Transformers: The Last Knight

June 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock Directed by: Michael Bay (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”) Written by: Art Marcum (“Iron Man”) & Matt Holloway (“Iron Man”) & Ken Nolan (“Black Hawk Down”) Every now and then, I take stock of all the entertainment properties I enjoyed as a child—or still enjoy screen-printed on a t-shirt—that are being made into well-meaning, if not always good, major motion pictures. All the Marvel stuff, some of the DC Comics stuff, Star Wars…it’s a fine time at the movies to be a fan of the geekier stuff. But then there’s Transformers. It just…it breaks my heart. We have well-made, coherent films where utterly ridiculous characters like Ant-Man and Rocket Raccoon are treated with respect and written as real characters. Meanwhile, five films into Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series, every other fucking robot is either a racist stereotype, spends half their screen time robo-farting or some other bullshit. They even got original cartoon voice actor Peter Cullen to voice Optimus Prime, and seemingly half of his lines in the latest film, “Transformers: The Last Knight” are “I am Optimus Prime!” And I love Optimus Prime. “The Last Knight” opens in the days of King Arthur, where a drunken Merlin (Stanley Tucci!) begs a Transformer (they’ve been here the whole time!) for help in defeating a horde of invaders. He’s given a staff, which calls upon a metal dragon. Flash forward 1,600 years and, in accordance with the rest of this series, the movie picks and chooses which plot points from the previous four films to either embrace or outright ignore. Anyway, this time Chicago stays destroyed after the events of “Age of Extinction,” and the ruins are patrolled by the Transformers Response Force, since Transformers are now illegal. A young girl (Isabella Moner) is saved by Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) after a drone strike kills her Autobot pal. She stows away with him back to his junkyard in South Dakota, where a bunch of annoying Autobots, including Bumblebee and Grimlock, hang out. Meanwhile Optimus Prime continues his journey into deep space to confront his maker, Quintessa, to tell her to leave Earth alone. Like a chump, he immediately fucks that up and is brainwashed into becoming Nemesis Prime, now assisting Quintessa in her plan to bring Cybertron to Earth, which is actually Unicron (see the animated “Transformers: The Movie” from 1986) in order to revive Cybertron. The only thing that can stop this plan is the staff of Merlin, which can only be wielded by his last living ancestor, Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), and she’s being sought by Sir Emund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) and his psychotic robot butler Cogman, the last guard of the Witwiccans (UGH), a brotherhood of humans who have worked alongside Transformers for centuries—you know, because they were here all along. And that’s not even half of the junk shoved into this movie, which is bursting at the seams with so much utter bullshit you won’t even have time to catch your breath—dinosaur Transformers barfing up cars, horns emerging from the earth, a manservant droid shooting himself out of a torpedo tube to catch some fish for a pair of humans on a submarine OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING? If there are some redeeming factors in this garbage fire is that “The Last Knight” is not quite as blatantly racist and sexist as the previous entries, and it’s not quite as punishingly long. Otherwise…I just can’t deal with these anymore.

Iron Man

May 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard
Directed by: Jon Favreau (“Elf”)
Written by: Mark Fergus (“Children of Men”), Hawk Ostby (“Children of Men”), Art Marcum (“Shadow of Fear”), Matt Holloway (debut)

Flamboyancy goes a long way when it comes to superhero attractiveness, and in “Iron Man,” actor Robert Downey Jr. delivers the character’s unique mythology with enough exuberance you almost forget about letdowns like “Spider-Man 3.” It seems like someone has finally found his niche in the mainstream.

In Marvel’s “Iron Man,” based on the comic book by Stan Lee and crew, Downey Jr. plays billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark. Call him a genius. Call him a lady’s man. Call him a war profiteer. If Tony is anything, it’s confident in his ability to provide the U.S. military with the most sophisticated weaponry ever created by man or machine.

Completely satisfied with his self-indulgent life of fast cars, loose women, and high-powered technology, Tony’s attitude toward his profession changes drastically when his convoy is attacked and he is kidnapped by insurgents in the Middle East. He is there to demonstrate to the U.S. Air Force the destructive power of his latest missile, the Jericho.

The tables are turned when Tony, while imprisoned in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, is forced to build a Jericho missile for the enemy by using other Stark Industry weapons the insurgents have somehow gotten their hands on.

Believing they will most likely kill him whether or not he complies with their request, Tony, who has been injured and must now wear a magnetic device on his chest to keep the shrapnel from entering his heart, decides to instead use the scrap metal provided for him to build a full-body armor, which can be controlled from within like a robot.

Thus, the prototypical Iron Man is born and later enhanced once Tony gets back home and begins working on a model as sleek as his personality. There to keep all his day-to-day responsibilities in check is Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), a loyal assistant who will most likely become a more integral part in Tony’s life in a future sequel.

Yes, sequels are in this franchise’s future, which means, unlike one-hit flicks like “Daredevil,” there’s actually some gusto behind the directorial style of Jon Favreau and a solid start for “Children of Men” screenwriters Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby and their team of comic book adaptors.

Despite some hollow characters played by Paltrow, Terrance Howard, and Jeff Bridges (Iron Monger just isn’t that interesting), it’s Downey Jr. who takes control of this entire prelude from start to finish. The others, however, are just making their debuts (Howard gives us a clue that he could be donning his own metallic suit in a future film), so it will be fascinating to see where the story can take us from here.

Don’t call Favreau Christopher Nolan just yet. Place him somewhere around the vicinity of Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”) and thank whoever needs to be thanked for casting Downey Jr. and passing on names like Nicholas Cage and Ashton Kutcher.