MOVIE REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON

By Malice Intended for Planet Ill

During the Kennedy administration, the president authorizes the first ever attempt at a lunar landing in order to make contact with a downed alien spacecraft. Flash forward to the present day, and the Cybertronian wars have been raging on earth for quite some time. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) must now join the workforce and attempt to live a normal life as Bumblebee performs his duties as an Autobot warrior. Meanwhile, Megatron (Hugo Weaving) plots a comeback of epic proportions that involves valuable equipment that must be recovered from the wreckage of the ship that crash landed on earth’s moon. Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) mobilizes the Autobots into action to intercept the prize, as it will surely spell doom for planet Earth.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the third and final entry in Michael Bay’s much maligned adaptation of the enduringly popular toy line. It is fittingly being marketed as a final chapter of sorts and it does indeed feature some of the largest scale battles yet seen in the franchise. Much to the chagrin of critics and fans, it also contains many of Bay’s usual indulgences. In some ways it is considerably more reigned in than the poorly received Revenge of the Fallen. In other ways it is even less restrained than that supposed debacle. Bay publicly acknowledged the poor quality of that film, but doesn’t seem to have taken the lessons learned to heart. The result is a movie that nearly defies critique.

Michael Bay has always had a signature style, which in other hands might be considered the mark of a true visionary. He’s always used it the marriage of image and sound to bludgeon audiences into submission. Transformers: Dark of the Moon offers him his biggest toy box and largest playground to date. The action is bigger, louder, longer and more violent. Bay shows a bit more restraint this time out, though not much. He doesn’t mush the lens of the camera into the action as to render everything a mess of mechanical parts. The transformers move with a bit more grace. Alas, the action is so over the top and goes on for such a long time that it has a numbing effect. The entire last hour of the film is an extended alien invasion that revels in the destruction of Chicago. It seems to go on indefinitely.

The special FX, which have always been the highlight of the Transformers films, are as good as one could hope for. The armies of Optimus Prime and Megatron truly seem to inhabit the same space as the human characters. They are crisp and detailed, though hindered quite a bit by the overly busy character designs. The fact that the FX are so lovingly and painstakingly rendered gives an indication as to where all of the films resources were focused. It surely wasn’t the screenplay, as the film is tonally schizophrenic. The humor is as broad as the day is long, and only occasionally works. Though Skids and Mudflap aren’t present for this go around, there is still an ample amount of stereotyping and caricature. Some Autobots speak in cockney accents and other stereotypical dialects.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is way too problematic to be considered a good film. It’s overlong, tonally inconsistent, messily plotted, and hasn’t a truly engaging character in its cast. Yet, I suspect it will still be popular with a sizable portion of the audience that has come to see only one thing: giant transforming robots battling it out in grand fashion. Michael Bay delivers the goods in spades, but weighs the film down with his wretched indulgences. There is a truly good and transcendent film lurking within the train wreck that is Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Every so often, it peaks it head out and captures the viewer in its spell. For a hardcore Transformers nut like me, that will suffice. For the rest of the movie going public, it will serve as a tasty frosting on an appetizing cake. 2.75 out of 5

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: PRINCE OF PERSIA TRILOGY HD

The Prince of Persia Trilogy (known as Prince of Persia Trilogy 3D on the title screen) is a remastered collection of The Sands of Time trilogy released exclusively on PlayStation 3 as part of the Classics HD range. The collection includes The Sands of Time, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones, all previously released on PlayStation 2, remastered in HD with 3D and PlayStation Network Trophy support on one Blu-ray Disc. It was released on November 19, 2010 on Blu-ray in PAL regions. The release marks the first Classics HD title to not be published by Sony Computer Entertainment.

In North America the three games were originally released separately as downloadable only titles on the PlayStation Store. The first, The Sands of Time, was released on November 16, 2010 while the other two games followed in December 2010. The Blu-ray version was to be released in North America on March 22, 2011 but the collection was later delayed until April 19, 2011.

MOVIE REVIEW: TRON LEGACY


By Malice Intended of Planet Ill

After ascending to the top of ENCOM International and making it one of the most powerful corporations on the planet, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has disappeared without a trace. His friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) has a front row seat as the company morphs into a juggernaut that sells substandard software to an eager public. Meanwhile, Kevin’s son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is forced to grow up without a father. He grows up to be a brazen corporate terrorist, hounding ENCOM at every turn. When Alan gets a page from Flynn’s dusty old arcade, Sam goes to investigate. Upon stumbling on a secret room, Sam embarks on a digital odyssey not unlike the one his father experienced 28 years ago.

Tron: Legacy is the long awaited sequel to the groundbreaking cult classic Tron. The original did middling business upon its release but has since been cited as a watermark of Special FX. Like its predecessor, it is has state of the art technology at its disposal. It uses that technology to render amazing sights and sounds in hopes of enthralling a jaded movie-going public. Also like its predecessor, it takes an approach to storytelling that may leave laymen and non fans feeling a bit alienated. It is the beneficiary of the originals successes and failures.

To get a complete idea of how much computer animation and CGI have evolved over the past twenty years, one only has to do a side by side comparison of the action sequences and establishing shots in Tron and Tron: Legacy. The costumes and landscapes in the original were rendered in the most primitive terms. The game grid of Tron is a literal explosion of color, like a digital big bang talking place in a endless void. The marriage of sound design and visual FX is rarely as complete as it is the light cycle races of Tron Legacy. The electronica score by daft punk attaches itself to the onscreen images like a symbiote, infusing them with adrenaline.

Story and plot unfortunately take a back seat to technical wizardry. The original used the relationship between humans and computers as a metaphor for the one between God and mortals. It was understandable if not always lively. Tron: Legacy engages in all manner of new age spirituality and contemplates the very nature of creation itself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t follow through on any of the ideas it introduces. Even if it had, the film would have to contend with it the clunky expository dialogue that makes the themes feel beyond the audiences grasp.

Acting and performance are also overshadowed sound and light show. None of the performances are truly bad, but aside from Kevin Flynn, none of the characters have anything resembling layers. Garrett Hedlund is more of a character profile than an actual character. We don’t get to know much about him aside from the fact that he is Flynn’s son and possesses many of the same character traits. It’s as though he is made to be the focus of the film simply because Jeff Bridges is too old to be a relatable protagonist for young viewers with no sentimental attachment to the original. Bridges himself has returned as Kevin Flynn, playing both older and younger versions of himself. He exhibits a comfort level with the character and his world that will make viewers feel at ease with the otherwise impenetrable material.

Tron: Legacy functions amazingly as an example of technical prowess at the service of wondrous imagination. As a piece of storytelling that seeks to connect with its audience, it stumbles and never manages to find its footing. It is redeemed to a large extent by the tools it uses to establish its alternate reality. The sights and sound of the game grid will draw viewers in and delight them. Fans of the original will find a lot to like even though the characters and story will leave many of them wanting. Though a decidedly mixed bag, Tron: Legacy brims with visual and sonic energy. 3.5 out of 5

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GAME REVIEW: GOD OF WAR 3 [VIDEO]


Developed exclusively for the PlayStation®3 (PS3) system, God of War®III is the final installment of the multi-million unit-selling trilogy. Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment’s Santa Monica Studios, God of War III will bring epic battles to life with stunning graphics and an elaborate plot that puts Kratos at the center of carnage and destruction as he seeks revenge against the Gods who have betrayed him.

Set in the realm of brutal Greek mythology, God of War III is a single-player game that allows players to take on the climatic role of the ex-Spartan warrior, Kratos, as he scales through the intimidating heights of Mt. Olympus and the dark depths of Hell to seek revenge on those who have betrayed him. Armed with double-chained blades, and an array of new weapons and magic for this iteration of the trilogy, Kratos must take on mythology’s darkest creatures while solving intricate puzzles throughout his merciless quest to destroy Olympus.