Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount)
MICHAEL Bay’s latest installment of the robo-trashing franchise is about as coherent and enjoyable as the previous instalments: which is to say – not at all.
Still, as a phenomenon, the Transformers franchise is oddly fascinating given that its astonishing success (the films tend to gross roughly as much as the individual Harry Potter movies) seems to be in no way commensurate with a love for the films.
Yes, yes, critics hate them, but going by online feedback, so do audiences and even Bay and star Shia LeBeouf have admitted they’re not very good. This one attempts to create an alternate X-Men: First Class-style reality by imagining the 1969 moon landings were a front by the American government to recover a rogue Autobot.
That’s about as much effort as the screenwriters expend on developing the plot innovation, bur it doesn’t stop Bay spending the first 100 or so minutes indulging his still unproven skill for slapstick comedy while exploiting his ability to persuade talented actors (Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, John Turturro) to embarrass themselves for a pay cheque.
When he does finally cut to the chase, he proceeds to serve up endless scenes of hardware-heavy war porn with gratuitous shots of lingerie model-turned-cinematic mannequin Rosie Huntington-Whitely baring her rear as LeBeouf’s new squeeze.
Audiences should really avoid this, but you’re a masochistic lot, so you won’t. You have, however, been warned.
TT: Closer to the Edge (Entertainment One)
FAR better man vs machine action is to be found in TT: Closer to the Edge, a visceral documentary about the insane Isle of Man race that immerses us in the action via hair-raising point-of-view shots of motorbikes tearing round hairpin bends at 200mph.
It also helps that film-maker Richard De Aragues has all the ingredients for great drama at his fingertips: nervy action, life-or-death situations, lots of high-stakes conflict and, in maverick, mutton-chopped biker Guy Martin, a genuine star.
Obsessive and, at times, embarrassingly honest (his explanation for his disinterest in women exemplifies “over-sharing”), Martin provides most of the off-track entertainment as his endearingly pure outlook on life punctuates the kind of pseudo-mystical macho chat normally associated with extreme sports.
There’s tragedy, too, which can make the film seem a little ghoulish at times, but for the most part this is an entertaining look at a dangerous and exciting sport done for love and personal satisfaction rather than fame and fortune.
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