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Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
2011 | Action, Sci-Fi
6.6 (25 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Contains spoilers, click to show
This is the third and final installment of the iconoclastic Transformers franchise. By the law of diminishing returns, this should have fallen well below the par from the excellent first outing; well, has it? The answer is a definite no. First off, it's not as good as good as Transformers, lacking much of the comedy and puerile action, but it would be on par with the Revenge Of The Fallen, which is not up to much in many critic's opinions, which was overly smashy, confused and missed some of the pacing of the first.

Dark Of the Moon carries on the tradition of complex back stories, tying in to U.S. Space Race history, this time, right back to 1962 and the inception of the Apollo programme. Here, they postulate that NASA's moon race was purely conceived to get to the Moon first to recover a massive Cybertron based space craft, which had crashed in the Moon after the final battle on the doomed Transformer planet.

At the crash site, Sentinel Prime is discovered and years later, Optimus Prime recovers him, as he was the true leader of the Autobots in their war with the Decepticons. Also, there are a collection of what are referred to as Pillars, very 3D friendly, yet still plausibly so, floating metallic rod styled devices which would play a pivotal role later. Meanwhile, Sam, Shia LaBeouf, has moved on from his Megan Fox girlfriend and has now, somewhat inexplicably, moved in with Victoria Secrets model, though in the film, she's supposed to be some form a P.A., played by the inept Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, which is simply ridiculous. This point is also brought up in the script as his own mother warns him that he would not get so lucky a third time!

The world is has now been invaded by Decepticons and Sam, along with his collection of mis-matched allies and seven remaining Autobots are all that stands between them and total destruction. Sounds like a good setup but with a typical running time 157 minutes, the plot was simply too thin to sustain itself, leading to patchy pacing and moments that begin to plod. I didn't find this to be all that bad but others felt that the word boring would more than a little apt.

You see for me, the pay off of robots beating the hell out of each other and taking the world down with them is worth the wait and the flaws in the narrative, but for others, this will not be the case. Leonard Nimoy's voice portrayal of Sentinel Prime was fine, but the constant need to remind us that it was Mr. Spock wasn't. This culminated in a completely unnecessary piece of dialogue where Sentinel reprises Spock's line from Star Trek II, "...The needs of the many, out way the needs of the few". This was a quote to far in my opinion, certainly when justifying some questionable and immoral acts...

Then there was the 3D, and what 3D it was! This finally proved that a blockbuster can be produced in 3D without sacrificing the cinematography for cynical dimensional gestures. The film looked as I would expect any 2D blockbustering actioner to look, with sweeping aerial action and objects flying towards the audience but the 3D effect only amplified this, and didn't make it. This was well conceived and I take my hats of to them. This is what 3D should look like and it was visually arresting.

Overall, the film provided all the thrills and spills that you would expect from Transformers, with acceptable acting for a film of this genre, with the gross exception of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who should stick to modeling and as acting or even speaking would seem to be light years beyond her. John Malkovich and Frances McDormand, deliver great cameos and bring some of the only really decent acting to the film, with the further exceptions of the returning John Turturro and the addition of Alan Tudyk, who both deliver most of the belly laughs in this outing.

It was fun but not as much fun as the previous films. DOTM was clearly trying to shift the tone and in doing so it succeeded at moving the film into a slightly darker, more action film place. This felt more like a straight forward 12 rated actioner such as Bay's other efforts, The Rock and Armageddon and a little less of the lighter more child friendly overtones of the previous two. Still, I enjoyed this and feel very strongly that the naysayers who would rate this film so lowly that you'd have to look for it in the gutter, have allowed themselves to take this way too seriously.

Is this the end of for Transformers? I hope so, but the door is still open and with the vast profits that it's already made, Transformers 4 could be just around the next corner. If that's the case, it is not what i would prefer, feeling that they've gone as far as they came but I would certainly run out to watch it!
Tom and Jerry (2021)
Tom and Jerry (2021)
2021 | Animation, Family
Reinventing the wheel has always come with some sceptical reactions from me, and Tom and Jerry has always been one of those treasured memories for me.

Jerry sets up a new home in the Royal Gate Hotel just before a high profile wedding is scheduled. When new hire Kayla is tasked with solving the hotel's new found mouse problem, she brings Tom into the fold to help.

Tom and Jerry is a classic I love and the thought of reimagining it in this way made me dubious to say the least. Traditionally you're only supposed to see humans from (roughly speaking) the knees down after all... and there are a lot of humans in this.

I'm not sure that the story here really matters all that much, Tom and Jerry should be about their action-y interactions. And there's the initial problem, because they should be the focus, and they're not. The human contingent takes up a hefty amount of screen time, and that to me sort of goes against the original concept.

The animation style isn't great, I have issues with CG animation, especially when it comes to things with a strong existing style. Once the film found its footing though I did find that I wasn't noticing it much, and in the end, dare I say it, I quite liked the successful animation of Toots and how it encompassed the stereotypical evils of feline nature.

When you combine the story with the cast (human and animated) you do get an amusing film, but it does feel a lot like the first Garfield film in how long it will be in people's minds.

What I will congratulate this film for is that it give you so wonderfully nostalgic moments, I loved seeing the "what's in my hands" gag... or maybe I'm easily pleased.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña make for fun allies and adversaries to Tom and Jerry. But I think my favourite humans were Patsy Ferran as Joy the Bell Girl and Rob Delaney as the hotel manager. Though not on screen very often they broke up the "serious" moments nicely and added a much-needed break from everything else.

Tom and Jerry was exactly what I wanted, though I don't think it was what I expected. It won't be winning any awards, but I was pleasantly surprised by what it brought to the screen.

Originally posted on:
The Princess of Aenya
The Princess of Aenya
Nick Alimonos | 2019 | Fiction & Poetry
Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Princess Radia is struggling to rule Aenya, a once-mighty kingdom now all but cut off from the rest of the world. But her adopted brother, Zaibos, leader of Aenya’s army, rebels against her until she’s forced to go into hiding while he rules as a sadistic tyrant. Now Radia and her bodyguard Demacharon have to hide until they can take back Tyrnael. But Radia isn’t all that she seems. She might possess power greater than anything she or her allies imagined.

The Princess of Aenya by Nick Alimonos was a good book, but I think I would enjoy it more reading it a second time. From the beginning, there’s an onslaught of action and story coming from multiple characters at once. The main storyline follows Radia and Demacharon as they fight to survive. But Hugo and Esse, a soldier and a servant, are introduced, as well as Ugh, a Bogren, and Eros, an assassin hired to kill Radia.

Through alternating chapters, the reader has to follow all of these storylines before they eventually intertwine in the end of the book and, for me at least, this was difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the individual storylines and characters.

Hugo and Esse deserve their own book. I would love for a companion novel to be made about them leading the rebellion in Tyrnael while Radia had to be in hiding. Esse was bred to be a servant, someone designed to not stand out or aspire to anything more than serving others. But she fought against that lifelong training to lead a rebellion against a sadistic tyrant. Before Zaibos, Tyrnael was at peace for a thousand years. No one had any experience protesting or rebelling because there wasn’t a need. But Esse stepped up and started to lead! Honestly, her story is just as fascinating as Radia’s, and a lot more relatable. I love stories about people who take their fate into their own hands so Esse’s story would be a great one.

I really liked Eros as well. He represents the dark side of Tyrnael. Just because there was peace doesn’t mean everyone was happy. Sexual intercourse is forbidden in Tyrnael. Eros was born from sexual intercourse so he and his mother were branded and ostracized. He was forced to become an assassin to support and protect his mother. Honestly, I wanted him to fail and succeed at the same time because succeeding meant killing Radia but it also meant the brand getting lifted from his mother.

However, while I enjoyed the characters and could follow and enjoy the plot overall, there’s still a lot I’m confused about. There are five storylines to juggle, six if you count Demarchon’s flashbacks. Not only are we following Radia, but we are also following Eros, Ugh, Esse, and Zaibos through their stories. It’s a lot to take in and keep straight.

The Princess of Aenya was an enjoyable read and the ending was satisfying. However, I would get a lot more out of the story if I reread it.

Get The Princess of Aenya on Amazon.
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
2012 | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
It is easy to be cynical or dismissive regarding the trend in Hollywood to take up beloved gems of the past – namely our childhoods – and adapt them to the big screen with all of the flare and clichés of a summer blockbuster. Yet, what happens when it actually ends up winning you over? There’s a moment in movies like “Snow White and the Huntsman” in which you realize you have let go of those prejudices and notions of incorruptible nostalgia and you’ve actually started to enjoy a new rendition of something old. It’s the directorial debut for the film’s helmer, Rupert Sanders; and to be honest he’s the star of the show. As shallow as it is to say, the visual effects and action overshadow most flaws with characters, acting, or uneven pacing. Not only because his directing ability is well done, but because any flaws with the movie are relatively minor.

The movie retells the familiar story of Snow White (Kristen Stewart), likely popularized by Disney’s adaptation for most of us. Yet, the film takes more influence from the original fairy tale with the additional focus on the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). Snow White grows up in a kingdom under the rule of her wicked step-mother, Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron). The Queen is a narcissistic tyrant obsessed with preserving her physical beauty – at the behest of the entire land and its people. One day, the Queen’s mirror warns that Snow White is fairer than her which leads her to order Snow White’s death. Snow White escapes, and goes on an adventure to save herself and her kingdom with the help of the Huntsman, seven dwarves, and other fantastical allies.

The movie’s framework holds up fairly well. To be honest it was my biggest worry going into the movie – that its plot would break under bloating or simply feeling uninspired. Neither was the case, yet if it were to tip in one side or the other it definitely tips in the direction of a bloated plot. Some characters simply do not get the screentime they require, and with so many characters already it feels like some of them could have been taken out entirely without much effect. Trimming down of characters and irrelevant plot threads could have benefitted the movie greatly. It does, however, do a serviceable job establishing its own identity among fantasy epics. It’s refreshing to see a movie fully embrace two extremes – full-on hard fantasy and the more gritty, realistic and perhaps minimalist fantasy. It strikes a balance with both, so you will see great effects for trolls and fairies while still maintaining a gothic medieval feel. The plot moves forward at a mostly well-paced format, but unfortunately wavers here and there. Sometimes I wished the movie would linger on certain scenes longer – as it can help to have us dwell on great character moments or moments of visual beauty – an unfortunate side effect of a bloated script. While not a problem for the overall plot, the uneven pacing in some scenes can feel a bit rushed. Some questions in the plot went unanswered, but fortunately they aren’t important to the overall understanding of the story.

The only other major issue with the movie is acting. Kristen Stewart as Snow White was an odd choice. Not to say her performance is bad in this film, but it is awkward at points. In some moments she does very well but in others she seems uninspired. It is hard to see her as the titular character instead of just Kristen Stewart in those instances; and in those scenes it feels like she’s as much part of the audience as we are – just with more of a one-note “concerned” facial expression for every instance. While not a breaking element, it leaves more to be desired from her, especially in interactions with others. Chris Hemsworth was much more enjoyable as the Huntsman, and honestly I think his performance along with Theron’s far outbalance any flaws in Kristen Stewart’s acting. The chemistry between the two protagonists seems one sided, as Chris Hemsworth acts well on his side of the equation, but Stewart unfortunately does not reciprocate. Essentially this makes a potential major relationship fall flat. However, Theron completely inhibits the role as the evil Queen. While she may overact in some scenes, she does an excellent job playing a sinister, abusive, powerful and surprisingly tragic villain.

The highlight of the movie is definitely its visual design, cinematography, and action. The only downside in this area is that this movie will definitely remind you of other great movies from long ago. Obvious inspiration from “The Lord of the Rings” echoes while watching, as it even features the same faraway montage shots of the group traversing grand vistas. If you can get passed these obvious influences, it does establish a vibrant and inspired design. That is one of the greatest aspects of the movie – the fact that the director can do so much in a single scene to really draw you in. He does an excellent job using color and pattern contrasts to a striking and awesome effect. There are some great moments that have no action yet are just as enthralling to watch, something difficult to do with just visual style. A great use of color really brings out the themes of the movie – the grey monotones and gothic style bring out a sense of dread and annihilation throughout the Queen’s empire. She truly is a force of parasitism – entirely vampiric in the way she sucks the life out of the entire land around her. She is the embodiment of self-obsession with physical beauty – a force so vain and narcissistic that she acts as a black hole absorbing all beauty around her. Sanders plays this against the vibrant designs of the forest in which Snow White spends most of her time. Alive, colorful, and natural – she embodies natural beauty – and in doing so she seemingly commands nature itself.

Sanders’ directing ability really shines in scenes of action. Instead of lazy overuse of “shaky-cam” to get the effect, he balances it with just enough on-screen choreography so you get intensity without confusion. The movie is truly action packed with familiar medieval-esque battles throughout, but highlighted by truly amazing shots of action and use of fantastical effects. There were a couple instances of eye-rolling wonder at battlefield tactics, but that gets into too much of an area of nitpicking. The action really is one of the best aspects of the movie, and these scenes by themselves outweigh many already mentioned issues.

Overall, “Snow White and the Huntsman” has proven to be a great initial outing for director Rupert Sanders. There are some issues in the flick – namely some instances of uneven pacing and acting issues which leaves some potential to be desired. But even these seemingly huge issues are overshadowed by an excellent use of visual design, cinematography, and action. The plot may be merely serviceable overall, and the movie will remind you of great films long past; yet it still happens to triumph in its main goal – to retell the classic fairly tale of Snow White in the modern Blockbuster sense. In a summer packed with science fiction and superheroes, an entertaining fantasy movie fits in quite nicely.