Transformers: Age of Extinction

October 7, 2014

[Drift #35]

The Transformers road trip has lost all but one lone, solitary truck, powering on through a new leg of what may be a never-ending journey.

Yes folks, I did end up going to see Transformers 4, and on this show, Sharon asks me all about my experience. 

Is this a new lease of life for the series? A soft reboot, ditching the former human cast members in favour of all-new ones and setting aside awkward frat comedy for the dilemma of a struggling family. [Sounds great.] Still written by Ehren Kruger and now starring Mark Wahlberg [Oh Jesus Christ!]. The autobots are now a hunted, endangered species, thanks to their heroic genocide of their own people in the last movie, done in the name of protecting us humans, with our interminable capacity for greatness. Plus it has the dinobots [No it doesn't]. And Optimus is seriously suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [Nobody ever mentions it]. Is this better or worse than the first three? Find out right now. 

I do something with Michael Bay halfway through that will surprise you. 

Next pit-stop we are rejoined by a full cast as we delve into the best depiction of these bots in any medium, the animated show, Transformers Prime. Even if you haven't seen it, have no immediate interest or don't want it spoiled we still suggest you listen as the depth, subtlety and character focus we describe in detail will surprise and delight you, leaving everyone wondering why that can never be their big screen representation.

I also start this week's episode with a major announcement regarding this year's annual donation drive.

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon

September 30, 2014

[Drift #34]

Our road trip with the autobots veers off the beaten track and onto a superhighway full of exploding guns and alien car invasion. In a series defined by its crapulence this may actually be its lowest point. Billed by some as a return to form on its release in 2011, which prompted the question from others; "What form?" and from still others "What form will our destructor take?". 

We'll tell you what form in this very podcast. If we sounded like we were in pain on the last episode we can assure you it was just the preliminary wave of agony. This one actually made my heart hurt as well as my brain. 

We wished for Megan Fox to return, that's how bad it got. 

As for plot? The moon landing in 1969 was in fact a secret plot to find a thing and... weird, CGI Kennedy face. I can't even carry on beyond that first minute. Spock is in this. A robot Spock. A robot Spock that actually manageress to defile and spin on its axis one of the greatest lines and greatest sentiments of one of the greatest sci fi movements of all time. Optimus is not only laid low in this, he is in fact unwittingly depicted as John Rambo in First Blood, only in a context far closer to Rambo III. His obvious post-traumatic stress disorder sidelined and ignored in favour of robot carnage and the American flag. A violent juxtaposition of lost themes and soulless jingoism.

It would be churlish to call this film "Evil", it would also fall somewhat short of the mark in describing what a blight upon the world it is. 

This episode also comes with a special announcement.

Next pit-stop; is Transformers: Age of Extinction. After all of this was proven to function perfectly at the box office, why would they stop?

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

September 23, 2014

[Drift #33]

Our road trip with the autobots continues. We hit a bumpy road as the writer's strike of 2007 looms. Fortunately this movie proved that you apparently don't even NEED writers and that a triple-A blockbuster action movie could be sloppily thrown together without discernible structure or coherence and still rake in more than its predecessor. Just cast your eyes over the image I've used for this week's podcast. Ask yourself "A: What the hell were they thinking? and B: Why did everybody let them get away with it?" And that character and his brother are just two of the issues that slaughter any enjoyment and engagement you might have felt.

This is not a movie for watching, it's a movie for laying down and avoiding. It's a terrible experience from beginning to end. Even fans of the original tend to dislike this one. However we're out to establish WHY it's so awful.

Joining us for this leg of the journey is Mike Hearn of the webcomic "Walter the Wicked" who kindly put together some special artwork for the show. Neil Taylor of GameBurst also returns for further punishment. 

Next pit-stop; is Transformers: Dark of the Moon a return to form or is it somehow EVEN WORSE?

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Transformers

September 16, 2014

[Drift #32]

Every now and again I'm reminded on Twitter or the forum that you guys love this show best when we review something we absolutely love. Our passion for it is palpable and in many cases infectious enough to get people who have yet to see the movie in question to finally take the plunge.

This point usually comes up when I mention that we're reviewing something awful. In this case Michael Bay's Transformers movies. 

But there is a silver lining to the critical thunderstorm you're about to hear. Firstly this initial 2007 movie turned out to be a lot more of a mixed bag than we were expecting. It has some genuinely uplifting and well managed moments as well as one or two dryly delivered performances that suggest character of the kind you'd find in good movies. We're actually pretty positive for a while. Now granted that iceberg tip of quality is sitting atop a mountain of mishandled garbage and yes of course we delve into that one with a metaphor for the viewing experience that will haunt your cinema visits.

However it's actually very important that we maul pictures like this every now and again. Without the lows and the shadow the brightness and the highs will never be as intense and purifying. Michael Bay's Transformers sequels in particular are a parallel for the depressing filth of our lives, a soul-devouring mire consuming us from the ankles up that we need to escape with the wings of the Avengers, the Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, basically anything with Chris Pratt. 

Without these inexplicably crowd-pleasing doldrums the journey's end as we come to rest in the warm glow of Transformers Prime has a great deal less meaning. So fill your gas tanks folks, this is going to be one crazy road trip to remember. We promise you by the end you'll be glad you came along. In the other cars riding alongside you'll find Neil Taylor of GameBurst and Andy Rodriguez of the Digital Drift community.

Next pit-stop: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

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The Transformers: The Movie

September 9, 2014

[Drift #31]

This kicks off a surprisingly thorough series of podcasts focusing on the Transformers franchise. I actually said I could barely get one show out of this as there was no high point that I really connected with to balance the many lows. However these toys and the animated show and movie were a huge part of my childhood and that gave me more than enough to engage with.

Coming up in the next few weeks:

1.   The Transformers: The Movie (The 1986 animated feature)
2.   Transformers (The 2007 Michael Bay live action movie)
3.   Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
4.   Transformers: Dark of the Moon
5.   Transformers: Age of Extinction
6.   Transformers Prime (Season 1 of the animated TV show)
7.   Transformers Prime (Part 2, continuing the season 1 discussion)

I’m sure there will be many comic, Beast Wars, Animated and Unicron trilogy fans out there who would want me to cover those shows as well but listen for the next few weeks and you’ll see we actually run the gamut on as much Transformer lore as we could muster without going insane.

For this first outing we take a look at the original animated series incarnation of the shape-shifting robots, a movie commissioned to sell a new wave of toys but actually created by a small team of dedicated Transformers fans who really wanted to do something special. Much like the 2007 TMNT movie this one was disregarded by adults for being a cartoon and performed feebly at the box office, while the live action versions which came later drew in massive crowds of dads and kids.

It’s daft and incoherent and when disassembled makes barely a lick of sense but it has a soundtrack that can only be described as rad, and it’s still cherished by many people as it meant something to them, not least because of the death of Optimus Prime, a move that took Peter Cullen’s classically inspiring portrayal of the character 21 years to journey back to permanent fixture. Joining Sharon and I are Neil Taylor of GameBurst and Ryan Astley of Exient games. 

Next week we begin to assess the Bay films and see if they were really all that bad, but this week… Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bong! 

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