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Sci Fi Day: Transformers September 7, 2008

Posted by Ian W in : DVD Viewing Journal , add a comment

Prior to Transformers I’d say I’ve probably got more entertainment from Paul W.S. Anderson’s films than Michael Bay’s, so it’s fair to say I’m not a fan. It’s not that Bay is a bad director, when it comes to action he can orchestrate mayhem like few others. My problem with Bay is that, when you take out the gunfire and explosions, you’re left with clichéd stories, paper thin characters and not much else.

So why did I enjoy Transformers so much? Is it cleverly plotted? Not really it’s about two factions of big robots looking for a cube. Does it have three dimensional characters who give us a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be in life or death situations? Nope, it’s full of beautiful people shouting, running and firing guns. No the reason Transformers works is because it doesn’t need those things, it’s as cartoon brought to life and its charm is simply this – robots are cool, big robots are even cooler and big robots fighting other big robots is uber-cool. As a bonus the film also has a charismatic lead whose star is very much on the rise in Shia LaBeouf, a smokin’ hot action heroine in Megan Fox (she’s probably got more balls than LaBeouf) and a script with a good level of humour that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The only downer is Jon Voight and John Turturro overdoing it a little on the ham and cheese.

Forget Pearl Harbour, Armageddon and the rest, with Transformers Bay has found his ideal subject matter. Roll on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen! Now if only someone could find a way to stop him producing all those pointless horror remakes I could almost start to like the guy.

Dipa’s review can be found here.

Sci Fi Day: Donnie Darko – The Director’s Cut September 6, 2008

Posted by Ian W in : DVD Viewing Journal , add a comment

Is Donnie Darko SF? Yes, but it’s much more than that, it’s a drama about family relationships, a mystery that will have your brain working overtime, it even flirts with horror at times. For me though it’s a love story more than anything else. Would you commit the ultimate sacrifice to save someone you love, knowing that in doing so they’d no longer even remember you – that is the essence of Donnie Darko and what makes the final half hour such an emotional experience second time around, when you know what’s going to happen. It’s a film that can not only be enjoyed on repeat viewing but actually improves with them.

Jake Gyllenhaal is outstanding as Donnie, but there isn’t a duff performance in the entire film. Richard Kelly directs with an abundance of style, an ear for music, and a deft touch when it comes to the family scenes. Even if he never makes another film of this calibre again, which from what I’ve heard of Southland Tales may be the case, at least we have this gem to treasure.

“Donnie Darko? What the hell kind of name is that? It’s like some sort of superhero or something.”

“What makes you think I’m not?”

What indeed.

You can read Dipa’s first impression of the film here.

Sci Fi Day: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Posted by Ian W in : DVD Viewing Journal , add a comment

This is really Sci Fi Day Part 2, picking up where we left off last weekend.

Spielberg’s classic family film is essentially Lassie meets Close Encounters, of course the ‘dog’ in this boy and his dog tale is far more intelligent than any of the human protagonists, although, come to think of it, that’s true of most Lassie films.

Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore give excellent performances, particularly given their age and lack of experience at the time. While most child actors don’t make the transition to adult roles (co-star Robert MacNaughton being a perfect example) both Thomas and Barrymore have gone on to successful careers, particularly Drew who we’ll see again shortly in Donnie Darko.

The film still pushes all the right emotional buttons and has a timeless quality which will ensure it remains one of the all-time great family films, despite Spielberg ‘doing a Lucas’ and making unnecessary changes. Just for the record we watched the original version.

You’ll find Dipa’s thoughts on revisiting this childhood favourite here.

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