Transformers: The Last Knight

It can’t be easy directing solely with your middle finger, but somehow Bay has pulled it off; in one fell swoop here, he’s turned his humans into robots, his robots into pests, and his worldwide audiences into saps whose goodwill, patience, and money he appears all too willing to waste.

If asked to list Pixar features I felt more deserving of a second sequel than 2006’s Cars, I’d offer a simple “all of ’em except The Good Dinosaur.” So maybe it was low expectations that allowed me to find Cars 3 the best of its bunch, and by a considerable margin, to boot.

Why do bad bio-pics happen to good people?

Director Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy aims to be an action blockbuster, a supernatural freak-out, a tongue-in-cheek comedy, a tentpole-starter, and the ultimate Tom Cruise vehicle all at once, and I have to give it a weird kind of credit, because I never imagined a film could fail so spectacularly on quite so many levels.

Obviously, the summer months – by which I mean Hollywood’s May through August – bring with them superhero movies. On some weekends, they bring with them only superhero movies. But I can honestly say I never planned on a superhero two-fer quite as delightful, unexpected, and satisfying as this past weekend’s debuts of Wonder Woman and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. Despite their shared release date and origin-story setups, you wouldn’t think that much would connect director Patty Jenkins’ live-action blockbuster and director David Soren’s featherweight animated comedy. In truth, though, the works are nearly identical in basic yet crucial ways that too many costumed-crime-fighter sagas aren’t: They’re blessedly unpretentious, they’re (mostly) angst-free, and they’re entertaining as hell.

Well, there’s at least some good news regarding the TV-to-film reboot Baywatch: It’s only about 40 minutes long. The bad news, however, is that its maniacally employed slow-motion stretches those already-empty minutes to almost two full hours. Of course, it wouldn’t be Baywatch without slow-mo, and in a couple of instances – with the arrival of the movie’s title and the climactic cameo by a series favorite that’s spoiled for us in the opening credits – the effect is even handled with tongue appropriately in cheek. Mostly, though, its use just serves to elongate what is already a pretty endless affair. Bad is bad; this thing is bad cubed.

It may not be particularly great sci-fi horror, but for the series’ devotees, Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant is certainly a first-rate exercise in nostalgia. Look! There’s the title gradually appearing in vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines! There’s the futuristic “burial at sea” with a mummy-wrapped corpse! There’s the derelict spacecraft! The face-hugger! The drinking-bird tchotchke! The heroine with the Sigourney-in-combat ’do who shouts, “We’ll blow this f----- out into space!”

Director Jonathan Levine’s Snatched, which finds Amy Schumer’s and Goldie Hawn’s daughter-mother duo evading thugs and kidnappers during an Ecuadorian vacation, is one of those one-joke, sentimental slapsticks that you somehow just know isn’t going to be nearly as funny as you want it to be. That’s why it was something of a shock to return to the recorded notes I took during my Friday screening, and to hear all of one critique (“the music is doing way too much”) in the midst of loads of compliments, many of them made while chuckling.

With its domestic gross of less than $15 million against a reported $175-million budget, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tanked at the box office this weekend, an outcome that should surprise exactly no one. Just how many treks to Camelot is one expected to make in a single lifetime?

After a brief prelude set in 1980 Missouri, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 flash-forwards 34 years, catching up with our motley crew of space travelers not long after we last saw them. This may be the film’s single most-unexpected aspect, because with the action unfurling over the course of only a few days, it’s the first time since 2011’s Captain America: Winter Soldier that a Marvel Studios movie is also a period piece. Granted, three-years-ago may not scream “period.” But in this case, it definitely is, given that writer/director James Gunn’s continuation feels so 2014 that it’s almost as if its audience has been in hyper-sleep for the past 33 months, and is awakening just in time for a new Guardians to start. I really wish I meant that as a compliment.

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