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Margot at the Wedding (2007)

22 Jun

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Noah Baumbach’s “Margot at the Wedding” is one of those “acquired-taste” films—particularly independent comedy-dramas that either enthralls you with what it presents or makes you angry if not annoyed. And while grittiness and documentary-style filmmaking takes a huge part of the films’ craft, what is mostly singled out is how unlikeable the characters can become. “Margot at the Wedding” does indeed feature characters who say and do mean, hurtful things to each other, and the film has divided critics because of this (I especially remember a 2007 “Ebert & Roeper” review with guest-critic Michael Phillips’ enthusiastic review of the film, followed by Roeper’s quite negative response). Now where do I stand on viewing the characters, and therefore the film?

Well, you saw the “Smith’s Verdict” rating above, so it’s not exactly a mystery that I personally love this film.

Noah Baumbach is the writer-director of “Margot at the Wedding” and it’s evident from his earlier film “The Squid and the Whale” how intelligently he handles the characters and situations he goes through. He doesn’t give the characters (or the actors playing them) one-note roles; they’re fully realized and have some redeemable qualities that can either be ignored or acknowledged depending on how much you’re able to accept them as real people. And since he sees them as real people, he finds it important that film audiences view them as real people; so thanks to specific direction and long, moving shots, a documentary-style of filmmaking is handy.

The characters in “Margot at the Wedding” are a family so dysfunctional that the family in “The Squid and the Whale” (divorced parents and two struggling sons) looks happier by comparison. Nicole Kidman plays the title character, Margot, a bitter woman who writes short stories, cares for her young son Claude (Zane Pais) after an ending marriage, and is, on her worst days, a neurotic, self-important bitch. It’s clear that in order to keep her own unsteady ego, she constantly hurts and insults those closest to her—even her own adolescent son, who does nothing to hurt anybody and is probably the most innocent character in the entire movie. (Watching this movie, I felt the same sympathy for this kid I did for the teenage son trying to survive a broadly-crazy family in “Arrested Development.” This kid does not deserve the type of mental scars parents’ battles can bring.)

Margot and Claude come to the Eastern shoreline family house of Margot’s sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is about to marry Malcolm (Jack Black). Already, this reunion between siblings is sensitive and it only starts to get worse when Pauline confides in Margot with a secret: she’s pregnant. So of course, Margot tells Claude who in turn tells Pauline’s daughter Ingrid (Flora Cross) and her teenage babysitter Maisy (Halley Feiffer), and Pauline has to tell Malcolm before he hears it from someone else. And of course, because Margot is in the middle of separating herself from her husband (John Turturro), she starts an affair with Dick Koosman (Ciaran Hinds), Maisy’s father. Oh, and because Margot can’t cause enough damage, she constantly states that marrying Malcolm is a mistake, thinking him to be a loser, despite everyone else, including Claude, seeing him as a nice good-guy type. And then she snaps at the rude behavior of Pauline’s next-door neighbors, which starts another conflict.

Yes, it’s clear that Margot is mostly an unlikeable, fixated, selfish woman who manipulates her family and others around her, with Pauline being the butt of manipulation for the most part. Her positive qualities are her genuine love for her son (despite a questionable decision later in the film) and at times a certain respect for her sister—if she wasn’t going through a failing marriage, she’d probably be happy for Pauline and more respectful for Malcolm (though to be fair, Malcolm does have a flaw that is revealed midway through the film).

It’s brilliantly ironic that the happiest occasion—a wedding—provides the course of problematic, emotional scarring for this dysfunctional family. It’s almost like an opposite version “National Lampoon’s Vacation” movie; drained of energy, showing the real deal, and hardly any room for compromise. Margot is a mother who is blatantly honest in her observations and hurts those around her, whether intentional or not, and for the most part it is, just so she can come off as “sophisticated.” This is the kind of thing that Baumbach has to be praised for—showing skill in leaving discomfort with realistic situations and characters who talk like natural people would talk. Sometimes, there’s wit; other times, there’s honest truth; mostly, it all sounds very natural. It’s as if Baumbach knows to draw the fine line between appalling and truthful, and at times you get laughs from the darker wit-aspects.

Kidman delivers one of the best performances of her career, showing no fear in making Margot as pathetic as she doesn’t like to believe she is and somehow finding a way to show that the character is not a one-note caricature—there are times when she does care for those around her. Jennifer Jason Leigh presents an appealing Pauline, who is a nice woman but also flawed herself in how she defends herself from Margot’s remarks. And you really buy Kidman and Leigh as sisters, as they bicker but also have genuinely-sweet moments together when there’s nothing to fight about. The supporting cast is good, especially the young actors who deliver personality and appeal. But Jack Black, usually known for broadly-comedic roles, is probably not as successful as he could be in a role like Malcolm, but he’s not terrible at all—it’s the quiet, low-key moments that he’s able to pull off, while he can’t quite handle the louder moments.

Like I said, people will either get into “Margot at the Wedding” or you’re put off by the Margot character and how good Kidman is at making her unlikeable. With an unhappy universe in which the film takes place, is it effective? For me, it is. It spoke to me and I admired it for the characterizations and craftsmanship…

I’m just glad I’m not Margot’s son.

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Once (2007)

21 Jun

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

John Carney’s “Once” is a “musical” in the most nontraditional meaning possible. For one thing, it tells its tale while grounded in reality so that the usual corniness and improbability found in “traditional” musicals are nowhere to be found. And second, the music/songs come naturally, so that occasionally characters will play a certain song all the way through, but in a reality setting. And strangely enough, all of the songs serve as part of the storyline. In that case, then, it’s one of the most intriguing musicals I’ve ever seen. Although, I don’t think I want to call “Once” a musical. Instead, I’ll just call it what it is: a damn good film.

The minimalist plot focuses on the relationship between two people in Dublin, Ireland. Those characters are an Irish street guitarist (Glen Hansard) and a Czech flower saleswoman (Marketa Irglova). She hears some of his songs and notices his true talent, and they start to spend time together. She also plays piano and accompanies him in singing and playing a piece called “Falling Slowly” in a piano shop. It’s the start of something good, but their relationship is mainly platonic, as he is trying to get over an old girlfriend who left him to move to London, and she is married but has left her husband for a better life for her child. Both connect very well through music. They play music together, he plays her a few tunes, she comes up with lyrics for one of his soundtracks, and she moves him forward to recording a song at a studio, which is what they attempt to do.

All of the songs are memorable and help to move the story along and bring insight into the characters’ lives. For example, the lyrics to “Falling Slowly” state a lot about what the characters have gone through in their lives—singing it together to one another makes it all the more intriguing. That song, by the way, is my choice for the best one in the movie (then again, I’ve always known that—I first heard it when it was performed on the televised 80th Academy Awards, where it won Best Original Song), although another song, “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” is great as well.

This relationship between these two characters is very sweet and well-done, and the actors playing them display a great deal of chemistry. (And they’re talented musicians too, which is an important quality for this craft.)

I mentioned that “Once” is as nontraditional as a musical can get. It also has a low amount of choreography, as opposed to old-school musicals that rely on a heavy amount. Instead, “Once” tells its story in a documentary-style, with tracking shots, awkward closeups, shaky handheld shots, and zooming in and out. At first, I found this distracting, but I never lost the illusion that I was there with these people. Just as I never lost the illusion that there was real heart and passion put into “Once.” It’s a genuine treasure of a movie.

Death Proof (2007)

8 May

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Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” was the second of two films (the first directed by Robert Rodriguez) to pay homage to a type of ’60-‘70s exploitation film known as the “grindhouse,” which was commonly made for drive-in theaters. The films were made with very little money and usually bad quality in the filmmaking and acting department. They have since been accepted as guilty pleasures. Rodriguez and Tarantino are apparently among those fans, and these two films they created (released as a “Grindhouse” double-feature) are practically their love letter to the type. It’s not conventional in the slightest (compared to what we’re used to now), and it’s all about cheese, pulp, sex, and gore.

There are two main differences between Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” however. Rodriguez’s intention was to make a bad film with a tongue-in-cheek approach to the splatter-movie/zombie-flick that goes incredibly over-the-top. Tarantino plays it straight with a sincere approach in his story. “Death Proof” was the true attempt to make a “grindhouse” production.

It seems as if Tarantino was tailor-made for this type of film. It’s oddly-structured, incredibly over-the-top, and fast-and-furious in its filmmaking style, which is everything Tarantino pushes to great effect in his films.

“Death Proof” stars Kurt Russell as a psychopathic stuntman, aptly named Stuntman Mike. He revels in extremities and drives a kick-ass muscle car that is guaranteed “100% death-proof.” He hangs out at a bar where several loud, obnoxious young women (with whom the film spends a lot of time with before introducing us to Stuntman Mike) are hanging out on a road trip. He picks up one of the women, takes her for a drive in his car, and gives her a ride she’ll never forget…because she’ll be dead. (Apparently, to feel the edge of a “death-proof” car is to sit in the driver’s seat.) He then performs a dangerous stunt that claims the lives of her friends, before focusing on another group of women about a year later.

For the first half-hour, we’re subjected to the girls’ chitchat amongst each other in a flat attempt to establish character development. While there are some good Tarantino-esque lines (or rather, “conversations”), I have to admit I didn’t care much for these people. And I was hoping that Stuntman Mike would show up a lot sooner so that he could dispose of these nymphs ahead of time.

Then, the film switches gears and follows a whole other group of young women. While they’re about as compelling as the first group, they at least have the honor of having New-Zealand-stuntwoman Zoe Bell among them. The idea of this striking young stuntwoman (who was Uma Thuman’s stunt-double in Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” movies) taking center-stage (and playing herself) in a movie about a psychotic stuntman brings numerous possibilities, and while it doesn’t follow through with all of them, it still brings about the most important aspect—squaring off against Stuntman Mike, giving him a worthy opponent.

Bell and her friends (played by Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thorns) come to a Tennessee town to test-drive a white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T and perform a dangerous stunt known as “Ship’s Mast” (which requires Bell riding on the car’s hood with leather straps to hold on to). Then, Stuntman Mike comes along and messes around with them, endangering their lives. But with the extremist attitude these girls have, this may end up being his biggest mistake…

That’s the payoff to “Death Proof” and it’s a damn good one. In fact, the whole second half is the best thing about “Death Proof.” The conversations are pure-Tarantino; the intensity is taken up a notch once the women and Mike engage in their stunt-driving; and it just feels like an engaging “grindhouse” feature. If the first half represents everything people hate about the “grindhouse” element, then the second half represents what everything loves about the “grindhouse” element. Tarantino set out to deliver a love-letter to this type of film; for the most part, he succeeds.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

1 May

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Most films released in 2007 dealt with darker plots, such as “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood.” But those two weren’t musicals. Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is one of the best musicals to come around in a long time, and I’m pretty sure it’s the darkest (and bloodiest). “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” was originally a Broadway play, and for years I don’t think just any filmmaker would have dared to make a film adaptation until Tim Burton decided to give it a shot. If you know the story, or even if you don’t know the story, you’ll be amazed by this film of great direction, amazing sets, memorable characters, and a great story of revenge.

The story—Benjamin Barker (brilliantly played by Johnny Depp in his seventh Depp-Burton collaboration) is a barber living in London with his wife and baby daughter. But when the dastardly Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) notices his wife’s beauty, he ships him to Australia on false charges to be with her and adopts his daughter. Years later, Barker is a changed man. He’s released from prison and has come back to London to discover that his wife is dead and his daughter is locked up by the judge. He hears this news from Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), who is noted to make the “worst pies in London.” He changes his name to Sweeney Todd and reopens his barber shop right next to Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop. He vows revenge on Judge Turpin and is just waiting to slit his throat. In the meantime, he practices on unworthy throats…

Well, it is a musical. How’s the singing? Well, people may think that Johnny Depp sings in “Crybaby,” but some people forget that wasn’t his voice. We hear him sing throughout the whole movie, and it’s not exactly a big Broadway voice but he doesn’t need one. His acting is unique and now, so is his singing. And this movie never has more than five minutes of no singing. The songs are quite good and very memorable. Stephen Sondheim is the finest music maker, having to keep these songs alive for this movie. The music is amazing and intriguing.

There are also subplots involving a young sailor who falls in love with Sweeney’s daughter and may end up helping getting her back (without knowing who she really is), and a boy who is adopted by Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett that could cause trouble when Sweeney is acting strange, or even more so. And also, we know that Mrs. Lovett is absolutely in love with Sweeney while Sweeney couldn’t care less about she feels. To him, Mrs. Lovett is like a sister to him and she doesn’t understand that Sweeney’s only love is his wife. These are created so we don’t have to see a whole lot of blood throughout the whole movie’s running time, and they work effectively.

We also get a great comic moment from “Borat’s” Sacha Baron Cohen as an Italian rival barber who has a shaving contest with Sweeney. He’s hilarious here, and that’s great comic timing in such a film that has Sweeney slitting the throats of his customers and Mrs. Lovett cutting the remains up and cooking them into her meat pies. Suddenly, she doesn’t make the worst pies in London anymore.

Like most Burton movies, the movie looks so good while also looking quite eerie. Tim Burton has yet another unique style of filmmaking. He’s made London look so dark because this is a dark movie and the character’s faces look so gothic to blend in with the dark surroundings. Burton scores again here and this is most definitely his best film since “Ed Wood.” The acting is first rate. Johnny Depp is such a great actor who has all these memorable roles. He creates another memorable character for his career as the vengeance-seeking Sweeney Todd. And Alan Rickman is game enough to make a role his own. This is the best I’ve seen him act since 1988’s “Die Hard.” And also there’s Timothy Spall as the silly assistant to Rickman’s character Beadle, who’s also very good.

To sum it all up, with Stephen Sondheim’s spellbinding music, Tim Burton’s direction, Johnny Depp’s fantastic role, and a few scares here and there makes this one of the best musicals I’ve seen in a long time. And I guess the blood spurting out of the throats also makes this the bloodiest classic musical I’ve ever seen.

The Simpsons Movie (2007)

24 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“The Simpsons” is one of the best TV shows to come around and I’m sure I’m not the only one who believes that. And with “The Simpsons Movie,” here is a triumph. We have waited for this film for a long time and now that it’s here, I am not disappointed. Not one bit. In many ways, “The Simpsons Movie” is a triumph. It’s funny all the way through. And I never thought I would ever say this about “The Simpsons,” but “The Simpsons Movie” is also well-animated. Watch the sequence with the angry mob carrying torches and you’ll see what I mean. The animators spent a long time trying to satisfy fans of the popular TV series and they didn’t disappoint us. I loved the look of this film and I also loved the energy put into it with the script and voiceovers.

Even the Simpsons are surprised to see themselves in a movie. As they watch a movie, they wonder who would be dumb enough to watch something they can get on TV for free. Who would be so dumb? “Suckers.” He’s pointing straight at us.

Of course it has to have a plot but even so, the movie satisfies. It delivers satire with a capital S. On second thought, make every letter capitalized. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has declared the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield a crisis zone. The lake is polluted and young Lisa Simpson is going door-to-door to convince people to help prevent people from dumping in the lake again. (One house even flees.) Things take a turn for the worse when the lovable dope himself—Homer Simpson—dumps a silo of pig droppings into the lake. The EPA takes action and imprisons the townsfolk in a gigantic glass dome (threatening their lives but what do the government care, right?). Wait until you see who the president of the United States is.

I could easily give away the big laughs of the movie but that wouldn’t be fair. In a way, this movie is like “Airplane.” One gag happens after another, usually one gag funnier than the last. I won’t spoil the biggest laughs in the movie but they feature a skateboarding scene inspired by Austin Powers and a unique way to go fishing. There are more big laughs—those made me laugh the hardest…I think. I was laughing loudly through a lot of this movie—those two scenes made me laugh the loudest, I think.

The Simpsons don’t just become action heroes, though that’s what they become when they race to save Springfield from certain doom. They remain the same American family that we all know and love. Bart is still mischievous and devilishly clever. Lisa is still the squeaky-voiced voice of reason daughter. Maggie is still an accident, sadly, but she finds her worth (hasn’t she always?). Marge is still toughing it out and dealing with her husband’s idiocy. Her voice has yet to improve—but really, does it have to? And Homer Simpson—what a lovable goofball he is. Just watching this guy stand around will bring a smile. Watching him act around, while being voiced by Dan Castellaneta, will always bring a laugh. It’s impossible to dislike him.

What else can I say? I love this movie. I love the biting satire, I love the fact that the animators and screenwriters were trying so hard to make us laugh, and I love the Simpsons themselves. The polished writing and the stylish animation help a lot as well. “The Simpsons Movie” relives the glory days of the great TV show. To those who disagree with me, eat my shorts.

Surf’s Up (2007)

16 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Does anybody, aside from me, think that “Happy Feet” was a bit overrated? I liked “Happy Feet” OK, but I felt it was a little too much. After “Happy Feet,” I didn’t expect “Surf’s Up” to be any better. “Surf’s Up” is the first movie since “Happy Feet” to feature cute penguins in a computer-animation process and I was really surprised by how much I liked it. It’s charming, cute, and funny. I liked it more than “Happy Feet” because the penguins are cuter and they have a more interesting story to tell. And it’s told through the same documentary process as “This is Spinal Tap”—it’s a mock documentary.

A documentary crew makes a film about penguin surfing. They follow the events of Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf), a small boy-penguin who loves to surf, lives with his mom and jerk older brother, and lives in Shiverpool, Antarctica (a pun on Liverpool, England). His hero is the late, legendary surfer Big Z, and he wants to be just like him. He is noticed by a talent scout and he, along with a friendly chicken surfer from Wisconsin named Chicken Joe (voiced by Jon Heder), is to compete in the Big Z Memorial surfing contest.

Once arriving on the island, he runs afoul of another competitor—tough, self-absorbed Tank (voiced by Diedrich Bader, whom you might remember, from his gruff voice at least, as Rex from “Napoleon Dynamite”)—and develops a crush on the lifeguard Lani (Zooey Deschanel). After an injury in a competition between Cody and Tank, Lani takes him into the woods to her uncle nicknamed “Geek” (voiced by Jeff Bridges).

But as it turns out, Geek isn’t just a hermit. As Cody discovers, he is actually Big Z who went hiding after a failed surfing contest. Cody takes a liking—as you would if you met your idol—to Big Z, who gives him surf lessons, and as you would expect, he teaches a few life lessons as well. He teaches him these lessons in “Karate Kid” and “Big Lebowski” mode. The lesson, of course, is that winning isn’t everything. I love the scene in which Big Z teaches Cody to make his own surfboard out of a block of wood by informing him on the ways of Zen.

Kids will probably love the film but it would also keep parents entertained as well. The script is clever—it gives the movie some funny lines, a few memorable moments including the one I mentioned earlier, and a satire on sports TV shows with the archival footage of the original penguins surfing. I also love the “Spinal Tap” gimmick that it uses, the way that the camera shakes every now and then and there are questions asked by the cameraman (or camera-penguin, the movie never tells who’s making this film) and interviews with the characters.

“Surf’s Up” delivers the goods, and I admired it more than “Happy Feet” mainly because it wasn’t about penguins racing to save the world or embark on great journeys; they just want to catch some waves. It’s as simple as that. It’s funny, whimsical, witty, and a lot of fun. 

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

15 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: *

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Man, is this movie a disappointment! Remember the big-bang action climax at the end of the original 2007 hit “Transformers?” I remember how bored I was with that, yet how entertained I was with what happened before that. And here, we have its sequel “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” a boring, loud, obnoxious, stupid movie that is easily director Michael Bay’s worst movie since “Armageddon.” Both movies are incomprehensible and idiotic with nothing to show except for an endless amount of big-budget special effects and a poorly-constructed screenplay and heavy-handed direction. These special effects are indeed special but they’re just special effects. There’s hardly anything special ABOUT them because the story is lame and the characters are one-dimensional.

Once again, we have the continuing war between the good Transformers (the Autobots) and the evil Transformers (the Decepticons). The Autobots have the US Army on their side now as they go around searching for Decepticons because…I don’t know, maybe if one of them was around, they might rally more from their home planet and possibly destroy the Earth or something. The movie opens with an especially LOUD opening battle in which Autobots seek to destroy a couple of Decepticons but end up causing more damage than the Decepticons did.

The Decepticons leave the Autobots with a warning: “The Fallen will rise again.” There are always lines like that in big-budget blockbusters. What is the Fallen? Apparently, it’s some type of evil force that can even control the Decepticons and cause world domination. The Fallen is the MacGuffin—we have to watch out for it and keep our ears open. But the movie is so loud that we actually want to SHUT our ears! There are many battles like the one in the beginning of the film that seem to go on forever and grow tiresome and annoying. Sometimes, we will cut back to the original film’s returning teenage hero Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) as he deals with his parents (Kevin Dunn as the Dad, and Julie White, who seems to be trying hard for a Razzie as the Mom) and tries to settle things in his off and on relationship with his girlfriend Mikaela (the beautiful but bland Megan Fox). He is also trying to fit in on his first days of college but it’s hard to do when his roommate Leo (Ramon Rodriguez) is a techno geek who is attempting to expose the Transformers that the government “covered up.”

OK, let me stop for a moment. We learn in this movie that the big climax in the city at the end of the first “Transformers” was “covered up” by the Government. This makes no sense. There was a city full of witnesses who saw the Autobots and Decepticons fight and kill each other. How in the world could the Government have covered up something like that?

Sam, Mikaela, Leo, and another returning character (played by John Turturro) are caught up in this battle that leads the Transformers to the discovery and possible resurrection of the Fallen. Once again, Sam must save the world while the leader of the Autobots—Optimus Prime—and the US Army (with returning characters played by Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel—both of which are just standard shoot-em-up guys) fight off the resurrected Megatron, the evil leader of the Decepticons. At one point, Sam and the group wind up in Egypt, where there is (of course) an action climax bigger than any of the big action climaxes that happened earlier in the film. John Turturro has to get to the top of a pyramid to get…something, I forgot. And while doing so, he makes this hammy speech, “The machine is buried in the pyramid! If it gets turned on, it will destroy the sun! Not on my watch!”

Also in this climax is a Transformer that works as a vacuum. At one point, Leo and Turturro are behind a car while this monster sucks everything into its mouth. The car is sucked in but Leo and Turturro run away like nothing is there. I’m no physics expert but I don’t think this is possible. If a car can get sucked into this huge vacuum, how can two lighter, moving subjects be unaffected? There are also many other moments in which Sam and Mikaela barely escape death without getting hurt. They even OUTRUN EXPLOSIONS. The only time someone is really injured in the midst of all this big-time action is when Sam is TELEPORTED into another place and breaks his arm (this was written into the story because of LaBeouf’s arm was actually broken during production).

This is just one big action climax and when it stops for comedy, it doesn’t really work. The humor is juvenile at best. We see one dog humping another (twice), we see Turturro’s butt cheeks at one point, we get moments of embarrassment with Sam’s bizarre mother (actually, Julie White is funny in her scenes), and Leo is there for no good reason except to have an annoying, racist stereotype. And speaking of racist stereotype, the most annoying “comic relief” comes from two twin Autobots who act as jive-talking black stereotypes. Their dialogue is spoken so fast that I couldn’t understand anything they were saying. And they NEVER SHUT UP. Then when the film tries to attempt drama, Megan Fox has to cry. No offense to this actress, but she can’t quite cut it here.

And if you think the human characters are boring, the Transformers are far worse. They’re dumb, clanky, and their dialogue is as dumb as any of the humans’. And while in the original film they were a sight to behold, they just look like a walking pile of junk this time around.

The problem with Michael Bay is that he spends too much time creating blockbuster elements that he forgets that other stuff is important. I enjoyed the original “Transformers” movie, and also Bay’s 1996 thriller “The Rock.” But with movies like “Armageddon,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Bad Boys II,” and now, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” it’s obvious what he really wants to do—impress and/or annoy the audience with blockbuster style. The style may be fresh, but the development is rotten.