Sunday, June 28, 2009

Posing in front of the Corvette Stingray that represents the Autobot known as Sideswipe in TRANSFORMERS 2.

YESTERDAY, I drove down to ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, where I took pictures of the vehicles that made up Ironhide, Sideswipe and Bumblebee in Revenge of the Fallen. Pretty awesome. Back in 2007, I also took photos of the life-size Bumblebee movie prop when it was placed in front of a shopping center at the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. As of this Blog, you can see the statue in front of the AMC theater at Universal Citywalk in Hollywood. Now if only they had the Peterbilt truck that represented Optimus Prime displayed somewhere...or least the F-22 fighter for Starscream. Just kidding. I already saw an F-22 in person at an air show a few years ago.

The GMC Topkick truck that represents Ironhide in TRANSFORMERS 2.

The Corvette Stingray that represents Sideswipe in TRANSFORMERS 2.

The 2010 Chevy Camaro that represents Bumblebee in TRANSFORMERS 2.

Below are actual outfits worn by Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson in Revenge of the Fallen. I hope those mannequins don’t reflect the actual height of the actors... Otherwise, Megan Fox would be much taller than me.

The outfits worn by Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox in TRANSFORMERS 2.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Optimus Prime chills near the Great Sphinx in Egypt.

REVENGE OF THE FALLEN: The Review... So I saw Transformers 2 on Wednesday, and I finally have time to give my take on Michael Bay’s latest film. Considering the fact I’ve devoted almost 2 years to writing about Transformers (both this one and the 2007 original...which I will refer to as TF1) on this Blog, I’d first like to point out the many positive aspects about this newest Bay blockbuster.

Bumblebee fights the Decepticon known as Rampage.


First and foremost, Optimus Prime rocked. From his introduction rolling out of that C-17 aircraft over Shanghai and transforming in mid-air, to him making quick work of Demolisher after hanging onto the Decepticon as he wrought havoc around the Chinese city, to him owning Starscream and Blackout in that forest battle, and then to him having a final confrontation with The Fallen in Egypt, Prime was totally awesome. A lot of people (including myself) took issue with how he was completely overmatched by Megatron in the first film... It’s nice to see him show what a great warrior he is when he takes on said Decepticons mentioned above. And Peter Cullen, as usual, did a nice job giving the Autobot leader his noble and commanding voice. "I rise, you fall..." Damn right, Optimus. Bumblebee was dope. He totally rocked as he beat the crap out of Rampage and, um, "de-boned" Ravage as Soundwave’s feline minion tried to attack the Autobot during Revenge of the Fallen’s climax. And I thought Bumblebee’s lack of speech had a much better effect in this film than in TF1. It made him look more like a "gentle giant"... Driving Sam Witwicky and his human friends around in Jordan or Egypt during one instance, and kicking major ass the next. But I already mentioned this part 4 sentences ago.

Ravage goes on the attack in Diego Garcia...where the last remnant of the All-Spark is located.


Although it was too bad that we didn’t see him in his robot mode, Soundwave's role in the movie was pretty cool. The fact that he was a satellite the whole time and calling the shots for all the Decepticons (both on Earth and in outer space) was a nice touch. And one thing you have to give Michael Bay props for was getting Frank Welker, who voiced Soundwave in the original Transformers cartoons in the 1980s, to reprise his role as the Decepticon spy in Transformers 2. Even though Bay unfortunately didn’t give Soundwave’s voice that "vocoder" sound (Soundwave instead sounded like Dr. Claw, who was also voiced by Welker, in the old animated TV show, Inspector Gadget) that made the visor-wearing minion of Megatron so memorable, it’s still made up by the fact Bay put effort into getting Welker to be a part of this sequel. Ravage himself totally kicked ass. As mentioned in the paragraph before this one, it’s too bad he got Pwned by Bumblebee though. Haha.

Megatron is about to scold Starscream for letting Sam Witwicky escape...following that battle in the forest.


This is gonna be an extremely long Blog (moreso than what it will be) if I devote a paragraph to each Transformer, so I’ll mention the rest of them here. Sideswipe was f*ckin’ awesome...especially went he cuts the Decepticon Audi R8 known as Sideways "sideways" in the beginning of the film. And The Fallen, voiced by Candyman and 24’s Tony Todd, was a total bad-ass. From him being able to teleport to him levitating those tanks and rocks from an Egyptian pyramid at the climax of the film, this Transformer equivalent of Lucifer (which is an analogy that was spouted by many online articles in the months before ROTF’s release) was definitely a foe to be fearful of if you were an Autobot. Unless, of course, you had Jetfire’s body parts attached to you. Watch the film to know what I’m talking about. In terms of Megatron, nice to see him bicker with his second-in-command Starscream so incessantly in ROTF like he did in the cartoon. Though I have to ask: Did Megatron get equipped with some form of hyperdrive after he was brought back to life on the ocean floor? ‘Cause it looked like it only took him literally a day to fly to that planet (where Starscream and The Fallen were hiding) that definitely wasn’t a world that exists in our solar system. EVEN if it was Saturn or Jupiter or something... Megatron wouldn’t have reached those planets as quickly as he did in Transformers 2. Oh well.

Sam and Mikaela share a private moment in Egypt.


Dealing with the human characters, Shia LaBeouf once again carried the film. He was totally convincing as he lost his mind in that astronomy class after touching that All-Spark shard early on in the movie. I liked his scenes with Megan Fox...who is so gosh-darn gorgeous that whatever shortcomings she had with her performance is ironically masked by how amazing she looks on camera. And if you read my review for the first film, you’ll find out that one of the main reasons why I wanted to see Transformers 2 get made was to see the relationship between Sam and Mikaela get expanded upon. And ROTF didn’t disappoint. Sam’s parents were just as hilarious here as in the first film (though as what someone mentioned online a few days ago, Sam's mom acted like she was mentally challenged or something at the beginning of the movie), and John Turturro as Agent Simmons was funnier in this movie than in TF1. Tyrese Gibson pretty much gave the same performance as he did in the previous flick, but Josh Duhamel was a crack-up when tosses that blowhard politican (Galloway, played by John Benjamin Hickey) out of that airborne C-17. Ramon Rodriguez as Sam’s roommate Leo was pretty much the Anthony Anderson of this movie...though Rodriguez had one really hilarious scene in the second act of ROTF (when he accidentally zaps himself with a stungun after tripping over on a restroom floor). Other than that though, his character sure likes talking about his testicles. Speaking of testicles...

Skids and Mudflap confront Devastator (off-screen) in Egypt.


Now that I mentioned the positive aspects of Revenge of the Fallen, time to mention the not-so-positive ones. For starters, the movie was REALLY LONG. I keep pointing out that movies based on amusement park rides (a.k.a. the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels) have NO RIGHT to be 3 hours in length. It pains me to say that movies based on toys have NO RIGHT to be 2-and-a-half hours in length. (And I’m well aware that movie reviews have NO RIGHT to be as long as the one I’m typing right now). What saves ROTF though, is the humor. This movie would, quite honestly, be 20 times worse than Terminator Salvation if it didn’t have the comical moments provided by Sam’s parents, Agent Simmons, Leo (for the most part), Wheelie (that small robot that transformed into a remote control truck and, um, liked violating one of Megan Fox’s legs) and YES, those Autobot twins: Skids and Mudflap. To an extent. Michael Bay apparently likes to joke about testicles...seeing as how Ramon Rodriguez mentions them, like, three times in the movie, and we even glimpse in one scene two wrecking balls dangling between Devastator’s legs as the giant Constructicon climbs up that pyramid. Being 2 hours, 30 minutes long, I guess you have to put as many comic moments as possible to help the audience get through a film with such an epic running time.

Two more notes about Transformers 2 involve the visual effects and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, Steve Jablonsky’s music score (which was still exceptional). Sure, it was friggin’ awesome seeing like 46 robots duke it out this time around...but the number of Transformers in this film meant that Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) didn’t have time to polish all the robots’ scenes in ROTF. Most of the scenes that suffered were those that involved Megatron and Starscream. Yes, it was awesome to see these two classic characters argue with each other throughout the film...but these two characters have such complicated designs (which is either good or bad depending on how you feel about Bay's take on the Transformers franchise) that it feels like ILM needed a few more months to make these ‘Cons blend in more seamlessly with their surroundings (particularly in that scene where Megatron is scolding Starscream on top of that skyscraper following the forest battle sequence...a screenshot from that is shown above). And in the final confrontation between Optimus, The Fallen and Megatron, the animation seemed very jerky as Optimus makes quick work of these characters. Maybe if this movie was released around Independence Day like TF1 was back in 2007, ILM could’ve made these scenes look a lot more realistic. But that's only a 2-week difference. ILM needed more time than that. Oh well.

The Fallen prepares to wreak havoc in TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.


Last but definitely not least: Steve Jablonsky’s score for ROTF. It was awesome that he collaborated with Linkin Park for the film’s music...but in all honesty his work on TF2 wasn’t as memorable as his tracks in TF1. TF1 had that heroic tune during that opening scene with the All-Spark floating in space, the even-more heroic track during the Autobots’ arrival scene on Earth, the unique Decepticon theme...and that memorable pulse-pounding music that played during Skorponok’s attack on that Qatar village. TF2 had some noteworthy music (particularly during that NEST scene in Shanghai, and when Optimus emerges victorious near the Sphinx following his defeat of The Fallen), but nothing really stood out compared to the score for TF1. Of course, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy the TF2 score on CD. It got shipped out from on Wednesday and I should be getting it this weekend. And play it over and over on my MP3 player.

Devastator reveals himself in Egypt.


All-in-all, Revenge of the Fallen was a fun film... Just like the first one. I totally want Michael Bay to direct a third installment, which will hopefully be released (if the world hasn’t been destroyed by then) in 2012. Of course, here’s hoping the running time for the next movie will be MUUUCH SHORTER than in ROTF. At least make Transformers 3 130 minutes-long…compared to 143 minutes for the first film and 150 for this one. I already saw Transformers 2 three times on opening day (first time during a midnight show, second time with two of my co-workers during a morning IMAX screening, and the third time with five of my hometown friends during a night show), I’ll probably watch it about five more times before this summer is over. Haha. That is all.

Optimus Prime prepares for battle.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

REST IN PEACE, JACKO (1958-2009)...

Michael Jackson: The King of Pop.

....AND FARRAH (1947-2009)...

Farrah Fawcett.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A SAFE ARRIVAL... At 3:27 AM, Pacific Time today, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter safely entered orbit around Earth's closest neighbor. Woohoo... I'm back at the Moon again. Along with a couple of other people...

An artist's concept showing the LUNAR RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER above the Moon.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Optimus Prime chills near the Great Sphinx in Egypt.

TWO DAYS FROM NOW... I’ll be watching Transformers 2 on IMAX during a matinee screening. Critics be damned... I’m totally looking forward to seeing Giant F**kin’ Robots and The Foxy Lady back on the big screen this Wednesday.

Mikaela (Megan Fox) on a booty call.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I FOUND THIS on today. So true...especially after Lisa Leslie and her dunking skills bid farewell to the WNBA after this season...

The new WNBA logo.

Friday, June 19, 2009

SpoCom 2009... I attended the car show at the Long Beach Convention Center last Sunday, and as usual, it was coo. Awesome cars... Awesome models... A bikini show during which the awesome models could strut their stuff... What's not to like? A page was set up on my website if you wanna view a lot more pics that I took with these gals. Click on the red link below. And before you ask: YES, I did get home in time to watch the Lakers clinch it in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. That is all.

LINK: Photos I took at the 2009 Long Beach SpoCom event

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The LUNAR RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER (or LRO) is launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 18, 2009.
Scott Andrews

FLY ME TO THE MOON (AGAIN)... At 2:32 PM, Pacific Time today, an Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (or LRO for short) was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After a four-day journey, LRO will enter orbit around the Moon, where it will start a one-year mission that involves finding safe landing sites for astronauts when they (hopefully) return to Earth’s closest neighbor around 2020. Along with finding suitable landing zones for astronauts, LRO will also conduct scientific research that involves looking for water ice (which would be vital if we were ever to live in colonies on the Moon) that may be lurking underneath the lunar surface.

LEFT PIC: Artist's concept of the LUNAR RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER.  RIGHT PIC: The LRO spacecraft undergoing check-up at its Florida processing facility.
LEFT PIC: Artist's concept of LCROSS at the Moon.  RIGHT PIC: LCROSS undergoing tests inside a thermal vacuum chamber.
The LRO and LCROSS spacecraft, before they are both encapsulated inside the Atlas V rocket's nose fairing, on May 15, 2009.
NASA / Jim Grossman, Jack Pfaller & Northrop Grumman

Some of the water ice that LRO searches for during its mission will hopefully be thrown out into space when the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)—as well as a spent rocket stage (known as a Centaur) that helped loft LRO and LCROSS out of Earth's gravity—collides with the Moon four months from now. Between October 7-11, LCROSS and the Centaur motor will ram into the lunar surface at speeds of up to 5,580 mph (8,980 kph)...creating an explosion that should be visible even to amateur astronomers with small telescopes here on Earth.

Photos showing the installation of a microchip, bearing the names of 1.6 million people (including that of Yours Truly), onto LRO before launch.

Some of you may be wondering why the subject line of this Blog says "Fly Me to the Moon (Again)"... Well, that’s because my name (and 413,000 others) was previously flown on the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft that was launched to the Moon in September of 2007 and ended its mission in a blaze of glory 8 days ago. While my name was imprinted on an aluminum sheet onboard Kaguya, attached to LRO is a microchip bearing the names of more than 1.6 million people who submitted their monikers online between May and July of 2008. Even though LRO will last in the Moon’s orbit for a few more years after its primary mission comes to an end, nice to know that my name flew up to that barren world at least twice. Not the same as having my name on Mars, but I ain’t complaining.

A certificate commemorating my participation in the 'Send Your Name to the Moon' project.
The Atlas V rocket carrying the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) stands poised for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Pad 41.  In the distance is space shuttle Endeavour at Launch Complex 39A.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

TODAY'S THE DAY... Godspeed, LRO.

The Atlas V rocket carrying the LRO spacecraft stands poised for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Pad 41, on June 18, 2009.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

At the Lakers' 2009 championship rally in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

GOOD TIMES AT THE COLISEUM... So earlier today, I went down to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to attend the Lakers' 2009 championship rally. It was totally fun... Nice to close out a memorable NBA season by honoring the champs with 94,999 other people who should've been at work like me...or at school. The only crappy thing about today was driving back to the freeway after the rally was over. 94,999 other people (FYI, this excludes the crowd who lined up along Figueroa Street to view the parade that took place before the rally) had to obviously head home the same time as I did. Ugh.

While everyone waited in line to enter the Coliseum, they were treated to an unexpected appearance by Pau Gasol's long-lost brother.  Haha.

I'm TOTALLY lookin' forward to doing this again next year! Go Lakers. Peace...

TOP PIC: More people continue to show up at the Coliseum to watch the 2009 NBA champs give speeches.  BOTTOM PIC: Laker players take the stage.  Or should I say...court.
TOP PIC: Kobe Bryant addresses the crowd.  BOTTOM PIC: Streamers and confetti mark the end of the victory rally, and the Lakers' championship season.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A photo of me at STAPLES Center.  Notice my 2009 NBA Champions baseball cap.

THE DAY BEFORE TOMORROW... Earlier today, I drove down to STAPLES Center to buy championship gear (i.e. a baseball cap) to wear at the Lakers parade tomorrow. Here’s hoping I find a seat at the Los Angeles Coliseum so I can watch the victory speeches by the 2009 NBA champions. I only have to be one of the first 95,000 people to show up at the arena to get a spot...

More photos of me at STAPLES Center.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A DAY LATER... Just thought I’d show off my newly-updated SoCal Sports Wall of Fame, which covers all four Laker championships since 2000, plus titles by other southern California teams. The purple and gold streamers are from playoff games I attended during the Laker championship runs in 2000 through 2002. The newspaper on the bottom left-hand corner commemorates the January 2006 game where Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors at STAPLES Center, while the newspaper on the bottom right celebrates the USC Trojans winning the college football championship in 2005. NOT VISIBLE: The Los Angeles Times front page honoring the 2007 Stanley Cup championship won by the Anaheim Ducks. It's all good.

My SoCal Sports Wall of Fame.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Kobe Bryant hoists up the NBA championship trophy and his Finals MVP trophy after he leads the Lakers to its 15th title, on June 14, 2009.
Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

JUST AN OBSERVATION... Kobe Bryant, the 2009 NBA Finals MVP, led the USA Redeem Team to the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics last summer. And tonight, he led the NBA’s Redeem Team to its 15th championship in team history. Nice.

The Los Angeles Lakers celebrate after defeating the Orlando Magic, 99-86, in Game 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals...winning their 15th franchise championship.
Getty Images

Kobe Bryant hoists up the NBA championship trophy after he leads the Lakers to its 15th title, on June 14, 2009.
Getty Images

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Optimus Prime about to bust a cap in a Decepticon's ass...

NEW DIVIDE... In case you haven’t checked out the new music video to Linkin Park’s Transformers 2 song yet, you can watch it below. These screenshots from the movie were taken from the video. I hope Optimus Prime kicks major ass in TF2...before he goes into "statis lock", that is. I would elaborate, but I don’t wanna spoil that part of the film for ya.

Optimus Prime about to bust a cap in a Decepticon's ass...
A native comes across the Sun Harvester on Earth...
The Primes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An artist's concept of the Kaguya spacecraft in lunar orbit.

FAREWELL, KAGUYA... At 4:25 PM, Pacific Time yesterday, the Japanese spacecraft Kaguya slammed onto the Moon’s surface after almost two years of successfully mapping the lunar landscape. In an impact that was intentionally planned by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), vaporizing in a blaze of glory was not only the bus-size Moon probe but around 413,000 names and messages—including that of Yours Truly—that were attached to it.

Four images taken by a ground-based telescope showing the Kaguya spacecraft crashing onto the Moon.
Jeremy Bailey (University of New South Wales) & Steve Lee (Anglo-Australian Observatory)

While one ambitious Moon mission has come to an end, another will soon take its place in lunar orbit. Assuming things go well next Wednesday, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and its LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) impactor—which is specifically designed to crash into the Moon to reveal any water ice that may be lurking underneath the surface—will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Here’s hoping this flight will be as successful as the one that concluded yesterday afternoon.

The Atlas V rocket that will launch the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter towards the Moon on June 17.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

KAGUYA Blog Entries Archive:

April 11, 2007
September 5, 2007
September 13, 2007
October 4, 2007
October 26, 2007
November 13, 2007
May 22, 2009