Tag: Peter Cullen

Transformers: Rise of the Fallen

by on Jun.24, 2009, under movies


I did something I don’t tend to do – I went to a midnight showing of a new movie – the Transformers sequel. While I greatly enjoyed it and I’m glad I went, a movie of nearly 3 hours in length is a tough mid-week pill to swallow. Though my boss was sympathetic to my late arrival at work since he was at the theater with me last night. Anyway, I’d seen the trailers and I’d heard some musings about who or what things were supposed to be in this movie, but I try to leave all that baggage at the door with these types of things and let the movie stand on its own. And it did – big-time. From start to finish there was not a dull moment. While I’m generally not a big fan of pointless action, this never felt like that type of movie – all the suspense seemed appropriate in measure.

Comparisons: Michael Bay’s second outing with this franchise definitely got into robot-based action much sooner. Within the first minutes of the film there were Autobots chasing Decepticons through the streets of Shanghai. And while in the first movie much of the dramatic tension (and comic relief) was among the human characters, in this chapter the robots offered more of the drama and comedy. The one thing that seemed a bit like a departure from the first film, though, was that the Transformers seemed a little less impervious – while I expect bot-on-bot carnage, the military arm involved seemed to be taking down a lot more targets on there own this time. Perhaps it went unspoken that the troops involved were defaultly equipped with more effective weaponry. But all-in-all, this was a solid sequel to the first and carries the story forward well.

Contrasts to the Source: While I was a huge Transformers fan as a kid and looked forward to these movies like a fanboy, I’m not a purist. In truth, adapting the cartoon as it was to a movie would have been cheesy and lacked realism in a lot of areas (e.g., scale issues with several of the transformers, body styles that were a bit too dependent on the vehicle forms). But for you purists out there (assuming you are even interested after the first movie), this movie deviates even further from the canon. For instance, there are several new members introduced with names from the show but that had little resemblance in shape or personality to their source. It was clear that the writers used the source material very loosely and in some cases only included recognizable names to give fanboys a momentary grin. But given how well the story is written, I have no issue with that whatsoever.

Things to Know Before You Go: (1) This movie is around 2 hours and 45 minutes long – so be sure you and anyone in your party are prepared for that kind of sitting. (2) While there are definitely elements in the movie geared towards a younger audience (such as a comical pair of Autobots referred to as ‘the twins’) younger is really teen/tween. I will not likely be taking my 5 year-old to see this (though she has seen the first) – I might let her see it on DVD when it comes out, but the immersive nature of a cinema multiplies all the violence and drama to a level that could be too much for the grade school crowd (plus at home you can pause for potty breaks). Plus there are some sensual elements that they wouldn’t likely get and don’t need to see plastered across a huge screen. (3) Unless you and your SO are into these types of movies, I wouldn’t call it a date movie. When my cohorts suggested the showing, a thought that didn’t cross my mind was ‘should I pass and see if my wife wants to see this with me?’ She was never into the Transformers as a kid, she only mildly enjoyed the first movie, and oddly isn’t nearly as aroused by Megan Fox as I am. And I think that Bay knew his audience was mostly male as he did include in the middle of some major melee some Baywatch-esque slow-motion running scenes with Megan and Shia (at least I assume he was in those scenes).

Those are my two cents. I hope they help. By the way, if you were expecting a book review today (a) you obviously didn’t read all of last weeks book review and (b) I’m sorry to disappoint. I DID get the 11th Dresden Files book as a Father’s Day gift and I’m about 120 pages through it already. If I finish before next week, you will have your review. But most likely it will be the following week or later. I will do my best to fill in the gaps. Thanks for reading.

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My Childhood, Repurposed

by on May.07, 2009, under comics, Entertainment, movies

I guess I’m somewhat of a purist. I don’t particularly care for the use of samples from great rock songs in rap and hip-hop music (I don’t think it is wrong, it just isn’t to my tastes). Though I am a fan of a decent remake or mixing that seems artfully done. In the same sense, I’m not a fan of seeing (or in this case hearing) pop cultural elements that I respect being reused in a manner that I cannot respect. So you can imagine my chagrin when I heard a radio commercial this morning do precisely that.

On my morning drive as I was attempting to ignore an unusually long commercial block waiting for some more interesting programming, I heard a spot that featured none other than Peter Cullen doing his best Don LaFontaine impression to shill some initially unnamed product. Not long into the commercial, I find that it is none other than Coors Light who has employed the voice of Optimus Prime in order to promote their color-changing bottle-label and taste-preserving bottle-cap technologies. I was beside myself to say the least. Let me explain why.

See, if it was winter – in the heart of football play-off season, I wouldn’t really take issue with it. It would be a prime beer promotion season and reaching for that “in a world” vibe for their marketing would be completely viable. But it is not football season and Coors is not trying to reach the tailgaters of America with this campaign. This marketing decision was made with the upcoming release of the Transformers sequel in mind. Coors is specifically trying to reach my generation with these ads (there is apparently a TV spot as well) – they are exploiting the sci-fi/comic book geek generation with this casting choice. If you doubt my claim, you need only hear the commercial’s tagline to know I’m correct: “With great beer comes great responsibility.” (If you are not one of us, you may not recognize this phrase, but we know!)

So in this blockbuster movie season when many of the hot titles to see are of the science fiction and comic book genre, it seems that a beer company has opted to capitalize on this market. And it disturbs me. Because while I hate to see such childhood heroes as Optimus Prime and Spider-man have their visage tarnished promoting adult beverages, I have to commend them for their efforts. I don’t like it, but it is well played.

I will try to avoid hearing this commercial again. And I will try to rationalize in my head that neither Hasbro or Marvel had any part in the creative licensing for this campaign (after all, Peter Cullen is not acting as Optimus Prime and the tagline is different enough that they didn’t likely need sign off to use it). As I said, I’m a purist, and I plan to try and keep it that way.

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