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New in Theaters June 27: Transformers: Age of Extinction, Begin Again

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By Chris Kavan - 06/26/14 at 06:47 AM CT

It was a battle of the sequels last weekend - even if the overall box office was down quite a bit from last year. But don't fret, we're back into full blockbuster mode this week as a major franchise gets a few new faces but still looks to deliver plenty of explosive action for the adrenaline junkies. On the other hand, a quiet music drama looks to provide counter programming for those who want something a bit more level over the weekend.

TRANSFORMERS: THE AGE OF EXTINCTION Oh, Michael Bay, you just don't know when to quit, do you? I admit, I have seen every Transformers film in theaters, and every time I ask myself "WHY?" Aside from the sheer spectacle, they're not good movies. But, hey, at least Shia LaBeouf has moved on to better things (like plagiarizing and other artistic endeavors) and Megan Fox is going to be hanging out with Ninja Turtles instead - that means new blood and in the lead role this time around is every-man actor Mark Wahlberg - and eye candy alert in the form of his daughter, Nicola Peltz. - also along this time is Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles and Bingbing Li - so at least there is talent to be found. But, let's face it, it doesn't matter if Bay had Dame Judi Dench in the title role - this film is going to be about a lot of explosions, people running around, more explosions and some awesome-looking robots (in disguise). This Age of Extinction promises to bring us the most devastating Autobot vs. Decepticon action yet - plus the government now hates all Transformers - so there's that. Oh, and also Dinobots finally show up. I figure this is going to be just like every other Bay/Transformer film - and that means, yes, I'll probably end up watching it in theaters, even if I feel like kicking myself afterwards.

BEGIN AGAIN In a fancy bit of counter-programming to the huge budget action explosion that is Transformers, we have a Begin Again, a comedy/drama centered around the music industry. Director John Carney is no stranger to the genre, having given us Once back in 2006 - and it got a good response. If he can capture that same good will this time around, it might lead somewhere. He has a nice cast shaping up: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener, Mos Def and even Adam Levine are all going to give it a whirl. Much like Jersey Boys last weekend, I see Begin Again courting a mostly older audience and probably winding up in the middle of the pack but could benefit from a decent run thanks to its tone. But the test will be how this R-rated film based on the music industry stands up to Clint Eastwood's R-rated musical biopic. Should be an interesting showdown, even if it is well outside the top of the box office.

The news lately has been a bit dire. After coming in at 9% ahead of the 2013 season through April, the overall box office now trails 2013 by a slim margin - though everything points to that gap widening (by perhaps as much as 2%) before the summer is out. Transformers may help a bit, but it's not likely to be enough to revive the box office - but it will be the top draw over the weekend, that is a given.


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