Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Bay, 147 mins, (12A)
Gigantic, Matt Aselton, 97 mins, (15)

A mindless muddle of good bots, bad bots and dodgy politics

Not wishing to overstate the case, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the pretentious, nonsensical, sexist, jingoistic, militaristic, CGI-dependent, product-placement-packed, hectically edited, punishingly loud, wearyingly long, eye-wateringly expensive, and, I predict, phenomenally profitable exemplar of everything that is most repulsive about Hollywood today.

Perhaps its most unforgivable crime is that it lasts two and a half hours, despite being a sequel to a tie-in to a 1980s range of toys. What happens during that Dr Zhivago-rivalling running time? Nothing as consequential as characterisation or coherent plotting, that's for sure.

T:RotF opens with a prologue set in 17,000BC (told you it was pretentious), and there is endless gobbledegook about "The All-Spark" and "The Matrix of Leadership", but it boils down to some alien goodie robots called the Autobots fighting some alien baddie robots called the Decepticons.

As the mass destruction is all rendered on computer, it's about as thrilling as watching a firework display on TV through someone else's sitting room window, especially as the rock 'em sock 'em robots are all largely identical. The exceptions are Optimus Prime, the pompous leader of the good guys, and two sidekicks with Afro-American voices who are always blundering and jive-talking the way those wacky Afro-Americans do.

On the human side of the cast list, Shia LaBeouf is back playing a teenager who would rather be an ordinary university student than a planet-saving hero (yeah, right). His girlfriend is played by the pouting Megan Fox, who's subjected to camerawork so leering it makes her frequent GQ and FHM photo-shoots look like school graduation portraits. This dirty-old-man treatment makes you wonder what the age of the target audience is supposed to be.

Half of T:RotF seems to have been made for undemanding children, and yet there are more references to male genitalia than you'd get in a series of South Park, while the film's main comic setpiece has the hero's mother swallowing a bag of marijuana and then informing strangers that she overheard him losing his virginity. There may even be a scene in which John Turturro whips his trousers off and reveals the thong he's wearing underneath, but I might have imagined it. I hope I didn't.

The film's political stance is revolting, too, which won't come as a surprise if you've seen Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor, or any other films by the same director, Michael Bay.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Autobots and the Decepticons are said to be alien beings who have thoughts and feelings just as we do. That being the case, what are we supposed to make of a scene in which Optimus Prime summarily executes an incapacitated Decepticon? And what about the delightful skit in which the heroine prises information from a Decepticon by ramming a soldering iron into its eye? Coming soon from Michael Bay: a torture porn film based on the Care Bears.

Gigantic is a whimsical romantic comedy that's high on whimsy, low on comedy and even lower on romance. Aiming for the deadpan indie kookiness of Punch Drunk Love and The Royal Tenenbaums, it doesn't have a script so much as a list of quirks.

A) There Will Be Blood's Paul Dano sells thousand-dollar mattresses from a dilapidated New York warehouse. B) He's always wanted to adopt a Chinese baby. C) He meets a woman called Harriet "Happy" Lolly (Zooey Deschanel) who asks him "do you have any interest in having sex with me?", he does, but he's also interested in D) sharing magic mushrooms with his 80-year-old dad, and E) tussling with a tramp who keeps attacking him for no apparent reason.

And so on, through the alphabet.

Also Showing: 21/06/2009

Katyn (118 mins, 15)

Directed by the 83-year-old Andrzej Wajda, this solemn drama examines the murder of 12,000 captive Polish officers by Russians troops in 1940, and the Soviet authorities' subsequent insistence that the Gestapo was responsible. There are some extraordinary scenes, but Wajda prefers to introduce new storylines than to develop the ones he's got, leaving Katyn, above, as a ponderous and sometimes bewildering set of vignettes.

The Disappeared (96 mins, 15)

This British ghost story has the council block setting – and the humourlessness – of the grimmest social-realist tract. Otherwise, it's a hackneyed horror flick.

Beyond the Fire (78 mins, 15)

Incompetent, low-budget drama concerning a romance between an Irish drifter and a woman he meets in London, both of whom have a sexual trauma to get over. It comes to the gobsmacking conclusion that a priest shouldn't be held to account for his history of child abuse, perjury and manslaughter.

North by Northwest (136 mins, PG)

In Alfred Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman's cherished cross-country caper, Cary Grant is on the run from the police, the FBI, and a cabal of enemy spies, but he still has time to get his suit cleaned. They don't make action heroes like that any more. NB

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Arts and Entertainment
Bryan Cranston will play federal agent Robert Mazur in The Infiltrator

Books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines