The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Transmorphers (2007)

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I'm not sure when I first learned of the existence of The Asylum. Maybe it was on imdb. Maybe a friend mentioned them. Anyway, once I saw their long list of movies with titles similar to major Hollywood hits: things like The Da Vinci Treasure and When a Killer Calls, I knew I needed to check them out. This film was tops on my list.

Transmorphers is more like Cleopatra 2525 than Transformers. It takes place 400 years after a race of robots has taken over the world and driven humanity underground. A small group of revolutionaries has attempted to break free of this cycle of futility and fight back, and they were frozen by the other humans for their efforts. But a new technological breakthrough has given humanity a new weapon in their fight, and the ring leader of the old revolution is thawed and sent to help utilize this breakthrough. If he fails, the robot will learn where the humans are hiding and exterminate them. If he succeeds, it'll be time to party!

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I wanted to hate this film when I rented it, and believe me, it's not very good; but I can't say I hated it. Sure, there really isn't anything original about it: it steals from Star Trek, Star Wars, The Matrix, it's namesake: Transformers, Cleopatra 2525, Android... I could go on. On the other hand, it's more like the film maker is stuffing everything he thinks is cool about sci-fi into one movie, and getting paid for it. Don't get me wrong, this is atrocious. The dialog is poor, the acting leaves much to be desired, and the plot is a jumbled mess. I guess it's just a fun bad movie and fun to make fun of.

There was one solid actor in this. The hero, played by Matt Wolf, and, surprise surprise, he's the only one with a half-way decent acting resume. He had a role in the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I wonder if the cast asked him what Johnny Depp was like. Most of Wolf's work has been limited to voice acting in video games, which makes sense because he's from London. I hope to see him in more stuff in the future-- just not from Asylum!

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This movie is chock full of women. Many of the upper ranks of the army are female, including the head general. According to the Making Of short included in the DVD, the head general was originally supposed to be a man, and the director just decided to keep the script the same when he cast a woman. That meant she had a lesbian relationship with the woman that was supposed to be in love with the hero. That was definitely a cool move on their part to keep that. Another aspect of gender equality came from the use of the word "sir" for both men and women, stolen, of course, from Star Trek. The main question with a film of this caliber would be: is it promoting gender equity, or is it using gender equity as an excuse to populate the film with tons of hot chicks? It's probably the later, but I'll give them points for the effort.

The robots were done entirely in CGI. One friend described them as "Mechwarrior 2 graphics". Though I never played that game, I get the description. These special effects were solid in 1995, but for 2007, I think the software needs to be updated. Unlike the Transformers, these robots only come in a few types, and they don't really do anything spectacular. They may change from a foot soldier to something that flies. In some cases they don't even transform, making the title even more the cash grab that it was.

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In the Making Of segment, one of the actors makes that crucial misstep when being interviewed and takes the accolades too far. He actually says that the director, a man named Leigh Scott, will be the next Spielberg. Wow. This guy's lucky if he'll be the next Albert Pyun or Nico Mastorakis. I love watching the Making Ofs of these atrocious assaults on the art of cinema. The actors and crew do a great job of selling to us that they're really making a great film. I just wish they could watch themselves talking on camera with us people who live in the real world. I know they can't just say "This movie sucks and I only did it to pad my resume; but just the same, I think this is a little much, and I think my agent and I really need to sit down and decide if law school isn't the best option for me." Do they need to lay it on so thick, though, with the "He was such a great director to work with" or the "I really loved that with this character I got to do something I don't usually do as an actor"? We may be dumb enough to rent Transmorphers, but we're not that dumb.

When my friend rented this, the guy behind the counter warned him explicitly that this was not Transformers. I missed out on that because I got it through Netflix. I think if you're going to see this silly thing, rent it from your local video store, and see if you get the warning. If you don't, try taking it back after you watch it and getting a refund. It wouldn't hurt, and you and your friends could have a discounted bad movie night.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0960835/

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