Tagged: Transformer

Box Office Democracy: Transformers: The Last Knight

It’s strange to describe a movie as Michael Bay’s id run amok.  Bay is already seemingly the living embodiment of the collective id of every even slightly repressed filmmaker to come before him.  Transformers: The Last Knight is dozens and dozens of bad ideas stuck together with slow motion CGI and glistening skin.  There’s a Transformer in this movie who has a gun that makes things move in slow motion.  That’s either proof that Bay has no idea that people use his cliches to ridicule him, or proof he doesn’t care because no one will ever stop giving him giant piles of money to figuratively light on fire every couple of years.  This is not the loving work of someone who grew up loving the toys or the cartoons or any of that; this is someone who smashed his toys together until they broke and then cried until they were replaced.

I’m honestly not sure there’s a synopsis of The Last Knight that would read as anything other than the ravings of a madman.  It turns out Transformers have been on earth since Arthurian times.  They’ve been involved with every major human event in history including World War II.  A secret cabal of historical figures have been involved in keeping them secret.  They also protect a magic artifact that can only be used by the descendant of Merlin.  Also, Optimus Prime is evil and wants to destroy earth— but honestly, that doesn’t have much effect on the events of the film.  The movie we get is two hours of running around trying to prevent something from happening, and then an underwhelming 20 minutes during which the bad thing happens anyway but is stopped like it’s no big deal.

It feels like there’s so much less spectacle in this movie which can’t be true because giant robots fight each other for no reason all the time.  Maybe it’s just that the fights have no discernible stakes and no one making any decisions about the plot is ever involved in the fighting.  The Transformer with the most lines is a C-3P0 ripoff (called out as similar in the movie itself) that doesn’t seem to transform in to anything.  Megatron and Optimus Prime stay on the sidelines while third string robots from the last movie that I can’t be bothered to remember fight over and over.  It must be hard to make giant robot fighting seem so inconsequential.

The Last Knight does an honestly amazing amount of metaphorical nerd punching.  Every character that has studied something is a naive idiot and real knowledge can only be attained from being near Transformers.  Oxford professors don’t know anything, NASA physicists are smug idiots with bad ideas, and the Prime Minister of the UK is a schmuck. If you’ve ever read a book on purpose, Michael Bay wants you to know he thinks you’re an asshole and have nothing of value to contribute to society.

I don’t know what the point is of telling you this.  If you’ve watched Michael Bay movies since Bad Boys II went to overthrow Castro for no reason after the story ended, you’ve probably known Bay doesn’t care anymore.  He’s chasing the rush of the big explosion and the nine figure gross.  People go and see his movies because they like his visual style, and while it’s absolutely not for me it’s definitely for someone.  When the lights came up on this two-and-a-half-hour unintelligible wreck of a movie, people in my theater applauded.  I love a dessert but I would prefer it be a part of a meal that includes a sensible entree; some people just want to eat Pixie Stix for dinner and wash it down with Red Bull.  The Last Knight is a movie for them. I hope they like it.

Marc Alan Fishman’s Toy Story

In front of me stands Kyle Rayner, Saint Walker, and Guy Gardner, each behind their impenetrable clamshell wall. Next to them, Alan Scott’s power battery. It doesn’t grant me the power of the Starheart, but when we lost power last week it provided enough ambient light to get me to the staircase. Beside that, a 6” Orion and a 10” Sandman.

To be honest, I sit here, in my man cave a veritable kid in a toy store. The entire Ultraforce sits to my right. Behind me, a cache of Nerf weaponry that would be illegal in ten out of ten office wars. And sitting over my TV, in front of my faux mantle, is my prized possession: the mini replica of Kyle Rayner’s power battery. How coveted is it? It’s out of box and totally played with.

It seemingly goes hand-in-hand with our shared brand of nerditry, does it not? This compulsion to collect. As a child, it started simply enough. He-Man begat the Transformers, the Transformers begat the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Turtles begat Exo-Squad and a deluge of Legos. When I reached junior high and began my love affair with comic books, soon the toys of my youth gave way to the collectables attained at the comic shop. They were, of course, the same damned toys. But it mattered not. For a toy in the hands of a comic book aficionado (carefully kept in the packaging that held it) became an investment. Or so the counter-jockeys told us.

What is it about our love affair with pulp and ink that leads us to waste our disposable income on trinkets, props, and replicas? Why do we need to surround ourselves with the relics of our favorite heroes and villains? When we were children – and we all still are in one way or another – action figures and their ilk were there to coax our imagination. Perhaps I’ve grown up too much, but the figures that stand on the chair rail in front of me offer no inspiration. They were purchases on the compulsion to own one example of each of the DC cosmic color spectrum. And when I nabbed that coveted Atrocitus and Larfleeze… did I feel like a more complete human being? Did some icon appear over my head declare “Achievement Unlocked: Poorer Nerd +5”? No. The figures were purchased, put on display, and left for dead.

I admit in between bouts of writers block, or a bad-art-making day I might be tempted to slice open every last one of their plastic prisons and pose them in epic battle. But that thought is stamped out at the siren’s song of Netflix, my DVR, or my Xbox as they pull me away like a cartoon cat lured by window-sill pie.

Some might stick to their guns and cite the collector’s market, eBay, and the like as reason to surround themselves in the mélange of rare molded plastic. But to what end? It’s rare to hear of a collector living a life of leisure through the simple resale of mint-in-box bric-a-brac. Is it because so few of us can really avoid the temptation to create lavish dioramas? I doubt it. If I were to feign a more realistic guess, it would be that the mass manufactured toys released to Wal-Mart alongside the chase figures sold at twice the cost to your local comic shop are only specifically special to a segment of people that already own them in the first place. A snake eating its own tail is never really full, kiddos.

It leads me back to beginning. Why do we buy these hollow treasures? Is it any better, say, then those who buy NASCAR models, commemorative plates, or sports memorabilia? Ahh, that’s the ticket! The golden calves we fill our tombs with are simply extensions of self. I am Marc Alan Fishman, and within that name there are many footnotes. Aside from a loving father, a dedicated husband, a comic book creator, a graphic designer, and Diet Coke consumer, there is also a collection of aforementioned action figures, Nerf guns, and more DVDs than one needs to own – particularly in this day and age of streaming media. These are the items of my id. These are the tactile representations of my singularly unique fandom. As a whole, these relics resolve who I am, if only to myself.

And when I leave this mortal coil, I have complete faith that those I leave behind will take my mountain of useless crap, and donate it to the nearest nerd that will take it. In a perfect world, some snot-nosed punk will use his lightsaber to unearth my Batman: Brave and the Bold Green Arrow (with unusable bow) and place him at odds with a Stealth Mode Iron Man missing most of his extra snap-on armor. Perhaps he’ll have a few fleeting moments of glee before he’s booting up the Playstation X-5000. Maybe later in his life, he’ll remember those toys and seek out a digital copy of The Longbow Hunters or Demon in a Bottle. And when he does, I can only hope he’s old enough to afford that boxing glove arrow replica prop set awaiting him on Amazon.


Mike Gold: Saturday Cartoons No More? Sleep In!

A friend of mine was complaining about how there aren’t any more Saturday morning cartoons on teevee. I wasn’t the only one who thought, “damn, bro, through the miracle of cable teevee we’ve got cartoons everywhere, all the time.”

Then I started to think about it from a historical perspective. Saturday morning cartoons started when local teevee programmers started turning their lights on early sometime around 1950, recognizing that small children were attracted to the boob tube like babes to teat. Somebody in the advertising community realized that kids have enormous influence over their parents’ breakfast cereal purchasing decisions. Not coincidentally, Kellogg’s came out with Frosted Flakes and Sugar Pops in 1951 and Sugar Smacks in 1953. Also not coincidentally, the incubation period for diabetes is about 30 years, which is why this particular plague has been devastating the Baby Boomers for over 15 years now.

In the world of commercial broadcasting, invention is the mother of necessity. Local programmers had no budget for Saturday mornings so they put on cartoons that were in the public domain, including silent cartoons and the works of the Fleischer brothers – no wonder my generation warmed up to LSD in the late 60s.

It didn’t take long for the network programmers to notice, and it didn’t take long for the packaged food industry learned just how seductive the phrase “pre-sweetened” was to baby Baby Boomers. Chocolate milk enhancers, flavored straws, powdered sugar candy, and something called “Maypo” which, in fact, was actually maple-flavored oatmeal. It was created in 1953, but its 1956 television commercial with the catchphrase, “I Want My Maypo” (animated by the legendary John Hubley) quickly became the most obnoxious thing uttered by children en masse since Woody Woodpecker’s laugh. It is no surprise that most, if not virtually all, such products featured cartoon characters or cartoon-like characters that could be used in animated commercials.

Nostalgia for one’s childhood delights is a powerful force, and not always a force for good. Nonetheless, it is a strong part of our popular culture business and of the comics racket in particular. Look at all the comic book revivals of GenXers’ cartoon shows such as G.I. Joe and Transformers.

Sure, now we’re worried about this “health” thing. Now that we’re craven sugar addicts. And, yeah, I blame Saturday morning cartoons for being the delivery system. But I am not pissed about it. I enjoyed all that shit.

Sugar Smacks became Honey Smacks which became, simply, “Smacks.” Personally, I would have changed the Smack word and kept sugar. But they didn’t sell opiates on Saturday morning teevee.

Until Rush Limbaugh came along.


Marc Alan Fishman: Sex & Drugs & Rock N’ Roll & Child Raising!

The other evening I was frequenting my Facebook parents group and a post caught my eye. A mother had introduced her four year old to Batman. “Good for her!” I thought. She went on to say she was “horrified” by her son now calling her “stupid,” and to “zip her lip,” and he was becoming more prone to poking and fighting. She was fearful what she’d started in her son, and at any request to remove the Dark Knight from her kid’s clutches was met with tantrums a’ plenty. She turned to the group for support and advice. I couldn’t help myself…

What this mother faces with her tot is what I think many creators of all ages material – myself included – fear the most: parental disapproval. When the gatekeeper that stands between you and your target audience deems you inappropriate, the likelihood of a sale diminishes exponentially. It’s a fine line to skate.

Much like a stand-up making the promise to not work blue, an all ages creator is tasked with entertaining without crossing the ever-creeping line of acceptable limitations. That entails language, violence, adult themes, and sexual activity. Show a drop of blood, a hint of boob, a mention of drug usage, or a slander on any deity being honored today? Get out, and don’t let the door hit you on the keester on the way!

That being said, as a creator, I am first and foremost about the quality and maturity of the finished product, blind and deaf parents be damned.

When I think to my childhood – likely between the ages of perhaps seven or eigth through to 12 or 13 – the media that stands out as the most beloved all contained shades of brilliance beyond the bright colors and fart jokes. Shows like Exo-Squad, the Transformers, and Disney’s Gargoyles all layered mature themes between the animated lines. And while my parents weren’t apt to purchase comics for me, no doubt any number of titles published at that time dealt in the same sandbox with aplomb. Ultimately as a creator, my responsibility is always to the book, as I said abov because if a scene demands brutality, it’s my choice as a creator to show it. How I choose to do so is what separates me from someone unrestricted.

In far too many cases, it’s often those creators who think beyond the predictable who end up elevating themselves to a better class of creation. Forgive me for reaching high, but like Seinfeld has said “…working blue is easy. Telling the same joke without having to swear doesn’t make you better. It just makes you that more appealing to more people. And how is that bad?” At the end of the day, as a creator, I see it as my duty to seek that balance, to make a book where a thirty year old and an eight year old can find common ground. To layer bits of mature themes in between the action, in an attempt to elevate the prose to exist with depth beyond the Photoshopped effects. To ultimately entertain the widest audience possible, not for profit in the monetary sense, but the spiritual one.

On the flip side to this argument comes my parental side. You see, I’m not just a creator of books. I’m a creator of life. My two and a half year old is just starting to shape his personality. With it, come those pieces of media he loves so much that he can’t live a day (truth: one hour) without re-consuming ad nauseam. Sometimes, he has impeccable taste – like his love of Peter Gabriel and They Might Be Giants. And yes, he also loves things I just can’t seem to understand – for example, videos where they repeat the same sing-songy chant about the alphabet until I want to jam a finger straight through my brainstem. But with all of it, I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of that aforementioned mother. When my boy eventually catches a love for Batman (or any comic related property) and he begins to emulate the sights and sounds, do I panic? Simply put… not one bit.

My personal parenting motto (thankfully shared by my wife) is that it’s not the fault of the media, it’s the fault of the parent. Now, let’s be clear: I’m not a dunce. It’s inevitable that my child will emulate something I don’t want him to. And when I will eventually explain that to him, his kneejerk reaction will be to repeat the undesired action until I’m yanking my beard out in anger. But the fact remains that as the parent it’s my responsibility to consume what my child consumes and to then interject perspective before, during, and after the consumption.

I’m a firm believer that children are smarter than the world at large deems them to be. I’ve come to this firm belief every time I’ve told my son that an apple is actually a french fry and he hurls said fruit back at me at terminal velocity. When Bennett eventually stumbles upon something that would otherwise scar him emotionally, that’s the time Dad needs to be there to explain that the zombie werewolves on the moon were only computer made monsters. And he’ll then soon learn that The Doctor will outsmart them too. Natch.

The reality is that we can’t shield our children from the world at large. And thanks in large part to how easily media can be obtained and consumed now, there’s no fighting the tide. As both a creator and a father, I think I know how to sail through choppy waters. By being honest, by communicating in terms my son will understand, and by helping him sift through the silt to find the best pearls to enjo, I’m doing the job I was meant to do.

For the poor mother whose kid is storming throughout the house declaring a personal vendetta on crime? The response I left her on Facebook stands: It’s a phase that you’ll have to deal with. Next time, stick to Superman. Your son will have a much harder time flying.

(Editor’s note: the story about the kid who wrapped a towel around his neck, shouted “I’m Superman” and jumped out the window is apocryphal.)


Box Office Democracy: “Transformers: Age of Extinction”

Transformers: Age of Extinction is 165 minutes long.  This should really be the entire review.  Either you want to watch nearly three hours of Michael Bay throwing robots at the screen or you don’t.  If you’ve seen any of his movies you’ve basically seen this one, there isn’t anything new just the older stuff louder, brighter and longer.  Apparently this is something that has a lot of pent up demand.  People can’t get enough of this.  Isn’t that depressing?

I admit there’s something intrinsically seductive about his visual style.  Everything is so slick and the camera moves are so majestic that it’s very easy to just settle in and let your eyes bliss out a little bit.  This is broken up a bit when the giant robots have to fight because event through four movies Bay hasn’t quite figured out a good visual shorthand for keeping the robots separate so the big fights, when not in slow motion, have a tendency to just look like a bunch of rolling metal until things shakeout and you can determine who won.  This is made dramatically more difficult by a new kind of Transformer introduced in this movie that transforms by turning into many tiny cubes and then floating in to a new form.  This just fills the screen with the equivalent of giant dust.  Bay is definitely capable of using the visual language of film and communicating a kind of poetry with it I just wish the poems weren’t profanity-laced limericks.



IDW Publishing has revealed the cover for the upcoming MARS ATTACKS POPEYE comic book along with others in the Mars Attacks… line. Mars Attacks Popeye is written by Martin (Halloween Legion) Powell with art by Terry (The Phantom) Beatty. Mars Attacks Popeye will be in stores January 2013 from IDW.


IDW has released the details on their upcoming crossover event between Topps’ MARS ATTACKS property and… well, pretty much every license under the IDW banner.

Spread out over five weeks in January, the full list of planned one-shots includes:

MARS ATTACKS POPEYE by Martin Powell, Terry Beatty, and Tom Ziuko
MARS ATTACKS KISS by Chris Ryall, Alan Robinson, and Tom Ziuko
MARS ATTACKS TRANSFORMERS by Shane McCarthy and Matt Frank
MARS ATTACKS ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS by Chris Ryall, Andy Kuhn, and John Rauch

IDW Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall is the brains behind the event, and had this to say about it:

“The ‘Mars Attacks’ property is a bit more insane than most of the licenses we have. There’s lots of good carnage in there, so we thought it’d be fun if we could spin that into some of our other books that are more respectful properties. Normally in ‘Transformers’ you don’t get the level of insanity of a ‘Mars Attacks’ comic. We thought it’d be fun to mash that all together.

I wanted ‘Mars Attacks’ to fit into these universes by the rules already established in these books. So if there’s a Popeye story, the Martians can only cause as much damage as you’d see in an old Popeye strip or a Fleischer cartoon. It’s not going to be quite as over-the-top violent as John Layman’s ‘Mars Attacks’ comic. It’ll fit well into the Popeye universe. So every issue is a stand-alone story, and they roll out chronologically by era. Popeye comes first and takes place further back in the timeline around the 1930s.”

You can learn more about IDW and their books at www.idwpublishing.com.

John Ostrander: The Last Word On That Movie

So I finally joined the clamoring hordes who have gone to see The Avengers and, yes, I had a really good time. No spoilers but I can define my favorite scene in two words that won’t spoil the show: “Puny god.” ‘Nuff said. Those who have seen it know what I’m talking about. I also really enjoyed the little scene at the end of all the credits.

It’s made a billion dollars worldwide, and its already on its way towards making a bazillion, I’m sure. Marvel has played it very canny, building up to it by way of Iron Man (I and II), Thor and Captain America. You’d almost think that The Avengers success was inevitable and you’d be terribly, terribly wrong.

I got two words for you.

Joss Whedon.

Joss Whedon is the real star of the film, having both written and directed it (having worked up the story along with Zak Penn who, among other things, wrote a bunch of Marvel X-Men movies, created the TV show Alphas and directed and co-wrote – with Werner Herzog – the wonderfully strange and funny film Incident at Loch Ness and, yes, that’s a recommendation). It must be really nice to be Joss Whedon right now. The Avengers is making money hand over fist and breaking all sorts of records. That translates into power out in Hollyweird – the power to get the movies you want to do green-lighted.

Yet, I’m also sure there will be those (especially those on the studio end who will have to negotiate with Mr. Whedon’s agents on his next salary) who will claim that it was all set-up by the other films and that anybody could have directed The Avengers and it would have done just as well. That sort of mind just sees us puny artistic types as widgets – take one out, plug in another. Same result, right?

To minds that think like that, I have two more words for you (and not necessarily the ones you’re thinking):

Michael Bay.

Bay, in case you don’t remember, has directed all three Transformers movies, among other things. In many ways, I’m surprised they didn’t tap him – all three Transformers movies are big, spectacular, lots of special effects, playing with a franchise created elsewhere and made lots of money. In some ways, he’s the more logical choice – he has the experience with doing that kind of film.

Imagine what a Michael Bay version of The Avengers would have been like. This is also the guy who is producing the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, only now its just called Ninja Turtles and they’re not mutant turtles, they’re aliens from space. Go ahead; imagine what he would have done with The Avengers.

Okay, I’m obviously not a big Michael Bay fan. But plug in someone else as well (who I don’t like) such Roland Emmerich who also has experience with big special effects laden money making films like (gawd help me) Independence Day, 2012, The Patriot, Godzilla (the remake) and so much more. What would an Emmerich Avengers film have looked like?

If you subscribe to the artistic widget theory then these guys could have made The Avengers and it would have made money. Would it have made the kind of money, however, that Whedon’s version is making and, more to all of our fannish hearts, would it have been as good? Would it have been such a quintessential Marvel story? I don’t think so. I have relatives and friends who aren’t fan geeks like most of us and they’re going back to the film and seeing it more than once because they just plain enjoyed it so much.

Why? Because whether they know it or not, it’s a Joss Whedon film, a Joss Whedon story. We who know his work can see it all over the place. The respect and power of the female characters in the story. The traditional Marvel tropes (heroes meet heroes, don’t like each other, fight and bicker, and then come together) done RIGHT. The clever dialogue, insightful characterization, playing with theme that Whedon does over and over again. It’s Whedon who made The Avengers the film that we all, fan and novice alike, are really loving worldwide.

I’ll give the suits their due – they chose Whedon instead of the more logical and safer choices. Joss Whedon had never directed a film on this scale before (Serenity is great but it’s not on this scale). However, he brought a passion and respect for the source material that satisfied all of us fans and made it accessible to everyone else. There may have been some questions out in Hollyweird when Whedon was picked but there can’t be any now. He wasn’t the “artistic widget” choice; he was the right choice.

‘Nuff said.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell, R.N., CNOR, C.G.



I don’t own a single Spider-Man comic. Wait, scratch that. I own some painted comic released in the mid-aughts… Secret War. Didn’t care for it.

That being said, I love Spider-Man. I loved his cartoon in the 90s. I loved the Sensational Spider-Man cartoon even more. I owned Maximum Carnage for the Super Nintendo. I played about 8000 hours worth of Spider-Man 2 for the original Xbox. So, with all the love I have for the character, why don’t I subscribe to a single web-headed book? Well, consider it a barrier to entry. Never found the right jumping on point.

Until now. Dan Slott’s upcoming in-book epic “Ends of the Earth” looks to be as good a point as ever to jump on. Given my recent love affair with the Fantastic Four… I figure why not roll the dice on the House of Mouse one more time. You see, deep down my love of the character stems from the fact that he’s generally been written to think his way out of problems – and that’s something I’m finding more and more keeps me reading comics.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” This we know. When I think of other classic (and current) comic book heroes… their books always come down to the best use of a super power. It’s akin to the ‘85 Bears victory in the Super Bowl: it’s all about brute strength. In Blackest Night? It was collection of rainbow raiders and a deus ex machina in the form of “It was Black Hand all along! Now shoot him!” In Fear Itself? Solved by a ton of punching, and Odin getting off his ass. Even in the non-epic books, I see too many stories solving their problems with mindless fighting, and sheer force-of yelling. Hell, Avengers Vs. X-Men is essentially based on that entire 13-year-old wet dream of a concept. And frankly… it’s really old hat.

When I was first getting into comics, no doubt it was all about the fighting, and punching, and super powers. A grand excuse for violence and gratuitous action sequences. And the books at that time gave in to the gluttony. Spawn was belched out of the machine that demanded insane amounts of gore, and detail, and splash pages… And the reason why his stock (and its four-barreled-thigh-pouch kin) sits somewhere a thimble above “wait, that’s still a thing?” is because the book never grasped for more than a climax built on banality.

When a movie, a book, even a song reaches for the middle, our brains turn off. The reason why Karate Kid is better than Sidekicks (aside from the obvious….)? Because Danny Larusso defeats Johnny with his mind more than his body. Yes it was about perseverance, but I contest that it was that moment when he realized the crane kick could win him the match… we as an audience collectively feel like the win is earned. It’s the reason why Batman is always better than Superman. Because nine times out of ten, Batman saves the day because he figures a way out to do so. Superman, nine times out of ten, uses one of his 1,000,000 powers.

I recently reviewed Blue Beetle #6 over on MichaelDavisWorld. In said review I was elated by the book’s choice to have their azure-hued bug boy save the day not by commanding his alien armor to make a bigger-better-bug-zapper… but by out thinking his opponent. The whole reason I’m looking forward to this Sinister Six arc in Spider-Man is because my first thought is “in this modern take on Spidey, how is he going to think his way out of being pummeled by sextet of sinister sleeze-bags?” Don’t get me wrong, I want to see plenty of quips, punches, web-shooty-balls-of-justice, and kicks-to-the-mush – I just want the day to be saved by Peter Parker’s greatest power… his mind.

In comics, we build up an antagonist – an alien race, a long lost angry god, a crazy man with a gun and a diaper – and pit our titular heroes in combat with them. Whether the Avengers are fighting the Kree, the Skrulls, Ultron, Enron, or the X-Men… only those with a short attention span and a “most-posted” badge on a message board are truly salivating on just the outcome of a fight. As a reader, I genuinely feel like the best stories give us an arc that introduces us to something we didn’t think of in the first place. When the only thing that stands in the way of a happy ending is a well placed punch we end up with Michael Bay’s Transformers… pretty to look at, and not much else.

That being said, I’m going to go look at my script for the Samurnauts. My original page of notes for the climax literally says “use some mega-super move… lots of photoshoppery.” Looks like I better get thinking…

SUNDAY: John Ostrander 


Transformers 3 Comes to DVD on January 31

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. (December 27, 2011) – From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg, in association with Hasbro, Paramount Pictures’ global smash hit Transformers: Dark of the Moon returns to Earth January 31, 2012 in a four-disc Ultimate Edition Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD combo pack with UltraViolet™ and a Digital Copy.  A must-own film for every home media collection, Transformers: Dark of the Moon features “jaw-droppingly amazing 3D” (Harry Knowles, AintItCool.com) and fan-favorite characters OPTIMUS PRIME, BUMBLEBEE and Sam Witwicky amidst bigger and more spectacular action in an adventure that surpassed its predecessors to earn over $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office and become the #4 biggest movie of all time at the global box office.

Bursting with nearly four hours of sensational behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews and more, the Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD combo pack delivers blockbuster entertainment.

“This Blu-ray 3D of Dark of the Moon will blow you away.  If you’ve been waiting for the right time to get a 3D television, this is it,” said director Michael Bay.  “For fans who’ve been waiting patiently to bring Dark of the Moon home, this Ultimate Edition release delivers the goods.”

And, for a limited time, all three eye-popping films in the Transformers franchise will be available in a 7-Disc Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Trilogy featuring each film in high definition, Transformers: Dark of the Moon in high definition 3D, more than 10 hours of special features and a plaque of movie images signed by Bay. (more…)

MARTHA THOMASES: Time, Travel, and Me

Over the weekend I started to read Stephen King’s new book, 11/22/63: A Novel. I’m not very far into it, as King writes long and I like to luxuriate in his enjoyment at having a story to tell and his great affection for his characters. And also, I have things to do.

It’s a time-travel story, and so far it’s set in 1958. I was five years old then (King was 11), and some of my memories of that time are clear. As he describes children playing in Maine, I remember what it was like for me in Ohio.

We played Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers. We played House, and School. None of us had Barbies yet, but we had stuffed animals so we could play Zoo. We made mud pies. We played Kick the Can and had squirt gun fights (see above re: Cowboys and Indians, etc.).

What we didn’t have, in our fantasies, was fantasy. Nobody did any time-traveling. No one went into outer space. There were no Ninja Turtles (or ninjas), no Transformers. There were hardly any Princesses.

When I was a bit older and could read, I liked Greek mythology and fairy tales and comic books, but hardly any of my friends did. Like them, I enjoyed Nancy Drew and The Bobbsey Twins and Cherry Ames, but I wanted more. My mom had some of her storybooks from when she was a girl, and I loved them, with their old illustrations. She introduced me to the works of Edith Nesbit,and I discovered a new way to imagine. Instead of gods and goddesses, nymphs and demons, or royalty protected by fairies, this was fantasy rooted in the real world.

Until I read his Books of Magic in which Neil Gaiman thanks E. Nesbit, I’d never met another person – besides my mom – who had read those stories. If you haven’t read The Railway Children, you’re in for a treat.

From there, my local librarian introduced me to Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Not knowing it was a classic, I took it for science fiction and read the short story anthology, Tomorrow’s Children and from there I discovered Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and others.

Again, none of my friends were into these books. We might have shared a love of Salinger because by this point we were going through puberty and no one else could understand our intense psychic and spiritual pain. Still, I was the only one mesmerized by the explicitly alternate realities of science fiction writers.

Things are different now. There are involved fantasies for every age group. HBO offers Game of Thrones for adults, and J.K. Rowling has sold hundreds of millions of copies of the Harry Potter books. Star Wars and Star Trek and Doctor Who are cultural milestones, something every culturally literate person is expected to reference. The Avengers movie and the new Batman movie are expected to dominate next year’s box office. Sometimes it seems like half the bookstore shelves are devoted to vampires and/or zombies. And then there’s that Stephen King fellow.

I’d like to think it’s because we’ve become a more tolerant culture, one open to more different perspectives. I only know that genre fiction has brought me a lot of joy. I hope it has the same effect on the rest of the world, especially as we time-travel into the future.

Editor’s Note: That’s Ms. Nesbit up there, looking back at you.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman