Awake (2007)

Awake

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Chilling and thought-provoking

I have often been accused of watching movies purely because the general public likes them, and if they like it, then as will I. Not true. I watch movies that people talk about and give my two cents, sure, but there are movies that I adore that the general public doesn’t…for whatever reason. Same vice versa. Awake is one of these films. Because I recently referenced this film in my review of If I Stay, I found myself on edge because I knew I had to watch it again – if only to review it. People don’t really give this film the credit it truly deserves, so I’m here to set the world straight. Awake is a deeply distressing film that should be given another chance because it is so messed up…and so good.

The film is about anesthetic awareness, and Hayden Christensen plays a very rich man that practically owns half of the city he lives in – but he has a heart condition and needs a transplant fast. He’s dating the lovely Samantha Lockwood  (Jessica Alba)– whom he absolutely loves as much as his defective heart will allow. When he is finally prepped for surgery, the anesthesia puts him under enough to paralyze him, but not enough to knock him out. He can feel everything that’s happening in excruciating detail. The roughness of the unsharpened blades, the cold ammonium that stings his skin, the cutting and separating of his ribs…all of that – but that’s not even the worst part. He overhears his best friend and trusted doctor collaborating with the other doctors on a secret plan to murder him and collect $100 million in life insurance – and their plan to get away with it is meticulous…and Clay (Christensen) can’t do anything to stop it.

Seriously, now, who wouldn’t love this movie? The concept alone is brilliant, and it may not have needed the murder conspiracy in order to survive, but believe me when I say that I think it actually made the movie feel just a little more complete. There is a lot of messages throughout the film. It first shocked us with the fact that over 30,000 patients experience the physical aspect that Clay goes through in this film – which in and of itself is chilling just to think about. Then, it goes into the main story about the plot to kill him. While some of this is a little farfetched and unbelievable, the heart of the story isn’t.

When you look beneath the fact that all of these doctors are trying to kill him, you find a very ugly truth about life. People can have this ever maddening appetite for greed which twists and contorts their very existence. What people in this film are willing to do for money is disgusting and wrong – but it’s not unbelievable. This is a movie about greed, but this is also a movie about unconditional trust  as it clashes with unforgiveable betrayal. Terrence Howard plays not only his handpicked surgeon, but also his best friend that he trusts with his life. He wouldn’t pick a trusted surgeon that operated on presidents because his trust for a friend and doctor supersedes the very knowledge he has that his doctor has personally already had four malpractice suits.

I know a lot of people probably don’t want to see this movie primarily because of Hayden Christensen. I get it – you think he ruined Star Wars for you…or something like that, but I personally think this is one of his best movies. In fact, I believe the same goes for Jessica Alba and Terrence Howard. Their performances in this movie, and absolutely messed up chemistry with each other is so good that you just can’t help but keep watching. I would also suggest you keep an open ear for the musical score in this movie, because that alone is comprised of chillingly beautiful songs composed on a piano that fits so well with the tone of the movie. I really don’t get why people didn’t like the movie.

The Good:

If you’re looking for a chilling and creepy tale with a really great tone that makes you think – look no further. The topics this film covers will chill you to the core. In my opinion, this is one of the best movies that any of the three main actors have ever participated in.

The Bad:

People might expect this to be bad based off of the current rankings seen on review sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. Other than that, the whole story progression is a bit extreme and you might scoff at some of the things that happen…but I implore you to give it a chance.

Transformers (2007)

Transformers

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Probably the best.

Now, I was never one for the cartoon or the Transformers toys…not really…but the whole idea really was fun for a kid – from what experience I do have of them. I don’t understand why anyone would watch a show when you could have real-life toys that actually transform. The whole idea behind the transforming was so cool, in fact, that my brother and I used to make our own transformers out of paper…it’s hard to explain…but for what it was, it worked. When I heard they were making a Transformers movie, I can’t remember how I felt, but I had serious doubts. At that point, Hasbro hadn’t made too many movies, and I thought they were seriously reaching in terms of finding new movies to make…but I can’t forget my reaction after seeing it – it was so cool.

Now, the story is really about Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Sam is the descendent of a man that came across the first transformer, buried in ice. Turns out years ago, a giant cube called the “AllSpark” landed on the planet years ago, and both good and bad robots alike are trying to get to it. They are transformers, alien robots that disguise themselves in modern cars. The good ones are trying to get to it to destroy it, while the baddies are trying to obtain it to build an army of more robots on earth. For the AllSpark has the ability to make any inanimate and mechanical device into a transformer. And Sam Witwicky has had the location of the AllSpark on him this whole time.

In all honesty, there’s a lot to the plot. It’s a little crowded, but not too much. You can still understand what’s going on, it just seems like it could have benefited off of a much simpler story, but I digress. This is the role that I believe Shia LaBeouf was born for, before he went and lost his fruity loops mind. It was up to this point that I loved him, and the whole world was claiming that he would be the new Tom Cruise…and I believed it. It was such an awesome transformation on his part – starting out as the nerd on Even Stevens to the coolest kid in theaters. It was pretty impressive, and I couldn’t wait to see him in his next movie. That’s what this franchise gave him, and he went and destroyed his entire career. Just saying. Weirdo.

Anyways, I used to absolutely love this movie, and in some regards, I still do. It’s a heck of a fun film that people of all ages will most likely adore for different reasons. At the same time, I don’t think the series really needed any sequels, knowing in retrospect where it went. I also don’t think anyone was asking for a fourth…but hey. We’ll get to that later, but as it is, this is probably the best movie in the series. It had the best characters,character development, which goes into story, interactions, and holy cow – the comedy and music was really good in this installment. There’s a lot of solid reasons to watch it, but primarily – it’s just a lot of fun.

It mostly failed in trying too hard in terms of looks. You’ll probably see me saying this about every movie, but it really is a huge flipping car commercial – especially for the darn Camaro. Besides that, the entire look of the movie makes you think these guys were tanning in preparation of the film – just to look orange and sweaty. It’s not a horrible look, but it does seem like it’s a little over the top sometimes. The only other complaint I have is Megan Fox. You girls are kind of right…she does suck at acting. The one upside I have to say about that is that – she fits right into the film. Her character of Mikaela weirdly fits perfectly into the franchise, regardless of how bad she actually is at acting. It simply doesn’t matter.

The Good:

Transformers is where it’s at…it really is. When you look at the whole series, this is probably the best movie in every angle. It’s action-packed, it has a good story with a solid background, it has memorable, attractive characters. It has some really funny moments timed perfectly. It also has an amazing soundtrack.

The Bad:

It focuses really hard on trying to look nice, and it does most of the time, but it’s blatant commercializing of the Camaro was a little obnoxious. There’s also not a ton of heart and soul in this one, not that there needs to be.