Reel Reviews: ‘Baby Driver’ and ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

By on July 5, 2017

Cars, cars everywhere!

Riding a bit of a cult groundswell, “Baby Driver” beat the 4th of July box office rush by opening midweek on Wednesday, June 28.

From the same guy (director Edgar Wright) who brought us “Scott Pilgrim Saves the World” comes a refreshing spin on the traditional fast-action caper. “Baby Driver” tells the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort, “The Fault in our Stars”) who is beholden to the wishes of Doc (Kevin Spacey, who slinks into an Anthony Hopkins-esque role for this movie), a heist ringleader who brings together some real characters to his schemes.

The beauty of “Baby Driver” is its simplicity. It is a story well told, not getting caught up in the minutia of side stories. “Baby Driver” is a hot fudge sundae topped with a whipped cream soundtrack, which plays as important a part in the movie as the actors.

Elgort seems like a quiet star in the making. I’m wondering if he has the chops to tackle some more sophisticated roles, because I think his potential is to become a great, not good, actor. (Rumor has it he will appear in an upcoming Dungeons & Dragons movie…woo hoo!) Aside from great acting delivered by Elgort and his love interest Lily James (“Downton Abbey”), “Baby Driver” includes special performances by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Hamm of “Mad Men,” and the creepily talented Jamie Foxx.

If you’re looking for a rush, go see “Baby Driver.”

Michael Upton feels that Ansel Elgort, young star of “Baby Drivers,” has real potential. He says, “Elgort seems like a quiet star
in the making. I’m wondering if he has the chops to tackle some more sophisticated roles, because I think his potential is to become a great, not good,actor.”

Robots in disguise

Early critical commentary killed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Judging from the trailer alone, I could understand why the good guy is now the bad guy, and there is a whole lot of confusion going on. Who really cares? Well, having grown up playing with Transformers I’ve forced myself to follow the franchise, and I have to say this installment (despite its massive flaws) may be the one I enjoyed the most.

Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is back as the savior of humanity and best friend of the transforming robots who have come to reside on Earth. In this future, Transformers are outlawed and hunted down by a paramilitary group forcefully aligned with members of the old school military (Josh Duhamel as Colonel William Lennox and Glenn Morshower as the General) who know the good Autobots can do despite their universe wrecking feud with the Decepticons.

Reprise John Turturro as recluse Agent Simmons and enter Sir Anthony Hopkins as the mysterious Edmund Burton and Laura Haddock (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) as Oxford brain Vivian Wembley and the sci-fi story goes from spy story to historical mystery as Yeager learns the Dark Ages roots of the Transformers’ mission on our planet.

This is where I got hooked. I like historical mystery; I approve of the tie between robot and mankind dating back to the tales of King Arthur.

But, the movie tried to do too much in too short a time. “Transformers: The Last Knight” is ripe with garbage — unnecessary flotsam in the storyline — and it all starts in the beginning when we meet Izabella (Isabela Moner). It almost seems that director Michael Bay and his team want to discover the next, young Jennifer Lawrence (with a J-Lo twist) by featuring this young actress. It’s not working, just like the entire first 40 minutes of this movie.

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