The latest installment in Michael Bay’s hulking, metallic Transformers series slouches back into theaters this weekend, but Peter Travers is saving that nugget for when he returns with his trusty scum bucket. Instead, this week on At the Movies, Travers highlights several worthwhile alternatives for the Transformers-averse crowd.
First up is Snowpiercer from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The Host), who offers up a cool, provocative thriller set in a dystopian future where all of society exists on a train. The Snowpiercer is outfitted with everything from water generators to nightclubs to a class system, which places the rich up front and the poor in the back; and it’s up to Captain America himself, Chris Evans, to lead a rebellion of the have-nots to the front of the locomotive.
“It will knock your eyes out,” Travers raves. “It’s really a different kind of movie. Michael Bay at his best — which is never — couldn’t come up with a plot this clever.”
Though if you’re looking for a movie better suited for date night, Travers suggests checking out Begin Again, from Once director John Carney. Despite some similarities with Once, the movie still shines: Mark Ruffalo plays a jaded music producer, Dan, who discovers Violet (Keira Knightley) singing in a bar and decides to produce her new album. His idea is to have her play in odd spaces throughout New York City, all the while contending with her rat-bastard boyfriend, played by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. “You get romance, you get music, you get really good actors,” Travers says. “That’s another good alternative!”
Just whatever you do, Travers urges, don’t go see Transformers: Age of Extinction — he even recommends staying home and watching HBO’s The Leftovers, a new series about those left behind after the rapture. “Watch that, read a book, listen to music,” Travers says. “Do any damn thing you can think of, but don’t see Transformers!”