Talking Movies

July 31, 2019

From the Archives: Transformers

Another dive into the pre-Talking Movies archives brings us to where it all began with Sam Witwicky trying to impress his hot classmate by buying his first car, and not bargaining on that car being an alien robot or his grandfather’s glasses being key to ending an alien civil war.

Two warring factions of a race of sentient robots invade Earth searching for the powerful Allspark which alone can end their battle. A geeky teenager who holds the key to its location will be protected by one of the most iconic characters of the 1980s.

If that last sentence sounds a bit like a description of Die Hard 4.0 that’s because Transformers, like Die Hard, is a blockbuster that just scraped the American PG-13 rating but is really not aimed at kids so much as kidults. Transformers is the blockbuster that saves this underperforming summer of wet weather and wetter sequels. Which is quite something given that it’s directed by Michael Bay, the man who gave us Pearl Harbour, a cinematic atrocity that will live in infamy. But Bay, suitably chastened by the failure of The Island, has finally grown up. The fingerprints of his producer Steven Spielberg are all over this film. He has managed to make Bay stop editing his films like a 5 year old on a sugar rush and adopt a sceptical attitude to the godlike status of the American military. He has also, in a nod to another film he executive produced, turned the Decepticon Frenzy (the sneaky one who spied on people, here a small ghetto-blaster) into a robotic Gremlin who is mischievous as hell and even chuckles maliciously like the Gremlins.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is our typically nerdy Spielbergian hero, desperately trying to impress classmate Mikaela (Megan Fox) with his first car. The car though is the Autobot BumbleBee, sent to protect Sam, who can only communicate thru the car radio (frequently hilariously). Transformers is surprisingly funny. Between LaBeouf and John Turturro as a secretive government agent there are scenes in this film with so much neurotic bumbling going on that you half expect Woody Allen to show up demanding royalties. There’s a full very entertaining hour of Sam trying to impress Mikaela and failing miserably, and Bumblebee trying to keep Sam safe from Frenzy, Blackout and Scorponok (the Decepticons hunting him and hacking American military computers for the whereabouts of their leader Megatron) before the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, arrives on earth.

Prime, still voiced by Peter Cullen, is exactly as you remember him. Rendered in the colours of Superman, willing to sacrifice his own life to save others, he remains one of the pre-eminent Jesus figures of pop culture. When that truck-rig emerges from a mythical mist you know he will still have never-ending reserves of compassion. Sadly his nemesis Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving) is given too little time to make the menacing impression he really should. The last 40 minutes are an utter orgy of destruction on freeways and city streets but as Bay has made us care deeply about all these characters, human and robot, this is the most gripping pyrotechnics he’s ever delivered.

4/5

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April 6, 2019

You Have Been Listening To…: Part II

It is the third weekend of a personal hiatus from the radio. There will be no more reviews by me of any kind on Dublin City FM 103.2 till May. But here’s a round-up of links to the previous editions of Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle and a list of the films we discussed on each one if you’re eager to explore the back catalogue.

DECEMBER

Review of 2018 (A Quiet Place) + TV Choice Die Hard 2 + Classic Home Alone

Review of 2018 (Mission Impossible 6, Goldstone) + TV Choice Spectre + Classic Duck Soup

Review of 2018 (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, The Old Man and the Gun) + TV Choice Skyfall + Classic Home Alone 2

Preview of 2019 (Once Upon A Time in Hollywood) + TV Choice Edge of Tomorrow + Classic The Great Escape

 

JANUARY

BumbleBee + TV Choice John Wick + Classic Blade Runner

Stan & Ollie + TV Choice In the Line of Fire + Classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Glass + TV Choice Speed + Classic Heat

Vice + Oscars 2019

 

FEBRUARY

Happy Death Day 2U + TV Choice The Social Network + Classic Tom Jones

Cold Pursuit + TV Choice La La Land + Classic The Taking of Pelham 123

 

MARCH

The Aftermath + TV Choice Hunt for the Wilderpeople + Classic The Third Man

Fighting with my Family + TV Choice Boyhood + Classic The Italian Job

Classic The Enemy Below + Classic The Woman in the Window

January 7, 2019

Notes on BumbleBee

The first Sunday Breakfast Show of 2019 featured a catch-up movie of the week – BumbleBee.

Michael Bay is nowhere to be seen for this Transformers spin-off in which BumbleBee comes to Earth in the 1980s and gets heavy into John Hughes nostalgia. Wait no, that’s us the audience. BumbleBee is simply here to comically bumble about with Hailee Steinfeld and stick it to the (military) man John Cena while evil Decepticons who appear to have wandered in off of Seth Rogen’s TV show Futureman chase him around the place.

Listen here:

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