This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne including Larry Crowne, Transformers 3, The Conspirator and more..

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (USA/12A/154mins)
Directed by Michael Bay. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Markiss McFadden, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey.
THE PLOT: Eh, there’s a battle in space, about 50 years ago, those nasty Deceptors wiping out everyone except the fleeing Sentinel Prime, who is blown out of the sky, presumed dead. Only, hey, he ain’t, as Nasa discovers when they land on the moon. And it’s soon realized that Sentinel is the key to an all-out attack on Planet Earth. Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) is meanwhile struggling with adulthood, finding a job, and coping with his superhot new girlfriend (Huntington-Whiteley, who appears to be the daughter of Jessica Rabbit) and her touchy-feely boss (Dempsey).

THE VERDICT: My 7-year old nephew, Oisin, loved it. But then, he’s 7. And claims to completely understands manga plots. For everyone else, Dark Of The Moon will prove pretty much the same experience as the first sequel, 2009’s Revenge Of The Fallen – a two-and-a-half-hour trailer for a decent one-and-a-half-hour movie. The cock-waving Bay can’t do comedy, but he can do balletic action sequences, which is why the Transformers films are full of them. Following the standard Bruckheimer formula – high concept, hot young couple, sitcom parents, a few good (American) men fighting to save the world, some Oscar-winning actor cameos (John Malkovich and Frances McDormand amongst them), and lots and lots of hi-fi-busting, hi-tech spectacle – Dark Of The Moon nonetheless fails to ever truly get its feet firmly on the ground. Having been seemingly edited by an ADD sufferer. Or a commercials whizzkid. Such as Bay. Better than the disastrous Revenge Of The Fallen, like so many billion-dollar franchise sequels, this is still far-too-long and a tad too convoluted.
RATING: 2/5

LARRY CROWNE (USA/12A/97mins)
Directed by Tom Hanks. Starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Sarah Mahoney, Roxana Ortega, Randall Park, Brady Rubin.

THE PLOT: Co-written with Nia Vardalos (whose breakout hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding Hanks and his missus, Rita Wilson, brought to the big screen), Larry Crowne has our boy playing a Navy veteran who, after losing his job at a big-box store, sees his midlife crisis going into overdrive. And so, he gets a moped. And enrolls in college. Where he falls in love with Julia Roberts’ speech professor.

THE VERDICT: There’s something crushingly middle-aged about this movie – it’s like the whole thing has been made out of corduroy. Faded corduroy bought pre-abused in an overpriced Beverly Hills store. Like a weekend break for two faded and jaded movie stars (who already delivered a box-office dud together with 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War), Larry Crowne has its occasional low-watt charms, but ultimately fails to deliver any true heart or laughs. Maybe they should have gotten Helen Mirren to walk on with a bazooka over her shoulder?
RATING: 2/5

THE CONSPIRATOR (USA/12A/112mins)
Directed by Robert Redford. Starring James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long, Danny Huston, Colm Meaney.

THE PLOT: When John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) is shot whilst trying to escape arrest, four suspects are charged with conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Chief amongst them is Mary Surratt (Wright), who finds herself being in the dock after her son does a runner. Defending her is first-time lawyer – and Union veteran – Frederick Aiken (McAvoy)…

THE VERDICT: It may be an outdated term of abuse for a movie, given just how sublime much of the little black box’s output has been in recent years, but this historical drama might as well have been made for television. The eternally-backlit (normally by a setting sun) Redford is positively po-faced in his direction here, leaving a fine cast (Huston is particularly memorable) flapping in the wind. Or the winds of time, as Redford would have described it. RATING: 2/5

A SEPARATION (Iran/IFI/123mins)
Directed by Asghar Farhadi. Starring Payman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Shahab Hosseini, Sarina Farhadi, Merila Zare’i.

THE PLOT: Married for fourteen years, and living with their 11-year old daughter Termeh (Farhadi) in Tehran, Nader (Moaadi) and Simin (Hatami) have very different ideas about their future. Simin wants to leave the country, for the sake of their daughter, whilst Nader wants to stay, for the sake of his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. And so, Simin files for divorce…

THE VERDICT: Winner of the top prize at the Sydney Film Festival last month, A Separation shines a light on the everyday lives of people living in Iran, and how religion and tradition can bear down on a crazy little thing like love. And marriage. And manslaughter. Everyday dilemmas get an extra layer of crazy – such as, a care worker has to decide whether or not her religion will allow her to wash the old man she cares for when he suffers from incontinence. A deceptively simple film dealing beautifully with complex issues.
RATING: 3/5