Transformers (2007)

Transformers came out on DVD a few weeks ago, and I was reminded that this past summer, this movie fell through the cracks, and the review was never posted. Here’s the movie review, a little brief, but better late than never. Given all the marketing and ego-power that went into this project (Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg) this could easily have been a really big disappointed. Instead, Transformers turned out to be a better movie than our depressed expectations, and a good blockbuster to fill a summer weekend. Of course, now that we’re nearing the holiday season, and the film is out of theaters, perhaps it will make a good gift.
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War of the Worlds (2005)

Death and destruction everywhere. Steven Spielberg sheds the usual cutesy antics. The typically warm fuzzy feelings we associate with “his” aliens are gone out of the theater with the first strike of lightning. And there’s quite a lot of lightning in the movie. What you’re witnessing is an invasion. What will follow is a story of a small family, trying to survive, trying to out-run, to stay alive. Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins and Miranda Otto scream and claw their way out of imminent obliteration by aliens.

This is not your Star Trek universe with almost-communistic moral values. This is not the everyone-for-himself universe of Farscape or Andromeda – which were more brutal but still offered regular comic relief and self-parody. This is not “Mars Attacks” – with green, bug-eyes short little creatures running around and zapping everything in their path. Well, the zapping is still there, but it’s done by huge, screaming machines, and it’s done in a more malevolent way. At some point a character in the movie says “this is not a war, this is extermination”. Precisely. Hence the name – War of the Worlds. It’s massive and overwhelming right from the start.
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The Terminal (2004)

So the big Spielberg/Hanks movie is not doing as well as originally expected. Why is this happening – the movie got great reviews, and the star power is attractive. What went wrong?┬áHere’s a few ideas that have crossed my mind as I watched “The Terminal” this past weekend.

Right off the bat, I admit I’m a Spielberg junkie. I may not know his birthday or the names of his kids, but I really love most of the movies he makes, and have been caught defending failures like “Amistad” and “A.I.” Why? Because he’s a man with a vision, who just happens to be very successful, and allows that success to blur his vision from time to time. I can live with the occasional hiccup, as long as it’s followed by stronger, more entertaining film. That’s why I defend Spielberg’s weaker movies – they’re the in-between projects that still make for good entertainment, just nothing extraordinary.

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