REVIEW: FAST & FURIOUS 8

CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Jason Statham (Safe)
Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Ludacris (Gamer)
Scott Eastwood (Fury)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones)
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane)
Tego Calderón (Illegal Tender)
Don Omar (Los Bandoleros)
Luke Evans (Dracula untold)
Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones)
Helen Mirren (Red)

Dominic “Dom” Toretto and Letty Ortiz are on their honeymoon in Havana when Dom is challenged to a street race at an auto show by local racer Raldo. Dom races for Raldo’s car, intending to give it to his cousin Fernando, while wagering his own show car. After narrowly winning the race, Dom allows Raldo to keep his car, earning his respect, and instead leaves his cousin with his show car. The next day, Dom is approached by elusive cyberterrorist Cipher, who coerces him into working for her.Shortly after the encounter, Dom and his team, comprising Letty, Roman Pearce, Tej Parker, and Ramsey, are recruited by Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent Luke Hobbs to help him retrieve an EMP device from a military outpost in Berlin. During the getaway, Dom goes rogue, forcing Hobbs off the road and stealing the device for Cipher. Hobbs is arrested and locked up in the same high-security prison he helped imprison Deckard Shaw in. After escaping, both are recruited by intelligence operative Frank Petty/Mr. Nobody and his protégé, Eric Reisner/Little Nobody, to help the team find Dom and capture Cipher.Deckard reveals that Cipher was the mastermind of previous encounters with the team, such as employing his brother Owen Shaw to steal the Nightshade device and orchestrating the attempted theft of God’s Eye, Ramsey’s software program.The team tracks Dom and Cipher to their very location just as they attack the base and steal God’s Eye. When Dom begins to question Cipher’s motives, she reveals that she has held Dom’s ex-lover and DSS agent Elena Neves – as well as their son, whose existence Dom was previously unaware of – hostage in order to keep Dom loyal to her. Elena tells Dom that the child was born as a result of an unintended pregnancy, and that she wanted him to decide the child’s first name, having already given him the middle name Marcos.Cipher then sends Dom to New York City to retrieve a nuclear football held by the Russian Minister of Defence.Dom manages to evade her for a short time through a diversion created by Raldo, allowing him to meet with and persuade Deckard and Owen’s mother, Magdalene Shaw, to help. The team intercepts Dom after he steals the nuclear football, but Dom escapes, shooting and apparently killing Deckard in the process. Cipher facilitates Dom’s escape by hacking into all of the autonomous cars in the city and reprogramming them to auto-drive, wreaking havoc throughout the city. Letty catches up to Dom, but is ambushed and nearly killed by Cipher’s enforcer, Connor Rhodes, before Dom rescues her. In retaliation, Cipher has Rhodes kill Elena in front of Dom.Dom is then sent to Russia to use the EMP device to disable a nuclear submarine, enabling Cipher to hijack it and attempt to use its arsenal to trigger a nuclear war. They are once again intercepted by the team, provided with modified vehicles by Petty. Meanwhile, Deckard, who had faked his death and been extracted by Tego Leo and Rico Santos, former members of Dom’s team, infiltrates Cipher’s plane to rescue Dom’s son at Magdalene’s behest, with the help of Owen. Once Deckard reports that the child is safe, Dom turns on Cipher and kills Rhodes, avenging Elena’s death, before rejoining his team. Outraged, Cipher launches an infrared homing missile at Dom, but he breaks away from his team and maneuvers around it, causing the missile to hit the submarine instead. The team quickly forms a vehicular blockade around Dom, shielding him from the ensuing explosion. When Deckard reaches the front of the plane and confronts Cipher, she makes her escape by parachuting out of the plane. Petty and Reisner visit Dom and his team in New York City to report that Cipher is still at large. Hobbs is offered his DSS job back, but he declines in order to spend more time with his daughter. Deckard then arrives to return Dom’s son, putting his differences aside with Dom and Hobbs in the process, and is accepted into their family. Dom decides to name his son Brian, after his friend and brother-in-law Brian O’Conner, and they celebrate.Fast and Furious 8 is awesome and does what it is trying to do which is entertain with crazy action sequences. A great action packed film to a solid franchise.

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REVIEW: FAST & FURIOUS 7

CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Paul Walker (Brick Mansion)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Ludacris (Gamer)
Djimon Hounsou (Staragte)
Tony Jaa (XXX: The Return of Xander Cage)
Ronda Rousey (Blindespot)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones)
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Jason Statham (Safe)
Lucas Black (Jarhead)
Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane)
Noel Gugliemi (Old School)
John Brotherton (Fuller House)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)

After defeating Owen Shaw and his crew and securing amnesty for their past crimes, Dominic “Dom” Toretto, Brian O’Conner and the rest of their team have returned to the United States to live normal lives again. Brian begins to accustom himself to life as a father, while Dom tries to help Letty Ortiz regain her memory. Meanwhile, Owen’s older brother, Deckard Shaw, breaks into the secure hospital that the comatose Owen is being held in and swears vengeance against Dom and his team, before breaking into Luke Hobbs’ Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) office to extract profiles of Dom’s crew. After revealing his identity, Shaw engages Hobbs in a fight, and escapes when he detonates a bomb that severely injures Hobbs. Dom later learns from his sister Mia that she is pregnant again and convinces her to tell Brian. However, a bomb, disguised in a package sent from Tokyo, explodes and destroys the Toretto house just seconds after Han, a member of Dom’s team, is killed by Shaw in Tokyo. Dom later visits Hobbs in a hospital, where he learns that Shaw is a rogue special forces assassin seeking to avenge his brother. Dom then travels to Tokyo to claim Han’s body, and meets and races Sean Boswell, a friend of Han’s who gives him personal items found at Han’s crash site.Back at Han’s funeral in Los Angeles, Dom notices a car observing them, and after a chase, confronts its driver, who is revealed to be Shaw. Both prepare to fight, but Shaw flees when a covert ops team arrives and opens fire, led by Frank Petty, a man who calls himself Mr. Nobody. Petty says that he will assist Dom in stopping Shaw if he helps him obtain God’s Eye, a computer program that uses digital devices to track down a person, and save its creator, a hacker named Ramsey, from a mercenary named Mose Jakande. Dom, Brian, Letty, Roman Pearce, and Tej Parker then airdrop their cars over the Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan, ambush Jakande’s convoy, and rescue Ramsey.The team then heads to Abu Dhabi, where a billionaire has acquired the flash drive containing God’s Eye, and manages to steal it from the owner. With God’s Eye near telecommunications repeaters, the team tracks down Shaw, who is waiting at a remote factory. Dom, Brian, Petty and his team attempt to capture Shaw, but are ambushed by Jakande and his men and forced to flee while Jakande obtains God’s Eye. At his own request, the injured Petty is then left behind to be evacuated by helicopter while Brian and Dom continue without him. Left with no other choice, the crew returns to Los Angeles to fight Shaw, Jakande and his men. Meanwhile, Brian promises Mia that once they deal with Shaw, he will retire and fully dedicate himself to their family.While Jakande pursues Brian and the rest of the team with a stealth helicopter and an aerial drone, Ramsey attempts to hack into God’s Eye. Hobbs, seeing the team in trouble, leaves the hospital and destroys the drone with an ambulance. Ramsey then regains control of God’s Eye and shuts it down. Meanwhile, Dom and Shaw engage in a one-on-one brawl on a parking garage, before Jakande intervenes and attacks them both. Shaw is defeated when part of the parking garage collapses beneath him. Dom then launches his vehicle at Jakande’s helicopter, tossing Shaw’s bag of grenades onto its skids, before injuring himself when his car lands and crashes. Hobbs then shoots the bag of grenades from ground level, destroying the helicopter and killing Jakande. Dom is pulled from the wreckage of his car, believed to be dead. As Letty cradles Dom’s body in her arms, she reveals that she has regained her memories, and that she remembers their wedding. Dom regains consciousness soon after, remarking, “It’s about time”.Shaw is taken into custody by Hobbs and locked away in a secret, high-security prison. At a beach, Brian and Mia play with their son while Dom, Letty, Roman, Tej, and Ramsey observe, acknowledging that Brian is better off retired with his family. Dom silently leaves, but Brian catches up with him at a crossroad. As Dom remembers the times that he had with Brian, they bid each other farewell and drive off in separate directions.Fast & Furious 7 is a no-holds, over- the-top and mindless action film, but this aside, it is an extremely entertaining and fun film to watch. With an all-star cast and some brilliant action sequences, Fast & Furious 7 is proof that certain franchises can continually make great movies. The most notable moment however in the entire film is the emotional and respectful ending during the send-off of Paul Walker, the film finishing with a montage of Walker in the previous six films, finishing with just two words. A fitting end for a great actor.

REVIEW: FAST & FURIOUS 6

CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Paul Walker (Brick Mansion)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Ludacris (Gamer)
Sung Kang (Bullet to The Head)
Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)
Luke Evans (Dracula untold)
Gina Carano (Deadpoll)
John Ortiz (Narc)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane)
Jason Statham (Safe)

Following their successful heist in Brazil, Dominic “Dom” Toretto and his professional criminal crew have fled around the world: Dom lives with Elena; his sister Mia lives with Brian O’Conner and their son, Jack; Gisele and Han live together; and Roman and Tej live in luxury. Meanwhile, DSS agent Luke Hobbs and Riley Hicks investigate the destruction of a Russian military convoy by a crew led by former British SAS Major and special ops soldier Owen Shaw. Hobbs persuades Dom to help capture Shaw by showing him a photo of the supposedly long-dead Letty Ortiz, Dom’s former lover. Dom and his crew accept the mission in exchange for their amnesty, allowing them to return to the United States.In London, Shaw’s hideout is found, but this is revealed to be a trap, distracting them and the police while Shaw’s crew performs a heist at an Interpol building. Shaw flees by car, detonating his hideout and disabling most of the police, leaving Dom, Brian, Tej, Han, Gisele, Hobbs, and Riley to pursue him. Letty arrives to help Shaw, shooting Dom without hesitation before escaping. Back at their headquarters, Hobbs tells Dom’s crew that Shaw is stealing components to create a deadly device, intending to sell it to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, Shaw’s investigation into the opposing crew reveals Letty’s relationship with Dom, but she is revealed to be suffering from amnesia. Dominic’s crew learns that Shaw is connected to a drug lord who was imprisoned by Brian, Arturo Braga. Brian returns to Los Angeles as a prisoner to question Braga, who says Letty survived the explosion that seemingly killed her; Shaw took her in after discovering her amnesia. With FBI help, Brian is released from prison, regrouping with the team in London.Dom challenges Letty in a street racing competition; afterwards, he returns her cross necklace he had kept. After Letty leaves, Shaw offers Dom a chance to walk away, threatening to otherwise hurt his family, but Dom refuses. Tej tracks Shaw’s next attack to a Spanish NATO base. Shaw’s crew assaults a highway military convoy carrying a computer chip to complete his deadly device. Dom’s crew interferes while Shaw, accompanied by Letty, commandeers a tank, destroying cars en route. Brian and Roman manage to flip the tank before it causes further damage, resulting in Letty being thrown from the vehicle and Dom risking his life to save her. Shaw and his crew are captured, but reveal Mia has been kidnapped by Shaw. Hobbs is forced to release Shaw, and Riley, revealed to be Shaw’s covert accomplice, leaves with him; Letty chooses to remain with Dom.Shaw’s group board a large moving aircraft on a runway as Dom’s crew gives chase. Dom, Letty, and Brian board the craft; Brian rescues Mia, escaping in an onboard car. The plane attempts take-off, but is held down by excess weight as the rest of the team tether the plane to their vehicles. Gisele sacrifices herself to save Han from Shaw’s henchman; Letty kills Riley and escapes to safety, but Dom pursues Shaw and the computer chip. As the plane crashes into the ground, Shaw is thrown from it, seriously injuring him, and Dom drives a car out of the exploding plane. Dom reunites with his crew, and gives the chip to Hobbs to secure their pardons. Dom and the others return to his old family home in Los Angeles. Hobbs and Elena, now working together, arrive to confirm the crew’s freedom; Elena accepts that Dom loves Letty. As Roman says grace over the crew’s meal, Dom asks Letty if the gathering feels familiar; she answers “no, but it feels like home.” In a mid-credits scene, which takes place in Tokyo, Han is involved in a car chase when he is suddenly broadsided by an oncoming car. The driver walks away from the scene after leaving Letty’s cross necklace by the crash, and calls Dom as Han’s car fatally explodes, saying, “You don’t know me. You’re about to.”It’s so rare nowadays that sequels improve and franchises get better, well Fast & Furious shows us it’s truth. This sixth addition lives up to it’s speedy natured title yet again with furious action sequences that will excite audiences from the epic scale convoy heist to the knockout plane finale, it’s all so over the top and that’s exactly what you want.

REVIEW: FAST & FURIOUS 5

CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Paul walker (Brick Mansion)
Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Ludacris (Gamer)
Matt Schulze (Torque)
Sung Kang (Bullet to The Head)
Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)
Joaquim de Almeida (Desperado)
Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane)
Tego Calderón (Bling’d: Blood, Diamonds)
Don Omar (Los Bandoleros)
Alimi Ballard (Dark Angel)
Eva Mendes (Stuck on You)

When Dominic “Dom” Toretto is being transported to Lompoc Prison by bus, his sister Mia Toretto and friend Brian O’Conner lead an assault on the bus, causing it to crash and freeing Dom. While the authorities search for them, the trio escapes to Rio de Janeiro. Awaiting Dom’s arrival, Mia and Brian join their friend Vince and other participants on a job to steal three cars from a train. Brian and Mia discover that agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are also on the train and that the cars are seized property. When Dom arrives with the rest of the participants, he realizes that one of them, Zizi, is only interested in stealing one car, a Ford GT40. Dom has Mia steal the car herself before he and Brian fight Zizi and his henchmen, during which Zizi kills the DEA agents assigned to the vehicles. Dom and Brian are captured and brought to crime lord Hernan Reyes, the owner of the cars and Zizi’s boss. Reyes orders the pair be interrogated to discover the location of the car, but they manage to escape and retreat to their safehouse.While Brian, Dom, and Mia examine the car to discover its importance, Vince arrives and is caught trying to remove a computer chip from it. He admits he was planning to sell the chip to Reyes on his own, and Dom forces him to leave. Brian investigates the chip and discovers it contains details of Reyes’ criminal empire, including the locations of US$100 million in cash.Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs and his team arrive in Rio to arrest Dom and Brian. With the help of local officer Elena Neves, they travel to Dom’s safehouse, but find it under assault by Reyes’ men. Brian, Dom and Mia escape; Dom suggests they split up and leave Rio, but Mia announces she is pregnant with Brian’s child. Dom agrees to stick together and suggests they steal the money from Reyes to start a new life. They organize a team to perform the heist: Han, Roman, Tej, Gisele, Leo, and Santos. Vince later joins the team after saving Mia from being captured by Reyes’ men.Hobbs and his team eventually find and arrest Dom, Mia, Brian, and Vince. While transporting them to the airport for extradition to the United States, the convoy is attacked by Reyes’ men, who kill Hobbs’ team. Hobbs and Elena are saved by Dom, Brian, Mia, and Vince as they fight back and escape, but Vince is shot in the process and dies. Wanting to avenge his murdered team, Hobbs and Elena agree to help with the heist. The gang breaks into the police station and tear the vault holding Reyes’ money from the building using their cars, dragging it through the city. After an extensive police chase, Dom makes Brian continue without him while he attacks the police and the pursuing Reyes, using the vault attached to his car to smash their vehicles. Brian returns and kills Zizi while Reyes is badly injured by Dom’s assault. Hobbs arrives on the scene and executes Reyes to avenge his team. Though Hobbs refuses to let Dom and Brian go free, he gives them a 24-hour head start to escape on the condition they leave the vault as it is. However, the vault is empty as it had been switched during the chase. After splitting the cash (Vince’s share is given to his family), they go their separate ways.On a tropical beach, Brian and a visibly pregnant Mia relax. They are met by Dom and Elena. Brian challenges Dom to a final, no-stakes race to prove who is the better driver. In a mid-credits scene, Hobbs is given a file by Monica Fuentes concerning the hijack of a military convoy in Berlin, where he discovers a recent photo of Dom’s former girlfriend Letty, who had been presumed dead.The movie was packed with jaw dropping, eye popping action from beginning to end. The drama had a mix of sadness, comedy and seriousness which were all mixed in together so beautifully to give a consistency to keep the viewer starring at the screen and being involved in the movie rather than daydreaming about other things. Another great entry in the franchise.

REVIEW: 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS

CAST

Paul Walker (Brick Mansion)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Cole Hauser (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Eva Mendes (Ghost Rider)
Ludacris (No Strings Attached)
Thom Barry (Cold Case)
James Remar (Gotham)
Devon Aoki (Sin City)
Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break)
Michael Ealy (Flashforward)
Marc Macaulay (Swamp Thing: The Series)

In Miami, Brian O’Conner makes a living by participating in illegal street races. Tej Parker organizes a local street race, involving Suki, Orange Julius, and Slap Jack, however, the race lacks a fourth driver. Tej later calls Brian, who agrees to be the fourth needed for the race. Brian wins, giving a few thousand of his winnings to Tej to show his gratitude. The police then arrive, forcing all the racers to flee. Watched by undercover U.S. Customs Service agent Monica Fuentes, Brian is caught by the agents. He is taken into custody, but given a deal by his former boss, FBI agent Bilkins, and Customs agent Markham, to go undercover and bring down Argentinian drug lord, Carter Verone in exchange for the erasure of his criminal record.

Brian agrees, but only if he is given permission to choose his own partner. This prompts him to travel to Barstow, California, where he enlists the help of Roman Pearce, his childhood friend who served jail time for housing stolen cars in a garage. Roman blames Brian for his arrest, and is currently on parole. Roman agrees to help, but only for the same deal Brian was offered. Roman and Brian are later hired by Verone, who tasks the duo to obtain a package from a confiscated car located in a lot. Markham follows the duo to the lot in order to obtain the package, however, Roman relents, and shoots at Markham to help maintain his cover. He later confronts him for interference with the mission. Brian is able to gain knowledge of the plan, however, and tells Bilkins Verone’s is aiming to launder his money in Miami, before escaping on his private jet.

Later, the team challenges a pair of muscle car drivers they raced when competing for Verone’s hiring, for pink slips. Despite engine and power output handicaps, Brian and Roman manage to win the race and the other two cars. Meanwhile, Roman confronts Brian about his attraction to Monica and the constant threat of Verone’s men. However, the two men patch up their differences, and focus on completing the mission. After witnessing Verone torture Detective Whitworth of the Miami Police Department into giving them a window of opportunity to make their getaway, Brian and Roman are warned by Monica that they will be killed once the drop is made. However, Markham refuses to call off the job, claiming that is their one chance to catch Verone.

On the day of the mission, Brian and Roman begin transporting duffel bags of Verone’s money, with Verone’s right-hand men, Enrique and Roberto, riding alongside to accompany the duo. Before the window is set, Whitworth decides to call in the police to move in for an arrest of the drivers of the cars used by Brian and Roman. This results in a high-speed chase across the city. The duo leads the police to a warehouse, where a “scramble” by dozens of street racers organized by Tej disorients the police. Following the scramble, the police manage to pull over the cars, only to find out that they were driven by Tej and Suki.

As Brian approaches the destination point in a Yenko Camaro, Enrique tells him to make a detour away from the airfield to the Tarpon Point Marina exit. Meanwhile, Roman gets rid of Roberto by using an improvised ejector seat in his Dodge Challenger powered by nitrous oxide. At the airfield, Customs agents have Verone’s plane and convoy surrounded, only to discover they have been duped into a decoy maneuver while Verone is at a boatyard several miles away. Verone reveals he knew Monica was an undercover agent, and purposely gave her wrong information on the destination point. When Brian arrives at the Marina, Enrique prepares to kill him when Roman suddenly appears and helps Brian kill Enrique. Verone makes his escape aboard his private yacht, but Brian and Roman use the Camaro to drive off a ramp, crashing on top of the yacht. The duo manages to apprehend Verone and save Monica. With their crimes pardoned, Brian and Roman ponder on what to do next in Miami, with the former suggesting starting a garage. They are revealed to have taken some of Verone’s money for themselves.

It’s not a bad follow up to the first movie, but not casting Vin Diesel wasn’t smart – it’s like missing a piece to a puzzle. Other than that, it’s still a decent watch with better music and well-staged action sequences.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: LEGION

  CAST

Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Lucas Black (Jarhead)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD)
Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3)
Jon Tenney (Green Lantern)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Willa Holland (Arrow)
Kate Walsh (Bad Judge)
Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)

Legion was incredibly entertaining! The action was wicked and intense, the characters were fun and intriguing, it was gory and action packed Paul Bettany is a great actor and very versatile. I think the film makers of Legion were lucky to have him. He is brooding, and strong and commanding as the rogue angel Michael. Even being a leading character they underuse him and we really don’t get to see enough of his action.

Lucas Black is naive and simple Jeep Hanson. In a normal film he would likely become the hero but when you’ve got an Angel to contend with you take a backseat and unfortunately that is where his performance is pushed to. He does well but is overshadowed in a big from the other actors in the film. That includes Dennis Quaid as Black’s father. Its a small role but he takes it and makes it his own and really commands the screen. Adrianne Palicki is the lead female who is basically the cause of this angelic war. Palicki is very underused because I think she could have given a really strong performance if she had been given the chance but like Black she takes a back seat. The cast is also boosted by some amazing supporting performances by Charles S. Dutton and Kevin Durand who should have also been used more. Also worth mentioning is solid supporting roles from Kate Walsh, Jon Tenney, and Willa Holland.

Some might go into this movie figuring it to be an epic battle between good and evil, Angels and Demons, further proved by the name of film, Legion being a horde of demons that possess someone in the bible. Instead this is about a battle from Heaven between Angels not even fallen Angels. The special effects are solid and even breath taking at times. So all in all its a decent enough Sci-fi / Action film that passes the time.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS 1-4

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Megan Fox (New Girl)
Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Rachael Taylor (The Darkest Hour)
Anthony Anderson (The Departed)
Jon Voight (Mission Impossible)
John Turturro (Barton Fink)
Michael O’Neill (Secondhand Lions)
Kevin Dunn (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Julie White (Monsters Vs Aliens)
Zack Ward (Bloodrayne 2)
Travis Van winkle (Meet The Spartans)
Bernie Mac (Bad Santa)
Tom Lenk (Angel)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Odette Annable (The Unborn)
Peter Cullen (Transformers Prime)
Mark Ryan (Black Sails)
Darius McCrary (15 Minutes)
Robert Foxworth (Omen II)
Jess Harnell (Wall-e)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Colton Haynes (Arrow)

Searching the galaxy for a troublesome energy cube, the Autobots, lead by Optimus Prime (voiced robustly by legend Peter Cullen), have arrived on Earth. Teaming up with a teenager named Sam (Shia LeBeouf) and innocent bystander Mikeala (Megan Fox), the Autobots set out to complete their mission; but when government agents interfere (led by John Turturro and Jon Voight, with soldiers played by Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson), it awakens the wrath of the Decepticons, who free their leader Megatron (Hugo Weaving) from his ice prison and put Earth in their crosshairs as they challenge Prime for control of the all-powerful cube.

Granted, these aren’t your granddaddy’s Transformers. Souped up to resemble high-tech living robots while fighting and the latest in automobile trends in car form, Bay and the producers have mucked around considerably with the look of the Autobots and Decepticons, putting the infamous flames on Optimus Prime and turning Megatron into an alien jet. Supporters of the all-holy “G1” have every right to scoff, but “Transformers” has a wonderful way of making these ludicrous alterations fit into the bigger, slicker picture, pressing down hard on the extraterrestrial angle of our visitors. It’s only a matter of moments before you buy these reinvented incarnations of popular characters and another few seconds before you start to root for their victory and defeat.

Running at 140 minutes, Transformers never runs out of juice.

 

 

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Megan Fox (New Girl)
Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
John Turturro (Barton Fink)
Ramon Rodriguez (Need For Speed)
Kevin Dunn (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Julie White (Monsters Vs Aliens)
Isabel Lucas (Red Dawn)
America Olivo (Bitch Slap)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Peter Cullen (Transformers Prime)
Mark Ryan (Black Sails)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Robert Foxworth (Omen II)
Jess Harnell (Wall-e)
Tony Todd (Wishmaster)
Frank Walker (The Simpsons)
Tom Kenny (The Batman)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

A sequel to the 2007 movie that brings us back to the main characters from that. Two years have passed for then. Sam is off to college and is getting along nicely with girlfriend Mikaela. He’s also trying to distance himself from the whole alien robots whom he got involved with in the first film. The good guy Autobots are helping the military destroy the evil deceptions. But the latter have a whole new plan that involves a figure from their history. As that kicks into action, nobody is safe, and it’s time for Sam and Mikaela to help save the world again.

This builds things up to a much greater scale than the first film, and it brings in a lot more of the robots, both good and bad ones. This is the right decision but there’s so many new characters, few of whom get anything other than cursory introductions, that those who don’t know the transformers characters from other media might be a bit confused. There were times when I thought a scorecard would have helped. Some have rather silly voices and some are used for comic relief, but these ones do at the same time have a fair amount of character as a result, so they work.

The plot also being move involved means you do have to work at it, a little more than you might expect from a piece of escapist entertainment. And yet, whilst it’s not as focused as the first film, it does come up with a big action battle climax.  As humans and alien robots alike battle evil forces and strive to do the right thing and are quite prepared to put their lives on the line, it’s not hard to find yourself rooting for them all the way.

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas)
Tyrese Gibson (Fast 2 Furious)
John Turturro (Barton Fink)
Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy)
Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading)
John Malkovich (Red)
Kevin Dunn (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Julie White (Monsters Vs Aliens)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Scott Krinsky (Chuck)
Peter Cullen (Transformers Prime)
Mark Ryan (Black Sails)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Jess Harnell (Wall-e)
Robert Foxworth (Omen II)
James Remar (Flashforward)
George Coe (The Entity)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Tom Kenny (The Batman)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)

The story,  involves a Transformer named Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), who crashed on the moon in the 1960s and is re-awakened by Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) in the present day. This sets in motion a chain of events that build to a Transformer war, with Megatron (voice of Hugo Weaving) on one side, and Optimus on the other, with the fate of the human race dangling in the middle.

Eventually, we are returned to Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), the protagonist from the last two films, and his girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). Sam is irritated that after his participation in the battle between Autobots and Decepticons, he’s been out of college for a few months and still doesn’t have a job with the military, or with anyone at all, for that matter. LaBeouf makes these scenes work. Carly’s boss, Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), ribs Sam by referring to a car as “trying to evoke the curves of a woman,” while both Dylan and the camera stare lecherously at Carly.

Ultimately, Bay’s primary success here is casting. In addition to Dempsey (pleasingly cynical), Dark of the Moon boasts an elaborate roster of recognizable, exceptional professionals, like John Malkovich (ridiculous), Frances McDormand (deadly serious), Ken Jeong (psychotic), and Alan Tudyk (over-the-top), who give the film color around its big silly edges. McDormand in particular adds a level of gravitas to the first half of the movie that really greases the wheels, and even though she’s relegated to the far back in the last third, she shares her time with returning player John Turturro, with whom she has amusing chemistry. Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, and Julie White also return.

Everything else is action, action, action. This time, Bay is better with his action geography and choreography, illustrating fights from a distance and turning down the dust clouds a little bit. The 3D often helps, adding a dizzying sense of height to moments such as several characters leaping out onto the side of a tilting glass building, or troops in gliding suits diving out of falling helicopters and soaring an improbable distance across the city.

 

 

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (The Lovely Bones)
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games)
Kelsey Grammer (X-Men 3)
Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel)
Jack Reynor (Macbeth)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Sophia Myles (Underworld)
Bingbing Li (The Message)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Erika Fong (Power Rangers Samurai)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Peter Cullen (Transformers Prime)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins)
Robert Foxworth (Omen II)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Mark Ryan (Black Sails)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
John Goodman (Red State)

After the monstrous success of his first Transformers trilogy, Hollywood outlaw Michael Bay parted ways with star Shia Labeouf and began a new chapter in his franchise. Mark Wahlberg joins the cast and gives an agreeable performance.

The United States Government no longer supports the Autobot/military alliance, and a shady CIA unit dubbed Cemetery Wind is responsible for hunting down the Decepticons hiding on Earth. Blue-blood inventor Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) struggles to support his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) without a steady paycheck, but discovers a rundown semi-truck cab in an abandoned theater that turns out to be a heavily damaged Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). Optimus reveals that the CIA is using Deception bounty hunter Lockdown to kill the Autobots, and helps Cade and Tessa escape a Cemetery Wind ambush. They rejoin Autobots Bumblebee, Hound, Drift and Crosshairs, and discover that multinational corporation KSI has recreated Transformium, the unstable metal found in Transformers. This leads KSI head Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) to create his own warriors from Deception leftovers, including deadly Galvatron.


As expected, Bay creates a film on a bigger scale than his last outing, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The practical sets and action sequences are absolutely immense, and Bay again shoots heavily in Detroit, which doubles for Hong Kong.

These films have always been pretty funny, and, while Kruger’s writing will not be winning any awards, it has improved from the Mudflap/Skids jive-talking nonsense of Revenge of the Fallen. Tucci is always funny in tense situations, and comedian T.J. Miller gets some laughs as Cade’s borderline annoying best friend. Wahlberg is a different he gives a committed performance here, and makes the dialogue believable. I like that Bay and company made Cade a single dad, and Peltz’s Tessa is surprisingly not annoying.

The first hour, set at the Yeager homestead in Texas, is my favorite. I enjoyed watching Cade and Tessa meet Optimus and flee from Cemetery Wind. Scenes on Lockdown’s imposing prison ship are also good.  This was intended to be the first film in a new trilogy,with transformers 5 already in the pipeline. The last scene opens the transformers cinematic universe, leaving it open for the fifth to explore further the transformer mythology.