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Do Bad Things With Decepticons: Blockbuster Holiday Entertainment

transformers-Dark-of-the-moonBy Chauncey Telese

Hello and sorry for not being around last week. Suffice it to say it was a long stressful week, it was finals week at school and while my three of my classes went off without a hitch, I lost ten pounds in stress weight and nearly had a heart attack in trying to get my Directing 2 final complete.

I’ll spare you the details, but I learned that just because one of my friends has aspirations to be an editor doesn’t mean I should work with him.


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That drama also resulted in me giving up my ComicCon tickets which means no report this year, to say I’m angry is an understatement, like saying Newt Gingrich has been married a few times. Oh well you live and learn.

It’s summer time and now the livin’s easy, and as I half-predicted with “Green Lantern” (I thought it’d have a huge weekend but it kind of bombed), it got run over by “Cars 2” and “Bad Teacher.” I don’t have a review for “Bad Teacher,”  but can vouch for it, as I saw “Cars 2” and, while it was good, it will be Pixar’s black sheep and my friends Andrew and Sina saw “Bad Teacher” and reported it was funny but Cameron Diaz looked terrible prompting a debate as to when Cameron Diaz last looked good in a movie (the consensus was “The Mask” though “Charlie’s Angels” was also accepted).  In conjunction with this, Bill Simmons published on Grantland a piece about the perception of movie stars and how, when you crunch the numbers, Ryan Reynolds and others aren’t really stars. It’s a great piece: check it out.

Today I have some stuff for you as we all prepare for 4th of July, a day filled with Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and drinking beer that may or may not be American and cocktails which aren’t American at all and every five houses in a neighborhood having China/Tijuana grade fireworks that set off car alarms and make your safe and sane fireworks look embarrassing. By the way when was the last time America invented a cocktail that didn’t end in the suffix tini? Seriously, c’mon America get with the program! Since I’ve been gone a whole week let’s cover all the cool stuff I’ve missed since last we spoke.

On Father’s Day, my friends showed me that Rebecca Black video “Friday” and all I have to say is “wow.” I thought the whole “worst song ever” was hyperbole but yeesh, that is awful. I don’t blame her though, I blame her parents, the song writer, the 30 year old rapper in her video (she’s like 15) and whoever directed her video. Luckily to soothe the damage, we also watched Katie Perry’s “T.G.I.F.” video which also has Rebecca Black in it but she doesn’t sing and it is dominated by Katie Perry, so no complaints there. Rolling Stone used saber metrics and figured out that Lady Gaga is indeed the queen of pop, judging by the numbers, but really that’s not a shocker. Looks like she may win Pop Culture MVP after all.

“Game of Thrones” had an awesome end to its first season with Arya living life posing as a boy and living at the Wall with her brother John and the rest of the Night’s Watch who decided to slay whatever dark force lay across the Wall. King Joffrey is still alive and if Sansa or Taryeon don’t kill him, I’ll be disappointed. Dannerys had to kill Drogo (though he got a Jedi funeral) and killed the witch doctor that made him a vegetable in one stroke and fulfilled her destiny by being the Dragon Queen. Ned’s son is now the self-proclaimed king of the North, and Jaime is still their prisoner. Basically Season 2 stands to be incredibly awesome and next spring can’t come any sooner. Also they added one of the hot chicks from “The Tudors” to the cast, so life just gets better in the land of Westeros.

Geithner may be leaving as Secretary of the Treasury as soon as the debt ceiling issue is settled; Michelle Bachman managed to mistake John Wayne, American movie star and greatest cowboy ever, with John Wayne Gacy, birthday clown and child murder enthusiast, which is an honest mistake really. Marc Halperin got suspended for being a tad too unprofessional on his views of Obama and his apology was comedy gold, Sarah Palin attended the premiere of her documentary “The Undefeated,” the inaccurately titled movie about her life though she maintains she is totally not running for president even though she totally is. Minnesota has shut down its state government and to get ahead of this, Joe Mauer has decided to stop producing in solidarity.

The “United States of Tara” concluded its series run with a very satisfying finale and, while I know it didn’t have much life left in it, I’m glad they got to end the right way. Totally underrated show and each season got darker and darker which made it less of a comedy but a better show. Toni Collette really did a fantastic job and deserves some Emmy love. My favorite alter was Buck hands down and while the whole cast has a bright future I’ll miss the Gregsons like Obama misses 2008.

The Dodgers are broke and McCourt won’t give it up, even though his checks have bounced like Chris Christie on a treadmill, which makes him the biggest d-bag in LA and that’s hard to do because we are filled to the brim with d-bags. The NBA is on lockout and unlike the NFL, they may actually miss a season which is extra shameful considering that they just had their best overall season in over a decade. California now will allow kids to buy violent video games which shouldn’t be a big deal but apparently it is. And the biggest story is that New York managed to do two things at the same time last Friday. Not only did they become the biggest state to demonstrate social progress (your move California) but probably caused a mass exodus in tabloid journalism from LA to New York and cause more wedding coverage then William and Kate. Good for you New York! Also, Justin Timberlake has bought a share of MySpace which only sold for 30 million (it was worth WAY more then that before Zuckerburg destroyed them) and plans to remake them as an entertainment medium. Go JT!

I’d say that about covers it, so let’s get to today’s pre-4th of July content. What I have are TV and Cinemas biggest blockbusters for the week (and as far as TV goes biggest of the summer). Today we will be covering “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and the first two episodes of “True Blood” season 4. I guess we’ll start with that first, seeing as its TV.

trueblood“True Blood”: She’s Not There and I Smell Dinner

Since I’m not going to ComiCon I decided to make up for the lack of content by emulating Alan Sepinwall, Tim Goodman, and the Onion TV Club and review TV episodes, plus I’m a dual writing major so I should probably learn how to review TV. While Thursday gave us “Futurama,” “Ugly Americans,” “Wilfred” and “Louie,” the biggest premiere was HBO’s “True Blood,” a show that I love a lot even though at its core it’s a schlocky supernatural soap opera. Every Tuesday beginning on July 11, I will give you a recap and review of every episode and starting Julu 17,  I will also do “Breaking Bad” and “Rescue Me,” so it won’t just be about vampires and who they are killing or hooking up with that week).

Okay, my fellow V addicts, last Sunday was the premier of HBO’s smash hit “True Blood.” Its been almost a year since we all journeyed into the world of Bon Temps, Louisiana and we’ve all been wondering where the hell Sookie Stackhouse has ended up this time. At the end of Season 3, we learned that she was part fairy, Bill was sent to use her for her addictive (to Vampires anyway) fairy blood, though he ended up falling for her anyway, and now she hates him (for now).

Her brother and town deputy/moron/horndog Jason is caring for the kin of his girlfriend/meth dealer/panther girlfriend. Tara left to form a new life. Andy is addicted to V, Bill has decided that if he can’t be with Sookie, he’ll protect her from afar, and Lafayette is now with his Wiccan boyfriend, Jesus.

Okay, well now jump ahead a whole year later (though in fairy world, it felt like 15 minutes, a clever joke and nice twist on the season so far) as Sookie sees the beauty of fairy world. There is glowing fruit, her granddad (an excellent Gary Cole) is still young and alive and life is awesome. That is, until she discovers she was brought there to help the fairies feast on humans (even though the fairies ironically hate vampires for feasting on them). Sookie isn’t onboard and now the fairies decide to kill her (and if I’m not mistaken, they turn into some sort of Goblin creature, though I couldn’t figure that out). She returns to Bon Temps (sadly so does her granddad who dies after returning to Earth) and realizes she’s been gone a whole year.

While she was gone Jason became Andy’s deputy, Tara became an MMA fighter (natural career move) and is dating one of her fellow fighters (natural romantic move) and living in New Orleans. Andy is still addicted to V, Bill and Eric are trying to repair the PR damage caused by Russell last season and try to convince the human public that vampires are just tax-paying Americans. Sam has joined a weekly group with his fellow shape-shifters and his brother Tommy is still alive (that kind of threw me for a loop but whatever). Jessica and Hoyt are having a difficult time adjusting to being a live-in couple with Hoyt wanting to enjoy a real breakfast with his vampire girlfriend (human food is disgusting to vampires but he counters that it was difficult to have her feed on him all the time) and she is fighting her primal urges to feed and do other stuff with whoever she wants as advised by Pam. Also, Eric has bought her house, much to her chagrin. Whew!

That is where the first episode leads us and while it is like most premieres, getting us back into the world with an inkling as to where the season will go, I was a little underwhelmed. I did like that Bill (who looks oddly younger) got promoted to King of Louisiana (not sure how yet) and that the witches are apparently a major threat to vampires (not sure how) but I can sort of see where we’re going. I was bummed that no werewolves (mainly Alcide) were present but then again it’s a 13-week season so they’ve got time. Jason meanwhile gets knocked out by the kin he is watching over and we don’t know what happened.

Moving on to the second and more interesting episode which I got to see a week earlier (thank you HBO GO!), some of the stuff last season is making sense. We find out that Bill was promoted to King by allowing Nan Flannigan to kill Queen Sophie Ann (so sad to see Evan Rachel Wood go) for messing with the American Vampire League and also through a flashback to Bill’s 1982 past featuring British punk clubs and Thatcher bashing reveal how he met Nan who was part of a then-grassroots organization designed to help vampires. We also learn that Louis Pastuer was a vampire and helped create True Blood (cool history lesson right?). Sookie is unhappy that Eric is her landlord and she tries to convince Bill to get Eric to sell her the house back (but to no avail). Eric does care about Sookie (in his own way) and tries to tell her that if she doesn’t have him to protect her and her fairy blood, she’s screwed. Meanwhile, Jason is tied to the bedpost by Crystal’s cousin/husband and not sure why. Sam has taken a liking to one of the girls in his shape-shifter group and we learn that if a shifter kills one of their own, they can become anything or anyone (this was rather sad as to how she figured it out). Tommy discovers Sam is meeting with other shifters, much to Sam’s annoyance.

Jessica is getting frustrated at Hoyt because he gets into a fight with some Church of the Sun protesters that are protesting outside of Fangtasia (to quote Pam “they are practicing their constitutional right to be idiots”) and he won’t let her heal him. She decides to go away for a while and feed on the human she ogled in the premiere only to get found out by Sookie. Jessica reminds her that she broke Bill’s heart and she isn’t her mom so she should mind her own business.

The weakest storyline so far is Arlene being afraid of her own baby. I know she’s supposed to be a dimwit and all, but unless her baby (which she found out belonged to season one bad guy Rene) has evil in him, she’s just being nuts and I’m surprised Terry still cares about her, seriously this better go somewhere. Also, Tara’s relationship with the girl (forgot her name) is kind of sweet and I’m glad she’s found some happiness. Tara will probably torpedo it though because that’s what she does, torpedo her own happiness. The biggest development is the witches, which according to Bill (who has an inside person in the Coven reporting to him), can revive the dead meaning that they can control vampires. He sends Eric to check out the Coven leading him to get his memory erased by the head witch. This is pretty interesting because now Eric is stripped of his swagger and his wit. He appeared vulnerable when Sookie found him on the road and this should be interesting heading into the upcoming episodes.

I think I covered everything for the first two weeks and I’m dying to see the next episode. So far I like this season (then again I’ve liked them all). For those that watch the show (and those who can’t see episode two until Sunday sorry for either boring you or spoiling things for you). Okay, enough of the vampires let’s get to the Transformers.

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” the Quintessential  4th of July Movie

Before we talk about the best action movie of the whole summer I would like the people at Edwards Valencia to pull a “Daily Show” and meet me at camera three. Look, if you know that this movie is going to be packed at midnight, plan accordingly. Me, my friend Andrew, and his girlfriend Sina noticed that the theater didn’t designate lines and allowed for all the people to make like cattle. Big mistake, as most of theses people were dumbass high school kids who were rude. I almost got into a fight with some dude because the cattle line caused me to squish his girl or whatever and I couldn’t exactly go anywhere. He tried pushing me, then got into it with some other guy. Not a great start to what was eventually an awesome night so please, Edwards, plan better! Alright enough ranting, on to the review shall we?

I went back and read my 2009 review of the second “Transformers” movie and remembered that I called it the Pizookie of summer movies. That is still true, it looks all sweet and awesome the first time then when you do it again you realize its empty calories and not that good. The second movie sucked the second time around (like the Pizookie) and caused Michael Bay, Shia LeBouef, and even the racist robots to apologize for a half-assed effort. To rectify this situation Michael Bay has decided to outdo himself for what is his and Shia’s final roll out with the Autobots. I know a lot of people at school and in the critical community like to pick on Michael Bay, but really if you want to see a movie where stuff blows up, who else do you call? He may never care about plot, theme, character, or logic but the man can do action sequences better then a lot of people. At least he has decided to stay his lane and not try to be something he’s not.

In his third installment, he’s decided to show us how well he can stage an action sequence because man, do we get action. But before we cover the awesome action let’s just get the plot out of the way. You’ll thank me later.

Okay, we are told that like in “X-Men: First Class,” the ’60s didn’t quite happen like we thought. When Cybertron was at its lowest Sentinel Prime (as voiced by the original Spock himself, Leonard Nemoy) left with a technology that could beat the Decepticons but he crash-landed on Earth, which prompted the space race as a cover to explore the wreckage. The humans never bothered to inform Optimus and the rest of the Autobots about this, which makes it that much more awkward when Optimus and Josh Duhamel (if you can tell me his character’s name I will give you a $100) go after some Decepticons (really just Shockwave and some vulture robot) at Chernobyl. The head of defense Mearing (played by Frances McDormand) tries to keep Optimums out of the loop much to his anger.

Meanwhile Sam (Shia LaBouef) is frustrated that after all the work he did the last two movies that his government-paid Ivy League education can’t get him a job. He is living with his girlfriend and sugar momma Carla (played by hot Australian Victoria’s Secret Model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) because apparently Megan Fox’s Mikayla dumped him though I would’ve pulled a Happy Gilmore and made up different reasons as to why she’s gone depending on who I talked to. Side note, you do remember that Megan Fox got fired right? For those that don’t, not only did she talk a ton of crap about the second movie (defensible), but she likened Michael Bay to Hitler which might not seem like a big deal, but the movie is produced in part by Spielberg so, yeah she wasn’t coming back. Oh well, Shia hooked up with her before she had a baby with Brian Austin Green proving that he didn’t go into witness protection after and that life sometimes isn’t fair. Oh well, its not like she was talented anyway and this new girl is a major upgrade.

Back to the “plot.” Sam gets a job at a major firm (from Carla’s sleazy boss played by Dr. McDreamy himself Patrick Dempsey) headed by Bruce Brazos (a crazier then usual John Malkovich) and finds out that the Decepticons are back via Ken Jeong’s insane in the membrane Jerry Wang, who is part of a secret human group that works for the Decepticons. Again, while this is going on, Megatron is living in Africa with Starscream, half his head is still missing and he has robotic spiders crawling around 24/7. Apparently getting Optimus to find Sentinel Prime was his plan all along, because Sentinel can get the rest of the scattered Decepticons to teleport to Earth, attracting Cybertron to Earth and making humans slave labor.

That’s really the story. Sam obviously gets roped back into things, as does Simmons (the great John Turturro) and his assistant, the funny yet bad ass Dutch (Alan Tudyk) as well as Tyrese (again name me his character without Googling, I dare you). Things hit the fan in a battle that culminates in Chicago.

That’s what I really wanted to talk about because the last hour is one long crazy awesome battle in Chicago. Humans get obliterated, certain characters actually die, and Michael Bay shows us that he is the undisputed kings of blowing stuff up! He also manages to make the little robot from the second movie useful and awesome and really show us that as peaceful as the Autobots are, they can kick a ton of ass when they have too (especially Optimus and Bumblebee). Optimus Prime is still full of wisdom and there are moments in the movie where the audience was actually worried that certain characters may not make it out alive. That to me was amazing because even though I’m on my way to being a jaded film critic, this movie really did have me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I was glad that all the unnecessary crap from the second movie was gone (i.e. Sam’s parents for the most part, robot genitals, robot bodily functions, the racist robots, and us caring about Sam’s love life that much) and it was the type of movie we’ve been waiting for. There were seriously moments where the crowd was worried but in a good way and right there I realized that this may be the most compelling movie of the whole summer (your move “Captain America” and “Cowboys and Aliens”).

The effects are dazzling, the humor still there when you need it, and the action scenes are fantastic. This is the type of movie that summer was made for as humans and robots mess stuff up. Stick around for the obligatory Linkin Park song, not as good as the others but not bad either. I’m serious, this is the best time I’ve had all summer (okay, tied with “X-Men: First Class”) then again considering this movie’s predecessor it wasn’t hard to top, but still a badass action movie none the less.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned as we shift from the summer blockbusters, mainly because until “Harry Potter” there aren’t any and I give you some lesser known movies that deserve to be seen. I hope you all have a safe and spectacular 4th of July holiday and remember alcohol and fireworks may seem like a good idea, but sometimes people lose limbs or they start fires. Take care and HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!