** (out of four)
Sam (Shia LaBeouf) sure complains a lot for a guy who somehow landed gorgeous, vastly supportive Carly (better-than-expected Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), whose lips are locked in a natural pucker. Of course, the dull romantic woes of puny humans pale in contrast to another clash between the Autobots and Decepticons that could mean the end of the world, which is pretty much always what’s at stake.
The buzz: Even director Michael Bay acknowledged the suckiness of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” yet he thinks writer Ehren Kruger (who worked on “Revenge of the Fallen” and wrote “Scream 3”) can recapture the first movie’s fun? Fortunately Chicago viewers get the bonus of enjoying the climactic action sequence shot here last summer, which lasts so long on screen you’ll think the bars have opened, closed, opened, closed and opened again.
The verdict: The transformers really need to shut up. They’re either annoying little pests or gigantic blowhards, and it’s not working. Also not working: overbearing explanations of the mindless plot, and CGI that’s huge but neither grand nor coherent. (You shouldn’t need an evil robot to say “I can’t see” to tell he’s been blinded.) Bay wants both a noisy metallic war and an intergalactic slow-motion ballet, but “Transformers” constantly creaks when it should soar. This stupidly repetitive movie features a few crazy-awesome special effects tricks, but takes forever to get going—and then refuses to stop once Chicago starts crumbling. I spent less time marveling and more time thinking, “Well, at least my favorite Corner Bakery on Wacker wasn’t harmed.”
Did you know? Just in case we can’t tell why Huntington-Whiteley was cast, the first shot of her features only her legs and butt. Later Bay puts her onscreen as people say things like “Look at the curves” and “That’s a gorgeous box.” So tastefully done.
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