Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Transformers The Last Knight

Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) gets some down time to take a call from his daughter.

There is undoubtably a lot to hate about Transformers: The Last Knight, but perhaps the thing I hated most was that I did not end up hating it as much as I thought I would (or at least as much as I hated Age of Extinction).

There are only two redeeming (if you want to use that word) qualities to this film: the plot is a little easier to follow, and there are not as many Michael Bay-isms in the film. Sure, there is still humor that panders to the 13-year-old boys in the audience (which I did not seem to see any of the night I saw it), a lot of sunsets that are never-ending, and far too much of the US military. Still, I only counted one scene of advertising (Bud Weiser), and (the one I am most thankful for), no female objectification (which I was really afraid would happen when the 14-year-old girl character was introduced).

The last paragraph is really all that is not bad (I just can’t bring myself to say “good”) in the movie (and really may be the longest paragraph of positivity that the film will see). The rest is what you would expect. Optimus Prime is back, but in some bad guy programmed way (I forgot his evil name and am too lazy to look it up). He is returning from Cybertron (his home world), looking for a staff once given to Merlin (Stanley Tucci, who was smart enough to be in the movie for no longer than four minutes) that helped England during the dark ages 1600 years ago (which I did not know was that long ago, but this movie does teach us a lot about history if it were written by a three-year old). Mark Wahlberg is back as Cade Yaeger, the eventer from Age of Extinction (thankfully, his daughter and her boyfriend are not). He is summoned by Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins, who I never thought until now could be annoying) to help find the staff along with Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock). We also, yet again, get Josh Duhamel as William Lennox and (for reasons I can only attribute to the need of a paycheck) John Tuturro as…whatever his character was.

The action sequences are the same as always, offering nothing new to any of us. The humor is flatter than paper (save one minor humorous scene of Bumblebee’s new voice box being Siri). The innuendo between Wahlberg and Haddock is more cringe worthy than anything I have seen in some time. For a glimmer of a moment, I had a feeling the movie would not stretch beyond its welcome. Yeah, it did.

Parents, if your kids have seen the first films, they are fine here. Still, there is nothing wrong with skipping a movie night and staying home to watch Netflix (it has countless options far better).

According to both Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg, each has said this would be their last Transformers film (though Bay had said that previously). If the title is being prophetic for those two, perhaps it will be the same for the franchise?

(Note: The after credits tease at the coming of the gigantic machine known as Unicron, who was voiced in the 1980s film by film legend Orson Welles just before he died. The only thing that would make me want to see the next film is if Welles is brought back to life to do the voice work. Being that he is dead, and hated the role, I have doubts.)

 

Overall: 1 1/2 Stars

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Pirates of the Caribbean DMTNT

Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar is out for Depp’s Sparrow in the 5th Caribbean flick.

There are fewer movie characters of the 21st century more notable, original, entertaining, or recognizable than Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. It is sometimes hard to remember how impacting he was in the original film fourteen years ago (the role earned him an Oscar nomination and SAG award). Now, in the fifth film, I feel sad to say that this character has been stretched to his limit.

At some point, all film franchises are to have an end point: It is a matter of whether to end it on a solid note (as the original Star Wars Trilogy did) or on a whimper (if only The Terminator franchise did not go past the second film, and The Transformers franchise was….well, never mind). Undoubtably, it is all about making money, so sequels are going to happen one way or another.

Enter the newest film in the universe (or seas?) of the Pirates of the Caribbean films (I still have yet to see the fourth one in its entirety, but the third at least gave us a solid ending to it all). Depp is back as Sparrow (if he wasn’t, there would be no audience), and he is basically the same, nothing more or less. After a bank robbery (which I could not believe at all was plausible) goes wrong, his crew abandons him (many of the same actors since the first film). Eventually, Jack comes across Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a scientist (though accused by others for being a witch) on the search for Poseidon’s Trident. Also on the search is Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). Whoever gains the trident can reverse any curse (in Henry’s case, he wants to free his father from the curse he has had since the third movie). The trouble is that hot on their trail is Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), out to kill Sparrow for cursing him (curse the curses!) to be a half ghost creature along with his crew. He has asked for the help of Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

As I think of it, one of the nice things of the film is that the story is not that hard to follow (which can happen a lot in summer blockbusters). Each character has his/her reason for reaching Poseidon’s Macguffin (oops, I mean Trident), and none are totally completely complicated reasons.

The special effects are nice, but, again, nothing we have not actually seen before in the other movies. There are a few exceptions, and the one I wish to talk about is one of the more unrealistic action sequences I have seen in some time. A certain character is in a guillotine, about to have their head sliced off. In the chaos of being rescued, this character is having the blade inch toward his/her neck back and forth. I sat there, wondering how any of that could happen in real life.

Some of the CGI is neat, mainly of Salazar’s crew. The bodies are not skeletal remains (as was the case in the first film), but just sections of skin we might see. This does give a bit more menace to Bardem’s performance as the villain, but I kept thinking that he came into the series too late for me to take him completely seriously enough.

Parents, if your kids have seen the original film, then they should be fine. However, there are some suggestive comments made with the humor, which, for the record, I hardly smiled at all during.

Sadly, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is doing what The Hobbit trilogy did to the original Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It seems to be staying way past its welcome (and I mean WAY past, so much so that I made it in caps and everything.) In my mind, I kept thinking the title should have read “Dead movie franchises should stop telling tales”.

Throughout most of the movie, only one word came to mind.

Lame

Overall: One and a Half Stars * 1/2

Life (2017)

Life

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the crew that discovers new “Life”.

Perhaps this movie rubbed me the wrong way, but boy was I not happy with Life.

Despite a talented cast that includes Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, some nice special effects, and a (very) few moving visuals, the story offers us nothing we have not seen before (it is basically Alien).

The movie opens with a long (and I mean long) continuous shot of the crew aboard a space craft about to recover a specimen retrieved from Mars. After some careful testing, Hugh (Ariyon Bakare) is able to bring the small amoeba like creature to life. Back on earth, an elementary school was selected to pick the name of the creature, and names it Calvin.

If you have seen the trailer, you know things are about to go wrong, as this creature (who somehow grows eyes) is able to pick off a crew member one by one. Some of these deaths are (in their own weird way), nice to look at. One such crew member has Calvin enter their mouth and literally eat their insides.

Possible the biggest problem I had with the movie was the fact that the trailer truly gave away almost all you need to know. We know that they have to kill this creature (which somehow grows eyes) before it gets to earth, no matter what, so the possibility of survival is very minimal in our minds even before we buy the ticket.

Parents, the movie is rated R, mainly for the violence (which is standard, though shows like The Walking Dead have the same amount) and swearing (a good amount of it, including many F bombs). Depending on your kids, middle schoolers may be ok with it, but I doubt it.

Ok, I won’t give away the ending of this movie, but I need to talk about it. Just when I thought the movie could not get any more standard and boring, they tack on an ending so bizarre and out-of-place that I was thinking the movie’s director (Daniel Espinosa, who is talented) would make M. Nigh Syamalan confused. It is an ending that is on par with the 2001 Planet of the Apes remake by Tim Burton (the one with Mark Wahlberg).

Sorry, but Life is not worth wasting yours.

Overall: One and a half Stars * 1/2

Me Before You (2016)

Me Before You

A nice date idea for the characters in “Me before You”.

I have a hunch that whoever is reading this review is interested in one thing, and one thing only: Did I cry during Me before You?  I can confidently say I did not cry at all.

That is not to say I am not one to cry at certain movies (I did feel my eyes get wet during The Fault in our Stars, a far better film). The problem is that the characters in Me before You make decisions that seem unrealistic to their characteristics (mainly the character of Lou Clark).

Lou Clark (played nicely by Emilia Clarke) is a decent, soft hearted young woman who still lives at home with her parents and older sister. Ever since her parents have lost their jobs, Lou has decided to stay behind to be with them, despite dashing what dreams she may have had. She is dating Patrick (Matthew Lewis), who is more obssessed with running than he is with her.

One day, she gets a new job working for a very (and I mean very) wealthy family. After meeting with Camilla (Janet McTeer) and Stephen Traynor (Charles Dance), she becomes the new care taker of their son Will (Sam Claflin), who was recently paralyzed after a motorcycle accident. Sorry, but no points on guessing whether or not they fall in love.

Clarke and Claflin have fine chemistry as the sweet innocent girl trying to help the hard heart in a wheel chair. Really, none of the actors are at fault here. There is also a few pieces of fine imagery that would work, but not in a movie like this where the story takes every wrong turn possible. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say we are supposed to feel some form of either happiness for a specific character, or some form of sadness. The feeling I felt was more of a betrayal.

Parents, there is no real nudity of any kind, though some revealing clothing. There is some swearing, but nothing the local middle schooler would not have heard. If they saw movies like The Fault in our Stars or The Notebook, then they are fine here.

The movie was based off the book by Jojo Moyes, who also does the screenplay. I did not read the book, and have cemented my status in saying I won’t anytime in the future. There are good romantic films that can make you cry (I already mentioned The Fault in our Stars and The Notebook, but there is also A Walk to Remember, Love Story, and even going back to the Chaplin masterpiece City Lights, though it is more of a comedy). Me before you is far from those films.

I end by saying this is the first movie I ever went to that I was the only one in the theater. I guess others learned about the movie before hand.

Overall: One and a Half Stars * 1/2