Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

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The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets. (IMDb)
A few new faces, a lot of the same old shit (cars, explosions, a model to take by the hand everywhere, a plot that’s cheesy and/or confusing and exposited by boring dialogue) with some new things to groan at (enough pop songs and product placement already) but some saving graces too (Sam’s restlessness, the Dylan twist, the hopeless feeling before the final battle–the latter of which finally paired the impressive CGI with some coherent and cool action sequences; see the glass building collapse).
6/10 (Mediocre)
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The Big Lebowski (1998)

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“The Dude” Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it. (IMDb)

A fun madcap crime plot with hilarious mishaps galore (see Walter’s car smash, the Germans’ failed extortion in the parking lot) is decorated by hilarious characters and memorable dialogue, most notably the three main buds (the bowling motif is nerdy excellence, BTW): The ultra-relaxed Dude (“That’s just like, your opinion, man”), the short-tempered Walter (“This is what happens, Larry!”), and the absent-minded Donny (“That’s your name, Dude!”). The dream sequence felt unnecessary though.

8.0/10

Rounders (1998)

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A young man is a reformed gambler who must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks. (IMDb)

The many poker scenes throughout here are certainly entertaining, with Damon’s soft voiceovers filling you in on all the fascinating features of the game, but they aren’t enough to make up for a plot that feels more like a poker player’s pipe dream than a legitimate drama: It’s too easy and cliche and fumbles the potential of its two interesting lead characters (Norton’s Worm especially begged for more study). All told, it’s a good flick–just needed more focus on the story and less on the poker.

6.8/10

Secret Window (2004)

A writer is accused for plagiarism by a strange man, who then starts haunting him for “justice.” (IMDb)

A very odd thriller-turned-horror flick. The acting and screenplay are laughably bad at certain points but the creepy slasher ending (as predictable and easy as it is) seems, upon reflection, to justify those moments as intentionally weird (like a cheesy horror movie) and not unintentionally bad. The film starts off bland, underwhelming, and even painful to watch at times, but it builds into something delightfully odd and unnerving and so leaves a surprisingly good impression in the end.

6.5/10

The Good Shepherd (2006)

The slow and brooding nature of the movie is in itself attractive, but it drags down the film when paired with a plot that is consistently difficult to latch onto. Damon is excellent, and his character’s uncomfortable family drama provides some engaging moments, but the central CIA birth-story fails to connect on a character level (despite a good cast) or a story level (despite an intriguing premise), making the film a chore to get through, especially considering its lengthy run time.

6.1/10

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

An infectious and wonderful old-timey soundtrack accompanies this highly enjoyable 1930s-set adventure-comedy, full of hilarious mishaps, well-crafted and witty dialogue, and a diverse set of memorable characters that range from charming to deadly. You never stop rooting for the three chain-gang escapees (played wonderfully by Clooney, Nelson, and Turturro) as they stumble towards a satisfying happy ending. Lots of memorable scenes in what is one of my personal favourites.

8.0/10