Archives for posts with tag: Prometheus

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Nothing epitomizes the summer movie season like a big, blustering, CGI-saturated blockbuster about giant, battling, alien robots. This installment stars Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager, a down-on-his-luck robotics engineer and single father living in “Texas, U.S.A.” (as a caption conveniently informs those viewers uncertain which country Texas occupies). Cade and his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), get swept up in military-industrial machinations and even intergalactic warfare when he discovers the wreck of a truck that turns out to be Optimus Prime.

Inconveniently, CIA eminence grise Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) is secretly rounding up all the Transformers he can find and delivering these to military contractor KSI, headed by arrogant weenie Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), the idea being to corner the technology and create a totally automated U.S. military. Meanwhile, Attinger’s robot co-conspirator Lockdown, along with new creation Galvatron, may not be the controllable assets Joyce and Attinger confidently believe these to be.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is exactly the explosion-packed, lightning-paced action extravaganza fans are expecting, with quite a few close shaves, noisy weapons exotica, nasty, slime-spewing creatures, and one particularly suspenseful moment with characters inching their way along cables suspended high in the air while harried by Lockdown’s robotic hell-hounds. Younger audiences are sure to be in awe. The film’s themes are, however, more adult than juvenile, and parents may be concerned to know that Age of Extinction contains several frightening incidents and one especially noteworthy death scene, that of comic relief slacker Lucas (T.J. Miller), that is too graphically disturbing to be appropriate for children. The film runs a little overlong, and the ending, reminiscent of Prometheus (2012), has Optimus Prime setting out on a new adventure and so setting up the inevitable next installment of the popular toy adaptation franchise.

4 out of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Transformers: Age of Extinction is:

8. Anti-torture. “This is worse than waterboarding,” robot Brains complains at being shocked by an electric jolt.

7. Pro-serfdom. Tessa aspires to do her part to inflate the American college bubble by applying for financial aid to go to university. The film attempts to milk sympathy from a rejection letter.

6. New age, lending credence to the idea that Earth was once visited by ancient aliens.

5. Corporate, featuring prominent product placement for Victoria’s Secret, Oreo, Giorgio Armani, and Red Bull.

4. Anti-slavery (i.e., pro-yawn). Negroid-voiced Transformer Brains exults at being “free at last!” Lucas, objecting to partner Cade’s cutthroat business practices, also alludes to slavery.

3. Capitalist, offering a sympathetic portrait of the struggling small business owner in Cade. Early scenes of the hero’s domestic existence convey a definite impression of an America in economic decline.

2. Pro-miscegenation. Joyce falls for the head executive of his company’s China branch (Bingbing Li).

1. Antiwar, anti-state, and anti-cronyism. Attinger, head of CIA black ops and military contractor KSI’s best customer, expects to take a seven-figure salary with the company after leaving government “service”. Since the Battle of Chicago, a cataclysmic 9/11-like event in which America was attacked by Decepticons and defended by the Autobots, a paranoid police state has taken hold, with Decepticons and Autobots alike being hunted down and neutralized by the fearmongering CIA. Transformers: Age of Extinction also gives a timely illustration of federal authoritarian overreach when CIA agents, with no warrant and no regard for human dignity or life, raid Cade’s property and threaten to murder his daughter. The movie expresses Americans’ discomfort over the advent of drones, as well.

 

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A far cry from fellow summer alien blockbuster Prometheus, Battleship packs all the intellectual nutrition of its simplistic kid game namesake, but manages to be pleasant matinee fodder nonetheless.  The funny first five minutes, which seem more like a male-oriented romantic comedy, had me thinking this was going to be a real treat; but after our hero gets arrested for stealing a burrito to impress a woman, Battleship settles into mostly empty-headed action situations designed to bolster Navy recruitment.  Battleship has an obvious fondness for shots of waving American flags and well-toned, handsome young men in their dashing, manly uniforms.  If anything is more egregious than its crass appropriation of AC/DC for military recruitment, however, it has to be the use, seemingly oblivious of its commentary on hollow patriotism, of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” during the closing credits.  Not a must-see, but not an overly painful see either.  3.5 of 5 stars with accompanying stripes.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Battleship is:

3. Pro-NWO/fifth columnist, advocating sometime abdication of national
sovereignty and possible softening up for movement toward eventual world government.

2. Multiculturalist, celebrating the contributions to our country’s and our planet’s defense by minorities, women, the handicapped, and senior citizens.

1. Pro-military, perpetuating the myths of Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

Not a genre of film I usually enjoy, this fantasy outing is still nicely realized for what it is: an atmospheric, visually impressive, and sometimes humorous dose of high escapism.  A few too many fairies and computer-generated monsters for my taste, but the pacing, action, and attractive cast make it an easy piece of pixie dander to swallow.  The dwarves are pretty tough, actually.  I was thinking during the movie, gee, a couple of these dwarves could be midget twins of Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone – and then, when the credits came up, lo and behold, it really was Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone, turned into dwarves by the magic of computerized Hollywood hooliganism!  There’s more quality scary Charlize Theron (cf. Prometheus) to be had here, as well, but this time way over the top and looking gross for much of her screen time, though always exquisitely (if outlandishly) costumed.  To the film’s credit, however, the evil queen character is allowed some human sympathy and emotional vulnerability.  4 swashbuckling stars out of 5 for the big screen experience, though I don’t expect to return to this film very often.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Snow White and the Huntsman is:

3. Feminist.  The villain is a woman with self-defeating cosmetic preoccupations (and by implication an unhealthy desire to please men to her own detriment), while the heroine self-actualizes by donning a man’s armor and fighting and killing, thus redeeming this otherwise hateful hunk of Eurocentric sludge.

2. Discriminatory, hiring overgrown actors to portray little people.

1. Racist, promoting the reactionary aesthetic delusion of pale Caucasian beauty, with no beauty of color as counterpoint.

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