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PCR # 380  (Vol. 8, No. 27)  This edition is for the week of July 2--8, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

Interview with Frank Granda Jr. of Unique Video  by Andy Lalino
"Transformers"  by Mike Smith
Crazed Conspiracies....Hot July New Wave Concerts  by Andy Lalino
I Love Rock and Roll .... Oh Lucky Day .... Scooter .... Reunited .... Whatever Happened To -- ? Chapter 24: Roy Scheider  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Jon Voight and John Turturro
Directed by: Michael Bay
Rated:PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 24 mins

Having Steven Spielberg oversee another film maker's project is often viewed as a good/bad proposition. It is an old Tinsletown rumor that Spielberg's name on "Poltergeist" possibly cost director Tobe' Hooper an Academy Award nomination. Other directors have also had to deal with the sometimes negative association of having the most successful film maker of all time assist them. Joe Dante? Check. Phil Joanou? Check. Word is that "Yentl" was un releasable until Steve gave Barbra Streisand some advice. Even Richard Donner, who had already made "The Omen" and "Superman the Movie" before taking on "The Goonies," took some good natured ribbing. Perhaps in hoping to nip any rumors in the bud, Michael Bay fills the first couple minutes of "Transformers" with his signature loud music, groups of men walking in slow motion and the first of many nods to his own "Armageddon." And in doing so, Bay has crafted one of the best action movies of all time.

Iraq. A group of airmen led by Sergeant's Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Epps (Tyrese Gibson) have just returned to their base. While preparing for some down time they are disturbed by the appearance of a helicopter gun ship. Unbelievably, the helicopter transforms into a metallic giant, which proceeds to destroy everyone and everything in sight. On the other side of the world Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) prepares to give a presentation to his high school class about his great-grandfather, an arctic explorer. Sam needs the project to go well and receive an "A" so that he can finally get his own car, which he has been saving for. Mission accomplished, Sam and his father (the always enjoyable Kevin Dunn) head to the local car lot where the fast talking lot manager (a very funny Bernie Mac) explains that the way to finding the perfect car is to let the car find you. Almost on cue a yellow camaro rolls up and for Sam it's love at first sight. But this is no ordinary yellow camaro, as Sam and the rest of the world are soon to find out.

I'll have to admit that I was pretty unkind to Michael Bay when I highlighted "Transformers" in my summer movie preview. While I have enjoyed the majority of his films, they have always been formulaic. Lots of noise, the aforementioned loud music and slow motion and at least one brilliant shot that hints at the possibility of so much more. That more is "Transformers." The film is perfectly cast, with LaBeouf taking another step towards stardom. Though comparisons aren't often very fair, I'm beginning to see Shia LaBeouf as this generations River Phoenix, a young man who can do virtually anything on screen and make it believable. And, in the footsteps of River Phoenix, who was taken from us all too suddenly in 1993, LaBeouf has been cast in the next "Indiana Jones" adventure, so maybe my thoughts aren't that far off. The rest of the cast is equally good. Megan Fox, as the classmate Sam secretly pines for, lends emotion to what could have been a one dimensional role. Though not as prominent, Duhamel, Gibson, Dunn, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight and Jon Turturro at his quirkiest make the most of their screen time. And special credit to Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime in the cartoon program and animated film from the mid 1980s, whose delivery is both familiar and reassuring.

The special effects are seamless and the battle scenes between the Autobots (the good guys) and the Decepticons (the bad guys) are edge of your seat exciting. If the film has one drawback it's that it's about 25 minutes too long and tends to drag some between battles. "This is one hundred times better then 'Armageddon'" a boy on screen exclaims while witnessing the arrival of the Decepticons. Though I wouldn't necessarily agree, "Transformers" is definitely THE action film of the summer.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Transformers"  Three and a half stars.

This week's movie review of "Transformers" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.