Victor Rebikoff Welcome to the movies at PS News.
   Each week, PS News’s film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.

Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen
   Director: Michael Bay, Rated PG, 101 Minutes

Amazing special effects and exhilarating action are the key elements in this sequel directed again by Michael Bay (Armageddon and Pearl Harbour).
   Bay’s original movie, Transformers,was an adaptation of the 1980s franchise of the same name.
   However some patrons in the audience felt the duration of his sequel (2 hours and 30 minutes) was a little long especially as it consisted mainly of action sequences between the huge robots and devoted inadequate time to character development and plot.
   For those who missed the first Transformers movie, Earth is caught in the middle of an intergalactic war between two races of robots – the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons.
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   Visual effects wizards Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), with the guidance of executive producer Steven Spielberg, have again created one huge special effects extravaganza as ordinary cars, fighter jets, helicopters and trucks rapidly transform into duelling races of alien robots.
   Shia LaBeouf (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) reprises his role as Sam Witwicky (now a college student) to help the cast of humans caught in the crossfire.
   Sam and his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) are again thrust into battle alongside the Autobots led by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) to face the evil Decepticons, who are led by Megatron (voiced by Australian actor Hugo Weaving) and are seeking revenge against Earth following their defeat in the first movie.
   In this sequel, Bay’s approach is totally dependent on having bigger and better action sequences taking place in superb locations such as Egypt and Jordan, with ILM showing off some of its best computer graphics work to date.
   If you like a movie with constant action then you will find Transformers-Revenge of the Fallen thoroughly enjoyable.
   Regrettably it does falter in some of the dialogue – or lack thereof – not to mention some cheesy lines that are simple attempts at comedy.
   LaBeouf is still the movie’s best attraction.
  The scene where LaBeouf gets ‘tangled up’ with Australian actress Isabel Lucas (a part human, part machine seductress) is worth seeing.
   Once again Bay’s attempt to mix real life characters with computer graphics were not as successful as in his first movie, but with the emphasis being placed on creating larger Autobots and Decepticons (as well as louder sounds) –they were simply …amazing! 
   Overall, Transformers-Revenge of the Fallen is a movie that generated plenty of excitement and thrills, and kudos go out to director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg for delivering an entertaining movie.
   Let us hope there is an improvement in direction in the next Transformers production in relation to character development and plot.
   It will certainly appeal to those older children who are still on school holidays.

VIC'S VERDICT:       3 Rubber Stamps

Wake in Fright
   Director: Ted Kotcheff, Rated MA, 114 Minutes
   Showing at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra and selected cinemas throughout Australia

Billed as one of the greatest movies to be made in this country, Wake in Fright, based on Kenneth Cook’s acclaimed novel of the same name, was originally completed in 1970 by Canadian director Ted Kotcheff and released  in Australia in 1971.
   It received wide praise from critics but shocked Australian audiences.
   Besides starring British actors Donald Pleasance (Halloween), Gary Bond and Sylvia Kay, it also featured legendary Australian actor Chips Rafferty, a young Jack Thompson and renowned Australian actor John Meillon.
   In January of this year the movie was digitally restored and in May 2009 had its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
   Wake in Fright tells the story of a young English teacher, John Grant (Gary Bond) who is travelling to Sydney on a holiday break from his school in Tiboonda (an Australian outback town).
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   Arriving in Bundanyabba (a rough mining town) for an overnight stay, he is enticed to have a drink with the local policeman Jock Crawford (played by the great Chips Rafferty).
   Before too long he finds himself indulging in the traditional two-up game, getting intoxicated and losing all his money.
   He is then invited home by Tim Haynes (Al Thomas) a person he meets at the pub, who together with three of his drinking mates (including a young Jack Thompson), gradually gets Grant completely intoxicated - which is the beginning of his downward spiral.
This is a movie that tries to get the audience to understand the ruggedness of its characters by immersing the viewer into their rugged environment.
   It is a totally uncompromising movie full of some rather startling images.
   British actor Bond delivers one of his best performances as a pitiful yet repugnant individual –in fact one can relate to his anger and defiance at being somewhere he doesn't want to be, as well as feel his desperation, exhaustion and his eventual surrender.
There have been other movies with similar subject matter where cultured men are reduced to a kind of primitivism, but the thing that sets this movie apart is the fact that director Ted Kotcheff pulls no punches and remains completely neutral toward all of the characters - the cultured schoolteacher and the rugged locals.
   By the end of the movie no character remains unscathed, and neither is any character completely without sympathy.
   Set against the beauty and ruggedness of the Australian outback (and shot essentially in Broken Hill), Kotcheff’s movie is an awesome insight into what life can be like in the Australian outback.
   It is no wonder that the brutality and realism portrayed in this movie makes it a cinematic masterpiece that is not to be missed.

VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamps

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