Friday, June 27, 2014

Transformers Age of Extinction Film Review and Wine Pairing

After watching the last two Transformer's films, I didn't have great expectations going into this newest release of Transformers directed, in part by Steven Spielberg.  The last two I enjoyed but was easily annoyed by the teeny-bop love scenes and all the time their sappy antics took away from what I wanted to be watching - sci-fi, robots, and fighting.

However, very different and trending away from the last production, Transformers Age of Extinction packs a deep punch and is, flat-out, action throughout the entire 2 hours and 40 minutes.  There was a few elements of cheesy loveliness and one sappy scene between two of the star teens but this movie roared to life and is nothing short of Optimus Primo!

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Transformers Age of Extinction propels itself into summer box office glory with good, hard fighting and battle scenes.  There are hot chicks, swearing, and even some gruesome death that render this, easily, the most exciting and violent(Americans love their violence) of all the Transformer films.

What really made this film work for me were the storyline and plot.  In this battle of good versus evil, there is a great deal written into its' depths about ancient aliens and the producers make a clear statement to the audience of just how foolish humans are that we believe we are the center of the universe.  This resonates throughout the film and should serve as a fine lesson for our youth.

With this, there is also several references and inferences mixed into the theme that point at the Inquisition, The Knights Templar, and the Holy Grail.  This gives the film such great depth and renders it even, profound, despite what we all may perceive to be nothing more than plastic toys.  I found this a wonderful injection into an already exhilarating experience.

What makes the movie so exhilarating?  Without giving away too much, let's just say that Mark Wahlberg takes on the role of single parent raising his super-hot teenage daughter and is thrown into the hell of a massive robot war and the potential extinction of humankind.  His character works fine for me as a tough guy in most of his films but, in this, the action is unprecedented as he delves into a Bourne Legacy-like roll and the near misses are so much fun throughout this works' entirety.

There is one wine that comes to my mind that is the very best pairing for this film and that is the Cline 2010 Big Break Zinfandel from Contra Costa County.  This deeply colored zinfandel is named after a big damn collapse that flooded the local farmland, some, 80 years ago.  Its' fruit is deep and robust with just enough cracked pepper to spice up your summer barbecue and pairs very well with the intensity and destruction on the ride that Transformers Age of Extinction takes us.  Have a great summer-

Sunday, June 15, 2014


What do you get when you cross The Blair Witch Project, District 9, Boxing Helena, and Area 51?  The Signal.  The Signal is a sci-fi horror sensation directed by William Eubank and starring Laurence Fishburne. It is nothing shy of a creepy freakshow that crawls and stretches into several different genres of horror.....and crawl and stretch it does, well.

Everything unfolds for a team of young MIT students as their personal computers get hacked and what seems to begin as technological trouble turns into scientific hell.  Without going into the plot too much, bold and adventurous youth wind up so much over their heads that there could not possibly be a happy ending to this film.

The Signal is a case study in the possibility of alien life, advances in technology, and some cold, hard truths about the government and the future of humanity.  At the beginning, I wasn't so sold on the plot and how the story was designed.  By the end, I felt quite differently.  Google this film and watch the trailer.  It is very dark.  Dark is good.

Fishburne stands out so magnificently in is acting as the lead doctor of the secret medical facility that he makes you crawl in your own skin.  He's not saving Keanu in this sci fi plot.  There is no love to lose, here. Rather, he is instrumental to the plot in making patrons in the theater feel very, very uncomfortable.

Hand in hand with all that creeped me out in this film, the imagination that designed and built the technology that is unveiled - once things, really, begin to go south, is absolutely wicked good.  Insightful, inventive, and diabolical, whereas in the beginning I felt this film was taking me into another silly sci fi horror, I was dropped into a nightmare that had me asking my two buddies who saw it with me, many questions about applications for the future, discussing possibilities, challenging reality, and sharing in the general uneasiness we were all feeling.

The Signal could only be paired with a very complex and deep, red wine.  I choose a varietal blend of great character and depth - something founded on several plots with the introduction of several different grapes that mixes a little of each of its' greatness into a wonder of winemaking science:- The 2010 Mariner is a perfect pairing for this super-geeky, existential, science horror experience.  It is composed of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and the rest Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Soft tannins as well as plenty of black currant, cedar and plum characteristics.  Enjoy....and hope you don't receive the signal.