Critics Consensus: Transformers 2 Is Less Than Meets The Eye
Plus, My Sister's Keeper is well-acted but manipulative, and The Hurt Locker is powerful and vital.
This week at the movies, we've got robots in disguise (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, starring Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf) and an engagement of convenience (My Sister's Keeper, starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin). What do the critics have to say?
Most folks like their blockbusters big, loud, and loaded with spectacle. However, the masses also tend to enjoy good characters and some semblance of a plot, two things the pundits say are sorely missing from Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. This follow up to 2007's Transformers finds the Autobots waging a battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons (with help from Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf), since they have designs on obliterating Earth. Critics say Revenge has a lot of problems: it's loud, it's bombastic, it's way to long, it contains few recognizable human emotions, and its plot is borderline incomprehensible. Worst of all, they say, it's not particularly fun. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down the top 50 movie robots of all time, and our primer on Revenge of the Fallen's bots.)
A lot of movies walk a fine line between being emotionally involving and seeming merely manipulative, and critics are essentially split on which side My Sister's Keeper falls. Cameron Diaz stars as a woman whose daughter Anna (Abigail Breslin) is born as a genetic match with her leukemia-afflicted older sister Kate (Sofia Vassilieva). When, at 11, Anna is called upon to provide a kidney for Kate, she sues her parents for medical independence. Some critics say My Sister's Keeper is bolstered by outstanding performances and a sense of moral complexity. However, others say this three-hankie weepie doesn't fully earn its tears, resorting to unconvincing plot machinations..)
Also opening this week in limited release:
- Afghan Star, a documentary about an American Idol-esque singing competition with a bit more at stake, is at 100 percent.
- The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama about three explosives experts, is at 97 percent (check out some exclusive clips from the movie).
- Quiet Chaos, a subtle drama about a grieving Italian widower, is at 86 percent.
- Jennifer Lynch's Surveillance, starring Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond as a pair of feds who must solve a string of vicious murders, is at 77 percent.
- Stephen Frears's Cheri, starring Michelle Pfeiffer iin a period melodrama based on a Colette novel, is at 55 percent.
- The Stoning of Soraya M., a drama about an Iranian village's punishment of an innocent woman, is at 47 percent.