Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

What is your name?  What is your quest? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?” – The Keeper of the Bridge of Death

What is a Quest?  The term is defined as “a long and arduous search for something” or “An expedition undertaken in medieval romance by a knight in order to perform a prescribed feat”.  I looked a few days ago through the dictionary that sits just to the left of the dais on the floor of the House of Representatives for what it had to say about “Quest” and what I was presented with was nothing but lame jargon…on the floor of the House of Representatives?!  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  Tim Keller purports that a quest is a journey upon which one embarks  – not entirely of their own choice – that either leads to their death, or they return from the journey so changed that they cannot return to their old life.  Conversely, an adventure is something chosen freely that one embarks upon and at its end is able to return to their old life as it was before they left.

Looking at an example such as the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings is a quest, while The Hobbit or There and Back Again – as it is also calledis an adventure (even if the the trailer for the upcoming film may hint  at it being a quest rather than an adventure).  Bilbo comes back to his old life as it was before he left it.  In Lord of the Rings, Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Sam, Merry, and Pippen do not – and – spoilers – Baromir dies.  Frodo and Gandalf go with the elves to the Grey Havens; Aragorn marries Arwen, becomes a father, and embraces his destiny as the long expected King of Gondor;  Gimli and Legolas become life-long friends; Merry and Pippen are now the tallest of Hobbits and in the books must return to the shire to defend it from destruction; and even though Sam marries Rosie and lives inHobbitton for some time – sans Frodo, his dearest friend – he eventually is called to the Grey Havens as he had been a  ring bearer too, never to return to the Shire once he leaves.

Much like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars is a quest, Dune is certainly a quest, as is the Terminator franchise; in these cases the main characters go through things that leaves them vastly different than when they began.  Luke Skywalker goes from a lonely and forlorn  farm  boy on a backwater word to the hero of the Rebel Alliance and the last of the Jedi Order.  Han Solo: from rouge smuggler to, Rebel hero, hunted bounty, General, and the pirate who actually has a change of heart and finds it within himself to love a princess.  Leia: from youngest member of the Imperial Senate, to Rebel leader, orphan without a home, hunted fugitive, warrior princess, and willing to risk it all to save the life of the pirate who’s heart she won.  And Obi-Wan Kenobi…from Jedi, to hermit, to teacher, to sacrificing himself for a cause greater than himself:  allowing the rebels to escape the Death Star and calling out the potential he saw in a 19 year old farm-boy who he’d spent the child’s entire life thus far guarding in secret under the guise of “a crazy old man” (who thought it too dangerous to go alone, so he gave him his father’s lightsaber).  In Dune, there is no doubt what-so-ever that young Paul  Atradies cannot go back to the life he lead as the son of Duke Leto on the water-world of Caladan once his family leaves their home to manage spice production on Arakis at the behest of Duke Leto’s cousin, Emperor Shaddam the IV.  Paul goes from a young teenager to the Duke of House Atradies after the murder of his father and subsequently  the undisputed leader of the Fremen – the native people of  Arakis – waging war on House Harkonen and the Emperor for the freedom of Arakis and the Fremen; eventually waging war across the galaxy and becoming Emperor of the known universe himself.

These stories are fraught with danger and intense conflict which bring about great transformation and change within it’s characters, but it often isn’t “all pony rides in May sunshine”  We often shy from quests because we don’t like the pain and difficulty that must be persevered though and the unknown that is the fork in the road:  deciding to do what is right or shirk from it.  It’s why some, when faced with such choices, become the hero while others become the villain of the story and such a choice leads to a destiny of “glorious purpose” bent on selfish and devious ends.  It’s why Yoda voiced concern about Anakin Skywalker and was reticent to know what came after suffering because he didn’t know if perseverance and character would result in Anakin’s life or resentment and anger and it took a generation to ameliorate that mistake amidst Yoda questioning the readiness of the younger Skywalker.

The truth though, is that human beings need quests, especially men, and Superhero movies – from Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Iron Man and the Avengers, and Green Lantern – to video game franchises, like Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda, readily support this idea.  Often though, destiny does not call upon us at the moment of our choosing and we are reluctant to get involved.  We’d rather save whales, because that’s easy…and not the universe.

And so I will end as I began: Who are you and what is your Quest; what are you searching for…and are you willing tto embrace that quest in the same manner which young Talia Al’Guhl escaped the pit…jumping without the rope?

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Lex Luthor.  While not the most famous of villains in Science Fiction or Fantasy – that distinction goes to Darth Vader – he’s close, in most minds ranking equal to The Joker and Magneto (and unfortunately higher than my favorites, Ra’s Al Guhl and Darkseid); he’s the Gordon Gekko of DC Comics (unless someone wants to throw Bruce Wayne – not Batman – into that role).  Of these nefarious characters, he is the most relateable; yes, even more so than Magneto.  While some would certainly argue different as to the relateability of the character – probably because of Luthor’s stature and wealth – it’s the seven seasons of Smallville that make the case, thanks to a brilliant turn by Michael Rosenbaum.  It’s the transformation of Lex into the character the world has come to know that gives pause to ask “Would I have made the same decisions he did had I been in his shoes?”  and watch him make the smaller choices along the way that bring him to where he is as the show ends.  Which brings me to “Luthor Syndrome”.

What is it?  It’s the condition that Lex suffers from, a condition that you and I can suffer from too.  Lex Luthor was born into resources, born into wealth and power.  These circumstances helped lead him to believe that he was special, that he had a destiny and the means to achieve it.  He felt as if that end MUST be achieved, so that he could do greater things than his father did (the whole juxtaposition of the father/son relationship between Clark/Lex and Jonathan/Lionel is fantastic and a study in and of itself, especially in an age of such fatherlessness amongst youth).  Because of his roots, Lex felt that his destiny was owed to him – that he was entitled to it – and the choices he makes are justified in light of his embracing his purpose to rule (he finally becomes President by the time the show’s finale ends).  Before I go on, I want to make a quick point:  the idea of destiny isn’t a bad one at all, it’s how we choose to lay hold of and embrace it that can be a dangerous thing; it didn’t start that way for Lex, but he let it overtake him.

Curing one’s self of this disease is a great challenge and as the entirety of Curiosity’s recon mission to Mars didn’t happen in a day, neither will this.  It’s a rare individual who doesn’t desire to be more than they already are or more than society around us says we can – or should – be.  Most if us have it in us, I think it’s hard wired; the proof lies in our love of myth, triumph, and heroes who rise to greatness (and it hits home even more when movies like The Dark Knight Rises and Avengers crush the box office…and that’s just this summer; wait till we go back to Middle Earth in December).  There is something inside of all of us that looks at what culture says about us – or what we should be like – and our response is to prove them wrong and sometimes at great cost, for there are few whom society accepts on account of themselves and those whom are accepted are the ones the rest of us are told we should emulate…often to the detriment of giving up on who we are and creating an image we don’t even want.  Add too all this the idea – espoused by many in government today – that you have a “right” to just about anything you want – thusly entitled to it – and the curing is even more difficult.

Thanks to “Luthor Syndrome” living with some sort of “disability” can be even more of a challenge.  I’ve talked before about the “conventional wisdom of society”, that folks with disabilities are “less” in comparison to those without and how erroneous such thinking is; thinking prevalent enough to warrant more and more prenatal genetic testing for all sorts of conditions and disabilities.  Additionally, there is also the dark side of having a disability, the sense of entitlement that can come with perseverance.     As much as suffering through the difficulties that can arise from having a disability can lead to perseverance, and that perseverance can lead to character, it can also lead to a sense of  entitlement.   Sometimes, having persevered, having overcome, a sense of entitlement can creep in – a feeling that says “look what I’ve done; where is my reward…the world owes me a prize…look at what I’ve been through”  When that doesn’t happen, then comes anger, disappointment, resentment, disillusionment, and sometimes, even hate.  The steely, arctic truth is that we are owed nothing, yet so many  of us (living with disabilities and without) think that we are.  I live in this tension often.

As with many other things there is a choice to be made between character – often considered to be a positive element or quality – or entitlement. It’s much akin to a fork in the timestream, or watching a parallel dimension: in one, perseverance produces character (and subsequently, hope) and in the other entitlement is produced due to a lack of character.  This sense of entitlement, if not gratified but rather spurned and crushed, can lead back to the fear and anger from which one started.  Fortunately, there is a way to combat “Luthor Syndrome”: humility.  A friend once told me that “the best cure for entitlement is Scripture”.  Therein is the truth of our state in relation to the Creator and Master of the Universe.  Andrew Murray’s book on humility has also been suggested, fortunately it’s on one of my bookshelves.

The world we live in and the worlds we create for ourselves often aren’t nice places because of “Luthor Syndrome” – how would you fight it?

Summer is always a important time for video game culture and industry because that’s when the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) happens and the best time to see what next generation gaming systems will be released by Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.  This year at E3, Nintendo demoed their new Nintendo Wii U as the kick-off of a special promotional tour for the new gaming system; this weekend that tour came to Washington, DC.  It’s not everyday that I get invite-only access to gaming hardware before it hits the market – it happened once with Microsoft Kinect – and it never happens twice in a weekend, but last night and today it did  as I attended Nintendo’s Wii U experience in Washington DC.

To see a hotel ballroom transformed into something that reminds you of the starship Enterprise in the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek is rather impressive; it also helps to know one of the guys running the event who spent two days helping lead the crew who executed the transformation.  The event is Nintedo Wii marketing through and through, as everything is white with neon blue mood lighting for accent.  The room explodes out from a central pillar sporting three  flat screens and Nentendo Wii U consoles, while additional screens and consoles line the perimeter of one wall  leading to a few VIP rooms featuring more popular games.  The setup was impressive and looked as if a lot of design and thought went into the presentation.     Add to that a supply of Berry Lemonade Jones Soda – as it is the “Wii Blue” shade – and you’ve got a party going on.

Saturday night I brought a few friends along to share in the fun; it’s just better that way.  The Saturday event featured games such as Super Mario Bros Wii U, Nintendoland, Warioware, Zombie U, Ninja Gaiden, Batman Arkham City:  Armored Edition, Pikman 3, and Rayman Legends.  I can’t say I played all of these but I enjoyed a fair amount of them.

Before I dive into the games though, I need to talk about the feature of the Nintendo Wii U that is causing the most waves:  The Wii U Gamepad.  This is the piece that has folks scratching their heads, and understandably because a gaming console hasn’t gone this route before.  I’ll admit I was skeptical before using it, but having done so I am less so now and see that there’s great potential here.  Thankfully, the new Wii often still utilizes the Wiimote from the previous version of the Wii.  The Gamepad features a touch screen, classic D-pad, dual analog control sticks, L and R shoulder buttons, and LZ/RZ Trigger buttons (a first for Nintendo)  among other things.  It’s lighter than I expected and the weight and form factor don’t feel bulky in hand; it’s a rather natural feel.  Most games utilize the Gamepad in a unique way.  The only caution I would have is that the Gamepad element makes it feel like almost too much is going on at once in a given game, but for the most part it works.  On to the games:

Batman Arkham City:  Armored Edition – This is a port of the XBOX/PS3 Batman title, but with a Nintendo Wii twist, you play it with the Gamepad as the controller and aspects of  the game has been re-engineered to allow for more interactivity with the game.  The touch screen serves as the map and the gadget select mechanism and the Gamepad is used to solve many of the security related puzzles in the game.  It’s a refreshed look at a great game, but if someone owns it for another system there is much less pull to embrace this version, although this version does come with all the DLC content integrated into the game and new combat techniques.

Super Mario Bros. Wii U: A new version of the classic title released on the previous Wii, this version features new puzzles, power-ups, and levels while the basic game mechanics are the same.  However, this newer version allows for a fifth player to tag along and assist/hinder the other four players using the Wii U Gamepad to place blocks and distract enemies.  I enjoyed playing this with Drew and Ian and learned to never doubt the platforming skills of a nine-year-old; he out-played all of us, it was like that movie The Wizard with Fred Savage.

Nintendoland: This is a “party-game” title through and through that features mini-games based around classic Nintendo franchises such as Mario and Luigi, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing.  While I played most of them, Legend of Zelda:  Battle Quest was the undisputed favorite.  In it, three players function as two swordsman and one archer as they work together to battle the evil minions of Hyrule.  The swordsman utilize the Wiimotes to hack and slash enemies and the archer uses the Gamepad to fire arrows of light at enemies from long range or enemies the swordsman cannot reach.  A lot of teamwork goes into the game to battle enemies and solve puzzles.

WarioWare:  Another “party” game that features mini-games.  The skiing mini-game requires the Gamepad to be used vertically instead of horizontally, and the player focuses on the Gamepad screen and not the larger flatscreen; it’s an amalgam of Mario Kart Wii and that ski game for Windows 95.  The archery mini-game however, was rather engrossing.  It’s a tower defense game wherein the player uses the Gamepad as a crossbow and points it at the screen to target and eliminate wave after wave of enemies to defend a small patch of four strawberries.

Pikman 3:  Apparently this is a long standing Nintendo franchise, about which I knew nothing expect that Pikman is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii.  It’s a strategy/adventure game involving catching fruit and defeating baddies using these little creatures known as Pikman.  Kinda fun, but I needed more time with it.

Project P-100: A game where you create your own superhero team to fight evil robots; what else do I need to tell you?  That’s just awesome.  It utilizes the full functions of the Gamepad to execute special moves and feels a bit like a Final Fantasy RPG as your team grows and brings the beat down on the evil metal minions.

ZombieU:  I didn’t play this, but a few friends did and it was clearly their favorite.  Apparently one person directs the zombies  using the  Gamepad and the others hunt the zombies.  Pretty basic, but sounds like a lot of fun.

All in all, two sessions at a well done gaming event wherein I got to enjoy being a 10-year old again for a few hours.  The Mushroom and Koopa Shell cakepops were great too.  As soon as Nintedo releases a Legend of Zelda and/or a Metroid title for Wii U, I’ll be all over it like Mario on mushrooms; until then, I’ve got a handful of Zelda and Metroid titles to still finish.

From Nintendoland,

Aaron

 

 

I’ve been thinking some about action figures lately.  When you’re young you don’t think past tearing the miniature plastic superhero or villain off the card and using the figures to re-enact your favorite scenes from a show or movie.  I did this a lot with Batman figures such as the Caped Crusader, Robin, The Joker, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, and even the Joker’s henchman Bob – alongside the Joker Van, all the Bat-vehicles, and the Batcave playset.  Might as well add to that a collection of Playmate’s Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures too; along with the Enterprise D bridge and Transporter.  When you’re older, all you can think about is how much those plastic toys would be worth if you hadn’t opened them; they’d be collectibles then, not just toys.

The best collectibles are “Mint in Box”; never opened, never played with. Much like my Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Dash Rendar, or Chewbacca in Bounty Hunter Disguise from 1997.  Or Sheldon Cooper’s Mint in Box 1975 Star Trek Transporter toy with “real transporter action” on Big Bang Theory a few weeks ago (Leonard Nimoy voiced Mr. Spock action figure not included, sadly). Open the box, and the object loses it’s value.

But then there’s the philosophy from Toy Story that “toys are meant to be played with” and that toys have value because of who they belong to (be the owner’s name Andy or otherwise).  But in the process of being used they often can become worn out and even sometimes, broken. Fortunately, toys can be replaced, but people cannot; and I think much the same scenario applies.

People want to do something spectacular with their lives, to use them to great ends (partially because of what society bombards us with and because we’re wired to worship something and sometimes twist that into wanting to be worshipped); some are motivated by a love for God, others by a love of Self.  Although not everyone has a destiny before them that is “loud and spectacular”, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to do something with your life – as long as it remains untwisted.  The difficulty often comes with the realization that to achieve those ends, you have to go from “Mint in Box” to “played with”, used, often well worn, and sometimes broken.  A.W. Tozer once said that “for God to use a man, he must first wound him deeply”. We desire to be used for great ends but often also desire to remain unchanged by that process. We want to tell the great stories associated with the scars, but not receive what is a prerequisite for those tales; we want The FENX without the Tricycle accident.  We want a grand story to tell without having to live through it.  Jesus said that if you want to be great, you must first be a servant, and service can bring weariness.  Therefore Paul admonishes “lets us not grow weary in doing good, for we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” – that’s perseverance; steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success or existing in a state of grace until a state of glory is reached.  As warn out as life can make us, we have to keep waking up in the morning, in hopes of reaching that state of glory.

Will you step out of the box and into a state of grace?

I really like books; I like owning them, having shelves full of them, and reading them.  I’m currently in the midst of four separate books between various small groups and my own personal reading.  I started reading Frank Peretti at 11 years old and started collecting the Star Wars expanded Universe at 12; 17 years later my Star Wars  novels count is well over 80 and takes up three shelves of one of my bookcases.  I was obsessed with Christian apocalyptic fiction for most of Jr. High and High School thanks to the Left Behind books (but I won’t say anything more about that – except that I never finished the whole series).  When looking at my bookshelves, I never expected for it to hold a book by Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz (which is going to be released as a theatrical film soon)JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, G.P. Taylor, Chuck Colson, and two series on Philosophy and Popular Culture (Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Terminator, Green Lantern, Batman, X-MEN, Battlestar Galactica, 24, LOST) sure, you’d find those, but Donald Miller?  Wasn’t he the guy that the “cool kids” read, those on the 21st Century cutting edge of Christianity?  Yeah, that was way too “Christian Hipster” for me when I actually thought about it, and I honestly would have rather read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books if given the choice (which I own but  haven’t finished).

All that changed one night a few weeks ago.  It was a cold Tuesday night and I’d just finished leading a C.S. Lewis reading group called “The Inklings” (what else would you call it?) when I ran into my friend Andy.  We hadn’t seen one another since the Leadership retreat for National Community Church a few weeks prior, so we got to talking.  Before we knew it we got talking about dreams, destiny, and how it takes intense conflict and perseverance to make a good story (all in “epic superhero/comic book movie” context as well as some of my own life story).  All of the sudden a light goes on inside Andy’s mind and he asks me “Have you ever read Donald Miller?”  I said “no”, and I wasn’t so eager to begin.    Andy began to explain that he understood my hesitation, as he didn’t like Donald Miller either, at first.  It wasn’t until he read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that his perspective began to change (and he has now lead multiple smallgroups though this book).  In fact, my friend believed so much that I should read this book that he bought me a copy and had it sent to my house.  When that happens, you’ve got to give the book a shot because someone you respect sees it as a powerful vessel for wisdom, transformation, and change.  So I began reading.

This being my first experience with this author I didn’t know what to expect.  I had recently seen a trailer for the theatrical release of Blue Like Jazz and it looked very “indie and weird” (redundancy?).  I don’t really like “indie and weird”, except when it crosses over into “epic, super-ish, and full of awesome” like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World does (and SO WELL), because I live in the land of epic and I don’t’ like to stray outside those borders.  As I read I began to realize that one of the threads going through this book was the story of how Blue Like Jazz was going to become a movie: a ground floor account of the author’s life though that process and how it all went down (from characters, to conflict, inciting incidents, plot turns and the like).  I began to wonder “Has George Lucas done this?” and I found myself wishing the answer was yes.

Miller uses this book to look at his life as a story, and to ask the overall question of “what makes a good story and am I living one, a story worth living and inviting others to be a part of?”  As I read I realized that these were questions that I was (and am) consistently wrestling with in light of some of my experiences.  It brought to mind the ending of the two part episode of Facing Life Head On that I was featured in last year, when the host of the show, Brad Mates, says that I and my fellow interviewees had made our lives “stories worth telling”.  Does that mean that at the end of every day you have to be able to say that the day that just ended was worth it?  No, it does not, but worthwhile things have sure happened.  Often in our own stories it’s others that see the worth that we can’t as we’re in the midst of it, as I wrote about Kirk and Spock yesterday.

The book talks about how in Star Wars, the viewer can pause the movie at any point and ask the question “what does a certain character want and what do they have to overcome to get it?” and you know the answer.  Luke wants to become a Jedi and join the Rebellion; Leia wants to defeat the Empire; Han Solo want money so he can pay off Jabba the Hutt.  Ben Kenobi wants to teach Luke the ways of the Force.  Reader finds themselves asking, “what do I want and what do I have to overcome to get it?”  (Along that line of thinking I started to read Quitter by Jon Acuff and will blog about it when I finish the book).  I started asking myself, “is mine a story that is one others should be invited to participate in?” once the book raised this question.

In addressing this question, thoughts drift to The FENX (how can it not?)  I think of how that part of the my story touches and relates to so many other parts and is the fulfilment of some aspects (like wishing I were a superhero).  It’s also something that so many have been invited to be part of.  From Carl Sears and his wife Sheila at NBC to Brad Mates at Facing Life Head On; from radio show hosts Aleksander Danilov, Rick Amato, Anthony DiMiggaio, and Armstrong Williams to writers like Kate Tumerello and Roll Call newspaper.  Even two wonderful ladies who work at NASA and have become good friends of mine (one I actually went to high school with).  Not to mention friends in DC that find themselves part of the crazy incidents that happen on a regular basis and become wondrous tales.  It isn’t just my story anymore; they’ve all been invited to be part of it, and in accepting it’s become part of their story too.  One of the pastors at National Community Church once said that “everyone had that friend on college that was the crazy one that stuff happened to all the time; you either wanted to be around them or run from them because of that.”  I am fortunate to have friends that haven’t run away yet.

There’s still much ground to cover any always improvements to be made, and some of them monumental ones, but yes, I think my life to be a story worth living on the whole of it.  Remember that a good story requires intense conflict and perseverance – the road of The Greater Miracle is unpaved and sparsely trod – the Apostle Paul speaks to this in Romans 5:3-5 for a reason, venturing into the realm of suffering where Yoda dared not go.

What sort of story is your life, is it one that people want to be a part of?  Are you inviting people to be part of it?

“Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons” – Transformers Theme

Those words, familiar to many a Transformer fan for nearly three decades, have never rung as true as they do in the case of the new Transformers movie, Transformer: Dark of the Moon. Of the three films, this is by far the darkest and most intense and the war between the Autobots and the tyranny of the Decepticons comes home in a big way. The last installment in the franchise was a disappointment and there was no doubt it had fallen from the great heights of the first film (even if I liked it more than most folks did). This movie redeems the franchise on many levels.

The film opens with vivid and fantastic scenes from the final days of the war on the Transformers’s home planet of Cybertron, detailing a failed mission that, if successful, would have allowed the Autobots to prevail against the Decepticons. The mission focuses on a secret ship that crash lands on Earth’s moon and NASA detects it. This sets off the “Space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960’s in an attempt to discover what happened. History goes forth, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin arrive on the moon on Apollo 11, but really to embark on a secret mission, wherein they discover the crashed Autobot vessel and special pods. Fast forward to present day and Sam Whitwicky is a recent college graduate living in DC with his girlfriend Carly (long gone is Megan Fox and her character) who previously worked at the British Embassy and now manages a car collection for a character played by Patrick Dempsey who functions as a foil for Sam on multiple levels. Sam is struggling to find both a job and himself, not understanding why after helping to discover the Transformers and save the world (twice) he can’t make something of himself; as Sam says “I just want to matter”

The Autobots are now working with the United States Spec. Ops. to quell conflicts around the world. During a secret mission to Chernobyl in Russia, the Autobots come across two nasty Decepticon baddies known as Shockwave (to whom Megatron entrusts Cybertron in the original cartoon from the 80’s) and Laserbeak, both on missions in Russia related to the moon crash. Meanwhile, Decepticon leader Megatron is in exile in Africa with his minions Starscream and Soundwave (now in vehicle form instead of the satellite from Transformers 2 and also the keeper of Laserbeak, much like Ravage – the panther – was his minion in Transformers 2). Once the Autobots learn of the existence of the crashed ship on the moon, from the real-life Buzz Aldrin, (Optimus berates the Obama Administration for their silence) and the survival of it’s captain – Sentinel Prime, the leader of the Autobots before Optimus – they travel to the moon to retrieve and revive him. With Sentinel revived, the movie really kicks into high gear and the remainder is a intense experience filled with heroes, villains, dark moments, and massive destruction that does not let up.

I really enjoyed the film and the places it take the audience (and the special effects were fantastic throughout). Bay really did work hard to redeem the franchise from the last outing, and there were a number of moments in which I honestly didn’t know if key characters would live or die (and not all of them make it through this film). Having grown up with the Transformers mythos and now gone through three movies, I love these heroes and to a degree the villains; in these characters there are no shades, it is good vs. evil – period. In a culture filled with anti-heroes and vampires-as-heroes I prefer this any day of the week. In a film like this the robots are the real stars and they shine through the massive action sequences. Megatron, Shockwave, Starscream, and Soundwave are true to their classic iterations and are as evil as ever, wanting nothing but power and subjugation through tyranny and fear. The Autobots seeks to preserve freedom and protect humanity from the Decepticons. In the same vein, the US Military (and America in general) is shown in a great light (which has some critics writhing) by way of Spec Ops and SEALS working with the Autobots to defeat the Decepticons and their human toadies.

One aspect that stuck out to me was the development of Sam’s character. His desire to matter, to stake his place in the world around him is something that come through loud and clear in this film and resonates; we all want to be worthy, we all want to be more than we are. It a classic theme seen in many stories and movies, seen in Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Harry Potter, Green Lantern, Spiderman, and even Batman Begins to a degree. Everyone of us grapples with this in life at one time or another, and some more than others (certainly so if you try and live within and around the world of epic superheroes). It echo’s Bruce Wayne’s words, from Batman Begins: “It’s what I do that defines me”. The danger exists when “what can I do (for others)?” transforms into “what can I become (for my own sake)?” In this film, Sam makes the choice to put himself in harms way (for the sake of another) instead of unintentionally being a part of what happens, and danger ensues.

If you’re wavering as to seeing Transformers 3, don’t listen to the critics, go see it and make your own assessment.

On a personal note, when the production team was filming in DC last year, I took the FENX on a hunt for the Autobots one day and found them not too far from Chinatown. There before me was Optimus Prime in all his Autobot awesomeness and I am having to answer questions from others who wonder who/what I am and if I am part of the film. As it turns out one of the production managers in charge of the vehicles did admit that if the FENX had been in Transformers 3, Michael Bay would have wanted to blow it up.

Aaron

Screen on the Green at the National Mall began last night for 2010 with Goldfinger, the second and probably best of the presently dead James Bond movie franchise (thanks to MGM’s management and budgetary troubles). Powering up the batteries of the FENX, I headed down for this screening with some friends. As often happens taking the FENX down to such a public venue attracts attention, but the one behind the butterfly always has to focus on the drive and ignore the onlookers. Unfortunately, about halfway through the film the rain came with crashing sound and blazing light. In the end Screen on the Green was shut down just like it was last year when screening Rebel w/o a Cause starring James Dean. Last night, like last year, the FENX was my saving grace from the torrent of water, light, and sound. While many others were scattered, sopping, and screeching their displeasure at the turn of events I focused on seeing through the rain and singing Star Wars parodies like Yoda, The Saga Begins, and Star Wars Cantina on the drive home. Once again, the ingenuity of my own personal Q Branch known as DAD shone through brighter than lightning and I navigated my way back to the Fortress of Solitude while silently lamenting the inability of the masses around me to coherently mind their surroundings as Bruce Wayne was taught and be something other than huddled masses yearning to be dry and spurred on by group-think. This adventure did, as others have, highlight the future possibility of more additional passenger space in the FENX to keep my friends safe and dry though; a thought for the next iteration.