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)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

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Sam Witwicky leaves the Autobots behind for a normal life. But when his mind is filled with cryptic symbols, the Decepticons target him and he is dragged back into the Transformers’ war. (IMDb)
The worldwide setting-shifts lend the film an air of excitement, but the plot is too convoluted and lamely exposited to match it, and the shaky-cam explosion-riddled action is tiresome and impossible to follow (see the lengthy final fight). Elsewhere, the humour has dried up (Leo and the twins don’t help) and Fox’s presence is still cringe-worthy (matched here by the awful Hickey): Again exploited for her looks while now playing a desperate girlfriend for the now less-likeable Sam.
5/10 (Poor)

Transformers (2007)

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An ancient struggle between two Cybertronian races, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, comes to Earth, with a clue to the ultimate power held by a teenager. (IMDb)
An epic-feeling triple-perspective narrative makes things exciting, and welcome shots of humour injected into the sci-fi war plot continually keep things fun (see Anderson’s hyper hacker; LaBeouf’s lovable loser, quirky parents, sensitive car). The Transformers can be cheesy though (see Optimus’ speeches), and both Fox’s turn and the final fight leave something to be desired (see her puzzling tow-truck escapades; Sam having to run with the cube), so it’s not the perfect film, but it’s enjoyable.
7/10 (Good)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

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Famed archaeologist/adventurer Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls. (IMDb)
A classic straightaway action sequence is followed by a great plot set-up that introduces an enjoyable new sidekick (LaBeouf’s greaser) while offering some rambunctious initial fun (see the bar escape; motorcycle chase; Ford’s library one-liner) in a glossed-up 50s Americana setting. The adventure only gets amped up from there, but obvious CGI often brings it down (see the jungle sequence), and the increasingly ridiculous sci-fi plot certainly doesn’t help matters. Still an entertaining watch.
7/10 (Good)

The Company You Keep (2012)

A former Weather Underground activist goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity. (IMDb)

A stacked cast does not disappoint here; LaBeouf is particularly electric as the savvy journalist uncovering for us a fascinating web of former radicals still on the lamb. The past-present element is compelling and produces a refreshingly old and textured cast of characters, while the cat-and-mouse game is exciting without resorting to cheap action. The underlying themes of truth and justice aren’t given quite enough oomph but the movie remains an engaging thriller that looks great to boot.

8.2/10

#2 on my Top 10 Most Underrated Films list

Holes (2003)

A wrongfully convicted boy is sent to a brutal desert detention camp where he joins the job of digging holes for some mysterious reason. (IMDb)

An already unique premise here is given a delicious second layer of back-story that pops up in the current tale in a peppering of delightful past-present parallels and fulfilled prophecies that work well with the bleak but intriguing desert setting. LaBeouf’s hard-luck Stanley, meanwhile, leads an enjoyable cast of characters that includes a loveable gang of misfit adolescents and three wonderfully nasty bad guys, bringing some heart to this immensely satisfying mystery story.

7.2/10