Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Transformers return better, meaner and packing more punch

Two years and they are back! Was it worth the wait? Yes, if you are a die-hard Transformers fan. Two-thumbs up if you are into digital effects. Those who caught the first Transformers movie by Michael Bay and expect a continuation of the adventures of the robots in disguise with Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) won't be let down with 'Transformers:Revenge of the Fallen', but they might end up a little muddled. There are familiar faces like Sam's lovely girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) and his parents Ron and Judy (Kevin Dunn and Julie White).

You will also be reunited with Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel) who remains a gun-toting US military commander and Agent Simmons (John Turturro) who reappears late in the movie as old adversary-turned-ally. The difference now is that the Autobots operate quite openly alongside humans, which is made clear minutes into the movie with a big whiz-bang battle in Shanghai.

A new secret US military operative called NEST, led by Major Lennox and his team last seen battling alien robots in downtown USA in the first Transformers movie, descend literally on Shanghai after a toxic chemical leak which oddly enough, reveals a hidden Decepticon.

This is the cue for the Autobots to appear in all their glory - from Optimus Prime making a spectacular arrival out of the sky from the belly of plane, as a new team including girl-fighters Arcee who transform from bikes and silver Chevy concept sportscar Sideswipe, take shape on the ground. They take on the bad guys Demolisher and Sideways with pyrotechnics and crushing metal galore. Given that the Transformers have a cult following from kids to adults who grew up with the Autobots and Decepticons as cartoons and action figure toys in the 70s, those who can be categorised as non-followers might get a little lost among the different robots and their disguises.

If you're a 'novice' it's best to bring along an 'expert' which in my case is an 11-year-old who must now receive his due credit as personal advisor on who's who among the Transformers. It was also fortunate that my young advisor had used some time during the school holidays to catch up on some 'essential' reading which provided useful background into The Fallen , a robot in need of power and energy.

The Fallen whom this movie revolves around, is the chief bad guy, not Megatron whom we all met in the last round and saw finally being dropped into the depths of an ocean. Through some eavesdropping the Decepticons manage to raise Megatron from his watery tomb as must be expected for a sequel and a majestic robot who rivals Optimus Prime.

It is at a meeting between Megatron and his master, The Fallen that we learn how the movie gets its name, and how everything falls into place. Unfortunately, all this comes mid-way into the movie after running through quite a mundane catch-up on the lives of the Witwickys.

The arrival of Sam at college is complete with nerds including room-mate Leo (Ramon Rodriguez ) who gets roped in as a new side-kick mainly for comic relief, and hot girls like Alice (Isabel Lucas) who is really tough and not-too-nice on the inside! It is here too that the audience will be bombarded with sexual references which were really unnecessary as they weren't even funny to most adults and awkward for the kids.

This earned 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' a PG rating which covers intense violence and sexual references which can appear when you least expect it - such as from a tiny robot . Hopefully, the kids and kid-in-you will come away only remembering the awesome special effects which see the vehicles transforming into Autobots and Decepticons while on the move.

The super-charged battles between the Transformers that take place from the forests of America to the open seas and the plains of the Sahara are also spectacular. It was also rewarding to catch glimpses of military hardware including an American destroyer roped in for the closing sequence of the movie, sailing off into the sunset as Optimus Prime towers on the deck next to Sam. Although much of the movie revolved around Sam, Mikaela and the main Transformers such as Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Megatron and Starscream, it was the second billing stars who shined.

The sudden appearance of Agent Simmons gave a good boost to the movie. John Turturro was flawless in delivering his character of a failed secret agent who remains sorely in need of redemption and being taken seriously, who gets to help save the day. New face Ramon Rodriguez also shows he can pull off some good laughs in his role as Leo who unwittingly gets dragged into the battle to save mankind.

Credit also goes to Kevin Dunn and Julie White who reprise their roles as Ron and Judy Witwicky with just the right amount of comedy coupled with a very realistic portrayal of that odd blend of parental overbearing-ness and love. While there were a total of 14 robots last time, in 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' there are 46 robots of varying shapes and sizes according to the creative team ILM (Industrial Light and Magic).

The most memorable of the new bots in my books is Jetfire, the SR-71 Blackbird jet which was reactivated with a shard of the Allspark. The ancient Autobot that switched from being a Decepticon as it couldn't stand all the negative vibes, is equally endearing and heroic, while serving to pull the loose ends together. The younger crowds might enjoy the antics of Wheelie, a trouble-maker that proves worthwhile and Autobot Twins, Skids and Mudflap who are a pair of Chevrolet concept mini-cars.

Those who love Bumblebee will love the yellow Chevy Camaro even more in 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' with its loyalty and tender side which the ILM team pulled off wonderfully.

Along with the special effects team, director Michael Bay did great justice to screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman with an action-packed, robot-jammed movie that won't disappoint.

Facebook: The Movie?

Heard that a Facebook status message was going to be turned into a movie.

Now, a fictional documentary about Facebook itself is in the works. While it sounds like a snooze fest to us, apparently Columbia Pictures digs the idea and is working to bring the biopic about Mark Zuckerberg and his social networking site to the big screen. The script was written by “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin and is based on the soon-to-be-released book by Ben Mezrich, The Accidental Billionares. Most importantly, Columbia Pictures is in advanced talks with David Fincher, of “Fight Club” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” fame, to direct.
And initial casting searches have Michael Cera and Shia LeBeouf neck-in-neck to play the Harvard dropout. Since anything David Fincher, Michel Cera, and Shia Lebeouf touches generally turns to gold, if Columbia Pictures can get these folks on-board, maybe this flick will turn out to be more than “Revenge of the Nerds: Part 56.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shia LaBeouf: New Indiana Jones movie on the way

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" star Shia LaBeouf has another blockbuster sequel in his future.

In an interview with the BBC, LaBeouf confirms a fifth Indiana Jones movie is being planned.

"Steven (Spielberg) just said he cracked the story on it before I left, and I think they're gearing that up," LaBeouf says in the interview.

The actor starred as Mutt, Indy's son with Marion Ravenwood, in 2008's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." While "Skull" was called a disappointment by Indy fans, it grossed $783 million worldwide.

500 Days of Summer

There is something irresistible that lies deep within the piercing blue eyes of Zooey Deschanel and the playfully coy smile of Joesph Gordon-Levitt. Falling in love with either of these characteristics seems like a natural occurrence, an inevitable progression. But remember folks, this isn't a love story.
Or so the trailer for their new movie 500 Days of Summer woefully points out.First comes Tom. Fueled by his undying affection for melodic brit rock and the need to find a love comparable to such iconic and love-struck tunes, he meets Summer. A recent Michigan transplant, Summer harbors an affinity for high-waisted pants, Belle & Sebastian lyrics and for playing the "friend" card.
She appears to be the answer, his perfect lyrical comparison. As they adventure around downtown LA in ways you rarely see captured on film, it's absolutely endearing, beautiful and wait for it, heartbreaking.
Whether you're a Tom or a Summer, there is something universally relatable about their journey.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Twilight Hotties No Robsten Rendezvous in NYC...Yet

—Tight-lipped (and always reliable) K.Stew source when asked if Kristen Stewart made an impromptu visit to New York City over the weekend. Sorry, eager Robsten-lovers, but you didn't really think Ms. S could make it across the country without being detected at all, did you?
Unless she pulled some stealth moves on her own, in which case, you go girl. Unfortunately, both Rob and Kris have been all work and no (real) play lately. Either way, we hear the lovebirds are managing all right...for now

"OceanWorld" to hit U.S. shores via Disneynature (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES/LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - "OceanWorld 3D," an underwater film that promises to be the first feature-length nature documentary filmed and released in 3-D, has signed a distribution deal with Disneynature, a unit of Walt Disney Studios devoted to nature films.

Disneynature has acquired North American and Mexican distribution rights to "OceanWorld," in a deal that marks its first collaboration with 3D Entertainment, a company founded in 2001 to produce story-driven 3-D experiences for audiences of all ages.

The film, in which viewers are guided by a sea turtle from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to Mexico's Roca Partida Island, is the result of seven years of production, 25 international expeditions and 200 hours of 3-D footage shot in the wild.

"OceanWorld," a presentation by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the legendary ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was directed and produced, respectively, by veteran filmmakers Jean-Jacques and Francois Mantello. They have made such water-themed movies as "Sharks 3D," "Ocean Wonderland 3D" and "Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean."

The 85-minute film premiered at the Cannes festival last month. It will be released theatrically in France and Russia in August; its North American unveiling will come later.

Disneynature's first film, "Earth," opened in April in the U.S. and has grossed more than $106 million worldwide.

In Theaters This Weekend

Opening in Wide Release

Imagine That Eddie Murphy is a troubled financial exec who finds the solution to all his problems in his daughter's imaginary world.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 Denzel Washington is a civil servant who must outwit John Travolta, a criminal mastermind who hijacks a subway train.

Also In Theaters
The Hangover Four friends go to Vegas for a blowout bachelor party, only to wake up the next morning with a baby, a tiger, no groom, and no clue.

Up In Pixar's latest, a twist of fate (and a persistent Junior Wilderness Explorer) sends a 78-year-old man on an adventure beyond his wildest dreams.

Land of the Lost Will Ferrell stars as a crackpot scientist who is transported through time and space in this comedic remake of the cheesy 1970s TV show.

Night at the Museum:Battle of the Smithsonian Ben Stiller returns as the bewildered night watchman who witnesses exhibits coming alive.

Star Trek Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest of the Enterprise crew boldly go where no one has gone before in J.J. Abrams re-imagining of the final frontier.

Terminator Salvation Christian Bale stars as John Connor, leader of the human resistance against the machines, in the return of the hit sci-fi action franchise.

Drag Me to Hell An ambitious loan officer shames a mysterious old woman and becomes the unwitting recipient of a powerful supernatural curse.

Angels & Demons Tom Hanks returns as symbologist Robert Langdom, this time on the trail of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati.

‘Transformers’ sequel could earn director Bay more than $75 million

Michael Bay, the director of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, may wind up with a pay day exceeding $75 million for the film, according to the Los Angeles Times. His deal gives him a bigger piece of the film's profits from all revenue sources after Paramount recoups its costs. In exchange, Bay agreed to reduce his upfront fee and his percentage of ticket-sale revenue. This type of deal is becoming more common these days, and resembles the pact Bay signed for the first (and wildly successful) Transformers movie, which netted him $75 million.

The sequel, which comes out June 24, boasts big buzz, and, according to the LA Times, multiple execs are forecasting a record-setting five-day domestic opening that tops $160 million.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Megan Fox Shows Some Leg at Transformers Premiere

She's got legs - and she knows how to use them.

Megan Fox showed some skin at the world premiere of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in Tokyo Monday.

The actress, 22, recently said being sexy comes naturally.
"I'm just really confident sexually, and I think that sort of oozes out of my pores," she told June's Esquire. "It's just there. It's something I don't have to turn on."

Although she says she has "no idea how to handle" being a sex symbol, she told Esquire she doesn't "want to be like a Scarlett Johansson."

"I don't want to have to go on talk shows and pull out every single SAT word I've ever learned to prove, like, 'Take me seriously, I am intelligent, I can speak,'" she says, noting that she has "nothing against" Johansson. "I don't want to have to do that. I resent having to prove that I'm not a retard – but I do. And part of it is my own fault."

This year, Fox dropped to No. 2 on Maxim's "2009 Hot 100" list after being replaced by House star Olivia Wilde.'

Of Fox, Maxim editors said, "Seriously, do women get more painfully hot than this? Megan Fox has the face of an angel, a body so perfect that God may have carved it out of soap and sex appeal that could melt a unicorn's horn."

Box office report

Pixar continues to fly high with the studio’s latest animated feature.

“Up,” the 10th film from Disney/Pixar, stayed at No. 1 at the box office for the second week in a row. The tale of a senior citizen who uses thousands of balloons to convert his home into an airship floated up with another $44.2 million over the weekend, according to the Associated Press.

“Up” made $137.3 million in just 10 days, so the film is racing toward the $200 million mark achieved by such previous Pixar hits as “WALL-E,” “Ratatouille,” “Cars” and “Toy Story 2.”
The AP noted that revenues for most big movies drop 50 percent or more in the second weekend, but the audience for “Up” was down only 35 percent from its opening. That puts it in line with “Finding Nemo,” the top-grossing Disney-Pixar animated tale, Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney, told the AP.

“Up” likely will finish in the top three among Pixar flicks, Viane said. Currently, the top three are

“Finding Nemo” with $339.7 million in domestic receipts, “The Incredibles” with $261.4 million and “Monsters, Inc.” with $255.8 million.

The high-flying Pixar adventure was the first movie of the frantic summer season to keep the No. 1 spot for two consecutive weekends.

The Vegas bachelor-bash comedy “The Hangover” staggered in at a close second with a $43.3 million in its opening weekend.

Distributor Warner Bros. expected “The Hangover” to come in at No. 3 behind “Up” and the film version of “Land of the Lost.” But “The Hangover” attracted a broad audience split almost evenly between men and women and those younger and older than 25, Dan Fellman, Warner head of distribution, told the AP.

“The Hangover” was directed by Todd Phillips, whose 2003 comedy “Old School” featured a breakout role for Ferrell.
Ferrell’s action-comedy take on “Land of the Lost” got lost in third place with a $19.5 million debut.

Focus Features’ road-trip romp “Away We Go,” starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph and directed by Sam Mendes, really took off in limited release, drawing in $143,260 in four theaters for a healthy average of $35,815 a cinema.

Overall box-office revenues dropped for the second weekend in a row, according to the AP. The top 12 movies took in $164 million, down 6 percent from the same weekend last year, when “Kung Fu Panda” opened on top with $60.2 million, according to box-office figures compiled by

For the year, Hollywood has taken in $4.3 billion, up 12.5 percent from 2008 revenues. But studios have been unable to maintain the promising pace of the first four months of 2009.
“Definitely, things have slowed,” Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for, told the AP. “But there are some potential saviors on the horizon.”

Three huge sequels - “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” - open within three weeks of one another, with the “Transformers” leading the way on June 24.

Here are the top 10 movies, according to the AP:

1. “Up,” $44.2 million.
2. “The Hangover,” $43.3 million.
3. “Land of the Lost,” $19.5 million.
4. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” $14.7 million.
5. “Star Trek,” $8.4 million.
6. “Terminator Salvation,” $8.2 million.
7. “Drag Me to Hell,” $7.3 million.
8. “Angels & Demons,” $6.5 million.
9. “My Life in Ruins,” $3.2 million.
10. “Dance Flick,” $2 million.