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The Big Release
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
What's the story? The third Transformers film tells the tale of a young man's struggles, trying to seek employment in the current economic climate. He also has to contend with his current girlfriend's boss vying for her affections. Occasionally, some robots turn up and smash things up a bit.
Cast: Shia LaBeouf (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, Disturbia), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show). Director: Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor, The Rock)
Plus points: Transformers: Dark of the Moon cements Michael Bay's status as the "World's Greatest Salesmen/Mayor of Bullshitville". After the first sequel endured enough negative reviews to lead to suicidal contemplations, Bay openly promised that everything everyone hated about Revenge of the Fallen - the messy nonsensical plot, the crap humour, the massive, massive racism – would all be turned to the 'off position' for the final instalment. He lied.
Let downs: So much to criticise. So little space. Again the main annoyance lies with the lack of urgency to get to the thing that people actually paid for - namely robots going thump. The humour is so off base, if the entire cinema was pumped with laughing gas there still wouldn't be a single peep. Despite losing the 'blackbots' of the previous film it still has moments of outrageous racism. As for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Smithe Osbourne III. Wow. Just Wow. And that definitely isn't a compliment.
Critics said: "Watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon makes you die a little inside" say Rolling Stone while Little White Lies asks: "Do we care? Did we ever?". 36% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Harking back to days of American triumphalism, making villains out of 'Middle Eastern terrorists' and 'twitchy Ruski's' and flooding the screen with 'never say die' yanks, (all within the first 20 minutes), as a propaganda tool for the United States, Dark of the Moon is an achievement up there with the moon landing itself. The only jingoistic trick Bay missed was not releasing it on September 11th 2011. But as an enjoyable couple of hours in the cinema it's just a big, messy bag of robo-wank.
What's the story? Larry Crowne tells the tale of a middle aged man's struggles trying to find employment in the current economic climate. After losing his job for failing to have a degree Larry opts for Community college.
Cast: Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia), Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Erin Brokovich). Director: Tom Hanks (That Thing You Do!).
Plus points: Two stars with three Oscars and eight nominations between them adds up to some pretty heavyweight acting credentials. Hanks first film as writer /director, That Thing You Do!, was a pleasantly inoffensive tribute to '60s pop.
Let downs: Twee Hanks, as he is (perhaps not) affectionately known, brings another dose of his 'Nice Guy Finishes First' brand. It's a brand that Jimmy Stewart did a million times better a few decades ago but seeing as he's all dead and stuff, Hanks will have to do. Even if occasionally you might want to take a sledgehammer to his “magic legs”.
Critics said: "This blandfest has practically nothing in the way of dramatic conflict" (Film Four); Larry Crowne is proof that "studios should never allow a major player to direct his or her long-cherished pet project" (Time Out). 36% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Nice, twee, bland, beige, pick a tolerable adjective and you've got Larry Crowne. Fair play to the two superstars, Hanks and Roberts, for making a movie that looks like it cost 20p to make. In the, all together now, “current economic climate” making a movie about a guy's joblessness and then spaffing cash all over the screen would appear somewhat hypocritical, wouldn't it Mr. Bay?
What's the story? When President Lincoln is assassinated, Mary Surratt is accused of helping John Wilkes Booth, and his followers, with Honest Abe's murder. The truth is, as discovered by her reluctant lawyer, she's being used as a trap for her son.
Cast: Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride), James McAvoy (X-Men:First Class, Atonement). Director: Robert Redford (Ordinary People, Lions for Lambs).
Plus points: Quality actors and gorgeous photography from Newton Thomas Sigel. Instead of re-writing history with Transformers 3, you could get an actual lesson instead. If nothing else it may inspire you to pull out your copy of The Princess Bride and bask in Wright's previous glory. And Peter Falk's. RIP.
Let downs: If being told what to think isn't your thing steer clear. Oh and this film has nothing to do with the current economic climate. Although as it's Redford it probably does. It's probably an allegory for Bush and the Republican's need to sell everything, yeah, including the truth yeah? Yeah!
Critics said: "Handsomely appointed and with a quality cast" (Empire), it "doesn't pull its punches when confronted with a difficult denouement" (Sky). 57% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Director Redford can, in the case of Quiz Show, make incredibly riveting drama out of slight material. But, as with Lions for Lambs, if he has an open goal in regards to material, he'll choose instead to grandstand the hell out of it. The Conspirator opts for the latter.
The Best Film Still Showing
So much has been made of the “wow it's the amazing funny woman film argument” that the argument itself has become cliché. And so has referring to the cliché as a cliché. So instead I'll simply say Bridesmaids is funny. Damn funny. Quite easily the funniest film of the year. Quite possibly last year too. Wiig and Rudolph should be handcuffed together for everyone else's amusement, until the end of time.
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