Sunday, July 8, 2007

Robots In Disguise

On Friday, I wanted to watch Die Hard 4.0 with my schoolmate of mine. I was sure that I could get tickets for the show. I tried to call him many times to let him know that we can get tickets and ask him to come to town. Unfortunately, he was asleep and by the time I am at the counter, it was too late. The 8.30 tickets are selling out and rather than waiting for him, I decided to watch Transformers..something that he had already watched.

Of course I know that Michael Bay's films tend to be more of a crowd-pleaser, putting in tons of set-pieces into a thin-wafer plot. This too happens in his previous movie The Island. The two guys, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci - the guys who wrote Alias and M:I3 - has sacrificed the film's narrative (I mean lack of depth) for those impressive set pieces. The cliche is there...big war between to factions entwined with a kids story of Sam and Mikaela...and what?

Given that Bay did tons of action films, The Rock remains his best of the lot. He could have matched "Iron Jim" Cameron in terms of creating blockbusters, but he still lacks the capability of Iron Jim did. I remembered that Iron Jim was handling three fronts of a movie - writing, producing and directing his movies. He has total control over all aspects as Kubrick, Lucas and Coppola would do in their prime period. The auteur period. But since this movie has Steven Spielberg as the exec. producer, you got no problems getting the financial need to produce this heavy-effects laden movie. $150 million . But Iron Jim is different. He is the first guy to have his movies breaking the budget at that time. When True Lies hit out, it was the first film to break the $100 million budget -final was $120. When Titanic came out, it hit the $200 million budget and made 5 times back the amount.

T2 remains the best of Cameron's movies because of one reason, a sensible balance of narrative and set-pieces. Narrative should come first. If there's lack of narrative progression, how can you call that a good B+ or an A grade movie? Not many people love art-house movies. Before T2 came out, no one has ever heard or seen the infamous insane T-1000 suicide jump to the storm drain to chase a kid.

The idea of having Transformers on the big screen was the idea of Tom DeSanto - the walking "Marvel Encyclopedia". Okay, and weeks before the show is released, Mike Bay asked everyone from his website of one question: "Should I release it on the 3rd or the 4th?" Of course producers would agree of having it out on the 3rd because it generates more money on the 4th. People want to relax on the 4th, right? Uber producer Mario Kassar (Total Recall, Rambo, Basic Instinct) was also right. He was sure that T2 would be out on July 3 1991. He had the date locked in. So, there was a frantic scramble of completing T2 from May 1990 until its release date. He hit that right.

Of course fans are quite happy that the legendary Peter Cullen reprises his role as Optimus Prime in the movie. He's the only guy who can do that signature voice of Prime. The worst of the cast would be John Turturro "Mr. Barton Fink". I find it like an attempt to re-enact a modern General Curtis LeMay or another Buck Turgidson - he indeed behaves like Turgidson. Of course there's humor peppered along the way and Bernie Mac's cameo remains the most humorous of all the comic-relief scenes in the movie.


Coming the next two weeks is Pottermania. Hitting back to the town after a 18 month hiatus, Order of The Phoenix is hitting out next Thursday. The interesting thing though is that the thickest book in the series becomes the shortest length feature of the series - just 138 minutes! But the initial reviews find that the narrative still lacks of depth but Ron and Neville - the supporting characters are beefed up tremendously in the film.

After that, 21st..midnight GMT - final book is out. A lot of people are asking what will happen to Harry at the end?...who are the two other main characters to be killed off? What are the last words of the book..blah..blah. But I find that the timing is a little bit off. Maybe it is best to put the book release date to say September and let the film finish playing in the cinemas. The tension is there.

A shame though that IMAX KL never plans to release films that has IMAX 3D feature in it. A lame move by the management. DIGI, especially Morten Lundal will need to take the initiative rather than losing this to Singapore. People will rant why Singapore has films with IMAX 3D feature but not in Malaysia. Digi IMAX has screwed Superman Returns and this feature. But it is beyond IMAX America control of determining what is to be shown or not. If you don't have this, what's the point of setting up IMAX in KL? In 2008, The Dark Knight - sequel to Batman Begins has 4 segments shot in the 15-perf IMAX camera. If this is never shown, too bad really.

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