Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Transformers: Dark of the Moon is Less Than Meets the Eye

Plus, Larry Crowne and Monte Carlo succumb to predictability.

by | June 30, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got robots in disguise (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, starring Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), a recession romance (Larry Crowne, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts), and a royal mix-up (Monte Carlo, starring Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester). What do the critics have to say?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

35%

Three films into the franchise, we pretty much know what we’re getting with a Transformers movie: tons of hyperkinetic robot action, with little in the way of character development or coherent plotting. So it is with Transformers: Dark of the Moon; critics say this latest installment is a marked improvement over Revenge of the Fallen, but it’s still an exercise in sensory overload that favors special effects over storytelling. This time out, the Autobots and Decepticons are both gunning for the remains of Sentinel Prime, which were discovered on the moon and contain important secrets; as usual, the Autobots’ buddy Sam (Shia LaBeouf) finds himself in the line of fire. The pundits say Transformers: Dark of the Moon has admittedly impressive special effects and a few solid action sequences, but the whole thing becomes numbing after a while – it’s just spectacle, with few (if any) compelling characters, a manufactured product that impresses with sheer bombast but stretches its thin plot way past the breaking point.

Larry Crowne

37%

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are two of the biggest movie stars we have, so it’s fair to assume that any film with both of them is going to be pretty good, right? Well, not necessarily. Critics say despite the stars’ relaxed, easy chemistry, Larry Crowne is surprisingly bland and conventional. Hanks stars as a middle-aged Navy vet who loses his job and decides to enroll in community college. There he becomes a motor scooter enthusiast and starts a relationship with one of the school’s professors. Hanks and Roberts were terrific together in Charlie Wilson’s War (and Hanks won high praise for his previous directorial outing, That Thing You Do!), but the pundits say Larry Crowne is remarkably generic and inauthentic, a pleasant trifle that brings smiles from time to time but never hums with dramatic urgency or l’amour fou. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Hanks’s best-reviewed movies.)

Monte Carlo

40%

There’s nothing wrong with movies about wish fulfillment — heck, that’s one of the main things that draws us to the theater. But you have to do more than just surround your protagonists with riches, and critics say Monte Carlo misses plenty of opportunities to explore beyond its premise, though it’s got its charms, thanks to some decent performances and overall good spirits. Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester star as vacationers who get mistaken for royalty, and soon, their dull European vacation becomes a luxurious, whirlwind tour of the continent. But what will happen when our heroines get found out? The pundits say Monte Carlo is decent tween fare, but it’s silly, predictable stuff that never pushes the boundaries of its formula.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Crime After Crime, a documentary about a woman’s long legal battle after a murder sentence many felt was unjust, is at 100 percent.

  • Delhi Belly, a Bollywood comedy about three average dudes who find themselves in the crosshairs of a crime boss, is at 80 percent.

  • Terri, starring John C. Reilly in a comedy about a teen misfit who befriends his school’s vice principal, is at 73 percent.

  • The Romanian import Aurora, a murder mystery that painstakingly examines a killer’s psyche, is at 71 percent.

  • The Perfect Host, starring David Hyde Pierce in a psychological thriller about a wanted bank robber who crashes a dinner party, is at 41 percent.

  • Love Etc., a doc about five New York couples and the complexities of their romantic relationships, is at 38 percent.

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