July 2, 2007, - 6:31 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Out of the new movies out for the 4th, here’s the one I’ve seen, and a couple other recent releases I haven’t reviewed until now:
* “Transformers“: Definitely director Michael Bay’s most awesome movie, thus far, and a great investment for the hurting General Motors, as the transformers in this movie are GM cars and trucks and this movie is a great 2.5 hour commercial for them. If only the cars could transform like that. Very cool special effects like you’ve likely never seen.
This movie is chock-full of sci-fi effects, FOX co-stars from series like “24″ and “Prison Break”–and even a few bigger names like Josh Duhamel and Jon Voight (he’s Secretary of Defense)–and a good moral fight of good versus evil.
Bad transformers from outer space come to earth and attack the mainframe of the U.S. military in the Pentagon by trying to download and destroy everything on it in Qatar. The transformers attack the soldiers in Qatar, too. The Secretary of Defense calls an emergency session. A gorgeous teen analyst-ette with a foreign accent (Rachael Taylor) working amidst the Pentagon top secret high-tech gaggle figures it the inhuman threat and warns the Secretary. She uses her ghetto gamer loser friend to break the code.
Meanwhile, summer clean-up actor (he’s cleaning up at the box office) Shia LeBeouf stars as Sam Witwicky, a teen who wants a car, wants to pick up his dream babe, Mikaela (Megan Fox) from high school (who doesn’t give him a second look), and is trying to sell junk left over from his misunderstood great-grandfather, Captain Archibald Witwicky, who discovered the frozen, evil Megatron, one of the evil transformers from outer space, out to destroy the human race.
The good transformers, headed by Optimus Prime pursue young Sam, and as it turns out, even his faulty Trans-Am (Camaro?) turns out to be a transformer, which steals itself away, etc. They need Sam and the formula embedded on his ancestor Captain Archibald’s glasses to find the cube, which will save them or–if Megatron and the bad tranformers get it–will destroy them and ultimately, humans and planet earth. Together, Sam, the girl, and the good transformers fight the evil ones to save the human race. There is an extended final showdown on the streets of a major U.S. big city between the good and evil transformers. (If you notice Detroit, Toronto, L.A., and Boston in the background, you’re correct. All–including Detroit’s largely abandoned Fort Street, and the McNamara Federal Building are onscreen.)
There’s a lot at play here amidst the awesome special effects (the movie’s worth seeing for those alone): Outer space alien machines versus humans without machine high-tech abilities and strengths; foreigners versus English speakers (the bad transformers are speaking Chinese or Japanese); U.S. Military versus Machines (at the beginning, the bad transformers attack the U.S. military in Qatar and nearly download and eliminate the Pentagon’s entire computer system).
Three bad things about this otherwise fantastic adventure:
1) A movie that would and should appeal to kids is populated with a ton of four-letter words, lots of sexual references, and an extended discussion of masturbation. Filmmakers apparently wanted a PG-13 rating and older teens to flock to it. But, instead, they’ve mixed garbage with treasure in what could have been a perfect summer flick for kids of all ages. And the sex stuff just was out of place in a movie about transformers.
2) At almost 2.5 hours, this movie is Way. Too. Long. At least a 1/2 hour, if not an hour could have been cut from it.
3) There were too many characters and plots goin on and the whole thing was a little confusing.
Still, the fight between the machines who would kill man versus the good ones who save him are a worthwhile message. And who knew a movie about an old toy from at least a decade ago would be so exciting and entertaining? And different.
* “Evening“: Hated the melodramatic, anti-male uber-chick flick, “Beaches”? This is like this decade’s “Beaches,” but a whole lot more dreadful and depressing. Plus, it stars blatant anti-Semite Vanessa Redgrave, who at 70, looks every day of 92. If this movie was meant to dispel the notion that most high-society females are self-absorbed, ugly, and inbred, it fails miserably. Meryl Streep’s daughter, who looks just like her, sounds every bit like her name, Mamie Gummer.
Here’s the story: A woman, Ann, is at the end of her life, dying of a terminal illness, and will soon be dead. She murmurs the name “Harris” and says confusing things while her 30- or 40-something daughters watch over her in her home. She drifts in and out of sleep dreaming and remembering her wealthy friend, Lila, whose wedding she is attending. Lila is marrying Carl, but she is really in love with Harris, a man on whom she’s had a crush her whole life. But Harris is not in love with her. Lila’s brother, Buddy, is in love with Ann, on whom he’s had a long-term crush. But Ann is not in love with him. She falls for Harris. After discovering this, Buddy cries, gets drunk, and gets hit by a car going to find Ann and Harris. He dies. We learn that Ann never ended up with Harris. They both married others But we never learn why or what happened in the ensuing years, since it’s clear they still loved each other. A lot of regret.
During the whole telling of this story, we also see Ann’s grown daughters, one married with kids and settled, and the other a “commitophobe,” as she calls herself, and a drifter. Will she settle down, in the wake of her mother’s impending death? Yes, we find out. She doesn’t want to make her mother’s mistake, when she eventually learns from the older Lila who Harris was. The end.
Guys, if your female significant others want to see this, run . . . fast. Yuck. And way too long (two hours).
* “Paris Je T’aime”: 20 directors make short, mostly bizarre films about falling in love in different neighborhoods of Paris–with many well-known American, French, and other actors. None of the stories really gets a chance to develop and most are stupid and a waste of time. Especially loved how since this is the Capital of ever-growing Muslim-dominated France, we are also shown a beautiful girl in a hijab and how kind she and her grandfather are to a nice non-Muslim French boy who falls in love with her while defending her honor. I bet it’s that way with all of the rioters. Right?
The best of the shorts is the one in which tourist Steve Buscemi is reading a tour guide in the Tuileries subway stop, while he is taunted by a girl and her boyfriend across the track. He doesn’t speak a word, but his expressions are priceless. Also good was the vampire short, starring Elijah Wood, who also utters no words.
Way too long. Could have been far more interesting. Instead, it was mostly dull and boring.
Tags: actor, Ann, Archibald Witwicky, Beaches, Boston, Buddy, Captain, car going, Debbie Schlussel, Detroit, director, drifter, Elijah Wood, Evening, Fort Street, General Motors, GM, Harris, Jon Voight, Josh Duhamel, L.A., Lila, machine high-tech abilities, Mamie Gummer, McNamara Federal Building, Megan Fox, Meryl Streep, Michael Bay, Paris, Pentagon, Prison Break, Qatar, Rachael Taylor, Sam Witwicky, secret high-tech gaggle, Secretary, Secretary of Defense, Semite Vanessa Redgrave, Steve Buscemi, terminal illness, Toronto, tour guide, Trans-Am, Transformers, U.S. military, United States, Way