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Rating History

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

My personal rating: 80% (1-100)
"If I was Roger Ebert" rating: 20%

*Quick explanation of the ratings*
"My rating" is simply how much I enjoyed the film. High rating means I loved it and recommend to everyone. If it's low, it simply means I loathed it and would never see it again. The other rating is how I rate the film in terms of it being a piece of cinematic art. I evaluate the film in terms of plot, drama, coherence, and direction (as well as a few other little things). If that rating is high, it means it's a great film and should appeal to all. If it's low, then it's a mindless piece of trash that doesn't deserve screen time and won't appeal to a large audience.



A few spoilers ahead!

Introduction

It's been two years since Michael Bay's 2007 summer blockbuster "Transformers", based off of the famous toyline and cartoon series. The film grossed $708 million worldwide ($319 million domestically), so a sequel was inevitable. The first film was indeed nothing short of an action-packed spectacle featuring amazing visual effects and eye-popping robots transforming into and out of vehicles. Sure, the story wasn't fleshed out so great and the character development lacked but it did what it set out to do: give you an exhilarating, action-packed movie theater experience. So how does the sequel hold up? Let's see: take the first film and multiply the action by a hundred. That's what we have here: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen".


The Story

Here, the story of Sam Witwicky and the Autobots continues. Sam (Shia LaBeouf is off to college, trying to hold his relationship with Mikaela (Megan Fox) while Optimus Prime and the Autobots are working with a special military unit called NEST trying to wipe out the remaining Decepticons on Earth. Problems arise when Sam discovers a sliver of the All Spark and it embeds strange alien markings in his mind, causing him to see these markings and write them down in these hypnotized episodes. All the while, the Decepticons are searching for something across the Earth and it comes into fruition when they revive their leader, Megatron. All hell breaks loose soon afterwards. We learn that the transformers have been to Earth before, thousands of years ago and many of them stayed and hid from the humans in the forms of vehicles and such. We also meet the real leader of the Decepticons, the Fallen. This is the guy Megatron takes orders from (but wasn't Megatron supposed to be the leader?).
The Fallen was the first to come to Earth and left after the Primes (the top-dog robots) turned against him. We learn that Energon, the life force that give the transformers, well, their life, comes from the suns of different solar systems but they all agreed that they wouldn't take suns from planets that had life. Well, the Fallen didn't like that and tried to activate the machine that takes the sun and the Primes (ancestors of Optimus Prime) took away the key to the machine, the Matrix of Leadership. Now that the All Spark is gone, this machine is the only way to get Energon so that the Decepticons can create more life but luckily, the Primes hid the Matrix by entombing it with their bodies hidden somewhere in Egypt. Here's the big plot point: Those markings in Sam's head are the clues to the Matrix's location and soon, the Decepticons learn it and give Earth an ultimatum: deliver Sam or the earth will be destroyed (either way, that will happen).
That's the story. Quite a bit, huh? Yeah, but it doesn't get told to well. Typical of Michael Bay films, the action over encumbers the story. But really, that's what we're here for, right? Giant robots killing each other? That's where the film succeeds. The "human touch" is apparent but doesn't get the screen time it needs. The humor is all there but it's a lot of potty humor, very juvenile thanks in part to the Twins, two new Autobots that are played to be the black characters (they even have at least one gold tooth and there's a part later when Sam asks them to read the alien markings and they say they can't read! Racist? Politically incorrect? Who knows...). There are many more fight scenes this time around and less shots of the Pentagon and American flags (anyone find the humor in that? Michael Bay joke...). The funniest parts are definitely when Sam's mom eats a special kind of brownie and goes crazy at his college campus or when she cries before Sam moves. Hilarious. Overall, the story itself is great but wasn't told in the right way.

The Production

On a budget of about $194 million, the film takes extraordinary leaps and bound in terms of action and visual effects. The transformers have never looked better and the special and visual effects are ridiculously amazing and good. I've probably never seen a movie with so much action. I had the fortunate experience of seeing the film in IMAX and like with "The Dark Knight", you have to see it in IMAX. Some scenes were shot with IMAX cameras (a leaf taken out of "The Dark Knight"s book) and it delivers an amazing experience. The forest fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron & Starscream is flat-out amazing and the scenes where we see the robots are in IMAX aspect ratio so it fills the whole screen. I had the perfect seating arrangement and I felt I was there watching the fights. The only problem with the IMAX scenes is that there aren't entire sequences shot in IMAX. You'll notice that during a sequence, the aspect ratio will change back and forth from IMAX to widescreen. Unlike "The Dark Knight" where entire sequences were shot in IMAX. The finale is an amazing showcase of CGI and visual effects and will quench your hunger for both. Just look at Devastor. His scenes are in IMAX and he's huge!
The films takes us from all over America to the Egyptian pyramids. Everything is beautifully shot and everything is beautifully blown up. I've never seen more tanks, jets, helicopters, soldier, and robots get blown up and thrown around before (and that's just in the finale!). The action is so intense. I know, I keep coming back to the action but that's all there is! Optimus Prime is definitely the baddest mother f***er around in this film, especially in the end. My god. He kicks so much ass in this movie!
Composer Steve Jablonsky ( Transformers, Gears of War 2) returns for the score. He delievers an epic score, perfectly fit for the film. It complements the action and emotion so well. If you listen to the album, be sure to check out tracks "Prime", "Infinte White", "Tomb of the Primes", and "I Rise, You Fall". Great tracks. Jablonsky uses more choral work and surreal female solo work. Overall, it's a great action movie score.

Conclusion

All in all, if you liked the first film, you have to see this one. In terms of action, it's much better than the first. The only thing that holds back this movie is that the story doesn't get fleshed out and the "human touch" is barely there. If you think about it after watching the movie, it's a great story. But it doesn't get told the way it should and lets the action take it's place. Plus, there's too many plot holes! If you want all (mindless) action and no story, look no further. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" will take it's place as one of the best summer blockbusters and probably the best popcorn flick of all time.

Green Lantern
Green Lantern (2011)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Comic book films can be divided into two main categories: those that succeed and those that fail. Unfortunately, most films based on comic books fail to live up to not just expectations, but to the spirit and mythology of the source material. We've seen many successes, Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005) and its sequel The Dark Knight (2008), Richard Donnor's Superman: The Motion Picture (1975) and its sequel, Jon Favreau's Iron Man (2008) and Sam Raimi's take on the Spider-Man franchise with his trilogy of films (the third one not so much, but it was a success). Failures also exist and most occurred between 2004 and 2008 with a surge in new properties of second tier characters being put on film such as Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and Ghost Rider. It's been hard for second and third tier characters to be put onto film but thanks to the wide success of Iron Man, there was hope.

DC Comics, one of the largest companies and most successful comic book publishers in the world, hasn't really been a staple in the film industry. Only a handful of their properties have translated to film with successes and failure. Since 2004, there's been revitalization in the Green Lantern franchise thanks to the creative talents of DC CCO Geoff Johns and his bringing back Hal Jordan to the Green Lantern series (Hal Jordan was dead for some time before). He is now probably the most popular and important character in the DC Universe. Naturally, when a film was announced, there was much hype. Having an all-star cast consisting of big names such as Ryan Reynolds (Buried, Van Wilder), Blake Lively (Gossip Girl, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Kick-Ass) and director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale), it appeared it would a success.

Seeing this film as a big Green Lantern fan, I had high hopes for a great film. With the knowledge that Geoff Johns was a producer, I knew it was in good hands. After seeing the 2010 Comic-Con panel and all the recent trailers, the film looked great. Unfortunately the film fails on two levels: as a film and as a comic book adaptation. The first fault is as a film.

The story is about a test pilot names Hal Jordan. He's lived his entire life on the edge and never caring too much about anyone other than himself. His father was a pilot as well and Jordan had to endure as a child watching his father die in a plane crash during a test. The film tells a decent job at telling this part of the story and tries to incorporate Hal's shaky relationship with his brothers but it doesn't go into detail on many things. Jordan comes into possession of a green ring given to him by a dying alien and Jordan becomes a member of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic space police. Green Lanterns use the emerald energy of willpower and use their rings to create anything they imagine. An ancient evil known as Parallax is making its way to Earth and Hal must stop it while learning to overcome fear because Green Lanterns are without fear.

First, the film has a bad way of storytelling. The script isn't strong enough and seems to bring up things and forget about them later. When Green Lantern Sinestro tells the Guardians, an immortal race and creators of the Corps, that Parallax is heading for their base on the planet Oa and then Hal says it's heading for Earth, no one questions him. No one is like "Wait, what? I thought it was heading for Oa" Nope, no one says a thing. Parallax is the embodiment of the yellow energy of fear and somehow they know where that energy source is considering none but the Guardians knew where it was. Movie never explained its location.

The acting is fine but Mark Strong's powerful performance as Sinestro definitely needed some more screen time. Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond was good but could've been great had he been there more. Character development was very weak in this film and there was a lot of focus on Hal's relationship with Blake Lively's character Carol Ferris, his boss and former flame. I mean, it's important but there was a lot of focus on that. The pacing for this film suggested maybe a longer running time for a 105 minute film (1 hour and 45 minutes) but it is damn short for a comic book action movie. Speaking of characters, there's 3600 Green Lanterns and we have four main Lanterns we need to know yet, as important as they are, we hardly knew them. This film was lauded as being like a superhero Star Wars yet the wonder and sense of exploration of space wasn't apparent.

The production value was top notch. The CGI, while at times looked cheesy, was fantastic. Oa looked incredible, for the little we saw, and the Lantern suits were amazing. Grant Major (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) did a fantastic job. The visual effects and makeup were great. The Corps members, notably Sinestro, looked fantastic. Ngila Dickson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) did great on the costume work. The music by James Newton Howard (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dark Knight) was a worthy effort but what was missing was a central theme. Every great hero has a central theme such as Superman and Batman (Howard worked with Hans Zimmer on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and did great job on the Batman theme). Green Lantern didn't appear to have a distinguishable theme.

For the comic book aspect, the filmmakers drew inspiration from Geoff Johns' "Green Lantern: Secret Origin" story arc, a retelling of Hal Jordan's origin as a Green Lantern. Not only did they detract from this story in a lot of ways but they changed the entire mythology of the Green Lantern. They changed Parallax, which before wasn't a Guardian but actually an entity that is the embodiment of fear and isn't a floating tentacle smoke mass in space. The yellow fear energy/yellow ring story is different as is *SPOILER ALERT* Sinestro's acquisition of the yellow ring during the credits.

Other things such as what the Central Power Battery really is and does, who the Guardians really are, who any of the Corps members really are are never told. There are so many questions I can see unanswered that really should have been attended to. In the comics, Hal's relationship with Sinestro is pivotal to the stories. Sinestro is his mentor, his friend and practically a partner. We see them together about three times in the film, briefly each time. The beauty of the Green Lantern series is its sense of epic and wonder in space. We hardly see Oa in the film and nothing really happens in space. I mean, come on, Hal's training was only 5 minutes of movie time?

With all of the changes, I just wonder where they're going to go with the series. They can't follow the comics, well, not exactly. The major change in Abin Sur's (the dying alien that gives Hal the ring) ship crash changes practically the entire story of the comics and I'm dumbfounded on how they're going to tell the rest of the story. For reference on what I'm talking about, look up the "Blackest Night Prophecy".

I got into Green Lantern last summer by reading Geoff Johns' "Green Lantern: Rebirth" and "Green Lantern: Secret Origin" before I saw the panel at the San Diego Comic Con. I didn't read much else until several months ago when I started buying all the books. Even though I'm late to the party, I know enough to put a comic book fan's stamp of approval on the movie.

Sadly, I can't say this is the Green Lantern film we've been waiting for. I can't even say it's a good superhero film. Though I enjoyed it, I know its flaws and they outnumbered anything good from this movie. I wish I could see it from a perspective of one who hasn't read the comics. This film is giving a great love/hate relationship with it. I hate it as a Green Lantern film but I still liked it as an action comic book film (Contradicting to one of my previous statements). I'll have to see it again to make sure. Until then, I can't recommend this movie for fans of the comics but if you're looking for a subpar summer blockbuster and have an afternoon to kill, it's worth seeing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It all started when I was in 5th grade; this was about 11-12 years ago. It was reading time and we were all reading some book of our choosing. My best friend and I always read Nancy Drew (hey, reading about chicks was way cooler than a couple of dudes solving mysteries). I got up to talk to another friend of mine who was reading this unusual looking book. The cover had a boy and a girl riding a half horse-half bird creature. The book was called, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban". I thought, "Azkaban? That's not a word". I asked him what it was about and he told me of this boy named Harry Potter who goes to a wizard school. I was interested to say the least. I went straight home that day and told my parents about it and asked to go to the bookstore (you see, back in those days we didn't have unlimited access to the internet, Facebook, and all that so reading was the main activity of interest).

We went to Barnes & Noble and I described the book to an associate. She told me that particular book was very new but happened to be the third book in the series. She showed me the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and I had my parents get it for me. That's where it all started. About two years and four books later, the first film finally came out and it was the most exciting time for me. I had heard about the movie and kept up with any news and the trailers for it and I couldn't have been more excited about anything.

The first film was perfection to me. It truly captured the spirit and feel of the book and brought about one of the most memorable movie scores of all time. Each film got better and better and here we are, 10 years later and the end of the Harry Potter film saga phenomenon. Ten years, eight films, and hundreds of millions of fans later, the Harry Potter film saga is the most successful, most lucrative, and biggest franchise of all time (I'll just add arguably in there for biggest franchise of all time). In this year of 2011, we have the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which is the most perfect way of ending the series and an almost perfect film.

The fans and critics agree that Deathly Hallows Part 2 is monumental and not just a great Potter film, but a great film overall. Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie review aggregator, has the film as a certified fresh film with a score of 96%, higher than any Potter film and one of the highest reviewed of the year (just recently went down from 97%). Roger Ebert said, "This movie is impressively staged, the dialogue is given proper weight and not hurried through, there are surprises which, in hindsight, seem fair enough, and "Harry Potter" now possesses an end that befits the most profitable series in movie history" (Ebert, Chicago-Suntimes. July 13, 2011). It also worth mentioning the film currently has a worldwide box office gross of $1.3 billion and is the third highest grossing film of all time worldwide.

The film picks up right where Part 1 left off: Voldemort is now is possession of the Elder Wand and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trying to find the remaining Horcruxes. I honestly think it was the best idea to split the final book into two films. The idea wasn't new, they brought it up while making Goblet of Fire and I'm glad that was just one film. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows just has too much going to pay attention to and there's a lot of emotion to be had in two films. Part 2 is definitely the better film with plenty of action, humor, and one of the most emotionally satisfying cinematic experiences you could ever have. Be prepared to shed some tears, Potter fans.

One of the perfect aspects of the film is the tone. It definitely feels like this is the end and danger is around every corner. The film is tense and dark and you really feel for the characters and the wizarding world. The scenes in Hogwarts have you on edge because you know what is to come. The pacing of the film is also perfect. It never feels rushed or slows down and director David Yates milks every scene for its emotional pull. Every shot in this film couldn't have been done any better.

In the past 10 years, we've seen the three leads (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) grow up into adults as we have grown as well (especially people my age). Their acting chops have grown and they've done their best job. Daniel Radcliffe pulls off his best performance of the series and is Harry Potter. Alan Rickman who plays Severus Snape also puts on an incredible performance. Maggie Smith who plays Minerva McGonagall is fantastic and even has a rare funny moment. Ralph Fiennes IS Voldemort and his performance in this movie is amazing. He really comes off as evil and when the Horcruxes start affecting him when they're destroyed, you really feel it hurts him and I don't know why but it's kind of sad. All of the actors give the most dedicated and heartfelt performances of the entire series (and for some the best performances of their careers, namely the younger actors). You can't find a film saga anywhere else where we see the lead actors grow up and fans such as me get to grow up with them (I'm less than a year older than Daniel Radcliffe so I really did grow up as he did with the films).

The music of Harry Potter has always been one of the staple aspects of the franchise. John Williams created an iconic theme when he started with the first film and thankfully, succeeding composers haven't drifted too far off. Alexandre Desplat (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) returns from Deathly Hallows Part 1 (which he did an amazing job) and brings every bit of emotion into the score and film. There are elements of John Williams and Nicholas Hooper (who did Order of the Phoenix and The Half Blood Prince) in the score and the scene with Snapes memories just brings out the sequence even more. The main theme of Part 2 is titled "Lily's Theme"; a soft, solo voice sings the melody with light strings in the background. It's haunting and beautiful and woven throughout the score. I could sit here and talk about the score all day, being an amateur composer myself, but I think you get the idea. All in all it's one of the better scores in the series.

I won't get into the specifics like I normally would (talking about production design, costumes, and all that) because after 8 films, we get the idea. Now, the film is extremely faithful to the book. Of course, there are changes here and there because you have to make changes when adapting a book. Some people didn't like how Harry and Voldemort's last battle happens in a courtyard without everyone looking on. To me, it's more intimate to see just the two of them and personal. Everyone else is busy. Taking the Harry/Voldemort fight and extending it the way they did was great. I loved where Voldemort and Harry fell and Voldemort started flying around (and come on, that line from Harry, "Come on, Tom. Let's finish this the way we started: together" was badass). The change with the Ron/Hermione kiss was great and if there's one thing the movies did better than the books it was the love-struggle between them (it's easier to see it in film than perceive in print).

In short, the film was nothing less than extraordinary. It was a most satisfying and fitting end to series. David Yates, David Heyman, and Co. have done a superb job and have delicately handled this precious franchise for fans and non-fans alike. As book adaptations, they are perfect. As a standalone saga, it is marvelous. It is one of the greatest sequels of all time and definitely one of the most satisfying films ever made.