Tag Archives: Movies

Transformers: Age of Extinction

It’s been a while since I did a review for the Michael Bay Transformers movies (a.k.a. the Bayformers movies). I meant to continue on with it, but other topics came to me a lot quicker and I ended up getting sidetracked. But I’m back now to continue on with the reviews. And with the release of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts coming out next year, now feels like a good time to pick these reviews back up.

With this being the fourth installment in the franchise, Transformers: Age of Extinction decided to try new things. New characters were introduced, both human and Cybertronian alike. the Dinobots make their debut. Human/Cybertronian conflicts are picked up and a way to introduce Galvatron was introduced.

This movie was played a lot on FX and it’s sister channels. So much so that I did get around to it thanks to FX, since Dark of the Moon was the last of these movies I watched in theaters and had no interest in doing so with the others.

The Review

I would say that this is a very middle of the road movie. There are things that I liked about it, and things that I didn’t. However, compared to say the first movie or Dark of the Moon, I wouldn’t say it was one that I really enjoyed.

Positive: The Designs

As always, the designs of the Cybertronians is something I enjoyed. Optimus and Bumblebee have stayed relatively the same. Optimus keeps his general look and color scheme with him looking more aged and/or worn at times, while Bumblebee keeps his iconic yellow with a bit more black.

I also liked some of the designs of some of the newer Cypertronians introduced. Mainly Crosshairs. Lockdown has a neat design too, as does Galvatron. Hound’s is pretty solid, and I am mixed about Drift’s. The faces may seem a bit uncanny or too humanoid, which I won’t deny. It does feel a little odd that the faces seem more human and less mechanical. That’s not to say that faces didn’t have aspects that would be considered slightly humanoid in previous movies, it’s just a lot more apparent here.

Either way, most of the designs are pretty solid. And when it comes to Crosshairs’ design, I think what I really liked about the design was how it had that trench coat look in the back. It might seem weird, but I liked how it didn’t seem as dense when he moved. It moved like it was a coat and not metal, if that makes sense. Kind of like it was like the mechanical/metallic version of a coat moving.

Negative: The Plot Feels Disjointed at Times

Is there a plot? Yes. Did each part of said plot seamlessly work into the next? No. While the overarching conflict might have been the hunt for the Autobots and using other Cybertroninas to create a market and the government being involved. That said, it feels like there are three different plot points that just don’t seem to blend into each other that well.

One is the Autobots and Cade Yeager’s group being pursued. Optimus doesn’t want to deal with the humans anymore after everything they put them through. He also wants to retaliate for what they did to Ratchet. And along the way, he find some faith in Cade and his family and wants to figure out what’s going on back on Cybertron.

The second plot point would be the Lockdown portion. Lockdown is hunting down Optimus because their creator is looking for him. This is kind of tied with the whole government perusing Optimus plot, where he’s working with Kelsey Grammer’s character, but for his own purpose. Not because he wants to help them.

Then there’s the whole Dinobot subplot. That one feels the most jarring to me. Because while the Dinobots are neat characters and seem like a cool addition, their introduction doesn’t feel at all natural. But I’ll get into that a bit more in a little.

And somewhere in there there’s Galvatron. Which is a neat addition and a neat way to bring back Megatron. Even if this is the second time he was revived (he was revived in Revenge of the Fallen, lived through Revenge of the Fallen dying in Dark of the Moon, and revived again here).

All of these plot points are fine on their own. However, to me, it doesn’t feel like they worked together as well as they could. It feels like there is a lot going on, but it might not always feel like it connects.

Positive: Introducing New Characters

Granted, some characters were better than others in this movie, but I do think that it was a good idea to start with a new batch of characters. Sam’s story was pretty much told. Though it would have been nice to know what happened to him between this movie and the last (there might be an explanation in a tie in comic or something, I just don’t recall if they addressed it in the movie).

And in terms of Cybertronians, I do think the additions for the most part are neat. Lockdown made for an interesting villain and I do feel like the Autobots introduced were neat in their own ways. Galatron felt like a cool additon and a change in how Megatron came back, which kind of lines up with how he came back as Galavtron in the cartoons and comics.

Negative: How the Dinobots Were Introduced

Now, I don’t think anyone would be opposed to the Dinobots appearing necessarily. Sure, they might be treated more like animals in the movie when compared to them being more of a different subsection of Cybertronians, however, the Dinobots are a neat addition. Especially since blend two pretty popular and iconic creatures: dinosaurs and robots.

What I think the issue is, is how they are introduced. As I mentioned previously, it does feel disjointed at times, and I think how the Dinobots were introduce is the biggest factor in that. They were alluded to at the beginning of the movie, but between that and when they were brought in, there was no mention of them.

Mixed: The Human Characters

One critique in terms of newly introduced characters would be with the human characters. They do tend to feel like the weakest link in these movies in my experience. Or at the very least that’s something people have the most criticisms with in terms of characters (not always, since Mudflap and Skids are an example of criticized Cybertronians, but it’s usually the human characters that people may draw the most criticisms from in terms of characters). Cade I feel like was a solid change in main human characters, a father and mechanic who wants to protect his family. I don’t think Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci’s characters were too bad, maybe not as well utilized, but compared to some human characters, not the absolute worst in my opinion. The worst in this movie, at least for me was Tessa and Shane. I just didn’t really care for them. They did help at various points, but they weren’t all that interesting in my opinion and I think I was just kind of tired of the budding romance that these movies had.

Positive: Frank Welker as Galvatron

This might sound like an odd positive, but it was one that I appreciated. While I certainly enjoyed Hugo Weaving’s time as Megatron, I liked how they brought back the original voice of Megatron. That being Frank Welker.

Previously, the only actor that they had brought back from the original 1984 animated series was Peter Cullen. And though Frank Welker would go on to reprise the role for a few games and the next movie, Transformers Prime was the first series that reunited these two as their staple characters four years prior. So having him reprise the role in a movie was nice.

I also think it’s a neat nod to the 1986 animated movie, where there was a voice actor change. In the movie, when Megatron became Galvatron, Leonard Nimoy took over for Frank Welker. The latter would go on to take over for the remaining two seasons of the animated series, however, there was that voice change when the character changed.

And I feel like that’s kind of what they did. Though considering Hugo Weaving was a little bit more selective with his roles around the time Age of Extinction was under way, that might not have been the initial intent. Even so, I just think a neat way to have that switch, even if it wasn’t why that change was made.

Negative: It Didn’t Feeling as Engaging and Feels Familiar

Maybe it’s because of how often FX played it, or maybe it was me just not being as invested in the movies after Dark of the Moon, but it doesn’t feel as engaging as it could have been. When this movie was released in theaters, I don’t recall being as invested in or excited about the movie. Not enough for me to want to see it in theaters anyways. And then when it had its home release, I didn’t feel compelled to but it like I had with the first three.

And when it comes to FX, it did feel like they played this one more than any other movie in this franchise. There isn’t anything wrong with re-watching a movie or a station to play the movie however many times it pleases, I just feel like they played it excessively. And that didn’t really help me feel like it was worth catching until I finally decided to sit through the whole thing.

The plot could also factor in since it doesn’t feel like it tried too many new ideas. There were some, like the dynamic with a new cast of characters and the creation of Galvatron, but other than that, I don’t feel like it took as many risks as it could have. That doesn’t mean I think the plot was all bad. I can see what it was going for. I guess it feels rather formulaic. It feels a bit similar to the previous movies (ex evading the government, a big showdown with Megatron, a battle with the other big bads like Sentinel and the Fallen, etc.).

Conclusion

I would probably give this movie a 6.5 out of 10. I feel like there were some good ideas here, like new characters, neat designs and bringing Frank Welker back. The human characters I feel are a hit or miss group in these movies, but characters like Cade, I think were alright. However, the slight disconnect at certain times, how the Dinobots were introduced, and the fact it didn’t feel as engaging or new did bring this movie down for me.

But what did you think of this movie? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?

Nightcrawler: Where it Started, Why I Like Him, and Comics I Own and Have Read

It might go without saying, but Nightcrawler is my favorite Marvel character.  In my experience, I will find that one character that I really get invested in and want to read up on.  When it comes to DC, that comes in the form of Tim Drake (Red Robin/Robin III), Roy Harper (Speedy/Arsenal), Joey Wilson (Jericho), and Ra’s al Ghul.  Of course, I enjoy other characters from both Marvel and DC (ex. Wolverine, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, Red Hood (Jason Todd), and Starfire), but there will usually be one or two characters that I will always return to.

I thought I would go over where my interest for Nightcrawler began, why I like him, and X-Men comics that I own, alongside Nightcrawler centered stories.

A Little Bit of Background on My Relationship with Marvel and DC

Before I jump right in, I feel like I should preface this stating how I was mostly a DC viewer growing up.  A number of my favorite shows as a kid included Static Shock, Teen Titans, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Batman Beyond.  I did watch Marvel shows like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and snippets of X-Men Evolution, enjoyed the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, as well as liking the first 2000’s Fantastic Four.  I would certainly say I was more of a DC fan as a kids. 

That kind of continued when I finally got into comics during the rise of DC’s Rebirth comic line after spending years as a slightly more avid manga reader.  I started reading up on characters I liked and branched out and found new characters and series to enjoy.  Recently, I feel like I’ve hit a wall with what to read next with DC.  With Rebirth ending and not really knowing what to jump into next, I was at a bit of a stalemate.  During this time is when I got interested in checking out Marvel content.  More specifically Nightcrawler/X-Men.  I cannot pinpoint exactly when or why it started, but it was in the last few months.

Currently, I’ve read through a good chunk of the original X-Men run, read through the 2003 run of Wolverine, a few smaller X-Men runs like X-Men Gold, X-Men Red, and All New X-Men, and am planning to jump into Sandman (DC/Gaiman) and getting into the X-Men run starting with House of X.  

The Beginning: Where it Began

With that little bit of history out of the way, allow me to get into Nightcrawler.  I guess it would have started with X-Men Evolution.  I didn’t watch it much when I was younger, but when I did catch it, I found myself liking Kurt.  It probably had to do with how laid back he was and him being the more comedic of the gang (that probably contributed to why I liked TMNT 2003’s Michelangelo too).  One episode of X-Men Evolution I remember watching was Middleverse, the season one episode where Kurt accidently ends up in another dimension of sorts and meets Forge.  It wasn’t the only X-Men media I had watched over the years, as I also remember seeing Wolverine 2013, First Class, and was overall aware of the X-Men movies.  Though, I will admit that I never got around to all of it back then.  

Jump to the latter half of 2021.  I was trying to find more graphic novels to read, but I was at a bit of a stalemate.   I fell into a bit of a DC slump.  Rebirth was ending and The Joker War event, mainly what they did with the Nightwing portion, I think burnt me out a little.  Nothing seemed to be grasping my interest except for Batman Urban Legends, which is where Tim Drake came out as bisexual.  Side note: I actually purchased a hard copy of Batman Urban Legends not too long ago. 

It would be around this time that I would start getting into Nightcrawler.  And it involved a crossover in a DC community I am apart of.  It’s there that this interest in Kurt returned.  It would respawned an interest in Nightcrawler and be what lead to my getting into X-Men as a whole.

Then came the movies, which I am getting around to binging.  I think the only reason I hadn’t was because of how the timeline diverged after First Class and/or Days of Future Past, and for whatever reason that confused me at first.  That and the poor reception of The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Dark Phoenix.  In hindsight, the timeline of the movies isn’t all that complicated, and I’m still going to watch all of movies, weaker ones included.  The movies also had some stellar casting choices.  Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, and Hugh Jackman were all iconic.  A good chunk of the cast was also good.  For instance, people really seem to enjoy Evan Peters’ Peter (Pietro) Maximoff, myself included. 

And of course, there’s Kurt Wagner.  Portrayed by Alan Cummings in X2 and Kodi Smit-McPhee in Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix, I would say both did well with the character.  I kind of like Kodi Smit-McPhee’s a little better, but Alan Cummings did good too.  I only wish either appearance confirmed Nightcrawler’s relation with Mystique, his mother.  Heck, they could have confirmed both of Nightcrawler’s parents in Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix since Azazel, his father, appeared in First Class (and later confirmed dead) and Mystique was present since First Class.

That’s were it all began.  An interest in Nightcrawler’s X-Men Evolution would go dormant until a crossover event reignited by interest in the character.  And his portrayals in the movies have caught my interest.  

The Character: Why I Like Him

Why do I like Nightcrawler?  There’s a lot to like about him, I think.  In terms of design, he looks pretty cool.  His abilities are neat and his weaknesses make sense.  For me, it comes down to personality, backstory, and what he represents.

In terms of personality, he’s light-hearted and optimistic.  He can display moments of anger, sorrow, and fear, but he is usually seen as pretty positive, all things considered.  And with Logan being his best friend, it’s the perfect balance to his more stern and pessimistic world view.  He’s flirty, but not in a problematic or annoying kind of way.  In some ways, he could be seen as a hopeful outlook for the future, while also not being blind to the problems in the world.  

His backstory.  There is a lot that went wrong in his life, despite what his more positive outlook might suggest.  His mother abandoned him as a baby.  The circus that he was raised in drugged and used him.  Said circus was also going to sell him to be a road side attraction if not for Margali Szardos, his adopted mother, freeing him.  And because of a promise he made, Kurt had to kill his adopted brother when he lost his mind and killed a bunch of people, not that the mob knew.

I think his past is something that helps show how despite how terrible things can be, people can still come out of it on top.  It might not be easy, but it is possible.  Life didn’t give Nightcrawler much peace prior to joining the X-Men.  Margali and her biological children certainly love him like family, but the circus they were apart of wanted to exploit him.  And the reason Charles found him being pursued was because the mob chasing him thought he killed Stefan Szardos and the missing people, when in actuality, Stefan killed the missing people and Kurt only killed Stefan out of self-defense and a promise he made to Stefan, where if Stefan went off the deep end, Kurt would stop him.  Yet, he never became cruel later in life, rather, he was a better person than those who wronged him.

I also kind of like how he got the last name Wagner.  At least originally.  I’m not sure if Marvel ever retconned the whole thing where Mystique was married to Baron Christian Wagner and had an affair with Azazel, which later lead to Kurt’s conception, and that being where Kurt got his last name despite not being the baron’s biological son.  Originally, Kurt took on the last name Wagner because of a priest to housed him after Margali released him and he was being pursued.  Father Wagner gave Kurt a place to stay, despite Kurt’s “demonic” appearance.  This is also where Kurt’s teleporting would come into effect as he would use it when Herr Getmann’s men came for him.  He did end up leaving the church, but Kurt didn’t forget the priest’s kindness, taking on the last name Wagner in his honor.  

As for what Kurt represents, I feel he fits into a few different categories.  I’ve mentioned how he represents good people rising up from bad situations, which is one thing he can represent.  Something else he represents is how people shouldn’t judge things based on how they appear.  The old Never Judge a Book by It’s Cover saying if you will.  He might look evil/demonic, but is one of the most kind hearted and saintly people out there.  That’s something that also makes his friendship with Logan great and so symbolic.  Both of them are considered monsters in some way, externally (Kurt) or internally (Logan).  Yet, both are also human.  Logan has gone onto say how Kurt is one of the most saintly guys he’s met, and Kurt, despite knowing how gruesome his job can be, sees the good in Logan and knows that he’s not an animal or evil.

One other thing I feel Kurt represents, and this could just be me, is irony.  He’s a “demon” yet he’s Catholic.  He’s morally good, while his parents would be considered morally bad (though Mystique could be morally grey given she isn’t purely evil and has helped her children).  Both of which I feel perfectly define what irony is.  

Reading Between the Lines: Comics I’ve Read and Comics I Own

I own a handful of X-Men comics.  Some solo series, some with the team.  Nightcrawler has a few solo series: Age of X-Men: The Amazing Nightcrawler, X-Men Icons: Nightcrawler, a four issue mini series, and two twelve solo series in 2003 and 2014.  Of his solo pieces, I own the 2003 and 2014.  I haven’t started them yet, but I have skimmed through both. 

As far as X-Men comics with Nightcrawler as a central character, I’ve read and own several.  Of course there is the X-Men run in the 70’s, starting with Giant Sized X-Men #1 by Chris Claremont.  That run, which does go on for several years, is recommended by quite a few people who want to start X-Men comics.  It’s a classic and a good place for a start.  I don’t own any of the Claremont run, but I do have a list of issues that I’d like to purchase one day.  A few other series I’ve read through in their entirety include X-Men Gold, Extraordinary X-Men.  I’ve read some of Wolverine’s 2003 run, some of Wolverine’s first solo, Second Coming, the story where Nightcrawler dies, and one volume of Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men.  Specifically the Trial of Juggernaut volume since it had the notoriously bad story, The Draco, which I only read after I learned about Kurt’s father through the First Class movie and his appearance in Amazing X-Men volume one (the one where Nightcrawler is brought back to life).

I like Azazel, and don’t mind him as Kurt’s father.  It’s a bit of an unpopular opinion, but that’s okay.  I was going to read The Draco either way because I wanted to see how bad it was.  But since I liked Azazel in his other appearances, The Draco didn’t tarnish it much, outside of thinking that the story could have been a whole lot better.

A few other comics I own, but have yet to start, include House of M, Inferno, Giant-Sized X-Men volume #1 (2020), Way of X, X-Men (2020) volume one, Amazing X-Men volume 1 The Quest for Nightcrawler, The Hellfire Gala, Wolverine (2020) volumes 1-3, The Death of Wolverine, The Return of Wolverine, Wolverine: Weapon X the Gallery Edition, and Wolverine the Deluxe Edition.  I might be missing one or two, but those are the ones I know I own.  Nightcrawler also appears in a number of them.

I would certainly say that my collection is very Nightcrawler and Wolverine involved.  Yes, the broader X-Men comics do have the rest of the X-Men, but if there was a pattern, that would be it.  Which is by no means a problem.  Everyone reads comics a bit differently.  I will certainly read a series if it interests me, but I also like reading comics with my favorite characters.  It’s a reader by reader basis.

While I would recommend all of these, if you are looking for Nightcrawler reads, I would recommend: Claremont’s run starting with Giant-Sized X-Men #1, Nightcrawler (2003), Wolverine by Greg Rucka #6, for both a great story with Logan and Kurt and a gem of a censor passing cover, Second Coming, Amazing X-Men, Nightcrawler (2014), House of M, X-Men Gold, X-Men (2020), Giant-Sized X-Men (2020), Return of Wolverine, Way of X, and Inferno.  There are more out there, I am still working my way through X-Men comics. 

And as for movies, I’d recommend X2, X-Men Apocalypse, and X-Men Dark Phoenix.  I know the last one is considered more of a miss, just like the Dark Phoenix adaptation before it (The Last Stand), but thought I would include it.

BAMF: The Conclusion

Though not X-Men’s most popular member, Nightcrawler is one that is generally liked.  For me, a combination of his personality, backstory, adaptations, and what he symbolically represents is what I enjoy.  I also really enjoy his friendship with Logan.  I hope you enjoyed this little deep dive into why I like Kurt Wagner.  

Now I leave you with the following.  What are your thoughts on Nightcrawler?  What are your favorite adaptations of Nightcrawler?  Favorite stories?  Who’s your favorite X-Men member?