Movie Review Monday: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Mike Finkelstein was in the city of Chicago when he was attacked by a load of morphing trucks and cars.  Luckily, some more morphing trucks and cars came to fight the first bunch.  Then he realized his own car was missing, and it was somewhere in the battle, too!  What the hell is going on?!?  Either way, he escaped alive, and wrote this review for “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”

PLOT: When the Autobots find out that a long lost Cybertronian spacecraft crash landed on the moon back in the 1960s, they need to recover the remains before it falls into the hands of the Decepticons, who could use it to destroy the world and enslave mankind.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  For anybody who loved the series as a kid, TRANSFORMERS was amazing.  Even people who just loved action and had no clue about the show enjoyed metal machines kicking ass and shots of Megan Fox’s derriere filling the screen.  Then there was REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, and everyone who loved the first walked out of the sequel with no clue of what just happened.

Thankfully, DARK OF THE MOON brings TRANSFORMERS back to form, ending the trilogy on a higher note that was almost on par with the first film.  Like the other two movies, the action is non-stop, the machines look beautiful, and the CGI is excellently done.  This is a Michael Bay movie through and through, and the man knows how to shoot.  Lots of stuff blows up and gets destroyed, there are many slow motion money shots, and we get beautiful eye candy with the brand new Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.  Megan Fox may be gone, but gentlemen, the replacement candy is just as sweet.

Speaking of Ms. Whiteley, I have to say her and Sam’s relationship threw me off.  It’s funny how you could tell the role was meant for Megan Fox from the beginning.  Cut out a few lines about Mikela being a bitch and how they met, and you could toss Fox back in there like nothing happened.  Carly may also be into cars and be the love of Sam’s life, but because we barely know her and are thrown into the action, it’s a little hard to really see anything more than just a hook up (especially when she calls him her “American Boy Toy”).  But again, this ain’t THE NOTEBOOK, and romance isn’t our prime focus.

Back to the story.  Where REVENGE went wrong was with the gross length and everything being scattered.  It was like different scripts pieced together…jumps here, comic relief there, and huge plot points gone to never be heard of again (Alien cyborg?  Anybody?)  Here, the length is definitely still an issue—the exposition is too long and even the action sequences got a little ridiculous—but we are much more focused.  We have one straight, easy to follow storyline that actually raises the stakes as far as they could go with both destruction and human/autobot deaths.

Now, I did say that the trilogy ended on a higher note, but it wasn’t perfect by any means, and with each compliment, there’s a downside.  Yes, the effects were mostly brilliant, but there were many moments where I still couldn’t understand what was going on, and who was bad/good (everything is silver!).  I just kept telling myself I’d be able to play catch up in about five minutes, but I still would have liked to decipher what the hell was happening in front of me.  Yes, being transported back into the 1960s space race was an awesome nostalgic opening, but JFK’s eyes and mouth made the President look almost possessed (bad CGI).  Yes, Michael Bay knows how to shoot action, but just like actors playing the same role, there were moments where I could have sworn I was watching either ARMAGEDDON (slow motion kiss), BAD BOYS (360 shot on heroes), or TRANSFORMERS 1 (everything else).

And like any Michael Bay movie, there were points of ridiculousness.  After the first two movies, how does nobody know who Sam is, and why can’t they talk about it?  How does he get tossed like a ragdoll and not get hurt?  How is Carly allowed to speak to the Pentagon and apparently give Megatron, the most evil Decepticon in all the land, one hell of a pep talk?  And how does anybody get into Chicago at all without being destroyed on the spot?

As for the cast, Shia LaBeouf is back in form basically playing himself.  He brings the sarcasm and wit to Sam, as well as some great physical comedy moments (screaming like a girl), and this time around, we even got a hint of an action star as he goes after Patrick Dempsey for the final third of the film.  Rose Huntington-Whiteley, overall for her first movie, did a decent job.  She definitely didn’t look scared most of the time (which, when you supposedly have a huge evil robot alien about to kill you, you probably should be…), but her lipstick never faltered, and she was pure eye candy, which is what she was good at.

Supporting the two, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese and Sam’s parents return doing what they do best in their roles (Turturro was channeling Jesus from THE BIG LEBOWSKI a lot more this time).  They were joined wonderfully by John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and the absolutely hysterical, scene stealing Alan Tudyk, as an assistant with one hell of a past.  Also, all the Autobots and Decepticons are back, with the bonus of Leonard Nimoy playing Sentinel Prime (Star Trek!).  The only person that I felt was unnecessary was Mr. Ken Jeong.  It seems like he needs to be in every movie lately, but that role could have gone to anyone else who could have calmed it down a bit, and still be funny.

Overall, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON was a decent time at the movies.  If you want a crazy summer blockbuster filled with action, this is the film for you, no doubt.  It definitely has its flaws, and for the end of a trilogy, ends way too quickly (which is weird to say after such a long runtime), but when it delivers what you want with action in spades, you may be able to overlook those little bad tastes in your mouth leaving the theater.

GRADE: B

Mike’s LIKES:

1) TRANSFORMERS: I’m a guy.  They’re big metal machines with machine guns.  ‘Nuff said.

2) CGI: Forgetting the story for a second, the graphics were nearly perfect.  Whether it be the transformers, buildings crumbling, or people, you couldn’t tell the difference…except for one teeny part…

3) SHIA LABEOUF: The guy is my favorite actor of his generation.  His sarcasm is hysterical, he can cry, and in this chapter, they gave him a bit of a meatier action role.

4) ALAN TUDYK: As a Dutch ‘assistant’’ with one hell of a past, Tudyk is absolutely hysterical.  The guy can play anything. I couldn’t believe this was Pete the Pirate!

5) BUZZ ALDRIN: Okay, that was a cool little moment…

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) DRAGGING EXPOSITION/OVERALL TIME: 160 Minutes.  I’ll admit that the film never dragged, but you could always find places to trim the fat, For one thing, there was about twenty minutes in the beginning of explanation that could have been a lot tighter.

2) POINTS OF “WHAT’S GOING ON?”: When you have big metal robots all over the screen, there’s bound to be times where you can’t tell the difference between the good and the bad.  It wasn’t as horrible as REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, but I really wish I knew what I was watching the whole time instead of just most of it.

3) JFK: Special Effects can do amazing things, but this visual was just disturbing.  I just couldn’t get over the damned eyes…

4) KEN JEONG: Jeong is always funny, but here, he almost seemed forced in there because to have him in one’s movie is the cool thing to do.  This could have been anyone, and it didn’t have to be so ridiculously over the top.

5) QUICK ENDING: You have all this buildup, and supposedly the end of your trilogy, and you end everything so quickly?  Give some closure or an epilogue!  Something!

EXTRA FACTS:

1) Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who worked on the screenplay for the previous two films, declined to work on this film due to schedules and because they “risked getting stale.”  Yeah…because you could get staler than REVENGE OF THE FALLEN…

2) During filming in Washington, DC, the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro that plays Bumblebee was struck by a metro police SUV responding to a bomb alert. The officer driving sustained minor injuries, while the Camero sustained considerable damage. Luckily, there were copies of every automobile for shooting purposes, and filming continued.

 

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