Sunday, June 25, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight


The fifth and newest Transformers live action movie is playing in theaters now and boy is it's arms tired... wait.

Transformers: The Last Knight (TF5) is a legitimately enjoyable Transformers live action film. It follows in the trend that the odd numbered ones are the better ones (look, it's my theory and I've been right so far) which bleeds into a new thought process of mine. The even numbered ones serve as a bridge. Transformers 2007 (TF) is an introduction. Between TF and TF3 the only thing that matters is a explanation as to Megatron's return and introducing a brief bit of mythology. In TF3 we get a big info dump and things got apocalyptic, so much so that years later in TF4 we see that Chicago is a wasteland and the government is now hunting down Transformers. Megatron comes back and we get a new focal point human. That's literally all that we keep going forward into TF5 where we get another info dump and things get apocalyptic. Next year we get the Bumblebee movie which I'm taking as a side story and not part of my odd numbered better, even numbered are bridges theory.

What do I call that theory? Even bridge to odd high five?

I'm about to go into more details about this movie and since it's going to have spoilers, I'm going to hide the rest of the post behind a cut (click the read more link). So if you're on the mobile version of Zone Base or a link and the cut doesn't work, there's spoilers after this pic.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Satisfaction with the live action

I could have not gave this post a worst name.
The Last Knight (TF5) is now in theaters with preview showings earlier in the week to release on the 21st. Since Dark Of The Moon (TF3), my work schedule has dictated that I wait until the Saturday following release to watch new movies. That being said, just like any other live action Transformers movie, I'll see these spoiler free reviews (and skip the spoiler laden ones, k thanks bye) and various social media posts leading off with that persons perspective on the live action movies before talking about the current one. Knowing that I can ramble and that it will be a few more days until I see TF5 and write my own review, I thought I should make a separate post all about my thoughts on these movies before my review.

What? I thought it sounded like a good idea.

Don't look at me like that.

Around 2003 when it became public knowledge that a live action Transformers movie was actually in production (not counting the tons of unfounded rumors from years prior) it didn't take long for the fact that it was not going to be an adaption of G1 or any other incarnation of Transformers to be established. Early information had Soundwave as a helicopter, lake a boom box with a small robot mode (well, the concepts made it in, even if the names were changed), Ratchet as an ambulance and many other developments. Some true, some fake. My point is, from the very beginning of these movies there has been a constant flux of information and misinformation shaping opinions of fans long before they ever even see the movie. I've made it a point to take every "news' item I've heard to be taken with a grain of sand or sometimes a bag of it.

I mean, Ultra Magnus is totally going to be in Transformers 2.

Part of the early news leaks was in 2006 just around a year to release of the first movie was when we finally got a look at the robot designs. A sketch of Starscream, a render of Megatron, Optimus's truck mode. None were traditional. Fans, casual and hardcore, cried out in protest while others accepted the new look. This was right at the release of classics toys and many of us were used to the characters looking different in each new outing. I was in that crowd, I knew that the robots were going to look different. I wasn't sure just how different, but different.

I had assumed they were going to be similar to the Alternators/Binaltech toys. I had assumed correctly that they mostly were going to be licensed vehicles with more robot parts for realism. I didn't expect the more alien nature of the designs and honestly didn't know what to think of it. Though, I did think they looked neat. The alien nature grew on me as I began appreciating it as a design element. One, it looks gnarly. Two, it conveys the fact that these are living aliens from outer space visually. I've been in crowds where scenes of Optimus's death in the 1986 animated movie went over with a thud as casual reactions were mainly "it's just a robot, why don't they just fix him?".  Though in viewings of the 2007 movie, when Megatron rips Jazz in half, I heard several gasps. Visually, they just saw a living creature ripped in half and sympathized.

So, I do think they look cool in the live action designs and get the idea. I didn't like some of the faces in the original movie though, and by the first sequel I saw that they had been changed up a bit and looked a bit better. I guess I wasn't the only one with that opinion. I knew going in that Bumblebee wasn't going to be a Volkswagen bug. As a fandom, we had been through years of explanations of why Bumblebee could never be a bug again. I did expect him to be some kind of small car, so when the news of his new alt mode being a Camaro was made public... that took me by surprise. Then the whole not talking bit became known. I warmed up to the new look of Bumblebee, though I've never liked the not talking bit. I've accepted it and moved on, but I've never liked it.

While I've always understood and defended the designs, recently I found myself even more accepting of the explanation that the classic designs wouldn't look as good in live action. The Universal Studios ride (here I go again) is obviously based on the movies. It however uses the same ride technology as the Universal Studios Spider-Man ride. It even has the same cars. Sure Transformers 3D is a more advanced ride technologically, but to the average rider, it's pretty much the same thing. Spider-Man is visually an adaption of the Fox Kids cartoon series of the 90's. In fact the pre-show videos are all from that cartoon. On the ride, Spider-Man and co are CGI, but still very cartoonish looking.  This mixes with the real dark ride set pieces and is a very fun ride. Transformers 3D uses the same mixture of screens and practical sets. And though you're looking through the same 3D glasses and same 4D experience, Transformers is much more immersive. Which gives me more insight into that line of thinking for the designs. Sure, it might still be possible to pull off the classic designs in live action realistically, I can see how the movie designs work as a 'real world' thing.

Another big complaint that folks have is the focus on humans. I did leave the 2007 movie wishing for more robots, but I understood fully. This was a movie for everyone and everyone else had to be reintroduced. The sequels featured the robots more and more heavily each time, so I found myself not worried about the human focus as much as I found the robots got more time to shine. I know a lot of folks disagree, but in a live action movie that's just a reality that's not going anywhere. I understand the complaint and can sympathize with those fans. It just doesn't bother me that much.

The characterizations are a LOT more savage than we're used to. A LOT. Which, going by just how violent the 1986 animated movie was, didn't surprise me. Being a big fan of the carnage in the G2 comic, it didn't bother me at all. Not to mention, it was pretty cool when Optimus...

Ok, Optimus Prime is a stone cold killer in these movies. It's become common meme in the fandom that Optimus Prime is a raving psychopath in the live action movies. He delivers extremely harsh dialog while ripping off faces, cutting off limbs, and point blank executions.  To quote my Grandfather, he'd shoot you and step on the bullet hole so you feel that bullet a little more before you die. Many fans have stated their outright hatred of this incarnation. That's fine, that's ok. That's understandable. There's an understanding within many other fans that this Optimus was written to convey more the effects of fighting a war for 4 million years. I'm one of those fans. To me, I get it.

Take Sentinel Prime. At the end of TF3, Optimus executes him point blank after defeating him. Many fans have said he should have taken him prisoner. Classic cartoon Optimus would have. Except in Heavy Metal War where he and the Autobots chucked the Decepticons into lava. Personally, and realistically I still find myself agreeing with that mindset of Optimus has been fighting a war for 4 million years. Not to mention, after everything that Sentinel had done in TF3, I can't say I'm strong enough to not pop that cap myself. I might even step on that bullet hole.

The violence in a whole doesn't bother me in the live action movies. War is being fought, guns are being shot, swords are being swung. Things are getting shot, heads are going to fly off, and the time for talking was over just under 4 million years ago. Though, it's also a movie that's an adaption of a long running toy line. In fact, the movie tie in stuff ranges from toys to candy to Halloween costumes. Ok, Halloween costumes probably isn't the best case for arguing against violence considering the amount of hockey masks on shelves next to plastic machetes during October, but the point is there. They are extremely violent movies and probably much to scary for children. I get that. I totally do. I'm writing this from my perspective, as an adult. So, I'm writing as to why I, myself, am not bothered by the violence. If I had a child, I'd probably not want my child to see these until they're older. Adding in the toilet humor and crudeness that is present in some of the movies, I'd definitely not let them watch them at certain ages.

As far as the complaint that the moves are all fireworks and lasers with no substance... That's a fair point. Transformers, as a live action movie series is the definitive summer blockbuster to definition. Though some giant summer spectacles can and have delivered a much more sound movie, these can and do fit that bill. I can't argue that. There's plot holes and paper thin plots sandwiched by giant explosive action scenes. Though I will say, with the 4 I've seen so far, the odd numbered ones are much more sound movies. In fact, the odd numbered ones are much better movies than the even numbered ones. Going into part 5 this weekend, I'm hoping the odd movie theory still holds water. It's not that 2 and 4 aren't  unredeemable for me. The robot stuff is great and they're really fun to watch. It's just that they are also big messes on screen. 2 is a result of a writers strike. It was shot to meet a deadline and it did and made a ton of money, but the movie is a mess. I'm not sure what happened with part 4, just like part 2 there was some good ideas (in fact some stuff I really liked), but it was all over the place. Just all over the place. In more recent viewings, I've warmed up to it more. In fact watching TV edited versions makes it easier to watch. Maybe it's that trimmed for time aspect making the movie tighter. Though, like watching part 2, I felt like I was watching a bunch of scenes edited together without a solid flowing narrative.

I legitimately like parts 1 and 3. In fact I like Dark of the Moon best of all. I honestly really enjoy it. From early impressions, I feel like TF5 will be more like it and I have high hopes. In writing this, I don't intend to change any minds or start any arguments. I'm simply putting some of my perspective out so that I don't have to do it in my review this weekend and also offer some explanation as to why I view it as I do. Hopefully to give some perspective. I know I often come off as someone who likes everything, and maybe I do. But... this is something I do for fun, obviously I'm not going to bother if I don't like it. Saying that and understanding how much I love Transformers, perhaps it might make more sense to a reader. I enjoy the live action movies for the most part, and really enjoy the related stuff that goes with it. So I'm happy that there's a new movie every year for the foreseeable future.

Ok, I liked it when Optimus said 'Give me your face'.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Blackout


Blackout is the largest of the Decepticons. Most often seen looming silently over the right shoulder of Megatron, he is his leader’s hound. He pursues relentless efficiency, allowing nothing to stop him in his task. Those who defy him beware: his rage knows no bounds. He will fill the air with fire and burn the land clear to take his revenge. Paired with his minion Scorponok, he is a dangerous and a deadly foe.
 
 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I'm waititng for the last knight to fall...

When everything is bearable...
The Last Knight is in theaters now. Early showing were this weekend, special showings tonight, all sorts of showings all week. Due to my schedule, I'll have to wait until Saturday to see it. Already got my tickets, already reserved my seats, just waiting.

Good grief it's only Tuesday...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Hot House

Communication is the key that unlocks victory.
A babbling brawler. Talks constantly, even in battle. His fire station is equipped with built-in siphons that draw water from soil to form a high-impact water jet that can blast through granite. In battle, his station's front ramp converts to high-speed battering ram. Also armed with rocket launcher and freeze missiles.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Miniforce is on Netflix!

They're cute and cuddly and they will kick your butt.
A few years go Miniforce started showing on Korean tv. I've been watching the clips online for some time and was overjoyed to discover it was put on Netflix just recently (June 1st to be exact!). So I put my watch through of Attack on Titan on pause (eventually I'll watch it all) and immediately began my binge (add to list, check).


The show is also on Youtube if you don't have Netflix. Being on Netflix though gives me hope that the toys will be released here in the US and potentially easier/cheaper to get. It's the same kind of hope I give that eventually the super cool Tomica Hyper Drive heads (man, they are cool and expensive) will find it's way here. Being that Super Wings is on US tv and it's toys are now on American shelves, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to hope to see these guys at my local Toys R Us.


The show is obviously aimed at smaller children. Each episode is about 13 minutes long, so you can really watch a bunch of adventures in no time. The Miniforce is a gang of smaller animals who spend the first few minutes of an episode being silly at home with their human companions. Shortly after the episode starts we see where the bad guys have sent the monster of the week, the gang changes into their Invincible Miniforce forms and rush off to battle. From there the show is an action packed animated Sentai/Super Robot show. When the big Mechamon of the week is turned giant, they call upon their Forcecars/Transcars to take them out.


The Forcecars are sleek vehicles that transform into larger robot modes and can even combine together to battle the larger threats. In all honesty, if the younger demographic cares you away from this show, it's really just in the opening of each episode where we see the gang at home. Once the action starts, it would probably be easier to swallow for you. It's a fun, albeit silly show that I dig 100%.

Between odd clips, discount DVD bins, and random toy finds. I've developed a casual interest in Korean robot/sentai shows that I'm happy to divulge in as the means to enjoy them becomes more readily available. With Miniforce getting a more mainstream push being now on Netflix, I hope it continues.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Super Nintendo Land Groundbreaking


Universal Studios Japan held their groundbreaking ceremony in what would have been yesterday for me and man I wish I could have been there. Above is the officially released video from the park, which is a shortened presentation. I just watched the entire thing from a person who was there and wow, they really put on a show. I can't wait to see the new land for myself, though it's going to be awhile. The Japanese park is getting theirs first, which is slated to open in 2020. So, it's going to be some time until Orlando gets theirs set up. Speculation is rampant as to where exactly it's going to go in the resort, but I don't care, I just want to be there when it opens.