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Thoughts on '500 Days of Summer' and 'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen' . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, July 27, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: '500 Days of Summer': Matinee or possibly full price if your wife/fiance/girlfriend would make you see another romantic comedy like 'The Ugly Truth' instead of this one, which is several cuts above most projects in this genre.

'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen': Matinee. Unless you're paying per explosion - in which case you could easily justify payiing full price - then you might not be too disappointed with paying matinee prices even though this is a long, loud and fairly dumb exercise in summer movie-making.

Will I Own It On DVD: '500 Days of Summer': Possibly. If the price comes down on this one ($15 or under), then it might be worth owning one day.

'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen': No. It might be worth one more viewing (though probably not) to watch Megan Fox and the fairly nifty special effects, however, it is not worth owning.

1) '500 Days of Summer' was a buzzed-about project from this past Sundance film festival, and it generally earns the praise that was heaped upon it because it soars above most romantic comedies thanks to a story that is frequently more tart than sweet, and above all, realistic versus merely a stylized pairing of actors. A narrator (one slightly irritating part of the film) warns viewers from the start that '500 Days' is not a love story, but that is not true, it's simply not a neatly presented one, which makes it more believable.

2) The other trick that the film uses effectively is time sequencing as the title refers to 500 days in the relationship between Gordon Joseph-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, a narrative device that skips all over the place during its running time, so you might see an early blosomming relationship vignette followed by another where things are becoming strained. This is not as gimmicky as it sounds, and to its credit, the film tends to focus on the in-between points of a relationship instead of the standard arc that most rom-coms adhere to with a fierce devotion.

3) At the end of the day, however, these kinds of films rely heavily on the chemistry (or lack thereof) of the lead characters. In '500 Days,' both Gordon-Levit and Deschanel give fully realized performances both individually as well as when they are developing their relationship. This allows the audience to pull for both characters even though neither is wholly guily or innocent as things start to unravel, and it is a testament to both actors skill that they don't allow anyone to turn into an audience scapegoat.

4) I only saw the first ‘Transformers’ movie a month or two ago mainly because from the first preview and description of the idea, I thought I would absolutely loathe everything about the project outside of Megan Fox. But it turned out to be perversely entertaining – if far too long – mostly because it didn’t take itself too seriously, had some cool special effects, a less irritating turn by Shia LeBeouf than I figured and also had a fun performance by John Turturro as well as the aforementioned Fox, who director Michael Bay liked to film with an unseen wind machine constantly blowing her hair around like a soft-core porn video.

5) Unfortunately, ‘Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen’ is louder, longer and dumber than the original and even seeing it on an IMAX screen (which was semi-cool) couldn’t enhance the material enough to even recommend it as a guilty pleasure. I guess if all you want is 2 ½ hours of bombastic explosions and people yelling ‘Run,’ then you’ll probably like the movie, but for me, this got tiresome fairly quickly. That being said, the special effects are even more impressive this time around, although that also means new robots, the majority of which range from mediocre to irritating to borderline racist.

6) ‘Transformers’ is not a franchise overly concerned with acting, so it’s hard to rate performances when the majority of screen time is spent running with sweat dripping off your face (Shia LeBeouf) or with a heaving bosom (Megan Fox). But nobody really stands out in this sequel as everyone is adequate (even Turturro isn’t quite as fun as the original), but the law of diminishing returns has definitely set in, which is unfortunate because the movie sets itself up for another entry and based on the vast sums of money this one is raking in, it seems like a foregone conclusion that a 3rd film is inevitable.



  1. Heff Says:
  2. Never heard of the first movie mentioned, but sadly, HAVE heard of the 2nd one, lol.

    I'm sure that in roughly 6 months my Dish Network service will BOMBARD me with Transformers 2 constantly.

  3. Heff - You're probably right . . . here's my advice: watch the first 15 minutes (Fox is introduced crouched over a motorcycle) and the last 20 minutes (set in Egypt which is a cool back-drop).

  4. wigsf Says:
  5. As a pretty big TF fan, I had to see TF 2. I saw it on IMAX. I will say this about that. Devastator was pretty frickin' cool. And I want to fuck Megan Fox until my dick falls off. Other than that, the movie is complete throw away. I kinda dozed off a couple of times during the movie too.

  6. Linda Says:
  7. I'm looking forward to seeing (500)Days of Summer myself. Joseph Gordon Leveitt has always been a favorite of mine. Impressed you could sit through Transformers 2 in IMAX, that's one loud, dumb movie. The first one was so much better.

  8. JLee Says:
  9. I just saw the previews for "500 Days" this weekend and our resident movie geek at work loved it, so I'll probably check it out soon. As far as Transformers, the first one was fun, so I may go see it if desperate to beat the heat one weekend. ha

  10. WIGSF - The IMAX is probably the best way to see it at all, and you could easily doze through parts and not miss anything important - another explosion is just around the corner.

    Linda - I think you'll really like '500 Days' as I'm kind of lukewarm about Gordon Leveitt myself, but enjoyed him in this film. And you're right about 'Transformers' as it was louder and dumber and bigger there, and the first one was a lot better.

    Jlee - A lot of movie geeks have been fawning over 'Days,' and even though I didn't love it quite as much as some of them, it was still pretty damn good (especially for the genre). And that is the main reason I would recommend seeing 'Transformers' as it would be 2 1/2 hours out of the 100 degree heat. Ha.

  11. kmwthay Says:
  12. I haven't heard of the 500 days movie, but it sounds like something I might like to see. Not so much with the transformers. I'd rather play in traffic.

  13. So I just thought of the one major drawback to having the chance to date Megan Fox: Not only would I have to watch the Transformers movies, but I'd have to pretend like I enjoyed them if I ever hoped to get any action from her. It'd be worth it, but it'd be hard.

  14. Boxer Says:
  15. with the temps getting into the mid-high 90's this week, I'm already looking for an air conditioned theater to plop myself in and "500" was on my short list.

    I'm officially too old for action movies (unless Depp or Robert Downey are in it.) and that makes me happy.

  16. TROLL Y2K Says:
  17. "Fully realized performance". I'm going to lay that compliment on a hooker in lieu of payment.


  18. Kmwthay - Ha. I felt the exact same way, and then turned out to enjoy the first one. You were right about the second. And check out '500 Days' if it makes it your way as it is only playing a 1 small art theater in Austin.

    Native Minnow - I never thought of that . . . you're right as it would be hard to fake some things, while others would be no trouble at all. Ha. And I really don't know if she can act at all at this point.

    Boxer - I'm generally with you on the action movie front as explosions do next to nothing for me these days. I was so surprised I liked the first one, but now I'm thinking I was so prepared to hate it that when I didn't, it just escalated up to greatness. Ha. Go check out '500 Days' as it's worth a trip.

    Troll Y2K - You're welcome, but don't come back to me if she plants a spiked heal in your back. Ha. Fair warning.


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