New in Film for Friday, June 25, 2009

Michael Bay's 2007 Transformers was a mostly capable commercial for Hasbro toys and Bay's previous films, from which most of the iconography was lifted as the man continues to pay homage to his favorite filmmaker. It also offered Bay at his most surprisingly reflective and unexpectedly restrained — the domestic scenes involving Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and his parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) felt particularly sincere — and also his most ingenious, as he merged man and machine in beautifully choreographed fight sequences to get us wondering, "How'd he do that?" Well, he's done it again — it, and nothing more — and so the trick no longer dazzles. It bores. Which isn't to suggest that Bay's not entirely into it — there are scant moments in this, um, story about a matrix keymajiggy that unlocks the sun-killing whoziwhatsis when he seems to be paying attention, such as a sequence during which a resurrected Megatron (hoo-boy) kidnaps Sam and fills the kid's orifices with insect-like Decepticons who slither around his innards for a look-see. Bay's in touch with his inner Cronenberg during this lone, profoundly isolated moment, the one scene during which you can actually tell what's happening — and to whom, because he lets the gross-out speak for itself. But why speak when you can scream for almost two and a half hours? Robert Wilonsky

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