first review (2007)
After watching this spectacle, the greatest so far this year, I kept wondering which has superior visual effects if compared to Pirates of the Caribbean 3. It wins in terms of spectacle due to the far larger activity going on all over the screen and it's really unbelieavable how seemingly no cash was spared, and it's only since King Kong (2005) have I been so overwhelmed by sheer size. Interestingly, I can't single out a favorite effect because they are all over the place (the scorpion battle, the city battle, the transformers).
The lead performer is quite impressive and so is the mother, who provides among the movie's finest comic moments.
Luckily the movie isn't pretentious (say the ridiculous Spider-Man 3) about its seriousness, feeling like a mere crowd-pleaser, and what a crowd-pleaser it is! This fact allows one to enjoy it pretty well, disregarding plot-holes and other deficiencies.
second review (2008)
This revisit turned into a frustrating exercise since I noted too many compositing errors, unimpressive production design (especially for such an expensive movie), worse cinematography (unbearable and overdone lighting), and cardboard characters, none being believable. This is not even mentioning some really bad casting choices (Anthony Anderson playing the best computer cracker; the entire heroic soldier crew).
The transformations are overwhelming (as if that's supposed to be an advantage) and there's way more action than necessary... I could not keep up. Worse still, none of it is believable (e.g. we get our nerdy hero getting serious physical pounding without getting hurt, or acting all calm while a multi-ton machine falls very close-by).
Anyways, the entire concept is god-damn silly, but then The Matrix managed to get away with its own silly concept (machines 'farming' human energy... WTF!) by being better elsewhere.