The top five best moments from the Transformers films.

optimus_prime_transformers_dark_of_the_moon-normalThe Transformers films have been financial hits but critical flops. Many Transformers fans hate the Michael Bay trilogy for it not being faithful to the source material, and newcomers dislike it for having action scenes go on for far too long and are hard to see properly, dumb humour and poor acting. That being said, the franchise is not without it’s fair share of victories. With three films that are almost three hours long each, there has to be at least ONE good thing about each. So without further ado, let’s take a look at, in my opinion, the best moments/scenes of the trilogy that everyone loves to hate, Transformers. Warning: Major spoilers for all three films below.

Number 5: The highway battle/Optimus Prime vs Bonecrusher (from Transformers)

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The first fight between two Transformers (Bumblebee and Barricade) and in the first film was…underwhelming to say the least. This was because it was shot in such a hyperactive way that I could barley tell who was winning or what was going on. Thankfully, the next big action scene,taking place on a highway in broad daylight, truly showed just how cool two robots fighting can really be. This brief yet brutal clash of the titans made good use of the transforming aspect that makes these robots so special. Best of all, we could tell the robots apart. It remains one of the most memorable moments in the franchise, as well as my favourite fight of the first film.

Number 4: Megatron saves the day (From Transformers: Dark of the Moon)

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This one was a real surprise. In the final film of the trilogy the villain, Sentinel Prime, gets into a fairly intense one on one duel with Optimus Prime. While this is going on, Carly (one of The human protagonists) finds a wounded Megatron lying against a building. The two of them have a conversation that causes the deceptacon to second guess his alliance with Sentinel, as well as his loyalty. In light of this, he SAVES Optimus Prime in the process of fighting Sentinel Prime. Of course Megatron and Optimus end up fighting afterwords due to Megatron’s desire to still be in charge, but here’s what I love about this scene; For the last three movies, Megatron has always been the ultimate villain that the characters all know and fear. Yet in the moment of truth, without Megatron’s involvement in the final battle, The good guys would have lost, and Sentinel Prime would have won. In an interesting turn of events, both Optimus and Megatron were needed to save the world, and I will be honest, I did not see it coming.

Number 3: The Shanghai battle (From Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)

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Revenge of the Fallen is seen by many as the worst of the Transformers films. While I agree that it’s the weakest of the trilogy, there’s no denying that it also had the best opening sequence of al three films. It’s fast paced,yet easy to follow, and Just like the highway battle in the first film, it makes terrific use of the transforming aspect. I won’t spoil it here, but Optimus Prime’s introduction into the film is unexpected and just plain awesome. Despite the fact that the rest of the movie is (mostly) less then stellar, this was still a tremendous way to start things off. in my opinion, it’s the best action sequence as well as the best opening of the franchise.

Number 2: Meeting Optimus Prime for the first time (From Transformers)

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Ok, admit it. You got chills when you first saw this guy transform from a truck into the majestic autobot the fans know and love. Even if your not a fan, this was still an impressive scene thanks to the stunning visuals. Back in 2007 we hadn’t seen anything quite like this before, so the first few times we saw Transformers really transform was very memorable and very exciting. This scene is also a great introduction to many of the Autobots that had not yet made appearances in the movie, and as an added bonus for the fans, hearing Peter Cullen providing the voice for Optimus prime again was a real delight.

Honourable mention: Scorponok fight (From Transformers)

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This sequence showcased my favourite Transformer in all his glory. That alone earns it a spot on this list. Despite the fact that the location was rather boring and the shaky camera didn’t help much. (Hence why it’s an honourable mention)

Number 1: Megaton speaks to The Fallen and Starscream (From Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)

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What’s this? The best scene from the franchise comes from arguably the worst entry? That seems to be the case. The reason I consider this the best scene in the Transformers series is because it’s all about establishing that the Transformers themselves are characters Rather then just machines that punch each other. We learn everything we need to know about these villains (Megatron, his master the Fallen and Starscream, the cowardly assistant) in this short dialogue scene and a little bit more. For the fans, this scene was great because it stayed true to who all three of these characters were, With my favourite moment being when Megatron scolds Starscream for leaving him to die on earth. Starscream states:

“I only left you assist in creating our new army! The Fallen decrees it! After all, in your absence someone had to take command.”

And then Megatron replies:

” Even in death there is no command but mine!”

This scene is just great. The dialogue is memorable, the atmosphere is great, It’s a great villain moment and it finally gives the transformers some character development and personality. Which is why it’s my pick for the best moment in the Transformers series.

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So those are my top five favourite moments of the Transformers movies. Do I still find the movies dumb? Yes. Are they still hard to sit through sometimes? Yes. Do I think they should give a director other then Michael Bay a shot at the franchise?  Of course. So what keeps me coming back? I guess it’s because while the films do tend to be overblown messes, they all have moments that do really impress me. The point of this wasn’t to defend the films altogether, but rather to show that they aren’t all bad. When this franchise gets it right, it REALLY gets it right. The latest instalment, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” comes out this Week and I’m kind of looking forward to it. Maybe this will be the first Transformers movie that I can proudly show to my kids as the best Transformers movie of MY generation….

or maybe I can just fastforward to the Dinobots scenes with them. Either way, I have a few questions for you readers. Do you love the Transformers films? Do you hate them? Are you indifferent towards them? Did I miss any scenes that stand out to you as really great? Let me know in the comments!

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Edge of Tomorrow

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I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Tom Cruise. It’s not that I think he’s a bad actor, but he just seems to play the same character in every movie he’s in. Last year he starred in the sci-fi epic “Oblivion” and while I thought the movie was ok,I still felt like I was just watching Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise. So when I saw previews for “Edge of Tomorrow” I wasn’t necessarily excited. It looked too similar to Oblivion, the mech suits looked like they were straight out of Elysium and Pacific Rim and so on. I thought for sure this movie was going to fail for me. However, thanks to some strong and quite unexpected critical acclaim I decided to go see the movie, (and I even got in for free this time. Special thanks to my good friend Chris Dawse for the free tickets.) And honestly, I could not have been more wrong about this film.

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The thing that surprised me the most about Edge of Tomorrow is the character Tom Cruise plays, Cage. Cage isn’t your typical Tom Cruise performance that we’ve come to expect. As I stated above, the problem isn’t his acting, it’s his characters that he plays. Here, we se a side of Tom that we rarely see; his vulnerable side. Cage is terrified and confused for much of the movie, and as an audience member, I really felt for him. He’s just a normal guy (with a big job) thrown into an extrodanary situation that he can’t explain. It’s a great performance of a interesting character that we want to see pull through by the end of the movie. This is also strengthened by the fact that the story is gripping and well paced, and very rarely does the film feel like it’s dragging on Emily Blunt’s character, Rita, is also quite fascinating. She clearly knows more then the audience and Cage does but doesn’t let this on until about halfway through the film. There’s an element of mystery to her, and she manages to be both likable and experienced ally for Cage. The army consist of some great characters as well. Think the Memorable army from Disney’s “Mulan”, but with a futuristic element added. Most of the soldiers start off disliking Cage but as the film goes on, their relationships seem to grow, which is ironic, considering this film’s premise is about reliving the same day over and over. The Army general is also a great character. Sergeant Farell (played by Bill Paxton) is a riot and provides the film with some great comedy.

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As expected, this movie features aliens. what’s refreshing though, is that these aliens look like nothing we’ve ever seen before. the recent trend is to make all aliens or monsters look like the Cloverfeild monster or the Xenomporph from Ridley Scott’s “Alien”, and while those are great designs, they do get old fast. Thankfully, these aliens are completely original looking and very quick moving. Giving a terrifying insect like appearance. The training Robots were really cool as well, resembling the aliens somewhat, but still maintaining a very specific design. The one draw back with the creatures is while the CGI for them is good for the fighting scenes, there are a few scenes where they are just standing there and cornering Cage, and when it comes to those scenes..they look kinda fake…I hate complaining about that because I’m not one who looks for realism in a movie that features aliens battling men and women wearing Pacific Rim armor, but after the rest of the movie pulled off the realism quite well, particularly in the opening sequence, which reminded me of World War Z, where the newsreel footage shows us the Aliens first arrival, it did take me out of the movie just for a few moments.

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So the Characters are great and the story’s interesting, what could possibly be wrong with this movie that prevents me from totally loving it? Sadly, it’s towards the end of the movie. Without giving anything away. there’s a climax that felt like it went on for a little too long and while it was tension filled, it didn’t come off nearly as exciting as the first action sequence on the beach or many of the shorter battles before it. It’s not a horrible climax, I just wasn’t as engaged as I was during the Godzilla or How to Train your Dragon 2 climaxes. The film ends exactly where it should though, and thankfully the climax is the only place in the movie that I felt dragged on.

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Edge of Tomorrow is one of the most pleasantly surprising films of the summer. It’s fun action packed romp with two great leads and a brisk pace that, as I said before, very rarely slows down. I certainly don’t think a sequel is necessary (And I am aware that this film was based off a book) but if it does well enough and a sequel does happen, I’ll be looking forward to revisiting Cage and the crew for another adventure.

How to Train your Dragon 2

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There’s an unfortunate stereotype that sequels are never any good. There are some bad sequels out there for sure, but do people just forget about phenomenal movies like The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather part 2, Spider-man 2 or Toy Story 2? I may be on the minority, but sometimes I find myself enjoying a good sequel more then the original because it feels like a reunion with a world and characters that have grown overtime. (Heck, even my favourite pirates of the Caribbean film is Dead man’s Chest) Dreamworks has mastered the art of making more then worthy successors to their original films. Shrek 2, Madagascar 2 and Kung fu Panda 2 have all been fantastic instant classics. Now, they have released a sequel to one of their most beloved and recent films, known as How to Train your Dragon 2. Does this sequel fall in line with the previous gems mentioned? Oh boy, you have NO idea…

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To start things off, I’d like to mention that the original How to Train your Dragon to me is a very strong film with a lot of creativity, fun action and alot of heart. The only aspect that underwhelms me about it is the story. It feels fairly basic at times, and it doesn’t feel as original to me as some of their other efforts like Kung fu Panda or MegaMind. The sequel however, brings the story to a whole new level. This film’s story is emotional, dark and occasionally heartbreaking, yet it never feels TOO dark. Dreamworks seems to have found a perfect balance that’s very reminiscent of some of Pixar’s finer efforts. It effortlessly bounces back and forth from being a brightly coloured and well thought out family film to being a Lord of the Rings territory epic. It’s so sophisticatedly handled and it’s clear that a lot of passion went into the writing, making this one of the most captivating stories of the year thus far. I’m not going to give away any details about the story itself, even the ones that some of you may have seen in the trailer, because the film is really meant to be seen with as little prior knowledge as possible.

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The characters are all wonderful. The ones from the original have all grown up and remained as likeable as ever. Hiccup is still the likeable and slightly awkward hero. His story arc in this film is very engaging, and his relationship with Toothless and his friends truly gets tested this time around. Speaking of his friends, they are still the comic relief of the movie, but also get just as involved in the adventure as everyone else and provide some great laughs (Especially Gobber) Hiccups father also makes a welcomed return,and provides the movie with it’s emotional center. Toothless is just as adorable and fascinating this time around, and some of the films highlight sequences is right at the beginning, where we see just how much him and Hiccup have bonded over time, and how strong their friendship has become. The villain, Drago Bloodfist, is one of the best villains Dreamworks has ever conceived. He’s a ruthless maniac that has an entire army of dragons that do his bidding. He’s very menacing, and is definitely one of my favourite villains of 2014 so far. There are many more new characters that are memorable and interesting But for the sake of spoilers, I won’t go into detail about them. without giving too much away, it’s anything revolving around Hiccup’s family that truly makes this film shine.

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As far as animation goes, How to Train your Dragon 2 exceeds expectations. The attention to detail is just mind blowing, from the unique designs of the dragons, to the grand sense of scale of the locations, everything looks absolutely perfect. there are quite honestly NO flaws I can find with the animation here. The expressions are great, the lighting is flawless and as i said before, The dragons steal the show. Most notably toothless, who’s clearly gotten a few upgrades since we last saw him in 2010’s film. There are SO many dragons in this movie, that I couldn’t even count them all. I’d have to say my favourite were the two alphas. They look like two Kaiju straight out of a Godzilla film. there’s really nothing else I can say. the folks at Dreamworks animation have outdone themselves yet again. It’s perfect. The film’s score is also very good, with a fantastic new opening song by Jonsi that sets the tone wonderfully.

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Dreamworks has yet again gone above and beyond with their latest masterpiece. How to Train your Dragon 2 is an instant classic that should be viewed by anyone that loved the original and any fan of animation or dragons/vikings. I highly recommend you see this movie at the cinema, so that you can truly appreciate the rich and vibrant world that this film creates. Then buy it on dvd or Blu-ray. Then cherish it. Then watch it again and again. This not a film to be missed by anyone.

Maleficent

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Funny thing about Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, I’ve only seen it twice. The reason I bring this up is because while I do consider myself a big fan of Disney films I don’t find myself thinking very fondly of Sleeping Beauty in comparison to their other classics. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE things to love about it, and I can see why it’s a highly regarded film. But to me most of the characters were a little boring, the story itself didn’t interest me very much, and even the villain underwhelmed me. For a character that’s regarded as one of the great Disney baddies I never found her that memorable. The reason I bring all this up is to clarify that going into “Maleficent”, I had no real attachment to the source material like so many other people have. Having said that, I was still excited for the film thanks to the promising marketing and the mostly positive feedback it seemed to be getting. Some were even declaring it “Better then Frozen!” I was intrigued to say the least. So what did I ultimately think of the movie? Read on to find out.

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Let’s get the negatives out of the way. Where the film falls flat is sadly in an important as far as Disney goes, and that’s the characters. Many of the supporting cast and even some of the leads just come off as a little bland and not very fleshed out. (This seems to be the same problem with one of last month’s films, Godzilla.) I’m usually a fan of Elle Fanning, but here when she plays Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) she is simply not given much to do other then smile and be kid of..well..perfect. The same can be said for Prince Phillip (I even had to look up the cast list to remember this character’s name…that’s a bad sign.) He’s supposed to be Aurora’s love interest somehow he manages to come off as even more bland and boring then she does! it’s not a problem with the acting, the problem lies with the writing. The three little fairies are okay. Basically just dumbed down versions of the characters from the original and not much beyond that. Overall, most of the characters in Maleficent are just kind of forgettable.

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That being said, the movie truly shines when it comes to pretty much everyone else. Maleficent herself (portrayed wonderfully by Angeline Jolie) Hs gone from being a stereotypical villain to a fascinating character. I applaud this movie for not making her a “hero” or a “Villain” but just very human and relatable. She still manages to be intimidating though. Her character has a great balance of tragedy, humor and chills when she’s onscreen, and this makes her a very interesting character to watch. If you see the movie, see it for Maleficent herself. Another character that i found appealing was Diaval, a shapeshifter sidekick to Maleficent. In some ways, he serves as Maleficent’s conscience. He often pushes her to do the right thing and is very loyal to her, while still being a distinct character in his own right. The King, who serves as the film’s villain, is also interesting, although it’s a little disappointing that the film needed a villain at all, as I think it could’ve been much stronger if it was just about these characters and their struggles. but as it stands, these three characters are still the highlight of this film.

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Aside from the characters, another thing that this movie does well is the magical world it creates. One of my favorite things about this movie is the variety in All of the creatures. Most of them have a very Tolkienesque look and feel to them, but still look different enough to be their own unique creatures. I would have to say my favorite ones are the tree army. The film’s creativity really shines during the opening battle between the army and the Kings men. Maleficent’s home is introduced in a beautiful dream-like state, but soon turns nightmarish and threatening, yet still very beautiful when she corrupts it with her magic. I was worried that the film’s visual style would borrow too much from other Disney works such as “Alice in Wonderland” or “Oz the Great and Powerful” but I was pleasantly surprised. Saying anything about this film’s story is probably not a good idea, as there are quite a few twists in the movie (especially near the end, which you may or may not see coming. Depending if you saw “Frozen”) i will say that the pacing is fairly good, and the film has a nice dark tone to it without going overboard. I think this would be a perfect summer family film.

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Maleficent impressed me in some areas, and disappointed me in others. Overall though, it was an enjoyable ride that had a really cool world an a fascinating lead. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Disney’s previous live-action fairy tale,Oz the Great and Powerful, and I don’t think it’s as good as Frozen. But as it stands, Maleficent, while not without it’s flaws, has enough good in it to make it worth seeing on the big screen. Recommended.