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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Trailer - "Intruders"

Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has been mostly quiet since 28 Weeks Later four years ago. Well here's the new trailer to his more recent offering of horror. Starring Clive Owen, it tells of a young British suburban family getting targeted by an ever escalating state of supernatural events. What seperates this from other haunted house pictures like Insidious and the upcoming Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is when a rural Spanish family comes forward with very similar experiences happening to them as well. How are they both connected? The trailer is suitably eerie and is very atmospheric stuff indeed. While 28 Days Later didn't do much for me outside of it's fantastic opening, it is still obvious that Fresnadillo is a talented director and should hopefully be able to mine more menace from this film. That is only however, if the CG apparition that is glimpsed at the end of the trailer is kept to a minimum. Note to all film makers: CGI is not and never will be scary. Intruders is released on January 27 2012. Here's hoping........

First Look - "The Avengers" Character Artwork

The first glimpse of the assembled Avengers has been revealed, albeit in art form. So it may not be a live action shot as exciting as those chairs from a few months ago, but it is still very intriguing stuff. Also of note here is the first shot of Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, looking more faithful to the original comic it was based on than any of the more recent cinematic treatments have and Cobie Smulders' new addition to S.H.I.E.L.D., Maria Hill. While a live action teaser or picture of the entire cast is due for release any day now, this will have to do for the time being. Until it's release on April 27th next year, Joss Whedon has his work cut out for him.

Horrible Bosses

It's been a while since we have seen a decent black comedy on the Hollywood scene. More times than not, America is unwilling and insecure about dark themes such as murder for laughs. While Horrible Bosses is not a classic by any standards, it is still nice to see a film like this in a market usually stuffed with romantic comedies or males bonding over acting like adolescents. That the film is the reasonably diverting experience that it is, is down to it's lead cast. They help sell the darkness of the premise through, so it doesn't leave a bad taste in the mouth. The film is pure farce, but coasts by on it's lead trios sensibilities. Falling somewhere in between Strangers on a Train and Throw Momma From a Train (something the film gleefully name checks) the film follows three undervalued and very frustrated workers played by Charlie Day and Jason's Bateman & Sudeikis. All of them are good people and just want to work in a non hostile environment and in a place where they can be allowed to reach their full potential. However, all three are hamstrung in their respective positions by their evil bosses. Their bosses are each played with relish by Kevin Spacey (psychotic, morally duplicitous) Colin Farrell (cokehead, clueless and ignorant) and Jennifer Aniston (sex crazed, nympho). Each one goes for their ugly characters with aplomb and show no qualms about acting against type. Sure Spacey has done his bastard office boss a few times in the past but we have never seen Farrell or more importantly Aniston go this against previous conventions like this before. So after one drunken night, the guys decide to hire a murder consultant called 'Motherfucker' Jones played by Jamie Foxx (the story of how he got his moniker is priceless) to help them off their respective bosses. Of course, it is from here that things spiral wildly out of control for the guys.

The film flirts dangerously with going off the rails at a few points. Luckily Seth Gordon (who directed the masterful The King of Kong) and his leading trio keep things on track just as your mind begins to wander. The film is very uneven and features a large overabundance of missing gags from it's beginning and end. This top ended feeling stems from people trying too hard for those laughs that just aren't there. Thankfully, the second act of the film finally shifts into gear as they have to get information on their different targets. Featuring cats, bathroom utensils, a syringe and some cocaine, the extended sequence certainly provide the films funniest moments. Praise as well to everyone for trying even as slightly as this film does, to push the darkness. Of course, the fact that the bosses are as broad as they are only helps sell the reasons why anyone would want them dead. Although Farrell is underused and Aniston's performance is largely one note, they still help control the films charms. At the end of the day there is nothing here truly remarkable or memorable, other than a reasonably diverting Saturday night. You'll laugh and chuckle with the guys, but don't expect anything to truly register. It features it's fair share of contrivances and is wildly uneven, but it is an at times very funny comedy. In the end, your enjoyment will depend on whether or not you can accept the fact that any man would ever want Jennifer Aniston dead for trying to have sex with him.

Verdict: 6/10
A noticeably short supply of jokes at both ends of the film do not hamper what for the most part, is a raucous comedy. Events coast by on the easy charms of it's leads. Just don't expect to remember it afterwards.

"Horrible Bosses" Trailer

Friday, July 22, 2011

Trailer - "Drive"

I've been quietly waiting for this one for a while now. Drive is the latest film from Dutch director Nicholas Winding Refn, a director who is certainly one of the more interesting working today. His last two features were very memorable in their own right - Bronson was an awesomely original biopic about the british psychopath with an incredible powerhouse performance from Tom Hardy and Valhalla Rising was more so for the wrong reasons, featuring hypnotising, frequently trippy visuals and a nothing plot. Drive looks set to be more accessible than his prior work and houses one of the best casts of the year. The film casts Ryan Gosling playing a movie stunt driver, who gets ever more dangerously embroiled in a life of crime. Also featured include Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac and Albert Brooks. Refn seems to be channelling a great 70's vibe for his film and knowing the directors inability to shy away from the more gritty and violent element of things, it will almost certainly feature it's fair share of hair raising moments. The film is released on September 23 later this year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Production Blog #3: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

After slowly revealing the entire band of twelve dwarves the past two weeks, Peter Jackson has released yet another Production Blog. The entire cast and crew are taking a well earned break after the first block of shooting, so the timing is perfect for Jackson give us more tantalising glimpses from the set. In it, as is befitting the last week, we spend most of our time with the dwarves and get a better sense of their personality and look. Jackson has amazingly managed to give each member a distinct and memorable personality from the last - something the man says was certainly a bone of contention in early stages of design. Everyone looks as if they share the same camaraderie as the original fellowship did ten years ago. Speaking of the original trilogy, we also get our first look at Cate Blanchett's ethereal 'Galadriel', Hugo Weaving's 'Elrond' and even John Rhys-Davies turning up to give some much needed dwarfing advice. Everything looks set in place for another epic and stunning return to Middle Earth. How Jackson is maintaining his sanity after undertaking such a behemoth is beyond me. Also included below is the released pics of the dwarves in full. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released on December 14th 2012.

Nori, Ori & Dori
Oin & Gloin

Balin & Dwalin

Fili & Kili
Bombur, Bofur & Bifur


Trailer - "The Amazing Spider-Man"

There's been a dodgy cam leak floating around online for the past few days now, but finally the official trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man has finally debuted, in all it's HD glory. It looks like director Marc Webb has brought some of his indie cred from 500 Days of Summer and the whole film has a distinctly darker tone than the previous trilogy. Coasting on Nolan's coattails, it looks to have taken a leaf out of Batman's reboot. However, whereas Batman sorely needed a reboot to fix the abomination that had gone prior, there really is no need for yet another stab at Peter Parker's backstory. With the original film still fresh in everybody's mind not even nine years ago, the recent (disastrous) broadway production and countless comic book lines, there really is a huge dollop of 'unnecessary' surrounding the film. It simply is not a story I wish to see repeated for the umpteenth time. Surely just assuming everybody knows how Parker came into being Spiderman and skipping straight onto the good stuff was the better way to go when Raimi left? Hopefully the film will dispel my doubts, but Webb et al have their work cut out. At least the extended POV at the end is cracking. It is scheduled for release on July 3rd 2012.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Top 10: Anti-Heroes

Heroes are boring. Sure, they strive for good and always sacrifice everything to get it, but isn't that what you expect off a hero? There is never any surprises with them. A good example is Superman. I have never understood the fascination with such a character. He is indestructible (bar some green rock), always and sickeningly does the right thing and looks utterly daft in his costume. He's like the teacher's pet in school. They may be keeping the class on track but they are ultimately gonna get beat up at lunch time. OK, so maybe you couldn't beat up Superman, but if you caught him as Clark Kent in public, I'd say he'd just lie down and take it. Much more interesting is Batman. He bases his image out of fear, was borne out of violence and flirts with darkness. You always know where Superman stands. He is literally a God on Earth and yet all he seems to do is moan over Lois. Batman on the other hand does the right thing too, but not always through the morally correct ways. In my list here I have compiled a list of characters that are so much more interesting because you don't know if they are going to do the right thing. They usually ultimately serve only their own needs and that will go on to designate why they are taking the measures they are taking. Most actors say that playing the villain is always more fun than the hero. Well by that rationale, surely the anti-hero is going to be the best of all; you get to portray all the nefarious things a villain might, but get to save the day at the end of it all.

Snake Plissken
Possibly the best anti-hero of all time is Kurt Russell's depiction of Snake Plissken in John Carpenters 1981 classic Escape From New York. He is a cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking rebel and only does the things here to serve entirely his own ends. An ex-convict, Plissken shows nothing but contempt for the Government and the scumbags he is sent to infiltrate. He is a true lone wolf. An effective bad-ass throwback to the Westerns of John Ford. It is his simplicity that makes him so effective.

'Mad' Max Rockatansky
We have to get through most of Mad Max, before we truly get to see what an anti-hero the man has become. It is only after losing his wife and child to psychopathic bikers that he is free to throw himself into the murky, questionable and downright despicable ways and means to apprehend the men responsible. Mad Max 2 explored the character even better, with the basis that the apocalypse has destroyed all humanity in men. This is exemplified best in Max. He might do the right thing, but only if it suits him and if he can get something out of it. Of course this was all before they turned him Disney in Beyond Thunderdome and sheparding all those kids to freedom (?)

"Mad Max" Offers a Choice

An indestructible hitman who kills with no remorse or questions asked? Bad. Protecting a defenseless 12 year old girl from the drug toting psychopathic officers who massacred her family? Good. Teaching said 12 year old to kill like he does? Bad. Harboring questionable feelings for 12 year old? Well how much more 'anti' could the man be? To be fair, I always saw Leon's relationship with Mathilda as purely father and daughter, but it still doesn't excuse the fact that the man is a killing machine! In any other film, Leon would be the bad guy's terrifying henchman. It is a tribute to Jean Reno's acting skills that we are as receptive to the character as we are.

Travis Bickle
Has the line between hero and villain ever been so grey? Taxi Driver features universal themes of loneliness and isolation that many people can relate to. What people don't relate to, is just how unhinged DeNiro's 'Bickle' becomes throughout the film. The film may end with the man saving Jodie Foster from a life of child prostitution by gunning down all those responsible, but it could just as easily be innocent people at the end of his smoking barrel. As a result, the man is proclaimed a hero - the reality couldn't be farther from the truth, Travis killed those people to satiate his thirst for blood.

Everybody has met someone like Withnail. Someone so utterly self absorbed and ignorant of most other peoples needs, but his own. Why would anyone hang out with such a character? Because he's bloody good fun and a great drinking buddy.

Throughout Dead Man's Shoes, Richard navigates some very murky waters indeed. This is a slasher film where we follow the slasher, and it is he who we relate to most. The film is a revenge fantasy. Any brother could imagine doing what Richard does in order to get back at the local small town scum bags who have tortured his brother. The only difference is that most would not go to the lengths he goes, to torment and kill them all. You have to give it to him, the man doesn't play around, as evidenced here:

Tony Montona
Undeniably, the most grandiose character here. Some will argue as to whether or not, Tony should fall into the villain category; surely villains aren't supposed to inspire the cheers that Tony does? The man's bravado and larger than life attitude alone ensure him a place.

Patrick Bateman
No way Bateman is a villain. He may be a psychopathic serial killer with some serious hang ups about business cards, but the fact that he is the lead in the film means we are asked to at least empathize with him. Bale has never been better than here, and is supremely watchable throughout, even through all the more grotesque scenes. Bateman may be a monster, but is a product of his time and surroundings, and whether or not all his crimes were even real is left up to interpretation. It is his sheer enthusiasm for being so despicable, that wins the viewer over, every time.

"American Psycho" Hip To Be Square

Poor Alex. Through his tortuous and very uncomfortable journey, A Clockwork Orange asks some very tough questions about the meaning of self and expression in todays society. Alex was undoubtedly a monster, but does that still condone the forced moral change that is made to his character? If it is not inherent 'goodness' in a person, then is that not in itself morally duplicitous to use aversion therapy to stop ammoral behaviour? If this is where it begins, then surely all control by the government over everyone is not far behind?  Is Alex's forced goodness ever truly real?

"A Clockwork Orange" Alex Takes Back His Gang

Officer Bud White
The man has questionable police skills, but shows nothing but results when he goes after those involved with violent crimes against women. White always gets his man, but not always through the official means. Where he not a cop, he'd be a mindless thug and bully.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trailer - "The Dark Knight Rises"

For all you non Pott(er) Heads out there, the first teaser for The Dark Knight Rises has finally gone online. And true to the series form it shows.........not much of anything at all. What more is to be expected of Christopher Nolan at this stage? What is revealed in the trailer is more in keeping with the previous films and especially Batman Begins which almost certainly is very much connected to The Dark Knight Rises (Liam Neeson's 'Ra's Al Ghul' voiceover is certainly reused for a reason......). So we get a brief scene with a very banged up Commissioner Gordon on a hospital bed, pleading for Batman to return, however what is very intriguing is that he seems to be talking to Bruce Wayne and not Batman. Does he know Wayne's secret identity? From there on in we get a brief shot of Tom Hardy's 'Bane', some very Inceptioney titles and music plus a quick shot of a semi-frightened Batman squaring up to Bane, towering over him. And who is that watching on from behind? True, it gives nothing away in the plot department, but at least there's more on display than The Dark Knight's teaser trailer four years ago. Either way, I defy anyone not to be incredibly excited about Nolan's conclusion to his series - surely on it's way to joining that elite few, who can boast the status of being a great trilogy. In almost exactly a year to the day The Dark Knight Rises is released on July 20th 2012.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Trailer - "The Thing"

I still have my worries about this one, but for now, the trailer and poster have set my fears at rest about the new The Thing reboot/prequel. The original is one of the best horrors ever, finding director John Carpenter at the top of his game and features nail biting paranoia, gut wrenching violence and some of the best prosthetic work ever seen on celluloid. This film takes place before the events of the 1982 film and is supposed to segue directly into Kurt Russels 'MacReady' and band of Artic scientists. It's hard to be too negative about this effort seeing as Carpenters was also a remake of a 1951 film and look how mind blowing that turned out to be. Hopefully this won't let the legions of fans down, eager to see this creature done the justice it deserves on screen. The film is released on December 2nd.

Trailer - "Hugo"

The first trailer for Martin Scorsese's new childrens film Hugo (formally Hugo Cabret) takes it's bow today. I must admit, it is quite strange to see a master of such daring cinema like Scorsese work within the confines of a kids film, but the man has more than a proven track record to make this one at the very least, intriguing for now. He seems to be stretching his genre muscles after the downbeat Shutter Island from last year and looks set to be aiming for a whimsical, magical tone. It will also be interesting to see how he works with such extensive CG for the first time along with the mooted 3D. I guess until we see more I'm staying on the fence for now. Hugo is released on December 2nd.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Poster - "The Dark Knight Rises"

Today we get the first look at Gotham in three years and my oh my has it had some redecorating. The first poster of The Dark Knight Rises has finally debuted and it follows the franchises tradition for stunning teasers. Of course it doesn't really show much of anything here, but is very atmospheric stuff. No word yet on whether or not this is a sign that a manner of all sh*t is going to hit the fan in Gotham but it is all very mouth watering. This scant bit of news will have to do until the teaser trailer is revealed at the end of the week, rumouring to be in front of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows: Part II. The film is released on July 20th next year.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Tree Of Life

Last week I made the argument that at the very least, a film like Transformers 3 is relevant because it shows incredible images that art house cinema could never compete against. Independant cinema will usually reach and touch you somewhere deep inside, whereas blockbusters pander to more broad, but no less important or worthy cinematic feasts for the eyes. Well after The Tree Of Life I may need to rethink that statement. For all of the films pretenses about the very nature of what it means to be human, it is at the very least ambitious. It is no exaggeration in fact to say, that The Tree Of Life is one of the most ambitious films ever made. This film strives bigger than most have ever gone before in the history of cinema. In five films over four decades, director Terence Malick certainly knows how to take his time. This is reflected in his films too; each one will take a leisurely amount of time to reach their goal or make their point. He is one of the most esteemed and respected auteurs working today and is part of a dying breed of film makers who aspire to a higher degree of authenticity on screen. I feel this is important upon watching The Tree Of Life. It should be watched with the respect it deserves. However upon walking out of the film I could not help but wonder why a director like Michael Bay is heavily criticised for presenting the audience with visuals at the expense of story and character, when Terence Malick has done the exact same with this film here. The Tree Of Life may well feature the most awe inspiring imagery you will see all year, but with nothing tying the lot together what are we meant to take from it all? Sure the film offers up such weighty themes as God, religion and man's place in the Universe, but has no discernible thread running throughout. It's unwillingness to conform to typical plot structure and a heavy emphasis on visuals shares elements with Koyaanisqatsi, but it is far less effective. For many, this will provide flummoxing viewing with those not used to existential musings of this nature keen to brush the whole lot off as 'pretentious'. That does a disservice to the film; I myself may not have enjoyed it, but that is not to say that others won't get much spiritual satisfaction from the picture. I feel I owe it to the piece to at least explain where my philistine opinions are originating and not just write the whole thing off as arty, obscure garbage. Surely it hasn't been proclaimed by many as the film of the year after winning the Palme D'or at this years Cannes for nothing?

The film has no real plot so to speak, rather a succession of scenes and images meant to stir up personal emotions and understanding of the films heavy musings. Beginning in the 60's, we open with news that Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain's son has died, through never explained causes. As everyone is shook to their very core, their eldest son Jack (a remarkable Hunter McCracken) tries to cope with the news and his parents' struggle with it. We then flash forward to the present as a now older Jack played by Sean Penn reminisces about his brother. Past and present collide with one another and if you are with the film so far then you are doing well - Malick heavily uses hushed voiceover filled with the wonderings of existence over seemingly random and unconnected imagery. There is no narrative so to speak, rather atmosphere and underlying metaphor. Malick then explores the very nature of the beginnings of time. Throughout a half an hour of a near wordless sequence, we are shown the big bang, the creation of the universe and the first ruminations of life on this planet. If it sounds interesting it is anything but. With no true emotion to hang anything on, the whole experience leaves you feeling cold. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki crafts some of the most gorgeous imagery to have hit celluloid in quite some time, but there is a hollowness behind it all. If Malick wants us to feel something, then he can't just show us nature at it's very essence and expect it to strike a chord deep inside you. I don't need the man to tell me the capacity of sheer beauty the world has to offer, or by that rationale just how harsh it can be. The film asks big questions such as why are we all here, what does it all mean, and where do we fit in, in the grand scheme of things. But this is nothing that any average human has ever pondered before; the feeling of having Malick ask you from his high horse leaves a bad aftertaste in your mouth. Just who is he to take such incredibly personal and ultimately inexpressible thoughts and put them up on screen? Sure, the man should be applauded for such an undertaking, but it was always doomed to fail. These are things that relate to the very core of humans and that is the only place it can truly reside. Malick seems to think he is asking profound, never before thought about questions, when they are anything but. Indeed the second half of the film is far more effective as, in the loosest term you can imagine, 'scenes' begin to form. Pitt initially is quite distracting, however proves his worth, commanding a very powerful performance. It is through those initial questions that Malick explores the true theme of the piece: how can you choose between Nature and Grace in life. Which is the right way to live? Here it is personified in a very stern Mr. Pitt serving as the metaphor for Nature, while the ethereally presented Chastain, is Grace. Jack is eternally caught in the struggle between the two, while Sean Penn (who looks like he shot his entire part in three days) is completely short changed in the film, aimlessly wandering around a desert, with his back to camera. This aspires to be transcendent and should be commended for doing so, but it is rarely executed as well as it's ideas and themes deserve. Many will be bewildered for most of it, and some will feel profoundly touched - the rest will wonder what all the fuss was about. This may be art, but it sure isn't cinema.

Verdict: 4/10
A film decades in the making and culled from six hundred thousand metres of film, this is a worthy, yet achingly slow moving paean to the meaning of life. Imagery is frequently stunning, but it is cut in a way that is never allowed to truly register. Moreover, Malick's themes are too personal and grand to ever fully realise them as well as they should. It's meditive, ponderous nature and frequently frustrating inability to ever give anything back to it's audience only serves to confound, rather than enlighten. Oh, and the CG dinosaurs are crap too.

"The Tree Of Life" Trailer

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" - Production Blog #2

A flurry of activity has been revealed on the upcoming Hobbit films. Over the past week Peter Jackson has released the first pictures of five of the thirteen dwarves. One of my biggest qualms was that with so many little people dominating the film, they would all blend into each other and have no distinct personality from the next. Jackson seems to have sidestepped that problem here, giving each dwarf a distinct look from the next. Also, with the first block of shooting finished Jackson has released another fantastic production diary detailing the behind the scenes of such an incredibly huge undertaking. It is easy to forget just how many people and how much effort goes into getting an average one these things made, never mind something as big as The Hobbit. I doubt anybody is envying Jackson at the moment with the insurmountable amount of work still yet to be done on these behemoths. The excitement rises......

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cell 211

Cell 211 opens with quite possibly, the single most shocking image you may see all year. While it immediately sets up tough questions and an anticipation of heavy themes for the film to follow, the film instead takes a completely different path. I was expecting a politically charged, yet intimately haunting prison drama. What I was met with was a full-on, highly commercial, yet no less smart thriller. While it slightly betrays the weighty ambitions of such a harrowing opener, it nontheless grabs your attention and draws you into proceedings straight away. Juan (Alberto Ammann) shows up a day early for his new job as prison officer to make a good impression and winds up stuck inside after a huge cell riot. Forging an unhealthy alliance with head honcho Malamadre (a fantastic Luis Tosar) he is forced to pretend he is a new inmate, while those on the outside struggle to find a way to get him out. The film carries it's fair share of contrivances in plot (why is Juan's heavily pregnant wife putting herself in danger, how does Juan keep getting away with his communications to the outside, why are the inmates so quick to initiate Juan into their cause?) which threaten to overtake proceedings and push it into dubious territory, but director Daniel Monzón manages to keep everything on the rails. In fact the film is incredibly tense for most of it's running time and keeps the audience on it's toes throughout. The film won eight Goya Awards (Spanish Oscars) upon it's release in 2009 in it's native Spain. While it is hardly ground breaking stuff, it is very well made and acted and features plenty of nail biting moments along the way. Before it's undercooked climax is abruptly reached, it has you hooked every step of the way. Alas it seems that come the end, the budget swiftly ran out, leaving the feeling of wanting so much more for it's grandiose end, that never fully arrives. Other than that, this "Die Hard" in a Prison' is fantastically engaging stuff and is already facing the inevitable Hollywood remake, just around the corner. Catch it now; Hollywood won't top this Bad Mother too easily.

Verdict: 7/10
A hair raising and frequently exciting thriller that flirts with bigger themes, but is more than content to simply be a straight forward action/prison movie. All the cast are fantastic and despite it's slightly disappointing climax, there is much here to enjoy on a Saturday night.

"Cell 211" Trailer  

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

So it is entirely fair to say, that 50% of people reading this have already made up their mind on whether not they want to see another "Transformers" film. This polarising viewpoint stems from how you feel about Michael Bay in general. There seems to be some sort of vendetta against the man; pretty much all of his films have garnered average to bad reviews from most critics and cinema scholars turn bright red at the very mention of his name.  And yet he remains one of the biggest and most successful directors of all time. Like it or not folks, Michael Bay is here to stay. So what is it about the man that provokes such extreme responses? Is it that his name is a byword for dumb, noisy, crass, commercialism crap? Or is it a Bayword for a good ol' fashioned rollicking time at the movies? I happen to believe that while such important things like plot, character and dialogue is the very last thing on his mind, he sure knows how to present a shiny picture on screen. He is also one of the best directors of spectacle working today. What is undeniable, is that he is an auteur. You always know when you're watching a Michael Bay film and this is what I believe, gives him the edge over other similar commercialistic whores such as Stephen Sommers, Brett Ratner, or the dreaded McG. They may peddle the same absurd, mindless junk, but they could be anybody behind the camera. They have no stamp. If you hated the last two "Transformers" films or indeed, Michael Bay, then stay well away; the man has not learned from any of his past mistakes. In fact "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" may be the most 'Bay' film Bay has done. He has outBayed himself. Haters will be Baying for his blood with the amount of Bayhem he unleashes on screen. Baysically, the film is utter tosh - but my oh my, is it entertaining tosh. And there is nothing anybody can do - despite all of the negative press the film has received, it has already made squillions of dollars.

The plot as it stands again follows Sam Witwicky (LeBeouf) finding himself under appreciated just because he can't get a job despite the fact that he has giant alien robots for friends, has a new lifeless, wooden sex doll in the shape of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (by far the only truly grating thing in the film) and that he, y'know, saved the world twice . His sentient alien robot friends discover there is a thought to be long lost Autobot shuttle that had crash landed on the moon in the 60's holding the key to the salvation of Cybertron along with the remains of one of their old leaders, Sentinal Prime. Then explosions happen, Decepticons show up with a nefarious plan and all story gets thrown out the window in favour of more explosions and huge CG robot scraps. 'Genuine' actors show up along the way such as John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and John Turturro to gurn and make broad jokes and then collect their HUUUGE paycheques after promptly leaving. There are a million plot holes you could drive a big red truck through and everything is needlessly complicated and drawn out. OK, it is beginning to sound like I'm criticising everything, when in fact I actually thoroughly enjoyed this film. It features stunning special effects, and fantastic stunt work. This is a Summer Blockbuster through and through and you'll be hard pressed to find better action all year. This is down to a simple stream lining of plot that brings everything back to a straight forward alien invasion on Chicago. Sure, it takes far too long to get there, but when we do, Bay unleashes an hour of adrenaline pumping, non stop action for it's climax. If you paid to see giant robots fight, then that is what you are going to get here and then some. The 3D is easily the best seen since "Avatar" with a jaw dropping wing suit skydiving scene into an urban war zone being the stand out. This film proves that when 3D is done right (ie, not hastily converted after filming) the results are easily worth it. Again, this all comes down to a simple view point of whether or not you are into this sort of thing. There are plenty of reasons to dislike this film, but why waste your energy when it is easier to just go along with the ride? Whether it be women, shiny cars, CG effects, the military or Shia LeBeouf's over-acting, Michael Bay's camera never fails to exploit everything it see's. It may not be rocket science, but there is a nice warm fuzzy feeling when you knowingly give yourself over to advertising disguised as cinema, especially when it is done as well as this - and besides, where else are you going to see a SWAT Team escape a building as it falls over, whilst still stuck inside? Let's see art house do that.

Verdict: 6/10
Overlong, over dumb and overstuffed with CGI, this is nontheless, an often exhilarating ride of pure and utter destruction for nothing other than shits and giggles. Those who hated Bay before will be pulverised into brain dead submission long before the credits roll, but for everyone else this is fantastic Summer popcorn fare and almost better than the first entry in the series.

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Trailer

Trailer - "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

The trailer for Tomas Alfredson's first film since the instant classic "Let The Right One In" three years ago has been unveiled. Featuring what is sure to be an exciting, twist laden story with quite possibly the cast of the year pushes this into early consideration for best film of 2011. The film is released on September 16th.