Transformers 2 fails to deliver an engaging plot

June 28, 2009

OK so other than the fact Megan Fox is in it, I had very little desire to watch the sequel to the Michael Bay Transformers movie. Despite a few opportunities, I never got around to seeing the first one  and I honestly didn’t think it would be so great. Yet, when my friend asked me to go, I figured a $5 matinee was a small price to pay to get out of the heat for a few hours and relax.

After getting filled in on the events of the first film while grabbing some popcorn and drinks, I took in Transformers 2 expecting some light hearted escapist entertainment and some good CGI. This movie has it in spades, but sadly, story-wise it pales in comparison to the 1986 animated Transformers film. That movie was sooooooooo much better. (see trailer above)

While this film franchise manages to take the premise of the intergalactic war between the Autobots and Decepticons and manages to weave its own story around it, it spends too much time throwing dizzying effects at the viewer, so much so that halfway through it I realized I cared very little which faction actually won, I just wanted the conflict to be over.

This is primarily because the personalities of the characters barely translate into Michael Bay’s creation like they do in the animated flick or even the cartoon show in which the movies are based on. The noble selflessness and bigger than life qualities of Optimus Prime are there, contrasted with Megatron’s evil, but the latter has been devolved into a big scary monster, instead of the flawed leader from the original Transformers. Optimus and Megatron’s rivalry always had an engaging component to it, even though Prime was always ahead of Megatron, but in a movie where the former spends half of it in pieces and the latter at the bottom of the ocean, the creators fail to make maximum use of this rivalry.

What’s more, with the exception of Prime, and possibly Bumblebee, the Transformers themselves are reduced to nothing more than animated prop pieces spewing inane dialogue, obscenities, or silly soundbites which are intended to be comedic in nature.

It seems silly to be talking about characterization in a movie where half the cast is made up of talking cars, but the original’s Transformers had a lot of personality and heart, something that is sadly lacking in this film which instead chooses to focus almost exclusively on a clichéd love story between two humans, non-stop action, and enough hackneyed characterization to render it almost unwatchable. Is this a visually engaging movie? Absolutely, but without a solid story foundation behind it, Transformers Rise of the Fallen seems as lifeless and barren as Cybertron, and that’s a pity.


Retro-Review:Tales of the Vampires

June 26, 2009

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While it has nothing to do with previous editions of the “Tales of the Vampires” series published about the Buffy vampires by Dark Horse, this new one-shot is the kind of book that Dark Horse does very well. There are two covers as usual, but the unmistakable renderings by Brazilian superstar artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon is a gorgeous tribute to the visuals which adorned previous installments and is of course, my favorite of the two.

The story within the covers is not bad at all, centering around a guy named Jason whose life changes very little when he is turned into a vampire. We’ve seen this kind of story before but writer Becky Cloonan, who is best known for her manga work, takes the premise of a human flirting around dangerously with vampires and turns it into a moody, nuanced and introspective look at youth’s ongoing fascination with the undead.

If anyone has seen the Buffy episode where Buffy’s boyfriend Riley Finn allows vampires to feed on him because he was disturbed by Buffy’s lack of interest in him at the time, can see where some of the inspiration for this story comes from as Jason undergoes similar disturbing moments. Even though Buffy doesn’t appear in this comic (she isn’t supposed to as these are the tales of the vampires) the comic is supposed to adhere to regular Buffy continuity as this story takes place after Harmony’s reality show changes the public’s perceptions about vampires and slayers.

Dave Stewart does a fantastic job of coloring as usual, but Vasilis Lolos’ quirky artistic style, reminiscent of the Luna Brothers and other influences comes alive in this comic. Lolos of course ,worked with Ba, Moon and Cloonan before on the self published series “5.” I think when artists and writers reunite on a project they know each other so well and are so comfortable working together in the collaborative process that the end results are usually quite good.

I guess what I am saying is you should buy this comic. Next week we return to our regularly scheduled Buffy saga with issue #26.


The Return of Manhunter

June 23, 2009

manhunter…for me was the best part of last week’s new “Batman Streets of Gotham.” While there have been some major upheavals to the bat family since Batman’s death in “Final Crisis” #6, most notably the creation of the network and Dick Grayson taken up the mantle of Gotham’s protector, (again) I was more interested in Kate Spencer’s return and her relocation to Gotham as the city’s new D.A.

I have always been a huge fan of the character and while it is sad to see that Marc Andreyko’s brilliant creation has been reduced to back up status, at least nine pages is preferable to having her disappear from current DCU continuity entirely.

Kate’s move to Gotham is a logical transition for the character and while Los Angeles may have been a cool backdrop for her superheroic exploits, Gotham’s current state of chaos is ripe for storytelling possibilities. This back up feature in BSOG was rendered beautifully by the capable Georges Jeanty whose pencils regularly adorn the pages of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer ongoing. Here,  Jeanty’s visuals are equally impressive setting the dark tone and mood needed to convey the desperation and utter hopelessness of the setting.

Also, while it is regrettable that we have been robbed of following the character in her own comic and therefore lost the cool cast of supporting characters like Dylan the techie, it is amazing to see how much Andreyko is able to pack into a short back up feature. Then again, I should not be surprised as he has always been a strong writer.

For example, The dialouge is impecabbly good, witness Kate’s exchange with Barbara Gordon or read over the poignant flashback scene where Kate says goodbye to her son upon taking the new job. Paul Dini gives us an enjoyable read in the main story which picks up from the events in the recent Battle for the Cowl mini-series, the only drawback for this comic was the hefty $3.99 price tag, but if Manhunter is going to be the regular back up feature on this title, it might be worth it, so sign me up and let Gotham’s criminals beware, Manhunter is back in business baby!


Summer chess league

June 21, 2009

Summer time, school’s out, that means local chess battles are raging in full. Time to come up with a defense to Mike’s “Monk” attacking maneuvers.

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Captain America rises from the ashes

June 17, 2009

captain_america-thumb-400x546 First let me apologize for the infrequent updates over the past few weeks. For those who read this blog, there haven’t been any thanks to finals and work and a hectic schedule, but now things have calmed a bit.

Almost a month ago (May 20 to be exact) my trip to the comic store produced a copy of Captain America #50. Can you believe thanks to my schedule I barely read it this morning? An article from the Associated Press in today’s paper revealed that Marvel is planning to resurrect Captain America beginning July 1st in the five part series “Captain America Reborn.”

I cannot tell you how disappointing it was to hear that Steve Rogers (that’s cap’s alter ego for those who don’t know) was being brought back.

Has it really been two years since we saw him get shot on those court steps during the Civil War? Usually when a major iconic character dies, he doesn’t stay dead for long. It’s an old comic book cliche that nobody truly dies in comics, this is also a familiar trope in other mediums influenced in comic book storytelling style like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

For my money, there are few comic books as good as Captain America has been this past few years, in spite or perhaps because of the death of the main character in ussue #25. Bucky took over Cap’s identity but writer Ed Brubaker has been weaving a magnificent story since issue #1.  It is no exaggeration to say that the character work, the plotting and the artwork on this title has been sensational, which is why I am a bit disheartened by Marvel’s decision to make the predicatable move and to bring back Rogers. Bucky trying to fill Cap’s allegorically massive boots made for some compelling drama, as did his interactions with the other characters in the comic and his learning to deal with the growing pains associated with taking over. Also, his survivor’s guilt resonated with anyone who’s ever lost a mentor and friend.

I give props to Luke Ross, Frank D’Armata and everyone else associated with producing Captain America, it not only feeds on the tradition of the old comics, but it is also a compelling book each month.

The Marvel brass say that giving the general mood of the country, the timing seemed right to resurrect the Captain because there’s a desire for hopefulness. Maybe, I will be curious to see how Rogers makes his return to life, but I doubt it’ll match the intensity of his shocking death, or the drama following his death’s aftermath.


The Poly Post – Panel brings up Prop. 8 discussion

June 3, 2009

The Poly Post – Panel brings up Prop. 8 discussion

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