Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

This just in! Manhattan does not get blown up in this movie. I repeat. Manhattan does NOT get blown up in this movie!

If you’re in to extra-terrestrial beings that can turn in to pretty much any electronic device, things exploding, and lots and lots and LOTS of action then this is the movie for you. Let’s take a look at what IMDB has to say:

“The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.”

Well…yes and no. Let’s just say that someone already knows the secret. And there is no race. The Decepticons totally live up to their name in this film.

I was all set to really enjoy this movie. I liked, and will definitely watch, it again; most likely during a Transformers movie marathon. But! It was also very disappointing. I walked out (okay drove out) on Battle: LA a few weeks ago because it was nothing but action, action, action. There really wasn’t much of a plot except “aliens attack and then humans must fight to save earth”. Kinda basic. Apparently basic did well for them. I know a lot of people who loved that movie. If so, you’ll probably love this too. The 2nd half of Transformers was non-stop action. I’m not quite sure what I expected though. A battle of some sort had to take place or the movie would have stopped short and left a lot of people very confused.

Since I know absolutely nothing about how Special Effects (I finally looked it up) are done I was impressed by how they made it look like the actors were really in the same room and talking to the Transformers. And, as was mentioned at the beginning of this diatribe, Manhattan does not get blown up. Chicago does. I love how they make the buildings explode or fall over or slowly get torn apart by the ginormous plumbing snake. I also love how they added little things like the steps of the Lincoln Memorial falling away as Megatron walks up them. Well done!

They brought back some of my favorite actors from the other Transformers films including Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson. And I just checked IMDB again and was reminded that Hugo Weaving is the voice for Megatron. He’s so cool. Hugo…not Megatron. Also, I thought I recognized the voice of Sentinel Prime but couldn’t quite get it to click. I’m totally blaming lack of sleep for the fact that I missed that it was Leonard Nimoy. Yes, Shia is back as the main character, Sam, and he did a good job but I have to agree with his movie mom about one thing. His ability to get such hot girlfriends. What on earth? It’s not like he’s a rock star or anything. Yeah, he’s cute but, seriously people, if he weren’t famous would he really have a chance at girls like that in the real world? Yes, I do get how shallow that just sounded but we have to deal in reality at some point. Don’t we? Oh wait! This entire movie is unrealistic. In that case…it could totally happen.

And speaking of Sam’s mom, fortunately we only have to see his parents in a couple of scenes. They’re not so bad for the most part. Their matching outfits and p.j.’s are kinda funny. They lost me though when Inappropriate Mom showed up again. She said something so not cool in the first movie and a very young P.T. asked me what that word meant. I did what any good American aunt would do. I told her to ask her mother. Inappropriate Mom says the same sort of thing in this movie as she did in the first. Why? Are 12-year-olds writing the script? I really do think so.

The girlfriend (Carly) is played by Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Please count to ten with me so that I won’t run full steam in to commenting on that name. Stereotypical country clubs. That’s all I’m saying. Rosie does a decent job of playing the sugar mama/office arm candy/co-hero but I don’t see any awards in her future. Not even the MTV “Best Kiss” award. Sorry, Rosie. And!!! I have to get this rant over as soon as possible so I can get on to other things. Costume and make-up department…what on earth were you thinking? Yes, I know that the pretty girl needs to stay pretty but COME ON!!! Not only does Carly slide down the side of a building and land in a mess of glass, things blow up around her. She falls and is caught at the last minute by Sam; the act of which should probably have dislocated both their shoulders (just one shoulder…each person). She rubs up against dirty vehicles and scurries through a bus as it’s getting cut into by a Decepticon. She runs through piles of rubble and leans against very not clean things and walks out of it all fresh as a daisy. Any guess what she’s wearing through all this? A white cardi and (I’m assuming) tank top, skinny jeans and…wait for it…high heels. Look closely though. Every once in a while the heels turn in to flats. Nice job, editing department. I thought for sure that cardi was done for but I was wrong. And THERE.IS.NOT.A.SCRATCH.ON.HER!!! Actually, when it came to personal injury of the overall cast the characters were either dead or clean as a whistle. I think Sam had a little boo boo on his forehead at the end but other than that…

At this point in the story Spike would be rolling his eyes and telling me that “IT’S NOT REAL!” I’m guessing he doesn’t like it when I nit pick this type of movie. I can’t help it. It’s genetic.

There were some funny scenes but not enough for my taste and we didn’t get to see Bumble Bee enough. I will admit that there was one scene involving Bee that almost caused me to tear up a bit. What? Bee is my absolute favorite (No, I’m not 8. Why do you ask?) followed closely by Optimus. And I wish there were girl Transformers like they had in the second movie. Oh well.

The breakdown, this time, is going to take up a lot more room than usual. This is the part where we discuss the 12-year-old boys who wrote the movie. Let’s start with language. If I remember correctly, the first phrase out of Sam’s mouth contains the F-word. If you watch the movie and discover it’s NOT the first phrase then I apologize. But it’s up front somewhere. You will hear that word several times throughout the movie. The most being piled up in one scene in which the building Sam’s in is falling over. Although not surprising in that situation, is it really necessary? He screams in another scene. Why can’t he do that here? And no, that is not the only profane word in the film. At least they kept the testicle references to a minimum this time. I guess they wore those out (the references) in the 2nd movie.

Violence. Yes, we expected it but since a big part of this film’s viewers will be young children I believe it should have been toned down a bit. There is lots and lots of shooting and a chase scene on a highway in which cars get all kinds of thrown around. While I do live in reality and get that this was just a movie I couldn’t help thinking of all the people who, if Autobots and Dececpticons truly were fighting on a highway, would have been killed in that scene alone. I guess it’s okay since we don’t actually see any of the people in the cars. That last sentence will be typed with sarcasm font as soon as that’s invented. In another scene we see people getting killed by the Decepticons. Please, allow me to take away the sugar coating from that last statement. People get blown to pieces. I’m not saying that as a way to exaggerate what happened. You actually get to see the pieces fly. One minute they’re there, the next minute they’re pretty much everywhere.

Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Okay, so leaving rock out of this… There was no sex or nudity at all. I think the most skin we see is when Carly is walking up stairs in a shirt and her unders and then later on we see her back as she’s putting on her dress. And she’s got unders on there too. Sorry boys. The closest thing to sexual innuendo comes from Inappropriate Mom. There is a little drinking. No drugs that I recall. I don’t even remember if smoking occurred. I don’t think it did.

Should this movie scare or, at the very least, bother your child? I believe it should. Will it? Probably not. The two young children sitting a couple rows in front of me didn’t seem to be affected at all. This is another please-go-see-it-before-you-take-your-kids kind of film.

Oh! And I’d like to quickly give a shout out to the people who put together the trailer. Take a tip or five from Super 8. That trailer gave away virtually nothing. I will give even remotely intelligent people the benefit of the doubt that you will be able to figure out what really happened in a pivotal scene but if you saw the trailer, no intelligence is required. Just a somewhat functional memory.

Judging by the things I’ve said it sounds like I didn’t like this movie but I really did. Would I have enjoyed it as much if I’d gone with a young child? I hope not. If Hollywood is going to turn afternoon cartoons in to movies they really need to consider who is going to go see them.

P.S. There is no need to stay through the credits but don’t make a mad dash for the door either. There is one little extra at the beginning.

P.P.S. Just a little bit of trivia straight from IMDB. The guy who does the voice for Optimus Prime in the movie also does his voice for the cartoon. But wait! There’s more! He’s also the voice of Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh and he does the vocals for the alien predator in Predator. How cool is that!

P.P.P.S. I think writing this so late at night (early in the morning) makes it more critical (no comments from the peanut gallery) and way more lengthier (haha) than it normally would be. I think I’ll start saving these for when I’ve had more sleep. Or not. Whatever.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern

“In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light!”

If you don’t recognize these words then you’ve neither picked up a Green Lantern comic book…ever…nor have you been around my dad lately. He’s been quoting these lines the last few weeks any time the Green Lantern is mentioned. Why? Why not?

IMDB sums up Green Lantern as follows:

“A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.”

Straight and to the point. I like it.

I, once again, decided that being fully awake while at work isn’t altogether necessary and went to the midnight showing. Was it worth it? Oh yeah. This was yet another movie that I highly anticipated. There have been several instances in which I was so psyched about seeing a movie and then was left feeling disappointed. X-Men: First Class would be a good example. I had no such problem with Green Lantern.

First of all, Hal Jordan/Green Lantern is played by Ryan Reynolds. Enough said. One of my male co-workers mentioned a few weeks ago that he has a man-crush on Ryan. That’s how hot he is. Ryan, that is. But enough of that. He really was a good choice for the character of Hal. They needed someone with a good body to fit in that skin-tight suit. Check. They needed someone handsome because, for some reason, you just can’t have a plain-looking hero. Check. They needed someone who comes across as cocky. Check. Sorry, Ryan, but it’s true. The list could go on but I do need to get at least a little sleep tonight. Ryan Reynolds. Good choice. Period. Exclamation point!

Second, there's actually a lesson to be learned from this film. It's okay to be afraid as long as you don't let that fear control your life. Mark Twain wrote, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave." Every man (and woman) fears something but not all of us push past that fear to find the person we each have the possiblity of being. Or something like that.

Blake Lively did a pretty good job as Hal’s love interest, Carol Ferris. Once again we have a woman who can stand up for herself. Yea! I am curious, though, about whether or not she has something written in to her contact stating that if she shows a facial wrinkle at any time during the movie she has to forfeit some of her pay. She barely moves her mouth in any of her movie/TV appearances and her forehead is never creased. Heaven forbid! Is Botox involved or is she just unable to show emotion? You be the judge.

The bad guy (Hector Hammond) is portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard and while attractive in real life they made him so not attractive in this movie. I’d like to know where it was written that bad guys must be ugly. Yes, I realize that in some movies this is not the case but for the most part they are either ugly to begin with or they become ugly as their villainy grows. Hector, as we first see him, would be classified in today’s world as nerdy looking. The more evil he becomes the uglier he gets. Why? Could he not be a bad guy if he were good looking? Could Hal Jordan not be as effective if he were plain or unattractive? Hmmm. Peter did a good job with the part he was given. He didn’t really do a lot of talking. It was mostly yelling and throwing things around with his mind. Sorry, Peter, but an Oscar is not in your future for this film.

There was violence in this movie but not really any blood or gore. The main villain (not Peter) was kind of hokey. Yes, he would scare me if we met in person but, seeing him from the safety of my theater seat, I was more amused than scared. There was cussing but I think I recall only two or three words and I don’t think the big one was used at all. And they still managed to write an entire movie. Gasp! Alcohol was imbibed in a scene or two but there were no drugs. I noticed, while sitting through the credits, that a blurb was included stating that no one was paid for endorsing tobacco products in this movie. I found this amusing for some reason. There is absolutely no nudity or sex. If you were hoping to see Ryan in all his glory…sorry. You’ll just have to make do with The Proposal.

I will most definitely see this again and will buy it when it comes out on DVD. I see no reason why children can’t watch it other than I’m hoping the main villain would scare them. As mentioned ad nauseam throughout my blog, I don’t want children to not be scared of creepy monster-type villains in movies. I’m worried for our world if they aren’t. If your child watches movies like Transformers or Thor or It (Just kidding. Please tell me you haven’t let you child watch It.) then this movie should be fine for them. I think P.T. will love this. I can’t wait to hear what she thinks.

P.S. Stay through the first part of the credits. After what happens…happens…you can go home. There’s nothing else but credits and super hero music.

P.P.S. I sat on the top row during the movie but then moved down front during the credits and it seemed more 3D-y down there. Does anyone know whether or not where you sit in the theater matters or am I imagining things?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Calzone...or Stromboli...or Whatever

My family calls this calzone. Most normal people call it stromboli. I call it Fred. Okay, not really. It hates to be called that. Whatever it's name, this is another of my favorite comfort foods. And it's also another I-don't-mind-reheating-this-later-on recipes. I am so NOT all about leftovers.

And so...Calzone. Starring:

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. Italian sausage (whichever strength you prefer)
Italian seasoning
5 cheese blend (Italian) Just an FYI...the actual recipe calls for equal parts parmesan, mozzarella and provolone. I like these but solid provolone (to be grated) is a pain in the tuckus to find. I'll stick with the bagged cheeses until I find a place close by that sells what I need.
1 egg (minus the yolk)
2 loaves of frozen Rhodes bread dough (or your own bread recipe if you'd like)
1 jar of your choice pasta sauce (I forgot to include my choice in the picture below. It'll show up later)

I was informed by someone near and dear that just looking at raw meat can make some people nauseated so it's in disguise. Cute sunglasses are an accessory no girl should be without.

Before you get started on your cooking you'll need to thaw the dough. It's going to rise some. Or it should. After it thaws, roll it out long and wide enough that you'll be able to fit half the meat mixture in each one.

First! Brown the ground beef and Italian sausage. There's no picture of this due to the afore-mentioned gagging possibility. You can toss in whatever spices/seasonings you like. I prefer Italian seasoning and occasionaly I'll throw in some garlic salt. Yum! Be sure to drain the grease off. It's healthier and won't leave your bread soggy.

This is another of those recipes for which I did once have exact measures for the ingredients but have since done away with those and use whatever amounts suit my mood at the time. The cheese is definitely one of "those" ingredients. Just slap on however much you want. Put a layer of cheese on your rolled out bread then add some more seasoning. Next add half of the meat mixture topped with another layer of cheese. I forgot to take a picture of the cheesiness. Use your imagination.

Here is where your egg white comes in to play. Pull over one side of the bread and using your fingers or a food paint brush thingy (technical term) rub the egg on to the bread and pull the other side until it overlaps. The egg'll help it stick. It matters not whether you tuck in the ends and then work on the sides or leave the ends til last. As long as the filling stays in, you're good to go. Repeat on other loaf.

Turn both loaves right side up on a cookie sheet and rub them down with more of the egg white. It helps make the bread a nice, golden brown.

Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes. I go with the time prescribed on the bread package. While the baking thing is happening go ahead and heat up your pasta sauce using the directions on the jar. When I make this for me and Spike we only use about half a jar of sauce so you may want to consider before dumping the entire thing in to the pot.

Remove calzone from oven and go, "Ooooo! Aaaahhhh!" It smells loverly! And looks tasty too!

Is it just me or does anyone else see a face on the upper loaf? Let's add a hat so everyone can enjoy my strange imaginings.
If you prefer your calzone to be faceless make sure you cover your loaf completely with the egg white. I missed a few spots.

Finally, cut in to whatever lengths you want and cover with sauce. As mentioned before, this makes great leftovers. Just pop in the nukerowave for a bit and you're set.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Super 8

My cousin (we’ll call her Leann) and I just went to the screening of Super 8. It was hi-larious…but a tad violent. Let me go ahead and put this out there. Moms, if you’re thinking of taking your child to see this movie please go see it without them first.

Now, having said that, I loved this movie. The blood did kind of gross me out but it only lasted for a few seconds and didn’t ruin the rest of the film for me. The movie trailers did a nice job for once of not giving away the entire movie. And I promise I won’t either.

It is described on IMDB as follows:

“In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth - something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.”

Sorry. I’m going to make fun of a description again. I’m kind of curious about how many non-catastrophic train wrecks there have been. Even if they’re minor, something gets damaged. And the friends didn’t “soon suspect”. I think the person who wrote that got up to use the bathroom right before the train wreck. And the part about the local deputy? Puh-leaze! We see him do a little investigating but it’s the kids who take matters in to their own hands to try to find out what’s going on. I would recommend that I write the synopses for movies but I can’t seem to be bothered to sum up anything. I tend to babble.

The kids in Super 8 should all be in other films together. They could be the new Brat Pack. Okay…maybe not. But they do work well together. Elle Fanning played the only girl in the group and she was so good. She definitely needs to be in more movies. And each of the guys, in their own way, made the movie. But I did like the main character best. I didn’t see who cast Super 8 but whoever it was, they need a raise. Ya hear that, Hollywood?

Some parts of the movie are confusing at first but you find out the answers later on. There are times, though, that I wished they’d explained things much, much sooner. There is so much more that I want to talk about but since this movie hasn’t been released yet and the trailer didn’t give away the important stuff I don’t want to spoil anything. I think the writers need raises too. Leann and I were cracking up through most of it. When bad things are happening in a neighborhood and the kids are trying to wake a stoner up so that he can run away, one of the kids is heard crying, “Drugs are so bad!!!” So, it doesn’t sound as funny when it’s typed out but I’m pretty sure you’ll laugh at it in the theater.

Now for the important stuff (SPOILER ALERT) (sorta). There was most definitely violence. It didn’t last long when it did happen but it is very memorable. And there is blood splatter in one scene…big time. In another scene we got to see the thing chowing down on someone’s leg. It was detached though. Not that that makes things any better. There were also a couple of jump-out-at-you scares. I didn’t much appreciate them at the time but I did have a few giggles at my own expense soon after. There was absolutely no sex and/or nudity. There was definitely alcohol and drugs. The girl’s dad is seen drinking and the stoner was smoking a joint. And, of course, there was a LOT of cussing. And it was so unnecessary! As mentioned before I can completely understand during scary situations. If someone doesn’t curse while going through some of what was happening then they are far better people than I am. Most of the language was from the boys while they were filming their zombie movie. The word of choice in this film was $#!+. The big words were used too. We couldn’t expect them to leave those out, could we?

I will definitely see the movie again. I really, really liked it. At this point, though, I wouldn’t recommend it for P.T. or anyone her age (13) and younger. I did notice before the movie started that there were a lot of very young children there and no one screamed or cried during or looked upset after so maybe I’m being hyper-sensitive about it. I really don’t think so though. The lady next to me climbed up in to her seat during one of the scenes. So funny. So please, go see this and make a fact-based decision before allowing your young kids to go.

P.S. Don’t get up when the credits start. You get to see the zombie movie the kids were working on. After that ends you don’t need to stick around. The rest is just credits.

P.P.S. Armat and P.T. saw this today. Now that I've talked to a mom AND a kid about it I'm sticking to my review. Except in this instance, P.T. (my niece, in case you didn't already know) did fine and Armat (my sister) was the one covering her eyes (her own...not P.T.'s). In fact, P.T. spent a good portion of the time watching Armat jump so she probably thought it was funnier than everyone else did. They both liked it, though. Wahoo!

Friday, June 3, 2011

X-Men: First Class

I went to the 12:01 a.m. showing of this movie and it is now 3:09 a.m. and I have to work tomorrow so this review will be short. While this was a good movie, I wouldn't say it's the best in the series. It did answer a few questions though. And raised several others.

I liked pretty much all of the actors. No "excepts". I figured most of them would be relatively unheard of based on the previews but quite a few well-known people showed up here and there. Kevin Bacon plays the villain in this film. I don't like it when Kevin plays the bad guy. Not that he doesn't do a good job. I just don't want to see him evil.

Okay, I know I haven't written much but I am exhausted. I'll give you the basics real quick and then wrap it up for now. Was there violence? Yes. A lot of it. None of it was terribly bloody but I did NOT care for how the bad guy dies (it shouldn't be surprising that he dies if you pay any attention throughout the movie) nor for his appearance as he's being removed from the submarine. I also didn't care for how the bad guy made Magneto angry at the beginning. These scenes might be integral to the story but I don't think they're okay for young children. I don't even want P.T. to see how the bad guy dies but I don't get to make that decision. Moving on...was there sex and/or nudity? Nope. There is a scene with several women walking around in their unders but that's the worst of it. Was there alcohol or drugs? Yes to alcohol. No to drugs. Cussing? Yes. But that's not really surprising, is it?

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes this series. I would also recommend that parents either watch this before they take their children or if you have a friend who has seen the film and knows your kids, get their opinion. I will watch this movie again. And probably again and again. That's just how I roll.

P.S. You don't need to stay through the credits unless you just like reading all the names. There is no teaser on this one. The other theater-goers were not too pleased about that.

P.S.S. I think the next X-film should be about Storm. I'm just sayin'.