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Transformers Dark of the Moon, Larry Crowne, The Mountie and a Czech retrospective

Shia LaBeouf has a new girlfriend and a new job but a new reason to run as the Transformers battle again.

The big movies this week satisfy all ages. Boys can watch the Transformers fight it out; young girls can ogle the sights of Paris and Monte Carlo along with Selena Gomez and adults can watch Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts face the recession. There are also Canadian and Czech movies.

Here’s the list:

Transformers: Dark of the Moon  3 stars

Larry Crowne   3

The Mountie    2 ½ 

The White Dove  3 ½

Valley of the Bees  4

Monte Carlo   --

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON: I’ll say this much: you really get your money’s worth with this third film in the series. That is, if you don’t pay the extra for the unnecessary 3-D and you’re clear on what you’re after. Big, noisy scenes of destruction. The kind you imagined playing on the floor as a little boy. The last 50 minutes here is one big battle between the two transformer factions, the Autobots, representing freedom, and the Decepticons, who favor tyranny. They really mess up downtown Chicago in an orgy of thrilling special effects. You have to admire the craft displayed on screen.

The film is both more of what we saw in the previous two films and an improvement over them. The storytelling is better. The yarn is clearer even as it has become more complex. It now deals with hidden alliances and several levels of deceit. As one character says, when there’s a war on and you don’t have a stake in either side, go with the one that’s winning. He’s not the only one with that philosophy, as Shia LaBeouf, back as the Autobots’ human friend, finds out. This time he catches wind of a plot to build a “space bridge” that will “reshape the universe”. He, by the way now has a new girlfriend. Megan Fox is gone (unexplained) and a model from England, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, is now doing even less acting, but a lot of posing.

At one point, the camera pans slowly up her body while offscreen Patrick Dempsey describes the sleek lines of his new car. Director Michael Bay is not one for subtlety. He’s also got a few gay references, several tough bosses (Dempsey, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand) and a transformer blasting the head off the Lincoln statue in Washington, all in all a pretty dim view of humanity. We already know that. What I do find uncomfortable is the way movies now tamper with history. We just got the X-men’s ludicrous twist on the Cuban Missile crisis and now we’re told the race to the moon was really to beat the Russians to a crashed Transformers space ship. Even Buzz Aldrin appears, yes the real one, the second man on the moon, who says “We were sworn to secrecy.”  Ridiculous. (Oakridge, Rio on Broadway, Scotiabank, Dolphin and many suburban theatres)  3 out of 5

LARRY CROWNE: How much exact logic do you need in a feel-good movie? This one comes up short a few times and still ends up a pleasantly light fable for adults, that older crowd that’s said to be returning to the movie theatres in big numbers these days.  It’s a nice guy of a movie, rather like Tom Hanks himself, who stars, directed and co-wrote it (with Nia Vardalos, still best known for My Big Fat Greek Wedding). There’s no mean spirit, no swearing, little conflict and Julia Roberts around helping to keep things bright with her wide toothy smile.

It’s about new beginnings. Hanks, expecting to be named employee of the month at the big box store he works at, is fired because without a college degree, he’s deemed un-promotable.  Since there are no other jobs for him in the recession, he goes to college, landing in two courses that change his life. In Economics One, George Takei (yes, Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu and quietly hilarious) is a professor who mostly reads aloud from his own book. Hanks starts hanging out with a classmate, a free-spirited young woman who redoes his hair, attire and home décor and, with the supportive words “You are way cooler than you appear” brings him into a flock of scooter-riding students. It’s the mildest biker movie you’ll ever see and no, parts of it make no sense.

 

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