Transformers

Boiling Point

The Avengers is kind of a major success. What, you hadn’t heard? Of course you did. Avengers box office is on the tips of tongues, internet screens, newspapers, and even within the pages of Time Magazine. You don’t make a billion dollars that quickly without garnering a lot of attention. With attention comes discussion. People always want to be included in the discussion, it helps get a little bit of that attention directed their way. If at this point you feel the need to point out the hypocrisy of this entire thing, go for it. What do I care? In attempting to be part of the discussion and gather up some of that sweet, sweet spotlight, everyone has been discussing the Avengers box office results and asking the question we all ask of super hero teams and double rainbows: What does it mean?

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Aural Fixation - Large

Bringing a beloved (or at least nostalgia inducing) television show to the big screen is no easy undertaking (especially for shows that have been off the air for a few good years.) The task of adapting existing material (whether it be from a book series, a comic book or a well-known public figure) can be daunting as you hope to live up to expectations while also trying cultivate new fans. When it comes to turning a television show into a film, having a few well placed cameos from the original cast, rooting the film in a story true to that show’s world and (seeing as many of these shows were comedies) not letting the film version take itself too seriously seem to be the keys to these adaptation’s success. With Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s updated 21 Jump Street taking to the silver screen this weekend, I realized that the one thing all these shows have in common (regardless of when they aired, who starred in them or what they were about) is also the one element that many television shows on air today have done away with – a catchy theme song.

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Look, Battleship will probably end up proving that it has at least a few original ideas in its head. Someone out there has to have shoved in one or two scenes that don’t look exactly like other movies, but the trailers certainly aren’t out to prove that. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop ragging on this flick for being a moronic idea and time to start ragging on it as a clear patchwork of other movies. Somehow, Universal has bypassed the need to do Hollywood math by simply copying and pasting directly from other films that have been successful. Why make something like Iron Man or like Transformers when you can go ahead and just make them again under a different name. Watch this new trailer and try to say with a straight face that the alien design isn’t Iron Man with a paint job. Watch the giant building collapse and try not to think up 5 other movies within the past 2 years where it’s happened (and try extra hard not to imagine the exact same scene in Dark of the Moon). No one says much of anything. Probably a good thing. But, whew, the action sure does look eye-popping.

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Oftentimes, when we post these “Because You Asked For It” posts, readers will inevitably weigh in with various calls of “no one asked for this!” or “I didn’t!” No, this time, you all asked for it – by allowing the Transformers franchise to make over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Your reward? More Transformers from Michael Bay. After lots of chatter on the ol’ Internets this afternoon, most of it sparked by producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura announcing in an MTV interview that a fourth Transformers film was coming in June of 2014, complete with director Bay back for still more robots. Beyond that, we don’t have a whole lot of information on the project, as DiBonaventura said, “I think the challenge there is we really are going to do a reboot there, and what that’s going to be we don’t even know yet.” A reboot! Of course! And what about cast and story? “No, it’s so silly. We gotta get a story first. You can’t pick characters until you have a story…there’s still continuity that’s going on. There’ll be a lot of new cast, whether there’s anyone from the first we don’t even know yet. The truth is, there’s going to be a whole new story. The characters that will come along will be Optimus and Bumblebee, I’m sure.” What’s most shocking about this news? That the film’s creative team thinks that they need a story to make another Transformers. Did they not see Transformers: Dark of the Moon?

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Director Peter Berg is making his bid for A-level status (box office-wise) this summer with an adaptation of the Hasbro game Battleship. That, by the way, is a complete misuse of the term ‘adaptation’ seeing as the game has zero story elements to adapt. Maybe if the movie featured naval combatants going head to head and controlled by unseen forces? Or if the aliens were manipulating ships to fight each other? I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling here, but you can see how difficult it would be to make a good movie from the game. So why do it? Obviously Universal is hoping to find the same success with Hasbro that Paramount has with their Transformers movies, but it’s still so nonsensical. The Battleship name offers no recognizable pull for audiences. These aren’t fighting robots that viewers have seen in action previously on TV or via toys in their hands…this is a board game with no moving pieces. The film could exist exactly as is under a different name and would end up with the exact same box office results. Check out the new ad below.

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The first glimpse we got of Peter Berg’s upcoming board game adaptation (it hurts me somewhere deep to have to type those words) played a little coy with us, and at first made it look like the film would be sticking to the Battleship board game’s naval battle roots. Once a spaceship popped up and the whole thing turned into an alien invasion movie, it was kind of a surprise. This second look at Battleship, however, doesn’t bother to take any time tying this movie to the board game at all. It’s all alien invasion from beginning to end. And with a color palette very reminiscent of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, a bunch of elaborately techno ships and weapons that look like they’re right out of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, sound effects that seem to be ripped from Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, and a big ol’ headline that says this movie is from the company that brought you Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, I think it’s safe to say that Universal is aiming this thing less at fans of grid based strategy games and more at fans of Michael Bay’s big, dumb Transformers movies. It leaves me with a question: if this movie isn’t going to have anything to do with naval battles at all, why even attach it to the Battleship name? Why not just admit what you’re doing and call it Gobots? Check out the new trailer below.

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Boiling Point

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. A day of laundry. A day of animation domination, not going to church, not doing a damn production thing, and so on and so forth. AMC’s The Walking Dead has ruined that. Well, actually it hasn’t ruined any of those things, but it has made Sunday a rather contentious day. On one side, the Walking Deadheads. Those who can’t get enough of the AMC television series. On the other side, people who just can’t be bothered to give a damn. Scratch that. They do give a damn. A negative damn. A “this show blows” damn.  And gosh darnit, neither side likes the other. While the two will probably never see eye to eye, you either dig the melodrama or you don’t, there is one argument that is thrown out over and over again: If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Well that’s bullshit. Mostly.

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Boiling Point

Hollywood is a business. A big business. A ten billion dollar box office per year kind of business. While that is an impressive number, you also have to remember that I said “box office,” which is ignoring the home video market. If you include direct sales only, that’s another $5 billion. I swore that I would never do math again after college, so I’m not going to bother with rentals and licenses and all that shit. Suffice it to say, Hollywood is a big business. And they want to be bigger, like all businesses. Enter the shady world of rehashing. The repeated raping of your wallet. There was a time when it was as simple as releasing a Special Edition or Collector’s Edition of a movie. Now, films have two theatrical releases, get remastered in 3D and sent to theaters, and are then released on three to four separate DVD releases. As a super-fan, I’m excited to get Collector’s Editions – I’ll even double dip now and then, but the process has gone too far and offers too little.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that’s a little tired, a little wired, and it thinks it deserves a little bit of appreciation around here! We begin this evening with a shot of Luis Guzman, Johnny Knoxville, some old burly man and Thor’s Jamie Alexander on the set of The Last Stand. It’s good to see that The Governator hasn’t lost that charming expression.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the nightly movie news column you need right now. It doesn’t care what you want. It knows what you need. We begin tonight with some news about The Dark Knight Rises, a film that has not been mentioned in this column for quite some time. We missed the part where it was going to Occupy Wall Street and skipped ahead to the good stuff: like the confirmation of a TDKR proluge showing with 70mm IMAX prints of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol when it hits theaters on December 16. That’s awesome.

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Culture Warrior

Buried deep within this sentence (Doritos are delicious) is an advertisement. Did you catch it? You probably didn’t because it was so subtly subliminal, but that’s exactly how product placement has worked for a century to varying degrees of success. After all, there’s a thin line between using real-life products in a film to create a sense of verisimilitude and using them to promote the product in question. Where that line is drawn is up to each person. One person might see a kid reading “National Geographic” in It’s a Wonderful Life and think it’s quaintly appropriate while another person might find it craven and conspicuous. To the same extent, different film productions have delivered brands with means ranging from the slyness of near-imperceptibility to almost Doritos-Scorchin’-Habanero-Flavor levels of obviousness. It’s far from new, and even though sold items have sneaked their way into movies for almost one hundred years, there’s been an explosion in recent decades, seeing a new revenue stream for studios and a new annoyance for film fans.

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With $1.1b in international revenue for the third film alone, it’s not really news that Hasbro is drooling for another Transformers flick, but The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the company is currently in talks with Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay about moving forward. This also isn’t a surprise, and since it’s widely known that Bay and star Shia Labeouf have been unenthusiastic about returning to the franchise, it won’t be a surprise when they pass on the director’s chair and the star trailer respectively. However, there’s something important to consider here. With Bay gone, the biggest force in the franchise is gone, and without Labeouf, its face is gone as well. That means that someone can pull out the old drawing board and start again on creating a franchise that does a better job of focusing on the cool part of Transformers (the Transformers) and on crafting a better sci-fi story. Meanwhile, Hasbro continues fruitless development on their other projects. Battleship is storming the beaches in the near future, but Candyland, their Ouija Board movie and several other projects are still not nearly as far along as they should be for the amount of time that’s been spent promising them. That’s probably a good thing. The world doesn’t need another Clue movie, but another shot at getting transforming robots might be just the thing humanity is crying out for.

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Culture Warrior

From the second half of the twentieth century onward, our view of NASA and its associated lore in movies have been inseparable. The astronaut, a uniquely American frontier hero whose myth and iconography made them the cowboy of the second half of the 20th century, has a position in our cultural memory that is inseparable from cinematic imagination. From pre-moon landing science fiction that dreamed of potential encounters with distant worlds through an organized space program (Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey) to reenactments of history celebrating the space program and the individuals involved (The Right Stuff, Apollo 13) to NASA/moon landing documentaries (For All Mankind, In the Shadow of the Moon) to later, more divergent science-fiction films that have emerged since the prominence of NASA has lessened (Armageddon and so on), NASA, space exploration, the moon landing, and its imagined associations have retained a prominent place in cinematic mythmaking prompted by continued fascination with the frontier of space and humanity’s place in it. Hell, we’ve wondered about the moon since the beginning of cinema. That our collective experience of space in both fiction (i.e., narrative cinema) and non-fiction has been via the moving image (i.e., watching the moon landing on TV) is perhaps what most thoroughly cements this porous association between NASA and its cinematic myth.

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In the least shocking move of possibly the entire summer season, Paramount has announced that they are re-releasing Michael Bay’s opus, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (or as I call it, Trannies: Pink Floyd Kinda), back into IMAX theaters for an extended two-week run. No less than 246 IMAX theaters that previously thought themselves free from the metallic clang-clangs of robots and the screams of innocents piercing through their giant speakers and splashed on their giant screens will be subjected to the bloodshed (oilshed?) all over again, for yet another two weeks. The re-release kicks off this Friday, August 26, and will run until Thursday, September 8. The film has already grossed over one billion dollars in the worldwide box office, with just $59.6m of that coming thanks to IMAX. With the re-release of the film to IMAX 3D, that number will be jacked up exponentially, guaranteeing that audiences who previously missed (avoided?) the spectacle have no excuse to not see robots and humans going at it on a screen taller than most people’s homes. Optimus!! Buuuumblebeeee! There are currently three films playing in IMAX: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Cowboys & Aliens, and Final Destination 5: More Final-er. With the next new IMAX film opening not set until September 9 (that would be Contagion), Potter nearing the end of its run, and Cowboys underperforming, it’s no surprise that IMAX would push out a proven winner to end the summer strong. Now, who do I talk […]

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With Michael Bay gone (for the foreseeable future) and Shia Labeouf done with the franchise professionally, the next incarnation of Transformers will most definitely look different. Without the auteur subtlety of Bay, producer Don Murphy will need to go to someone else, and there aren’t many who can handle large action sequences with as much skill (at least not many who would want the job). Still questioning whether we’ll see more of the giant robots? Murphy posted on his website (via /film), saying “What happens next? Certainly not a reboot. We haven’t lost the Transformers. They didn’t grow up or become expensive like Toby Maguire. I don’t know what happens next. I’m pretty sure there will be a second trilogy. I am pretty sure it will kick ass. And I am pretty sure some of you will hate it because it wasn’t all bots.” So if the producer is pretty sure they’ll make more, what should they look like? What problems can the fix? What elements should be kept the same? What do you want to see in future Transformers movies?

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Boiling Point

Science Fiction has seen somewhat of a resurgence these past few years, bringing dozens of different aliens to Earth’s surface via cinema screens. Tom Cruise battled aliens in War of the Worlds, aliens broke down in South Africa over District 9, and more recently Transformers waged war on our planet, Los Angeles was invaded, and a subterranean alien was interrogated in a small town, only to escape. No matter what year it happened, one thing is clear: when aliens come in peace, all is well. When they don’t, well, they’re the ones in for an ass whooping. Not that it makes much sense, considering alien species that manage to make it to Earth are often technologically advanced, super strong, intelligent, and sporting a massive boner for our resources, not to mention laser guns. Despite all of this, when have aliens ever managed a successful takeover? Not only that – when have aliens ever managed to not look like completely retarded asshats, who pretty much design their own downfall as if they were Death Star engineers?

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I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that schlock producer extraordinaire Lorenzo di Bonaventura is taking his fetish for making big screen adaptations of 80s era properties to a new low by optioning the rights to the arcade game “Space Invaders”. The good news is this feels like it might be hitting bottom. I know that this is a business and that properties people are familiar with sell, but when we’re adapting something that’s little more than a blip shooting little blips at a bunch of other blips then it feels like the well has dried up. Sure, people have heard the words “Space” and “Invaders” put next to each other before, but is that title really going to sell a movie about space ship dog fights anymore than some other title would? Is the young audience out there going to see the first trailer for this film and say, “Hey, Space Invaders! That’s that old videogame my grandpa used to play! Cool!” Somehow I kind of doubt it. When it gets to the point that we’re adapting board games and novelty items into feature films, we have to be nearing the phase when they’re going to start losing money. I feel like we’re only months away from literally getting something like Pet Rock: The Movie. While that will suck, once it becomes a massive failure Hollywood will have no choice but to start buying spec scripts for original stories. Enjoy your Space Invaders Hollywood executives, […]

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All during the lead up to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, both the film’s director Michael Bay and its star Shia LaBeouf made it clear that three was going to be enough for them, and that they would not be coming back for a Transformers 4. Usually when declarations like this are made there’s a lot of hand wringing that goes on as everybody tries to figure out what it would take to get the big names back. In this case, however, the concept of huge robots turning into cars and fighting is way, way cooler than either Michael Bay or Shia LaBeouf.  You guys aren’t coming back? Great, then maybe we’ll finally get a Transformers movie that’s completely awesome. And if the early rumors turn out to have nuggets of truth to them, then I already like Transformers 4 better than I’ve liked any of the first three. Showbiz Spy is claiming that they have sources close to the development of the franchise, and seeing as the third film is making so much money, a fourth is going to be attempted even without Bay and LaBeouf. And since they can cast off the shackles of the previous creative direction, they are looking to take the Autobots in a much darker and more adult direction. To that end they’re apparently looking at action star Jason Statham to become the new lead of the series.

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While enduring the mild pain caused by Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I thought to myself, “Man, this Sam character is a real prick. What type of people actually like this person? This is the best savior we could get?” I then realized that I often find myself thinking this nowadays. We rarely get great, likable heroes or genuine badasses on film anymore. Most are either mopey, passive, or do morally questionable acts. I’m not referring to anti-heroes — although, I do include one on the list — but, rather, the unintentionally lame mainstream characters that aren’t the most compelling or charming. A few of these not-so-heroic characters aren’t due to bad acting. As you’ll notice, Leonardo DiCaprio made the list for Inception, where he gave a solid performance. While I wouldn’t say that most of the actors featured here impressed anyone, DiCaprio and a few others certainly did. Here are ten mainstream characters that exhibit very little heroics:

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr decides to dump Megan Fox and hook up with a sexy British model who will shake her ass in front of a 3D camera for Michael Bay. Sadly, he couldn’t make that happen, so he heads down to the scooter pool at the local community college, hoping to find a free-spirited chick with a name that’s impossible to pronounce. Again, no dice, Chicago. So, Kevin abandons all hope and hides in a theater for almost three hours, watching Michael Bay’s latest spectacle. Then he postpones seeing Larry Crowne so he can stalk teachers from the aforementioned community college, hoping one is as drunk and pretty as Julia Roberts is in her latest film. How could this possibly end badly?

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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