Rated PG-13 for profanity, mayhem, destruction, sexual innuendo and intense, sci-fi violence.
LaBeouf Leads Latest Showdown Between Autobots And Decepticons
This summer, a number of sequels have reimagined the past by placing fictional characters at the center of critical historical events. For instance, X-Men: First Class implied that mutants might have played a pivotal role in the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, while Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 featured Captain Jack in a race with Ponce de Leon to locate the fabled Fountain of Youth.
Dark Of The Moon, the third installment of the Transformers franchise, is the latest movie to take such cinematic license. In this instance, revisionist history suggests that the space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the ‘60s was inspired by the crash on the dark side of the moon of an alien aircraft from the planet Cybertron, the home of the Transformers.
The Apollo 11 astronauts were the first to find the wreckage, and they retrieved some futuristic technology during an untelevised portion of the lunar landing. The Russians, theoretically, reached the marooned spaceship too, and subsequently seized a share of its state-of-the-art know-how. This back-story ostensibly explains how the two anthropomorphic races of robots, the Autobots and the Decepticons, came to be sworn adversaries.
Following that fanciful prologue, the film fast-forwards to the present where we learn of several developments in the life of Sam Witnicky (Shia LaBeouf), the unassuming hero of the trilogy’s prior two installments. He’s recently graduated from college and moved to Washington, D.C., where he lives with his gorgeous new girlfriend, Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).
With the help of her billionaire boss, Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey), Sam soon takes an entry-level position in a division of his corporate conglomerate. What he doesn’t know is that the unctuous Dylan is secretly in league with the Decepticons who are hatching a plan to colonize Earth and to turn most of humanity into their slaves.
Of course, once Sam does catch wind of the frightening scheme, it’s again up to him to summon up the courage to save the day with the help of a ragtag team of comprised of patriots and Autobots. The only glaring flaw of this bombastic Michael Bay spectacular is that the special effects driven showdown between the forces of good and evil drags on for about an hour longer than necessary. Consequently, the ending is less a dramatic conclusion than a welcome relief from incessant overstimulation.
Despite the picture’s disintegration into an indiscriminate concatenation of pyrotechnics and noisy detonations, there are nonetheless a number of laudable performances to enjoy along the way, most notably, Shia LaBeouf as the intrepid protagonist, Patrick Dempsey as the despicable villain, Dr. Ken Jeong as a paranoid conspiracy theorist, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (replacing Megan Fox) as the vulnerable damsel-in-distress, John Malkovich as a sadistic henchman and Tyrese as a trash-talking, gung ho mercenary.
Mindless escapist fare designed with the attention-deficit millennials in mind.
If you are a big fan of Irish Step Dancing, where all the action is from the waist down, have I got a film for you. Directed by Sue Bourne, Jig is a delightful documentary highlighting the grueling training regimen of some of the 3,000 entrants preparing to compete in the 40th Annual Irish Dance World Championships, which were staged in Glasgow, Scotland in March of 2010.
The action is reminiscent of what might come to mind to folks familiar with the Broadway show Riverdance, except that the performers are in competition with each other and they reflect a cornucopia of ethnicities, including Asian-American, Russian, Dutch and Sri Lankan.
Though both male and female, it appears that the sport appeals more to the latter, especially since the contest tends to take on the tone of a beauty pageant. For, the girls don Shirley Temple wigs and elaborate costumes that can cost in excess of $2,500.
Given that the prize money couldn’t come close to covering all the travel, wardrobe and practice lesson expenses, the pursuit of perfecting the Irish jig is basically a labor of love with bragging rights awaiting the ones crowned high-kicking King and Queen in front of the appreciative audience. Apparently there’s a degree of subjectivity in the judging which makes it hard to predict which hoofers are apt to emerge victorious.
A captivating primer on tripping the light fantastic with your arms pinned to your sides.
Very Good (3 stars).
Running time: 93 Minutes.
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening July 8, 2011
Horrible Bosses (R for sexuality, crude humor, pervasive profanity and some drug use). Revenge comedy about three friends (Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day) who conspire to murder the bosses (Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell) making their lives miserable. Supporting cast includes Jamie Foxx, Donald Sutherland, Isaiah Mustafa and Bob Newhart.
Zookeeper (PG for rude humor, mild epithets and double entendres). Kevin James stars in the title role of this romantic comedy about a lonely zookeeper who lands the girl of his dreams (Rosario Dawson) with the help of some talking animals. With Dr. Ken Jeong, Joe Rogan and Donnie Wahlberg, and voiceover work by Sly Stallone, Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, Don Rickles, Maya Rudolph and Cher.
Beats, Rhymes & Life (Unrated). Michael Rapaport directs this reverential rapumentary chronicling the reunion of the pioneering, hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest for a concert tour in 2008. With appearances by Mos Def, the Beastie Boys, Common and Mary J. Blige.
The Chameleon (Unrated). Impostor drama recreating the real-life case of a French con man (Marc-Andre Grondin) who shaved his body hair to convince the mother (Ellen Barkin) of a Texas teenager missing for three years that he was her long-lost son. With Famke Janssen, Nick Stahl and Tory Kittles. (In French, English and Spanish with subtitles.)
Fading Of The Cries (Unrated). Horror fantasy about a young man (Jordan Matthews) armed with a magical sword who endeavors to defend a young farm girl (Hallee Hirsch) from a malevolent sorcerer (Brad Dourif) searching for the ancient necklace she inherited from her uncle. With Lateef Crowder, Jessica Morris and Julia Whelan.
Ironclad (R for graphic violence and brief nudity). Historical epic set in 1215 highlighting the Knights of Templar’s noble defense of Rochester Castle against the onslaught of the forces of King John (Paul Giamatti) as a consequence of the tyrannical monarch’s repudiation of the Magna Carta. Cast includes Kate Mara, Brian Cox and Derek Jacobi.
The Ledge (Unrated). Faith-based thriller in which philosophical differences between a suicidal atheist (Charlie Hunnam) and a Bible-thumping fundamentalist Christian (Patrick Wilson) escalate to a lethal battle of wills played out on the edge of the roof of their apartment building. With Liv Tyler, Terrence Howard and Christopher Gorham.
Project Nim (Unrated). Primate whisperer documentary about a chimpanzee separated from its mother at birth and raised in captivity inside a brownstone located on Manhattan’s fashionable Upper West Side as a study in animal behavior. Directed by Oscar-winner James Marsh (Man On Wire).
Rapt (Unrated). Psychological crime thriller about an abducted business executive (Yvan Attal) who is tortured by his kidnappers while his company debates whether or not to meet their $50 million ransom demand. With Anne Consigny, Andre Marcon and Francoise Fabian. (In French with subtitles.)
Romeo And Juliet In Yiddish (Unrated). Overhaul of the Shakespeare classic situates the tragic tale in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where the star-crossed lovers (Lazer Weiss and Melissa Weisz) are now Jewish and members of feuding Orthodox sects. With Mendy Zafir, Eve Annenberg and Solman Wiser. (In English and Yiddish with subtitles.)
Sholem Aleichem: Laughing In The Darkness (Unrated). Cinematic portrait of the legendary Jewish playwright Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916), whose Yiddish tales about a pious milkman served as the basis for the Broadway musical Fiddler On The Roof. With reflections by Ruth Wisse, Peter Riegert and Hillel Halkin.
Septien (Unrated). Prodigal Son drama about a street hustler’s (Michael Tully) surprising return to his family’s Tennessee farm 18 years after he mysteriously disappeared, only to be met with a combination of suspicion and elation by his estranged siblings (Robert Longstreet and Onur Tukel). With Rachel Korine, Brian Kotzur and Jeffrey T. Williams.
The Sleeping Beauty (Unrated). Catherine Breillat’s reinterpretation of the Charles Perrault fairy tale as a coming-of-age drama about a young princess (Carla Besainou) who experiences pangs of sexual awakening while in a state of suspended animation resulting from an evil witch’s (Rosine Favey) curse. With Dounia Sichov, Leslie Lipkins and Camille Chalons. (In French with subtitles)
The Ward (R for violence and disturbing images). John Carpenter directs this psychological thriller about an institutionalized young woman (Amber Heard) haunted by a ghost. Ensemble cast includes Mika Boorem, Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker.