Like some other of Winterbottom’s films of the last few years — last year’s The Road to Guantanamo, 2002’s In This World — this one is like a stinging slap in the face. “Welcome to the 21st century,” it says; “this is our mess; we made it, we’ll have to live with it.” And there’s a kind of culture-shockiness to it, that quality to Winterbottom’s films that make me love them out of all proportion to reason: they simultaneously evince an unignorable documentary-style urgency and a tinge of the science fictional, as if they mean to point out that while we may not all have gotten our jet packs and domestic robots, all the fun toys the shiny sci-fi future was supposed to bring, we sure as hell have managed plenty of the dystopian stuff the grimmer SF warned us about.
[T]his is the movie Michael Bay was born to make. And I say this in all seriousness and with all due respect, particularly as a longtime hater of Bay’s superficiality and inability not to put a glossy plastic sheen on the most profound of subjects (like patriotism, as in Pearl Harbor, and justice, as in Bad Boys II). But here? Why, glossy plastic sheen is exactly what’s called for. No, really. It’s giant robots stomping around and beating the crap out of one another. We must thank the gods of cinema that Bay… didn’t feel the need to inject anything meaningful or complicated into this giant Erector set of a movie. There’s absolutely nothing smart, deep, or subtle to be found in Transformers. Which is precisely the way it should be.
[T]he only truly inexplicable and terrifying thing at work in this tedious and nonsensical horror flick is the question of how the hell Hilary Swank has to resort to this barrel-scraping junk just for a paycheck. Surely she must be getting offered quality material, stuff that isn’t, ahem, quite so rock-bottom stupid. She’s won two Oscars, for pity’s sake. The Reaping doesn’t even come up to the quality of a crappy made-for-the-Sci-Fi-Channel monster movie, which puts Swank below, in the grand geeky scheme of bodacious babes, the likes of Kristanna “Painkiller Jane” Loken. Forget a plague of boils — how about a plague of boredom followed by a plague of oh-my-god-is-it-really-this-bad-for-women-in-Hollywood?