Sunday, November 23, 2014


I remember seeing promotional images for this movie, so I figured it would be a good idea to check it out. Matt Damon in a starring role is usually a pretty good sign.
Matt Damon is a factory worker named Max Da Costa in a futuristic crapsack society. He gets exposed to radiation while at work, which winds up shortening his lifespan to a few days. His only chance to live is to head off to the rich peoples place, known as Elysium, where they have regeneration pods.
He goes to an old friend who works for a mob boss and he gets a cybernetic exoskeleton implanted on him for a heist job.
Unfortunately, the person he's stealing the data from is protected by some insane freaking mercenaries, who shoot at them and wound Max.
Max goes to his old friend Frey, who asks him to take her daughter to Elysium with him to cure her Leukemia, but he refuses because he doesn't want to put Frey in danger.
Specifically, the danger that he's in from those Mercenaries.
But they get captured by them anyways.
Max saves them and delivers the data to a dude named Spider, who finds out the program can open up access to Elysium's regeneration pods to anyone on earth.
To be honest, this movie moves way too fast to be easily summarized, and I'm finding it hard to talk about. It's not what I would call a great movie by any means, but I would definitely say that it's a movie worth watching. Given how bad some of the other movies I've reviewed this year (And some I'm yet to review) it was certainly a better and more meaningful watch than say, Sharktopus.
Or for that matter, either of the Transformers sequels. At least this movie had some interesting characters in it besides the giant robots.....
No, I'm not quite done with the review.... I just ran out of things to say for a while.
So anyways, the movie ends on a rather melancholy note, with the poorer citizens of earth being given access to much better living conditions, and better medical care.
The director has said that this movie is not about the future, but rather about now. The message about the state of the world can easily be missed if you've not been paying attention recently, or to future generations who may not have the best idea of the state of the world in 2013. On the other hand, this movie could go down in history like To Kill A Mockingbird. Time will tell.
Among those approached to play the role of Max were Watkin Tudor Jones, a south-african rapper who I've never heard of, who turned down the role despite being a fan of this team's earlier work on District 9.
The role was then offered to a rapper I have heard of, Eminem. He wanted the movie to be shot in Detroit, which I could see, especially considering how bad-off Michigan has been over the last several decades, but that wasn't an option for the studios producing the film.
The effects in this movie were created by studying older science-fiction, and I like how they put them together. The sets, costumes, and props all have a very Aliens-like feel to them. I like the way the movie looks, personally. It never really had any moments where I said "That looks fake" or "That was chroma-keyed"
Now, there were a few things that didn't sit well with me. The movie is a little too fast-paced for my taste, and it's a pretty gritty movie, coming off of some slicker science-fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek.
Fortunately it's not the hardest of science-fiction, which would do a lot towards ticking me off.
I might get tired of that kind of gritty sci-fi after a while, like I did of The Walking Dead. Who knows.
So my summary was a little lame, but unlike a game it's a lot harder to talk about a movie without spoiling it, because you can't talk about gameplay as well.
So in the end, the movie was swift, punchy, and interesting.
I give it a 9.7* rating.
This review might not be the best I've ever done, but I hope to do better. I've been sitting on this movie for several months now, so I might decide to go back and write up a new review after I've seen it again.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Episode I: Tides of Fate.

Well, here's something I never expected to do. Finish a role-playing game.
Looking back, I've certainly started plenty of RPGs. Too many to count. But the most prominent of them all, has to be Final Fantasy III.
I bought the game to kill time for a road-trip, and I kept playing it for months afterwards, sinking in upwards of twenty hours into it. And I didn't finish it.
I've done that with a lot of games, mostly older ones. The first game I actually finished was Ocarina of Time.
And even the RPG I've spent the most time with, Fire Emblem: Awakening, I still haven't finished.
And this is kind of a landmark for me. It's the first RPG I've actually finished.
And it sure seems like this is the year for exhausting games, because I was completely wiped out by this game.
Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Episode I: Tides of Fate is a turn-based, Japanese style role-playing-game, developed using RPG Maker VX by the members of Kisareth Studios, and released on August 31st, 2012. The sequel, Episode II: War of the Abyss, has been in development for about two years now, seeing numerous setbacks throughout 2013. The Kisareth team lost a ton of work to a hard-drive crash, and as such, they had to push the game back an entire year. I'll get into the troubled development history of War of the Abyss next week, hopefully.
War of the Abyss came out two days ago, which was why I decided to just get down and plow through Tides of Fate.
For the last week of my life, this game dominated my time. I started playing Tides of Fate about two months ago, but it fell to the wayside thanks to a few other projects I had to complete. Then, on Monday I looked at the end of the trailer for War of the Abyss and saw the game was coming out in four days, so I figured I'd better hustle and get Tides of Fate done.
Episode I starts out by introducing you to the world, story, and characters over a panning shot of the world, similar to what Final Fantasy VI did. The story they summarized might make a pretty good prequel later on in the series, but it does what it needs to do, and set up the location, setting, and characters.
The planet is called Cora, the main character is named Magus Drakhen Lee, he's got some weird destiny, and it's set in a combination of high and low fantasy.
The gameplay opens to Magus, arguing with his father, Exodes, and his mother, Shara. Magus wants to go with his father and help him wipe out the Veranian military, but they want him to stay home and guard the family manor. He refuses, and takes his younger sister, Sabra to Verana, where they meet up with their father, and have what could easily be called a "heated conversation"
Magus gets possessed by the god Hazeezus, and wipes out both his fathers army, and the Veranian army. He then faces off with Exodes, and banishes him to a far-away land.
Over the course of the next twenty years, Magus wages a one-man world war. Until he started getting cocky and lost battle after battle, and his powers were taken away. And that spelled the end of The Magus Wars.
Magus spends the next decade negotiating peace treaties between Kisareth, and the countries he was at war with.
The unfortunate thing about this is, that this is told to us, rather than shown.
I mentioned this in my playthrough, but I feel like I should mention it again. That whole concept would make for a great game on its own, certainly. It's probable that the RMVX engine wasn't capable of doing what they wanted with it, so they skipped it until they could get ahold of a better engine. Maybe they'll cover it in the upcoming Tides of Fate novel. Personally, I'd like to play a game about Magus waging a war with the world, losing some battles, and then wind up spending the next few decades working on public relations and diplomacy. First, It'd be funny, and second it would be freaking awesome! It could have a hundred or so hours of gameplay to it, given how many years passed in-between the prologue and the main game.
But from what I've heard out of the developers in podcasts, Kisareth's next project will be remaking Tides of Fate with higher-definition graphics, more detailed art, voice-acting and a potential home-console release.
The rest of the game opens with Magus having a conversation with his twin-sister, Maga'ra about some trouble on the connecting bridge between Kisareth and the neighboring country of Ilian.
Magus and his sister rule the country of Kisareth, his sister handles the day-to-day operations, while Magus deals with the hands-on approach to everything.
Magus agrees to take his wife, Xiria with him to check out the situation.
There, they meet up with the Wizard, Zexor. He's working for the King of Valdrace, and single-handedly killed a squad of Kisareth's best.
From there, they uncover a plot to unseal an evil that's not been hear from in millennia.
The characters proceed to travel around the world, gathering allies, gaining power, and exploring a very eclectic world of fire-demons, Elvish-Angels, regular people, an island full of books, and a country filled with sexy warrior lesbians.
Throughout, you collect a party of awesome and overpowered characters.
Here's a quick rundown of the playable characters.
There's Xiria Lee, Magus's second and current wife. She's known as "The Lady of Chaos" and from what the developers say, she's the most powerful character in the game. And I have to agree, because her most powerful attack is both an AOE, affecting all enemies, and inflicting thousands of damage.
Then there's Gelina Grey, another pretty powerful character, who I admittedly don't know a lot about. I went back and rewatched some of my gameplay footage, and I can't really figure out who she's supposed to be.
Apparently, she's got some history with Xiria and Magus, to the extent that they apparently share a three-person relationship. I'll admit that I had a hard time understanding the game at first, because of how bogged-down I was with work, but I went back through my footage and I couldn't really figure out what her history with Magus and Xiria is. So I'm just gonna chock that up to me not paying attention in the right places.
And also I don't really have the time to sift through thirty hours of footage to figure this out, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
The next one up is the best healer in the game, Isis. She and one of Magus's daughters, Anari, rule the aforementioned kingdom of women. Isis has probably the best range of healing, buffs, and powerful attacks of either of the healers in the game. She also has a passive skill that increases the amount of health and mana restored to herself and allies with healing items. She's also a lot faster than the other healer in the game.
Isis and Anari have a daughter named Xiara, whose origin the inhabitants of Cora have speculated as to the origin of.
Knowing what I know about the game now, I wouldn't be surprised if they just hopped over to our universe and borrowed some of our genetic engineering equipment.
There are a few more playable characters, Krysta, an Ivory Knight. She uses ally buffs, and her twin sister, Crysta, a Crimson Knight who relies on enemy debuffs.
Then there's Cadar, Magus's eldest son. He's essentially Diet Magus, with less impressive powers. He's a decent character, but not very powerful.
There's Dissan Lee, Magus and Xiria's daughter. Isis is the healer, and Dissan is the battlemage. I didn't wind up using her very much though.
Now we get to Cadar's mother, Sapphire. She's similar to Dissan and Gelina as far as gameplay goes, but she's a lot less powerful than Dissan.
Aubriel de' Crescent is a decent healer, but she's not as useful as Isis. She's one of those Elvish Angels I mentioned earlier, called "The Fae" She's got some decent holy spells, which are mainly useful in the areas that you absolutely have to use Aubriel in, but after you get Isis back, she's practically useless unless you need to resurrect Isis to save yourself some Phoenix Down.
Drea Nightshade is a pretty powerful vampiress, and I found her skill "Duchess' Wrath" and "Blood Drain" skills to be decently useful as backup damage. But I mostly kept her around to resurrect Isis when she ran out of health.
Well, that's all of the playable characters (Geez, there are a lot of women in this game), let's get back to talking about the plot.
Throughout the game, Magus and his group of awesome people uncover a conspiracy going back years to unseal the atrocity of the gods, Xe'on.
Xe'on hates life, and all living things. The gods had to band together and seal him away, similar to what, say, the Primes did to The Fallen One in Revenge of the Fallen. 
Do you want to know what I bet his reason for hating life is?
Remember Highlander?
Remember Doctor Who?
Remember Castlevania?
Well I'll bet you that either he outlived his wife, or his wife was killed by humans and he just lost it.
Magus and his allies manage to get ahold of the crystal orb that the Dark Gods used to seal away Xe'on in the past, known as "The Corinthai"
So Magus, the greatest Dark Lord to ever live, gathers together users of the light and darkness alike to march right into hell itself in a last-ditch attempt to prevent... Well essentially anti-matter from consuming the world of Cora.
And thus begins the titular War of the Abyss.
And along the way, Magus proves that "dark" does not necessarily mean "evil", because despite him being the titular Dark Lord of Chronicles of a Dark Lord. Yeah, I know your first thought when you hear "dark" is the Sith from Star Wars, or Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, or Satan even, but this is where I come back to Final Fantasy III.
A rather large point of the plot of Final Fantasy III was that users of light had once tried to take over the world, and the four chosen of darkness had to prevent them from completely destroying it. This game and that one made the point that power is not inherently evil, and that it all depends on who's using the power.
No matter how good a power may seem, it can always be used for evil.
So, since we're done talking about how insane the premise of this game got, I feel like I should talk about the origin of this game.
Thanks to some information I found on the Kisareth Studios website, I know the concept and universe spent about twenty years as a text-based role-playing game through the AOL role-playing community.
And that's about the time you realize that this series is going to last for a freaking long time. They've already announced the title of the third game, Rise of Nihility. When you have twenty years of lore and story to work from, I'll bet you that they haven't covered even a single year of the source material.
Now, let's get into some deductive reasoning.
Twenty years before now, this year, was November 16, 1994, and twenty years before the initial release of Tides of Fate was around the middle of 1991.
I don't know when this game started development, or when the CEO of Kisareth retired from the AOL roleplaying community, so I can't pinpoint the exact span of time that the initial concepts of the game and characters were created and developed over, but considering that AOL changed their name from CVC to QCS in the mid-to-late eighties, and then to AOL in '89, coupled with the fact that they didn't start offering chat rooms until about '91 (According to Wikipedia), I'd bet that the timespan was between '91 and '11, give or take a few months to a year depending on how long the concept was kicking around in the participants heads.
And with the sheer amount of thought that's been put into this game alone, I wouldn't be surprised if this series becomes one of the defining RPG franchises of the decade.
So, after that little tangent I'm going to start talking about the most important part of a game, the gameplay.
Please note that the version I was playing was the Enhanced Edition, distributed through Desura, with the Nightmare Vision DLC installed. Which means I will be reviewing the gameplay as it has been modified by Nightmare Vision.
The camera shows the world from a top-down perspective, similar to games such as The Legend of Zelda, and Final Fantasy. In the upper left-hand corner of the screen there's a meter that lets you know how likely you are to encounter a monster, with the meter increasing as you walk around, and decreasing when you stand still, which is a feature introduced by the Nightmare Vision DLC.
If you have a controller connected to your PC, you can configure the buttons to your liking. I use a PS3 controller for PC games, so I bound the menu button to the circle button, run to the square button, and enter to the X button. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to rebind the movement controls to the d-pad. Movement defaults to the joystick, and 2D games aren't meant to be controlled with a multi-directional analog joystick, most of the time. And this is one of those times. You can always use Joytokey and remap the movement to your controllers D-pad though.
The battle-system is a variation on the classic turn-based system, known as the ATB, or Active Time Battle system. As the RPG fans in the audience might remember, the ATB system, like many things that became standard in RPGs, was introduced in the Final Fantasy series. Specifically, Final Fantasy IV.
The way ATB works, in case anyone out there doesn't know, is that the participants in a combat sequence have an initiative bar, and when it fills up, they get to perform an action. They can use that action to attack, defend, attempt to escape, or use a skill.
As the battles become more difficult, you have to time each characters actions to compliment the actions of the rest of the party.
Let's take a little peak behind the scenes of the RMVX engine. I've looked into the RMVX engine in the past, so I know a little bit about it. Gleaned from Wikipedia, and not from hands-on experience, but I know something about the engine.
For instance, the default battle-system is a Dragon Quest-style first-person view, which has to be modified through scripting into the side-view ATB system with character sprites appearing on-screen that this game uses.
There are other parts of the engine that can be modified through the Ruby Game System Scripting System 2 language. I haven't worked with Ruby, but I've done some scripting and programming, and I can imagine how difficult some of these modifications might have been.
I like the ATB system, it adds some variety to the standard turn-based system. A problem I had with Final Fantasy III was that the combat didn't have a whole lot of variety. Your party goes, their party goes.
In this, one of your party-members goes, then if you're lucky another one of yours goes.
The initiative bar that each character has is filled up based on their agility score. That score can be temporarily buffed up by allies, or debuffed by enemies. You can also cast a debuff on the enemies to prevent them from going as often as your allies, and the enemies can buff their agility up to be strike faster.
All in all, the combat system gets a passing grade from me. It works, and it's not boring.
So, onto the soundtrack.
I might as well start with the song that everyone will probably hear the most, the battle-music.
This song is titled "Proud and Destructive" and it's performed by Sketchy Logic. It's a decent enough tune, with some pretty good blending of flute and electric-guitar, but after about thirty hours of gameplay it started getting on my nerves. It's not bad, but given the amount of random-battles an average player will probably get into, it would have been nice if there had been another piece of battle-music. No, I don't dislike it.
The regular boss theme is called "Taste my blade," and it plays during most boss-fights in Tides of Fate.
Like Proud and Destructive, it's one of the most-played songs in the game, but by the end of the game I wasn't as tired of it as I was of P&D. I don't hate this, either. I just got a little bit tired of it after a while. Although, credit where credit's due, it took me longer tire of these tunes than it took me to get sick of the music in Fire Emblem: Awakening.
The Dark Mistresses is a song that plays when you fight the titular Dark Mistresses of the elements, and it's gotta be one of my favorite songs in the game. I just wish it hadn't been so short.
There are all kinds of songs strewn throughout, as area-themes, stings, and whatnot. They're all pretty good. The overworld and town themes especially capture the majesty and peacefulness of the world and town, respectively.
But I figure it's best that I talk about the pieces that really stood out to me.
The Anathema of Life is a song plays during the next-to-last boss-fight. And it's possibly better than The Dark Mistresses. It's got a choir singing, some large, heavy drumbeats, and an electric guitar squealing in the background. This song is the word "epic" turned into a song.
And now we come the the final-boss theme, Genesis of Destruction: Act One.
And it's tense, it is effort as portrayed by music, it's facing incalculable odds and fighting through anyways personified.
It is by far, the most fitting piece of music in the entire game, and it's one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack.
And now, we get to the ending theme. Day to Fall, by Marielle Thomas.
After the exhausting final boss-fight, and the gut-punch cliffhanger ending, this sad and peaceful song is probably the best way for them to cap off the freaking insane depth and darkness of Tides of Fate.
And Day to Fall is a great way to end a game.
Now, the DLC added to the main-game something I mentioned earlier, the battle-bar. It allows you to control the frequency of random encounters. It can be heavily abused, meaning you can use to avoid battles, and wind up being heavily under-leveled, or use it to seek out battles and become very over-leveled. But it can also be used to legitimate ends when you're trying to get back to the healing crystal without having to reload your last save, because you got killed by the Ginar'i or other monsters which happened to be roaming about.
The biggest addition that I could find was the post-game dungeon. Magus goes to sleep in a weird house in the Fae realn, and has a nightmare. The nightmare scenario is one of my favorite parts of the experience, because it delves into Magus' psyche. It's surreal, bizarre, and is a nice little bite-sized interquel to the CoaDL story. And the best part is? It's less than a dollar.
All in all, taking into account the soundtrack, the awesome story, the pretty sweet-looking SNES style graphics, the fact that you can sink almost thirty hours into the game and still have things left over to find in your next playthrough, and the fact that this game costs two dollars on Desura, I give Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Episode I: Tides of Fate a 10.1* rating. And to be honest, I would have given this game a perfect score based on the epic ending and music alone, much less the sheer depth of the story and insane amount of attention to detail that went into building the world.
Now, for a .99 expansion-pack with some invaluable additions to the main game, Nightmare Vision is a great little chunk that delves into the main characters head, exploring his actions and explaining some of his reactions throughout the game. It's also got some pretty sweet music added to the soundtrack, so there is that as well.
I give Nightmare Vision a 9.9* rating. It's got some good music, a great two-hour story, and some awesome moments in it. For less than a dollar,you get a load of awesome.
I'll see you next week with Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Episode II: War of the Abyss if I can get it finished by then. If not, I'll have a review of Elysium up that week, and War of the Abyss will be out the week after!

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Transformers is a sci-fi action movie from 2007, which just so happened to be my first experience with the Transformers franchise. Outside of a toy I got for my birthday one year that is. A toy that, to this day I still do not know the name of.
Going into the series knowing absolutely nothing, I had no idea what to expect.
One night, when there was nothing else on TV we sat down to watch Transformers on ABC. I don't know exactly when this was, but it was some time before Transformers 2 came out.
I remember having liked it. Afterwards I picked up a graphic novel based on Transformers Animated, and then a few more of the toys as time went on.
Then, earlier this year I decided it was about time that I watch all of the movies I hadn't seen yet, but were extremely popular.
On that list was, of course, all three of Michael Bay's Transformers movies.
As a big fan of every Michael Bay movie I've ever seen (But back then I didn't even look at the credits beyond the cast) I figured I would like them.
Since Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon came in at the library a LONG time before the original Transformers movie came in, we watched RotF and DotM before we saw Transformers again.
Originally, I wasn't going to watch Transformers. Then I was just going to watch it on my own, because I didn't want to have to put my parents through it if they didn't want to, and then we just decided to suck it up and watch it.
Despite the fact that the other movies were irritating us more and more as they went on, I have to say that Transformers is a really good movie.
I'm serious, it's a really good movie.
I remember that pretty much all of the Bayformers movies got a bad rap with a vocal bunch of the Transformers fandom. And to be perfectly honest, as time went on in each of the other two movies in the series I kept getting the vibe that there was a really good story that was desperately struggling to get out of a movie that had a bunch of douchebag humans taking center-stage against all of the much more interesting robot characters. Or for that matter, the much more interesting human characters!
Transformers opens much like the other two movies in the series did, with Peter Cullen narrating over a scene that foreshadows certain events of the rest of the movie.
At this point in time I was thinking: "And this isn't going to be any different from the other two movies" But then I got a little further into it.
You see, the movie opens with who I considered to be the most interesting human characters in the other two Transformers movies I reviewed, Captain William Lennox and his men from the army.
I remember thinking that I wished that they would have just cut Sam from the last two Transformers movies and focused on the interactions between the Not G.I. Joes and the Autobots, and that thought continued with me through the beginning of this movie, but I hushed that voice up a ways into it.
Lennox is stationed in Qatar at a Soccent base. He opens a Skype call to his wife and infant daughter right before the base is attacked by a helicopter of unknown origin, masquerading as a United States Air Force helo that had been shot down three months prior to the events of the movie.
The chopper transforms into a massive robot, and destroys most of the base, kills almost all of the soldiers and attempting to hack into their computer database. The base commander cuts the hard-lines, and a team of soldiers lead by Lennox managed to get footage of both the chopper and the robot it transformed into and escape to search for help.
Here, I was trying to convince myself that this would have been a better movie had it just focused on the military and the Autobots, but as time went on I began to dislike that notion more and more.
So Sam Witwicky is a highschooler who is attempting to buy his first car. He tells a story about his Great-Great-Grandfather, Captain Archibald Witwicky, who stumbled upon a giant metal man on an expedition to the arctic circle, and about how he apparently went insane later on. He attempts to sell some of his grandfathers things to the class so he can fund the car, but when he leaves school that day, his father immediately takes him to a used car dealership.
I was trying  to find something bad to say about this, but the explanation is simple. Nobody wants to have less money lying around. Especially since normal cars run on gas, and not Energon.
Sam and his father go to car dealership run by Bobby Bolivia, played by the late Bernie Mac, where Sam buys a classic sports car. A modified Chevrolet Camaro with some temperament issues.
Back in the United States, Sam and a buddy of his head off to a public park to join in on a party. There they meet Sam's love interest, Mikaela Banes.
I was trying my hardest to find a reason not to like her, to find a way to say that she came off as flat, or fake, or unlikable, but nope. She's actually pretty normal in this film. She even comes off as believable when she starts acting like she knows cars, which surprised me no end since the character seemed a little sidelined and psychotic in Transformers 2.
Speaking of trying to hate a character, at this point I wasn't nearly as sick of Sam as I had been in Transformers 3, oddly enough. I was wanting to think of him as a douchebag, but he wasn't coming off as one.
Not to mention Sam's parents, who seem to have gone from decently tolerable to bizarre caricatures of themselves over the course of three films.
I kept trying to find a way to fault the dialogue, or the acting, or the writing but it all just seemed like normal people reacting to an abnormal situation, rather than fanboys attempting to write dialogue for characters that they have no frame of reference for.
In fact, that brings me to a gripe I had with how Sam's parents were portrayed in Transformers 2 and 3, as essentially cardboard cutouts of cliches.
And I think I know why. Transformers 2 added another writer to the screenplay, and for the third one, he was the only one working on it. His name is Ehren Kruger, and he's worked on such gems as Scream 3 and 4.
I don't wanna put all the blame on him, but he is the correlating factor. Nothing against the guy personally. Considering that I'm not an insider on the film-making process I don't know this for sure Kruger is the problem. For all I know everyone else who was making the film went nuts and he was the only sane person on the team.
However unlikely that is.
Anyways, I noticed that Sam's interactions with his parents were a lot less excruciating in this movie, because instead of him being a douchebag and them being cliches, they actually seem like real people with real personalities.
Hell, even Sam's "What would Jesus do" speech wasn't what I would call intolerable. It just sounds like a kid trying to convince his teacher to help him out. And you know why it sounds that way? Because at this point, Sam Witwicky hasn't met the President of the United States of America to get a medal for saving the world twice. Because he doesn't know a small army of large robots who stand three stories tall and wield deadly weapons.
And even when Sam's dad is taking him through the Porche dealership on the way to Bobby Bolivia's used car lot wasn't hard to watch. Unlike the scene in Transformers 2 where Sam's mom was tripping out on some kind of hyperactivity drugs disguised as weed.
So anyways, I like how they interlaced scenes of Lennox's team with ones of his wife watching the news of his base being destroyed and survivor status being unknown, it helps to show how an information disconnect can affect a person.
Lennox's team was in the middle of analyzing the footage they had captured of the attacking robot when they were attacked by Scorponok, a Decepticon drone.
The action scenes in this movie are all really good. As per standard for the series the special effects are really good. All of them. So I doubt there's much to say about that that I haven't already said. Or that anyone else hasn't already said.
Anyways, Sam's car gets stolen and he follows it on his moms bike. He follows it to a junkyard, where it transforms into a gigantic robot.
Meanwhile on Air Force One, a Decepticon by the name of Frenzy manages to get a foothold into the United States classified information database, and before being shut out he manages to find out who the person was that found Megatron, and find out who his descendants are. Of course, Sam Witwicky is on that list. They check out his eBay page and find out that he's got his grandfathers glasses, which have the code needed to find the Allspark etched into them.
Another Decepticon, Barricade picks up Frenzy and harasses Sam, demanding that he tell them where the glasses are. Bumblebee intervenes and they escape.
To be perfectly honest, I can't remember when Sam picked up Mikaela and when she learned about The Transformers, but that isn't the movies fault, it's mine for not writing the review three months ago when I saw the movie.
Bumblebee and Barricade face off again, while Sam and Mikaela are left to deal with Frenzy.
I was trying to use this scene as an excuse to reinforce my opinions of Mikaela as a psychopath and Sam as completely useless, but I can't say that I would have handled the situation any differently than they did. I even wanted to criticize the product placement for the dewalt Sawsall they used to cut up Frenzy, but to be perfectly honest, I'd rather they use a real brand than a generic one.
Now, let's talk about one of the most famous scenes in the movie. The Arrival to Earth.
Right then I was trying to figure out if Transformers by Lion or The Touch by Stan Bush would have fit better, and they didn't. Arrival to Earth is an awesome piece of music, and it fits the scene pretty much perfectly. I have to disagree with the dude running with the camera, that while I do like this movie I don't necessarily thing that it's a better movie than Armageddon (Just like how I disagree with Rotten Tomatoes when I say that Transformers 2 was not worse than Transformers 3. And I also don't agree with them on The Island. The Island was not worse than Transformers.) I do have to say that it's a good movie so far.
I liked how the first human being Optimus met was a little girl. A small child, the picture of innocence, the exact thing that he would give his life to protect is the first being that he meets on planet earth.
Mikaela and Sam then meet up with Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Jazz, and Ironhide.
You know, in Transformers 2 there was barely any reason for Sam to be involved with the plot.
If Sam had only given the shard to NEST, Optimus wouldn't have died and Megatron probably wouldn't have been resurrected. But in this movie, the reason why the Decepticons want Sam is because he's got the code to find The Allspark. The reason the Autobots want to help Sam is the find the glasses so they can protect him and the earth from the Decepticons. The humans have to work with Sam because the Autobots are the ones that gave him the rundown on the situation. The Autobots gave him the rundown because they needed him to trust them. It's very simple, unlike how Sam got roped into Transformers 3's plot.
Now, despite the fact that the scene that follows is a little off-kilter, it's not out of place. It's not as though it's intended to elicit laughs.
So Sam is looking for his great-great-grandfathers glasses and he gets caught in his room with Mikaela. Despite the subject matter of the conversation between Sam and his parents, it doesn't come off as awkward to me. It actually seems like something that people might actually be talking about in that kind of situation.
Because Sam's parents reported him missing and because of the arrival to earth, a division of the US government known as Sector 7 shows up to investigate. The's probably a better summary of that, but unfortunately those details are a little fuzzy to me at the moment.
They detect Energon residue on Sam and Mikaela and haul them in. Optimus and the Autobots attempt to rescue them, but Sector 7 regains control of the situation and takes Sam, Mikaela and Bumblebee off to a classified location. If you haven't seen this scene be prepared for absolute painful brutality.
Thants to the glasses they got from Sam, the Autobots manage to rendezvous at the location they took Sam, Mikaela and Bumblebee to, the Hoover Dam. At the dam, they meet up with a hacker employed by one of the National Security Advisers to crack the Decepticon's encryption.
Frenzy, the Decepticon from earlier manages to sneak in and alert Starscream to the location of the Allspark. Thanks to Sam's Autobot knowledge the government decides to cooperate with Optimus and agrees to let Bumblebee take the Allspark.
The movie climaxes with a showdown between the Autobots and Decepticons. Bumblebee gets severely wounded, and hands the cube off to Sam to deliver to Optimus.
Right there, I was welling up with tears. Bumblebee was dying, and his only thoughts were of the safety of the human race, not of himself.
Now, this brings me to my gripes about Transformers 2 and 3. In this movie, despite communications being down the face-off between the Autobots and the Decepticons takes place in the middle of a major city, filled with tons of people. There's no way they could cover that up, especially not when so many people died in the crossfire.
And that was also something that annoyed me in the end of Transformers 2, the showdown in that movie took place in a major city as well. There's no way they could have covered that up, or any of the other Transformers related activity in the last two movies. As they went on, they kept stretching the willing suspension of disbelief, and the finally just gave up and said that everyone should know about the Transformers. It took them destroying most of Chicago to do it though, so I suppose that the version of the US government that can cover up large buildings in Nevada being destroyed and the destruction of the Pyramids of Giza
Sam takes the cube and runs to get it to Optimus. Along the way, The Allspark turns a Pepsi machine, an Xbox 360, and a Cadilac into Transformers.
I've heard people complain about this, asking why it only creates Decepticons and not Autobots. The explanation is simple. Despite Bumblebee being the last one to hold the cube, he didn't have time to reprogram it. The last Transformers with prolonged access were the Decepticons, and they probably programmed it to only create Decepticons.
The moment that saved Mikaela as a character for me was when she jacked a tow-truck and used it to haul Bumblebee out of the danger-zone. That's what turned her from a shallow psychopath into an actual human being for me, when she risked her life to save Bumblebee.
Sam manages to get the cube to Optimus, but Megatron has wounded him, and killed Jazz.
The moment where Megatron killed Jazz was even more infuriating this time around, which is something considering it barely phased me when I first watched the movie.
And just as all hope seems lost, as if the Autobots and the human race have failed despite their best efforts, Sam Witwicky made a choice.
A choice that changed my whole outlook on his character.
I suppose you could say that my opinion toward the whole franchise "transformed" a bit after watching the first movie again.
Despite all of my ire towards the other two Transformers movies I've reviewed, I still can't find it in my heart to dislike this one. It's not this movies fault that the other two weren't as good.
You know why?
Because this is the only movie where Sam Witwicky seemed like a hero.
That moment where he made that snap decision to kill Megatron was a moment where I was completely on-board with Sam. He risked life and limb to save a robot that he barely knew. In that moment, had they started playing The Touch, I would have been completely behind that being Sam's theme song. Because he fucking earned that theme song. The definition of true bravery is being afraid, but still daring to do what needs to be done. And Sam did what needed to be done.
I remember looking through the Transformers 2 soundtrack, and when I saw "The Touch (Sam's theme)" I was severely annoyed, because I didn't think he deserved that good a theme song. In Transformers 2 he acted too selfish and self-centered and completely uncaring to have that good of a theme song. To have that awesome, and uplifting a theme-song. Everything he did in that movie could have easily been done by Lennox, who was a much more selfless character. While Sam was on the road to redemption in Transformers 3, he screwed it up by not being very useful in the times when he could have redeemed himself the most.
My argument here is that by that point, Sam has already been through enough that he should have been pretty jaded and experienced by the time Dark of the Moon came out. Instead he just reset to the same basic template at the beginning of both of the sequels.
By the time of Transformers 2, Sam should have been working with NEST and the Autobots as part of their task-force. By the time of Transformers 3 he should have been head of the organization! Why is he looking for a job in the private sector? For that matter, why did it take so long for him to get one?
But at the end of Transformers, Sam Witwicky felt like a genuine hero. Like someone who I would actually consider a great character if they'd bothered to develop him properly as the movies went on.
If you're looking for a good movie about The Transformers, this may disappoint. The movie is more about the people than about the robots, and while I REALLY wanted to dislike it for that, I remember how much I liked the Batman movie from 1989. Despite that it was more about The Joker than about Batman, I still really, really like it. And despite Transformers being less about the actual Transformers than the humans, I still really liked it. And here's why:
Because it treated the civilians like actual people. And that made all the difference.
This movie is essentially perfect. There's nothing in it that I would change.
I was looking for things to change, to edit, to fine-tune and I didn't find any! I remember I had a whole catalog of things I would have changed in The Expendables, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the moon. This is why I held off on reviewing this movie for so long, because of The Expendables. That movie was so badly made that it made me look back on the Transformers movies more fondly. That's why I reviewed so many movies in the order I did this summer, because of The Expendables!
So all in all, while the entire movie was really good, it was that last scene that clinched it for me. Because in that moment, I truly believed that Sam Witwicky had The Touch.