffocate the creature in the shallow waters. With the boat now sinking, Hooper suggests a radical new plan to go down in a shark cage and poison the shark. The plan fails though when the shark attacks the cage, with Hooper narrowly escaping. Back on the boat, the shark attacks the two remaining men eating Quint in the process. With just Chief Brody left, Brody attacks the creature throwing a scuba tank in its mouth. From Hooper telling him the previous day that the tanks would explode, Brody climbs the mast of the almost completely sunk boat and shoots several rounds at the creature before finally hitting the scuba tank, causing the shark to blow up. Hooper returns to the surface and the two men swim back to shore.

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Jaws is an incredible film, a point you begin to realise the more times you watch it, the more you begin to understand it, and even more so when you discover that Jaws was supposed to look a lot different, and if had originally come to fruition may not be as good or as highly regarded as it has become. Jaws cast are terrifically portrayed from Minor to Major. Characters that only appear briefly such as Brody’s children, Mrs. Kitner, Meadows the reporter and the town’s upper-class woman Mrs. Taft (Fritzi Jane Courtney) have their own major points. Meadows (Carl Gottlieb) has a great yet brief on-screen presence, while Brody’s children add an extra level of depth to the Brody family giving them more of an emotional attachment to the screens setting as well as a connection for the audience also. Mrs. Taft is a great character as in she is an incredibly stiff upper lip toff type who is an absolute rotter to be around and acts in such a manner that makes herself feel superior to be around others but doesn’t achieve any sympathy from anyone and everyone else, particularly the audience. She is in the same league as the mayor and his cronies and believes more in stature and glory than in safety or the lives of other people wanting the beaches open instead of closed and possibly safer as a result. Scenes with her also include not laughing at jokes made by others and even protesting that she doesn’t find them funny, you know, the kind of person who believes that standards are more important than anything else. From here we go into the more major members of the cast. The character of Chrissie is only seen very briefly, but she is the all-important first victim. When she is grabbed from under water and pulled under you do see a level of terror in her eyes and the way she is portrayed, even more so to the point when she also has the look of someone who has no idea what is attacking her and it is more the fear of the unknown and death on the whole than what exactly is about to happen to her, a realization that becomes more clear as the scene carries on and as she screams for help.

Ellen Brody holds the point of sanity for her family trying to keep Brody on the relaxed side of what is going on and not get too involved or in-depth with his new enemy. She is generally more patient and holds a great scene presence when she is on, appearing to be more calm than emotional, but that doesn’t stop her getting emotional when Michael is in danger or when Brody is going out to sea. Next to that you have the character of Hendricks; the deputy of Amity Island. He doesn’t appear to have much in this film other than to be the bumbling buffoon secondary policeman who doesn’t do much in the way of standing up for himself and mostly just takes orders than showing his own opinion. He is also however the only real political support that Brody has and is seemingly the only one in a political stance who believes Brody’s judgement on the situation is correct and trust that he knows what he is doing. He is also not devoid of much life as he takes his position seriously and when he finds Chrissie’s body, a real sense of emotion comes to light as the remains are not pleasant and he shows that he is in fact human and not at all a fool, but just seen as one. Then we move onto the Mayor of amity Island, Larry Vaughn. He is a man who is much in the same league with the higher end civilians of the own who believe in the accumulation of money being the biggest priority. A fair judgement for a small island as the island very much requires a lot of tourism in order to survive, however, when it comes to the appearance of a killer shark, Mr. Mayor and his higher-ups still want to keep the beaches open and at first think nothing more than this just being a passing incident, but when it continues, he still thinks solely about the money. He is in many respects a secondary villain after the shark as he is very single-minded in the pursuit of what he thinks is best, although it really isn’t and provides the film a good opposite comparison and something for Brody to put his frustration on as Brody has safety in front and the mayor doesn’t. He is also a very dodgy character in the way that he will use whatever persuasion skill he has to get what he wants, even having the coroner change his professional opinion as to what happened to the first victim. He is overall played very well as he is the type of character, along with Mrs. Taft that you have not the slightest bit of sympathy for and it is only from pure experience in the end that he learns the error of his ways, but still tries to shift the blame off himself in return.

Lorraine Gary, Jeffrey Kramer and Murray Hamilton

Despite all these great qualities though, the films three main cast members are the highlights.

Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider

Roy Scheider’s character is that of the concerned outsider. It’s obvious that he knows what he is doing when he hears about the shark, closing the beaches and everything and while he may not be an expert or fully aware on the subject of sharks he does know the best course of action. However he does get a bit too committed and paranoid over the whole thing. There is also the problem that while his job is to uphold the law and protect others, there are those higher above him who have the authority to tell him what to do and will make him do, even if it’s the wrong course of action. The result then is that he is unable to do his job properly due to the shady characters who tell him what to do and as such becomes frustrated with the whole affair, especially when the body count continues to grow and knowing that if politics didn’t get in the way, he could prevent deaths. The use of a policeman character is also well done and makes the film not just an action film, but something of a crime drama at the same time with the policeman being the detective, closing in on his suspect and the shark the murderer but in a similar twist, it shows that the goody-goody policeman has to become as focussed as the killer and tap into his natural primal instincts in order to finally achieve the end result. He therefore gets overly committed to this result and by the end; he is a much more different person than the first time the audience sees him.

Roy Scheider

Richard Dreyfuss on the other hand starts off as something more of a decent guy. He is brought in as a marine biologist and at first you grow to like him as he knows what he is talking about but is not just some professor or lecturer. Monster Movies have always required a level of science for the audience and usually achieve this through a character who might know what he is talking about. Hooper on the other hand does not look like a lecturer or acts like a mad scientist, instead he dresses more casually and connects to the audience as a likeable guy as such as he becomes more approachable. However this nice guy attitude eventually begins to dissipate, mostly at the point he meets Quint who also doesn’t take a liking to him either. At this point Hooper takes much a defensive stance and as he continues he begins to grow more distant from everyone else, in particular Brody who originally both start off as friends but who are now at constant loggerheads with each other. It’s only at the very end when the shark has finally been killed that they return to normal. As the final act progresses though you begin to see more of a normal person in Hooper though as he jokes and has a few laughs when he and Quint observe each other’s scars, just showing that while he may be the expert guy, he is also a human being inside too and while he may go astray for a while during the final act, he grows more in person as a result too.

Richard Dreyfuss

When I first watched Jaws when I was about 6/7 years old, I always had Robert Shaw’s character (Quint) down as a bad guy, because well, he wasn’t really pleasant and so when he dies I always assumed it was a good thing. In more recent years though, particularly more so in the last year, I have grown to like Quint a great deal and observe him no more as a villain, but as the film’s best character. From the first time you see him he is unpleasant, scraping the chalk board making everyone’s ears hurt, demanding everyone to listen to him, talking about what he does and demanding more money to achieve it. When he appears again much later in the film nothing has changed, he still appears to be somewhat dodgy and angry and points out things about other people, mainly Hooper, has fun about things people do and takes the position of a lazy fisherman on the boat but when the shark arrives becomes something of a Captain Ahab type character getting transfixed on his shark and bounty up until the moment he gets killed. Sounds unpleasant and almost like he say what was coming to him. But when you look between the lines and real study who he is, he becomes much more likeable as a person. When he demands more money, he is not just some greedy Bounty Hunter; he is an experienced Shark Hunter who knows what he’s doing. When he falls out with Hooper, he is not being horrible, he just despises those he thinks are getting a better way of living for doing much less, when he is fishing and having others do his work for him, he is keeping close vigil on the water and knows how best to hunt the animal and requires the other two to do what he asks fully to achieve this. It’s only towards the end when he gets too committed that things begin to go bad for him. He is a hardworking man and believes he is getting the most out of his job in order to do well at it.

Robert Shaw

On top of that though, he is a man of experience, and not all of it good. Why is he a shark killer, because he knows what sharks can do from first-hand experience and when he tells his tale of life on the USS Indianapolis in what is a terrific monologue, you begin to get the real insight on him? You begin to fall in line with him, and try to question his position wondering if he does his job to live, or is looking for revenge; like Captain Ahab and his whale. From then on, and every time you watch the film from then, you really begin to understand him as a character and know not to judge a book by its cover, because while on the outside he is a committed man who appears to be very unpleasant, inside he is a normal human being and you become like a friend to him and understand the way he acts, because he doesn’t want to appear weak, but also you understand what he has gone through.

The characterization of the shark is terrific achievement too. When the film was initially produced, the plan was to use the shark animatronic from early on and to see the shark from early on, but the shark did not work all too well and so Spielberg adopted an approach inspired by Alfred Hitchcock in which to suggest the existence of something underwater but not to show it, and more have a look that suggests that you are looking through its own eyes. This works as it makes the shark not just an animal but more like an actual killer, as you are seeing it pick its targets. It’s only until very much later on that this technique is held off together as the audience member is with Brody, Hooper and Quint out to kill the creature, and so you no longer are looking at the creature’s perspective but the perspective of those out to kill it. To begin with though, the shark is more positioned as the animal and also the mysterious killer. When you get to the final act out at sea, you begin to see the shark take on new traits, that of taking things personal with the crew by attacking and damaging the boat to fully chasing them and picking them off one by one. This trait of revenge makes the final few moments really hectic as each character goes to extreme lengths to survive and for the shark to increasingly damage the boat to get at them or get them in the water therefore fully transforming the creature from killer shark to monster.

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Another way that the shark is shown is through great effects in using a combination of Real Life footage with animatronic. The real life footage of the creature from a distance helps the thing to look real as it indeed is a real shark on the footage. The animatronic is more used for shots of real sharks that they had to fake because a real shark wouldn’t be able to really act for them, it would more likely just swim away, or eat the film crew. Such realistic shots are mostly used for underwater shots with the cage, such as seen far away, swimming away and tangling with the cage after Hooper gets out. The animatronic fills in the rest. The actual shark animatronic, it’s actually pretty good. While the effect looks very much outdated and almost cardboard/wooden like, it still holds an element of realism in it as the thing worked pretty perfectly in close up shots towards the end and while now may look more silly, thanks to the film building up the appearance of the creature, you are now fully in the scene and the possible silliness of the creature today is almost completely removed when the creature starts eating people close up. When the animatronic is used in the water too, from the perspective of above the water, the effect is brilliant as while it may not carry a lot of close-up detail it does enough to show the size of the creature as well as what it would look like at that angle.

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The film’s soundtrack produced by John Williams also aids in the shark’s portrayal. The film for the most part uses a soundtrack which covers different topics from tense mystery moments, to everyday life in amity, happiness, sadness as well as moments of wonder. The film generally uses pieces over and over again but they are pieces that work. The moments on the land with no Shark use great themes and soundtrack for moments of joy and happiness as well as general life and that is used to great effect to portray those moments. However it is the moments with the shark that produce an interesting contrast. When the shark is being hunted a piece of music plays which sounds more adventurous, like something used in a sailing, pirate film which sound like a celebration theme as the three men attempt to kill the shark. On the other hand to that though, you have the film’s main theme, that of the shark’s theme.

The shark’s theme is iconic to this very day but its actual quite simple. It suggests the presence of something mysterious, but is not overly joyful. It sounds bad, it sounds dark, as there is a real danger approaching. The theme then builds into a tense action paced sound as the danger arrives and is now in view of sorts and you know you can’t get away, it is the approaching predator. As the theme is used into the later parts of the film, the same piece is transferred into another piece and becomes more of a piece of last stand music as Brody fights the shark alone and the tense sounding music begins to grow more desperate before finishing on a final high note which allows the film to use one more note of silence as to question what the final outcome is.

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Jaws is as amazing as it is regarded to be. The film is brilliantly shot with combinations of island life, to the perils of sea until its final conclusion out to sea with a sense of moral danger and adventure. While the film’s look and effects (not to mention Quint’s cool looking boat the Orca) may be outdated, they are still able to hold a great element of terror too as they are used to great effect. The film’s soundtrack is terrific and the portrayal of all the film’s major cast including the shark, are enjoyable from start to finish and at no point get boring. For nearly 40 years now this film has entertained and (but probably mostly) terrified audiences the world over, and still will do for decades to come. If you have not seen this film yet, you should. It is one of the true classics of cinema and still holds true to this day. While some monster films may use creatures that are entirely fictional, there is nothing more terrifying than using a subject and creature that is real, and continues to remain a real life danger as long as they continue to survive. Jaws is so well done to this point that you will be scarred of going back in the water for some time, unless it’s a swimming pool, well, because a Great White Shark can’t get into a swimming pool………………………..can it?

GENEPOOL (Has anyone else noticed that the film’s three main cast members all have names which begin with the letter R)?





Are You Username Ladiesman217? – Transformers

28 05 2014

Transformers (Paramount Pictures - 2007)

In 2005 I saw a poster at the cinema in Morecambe. It was a poster for a new Transformers movie. No date was shown as to when it was being released, or much detail of it would be either animated or live action. These were the days when the Web was still in a state of infancy and only just starting to get widely available. After remembering that poster, in April of 2007 I decide to try and track the film down. I did, it even had trailers and the news that it would be released that year. Come July I was ready for it, and was blown away by it. I absolutely loved it and could hardly think of anything else for several weeks. Well that was seven years ago, and I have finally got round to doing my review of it.

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Based on what started as a toy line by Hasbro and became an international sensation with comics, books, more toys and cartoons and directed by Movie Action Supremo Michael Bay and executive produced by Steven Spielberg in co-operation with both Paramount Pictures and DreamWorksTransformers is the story of a race of Giant Robots who can transform into vehicles in order to hide their secret from the rest of the world.

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The story begins with a brief dialogue about a Cube called the AllSpark which built a world but the power for control of the object started a war which decimated an entire world. The cube drifted in space for millennia before crash landing on planet earth. At an army base in Qatar, Captain William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Technical Sergeant Robert Epps (Tyrese Gibson) along with the rest of their platoon arrive back from a supposed mission and are about to go home when a helicopter arrives at the base. The helicopter then transforms into a giant robot and destroys the base. Lennox and his team along with a boy on the base manage to escape but get noticed by the robot who sends out a smaller robot to take care of them.  It then tries hacking into the army system but the lines are cut.

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In the United Sates, a boy called Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) gets his first car, a Chevrolet Camaro. He goes out for a drive to show it off and runs into Class mate Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) and gives her a lift home. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defence Keller (Jon Voight) briefs a bunch of IT Analysts about the hack in Qatar and gets them to try and figure out what it was. On one team is Analyst Maggie Madsen (Rachael Taylor) who while trying to figure it out intercepts the same hack happening again on Air Force One. On board the plane is another robot who stowed away on board as a Music Cassette Player and is the one attempting the hack. The lines are shut again but he finds out about Sam. During the night, back at the Witwicky house, Sam’s car appears to just drive off. Sam follows and discovers that the car is a robot.

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Maggie tries to persuade the secretary of defence that the hack was caused by something organic and metallic, but tells her that she needs evidence first. She takes a copy to hacker friend Glen Whitman (Anthony Anderson) but just as they manage to get into the data, the house is raided and they are both arrested. In the desert, Captain Lennox and his team are attacked by the smaller robot named Scorponok but are able to call in help and manage to defeat it before it escapes. Back at his home, Sam goes for a ride on his mother’s bike, when his car starts stalking him. He runs away bumping into Mikaela and then gets attacked by a police car, who is actually a robot. The robot demands to know if he is Username Ladiesman217 and asks about some visors. Sam manages to get away, runs into Mikaela again who spots the robot, but are then both rescued by his Camaro, who fights and defeats the police car. Using the car radio the robot sort of explains who he is and takes the two of them with him.

That night four large meteorites crash into planet earth and scan some cars, before then all meeting up. Sam and Mikaela are then introduced to the Autobot crew of leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), his first lieutenant Jazz (Darius McCrary), weapons specialist Ironhide (Jess Harnell), medical officer Ratchet (Robert Foxworth) and Sam’s car Bumblebee (Mark Ryan). Optimus explains that they come from Planet Cybertron where a war broke out over the AllSpark and that when he went looking for it; the villainous Megatron (Hugo Weaving) leader of the Decepticons landed on Earth and was discovered by Captain Archibald Witwicky (William Morgan Sheppard), Sam’s ancestor. The glasses he was wearing had the destination of the cube printed on them and Sam had the glasses up for sale on eBay. They all go to Sam’s house where his parents Ron (Kevin Dunn) and Judy (Julie White) are. The Autobots make a mess of the garden while Sam looks for the glasses before parents go to his room and find Mikaela. Sam finds the glasses but then the house is surrounded by Agents from Sector 7 led by Agent Simmons (John Turturro) who take all of them including the family dog into custody. The agents Press Sam and Mikaela for information before Sam finds out that Mikaela has a criminal record. The Autobots rescue them but are then pursued by more agents who capture Bumblebee in the process and take Sam and Mikaela back into custody.

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Back at the Pentagon, a man called Tom Banachek (Michael O’Neill) who is the head of Sector 7 arrives and tells Keller that back in 2003, the Beagle 2 Mars Rover (even though it was neither an American spacecraft, or a planetary rover) landed on Mars and transmitted a few seconds of footage. The footage showed the body of a robot and Sector 7 cut all transmission from the thing before it could go public. The operations team from Qatar took a picture of the thing that attacked the base, and Sector 7 believes they are both of the same origin. The Pentagon is then hacked and Keller is asked to go to the Hoover Dam; he picks up Glen and Maggie on the way. Lennox’s team arrives in the USA and along with Mikaela and Sam also go to the Hoover Dam, the HQ of Sector 7. Sam manages to get Mikaela’s record wiped forever before they are all briefed on a giant robot in the basement called NBE 1, who is actually Megatron. They are also shown the Cube which is the size of a building and are shown that the Cube has the power to turn electronic objects into transforming robots. They are however unaware that Mikaela’s phone had been replaced with the robot from Air Force one who tells the other Decepticons where the cube is who all then head for the base. Inside the dam, Sam is taken to a tortured Bumblebee who makes the cube itself transform into a smaller one. A plan is made to hide it in the city. Keller, Maggie, Glen and Simmons go to try and contact the air force, while Lennox and his team along with Sam and Mikaela and the other Autobots take the Cube into Mission City. Megatron is then freed by the Decepticons and go off in pursuit.

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In the Dam, Simmons, Keller, Glen and Maggie are attacked by the smaller Decepticon Frenzy (Reno Wilson). They are able to defeat it and get word out to the air force. In the city Lennox’s team and the Autobots are attacked by the Decepticons Devastator, Starscream (Charlie Adler) and Bonecrusher (Jimmie Wood), including the helicopter Blackout from the attack in Qatar. Sam is press ganged into getting the cube into military hands while Bumblebee teams up with Mikaela driving a tow truck after he loses his legs. The fight intensifies with Jazz getting ripped apart by Megatron and the Decepticons being seemingly unkillable. Sam tries to get the cube into military hands but the chopper is destroyed by Megatron. Sam falls from the building but is rescued by Optimus. Optimus and Megatron fight and along with help from the air force and Lennox’s team manage to defeat the Decepticons with Sam putting the Cube in Megatron chest, killing him instantly. The Decepticon bodies are disposed of and Sector 7 is shut down. The Autobots stay with Sam and Mikaela and Optimus sends a message to all surviving Autobots to come to planet Earth.

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Transformers is amazingly well made. It was always going to be a tough film to crack but it is generally an action spectacle that has both terrific action sequences fights and drama.

Jon Voight, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Shia LaBeouf, Julie White and Kevin Dunn

The drama from and between the films human cast is very well done. Sam is a typical teenager with dreams but is over ecstatic when all of the weirdness begins. Shia LaBeouf does this splendidly and even manages to get his head together. He is however more understanding than the old jock characters and is more able to get a friendship going with Mikaela as a result. Jon Voight’s character is great as a leadership character as someone in his position is always trying to stay calm no matter what the situation but will allow himself to get angry and annoyed if he thinks it is justified as well as necessary and appropriate. Simmons meanwhile is a source of light comic relief but whose character is very serious about what he does and that comic nature is more his real world side and his serious professionalism along with a touch of madness is more what he really is. Epps is sort of the other side to that where he is genuinely a very serious guy but those elements of comedy are what the audience is thinking so it allows them to connect with him as well as the cynical sarcastic and surreal nature of what is going on. Sam’s nightmare parents are nicely well-played too with Judy being more of a real nightmare trying to get down with her son making her look embarrassing, while Ron is more of the friendly father figure who is not afraid to make his feelings known but tries to remain calm in saying them. Together they both have great onscreen chemistry but have different as well as very funny responses to certain situations, Judy promotes violence while Ron wants to do things legally. Their response to the sight of Mikaela is brilliant too as they are not disapproving about her, but more interested and pleased about her.

Glenn Morshower, Tom Everett and Brian Shehan

On the human side though, the real standouts are Tom, Lennox, Maggie and Mikaela along with a host of extra cast including Glenn Morshower, Brian Shehan (who really should have had more of a spot in this film), Tom Everett and one bloke who briefly appeared, don’t know what his name is but I think he appeared as the father of a girl Malcolm was going out with in Malcolm in the Middle.

Josh Duhamel, Rachael Taylor and Michael O'Neill

Tom only appears very briefly but he is one of the most interesting characters. He is generally very casual but also very corporate in his character and is a bit easier on his approach, compared to Simmons who goes in all guns blazing. So while he only has a few shots, all those scenes are brilliant and is a real shame, along with someone else in the cast, that he did not appear again in the series. Lennox meanwhile is not your typical soldier. He is not gun hoe or busy barking orders at his platoon, he is more sensible, understands the situation and works to get the best results, as shown when he tells Simmons that he will count to three. Maybe because his platoon is made of a similar bunch of guys is the reason he is more like this allowing him to be more respectful on the battlefield, but when dealing with people as a whole he is both persuasive and calm enough to make sure people know what they need to do and because he is not an average soldier but perhaps a more respectable human being allows him to stand out to the viewer. Maggie meanwhile is almost the films secret main star. She is not exactly a geek or a nerd but is very specialised in what she does. While she pretty much does land herself into FBI custody, her headstrong nature as well as own beliefs and ideals mean that she did it in the best interests and not for herself and because she is not afraid to speak her own mind, she gains a large amount of respect from Keller who does take a professional liking to her. She is also not afraid to get her hands dirty as shown when they take on Frenzy. Her character is very likeable and while Like Tom her scenes are more of a handful of pieces here and there, all of those scenes are brilliant mostly thanks to how such a good actress Rachael Taylor is and as stated for Tom before, I do consider it a real shame that she did not continue to appear in the series.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox is supposedly playing the girl next door character, however she is more than that. While in some respects her part is possibly meant for a bit of eye candy, her character is actually one of the best in the entire film. Mikaela is not a damsel in distress. On the contrary she would be the type to do the rescuing given half the chance. Her character is more of a challenge to the men as she knows so much about cars, but is not respected for as such. She strikes a friendship up with Sam because while he is trying to be like one of the jocks, she sees more to him than that and this allows her to have someone to talk with about her inner feelings which have become hidden by her looks. When he criminal record is revealed, her character comes out more and that inner torment that she has been hiding finally comes to fruition and allows her to do more as a person and connect more with the viewer. She is actually quite caring and can see the best in people despite what her exterior shows and I would easily say that she is very much on par with the Transformers themselves as highlights of this film.

T11

As for the real stars given the name of the film, the Transformers. It is a nice mix of characters. Optimus is very serious and doesn’t pull jokes at all, it’s more in what he is than what he does. The use of the stereo for Bumblebee is a great move as it adds an element of humour to his character without him needing to speak. Megatron is very well-played and both looks bad but also sounds cold and calculating. He shares some of the best speaking parts for the transformers in the entire film and is a joy to be hold. For the most part the other Decepticons play their part by shutting up and letting Megatron do his bit, because well he is the centre piece, but the diversity of the vehicles that they are, as well as some of the speaking parts that they do, primarily Barricade (Jess Harnell) allow them to stand out a little more. So instead of being just ordinary silent villains, they have their own little character bits strung out here and there and are very enjoyable too. For me though, despite Optimus of course being the leader and some bits done by Jazz and Ratchet, they’re not as good as Ironhide. A machine whose part is that of a rough and tough persona, he is actually quite cool and has the best speaking parts of any transformer in the film. While his attitude can get the better of him, he is capable of toning that part down and has a lot of respect for Optimus and some caring nature towards the humans. But for a part of a rough soldier, he is quite capable of more than that and has his own touches of comedy which don’t get boring, as well as scenes that are not comedic which are absolutely brilliant (for more information please refer to my Top 5 posts on the Autobots and Decepticons).

T7

The films special effects are well done. Making such characters appear like that was always going to be hard, but the rustic nature of their design makes them look more realistic, but just to achieve such designs deserve a lot of credit. While such effects have become part of the norm for cinema today, when you take something that was originally a toy, but then put it into a state where it not only looks good but also realistic to the point of the viewer being able to feel like they could touch it requires a lot of work, and if it can be pulled off, like it has done so here, it deserves a lot of credit. I particularly like how the design of the transformers is a lot like how George Lucas envisioned the craft in Star Wars by making the nuts and bolts visible.

T8

The film’s soundtrack is also one of the film’s best components. While the end music of What I’ve Done provided by Linkin Park is very good in its own right; it is the music created for the film itself by composer Steve Jablonsky that gets the real attention. The parts used for the military sequences have a nice tense tone to them but is also catchy for a piece with no lyrics in as well as very memorable. But the piece that comes to my mind is that of the arrival sequence of the Autobots. The piece gives a heroic impression of here comes the good guys about it and starts off very classical but gets a little more intense and brighter as it goes along and ends with this sharp, sort of heavy component when the Autobots meet up and Optimus transforms. That piece in general has all sorts of bits to it with even an operatic tone part way in but for me, the piece does not have a single moment of it being better than the rest. A nice calm feel which intensifies little by little until you reach the terrific ending. Just thinking about that piece sends chills down my spine. I really like that piece.

T10

Transformers is a truly terrific film. To this day I absolutely love this film, my favourite of 2007. With a great sense of action and battle sequences as well as a terrific portrayal of the human side to the conflict from the film’s cast (all of them) with special effects and music to back it all up; Transformers is one Excellent film that is enjoyable from start to finish guaranteed.

GENEPOOL (I do like the reference to the Beagle 2 Spacecraft. It gives it an extra sense of both validity and realism. I just couldn’t find anywhere else in the post to mention that).





Your Choice 5: Current Results

12 11 2013

Your Choice 5

With less than 2 months to go until the end of the final film poll for a long time. I though I would put up a quick look at the current progress. . In the classics poll, 3 films currently hold first place with 20% each. They are Jaws, Jurassic Park and The Hidden Fortress with Zulu and Easy Rider not far behind. PoRe1

Meanwhile in the Future Classics Poll, 13 Assassins and Sherlock Holmes are in front sharing half the entire vote with District 9 and Welcome To The Punch holding second.

PoRe2

You may be wondering why only 5 films show in the above poll, well that is because 2 films have not got any votes yet. If you want to see those films reviewed, get voting for them now.

KAIA

With only a few weeks left in the vote I thought I would add some Jeopardy to it. Firstly the vote for 3 films rule has been reduced down to 2. So you can only choose 2 films when you vote. Secondly, I am thinking that come December 1st, I will delete from the polls, the bottom 2 films on each poll reducing the vote down to 5 films each. Which ones will it be, who knows. So, please keep voting for the films you want to win, thank you.

GENEPOOL





Your Choice 5 (Part 1): Classics

16 09 2013

Your Choice 5

About this time every year since 2010 I have given my readers the opportunity to choose a film for me to review. On the previous 4 occasions (ok, one of them was mid 2011), I have reviewed High School Musical, Cloverfield, The Host, Slumdog Millionaire and Star Wars Episode 1. Now we arrive at the 5th vote, but over the course of the series, the voting numbers have gone down and so I have decided that after this vote, I might give it a break for a year or so and then bring it back eventually (or maybe do it next year anyway if this year does well or if I want to, but more likely I will only bring it back next year if the votes from this year go up from previous years). So because of this, I have decided to do something really big this year. Classics and Future Classics. I have chosen 7 films which are highly regarded as some of the best films produced in the entire history of Cinema, but that’s not all. I have also chosen 7 films produced this current century (2000 onwards) which I think have great potential in becoming classics themselves. For this post we are going to concentrate on the Classics, check back later in the week for the Future Classics.

Easy Rider (Columbia Pictures - 1969)

Easy Rider: Directed by Legendary Actor Dennis Hopper and starring both him and Peter Fonda, Easy Rider is a road movie about two bikers going on a journey across south of America. A landmark film of its time and helped to get the wheels turning for New Hollywood Era. the film explores many issues that were happening around America at the time including Drug Use and the Hippie Movement. The film’s soundtrack is also of particular note as it used music from bands including Steppenwolf and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Easy Rider is quite possibly the Greatest Road Movie of all time.

Jaws (Universal Pictures - 1975)

Jaws: Steven Spielberg‘s 4th film as well as in many ways being the archetype film for all future Summer Blockbusters, this classic film about a monstrous Shark who comes and terrorizes a small town in America, is one of the most critically acclaimed, successful, well-remembered and much-loved films of all time. Based on the book of the same name by Peter Benchley, and starring Roy Schneider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, the film looks to the more human side of the film than like with some other monster movies who just look at the Monster. The film also has one of the cinema’s most well known pieces of music produced by John Williams who would later work on Star Wars. Almost 40 years on since it was produced Jaws still captivates movie goers around the world and on many occasions, may still scare people into not going back in the water.

Jurassic Park (Universal Pictures - 1993)

Jurassic Park: 18 years after frightening people with Jaws, Steven Spielberg would once again captivate audiences with one of the worlds most ground-breaking, modern films. Based on the book of the same name by Michael Crichton, the film follows a group of explorers played by Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum who travel to a safari park where Dinosaurs have been brought back to life, what could possibly go wrong. With another excellent score provided by John Williams and special effects that shook up an entire industry and still to this day are pretty much unmatched in sheer scale and the experience it gives, Jurassic Park has thrilled audiences world wide and has created a Legacy that continues to live on to this day in the hearts of many a movie goer.

The Hidden Fortress (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1958)

The Hidden Fortress: From Legendary Director Akira Kurosawa comes The Hidden Fortress. Released four years after Seven Samurai, the Hidden Fortress is a classic in its own right. Starring Legendary Japanese Actor Toshirô Mifune, the film follows the journey of a couple of fools as they are enlisted by a General to help escort a princess through enemy territory. The films score was produced by Masaru Satô who in the space of 44 years working with Toho would produce 300 film scores. 19 years later the film would become a huge influence to director George Lucas when he produced his first Star Wars film, but in many a way, The Hidden Fortress is better than Star Wars.

The Lion King (Disney - 1994)

The Lion King: Produced at a time when Animated CGI films had yet to make an appearance, this animated musical would become on of Disney’s most well-loved classic films. The film follows young lion Simba on his quest to take his father’s place and prevent his uncle from taking over the land (I had to look that up as I personally have not seen The Lion King). The film was scored by Hans Zimmer, one of his earliest successes and at the time of its release became the second highest grossing film after Jurassic Park. While films of this style don’t really exist anymore these days, films like The Lion King continue to make an impact to audiences worldwide.

Top Gun (Paramount Pictures - 1986)

Top Gun: Directed by the Late Great Tony Scott and starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, Top Gun follows Navy Pilot Maverick as he is given the chance to train to become one of the best pilots in the navy at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons school. An action film with scenes of Drama intertwined, the film is amazing shot with many amazing airborne shots as well as those that are more grounded on Earth. included with that is one Amazing and well-remembered soundtrack by many moviegoers that like the film has essences of both Drama and Action. Top Gun is a shining example of Action and Drama films but also a crowning achievement for Tony Scott.

Zulu (Paramount Pictures - 1964)

Zulu: Directed by Cy Endfield and starring Stanley Baker and the breakthrough performance of Michael Caine, Zulu is one of the great War Films. Set during the events of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift where 150 British soldiers defended their small outpost against the might of 4000 Zulu Warriors. With an amazing cast of actors, great scenes almost unparalleled to any other film produced to date and a soundtrack which consisted of both studio produced music from John Barry and the voices of the actors playing the Zulu Warriors many of whom were descendants of those who fought in the great battle. Zulu is a one of a kind film that should be viewed by all, one of the real Greats.

So those are the films of the first part of this vote to choose from. So how do you vote, well that’s easy, just choose which film you would like to see reviewed (or if unsure, you can choose 3) by clicking in the required fields on the poll and then click vote. While the poll does block previous voters, you can always get over that by using another computer, so if you really want to see your choice win, just keep doing that. The poll will be open from now until the stroke of midnight into the new year this coming December 31st. So, take a look at the choices above choose one (or two or three), and place your vote. Check back later this week for part 2, in the meantime, get voting, Thank You.

GENEPOOL








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