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Notes from the back row

Transformers not too shabby

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By Feet Banks

Hey movie fans, Transformers , which opened last Tuesday, has true cinema royalty in its bloodline. Few people know this (and really, why would you want to) but there’s already been an animated Transformers movie (in 1986) and that movie featured Orson Welles in his final role ever. Orson Welles! Director of Touch of Evil and Citizen Kane , what many people consider the best overall film of all time. Welles was cast as a giant planet-eating robot named Unicron. And he ruled; scariest bad-guy voice ever.

That film also contained the voice talent of Eric Idle ( Monty Python) Leonard Nemoy, and the last performance of film and TV legend Scatman Carruthers ( The Shining ). Anytime you have Welles, Spock, a Monty Python guy and dude named Scatman in your family tree, you’re doing pretty well.

Regardless, the Autobots and Decepticons are right back at it, battling in live action this time (well, computer-generated live action) and basically getting it done in the latest enormous blockbuster of the summer.

While director Michael Bay ( Armageddon, Bad Boys 1 & 2, Pearl Harbor) has done better than usual and seems to really have brought the toys to life, his human elements are a bit lacking. Hot young star Shia LaBeouf ( Disturbia) stars as a kid who pines after his first car and the hottest chick in the class, to whom he actually says, “There’s more to you than meets the eye.” Yes!

He winds up with both — first the car, an Autobot sent to protect him who also helps him score the girl. The Decepticons, kicking ass first and asking questions later, are on earth looking for a magical cube that gives life and power to giant shape shifting toys and you guessed it, LaBeouf and his honey are all tied up right in the middle of what my buddy Tricky calls “a big messy war-gasm.”

At two hours and 23 minutes, Bay’s film is waaaayyyy too long (guaranteed your girlfriend will get bored) but otherwise it isn’t too shabby. Leave your expectations (and a roach) at the door and you’ll be entertained for at least 90 minutes of decent summer, nostalgic, sci-fi fare. The last hour kind of drags into one of Bay’s trademark never-ending fight scenes, interspersed with cheesey dramatic bits leading to yet another Hollywood ending but honestly, for a film based on toys from the ’80s, not to bad. Plus Jon Voight is in it, and he’s Angelina’s father so that makes the robots even cooler by association.

Speaking of Angelina, her latest, A Mighty Heart , is slowly plugging away in the major cities and will not be released up here this week either. Too bad because it’s a pretty decent flick, despite suffering at the box office. Instead we get Harry Potter on July 11.

If you do want your Angelina fix however, just turn on the TV or pick up any one of those gossip mags and join the Cult of Celebrity. Paparazzi, Internet columns, E-Talk, US magazine, all that crap that you say you hate but read every time you’re in line at the grocery store. Of course if you actually do want the inside scoop on all your favorite stars go to www.laineygossip.com, a Vancouver site that dishes out all the dirt.

And if you want half-truths and gossip on all your LOCAL celebs (and this is kind of scary) go to www.whistlertheblog.blogspot.com . It’s got nothing to do with movies but it’s gossip and it’s local and it’s funny as hell. I don’t know who set it up but he (or she)’s got balls the size of watermelons.

AT VILLAGE 8 July 6-10: Licence to Wed; Ratatouille; Transformers; Knocked Up; Evan Almighty; Live Free or Die Hard; Shrek 3; Oceans 13; Fantastic Four; 1408. July 11-12: Harry Potter; Licence to Wed; Transformers; Oceans 13; Knocked Up; Live Free or Die Hard; Ratatouille.

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