Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox | PG-13 |


Clank, clank, clank. When did would-be blockbusters become more about machines than people? The latest exhibit: This extremely noisy and often incomprehensible sequel to 2007's Transformers. Directed once again by Michael Bay with maximum emphasis on firepower and explosions, the new film features an all-action plot that is excessively complicated and endlessly dopey. Boiled down, it's about walking, talking giant heaps of metal battling rival giant heaps of metal. The Autobots are good and the Decepticons, who've come from space to conquer Earth, are evil. Both look like the result of someone going nuts with Krazy Glue in a cookware cabinet.

Having to save the day again is Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf, who's mostly required to run, duck and cover). He no sooner enrolls in college than he and sexy girlfriend Mikaela (Fox), along with the Autobots and Special Forces troops, head to Egypt for a final blowout with the Decepticons amid the Pyramids. If that doesn't wake Tut, nothing will.

The film runs a long 2 hours, 30 minutes. An hour in, I was praying for rust.

Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Alec Baldwin | PG-13 |


Looking for a good cry with a bad movie? My Sister's Keeper is here to serve. This maudlin weepie from director-cowriter Nick Cassavetes, who demonstrated his mastery over manipulating tear ducts with 2004's The Notebook, is loosely based—the ending has been changed—on a bestselling novel by Jodi Picoult. The drama shows in wallowing detail how a family is torn apart by their reactions to a teen daughter's (Sofia Vasilieva) long battle with chronic leukemia.

The true heart of the story is the refusal of the mother (Diaz) to accept that it might be time to let go. But the movie wanders off track early, devoting too much time to an unlikely story line about the youngest child (Breslin) suing her parents for "medical emancipation." She supposedly doesn't want her folks to make her donate a kidney to her ailing sister.

Diaz and Jason Patric, who plays the father, do what they can to buffer the saccharine by underplaying, but it's a losing battle. Keeper may succeed in making you reach for your hankie, but it just seems plain silly once the tears have dried.

Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates, Rupert Friend | R |


The belle epoque costumes here are so sumptuous, multilayered and colorful, they resemble walking parfaits. Too bad the movie in which they're worn isn't nearly as delicious. Cheri is about Léa (Pfeiffer), a retired Parisian courtesan who falls hard for the title character (Friend), a beautiful but feckless young man. It's based on Colette's witty and wise novellas Chéri and The Last of Chéri. Despite the best efforts of Pfeiffer, who swans about with world-weary grace, this surprisingly wan effort from director Stephen Frears (The Queen) never achieves liftoff. The problem: the almost too pretty Friend, who plays Chéri as such a spineless, pouty layabout that you keep wishing Léa would kick him to the curb already.

>Like Shia LaBeouf, these former Nickelodeon and Disney Channel stars leaped to post-teen success.

HILARY DUFF, 21 Since Lizzie McGuire (2001-03), she has done TV guest spots and films. Her latest: What Goes Up.

NICK CANNON, 28 He followed The Nick Cannon Show (2002-03) with acting in films such as Roll Bounce and Bobby.

AMANDA BYNES, 23 After All That (1996-2000) and The Amanda Show (1999-2001), TV and movie work included Hairspray.

>Twenty years later Spike Lee looks back at Do the Right Thing, his scorching take on race

From the opening Public Enemy anthem "Fight The Power" to the riot that ends the movie, 1989's Do the Right Thing (now available on a 20th-anniversary DVD) provoked controversy—and conversations. "Sometimes people would be in the lobby afterward for hours just talking," recalls director Spike Lee, who also starred. When he was running for the Senate, Barack Obama told Lee he saw the movie on his first date with Michelle. At the time "I didn't even know who he was," says Lee, 52. Today he's proud of the film's legacy: "People are still fighting the power."

>Disaster-tastic! Director Roland Emmerich destroyed the White House in 1996's Independence Day. Now he's crashing an aircraft carrier into it on a tidal wave—and toppling the Washington Monument and the Vatican too—in 2012, due Nov. 13. John Cusack, Amanda Peet and Thandie Newton try to survive in this end-of-days thriller.

>• The proposal in The Proposal? Not so romantic (it's a scam). These stars tell how they really popped—and responded to—the big question

RACHAEL RAY & JOHN CUSIMANO Rachael: I thought [the ring] was a key ring, because I was always losing the keys to the apartment!

REAL HOUSEWIVES' SIMON VAN KEMPEN & ALEX McCORD Simon: We were on a nude beach. I told her I wanted a lot to spend the rest of my life with her.

LL COOL J & SIMONE SMITH LL: I drove my Porsche 110 mph and wouldn't slow down until she said yes!

HOPE DAVIS & JON PATRICK WALKER Hope: We were at a beach. He buried the Tiffany box in the sand. Jon: My biggest fear was that I'd forget where I buried it.