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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

In these harsh times it’s nice knowing Michael Bay still believes in opulent excess.  Every frame of his latest directorial effort oozes his gargantuan style for bigger and astounding effects, with a particular point known as a story studiously ignored.  Occasionally this isn’t such a bad thing as, for all its faults, Transformers 2 is entertaining nonsense most 80’s raised children should enjoy with nostalgic relish.
Despite winning the battle, the war between the Autobots and Decepticons rages.  After evil Megatron is resurrected by a magical device, he plots to destroy his enemy Optimus Prime.  His latest scheme involves The Fallen, a legendary figure that has an earth based sun destroying machine capable of maintaining their power source.  With the help of Sam (Shia LeBeouf), Mikaela (Megan Fox) and a hoard of ‘robots in disguise’, it’s up to Optimus to protect the earth from droids who have more than meets the eye.
Everyone knows these films aren’t high art, and certainly this sequel is pretty slack in offering anything new.  This could be due to the small break between films, with this short respite perhaps reflecting on the scripts’ rushed feel.  Although calling it a script would be insulting as what plot there is seems very threadbare to cover its incredibly long running time.  So many characters are crammed in that there’s little time to form any connection with the reliance of laughs over tension seriously affecting the great CGI and tongue in cheek acting. 
Thankfully Transformers 2 isn’t a total waste, as the energy level and cinematography are a marvel to observe.  You could be forgiven thinking you’re watching a remake of Top Gun, as Bay’s constantly roving camera seems to conduct a love affair with various military hardware on display.  Every human character is shown in broad comic strip poses with the colour never descending below its bubble gum origins.  Whilst the pacing often suffers, there’s always another scene ready to replace a lesser one within an instant.  It’s this ongoing movement that is its main plus and it can’t be accused of not offering bang for the price of a movie ticket.  If you want an action spectacle, it’s all here with the creativity and imagination in showing the various battles worthy of admiration.
Transformers 2 is a huge and bombastic popcorn blockbuster steadfastly unapologetic for what it is and does what it sets out to do very well.  It isn’t a crime to occasionally enjoy these cheesy films and it’s good seeing trashy escapism hasn’t totally vanished from the gloom of everyday drudgery.
Rating out of 10:  6

Coco Avant Chanel

Nothing goes out of fashion so quickly than fashion itself.  If flares and shoulder pads are identified with their respective eras, it’s the timeless elegance of other garments which enhance their ability to overcome passing fads.  Chanel is one of the most famous clothing labels with a sophisticated style allowing for comfort whilst looking very chic.  Coco Avant Chanel explores the woman behind a moniker that has caused much excitement amongst eager fashionistas.
Abandoned at an orphanage by her father, Gabrielle (Audrey Tautou) and her sister Adrienne (Marie Gillain) had a patchy start in life.  Eventually performing ditties in late night cabaret, a chance meeting with rich soldier Etienne (Benoit Poelvoorde) forever changed her.  Taken in by this wealthy carouser, who nicknames her Coco, she becomes drawn into his aimlessly bourgeoisie existence.  Upon meeting one of his acquaintances, Arthur (Allessandro Novola), her outlook is opened to the possibilities of love and of her passion in developing a new form of attire bringing fresh luxurious grace to an increasingly antiquated society.
Like its American contemporaries, this French film seems happy in focussing on the ‘tragedy aspect’.  Biographies are rife with them and apparently must have its required quota of sadness in order for the viewer to engage with its subject.  Coco Avant Chanel does have its fair share of misery, and it is these scenes which detract from what should be an interesting story.  Chanel’s gift for observing clothing tastes and ensuring each fabric complimented the wearer is more fascinating than it sounds, although sadly the film-makers seem intent on crafting a very beige romantic drama. 
The sole purpose of any biography is to uncover the enigma of a person so that audiences can be enlightened by its end.  Unfortunately Chanel remains a mystery, with even some of the cast unable to convey the passions driving their roles.  Because of this, the overall film feels somewhat lifeless despite some good insights into how she grew out of her shell and defied convention by creating her own unique approach.  Moments of this type give genuine weight to material frequently floundering under its unfocussed narrative.  The music score and scenery are a bonus however, showing how the surrounds also played their part in forming an icon.
Had the writers examined the lasting legacy of its subject perhaps the story would have been more intriguing.  Whilst having its moments, Coco Avant Chanel seems disappointingly bereft of the charm and poise so often associated with the creations bearing her name. 
Rating out of 10:  5